What Should Catholics Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses?
It is always good to have some back ground of the other faiths in the world. Understanding their faith, in relation to your own will give you better knowledge to your own beliefs and conviction when speaking to others of other faiths.
Some basic information Catholics should know about what Jehovah Witness’ believe:
1) Protestantism: Charles Russell being a Protestant himself, took on many of the main Protestant beliefs such as, rejecting the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, purgatory, confession, and intercession of Mary or the saints.
2) Adventism: A religious movement in the 1800s that focused on a date for the second coming of Jesus. The Mormons (1830), Seventh Day Adventist (1831), and the Jehovah Witnesses all began as Adventist religions. These three religions all initially claimed to know the date of the second coming. All three failed in their prediction. Because the JWs were the last of the three Adventist religions, they borrowed some of their two predecessors teachings. From the Mormons they took, the denial of the Holy Spirit as a person and that Michael the Arch Angel was actually Adam. JWs taught Michael was Jesus, the Second Adam. For the Seventh Day Adventist they taught that Man does not have a soul but is a soul and the soul goes into Sleep or disappearance after death until the Second Coming. They also borrowed that hell is not eternal.
3) Arianism: They borrowed the beliefs of a 318 heretic Catholic Priest named Arius who denied the divinity of Christ. JW hold Jesus in high regards but do not believe Him to be God. In 325 the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea condemned this heresy and do still to this day. This heresy was not seen again until the 1800s. The JWs claim the early Church did not believe Jesus was God, which is 100% false.
Below are the biggest Jehovah Witness beliefs that are very different that Catholic Doctrine:
JW belief: Jesus was man, not God
The divinity of Jesus is the central doctrine that divides Christians from JWs. There are many scripture readings that help defend this point. Two very obvious are: John 20: 28-29: In Answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and My God!” Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see yet believe.” And John 14:9 : Jesus Said to him: “Have I been with you so long q time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father.”
Other scripture readings are: Mt 1:23; Col2:9; Isaiah 43:11; Rev 1:8; Rev 22:12-13; Mt 28:19.
The JWs say that Jesus is “a god.” You can see this when they mistranslated John 1:1 to say, “the Word was a god.” All other bible translations besides the NWT (The JW Translation) say, “the Word was God.” The Bible makes it clear there is one true God. So is Jesus just a false god or the God according to JWs? There is no middle and is a good question to ask a JW in debate.
It is important for Catholics to know that Jesus possesses two natures: a divine nature and that of human. Jesus defers to his human nature at times when he makes statements like: “the Father is greater than I am,” Jn 14:28. This does not mean Jesus is not God. It is that his human nature is not greater than his divine nature. Always remember JN 10:30; “I and the Father are one.” And “He that has seen me has seen the father,” Jn 14:9.
JW Belief: Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand will go to Heaven
JWs teach that only 144,000 people will go to heaven. It is “The Anointed” group. All other people who are good and righteous before God will inherit an everlasting earthly paradise. The JWs teach that the 144,000 began with the Apostles and hit the 144,000 number in 1935. No JW can go to heaven any longer and only can have the earthly paradise. JWs defend this belief by using two passages: Rev7:1-8 and Rev 14:1-5. These two passages refer to 144,000. But if you take these passages literally only celibate Jewish males will make up the 144,000.
JW Belief: Refusal of Blood Transfusions
JWs believe that there is a prohibition on eating of blood (rare steaks or blood sausage). Mosaic Law did prohibit this; however, the law says nothing about blood transfusions. Remember, in John 6, Jesus tells us we must drink His blood in order to have eternal life. It is true that JWs believe Jesus was speaking symbolically, but regardless, Jesus would not ever ask us to commit an evil act, even a symbolically evil act. Christians understand the Old Testament dietary laws are no longer in effect. And, Christian should not be worried about eating rare steak or blood sausage. But, JWs who do not eat kosher eat blood in their meat; their refusal to accept blood transfusions is inconsistent. JWs used to forbid vaccinations and organ transplants but do now. Maybe soon they will lift the ban on blood transfusions.
JW Belief: Annihilation of the Soul
JW’s don’t believe that man has a spiritual soul but rather they believe that man is a soul. JWs think that when a person dies, his soul is annihilated: he ceases to exist. At the end of the world the whole person will be created again from nothing. Sacred scripture shows that this Is not the case. In 1 Sam 28, Samuel, who had died, appears to Saul and delivers a prediction of doom from the Lord. Samuel could not appear if annihilated. Other scripture readings are: Mt 10:28 where Jesus talks that your body could die but not your soul. The transfiguration, Mt 17:1-8, when Moses appears to Jesus. Rev 6:9-10 relates a vision of the souls of the martyrs who died for Christ. They are pleading for those suffering on earth. Mt:1028 and Rev 6:9-10 are especially important because they are so clear and because they are accurately translated in the JW Bible, the New World Translation.
Most reference for this post comes from Beginning Apologetics 2 – How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons by Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham. You can purchase this at The Catholic Company if you are interested.