Differences between the
Watchtower and Christianity
What is the Church?
The Watchtower is the only true organization or religion.
The Watchtower "is God's sole
collective channel for the flow of Biblical truth to men on the earth" (The
Watchtower [July 15, 1960], 439). "God has always dealt with his
people as an organized group" ("Should You Belong
to a Church?," The Watchtower [June 1, 2004]). Jehovah’s
Witnesses are the "true servants of God," so there is a "need
to associate with them" ("Which Religion
Should You Choose?," Ibid.) instead of with those who have beliefs and
customs that displease God such as the Trinity, and celebrating Christmas,
Easter, birthdays, and the cross ("Lesson 11: Beliefs and Customs That
Displease God," What Does God Require of Us?).
The church is a body of various believers and
groups of believers.
The one true church is the invisible, spiritual, and
universal body of Christ in heaven and on earth made up of all those true
believers from various local denominations or visible churches. The body is
an organism, not an external organization. Unity in this body does not
demand complete uniformity in its various manifestations. God loves
diversity. Yet the church's unity is in Christ, who is the vine. People in
various denominations who are committed to the Vine are the branches; no one
particular manifestation of the church is the vine (Matthew 16:18; John 15:5; Acts 15:35-41; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:19, 12:13ff.; and Ephesians 4:1-13).
What role do good works play
with our standing before God?
Good works are meritorious for right standing
Good works are a necessary requirement of salvation and
right standing before God. "[T]hey, each for himself, may have a full chance
to prove, by obedience or disobedience, their worthiness of life eternal"
(Charles Taze Russell, "The Divine Plan of the Ages," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 1 [1916 ed.], 158). "Immortality
is a reward for faithfulness" (Let God Be True, 74). "Then
faith has to be exercised in Jesus Christ as the Chief Agent of salvation.
This places the Christian in a saved condition, but he must now persevere in
doing God's will and continue to adhere to all of God's requirements for the
rest of his life. Only then will he be saved to eternal life" (The Watchtower
[December 15, 1989], 30).
Good works are not meritorious for right standing
Salvation is a free gift that must be received
through faith, not of works, since no one is good enough to earn it from an all-holy Judge. If this is genuine faith, then it is
automatically demonstrated by the overall good life produced by
Galatians 3:11, 23-26, and 5:6; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Jn. 5:10-13; and James 2:14-26, NAS).
The Trinity is a false doctrine.
"The obvious conclusion is, therefore,
that Satan is the originator of the trinity doctrine" (Let God Be
True, 101). "Hence, to worship God on his
terms means to reject the Trinity doctrine. It contradicts what the prophets,
Jesus, the apostles, and the early Christians believed and taught. It
contradicts what God says about himself in his own inspired Word" ("Worship
God on His Terms," Should
You Believe the Trinity?).
The Trinity is a biblical doctrine.
Although the doctrine was not formulated in scholarly
language until the fourth century, the Bible still teaches that the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct or different persons, who are
eternally and inseparably one in purpose, nature, and being (Isaiah
43:10; 48:12-17; Mt. 3:16; 4:10; and 28:16-20). So the Father is not the same person as the
Son, and the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit, and the Holy
Spirit is not the same person as the Father, but nonetheless, each Person
eternally makes up the only Being of God there is.
Is Jesus God?
Jesus is not Jehovah.
Jesus is "a god," the Son of God, but not
the Almighty God ("Those Who Are
Called 'Gods,'" Awake! [April 22, 2005]). Jesus was created
as Michael the Archangel prior to coming to earth (The Truth Shall Make
You Free, 49; Russel, At-One-Ment Between God and Man, 84;
Joseph Rutherford, The Kingdom Is at Hand, 49). He was “the first and direct creation of Jehovah God” (The Kingdom Is at Hand, 46-47). Michael then created all other things (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 408-409).
Jesus is Jehovah.
Jesus has always been the only true God there is along
with the Father and Holy Ghost (Ibid; Jn. 1:1-3 and 14; 5:18-23;
1:13-18 with Isaiah
1:7-8, 17-18; and 22:6,
12-20 with Isa.
44:6). If Jesus is not the true God, then He would be a false god, since
the Bible teaches that "all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made
the heavens" (Psalm
96:5 and Jn. 17:3). Since the above verses teach that Jesus created the heavens and
that Jehovah did it alone, Jesus must at least be one of the members
of Jehovah. To teach otherwise is to devalue Jesus.
The Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is not a person, and thus not God.
"The holy spirit is the invisible active force of
(Let God Be True, 108). "THE Bible's use of 'holy spirit' indicates that it is a
controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of his
purposes. To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that
can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations. …[T]he holy spirit
is not a person and it is not part of a Trinity. The holy spirit is God's
active force that he uses to accomplish his will. It is not equal to God but
is always at his disposition and subordinate to him" ("The
Holy Spirit—God's Active Force,"
Should You Believe the
Trinity?). Being filled, baptized, anointed,
and poured out with holy spirit are all terms "inconsistent with the
idea of the holy spirit being a person" ("Is the Holy Spirit
a Person?," Awake! [July 2006]).
The Holy Spirit is God, and thus is a Person.
Since the Bible speaks of the Holy
Spirit as God (2
Samuel 23:2-3; Mt.
28:19 [equality with the Father and the Son]; and Acts
5:3-4), He must be a person (Jn.
16:7-8, 13-14 and Acts
13:2—note the personal pronouns here). The Holy Spirit is even
distinguished from divine power (Acts
10:38). The Holy Spirit demonstrates personal qualities—can be blasphemed
12:31), lied to (Acts
5:3), and grieved (Eph.
4:30). The Bible calls God "my
strength and power" (2
Sam. 22:33). It does not follow from this that God is merely an
invisible active force. Thus, there should be nothing strange about the Holy
Spirit being a personal force. Similarly, one may be "filled"
with Satan (Acts
5:3) and "baptized
6:3), but this does not entail that Satan and Christ are impersonal.
Jesus died on a stake, and the two-beamed symbol
of Christendom is to be minimized.
Jesus was crucified on a torture stake ("Reliving Jesus
Last Days on Earth,"
The Watchtower [March 15, 1998]). "It was not until about 300 years
after Jesus’ death that some professed Christians promoted the idea that
Jesus was put to death on a two-beamed cross" ("Did Jesus Really
Die on a Cross?," Awake! [April 2006]). "How would you
feel if one of your dearest friends was executed on the basis of false
charges? Would you make a replica of the instrument of execution? Would you
cherish it, or would you rather shun it? …So by cherishing the cross, a
person is honoring a symbol of worship that is opposed to the true God"
(Reasoning from the Scriptures, 92).
Jesus died on a cross, and its symbol is to be
Jesus having "nails" in His hands (Jn.
20:25) implies a two-beamed cross contrary to the way Jehovah’s Witnesses
picture Jesus having one nail through both hands (e.g., here). Both
history and archaeology demonstrate that Jesus died on a cross (cf. here and here). Because of its
significance, the cross is a symbol that Christians are to boast in (1
Cor. 1:18 and Gal.
6:14). As a symbol, it is a means to an end. The cross should never be
the thing that is an end to be worshipped anymore than a wedding ring is to
be valued above the spouse.
The resurrection of Christ?
Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead.
resurrected Jesus to life as a glorious spirit creature in heaven" ("The Resurrection
of Jesus FACT OR LEGEND?," The
Watchtower [March 15, 2001]). "Jesus today
is neither a man nor God Almighty.
Rather, he is a mighty spirit creature, a reigning King" ("Who Is Jesus
Christ?," The Watchtower [September 15, 2005]). "Therefore
the bodies in which Jesus manifested himself to his disciples after his
return to life were not the body in which he was nailed to the tree. They
were merely materialized for the occasion, resembling on one or two occasions
the body in which he died" (Rutherford, The Kingdom Is at Hand,
Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
The body of Jesus that was laid in the tomb became
glorified in the resurrection (Luke
Cor. 15:13-58). Simply because Christ was raised a "life-giving
spirit" as the Corinthians passage states does not exclude the context
of His spiritually dominated and immortal body. The passage states
that just as He was raised, so will the rest of us. The use of "spirit"
in the Luke passage should be understood as a "ghost" or an "apparition"
so as to not conflict with what was meant by a "life-giving spirit."
This latter use allows for spirits to have flesh and bones. The Bible teaches
not only that Jesus is in the nature of God, but it also teaches that Jesus
is in the nature of man today—a man with flesh and bones (1
The second coming of Christ?
The second coming of Christ is invisible.
"It is a settled Scriptural
truth, therefore, that human eyes will not see him at his second coming,
neither will he come in a fleshy body" (The Truth Shall Make You Free,
295). "Evidence establishes that his foretold return, the beginning of
his 'presence,' occurred in 1914.
In that year, Jesus was invisibly enthroned in the heavens as the King of
God’s Kingdom" ("What Does the
Messiah's Coming Mean to You? We Have Found the Messiah," The
Watchtower [February 15, 2006]). "As soon as Jesus became
King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the
locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth
since 1914" ("Lesson 6: What is the Kingdom of God?," What Does God Require of Us?).
The second coming of Christ will be visible by
Christ is always invisibly with His Church (Mt.
28:20 and Heb. 13:5), but the Church's "blessed hope" is "the
appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus
2:13; cf. 1
Timothy 6:14). Jesus Himself said that when He returns to establish His
kingdom "every eye will see Him" (Mt.
24:30 and Rev.
1:7). Just as Jesus ascended physically into heaven, so He will come from
The soul does not continue to exist after death.
"The dead cannot do anything
or feel anything. We cannot help them, and they cannot hurt us. (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) The soul dies;
it does not live on after death. (Ezekiel 18:4)"
("Lesson 11: Beliefs and Customs That Displease God," What Does God Require of Us?). The soul is simply life ("Lesson 12:
Showing Respect for Life and Blood," Ibid.).
When death occurs, the soul is gone. "So at death
humans cease to exist. The dead know, feel, and experience absolutely
nothing. Is there hope for the dead? Yes! The Bible shows that the hope for
most humans who have died is to be resurrected. The vast majority of the dead
are to be raised to life as humans on a paradise earth… A few humans have the
hope of being resurrected to life in heaven. Their number is small—144,000 in
all" ("Do Humans Become Angels
When They Die?," Awake! [August 2006]).
The soul does continue to exist after death.
The soul is more than simply life otherwise there would
be no individual that remained the same after going through recreations. For
example, given Watchtower beliefs, there would literally be no individual
that remains the same as Michael the Archangel became the man Jesus, and then
became an invisible spirit creature. The same would hold for humans resurrected to live on paradise earth, or for 144,000 humans going to
live in heaven. The mortal Charles Russell may resemble the
resurrected Russell, but they are merely look-alikes with the same
memories. Same memories do not entail the same person, since it is possible
for the Lord to switch Russell’s memories with Rutherford’s. But we all know if
we are to live in an afterlife, it must literally be us, and not someone else,
who is living. Furthermore, without a soul as a being that remains the same
through change, there are no resources available for standing beyond all
determinate physical events and acting with genuine freedom. The Bible does
teach that the soul continues to exist and is conscious after it dies (Genesis
25:8 with Mt.
Samuel 28:5-19; Ecclesiastes
3:21 with 12:7;
Cor. 5:1-9 with Philippians
1:23; and Rev.
6:9-11). Those biblical verses that seem to indicate non-existence after
death may easily be harmonized and understood in bodily and/or
phenomenological terms. That is, relative to our perspective of life on earth,
the dead are no more.
New World Translation of the Bible?
The New World Translation is a faithful rendering
of the Bible in its original languages.
"Produced by Jehovah's Witnesses, this [New World]
translation renders the Word of God in an easy-to-read, understandable way,
faithfully adhering to the original text" ("The Struggle for a
Bible in Modern Greek," The Watchtower [November 15, 2002]).
The New World Translation is not a
faithful rendering of the Bible in its original languages.
"Dr. Julius Mantey, author of A Manual Grammar
of the Greek New Testament, calls the New World Translation 'a shocking
mistranslation.' Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls it 'a frightful mistranslation,' 'erroneous,' 'pernicious,' and
'reprehensible.' Dr. William Barclay concluded that 'the deliberate distortion
of truth by this sect is seen in their New Testament translation....It is
abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that
is intellectually dishonest.'
...When defector Raymond Franz finally revealed
the identity of the translators (Natahn Knorr, Fredrick Franz, Albert
Schroeder, George Gangas, and Milton Henschel), it quickly became apparent
that the committee was completely unqualified for the task. Four of the five
men in the committee had no Hebrew or Greek training whatever and, in fact,
had only a high school education. The fifth--Frederick Franz--claimed to know
Hebrew and Greek, but upon examination under oath in a court of law in
Edinburgh, Scotland, was found to fail a simple Hebrew test" (Ron
Rhodes, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions [Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 2001], 94).