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," and not with those that displease God with beliefs as the Trinity, an eternal soul, celebrating Christmas, Easter, birthdays, displaying the cross, participating "in wars or political controversies of this world" ("Which Religion Should You Choose?," The Watchtower; "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," 122, and 151-62; "Lesson 11: Beliefs and Customs That Displease God," What Does God Require of Us?, 22-3; and "Beware of Customs That Displease God," The Watchtower [January 1, 2005]).



The church is a body of various believers and groups of believers.

The one true Church is the universal Body of Christ in heaven and on earth made up of all those true believers from various local denominations or churches (historically represented as Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant). 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). These branches at least all hold to what C. S. Lewis popularly referred to as "Mere Christianity." This is "the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times... that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son" (Lewis, Mere Christianity [N.Y.: Collier, 1960], vi).

As such, the Church has every right to defend itself (it is even commanded for this end in Jude 3) and to state through its creeds what it believes. The following statement from Church history ought to be kept in mind: "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, but in all things charity."

The Trinity?

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? [31]).

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; 8:56-59; 20:28-29; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Colossians 1:13-18 with Isaiah 44:24; Hebrews 1:2-12; Revelation 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 there is only one true God (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 Almighty God" (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? [20-3]). 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], 14-5).    

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 (Mt. 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 into Christ" (Rom. 6:3), but this does not entail that Satan and Christ are impersonal.    


The cross?

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], 9). "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], 13). "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 exalted.

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.

"God resurrected Jesus to life as a glorious spirit creature in heaven" ("For a Fact the Lord Was Raised Up!," The Watchtower [March 15, 2001], 7). "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], 6). "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, 259).

Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

The body of Jesus that was laid in the tomb became glorified in the resurrection (Luke 24:39-44; Jn. 2:19-21; 20:25-27; and 1 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, as the preceding verses teach, with flesh and bones (1 Timothy 2:5).   

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. (Matthew 24:3-14) In that year, Jesus was invisibly enthroned in the heavens as the King of God’s Kingdom" ("We Have Found the Messiah," The Watchtower [February 15, 2006], 7). "In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. ...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? [12-13]).

The second coming of Christ will be visible by all.

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 heaven (Acts 1:9-12).  

The soul?

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?, 23). 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], 29).  

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 who later became the man Jesus, and then later 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. 22:32; 1 Samuel 28:5-19; Ecclesiastes 3:21 with 12:7; Mt. 10:28; 17:3; Lk. 13:24-28; 16:19-31; 2 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.

"[I]t is an accurate, largely literal translation from the original languages. It is not a loose paraphrase, in which the translators leave out details that they consider unimportant and add ideas that they believe will be helpful" (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 277).

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).