Jehovah’s Witnesses are a familiar sight on many doorstops. The witnesses seek to introduce others to their church and their beliefs through a series of pamphlets and Bible studies. They claim to be a Christian denomination and to uphold the major doctrines of Biblical Christianity. Are the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian belief? Are they consistent with historical orthodoxy? Are their beliefs in line with what the Bible says must be believed to be saved?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a Christian church by any historical definition of the Christian orthodoxy. None who hold to the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are genuine Christians. What is the basis for making such a bold declaration? First, and most significantly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christian because they deny truths which the Bible defines as necessary for salvation. The first and second epistles of John state in very definite language that any one who denies Jesus is the promised Savior and Son of God is not saved and is not of God. The official teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses about Jesus is that He is a great spirit being, the first spirit created by Jehovah (they also deny the Trinity). Jesus was a god (note the small “g”), but not the second person of the Trinity. Jesus is not eternal, not equal with the Father nor possessor of the infinite glories of Jehovah. In Jehovah’s Witnesses theology Jesus is the greatest of created beings. They also teach that when Jesus came to the earth, he gave up all his divine nature. In their Bible studies they teach, “He was not a spirit-human hybrid.” Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that Jesus is God, that Jesus is God made flesh and that Jesus remained fully God while taking to Himself full humanity. All of these truths are crucial for salvation. One cannot be saved without first believing Jesus is God the Son and God become man.
The errors regarding the person of Jesus are sufficient to keep from salvation any who believe their lies, but Jehovah’s Witnesses compound their heresies about Jesus with heresies about salvation. According to their teaching, Jesus’ death does not wash away all sin forever. Jesus’ death makes it possible for men to be saved, but does not accomplish salvation for them. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, by participation in God’s visible theocratic kingdom (the Jehovah’s Witness organization) and by steadfastly maintaining confidence that Christ made salvation possible. They teach that none are securely saved until the survivors of Armageddon chose to turn to God and submit to His rule. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a salvation that is a mixture of faith and works. Their inclusion of lifelong good works as essential to salvation is a denial of the gospel. Galatians 1 describes this kind of gospel as no gospel and its teachers as ones who are accursed for their falsehoods.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are false teachers who must not be heeded or encouraged in their false doctrines in any way. This does not mean they are beyond the hope of salvation. Those who will repent of their false doctrines can turn to God and find pardon for their sin and eternal life through Jesus Christ.