The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based on the Bible teachings of Charles Taze Russell founder of the Bible Student movement and successive presidents of the Watch Tower Society, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and Nathan Homer Knorr. Since 1976 all doctrinal decisions have been made by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group of elders at the denomination’s headquarters. These teachings are disseminated through The Watchtower magazine and other publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and at conventions and congregation meetings.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the present world order, which they perceive as being under the control of Satan, will be ended by a direct intervention of Jehovah (God), who will use Jesus Christ to fully establish his heavenly government over earth, destroying existing human governments and non-Witnesses, and creating a cleansed society of true worshippers who can live forever. They see their mission as primarily evangelical, to warn as many people as possible in the remaining time before Armageddon. All members of the denomination are expected to take an active part in preaching. Witnesses refer to all their beliefs collectively as “the Truth”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs
The divine name
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s one true name”the name by which he must be identified” is Jehovah. Biblically, however, God is identified by many names, including:
Lord of hosts
In NT times, Jesus referred to God as “Father”, as did the apostles.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Trinity is unbiblical because the word is not in the Bible and because the Bible emphasizes that there is one God.
Biblically, while it is true that there is only one God, it is also true that three persons are called God in Scripture:
the Holy Spirit.
Each of these three possesses the attributes of deity including
Still, further, each of the three is involved in doing the works of deity such as creating the universe:
the Son, and
the Holy Spirit.
The Bible indicates that there is three-in-oneness in the Godhead.
Thus doctrinal support for the Trinity is compellingly strong.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was created by Jehovah as the archangel Michael before the physical world existed, and is a lesser, though mighty, god.
Biblically, however, Jesus is eternally God and has the exact same divine nature as the Father.
Indeed, a comparison of the OT and NT equates Jesus with Jehovah.
Jesus himself created the angels and is worshiped by them.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when Jesus was born on earth, he was a mere human and not God in human flesh. This violates the biblical teaching that in the incarnate Jesus, “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. The word for “fullness” carries the idea of the sum total. “Deity” refers to the nature, being, and attributes of God. Therefore, the incarnate Jesus was the sum total of the nature, being, and attributes of God in bodily form. Indeed, Jesus was Immanuel, or “God with us”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was resurrected spiritually from the dead, but not physically. Biblically, however, the resurrected Jesus asserted that he was not merely a spirit but had a flesh-and-bone body. He ate food on several occasions, thereby proving that he had a genuine physical body after the resurrection. This was confirmed by his followers who physically touched him.
The second coming
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the second coming was an invisible, spiritual event that occurred in the year 1914. Biblically, however, the yet-future second coming will be physical, visible, and will be accompanied by visible cosmic disturbances. Every eye will see him.
The Holy Spirit
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force of God and not a distinct person. Biblically, however, the Holy Spirit has the three primary attributes of personality:
Moreover, personal pronouns are used of him. Also, he does things that only a person can do, including:
issuing commands, and
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that salvation requires faith in Christ, association with God’s organization, and obedience to its rules. Biblically, however, viewing obedience to rules as a requirement for salvation nullifies the gospel. Salvation is based wholly on God’s unmerited favor (grace), not on the believer’s performance. Good works are the fruit or result, not the basis, of salvation.
Two redeemed peoples
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are two peoples of God:
(1) the Anointed Class (144,000) will live in heaven and rule with Christ; and
(2) the “other sheep” (all other believers) will live forever on a paradise earth.
Biblically, however, a heavenly destiny awaits all who believe in Christ, and these same people will also dwell on the new earth.
No immaterial soul
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that humans have an immaterial nature. The “soul” is simply the life-force within a person. At death, that life-force leaves the body. Biblically, however, the word “soul” is multifaceted. One key meaning of the term is man’s immaterial self that consciously survives death. Unbelievers are in conscious woe while believers are in conscious bliss in heaven.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe hell is not a place of eternal suffering but is rather the common grave of humankind. The wicked are annihilated snuffed out of conscious existence forever. Biblically, however, hell is a real place of conscious, eternal suffering.
Jehovah’s witnesses Medical Beliefs
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it is against God’s will to receive blood and, therefore, they refuse blood transfusions, often even if it is their own blood. The willing acceptance of blood transfusions by Jehovah’s Witnesses has in some cases led to expulsion from and ostracisation by their religious community.
However, a minority of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not agree that the Bible prohibits blood transfusions, and will, therefore, accept transfusions. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses may also believe that it is acceptable to receive blood plasma fractions or the reinfusion of their own blood. Given the divergent beliefs about receiving blood amongst followers of the religion, it is imperative that the view of each individual Jehovah’s Witness patient on this aspect be carefully canvassed by the treating practitioner.
An adult patient who is competent to consent to or refuse treatment
The South African Constitution protects a patient’s right to bodily integrity and autonomy. Accordingly, an adult Jehovah’s Witness is entitled, in terms of our Constitution, to refuse a lifesaving blood transfusion.
In the case of elective treatment or surgery, a medical practitioner who believes that a blood transfusion may be necessary may refuse to treat or perform surgery on a Jehovah’s Witness patient who has refused to consent to a blood transfusion being administered, provided that the practitioner is not already involved in the ongoing treatment of such patient, in which case a unilateral refusal to continue with the treatment could be viewed as a breach of contract.
An adult Jehovah’s Witness who is unable to consent to or refuse treatment
In terms of the National Health Act, if an adult Jehovah’s Witness is unable to consent to or refuse the administration of a blood transfusion (ie, due to unconsciousness), a person who had been mandated by the patient, in writing, may consent to or refuse the blood transfusion on behalf of the patient.
If no-one had been mandated by the patient, proxy consent or refusal should be obtained from the patient’s spouse or partner, a parent, a grandparent, an adult child, or a brother or sister (in this specific order). If such a person refuses a blood transfusion on behalf of the patient, the medical practitioner will have to obtain a court order if he/she is of the view that a blood transfusion should nevertheless be administered.
Jehovah’s Witness children under 12
According to the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005, the best interests of a child are paramount in all decisions regarding children. (A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.)
In cases where the child is younger than 12 (or older than 12 but of insufficient maturity or unable to understand the benefits, risks, and social implications of the treatment), medical treatment or surgery cannot be performed without the consent of the parent or guardian of the child.
Jehovah’s Witness children over 12
A child who is over the age of 12 years (and who is of sufficient maturity and has the mental capacity to understand the benefits, risks, social and other implications of treatment) may consent to his/her own medical treatment without assistance from a parent. In the case of a surgical operation (as opposed to treatment), such a child may only give consent if he/she is duly assisted by a parent or guardian.
It is uncertain whether a blood transfusion falls under the definition of “treatment” or “surgical operation”. If it is deemed to be a surgical operation, a child over the age of 12 years (who is sufficiently mature) will need the assistance of a parent or guardian in order to consent to a blood transfusion. As in the case of a patient who is younger than 12, a parent may not refuse to consent to a blood transfusion by reason only of religious or other beliefs, unless the parent can show that there is a medically accepted alternative choice.
Who are Jehovah’s witnesses?
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The group reports a worldwide membership of approximately 8.58 million adherents involved in evangelism and an annual Memorial attendance of over 20 million. Jehovah’s Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group of elders in Warwick, New York, United States, which establishes all doctrines based on its interpretations of the Bible. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent and that the establishment of God’s kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity.