Term Paper: Jehovah's Witnesses and Christianity

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[. . .] Even though some parts of their publication are devoted to educative programmes, the majority of their writings are nonsense, and therefore, worthless (Ryken, 2005).

Though they claim to be Christians, they deny the physical resurrection of Christ, and the concept of salvation by grace. By this alone, they are not supposed to be considered as a Christian group. Even though they preach about Christ, the Savior, they do not believe everything Christ says about himself. Going further, the Watchtower theology interprets the bible to accommodate their ever changing perceptions of the scriptures, thus they qualify as a non-Christian body (Ryken, 2005).

The Jehovah Witnesses showcase the most primitive kind of fundamentalism. Their view of the bible is so distorted and inconsistent with the rational of service to God. They usually quote contemporary principles and opinions and go along with it as long as they support their claims. However, they will quickly dump that particular ideology the moment it does not tally with their beliefs. They usually dwell on things people would otherwise not bother about. What they are only interested in is gathering materials that support their dogmas that actually do no one any good (Ryken, 2005).

Every generation has actually produced people like Charles Russell and Judge Rutherford. These two have interpreted the bible as a book containing great-code which serves as the blueprint of the future. Every coincidence in reality gets traced to some portion of the bible, and this forms the foundation to a series of discussion on the topic. And by so doing, the message in that portion of the bible will eventually be lost to their propaganda. The doctrine which Russell has put in place for his witnessing followers does not preach the gospel as it is recorded in the scriptures. Rather, they twist and thwart it to suit their purposes. In general, they distort the totality of the Christian doctrine. A sect whose theology is in strict opposition to Christianity in many ways cannot be truly Christian, even though they claim to be so (Ryken, 2005).

The Witnesses have actually followed in the footsteps of their founders. And most of their literatures devote extra time trying to explain contemporary issues, especially in the polity, and trying to link those to the books of the bible. They like to trace physical occurrences back to the bible. And from the book of Revelation, they extracted one other unfounded article of faith -- Millenarianism. This is the belief in a literal meaning of the thousand year reign of saints in the world. And from the same book, they calculated the exact population of the inhabitants of heaven (Ryken, 2005).

Worthy of note is the attitude of Orthodox Christianity to the discovery of truth. It does not evade evidence by merely claiming that it is only a thing of faith and feeling. Christianity tries to verify every aspect of its teachings, and that is why it always stands tall in the midst of a fierce competition from other worldviews. Its competitive power is immense (Ryken, 2005).

As an offshoot of Adventism, it builds on the misunderstanding of the Biblical prophecy and revelation which their root source adheres to. Even though many of their claims have failed, they still hold their ground in ignorance. And devout people keep following obediently. For example, when they started, they said that millions of people now living now will never die. After so many years of witnessing the death of people around them, they still say millions that millions of people living now will never die. Even as they witness how nature and time falsify their claims, they continue to sing the same old songs (Ryken, 2005).

They favor the apocalyptic part of the bible and there are so many inconsistencies in their claims here. For example, they see the 144,000 in heaven in the literal while the 12,000 from each tribe is symbolic. They do not explain the parameters they used to arrive at which number is symbolic and which is literal. They merely explain biblical incidents away as they deemed fit without regard to the essence of the message in the story. It gives one the feeling that they are more interested in the medium with which the message is conveyed, than in the message itself (Ryken, 2005).

In Defense of Christianity

Christianity explores and verifies reality. It encourages verification of incidents to ascertain their exactness. Just as we see in 1 Corinth. 15:17, the truth of Christianity is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If not, Saint Paul says, the faith of Christians is useless. The founding fathers of Christianity openly proclaimed that it is founded on a given set of claims which are true. If they are found to be false, Christianity is then faulty and worthless. And Christianity's scope and the power of explanation is excellent and gives an in-depth account of life and existence: persons, life, consciousness, contingent objects, and so on. It indeed satisfies all the measurements for test (Ryken, 2005).

The claims worldviews make about reality can be true or false. And so they must be supported by reality in many ways in order to be certified as true. The Orthodox Christianity strictly maintains the rules of the test, and encourages them also. They only certify those elements of faith they know to have passed through a rigorous test, such as the Grotius evaluation criteria (Ryken, 2005).

The judgment made here about Jehovah's Witnesses may have sounded a bit harsh. But we can argue that there was no intention to ridicule an honest belief such as this. It is good to be sincere in matters of belief. But respect for sincerity should not blindfold us to the requirement of standing for the truth at all times. What may be the offence here, it will never be a match for the great propagandizing for which this sect is known. If this is able to help any of those under captivity of their propaganda, it would be a good job well done to the glory of God (Ryken, 2005).

Section 4: Arguing for Christianity with a Jehovah Witness

There is one issue of very grave consequence which came as a result of Russell's misinterpretations of the bible, and this has also formed part of the Jehovah Witnesses' belief system. They have denied the immortality of the human soul. And this goes in the same direction as their interpretation of eternal punishment and the wrong interpretations they associate with the apocalyptic book (Enns, 2008).

The appendix to the New World Translation of the 1950 edition of the Christian Greek Scriptures, about five pages were centered on the translations of the word 'soul' (Enns, 2008).

The Bible authors wrote the revealed messages with the knowledge they had of the world during their own time. They did not understand the world then as we do now. Now, even though the bible does not say anything on the immortality of the human soul, it does talk about the immortality of the human person. All of these are purely linguistic features which the bible authors tried to use to properly pass the message they received across in such a way that it will be both powerfully expressed and properly understood (Enns, 2008).

The descriptions with which the bible authors relayed the messages they received -- like the firmament -- are only their own mental framework and not part of the revelation they received (Enns, 2008).

A good example of how the bible authors used their own knowledge as a wrapper for the messages they received from God is found in the description of the firmament in Gen 1:2, Job 28:14. They saw the firmament as shard and shiny as a material made of bronze. But we have a better knowledge of the physical properties of the sky now, including the world in its entirety. Our concentration, therefore, should not be on the medium through which God's message is brought to us. Rather, we should pay more attention to the message itself. In the case of Genesis, the more important thing is the revealed truth that God is the maker of the universe. So in order to understand the teachings of the bible, we need to go beyond the particular presentation of the authors, and understand it in other ways than the medium expresses (Enns, 2008).

To address the issue of the immortality of the human person, the bible does say that the human soul is immortal. The book of Matthew 25:31-46 has it that when Christ arrives in his glory, the angels will be with him, and he will sit on his throne of judgment. And all the peoples will be gathered before the Son of Man and he will separate people from one another, the way goats are separated from sheep. And finally, the king will tell the ones on his right hand to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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