*From a bulletin article written by Joshua Dykes, published in the bulletin on April 10th
Over the next several months, when I am charged with doing a bulletin article, I will be starting something a little bit different. I am currently doing studies on different world religions including different denominations and sects. My hope is to shed some light in the bulletin articles on these religions and sects and then offer tips and ways to reach individuals within these groups. This week, I want us to talk about reaching our Jehovah’s Witness neighbors and look at ways that we can reach them in love (cf. Eph. 4:15).
Jehovah’s Witnesses was founded in 1884 by Charles Russell who incorporated the denomination under the title “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.” The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses such as their rejection of Christ’s deity and his fleshly resurrection are by no means new (as this was the view of a sect known as Arians in the 300’s AD), but some of their beliefs have taken the interpretation of scripture to an extreme. For example, God cannot be called any name other than Jehovah (any other name would be taking the Lord’s name in vain), blood transfusions are strictly condemned (viewed as a pagan practice), and national pride and birthdays are condemned (as these are viewed as idolatry).
To refute Jehovah’s Witnesses’ binding where God has not bound, we need to consider what the current testament of the Bible has to say in regards to Jesus’ deity, his resurrection, and idolatry. John 1:1 is the passage most Christians use to defend the deity of Jesus Christ, however we need to recognize that JWs translate and interpret this passage very differently than we do. A better passage to use that their translation does not skew incorrectly is John 20:28 in which Thomas acknowledges both the resurrected body of Christ and states that He is both Lord and God. Another passage that refutes their rejection of a fleshly resurrected body of Jesus is Luke 24:39 in which Christ explicitly states that a spirit does not have flesh and bones as he has. In regards to JW tying nationalism and idolatry together, they are in some sense right. Nationalism can become our god if we let it get to that point. However, we do come to understand in light of Romans 13 that we ought to obey the laws of the land. We ought to pray for our leaders and strive to defend the religious freedom we have (Jer. 29:7). In the next bulletin article I pen, we will examine other teachings of the JWs denomination and look at more ways to reach individuals trapped within it.