Friday, June 08, 2007

What you might not know about Witnesses

Best known for their door-to-door evangelism, Jehovah's Witnesses have come to town for an annual convention. Organizers say between 9,000 and 10,000 people are here for a weekend of worship and instruction.

I mentioned to the media contact that I know very little about the Witnesses and he was happy to fax me a fact sheet. I'm guessing that most of you know little about them outside of that kid in your elementary school class that couldn't participate in class holiday parties. So here's some of what they sent me about their beliefs, along with a little bit from

* They view first century Christianity as their model.

* They see the Bible as infallible and inspired, but say that some pieces are symbolic.

* They believe Jesus is the son of God but not equal to God. They do not believe in the Trinity, which most Christians profess.

* While they don't physically separate themselves from society, they do avoid involvement in government, so service in the Military or saying the Pledge of Allegiance is considered wrong.

* They also try to avoid "being excessive" in worldly wealth or power.

* They see marriage as a lifelong commitment and only allow divorce in special circumstances. Re-marriage is only allowed in the case of adultery.

Plenty of folks have called the denomination a cult and set up websites to condemn it, but I thought I'd at least give you some of their own explanation of beliefs and you can decide for yourself what to make of it.


MS said...

Are Jehova's Witnesses the same as Mormons?

Diane Haag said...

No, not at all. While both are big into door to door evangelism and both have been called the c-word, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are very different historically and theologically.

The Witness' roots go back to an apocalyptic sect in the mid-1800's founded by Baptist preacher William Miller. While they have evolved and changed they still maintain a strong apocalyptic component in their theology.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) on the other hand goes back to Joseph Smith, a farmer in New York, who had a vision of God in 1820 and later received the text known as the Book of Mormon. The LDS site ( is very good if you want to know more.

Tom said...

The Witnesses were officially founded in 1800, but their theology has roots back to the third century.

Arius was a Catholic priest who believed Jesus was super human but not equal to God. He had quite a following, but his teaching was declared heretical by the Council of Nicea.

Fifteen hundred+ years later, the Witnesses have brought back an ancient heresey.

One might ask how they get around sticky verses in the Bible like John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (NIV).

They simply adjust the translation slightly. According the the Witnesses version of the Bible, "In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." [emphasis added]

Pretty clever.

Anyway, the Catholic Church delt with this issues centuries ago.