The church I most erecntly attended asked two questions at baptism: "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your savior?" and "Do you trust him alone for your salvation?" Yes to both was all one needed, and no, you didn't become a member of our church. One time I was doing Tuesday evening outreach and one of the groups came back with a guy they'd been talking to that night. He'd been to church once or twice (all of our contacts were with people who had expressed intrest in one way or another) he'd accepted Jesus that night and asked if he could be baptised. They said yes, brought him back to the church and we all watched him get dunked. That was all there was to it.
Our "Bible Study" with the Jehovah's Witnesses
garyneal, I would simply challange your wife to use the Bible and find out what is teaches regarding Salvation, man's need and God's provision. Then She would be answering her own question.
Perry, I like to use the terms protestant simply because it shows that I'm not Roman Catholic. However, I always cringe when I use the term because I'm not protesting anything and my beliefs are not consistant with much of modern protestant teaching. I use the term Evangelical also but I don't think it describes me either. At the end of the day, I believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Technically, I'm a fundamentalist, but that terms invokes some bad feelings also.
My wife, two teenage kids and I attended the Washington DC march last Saturday (9/12/09). The news reports on CNN described us as "protesters". I don't think of myself as a protester the way the media defines protesters. We had never marched in protest of anything in our lives. We just wanted to let the world know that we are sick of the government powergrab. I owe something to my forefathers who risked it all so that I could have the freedom I now enjoy.
I have to think that in the middle ages, tucked away in the Roman Church were some true believers, individuals who were trusting In Christ and in Him alone. I guess I'm rambling on about is not letting someone else define you or me.
I would be interested in knowing if your elders at the book study believe the following summary of JW beliefs.
I. Summary of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Beliefs as they relate to the contents of this paper.
Every now and then the Jehovah's Witnesses make significant changes to their doctrine that reach to the very core of their belief system. As such, it can be a real challenge to pinpoint exactly what they believe from one year to the next. The changes they make are to be expected given the weakensses in their dogma and the need to accomodate mountains of theological criticism. Invariably those changes bump up against other points of Society doctrine resulting in an ever-growing tangled mass of contradictions. Due to the nature of these shifting sands one should take their asserted beliefs with a grain of salt.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people go to heaven (Reasoning from the Scriptures (Reasoning) [New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985], 166). They are the bride of Christ, God’s children, the elect, and often referred to as the “anointed” of Christ (Insight on the Scriptures (Insight), 2 vols. [New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1988], 786). The New Testament Greek Scriptures (New Testament) were written primarily to, and for the benefit of, these brothers of Christ. They are specially chosen because they live especially good lives while on earth (Insight, 786-788). Once resurrected to heaven, a process which began in 1918 and will soon be concluded (the first resurrection) (Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand (Revelation Climax), [New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 19__] 103, 277) they will become a kingdom of priests and kings who will rule with Christ for one thousand years over humans on earth (Insight, 170, 524, 525).
This reign will involve their judging resurrected humans during the thousand year reign, and after the thousand year reign when resurrected mankind will undergo a final decisive test before being destroyed forever or having their names written permanently in God’s book, or scroll, of life (Insight, 251, 788). Whereas the 144,000 are resurrected to heaven as spirit creatures, all other billions of humans worthy of the resurrection during the thousand year reign will be resurrected as corrupt flesh and blood humans with the possibility of immortality on earth (Reasoning, 333-336; Insight, 251). During the thousand year reign the Great Crowd will engage in “perfecting” resurrected humans to a sinless condition enjoyed by Adam and Eve before the fall (Reasoning, 337, 338).
The Great Crowd (or large multitude) is a term found at Revelation 7:9. The Great Crowd are those Jehovah’s Witnesses who survive the Great Tribulation. They do not die, do not need to be resurrected and are declared righteous through faith (Insight, 788) although it appears as though they also must pass a final, decisive test to gain eternal life (Insight., 251). Most Jehovah’s Witnesses today consider themselves to be members of the Great Crowd and according to their interpretation of Revelation 7:9-17 they will always be earthly, not heavenly, subjects of the kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God). As to those Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not of the 144,000 and do not survive the Great Tribulation, it is believed they will be resurrected in God’s due time (Insight, 788).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when Jesus Christ died and rose to heaven to sit on God’s throne he began to reign only as king over his congregation of 144,000 followers who at the time were still earthly subjects of this spiritual kingdom (Insight, 524). This rule began with Christ’s blood sacrifice which was initiated pursuant to the much-anticipated New Covenant which replaced the old Mosaic Law covenant (Law covenant). This New Covenant, to which only God, Christ and the 144,000 are parties, will expire shortly after the last of the 144,000 are resurrected to heaven (Insight, 524). The only people who have their sins forgiven through Christ's blood sacrifice from the time of Adam until the beginning of the thousand year reign are the 144,000 (Insight, 736).
The real kingdom of God, a much larger, expansive and lengthier kingdom, began in 1914 (the 1914 kingdom) when Christ supposedly sat on the throne to begin his rule over mankind (Insight, 169). Jesus, being a mere angel (Reasoning, 218) created hundreds of millions of years ago, only receives a subsidiary share of this kingdom of God (Insight, 169). 1914 A.D. is arguably the most important date in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief system because it is the year that Jesus returned, or arrived (Great Man, ch. 133, 2; Reasoning, 344), to earth. This was the invisible Second Coming of Christ, or “parousia.” It also heralded the beginning of the first of three judgment days.
We are currently in the first judgment day period. Under the guidance of the remaining earthly anointed 144,000, the Great Crowd of Jehovah’s Witnesses were taught that they were separating the earth’s sheep and goats through their door-to-door ministry (The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived) (Great Man) [New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1991] chapter 111, 12-15). This fundamental doctrine, however, changed in 1995. The separation of sheep and goats has been postponed, for now, until a time after the Great Tribulation begins (The Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1995, pg. 23). The sheep join God’s one and only earthly organization, thus becoming members of the Great Crowd (if they survive the Great Tribulation) and earn the opportunity to live life everlasting; all the goats, those who do not heed their invitation, will be destroyed forever during the Great Tribulation and Armageddon with no prospect of resurrection (Ibid.).
The only humans who survive the Great Tribulation and Armageddon, where all the enemies of God are destroyed, are members of the Great Crowd of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Ibid.); no one else. Then begins the thousand year reign of Christ and the 144,000 over the earth’s Great Crowd and the righteous and unrighteous - at least those who merit the resurrection during the thousand years (Reasoning, 339-340). This general resurrection during the millennium is the second resurrection according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the tasks of the Great Crowd during this peaceful thousand year reign is to restore post-apocalyptic earth to a paradise-like condition. The Great Crowd also assists in educating the 20 billion resurrected dead to the will of God, to get to know Jesus, and to live in accordance with new laws and regulations revealed through the Law Scrolls of God opened at Revelation 20:12 (Insight, 788). The purpose of educating the resurrected is to lift them to a state of perfection on par with Adam and Eve’s sinless state of perfection they enjoyed before rebelling against Jehovah God (Ibid.).
The second judgment day period occurs during the thousand year reign. “Perfected” humans, now only corruptible rather than corrupt when resurrected, are tested and judged based not on their deeds and works in their previous lives (the one we experience today) but on their deeds during the thousand year reign (Ibid.). They believe this because all men are allegedly acquitted of sin in this life and pay for their sins with the wages of death (Insight, 788; Reasoning, 338). Therefore, the only deeds or sins for which they can be put on judgment for are those committed during the thousand year reign, and their conduct during the final test after the thousand years.
The final test of their fidelity begins after the thousand year reign, the third judgment day, when those remaining perfected humans are confronted with the unleashing of Satan from the abyss and all which that entails. If they pass the test successfully they will have their names permanently written in the scroll, or book, of life. If they fail they are cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death, that is, eternal destruction (Insight, 251).
Thereafter, the services of Christ, the angel, are no longer required. He is no longer needed as a helper in terms of a propitiatory sacrifice, nor as a legal intermediary between God and man. Accordingly, he is dispensed with in this regard (Insight, 170).
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe with all sincerity that they "have the truth" and "are in the truth." However given the very significant repudiation of past doctrines that have formed the essential core of their beliefs for over one hundred years it is doubtful they can make that claim. If their "truth" is not the "truth" by their own admission then their theories were false.
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization? (italics mine)
Over the years this question of dedicating ones life and to God's spirit directed organization has been added. I was baptised in the 70's this was not part of the baptismal questions...no one baptized as a Witness prior to 1985 was asked to dedicate themselves to "God's visible organization"
But now even after if you still are a jw, they would say you have excepted it.
If my wife happens to be attending a church with me, she is quick to point out their errors from scripture and exhalt the Kingdom Halls as "the closest thing to the truth" that she has experienced. (Yet of course, she is clearly blind to errors I see in the Watchtower theology.)
What is nice though, about most churches, is that you can disagree with the pastor explanation of scripture and not be disfellowshipped or cut off from the congregation for having a different viewpoint. You can't say that for the watchtower.
I wonder if witnesses taking these "new" baptizimal vows understand the LEGALITY of it?
Interesting post Jonathon,
I must admit, I only scanned over it and not actually read it word for word but it certainly illustrates a point I made in my post concerning their blood doctrine. I set of rules this complicated that ultimately contradict each other is a far cry from the simple teachings of Christ Jesus. Only the U.S. tax code could possibly be more complicated and it too is man made.
My mother in law was baptized in the 70's also (1971 I believe) so she too answered the old baptismal questions. Just as the elder and his wife who have been in the truth for 50 years.
I'm going to another "Bible Study" this Saturday where they plan to question me about my beliefs and present a list of theirs to see if I agree. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with me then.
Interesting post Thomas. I guess I finally got over the fundamentalist negative connotation myself. I had to eventually admit that I was, and am really only interested in the essentials of Christianity. I am just not interested in the :
feel good/do gooder gospel
easy believism gospel
name it and claim it gospel
word of faith gospel
Mother Church gospel
I know that there are folks who love the Lord in all those kinds of groups..... but there is a lot of error too. I know they may accuse me of being too closed-minded, not helping the community enough, even divisive. etc. In the end though, all believers will stand before the Bema seat and receive a rebuke and/or rewards from the Lord....probably both.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with me then.
He might even tell you not to bother.
All the best,
One thing you should keep in mind is their primary doctrine.
'That the WT was selected by Jesus, in 1919, to be God's sole channel of communication to mindkind in our day.'
There are plenty of groups making similar claims. Even Charlie Manson had a version of it. Just because the group making the claim aren't carrying AK47s or Buck knives and the women dance about in modest dresses, or naked, singing about Jesus or Jah or Allah doesn't make them safe.
The reason I descibe it as their primary doctrine is because you can spend hours showing a JW why the Bible doesn't support WT doctrine and they will go away unconvinced because............ 'The WT was selected by Jesus, in 1919, to be God's sole channel of communication to mindkind in our day.' Therefore they cannot be wrong.
Belief in that doctrine is not negotiable, it is not a concience matter.
The question is, 'If it is true, what should you do?' and conversely, and probably even more importantly....
...... If it is false, what should you do?