Jehovah's Witnesses and Calvinistic Predestination

by AllTimeJeff 69 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • AllTimeJeff

    This is a complex question, and I just want to get a discussion started on the message of Jehovah's Witnesses and how it relates to their Adventist roots, and esp Calvinism.

    Bear with me, I will try to be concise.

    We all know that while Jehovah's Witnesses like to deny Adventist roots, that it is clear that according to them, the man Jesus selected to get the whole thing started, C T Russell, was heavily influenced by Adventist ideas, esp the (adventist) idea that has really never left them; the idea that somehow, a time date or period can be inferred from the bible if you read certain scriptures through an adventist lens. (thus, the 2520 years, 7 gentile times, etc.)

    So while this is relatively well known, there is a concept that Jehovah's Witnesses teach against, yet practice. The idea of predestination.

    Calvinism in particular teaches that it doesn't really matter too much (depending on which church you go to) what you do. You are immedietely born a sinner (the doctrine of total depravity) and that as a result, it is only a result of gods mercy whether or not you receive salvation. While it is up to you to respond to the gospel (from the Calvinistic lens), ultimately, only a person predestined to believe and exercise faith will ever respond in the first place, thus making obedience and the ability to exercise faith something only god can give.

    Sound familiar?

    While Jehovah's Witnesses do not teach predestination as a point of dogma, they do teach via experiences at assemblies and even imbedded in the teaching of the 144,000 elect, that predestination takes place.

    When you hear that (damn old) experience of "I was praying and just then, JW's knocked on my door." or if you ever told somone one who showed interest, "Jehovah saw what was in your heart, and drew you to him", that is a bit of Calvinistic predestination.

    The implication is simple: Only a small select few have the opportunity to even listen to the message of "Jehovah's people." And the ones that do listen, they are "drawn" to the organization.

    I just find it fascinating that while dogmatically, JW's deny Calvinistic predestination, they preach and teach it as a matter of practice. Any comments on this?

  • paul from cleveland
    paul from cleveland

    This is the exact question I've had my entire life. I remember an elder telling me, while we were out in service one day, that we were looking for people with 'good hearts'. I asked 'what if someone doesn't have a good heart, but they want to have one?' (referring to myself) He just shrugged his shoulders indicating that he didn't know. I've never thought I had a good heart but was a Witness by "accident" because of birth. I was sure that Jehovah would eventually root me out. (which is what happened)

  • AllTimeJeff

    Paul, I got that a lot, and wondered about myself for a while. Ultimately, I rejected for the simple reason that it would be cruel of god to allow life to come into existence when he knew already whether or not they would be obedient, have faith, etc.

    And perhaps you know through experience that a person's life history can dramatically alter and affect what they can believe in, what they are willing to believe in.

    So would god reject someone who could never be a JW just because they were abused as kids? Dirt poor? Never had the chance in the first place?

    I don't believe that could ever be true.

    However, it is fascinating to me how JW's practice something they don't teach, without realizing or understanding it. (as usual)

  • paul from cleveland
    paul from cleveland

    I had never realized that the questions I had were based on Calvinist ideas that were carried over to the Witnesses. It makes so much sense the way you've explained it. That's always been one of my biggest issues but I've never been able to verbalize it properly.

  • Farkel

    The whole notion of Bible prophecy necessarily leads to predestination. It can be no other way. For a Bible prophecy to work, certain people need to do certain things way into the future. For the Bible to be inerrant, those people of the future HAD to do those certain things, ergo they had no free choice; their destinies were fixed before they were born.

    Since that is the case, it is only logical that Judas Iscariot did Jesus a favor because he did what God wanted him to do and had foreordained him to do.

    It's all bullshit.


  • AllTimeJeff
    It's all bullshit.

    Thats pretty much my conclusion as well.

    The ideas revolving around prophecy and predestination cheapen lives. Someone had to kill the Archduke Ferdinand, to start a war on earth that according to JW dogma, already started in heaven.

    Did these people not have a choice, or was Jehovah telling Satan "Check"?

    So lives can be ruined. Lives can not matter. The only ones that matter are those that "Jehovah" picks.

    So if you didn't take that colorful Watchtower from that 7 year old girl and her mother last week, and that was your only shot at ever listening to JW's ever due to your work schedule, you are screwed. Because you rejected the message of Jehovah, via that cool Watchtower with a Panda eating a bamboo milkshake.

    Yup. Life is cheap where predestination is concerned.

  • Robdar

    Farkel nailed it to the wall.

  • paul from cleveland
    paul from cleveland

    This is the issue I was trying to get at when I posted Is this our fate?

  • AllTimeJeff

    I got that Paul. It is interesting to ponder what that means. One thing I feel certain Paul, you aren't evil, you weren't meant for destruction. That is just one religions convenient way to control its members. And obviously, its not like JW's were clever enough to come up with this on their own. They are just one of the latest to teach doctrines that cheapen lives for their own benefit.

    The only thing to do is recognize the value of your own life, and that your future is truly in your hands. That to me is an exciting prospect.

  • leavingwt


    Great topic.

    This helped me during my awakening from WT, and then later to decide I wasn't interested in invisible persons.

    JWs definitely believe in 'predestination' if they think that only those who Jehovah calls, will listen. I got into a pretty heated debate about this with some brothers, before I exited.

    If I were to ever be a Christian, I would reject Calvinism outright. A god who predestines anyone to an eternity of suffering is not worth my time.


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