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An Overview of the Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs
Jehovah's Witnesses is a sect that originated from America. In the same way, Mormonism, Islam, and several other religious beliefs have America as their birth place also. This makes the nation unrivalled in the accommodation of multiple religious sects.
Though the Jehovah Witness claim to have been in existence for over 6,000 years, history has it that the sect came into existence in 1872, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This religious mind set has its root in Adventism and the founder was Charles Taze Russell. Charles Taze Russell was a Congregationalist layman popularly known as Pastor Russell. He wrote Studies in the Scriptures, a series that contained the conclusions Russell propounded, and which came to form the basis of the Jehovah Witnesses doctrine. The Watchtower publication which was also his brain-child came into publication for the first time in 1879. And with this, he gained a very large reading public and a great number of devout followers. During his days, the Adventist spirit was sweeping through the nation in full force, and it was on Adventism that Russell set the foundations of his doctrine (Chryssides, 2009).
This offshoot of the Adventist movement agrees that God created the earth in six days. But they argue that each day is equal to many thousands of years. As a matter of discipline, they maintain an active witnessing or sharing of faith with other people. They preach that everyone should stay away from everything that displeases God, such as observing birthdays, holidays, and other ceremonies which they judge to have originated from false religions (Chryssides, 2009).
It is obvious that the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses is set against the Scriptures which they claim to preach. Even though the Gospel of Mark 13:32 states clearly that no one knows the time of the second coming of Jesus, Russell has predicted the time of the second coming at different times. His 1891 prediction speculated that the second coming took place in 1874. He also said the millennium would begin before the end of 1914, and that would be after a period of 40 years of preparation of the chosen of God by him. For him, general resurrection and judgment would succeed the millennium after which the wicked will be destroyed. Russell does not believe in eternal punishment. Rather, he has taught his followers to argue that the wicked will only die a second death after they have been judged guilty. However, he agrees that the saints will be granted everlasting life, either in heaven or on a new earth (Chryssides, 2009).
Creation and the Nature of God
The Jehovah's Witnesses draw inferences from foundational principles and historic truths. Though they derive elements of their beliefs from these, they change the meanings of some to correspond to their belief system. This sect is a cult as a matter of fact. One of such very unhealthy distortions they have made is the rejection of the Trinity. They believe there is only one God -- Jehovah. For them, Jesus is not God, and therefore, there is no Trinity. Jesus to them is only a servant of God, inferior to God but a perfect human who became the ransom for the sin of man. After his death and resurrection, he was raised to a higher level than the angels. This view they hold of Christ goes against the gospel which states that Christ did not count his equality with God, but accepted death on the cross. If the scriptures maintain that Christ is equal to God, it means that the Jehovah Witnesses default in considering Him inferior to the Godhead (Sin, 2000).
The Separation of Man from God
Jehovah Witnesses believe that sin is the problem facing humanity. Adam and Eve's disobedience brought man the fate he is suffering presently. And they say that it is so because God wants to make the whole earth a paradise. In their doctrine, there is the existence of sin and death, and the final end of the world. In fact, they focus so much on the end time than any other Christian religious sect. And they also expect Armageddon (Sin, 2000).
Re-Uniting with God
Jehovah Witnesses believe that God has the solution to death and all the evil in the entire world. They expect Christ's return and the kingdom of God to be established. However, when Russell's predictions of 1914 did not take place, they maintained it happened spiritually. And they said that Satan and his demons were thrown down from heaven to the earth in 1914. And so, for them, the increase in evil, wars, and suffering are as a result of the expulsion of Satan and his cohorts. In their view, the last days have begun since 1914 (Sin, 2000).
Section 2: Evaluating Worldviews with Grotius Criteria
Douglas Grotius wrote Christian Apologetics in which he argues that worldviews need to be properly evaluated in order to check for lapses and inconsistencies. He sees worldviews as hypotheses which present themselves as answers to questions of phenomenal experiences. Boethius argues that certain measures ought to be used in ascertaining the validity of a worldview. The following are the steps he propounded for the evaluation of competing worldviews (Grotius, 2001).
Coherence: This criterion requires that a worldview which must be trusted must agree within itself. There must not be any contradiction within its body of beliefs (Sample, 33). And Grotius agrees that if the essentials in the propositions of a worldview are coherent, there is greater possibility that it will be true (Grotius, 55).
Balance: a worldview that is simple will be preferred more as against the complex ones.
Scope and explanatory power: This parameter requires that the worldview should possess the capacity of using its principles and beliefs to explain certain experiential phenomena. Any worldview that lacks the ability to account for its own propositions cannot be credible (Grotius, 53).
Correspondence: Worldviews need to make clams that will be backed up by experience and fact around us. Any one that does not match reality would be false. In other words, a worldview that promotes what we know to be false, it cannot be true. In essence, worldviews are supposed to support or be supported by reality (Grotius, 55).
Verification: Worldviews that cannot be verified cannot be trusted.
Pragmatic Test: Worldviews should be livable and relevant in terms of bringing development in discoveries on the intellect and culture (Grotius, 57). Even though the fulfilling of this criterion is not mandatory, it is helpful all the same.
Existential Test: This measure stipulates that the worldview should be able to account for human needs (Grotius, 2011).
Cumulative Test: This test explores the ability of worldviews to satisfy all the other criteria. Any worldview that is able to satisfy all these criteria has the chance of preference than others which don't meet up to this standard.
Competitive Competence: This standard tests the evidential power of worldviews. Any one which is able to compete most favorably with others naturally gets a higher degree of preferences.
Radical Ad Hoc Readjustment: It is believed that any worldview could, at any point, refine or rethink some aspects of its theories. But making radical ad hoc readjustments or overhauling core and basic elements of belief leaves a negative impact on the worldview. For example, if Christians should say, for any reason, that Christ did not rise from the dead, there will be something fundamentally wrong. In other words, radical ad hoc readjustments opens up issues of deeply rooted inconsistencies in a worldview (Grotius, 2011).
These are very objective ways to test worldviews to ascertain the level at which they maintain truth. Every worldview should actually be tested, but with great fear and carefulness. Though there are some beliefs that are harmless; for example, a person might say: 'I don't believe that's her friend.' Being her friend or not has no great consequence for believing or not believing. But a belief in the reward of good and punishment of sin is to be handled with utmost care. And that's because worldviews could cause a great damage if they are falsely believed.
Going by the above criteria, it is obvious that the Jehovah Witnesses sect does not pass the test of consistency, and indeed all the other measures too. It contradicts itself in the issue about the number of elects that will be admitted into heaven: they play upon the numbers in the bible. They look at some literally while others are considered in symbolic terms. Their use of radical ad hoc readjustments is another matter of great concern. And the indiscriminate distorting of the scriptures reduces their competitive power with other worldviews (Grotius, 2011).
Section 3: Using Christianity to Correct the Jehovah's Witnesses
The Jehovah's Witnesses translated the bible to suit their own ideology of God, man, salvation, and all the other concepts therein reflected. It is not really their translation that creates some difficulty. What…[continue]
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