A knock came to my door on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was still a little early in the morning, about 9:30ish. I was home alone with my son and with him running around in the kitchen I headed to the front door. When I opened the door I knew exactly who was there when I laid eyes on the man in the suit and, I presume, his daughter in a cute frilly dress.
I said hello and the man returned the greeting and asked me if I would be interested in an in home Bible study. Since I was home alone with my son, I quickly said, no thank you, I’m a minister and this is our parsonage. He fell back on his heels a little and said, “well I guess you are familiar with our doctrinal differences, such as the Trinity and all.” I said, “Yes.” He asked if I had any material about Jehovah Witnesses and I said yes. They headed to the next house and I closed the door.
I have gotten at least a handful for these knocks on my door in my lifetime. Each time I tell them up front I am a pastor or seminary student (as the case was back then). They quickly retreat but after this conversation with this very polite man I decided to refresh my mind with the ‘doctrinal differences’ between the UMC and the JW.
I dusted off a trusty book that was required in a class back in college. The Religious Fringe, A History of Alternative Religions in America, by Richard Kyle. This book has served me well for a quick and concise history of fringe religions, such as Mormons, The American Muslim Mission and many others. I highly recommend this book be in a pastor’s study.
After reading the section on JWs, and going to the University of Google, here is what I have come up with as major doctrinal differences. I am going to try and not debate these but simply create a list. I may debate them in posts to follow.
- They reject anything out of the Bible that is beyond human understanding. This means they deny most traditional Christian beliefs, like the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the bodily resurrection and the Second Coming.
- Christ is God’s Son and is inferior to Him.
- Satan dominates the world. This is why they separate themselves from the main stream society. They will not salute the flag, vote, hold a government office, serve in the armed forces, participate in social organizations, stand for the national anthem, or [and this one is sad to me] develop close relationships with non-Witnesses.
- Only a little flock of 144,000 go to heaven and rule with Christ and the 144,000 are born again as spiritual sons of God.
- Blood holds the principle of life. This is why they will not get blood transfusions. Nor will the very committed Witnesses eat meat that is not prepare properly.
- A Christian ought to have no part in interfaith movements and a Christian should keep seperate from the World.
- A clergy class and special titles are improper. Thus any baptized member is seen as an ordained minister.
- They do not believe in modern psychotherapy [sound familiar Tom Cruise].
You can check out more on this official homepage. Some other facts I found interesting were:
- They spend around 11 hours a month doing their door-to-door preaching.
- Since they distrust the world, many of them are not college educated.
- On a list of things they oppose I found, the United Nations, the YMCA, Sunday School, and Mother’s Day to be the most interesting.