What is Jehovah's Witnesses?

Question
Concerning the new heavens and the new earth, the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) believe that when a person dies they actually sleep and then at the Second Coming Jesus will resurrect everyone and judge them, both the faithful and the unfaithful. Then the faithful will inherit the new earth in paradise, the 144,000 in Revelation will be ruling in the heavens with God, and the unfaithful will be destroyed. Is this correct Christian theology?
Answer

The JWs are incorrect in their interpretation of eschatology and in many other areas of their teaching. I do not have time or space to even begin to make a list but will state a few instances below.

First, when Jehovah's Witnesses speak of [eternal] judgment, they mean complete annihilation, non-existence: "When a person is dead he is completely out of existence. See "What is Annihilationism" below. He is not conscious of anything." (Live Forever, p. 88). However, the Bible speaks of everlasting torment in Revelation. 20:10. And as Matthew 25:46 records, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." The adjective here must be rendered by the same word in both of these balanced and co-ordinate clauses; "everlasting ... everlasting." (See: Is. 66:24; Mark 9:48; Rev. 14:11.) Since, according to Scripture, the righteous live forever, then the unrighteous are eternally tormented. Second, when a person dies they do not sleep. True Christians go to be with the Lord immediately (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Unbelievers go to hell immediately. See "Hell: What Is Hell Like?" below.

Jehovah's Witness is not a Christian religion. It has its own version of the Bible named New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Their teachings and practices are not in conformity with Scripture. Here are three ways they oppose the Bible.

Deny the Trinity

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil. (RECONCILIATION, p. 10)

Another lie made and told by Satan for the purpose of reproaching God's name and turning men away from God is that of the "trinity." That doctrine is taught by the religionists of "Christendom" and is in substance this: "That there are three gods in one." (RICHES, p. 185)

"The trinity is a basic false doctrine." (Watch Tower 4/1/1970, p. 210)

Christians believe in the Trinity. See "The Trinity: One God or Three?" below.

Deny the resurrection of Christ

...the man Jesus is dead, forever dead (STUDIES, Vol. 5, p. 454).

We deny that He was raised in the flesh, and challenge any statement to that effect as being unscriptural (STUDIES, Vol. 7, p. 57).

Jesus' fleshly body "was disposed of by Jehovah God, dissolved into its constituent elements or atoms" (WT 9/1/1953, p. 51).

Christians believe in the resurrection of Christ. See "The Resurrection of Jesus: Why Was Jesus Resurrected?" below.

Deny Jesus is God

There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return. (WT 5/15/1969, p. 30)

"Michael the great prince" is none other than Jesus Christ himself. Daniel 12:1. (WT 12/15/1984, p. 29)

Until around 1950 Jehovah's Witnesses carried with them a copy of the American Standard Version of the Bible because it featured the name Jehovah throughout the Old Testament. But they faced the embarrassing problem of trying to deny the deity of Christ when the very Bible they held in their hand said plainly that "the Word was God." This problem was solved when the Watchtower Society published its own New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Now, when Christians refer them to John 1:1, they can answer, "That's not in my Bible!" They can turn to John 1:1 in their own translation and read "the Word was a god." By reducing Jesus Christ to "a god," the Watchtower places him among the "many gods and many lords" of 1 Corinthians 8:5 and on the same level as Satan, "the god of this system of things" (2 Cor. 4:4, NWT).

Christians believe that Jesus is God. See "Jesus Christ, God and Man: How Can a Man be God" and "The Full Humanity of Jesus: What Kind of Man Was Jesus?" below.

References

[1] David A. Reed, David A. Reed, Steve Huntoon and John Cornell, Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1990).
[2] David A. Reed, Jehovah's Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse, Includes indexes., electronic ed., 71 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1986).

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).