Chapter 15 sets out the Watchtower and Christian positions on nine doctrinal issues. The five approach chapters that follow it contain approaches for discussing them effectively with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Why these issues matter
Because Christians don’t consider any of these to be salvation issues, I recommend that you avoid introducing these topics into your discussions. Jehovah’s Witnesses do consider them to be salvation issues, however, so they frequently insist on discussing them. They are trained to put Christians on the defensive on each of these topics, making it difficult for us to give an effective witness for Christ. However, once you are prepared, you can often effectively make inroads on the Witnesses’ trust in the reliability of the Watchtower organization. (pp. 203-204)
1. The name of God (pp. 204-205)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “Jehovah” is God’s personal name, that Jesus Christ placed great importance on making this name known, and that it is important for Christians to exalt this name to use it when referring to or praying to God. They believe that Bible translators of Christendom have systematically removed this name from the Scriptures and that by so doing they have made God seem remote and impersonal.
Christians note that the Bible contains many names for God, one of which is the anglicized name “Jehovah.” However, we believe that both in prayer and in reference, Christians may also properly call him “God,” “Father” or “Lord.” Moreover, we believe that we are saved by calling on the name of Jesus and that the New Testament exalts most highly the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11), not the name “Jehovah.”
- War (pp. 205-206)
In its current study book, the Watchtower claims that in order to please Jehovah, people must shun things that he hates, which includes “getting involved in wars or politics.”
Christians believe that governments have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1-7) and respect the rights of individual Christians to follow the dictates of their own consciences with regard to military service. Accordingly, some Christians are pacifists or conscientious objectors. Others will serve in the military if drafted. Still others will enlist in the armed forces or even pursue a lifelong military career.
- Birthdays and holidays (pp. 206-207)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that celebrating birthdays as well as holidays such as Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and political holidays is not biblical either because these days are associated with pagan origins and practices or because they run counter to Jesus’ statement that his followers are no part of the world (John 15:19). An additional ground for not observing birthdays is that the only two birthday celebrations in the Bible are mentioned in a negative light– Genesis 40:20-23 (Pharaoh) and Matthew 14:6-10 (Herod).
Christians believe that what days we do or do not choose to observe is a matter of individual conscience, so long as any celebrations are carried out in a righteous manner. Christians should not pass judgment on one another with regard to such issues (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16-17).
- Paid clergy (p. 207)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a separate clergy class is unbiblical. Christian workers in local congregations should be volunteers.
Christians believe that clergy should be paid because the worker is entitled to his wages. (1 Corinthians 9:13-14; 2 Corinthians 11:8; 1 Timothy 5:17-18)
- Collections (p. 207)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that passing collection plates and making appeals for money impose worldly pressure on people to make public donations. An anonymous contribution box is the preferred biblical method for collecting contributions.
Christians believe that there are many acceptable ways to raise funds for the church, including taking public collections and requesting donations.
- The cross (pp. 207-208)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christians should not display or wear crosses. Specifically, the Watchtower teaches: (1) Jesus died on an upright, one-piece “torture stake”, not a cross, (2) the cross is a pagan sex symbol that was used in pagan worship, (3) veneration of the cross is idolatrous, and (4) the instrument on which Jesus was unjustly tortured and killed should not be cherished by Christians, but rather shunned.
Christians believe that Jesus died on a cross. The cross is a symbol of Jesus’ atonement and victory over death. For this reason, it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to display and wear crosses if they choose to do so.
- Hell (p. 208)
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that human beings have separate souls or spirits that survive physical death. They believe that at death, a person goes out of existence until the resurrection in the end times. They believe that hell is nothing more than the common grave of humankind and that no one—not even Satan—will suffer conscious everlasting torment. Rather, they believe the fate of the unrepentant wicked is everlasting nonexistence.
Christians believe that all human beings have a conscious soul and/or spirit that survives physical death. Although some Christians believe in annihilation of those who are not saved, the traditional position—and the one which my book defends as biblical—is that the unrepentant dead will be judged and will undergo punishment in proportion to their sins. This will be an everlasting, conscious punishment in hell. Satan and demons will also suffer everlasting, conscious punishment in the lake of fire.
- Blood transfusions (p. 208)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible prohibits the taking of blood transfusions for any reason.
Christians believe that biblical commands regarding blood have no application to blood transfusions.
- 1914 and Armageddon (p. 209)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ began ruling as King of Jehovah’s government in 1914 and claim that God’s coming judgment at Armageddon and Christ’s millennial reign is coming soon.
Christians attach no special importance to 1914.
- Why is it advisable for the Christian to avoid initiating discussion of Watchtower Signature Issues with Jehovah’s Witnesses? (p. 203)
- Why should Christians expect Jehovah’s Witnesses to introduce these topics and insist on discussing them? (p. 204)