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I know very little about Jehovah’s Witnesses other than that in general they reject traditional Christianity and think that only through their new teaching, can people understand the truth, whatever that is.

What are the central departures that they take from the gospel message believed by Christians from Nicea up until their founding in the late 1800s?

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It is important to understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses are neither Catholic nor Protestant. The following quotes from the official J.W. web site help to show some of the traditional Christian doctrines they denounce:

From this article Watchtower, November 2009:

Protestantism arose in 16th-century Europe in an effort to reform the Roman Catholic Church… Although Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the universal authority of the pope and wholeheartedly support the primacy of the Bible, they differ from Protestant religions in many significant ways… although Protestant faiths reject certain features of Catholic worship, Reformation leaders retained certain Catholic dogmas, such as belief in the Trinity, hellfire, and the immortality of the human soul. Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, believe that those doctrines not only contradict the Bible but also promote a distorted view of God.

From this article

9 Along with the doctrines of the “Trinity,” the immortality of the human soul and a hellfire of torment, any other teaching or practice that goes contrary to God’s inspired Word marks a religion as false and labels it as part of Babylon the Great.

From this article

18 Who, then, are the ones who form the body of true worshipers today? On the basis of the evidence, which is known or available to persons in all parts of the earth, we do not hesitate to say that they are the Christian witnesses of Jehovah.

From a Christian perspective, perhaps the most critical theological difference is that of the person of Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father. Traditional Christian doctrine declares that Jesus was begotten – not created – and he is not a created angel.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah God created a mighty spirit creature who is known in heaven both before and after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as Michael the Archangel.

"It proves Michael the archangel is no other than the only begotten son of God, now Jesus Christ. The very name Michael means who is like God and indicates Jehovah God is without like or equal." (New Heavens and New Earth pp. 30-31)

“Jesus is actually the incarnation of Michael the Arch angel and resumed the name when he ascended into heaven” (ibid. pg.30 Your will be done on earth p. 316)

Here is a partial quote from this official J.W. article

“It is important to note that the human birth of Jesus was not the beginning of his life. Before Jesus was born, Mary was visited by an angel who told her that she would conceive a child by means of holy spirit and that she should name the child Jesus. During his ministry, Jesus often spoke of his prehuman existence. So Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence. After his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel, “to the glory of God the Father.”

Finally, an extract from another Jehovah’s Witness article on some other differences

  1. Jesus. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.
  1. Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven. He began ruling in 1914.
  1. A relatively small number of people—144,000—will be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom.
  1. God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection. (Acts 24:15) However, those who refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life will be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection.
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    thanks for the clarification. I did not know that JW believe Jesus lower than God and believed to be an archangel and even a specific one called Michael. This definitely rejects the first 1700 years of what people believed Jesus to be.
    – Mike
    Commented May 20 at 1:32
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    More important they deny Hebrews chapter one which declares that no Son of God was ever an angel. Their NWT says Jehovah has spoken to us by means of "A Son" (not His Son) in verse 2. Verse 6 says "And let all God's angels DO OBEISANCE to him" although the 1969 KIT says "worship him" as did the 1961 NWT. Verse 10 says Jesus is "the Chief Agent" of salvation, but 'archegos' does not mean "chief agent". The NWT also says "Chief Agent" in Hebrews 12:2. The same mistranslation of the Greek appears in Acts 3:15 and 5:31 which says "God exalted this one as Chief Agent and Savior to his right hand".
    – Lesley
    Commented May 20 at 7:37
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    @ Kris...to say 1700 years of church infancy encompasses the first 300 where Arianism CREPT into the church is a grossly inadequate and quite false claim. The fact is, Arianism and the claim Christ was not God was the new thing...not trinitarianism and the councils of NIcea proved that overwhelmingly. The were a large number of church representatives from around the region at the time who conclusively deemed Arianism heresy.
    – adam
    Commented May 21 at 21:40
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    @adam where in the bible does it state that Christ began ruling in 1914? Nowhere!
    – 007
    Commented May 21 at 21:49
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    @Kris - The JW claim that Christ started to rule, invisibly, from heaven in October 1914 and IS STILL RULING, apparently, has zero basis from the Bible. All JW expectations about Armageddon happening then, and the 1975 expectations that the Millennial rule of Christ and the 144,000 would start then have proved false. These chronological calculations are the workings of men, not Jehovah. But thanks for admitting the Bible nowhere says Christ began ruling in 1914. Haven't read anything recently about the 1914 date, though. Has there been increased light on that subject?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 22 at 8:07
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The main distinction between Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians is that Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God. In my opinion, this means that they are not Christians at all, but even if this does not disqualify them from being Christian, it does put them in disagreement with almost all Christians, who believe that Jesus is God; Jehovah's Witnesses, however, deny that God is Trinity, and assert that only Jehovah (their preferred name for God the Father) is God, and they subscribe to Arianism, which is the belief that Jesus is not God, but that He is the first creation of God (the Father) and not consubstantial with Him, nor equal with Him, but the first and greatest of God's creatures. Although Arius, the one who first espoused this belief, did revere Christ as the Son of God, he still did not believe Him to be God. The Jehovah's Witnesses also hold this belief. I hope this explanation was helpful to you.

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    Commented May 18 at 3:21
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    Jehovah’s Witnesses worship neither the “incomprehensible” God of the Trinitarians nor the “unknown God” of Arius. They say, with the apostle Paul: “There is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are.”​—1 Corinthians 8:6.
    – 007
    Commented May 18 at 11:41
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    @Kris This happens all the time when 1 Corinthians 8;6 is quoted, you "conveniently" leave out the second part of the verse. "and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him." So, if for us there is one Lord, do you really believe that the verse means that God the Father is not the Lord? Explain how it is that this "a god" we are able to exist through him? And who says that Trinitarians believe God is unknown? Paul says at 1 Corinthains 15:1, "Now I make KNOWN to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached. Jesus Christ is the gospel/good news. How do you know Him?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 18 at 14:43
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    It would better in your post if you could possibly avoid phrases like "in my opinion..." and relie on supportable facts. It would make your post stronger and more credible.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 19 at 2:43
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    @Kris, we both know full well that the reason why JW's attempt to distance themselves from Arianism is because that belief was deemed heretical at the Council of Nicea and has remained that way to this day. It is nothing more than a ploy by JW's to attempt to avoid that label...but its no different to the silliness of the Biologos organisation saying "we are not theistic evolutionists"!
    – adam
    Commented May 19 at 8:45
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Here are some central departures from the gospel message as understood by mainstream Christians:

Nature of God: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s name is Jehovah (while acknowledging that no one knows the original pronunciation of the name for sure anymore) and that Jesus is His first creation, not part of a Trinity. They believe that God is an Almighty Spirit, and understand the mere term „God“ to be a title (just like „Lord“ or „King“) that Jehovah carries in the most supreme sense, while the Bible and Jehovah God himself uses the title in a sense denoting higher authority and power in relation to others in connection with creatures or things.

Christology: They deny what they take to be extrabiblical teachings such us the hypostatic union (Jesus being both fully human and fully God), or that Jesus would have been „eternally begotten“ by the Father. They believe that what Jesus called his heavenly Father is Jehovah and that He is „the only true God“ (John 17:3).

They believe that Jesus was a powerful spirit, begotten or brought forth as God’s word and wisdom personified, and acting as God Almighty’s primary agent in all creation. Jesus existed in the „form of God“ (meaning that he was a spirit just like God is) before „emptying himself“ to be planted as a human seed into Mary‘s womb by God through His holy spirit. Jesus thus gave up his powerful spirit lifeform, to become a human. He thus ceased to be spirit, and became fully human until his death.

As a human, Jesus was under the jewish law, and fulfilled the law perfectly. He was circumcised on the 8th day after birth, had to learn how to walk and how to speak, and subjected himself under his imperfect human parents who loved and cared for him. He went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52)

In giving His perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice, Jesus became the „last Adam“, presenting the equivalent value of what Adam lost through sin to God, a redemptive price to make it possible for all humans who exercise faith in this ransom to be saved. Jesus fully died for our sins, and was fully dead for 3 days, after which JWs believe Jesus to have been resurrected by the Father (Jehovah) as a spirit.

By his entire life course of integrity to God, including his sacrifice, Jesus Christ accomplished the “one act of justification” that proved him qualified to serve as God’s anointed King-Priest in heaven. (Romans 5:17, 18) By his resurrection from the dead to life as a heavenly Son of God, he was “declared righteous in spirit.” (1 Timothy 3:16) Heavenly creatures proclaimed him “worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing,” as one who was both lionlike in behalf of justice and judgment and also lamblike in giving himself as a sacrifice for the saving of others. (Revelation 5:5-13) He had accomplished his primary purpose of sanctifying his Father’s name. (Matthew 6:9; 22:36-38) This he did, not just by using that name, but by revealing the Person it represents, displaying his Father’s splendid qualities ​—his love, wisdom, justice, and power —​ enabling people to know or experience what God’s name stands for. (Matthew 11:27; John 1:14, 18; 17:6-12) And above all, he did it by upholding Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, showing that his own Kingdom government would be based solidly on that Supreme Source of authority. Therefore it could be said of him: “God is your throne forever.”​—Hebrews 1:8.

JWs thus believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” By his fulfillment of prophecy and his revelation of God’s future purposes, as well as by what he said and did and was, he provided the solid foundation on which true faith must rest.​—Hebrews 12:2; 11:1.

JWs believe there to be sufficient biblical evidence that Jesus in his heavenly life, is the Archangel Michael, Jehovah’s Chief Angel/Agent - albeit they don’t hold this to be a saving doctrine.

JWs deny Jesus to be Jehovah nor that the Father and the Son are co-equal or co-eternal.

The holy spirit: They believe the holy spirit to be God‘s influential power which He can bestow upon His creatures according to His own will and measure, and not a distinct person.

Gifts of the spirit: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the „gifts of the spirit“ such as speaking in tongues, or tangible miracles (such as miraculous physical healing) have ceased, as they were a tool used by God to launch the evangelical work in the first century, to help people recognize that it had God‘s backing. Since then, Love has become the sign of true Christians.

Salvation: Witnesses emphasize personal obedience to God’s laws. They believe salvation is attainable through faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and living according to biblical principles. Traditional Christianity often emphasizes faith alone for salvation.

Heavenly hope Witnesses believe that only a limited number (144,000) will go to heaven to rule with Christ. The rest of faithful Witnesses will live forever on a paradise earth. Traditional Christianity generally teaches that believers go to heaven or hell based on their faith.

Resurrection: Witnesses believe in a physical resurrection of the dead, with the hope of eternal life on earth. Traditional Christianity teaches a spiritual resurrection to heaven or hell.

Military Service & Political neutrality Witnesses conscientiously object to military service and political involvement. Traditional Christianity varies on this issue.

Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t get involved in politics. They strive for complete neutrality as to when it comes to earthly government and elections. They don’t take sides in international / geopolitical conflicts nor in national political debates or conflicts. They have chosen their government: God‘s Kingdom, and see no other means to properly solve humanity‘s problems. Nevertheless, they respect elected officials and government agencies and they strive to obey the secular law of the land they‘re living in, as long as those laws don’t conflict with God‘s laws and principles as laid out in the Bible.

Meetings and Participation: Witnesses hold regular meetings where they study the Bible, discuss teachings, and encourage one another. Participation is voluntary and resembles a classroom discussion.

Remember that these points represent a simplified overview, and there may be additional nuances in both Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs and traditional Christian doctrines. If you’d like more detailed information, feel free to ask! 😊

Why the difference?

Finally, I'd like to add why Jehovah's Witnesses differ in many of the core beliefs from mainstream Christendom. It is not because they want to be different, nor because they want to get a grip on religious and influential power - if it were so, they utterly failed!

Jehovah's Witnesses look at ecumenical creeds post 1st century CE/AD with skepticism, primarily due to the creeds not being perceived as compatible with biblical teaching, as well as the circumstances upon which they were established. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was right in saying that "narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it." They thus hold that until God establishes his Kingdom on earth, true Christian doctrine will always be a relative minority view.

The Apostle John warned that already during his time, "oppressive wolves in sheep's clothing" would rise. "Do not believe every inspired expression," he warned, "but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world." - 1 John 4:1.

The Apostle Paul showed that "the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work," in his day, and that it was "according to the operation of Satan." The only thing holding it back from developing further (acting as a restraint) in the first century were the original Apostles of Christ (2 Thess. 2:3, 7, 9). Once they were gone - John being the last - Apostacy would start to flourish.

Furthermore, the Nicene Creed as well as any that followed all had political connotations, intending to centralize and unify power, to increase political, theological, and economic influence on the populace. In the end, theological opposition to the creeds was the death sentence for those daring to speak up.

This might have had good intentions, but it was contrary to Jesus' idea of his Kingdom never to be a part of this world (John 18:36, 37). All the Kingdoms of this world and their glory are in the power of Satan (Matthew 4:8-10). Intermingling with political powers means inadvertently subjecting yourself to the power of the Devil. JWs thus think that the creeds resulting from the ecumenical councils caused believers to be separated from God rather than being brought closer to Him.

Since the 4th century CE, the Catholic Church has dominated and in many cases became the oppressor running contrary to Paul's prophetic words of 2. Timothy 3:12: "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". With power, the formerly oppressed became the oppressor, which is not something that Jesus foresaw for his faithful disciples: "Keep in mind the word I said to you: A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

So it stands that the persecuted who opposed the creeds coming out of the ecumenical councils were often more correct than the political and religious powers enforcing their views through such creeds. On top of that, all creeds were filled with philosophical ideology, another thing Paul warned about (Colossians 2:8).

Instead of defending true Christianity by using God’s Word, they often downgraded the Bible and resorted to worldly philosophy in their teaching to win over public opinion and the establishment. Rather than sounding a warning against the dangers of following the unscriptural trends of the world, they had become teachers who do their best to 'tickle the ears' of their listeners to win adherents. (2 Timothy 4:3)

They did this by either abiding by the masses or the governing power of the time or by resorting to well-thought-out complicated speech with reverence to their scholarly achievements to impress people with their perceived intelligence and manly "wisdom". Again contrary to what Jesus said: "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children. Yes, O Father, because this is the way you approved." (Luke 10:21)

Sadly, these teachers have ignored the apostolic warning: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

When Charles Taze Russell in the 1870s felt moved to launch a Bible Study Movement - out of which Jehovah's Witnesses developed - he and his co-students systematically started studying the Bible from scratch. They did not shy away from the idea that there is such a thing as truth in matters of religion. They recognized Jehovah as “the God of truth” and the Bible as his Word of truth. (Psalm 31:5; Joshua 21:45; John 17:17) They realized that there was still much that they did not know, but they did not hold back from stating with conviction what they had learned from the Bible. And when traditional religious doctrines and practices contradicted what they found to be clearly stated in God’s inspired Word, then, in imitation of Jesus Christ, they exposed the falsehood, even though this brought ridicule and hatred upon them from the clergy - and still does to this day. (Matthew 15:3-9)

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    Thanks for the clear explanation in words I can quickly understand. My main conclusion is you have clearly identified the main difference being that Jesus was not God according to this new / restored view , that faith alone in him is not sufficient to save but that works are included (not as just an evidence of the existence of faith but contributory to actual salvation) making faith on its own insufficient. While many other concepts of atonement and priesthood of christ are actually very similar to a traditional faith. All clear.
    – Mike
    Commented May 20 at 0:17
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    Can you please point us to the official J.W. web site links that confirm these points?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 20 at 8:35
  • @Js Witness. Since you deny that Jesus is both fully human and fully God, why in the NWT at John 1:1 is Jesus "a god?" Secondly, where is your evidence that Jesus is both fully human and fully an angel? What your doing is making what is known as a category error. This means that "ontological" speaking which deals with the nature of being. The nature of Jesus Christ is human according to Jehovah's Witnesses teaching. Angels "ontological" speaking are spiritual beings by nature that actually minster to human beings. (Hebrews 1:14) Also, Jesus does not give help to angels according to Hebrew 2:16
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 20 at 19:40
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    @Mr.Bond - I never said that the human/earthly Jesus, and Michael in his heavenly role as Archangel are "ontologically" the same. JWs believe that Michael is the name carried by the prehuman and posthuman Jesus in heaven. In his prehuman existence Jesus was called “the Word.” (John 1:1) He also had the personal name Michael. By retaining the name Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 9:5), “the Word” shows that he is identical with the Son of God on earth. His resuming his heavenly name Michael and his title (or name) “The Word of God” (Rev 19:13) ties him in with his prehuman existence.
    – Js Witness
    Commented May 21 at 7:27
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    Appreciate the links from the official source. This is a comprehensive answer to the question being asked, and even though I disagree with JW beliefs on the person of Christ (which is fundamental to Christianity), the Holy Spirit, and 1914, you get an upvote from me for your research.
    – Lesley
    Commented May 22 at 8:28
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There are two inter-linked, fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith, which need to form the foundation upon which any religious structure that is true to the Bible must be built. If the Jehovah's Witness religion has not 'built' upon this foundation, then it will be at total odds with the Christian faith started in the 1st century, which grew and grew, lasting to this day. As the question limits answers to the first 1,700 years of Christianity, it is necessary to establish what those two fundamental beliefs consistently were up to that time.

The Bible states that it is the person of Jesus Christ himself who is that foundation for his Church to be built upon. The apostle Paul wrote:

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:10-11 A.V.

This agrees with the prophetic word from Isaiah:

"Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 28:16 A.V.

That the fulfilment is Jesus Christ is shown in 1 Peter 2:4-8, Romans 10:11 & Ephesians 2:20-22. This means that the Jesus Christ of scripture must be the entire basis of true Christianity - not a man-made idea of who Jesus is. This brings in the related link - believing and preaching "the gospel OF Jesus Christ" (Mark 1:1 - it is HIS gospel). Preach a different Christ to the biblical one, and a different gospel is preached, which is a false gospel that cannot save anyone:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, you might well bear with him." 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 A.V.

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him b e accursed." [The anathema repeated.] Galatians 1:6-9 A.V.

This is why the history of the Christian Church was plagued with such false teachers, preaching their ideas about who Christ really was, and thus corrupting the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that the quickest way to find out whether the Jehovah's Witnesses have fallen into that trap is to see whether they could say "Amen" to such ancient creeds as Creed of Nicaea (325) and the Athanasian Creed (late fifth century). Those were formed to counteract the false Christs and the false gospels the Bible warns against.

The Creed of Nicaea is diametrically opposed to any notion of the Son of God (also known as the Word of God, John 1:1-14) not being eternal, as the Father is eternal. A main purpose of the Creed was to make it impossible for those (like Arius) who did believe the Son was created, that the Son was not eternal, to hold any office in the Christian church. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Son was created.

They could not say 'Amen' to its anathema against "Those who say: 'There was a time when he was not', and 'Before he was begotten he was not'..." because they do say those very things that the Church says are cursed.

Although today's Jehovah's Witnesses distance themselves from Arius and Arianism, the Athanasian Creed was designed to expose and resist the Arianism of the Goths and Vandals, which made the Son and Spirit into second- and third-rank divinities. Although they attach no deity whatever to what they call "holy spirit", viewing 'it' as a commodity that can be obtained the more a Jehovah's Witness studies and does what Witness leadership expects them to do, they absolutely do make Christ to be a second-rank divinity - "a god" who was created by "the" God, Jehovah.

This means that the Christ of the Jehovah's Witnesses is not the Christ of the Church of the first 1,700 years (and today). This also means that the gospel they preach is not the gospel of Christ; it is another gospel that has been emptied of its saving power due to their Christ being but a creature. A creature cannot save sinful creatures from the righteous judgment of God. Only the uncreated Son of God, adding human nature to his divine nature, could do that, which the true Church has constantly preached throughout the centuries.

Those are two main beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses, contrary to what the Church taught, both up to, and after its first 1700 years (this is undisputed in all of mainstream Christianity); (1) their created Christ, and (2) their gospel, which is not the gospel of Christ.

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    This seems to put a grip around the central departure and it would be even better to quote points of those creeds that they reject and that all/most Christians in history believed. I lost you on one point at the end. You say these are two main beliefs of JH, one is Jesus is not God, the second is?
    – Mike
    Commented May 19 at 14:36
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    @Mike A direct quote I gave is that "Those who say: 'There was a time when he was not', and 'Before he was begotten he was not'..." are anathema. The two main beliefs that are linked both relate to doctrine about Jesus Christ: (1) the biblical Christ must be the foundation upon which all else is built (2) then the gospel preached will be "the gospel of Christ". So, a second-ranked deity leads to "another gospel" (not the biblical one.)
    – Anne
    Commented May 19 at 15:03
  • @Mike I've clarified my last paragraph.
    – Anne
    Commented May 19 at 15:09
  • Acts 20:29&30 Pure Christianity was rapidly contaminated and pagan concepts amalgamated into the congregation. JWs as restorationists focus on the pre-creed teachings
    – 007
    Commented May 19 at 15:23
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    I see the clarification, thanks. I now understand by (1) rejecting the accepted Christ (that is both God and man) to atone for human sin and provide salvation, they have (2) rejected the gospel of good news.
    – Mike
    Commented May 19 at 23:25
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What are the main beliefs held by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that are contrary to the beliefs of the first 1700 years of Christianity?

I am going to take a slightly different approach to answering this question because in making a response here could in itself open up the real can of worms.

This question does begs for a little more clarity than meets the eye, at least in respect to a traditional point of view (say from the stand point of churches such as Catholicism or Orthodoxy or Reformed Churches) and the standpoint of ecclesiastical history.

What are the central departures that they take from the gospel message believed by Christians up until their founding in the late 1800s?

Jehovah’s Witnesses identify themselves as Christians, but their beliefs are different from other Christians in some ways. For instance, they teach that Jesus is the son of God but is not part of a Trinity. Jesus this for them is not God. Because of this single fact, many other Christian denominations will not consider them as Christians, since their baptisms are not considered valid because they deny the Most Holy Trinity and can not baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This traditional departure from Christians belief makes it impossible for them to have valid Christian baptisms, for they can not administer a sacrament of regeneration using a Trinitarian formula when they are in fact a non-trinitarian community. One can not baptize in the name of the Trinity if one does not believe in the Sacred Trinity... That is faith 101.

Even this stance is not unique to ecclesiastical history and puts them in the same boat as Unitarians and Arians in regards to unbelief in the Blessed Trinity and invalid baptisms. This makes them Ecclesial Communities and not Christian Denominations in the eyes of Trinitarian Christians.

Another traditional departure from other Christian denominations is that they calls their places of worship Kingdom Halls and not churches which in many major Christian traditions are consecrated by high ranking church officials such as a bishop or eparch.

Jehovah Witnesses are the only community that is founded by someone that had dubious connections to the Freemasons!

Was Charles Russel, Founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Freemason?

  • They believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, not part of a Trinity (Mark 12:29) and not God. Confusing to say the least. True Christians believe Jesus is God!

  • They also do not believe that the soul is immortal, which has been historically held by the vast majority of Christian Churches.

  • They do not believe in an everlasting hell!

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have many unique modern beliefs, but the majority of Christian denominations would have to admit these beliefs have already been decreed on as Christian heresies such as Arianism, etc.

  • Their claim to be the only true Christian body of worshippers is not unique in ecclesiastical history. The largest Christian denomination, Catholicism believes it is the One True Church. There are other denominations that may make the same claim! Unfortunately the Jehovah's witnesses claim is not unique either.

Many of their reportedly unique beliefs are traditionally considered heresy in some Christian denominations; are in fact not as unique as can be proven to have already some historical precedents, such as their denial of Sacred Trinity vis-a-vis Arianism which also denied the existence of the Trinity altogether.

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    +1 - I think this outlines a lot of major departures.
    – Mike
    Commented May 19 at 14:40
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I know one of their main beliefs is the fact that they claim to be the only true Christian body of worshippers according to their book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life:

18 Who, then, are the ones who form the body of true worshipers today? On the basis of the evidence, which is known or available to persons in all parts of the earth, we do not hesitate to say that they are the Christian witnesses of Jehovah. For you to share that conviction you need to get well acquainted with them. The best way is to attend their meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this way you can observe for yourself how the organization functions and the way in which those associated with it apply God’s Word in their own lives. Since God assures us that practicing true religion brings great contentment now and opens up the way for eternal life in his new system of things, it surely will be worth your while to make such an investigation. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) You have our warm invitation to do so. Why not investigate now?
(Chapter 14: How to Identify the True Religion, paragraph 18)

This raises the question of how did billions of people receive salvation through Jesus Christ before the founding of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization in the late 1800's?

18
  • 3
    Does the Protestant church of Mr bond believe that they are the only true church? Don’t all denominations believe they are the ones with the true religion? As for the billions who lived and died before the restorationist movement that became known as jws they are awaiting resurrection and will have their opportunity to attain salvation.
    – 007
    Commented May 17 at 22:37
  • 4
    @Kris Most denominations do not believe they are the only true church. Commented May 17 at 22:48
  • 3
    @Kris Best is not the same as only. Many adhere to a denomination because it's the best "for them", or being the best but still flawed. Commented May 18 at 0:02
  • 5
    The largest Christian denomination, Catholicism believes it is the One True Church. There are other denominations that may make the same claim! Unfortunately the Jehovah's witnesses claim is not unique either.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 18 at 3:49
  • 4
    It would better in your post if you could possibly avoid phrases like "in my opinion..." and relie on supportable facts. It would make your post stronger and more credible.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 18 at 12:30

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