7

I'm listening to an audio series in which the Apostles' Creed is used as the framework for "Christian theology," implying that those who believe the Apostles' Creed are orthodox.

However, it's pretty clear from other portions of the series that its creators do not consider non-trinitarians to be orthodox. Which made me wonder about how various non-trinitarian groups view the Apostles' Creed – do they actually accept it as written, or not?

In this question, I'll focus on one particular such group. Do Jehovah's Witnesses disagree with or "reinterpret" any phrases in the Apostles' Creed?

By "reinterpret," I mean divergence from a typical understanding of the text held by trinitarians. I realize of course that some trinitarians "reinterpret" some phrases too, like "he descended into hell," so it can be a gray area. But hopefully answers can cite JW publications or scholars to show to what extent they adopt the creed as their own.

Related: Same question for Christadelphians, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, and Swedenborgians.

  • 2
    wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989239. A start at an answer here. Much of the creed is in harmony with jw belief and this creed is not blatantly trinitarian. Offhand the part about the Catholic Church and communion of saints would not fit with jw doctrine. And we base our beliefs on the scripture alone not on creeds if men even when the creeds maybe scripturally correct. – Kris Feb 20 '18 at 23:11
10

Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs kind of line up with the text of the Apostle’s Creed, but their interpretation of it largely diverges from common trinitarian interpretations.

Here is the ELLC translation of the Apostles’ Creed, phrase by phrase:

  • I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    • Watchtower teaches that God is omnipotent and omniscient​, but not omnipresent. g05 3/8 p. 21
  • creator of heaven and earth.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
    • Watchtower teaches that Jesus is a created being, the Archangel Michael. w10 4/1 p. 19
    • They would disagree with any use of the word, “Lord” as the divine name. w08 8/1 p. 18-19
  • who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
  • born of the Virgin Mary,
  • suffered under Pontius Pilate,
  • was crucified, died, and was buried;
  • he descended to the dead.
  • On the third day he rose again;
  • he ascended into heaven,
    • Watchtower teaches that Jesus began his ascent to heaven in a physical form, then switched to a spiritual form when the disciples lost sight of him. Insight, Volume 1 p. 187
  • he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
  • and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
    • Watchtower teaches that judgement day will be a thousand year period during which everyone will be resurrected. Sin prior to death is forgiven. During this period, all will given an opportunity to learn and conform to God’s laws, and those who continue to sin will be destroyed. Bible Teach p. 214-215
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  • the holy catholic Church,
  • the communion of saints,
    • This phrase is directly related to the previous one; it refers to a spiritual union of believers that spans life on earth, purgatory, and heaven.
    • Witnesses rarely use this phrase; I can't find anything. I think it would be rejected or reinterpreted because they teach that believers who have died are in a state of non-existence (see “he descended to the dead” above).
  • the forgiveness of sins,
    • Watchtower teaches that God’s forgiveness is a free gift, but that steps such as baptism and preaching are necessary for salvation. The Wikipedia article Jehovah’s Witnesses and salvation has a number of citations for this, copied below:
  1. The Watchtower 6/1/00 p. 11 par. 6 Keep Your “Hope of Salvation” Bright!
  2. The Watchtower, March 15, 1989, p. 31 Call on Jehovah’s Name and Get Away Safe! “The Way of Salvation”
  3. "James Urges Clean and Active Worship,", The Watchtower 3/1/83 p. 13, "Faith that does not 4. prompt us to do good works is not genuine and will not result in our salvation."
  4. "Meetings to Help Us Make Disciples", Our Kingdom Ministry, January 1979, p. 2.
  5. The Watchtower, May 15, 2006 pp. 28-29 par. 12
  6. "Young Ones—Are You Ready to Get Baptized". The Watchtower: 4. March 2016. It is a great privilege to get baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Moreover, baptism is a requirement for Christians, and it is a vital step toward gaining salvation.
  7. The Watchtower 2/15/83 p. 12 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth—But How?
  • the resurrection of the body,
  • and the life everlasting. Amen.
    • Watchtower teaches that there are two different resurrections; a heavenly resurrection for a limited number (144,000) of the most devoted followers, and resurrection on a restored earth for both the rest of the Witnesses and those deemed worthy of being given a choice to serve Jehovah. Bible Teach, ch 7
  • 1
    "during which everyone will be resurrected" isn't quite accurate. Those in Gehenna have already undergone eternal destruction and won't be resurrected. w06 3/15 p. 5-6 This is a good answer otherwise! – 4castle Feb 23 '18 at 6:06
2

It is true that orthodox Christian denominations uphold the Trinity doctrine and denominations that reject the Trinity are considered to be outside of orthodox Christianity. That would include Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter Day Saints who deny that the Trinity is biblical.

A June 2015 Watchtower article said that all Trinitarian churches that do not promote the name Jehovah are part of the Antichrist. They believe that all Catholic and Protestant denominations are part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, soon to be destroyed at Armageddon.

It is for this reason that Jehovah's Witnesses will have nothing to do with the Apostles' Creed (or any other creed, for that matter). Indeed, Jehovah's Witnesses deny they are either Catholic or Protestant.

However, the Apostle's Creed is NOT promoting the Trinity. It is simply a statement of faith. All Christians should be able to agree with it, although sometimes people misunderstand the expression "holy Catholic church." Catholic in this context means universal. As for the expression that Jesus descended into hell, the Witnesses say that hell is simply the common grave of mankind. They also say that the body of Jesus disappeared and what came out of the tomb was a spirit creature, and that Jesus is known in heaven as Michael the Archangel.

Source: What Does The Bible REALLY Teach

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.