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Jehovah's Witnesses propose a non-physical resurrection. How do they respond to people like William Lane Craig or Gary Habermas who make evidentiary based arguments for the resurrection?

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  • @LukeHill what is the historical evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus?
    – 007
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 23:01
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 3:09

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It is highly unlikely that Jehovah’s Witnesses have even heard of William Lane Craig or Dr. Gary Habermas, let alone read or listened to anything they believe with regard to the resurrection of Jesus. That is because Witnesses are discouraged from reading any literature other than that produced by the Governing Body. They only accept what their leaders tell them because they believe Jehovah is speaking only through them, that their organization is Jehovah’s sole channel of communication:

1974 Watchtower Bound Volume, page 441: “Christians have an implicit trust in their heavenly Father; they do not question what he tells them through his written word and organization.”

15 February 1983 Watchtower, pages 12-13 (Four Requirements for Salvation): “Jehovah is using only one organization today to accomplish his will. To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.”

15 September 2010 Watchtower, page 13: “The Governing Body publishes spiritually encouraging literature in many languages. This spiritual food is based on God’s Word. Thus, what is taught is not from men but from Jehovah."

15 July 2013 Watchtower, page 20: "That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel."

Here is their official position on the resurrection of Jesus and how they would respond to any person who believes that Jesus was given a glorified body, a body fit for heaven:

JESUS’ FLESHLEY BODY DISSOLVED: What happened to the perfect fleshly body of Jesus after his death? Was it preserved so that in time men will look upon it in worship? or does Jesus still have this fleshly body in the heavens, “spiritualized” so that it can be seen and worshiped? Neither. The Scriptures answer: It was disposed of by Jehovah God, dissolved into its constituent elements or atoms... Moses’ body returned to the dust by process of decay, as all human bodies do, but not so in Jesus’ case, for it is written: “For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10, AS; Acts 2:31) So God caused Jesus’ body to disappear, but not corrupt, meaning that it was dissolved, disintegrated back into the elements from which all human bodies are made.—John 20:1-13.

JESUS RESURRECTED WITH SPIRIT ORGANISM: Moses’ body returned to the dust by process of decay, as all human bodies do, but not so in Jesus’ case, for it is written: “For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10, AS; Acts 2:31) So God caused Jesus’ body to disappear, but not corrupt, meaning that it was dissolved, disintegrated back into the elements from which all human bodies are made.—John 20:1-13.

The resurrected Jesus was given a spirit body... A human body requires earthly elements for its continued existence. It is made for the earth and must subsist upon the things produced from the earth. (1 Cor. 15:40, 47; Isa. 45:12, 18) God does not violate his own laws that he has established to govern natural things. Therefore he would not take a human body out of its proper habitation and transfer it to the heavens, the realm of spirit persons.
Source: Watchtower 1 September 1953 pp. 517-520 article The Fleshly Body of Jesus https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1953641?q=resurrection+jesus+body&p=par

It is important to understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Michael the archangel is Jesus in his pre-human existence. After his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel:

Likewise, the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth... This scripture [1 Thessalonians 4:16] therefore suggests that Jesus himself is the archangel Michael... it is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role. (What Does the Bible Really Teach? Appendix pp 218-219)

They believe the body of Jesus disappeared and what came out of the tomb was a spirit. Jesus, the man of flesh and blood, is dead – forever dead. It is Michael the archangel who will return.

That would be the official Jehovah's Witness response to the historical evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus.

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  • Weird take from the JWs. Why did his body disappear? Why wasn’t it just left to natural decay?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 14:36
  • Well, Acts 2:31 refers to Psalm 16:10 which says the Christ would not be forsaken in the grave and his flesh would not decay. In order to support their belief that Jesus the man is dead, forever dead, they had to come up with an explanation for the empty tomb, other than his body was resurrected. So his body "disappeared". This is all tied in with their belief that Jehovah created the pre-mortal Jesus as a powerful angel called Michael and it was the spirit of Michael that entered into the body of Jesus. Jesus, the man, isn't coming back, they say. It will be Michael the archangel who returns.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 14:50
  • Up-voted +1. Quite an eye-opener into the doctrine being taught. Much appreciated.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 12:56
  • What in the world do JW's do with Luke 24:39? Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 14:22
  • @MikeBorden - Their New World Translation says the disciples imagined they beheld a spirit and Jesus said “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” Explanation? Jesus materialised into a body of flesh and bones so he could be seen, touched, and he could eat. Then Jesus dematerialised and disappeared.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 14:38

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