Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs fly in the face of almost every basic Christian doctrine. Let’s take a romp through the JW Garden of Doctrine.
God’s Name is “Jehovah”
This name is derived from the Hebrew characters used in the oldest manuscripts available that translate out to “YHWH.” Ancient Hebrew didn’t use actual vowels, but scholars have generally agreed that the translation of this name is “Yahweh.” There is some evidence that the Latinized pronunciation of this name is “Jehovah,” but there is a good deal of controversy surrounding it.
Back in the 1920s, after a huge debacle involving a failed prophecy that The End would come in 1925, the President of the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), J.F. Rutherford, decided to more or less “rebrand” the organization. A huge number of adherents had left, and the organization needed a boost. Rutherford latched onto the name “Jehovah,” maybe because nobody else was using it. JWs have been defending it ever since they formally adopted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931. In fact, their version of the Bible is positively crammed to bursting with the name “Jehovah.” They’ve even shoehorned it into places where it really doesn’t belong, most notably the New Testament. They claim that somewhere along the line, someone, perhaps a fiendish monk, deliberately removed every instance of it from the New Testament. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.
The very first thing created was the being who would become known as Jesus Christ (or, as they call him back home, “Michael”). After that, God settled back in his Lay-Z-Boy and let Jesus do all the heavy lifting. So, it was really Jesus who created the earth and the animals and man. Since he was fairly new at this creating thing, that could be an explanation for mosquitoes, platypuses, and rutabagas.
Now, they don’t believe in the creative period being a literal six 24-hour days, but they do cling to a belief that man has walked the earth for only 6000 or so years, despite abundant fossil evidence to the contrary.
“Creative Days” are “days” in the sense of the term, “back in the day,” or “someday we’ll be together.” In other words, an ambiguous length of time. They say that each creative day is 7000 years long, but to be quite honest, I can’t remember the reasoning behind that. In any case, that’s the figure they use. Now, through the magic of ignoring actual historical facts and some fancy chronological footwork, they figured out that 1975 was the end of 6000 years of human history. Since the last 1000 years of the seventh creative day was to be the “Thousand-Year Reign of Jesus Christ,” which was to follow Armageddon, they reasoned that 1975 would be the date of the Big A. Of course, that was a soul-crushing disappointment for those of us who were JWs back then.
However, the Watchtower Society switched to the “spin control” cycle and pointed out that the sixth creative day did not end until the creation of Eve. Adam was alone for some unknown period of time before God said, “Okay, that’s enough. He’s having meaningful conversations with ducks. Send him a woman.” Doing the math, since the Big A hasn’t happened yet, that means that Adam was alone for at least 37 years. That’s a freakin’ long time to be alone. Even Thoreau threw in the towel after a couple of years.
So there you have an explanation of how the earth and mankind came to be, if you’re willing to cover your ears and sing “la-la-la-la” when someone points out the obvious issues with chronology and scientific fact.
Death and the Afterlife
I’m sorry, according to JWs there will be no zombie attacks anytime soon. Instead, when a human being dies, they more or less go to sleep and exist no more, the body returning to dust. Unless, of course they are part of that select group of 144,000 who, upon their death, ascend immediately to heaven and assume spirit “bodies.”
For the unwashed masses the only hope is resurrection to a paradise earth, a hope that they have plucked from a few scriptures in Isaiah and Revelation, the latter being written in “signs” by admission of the author, and the former being almost entirely composed of prophecy which, conveniently enough, can be contorted to mean anything you want it to mean. Jesus (the founder of Christianity) never mentioned resurrection to earth, although he performed a couple of resurrections himself. His only statement about life after death was made to the evil-doer who was hanging beside him on the cross (oops, stake) when he said, “…you will be with me in paradise.” Since Jesus was not going to be resurrected to a paradise earth but was going to heaven, Bible scholars have reasoned that the evil-doer would be with Jesus in heaven.
Not so! say the Witnesses. Through some convoluted reasoning and dissection of ancient Greek words they have come to a much different conclusion. The evil-doer would be among those resurrected to a paradise earth and would “be with” Jesus in the sense of being united in worshipping Jehovah. Okey dokey, keep moving, people. No need to stare at the train wreck.
Next time: More doctrinal romping.