I have been interested in the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a long time. They have a lot of unique beliefs. But as I argue in my book, The Watchtower and the Word, we should focus our discussions on the most important doctrines.
It doesn’t get anymore important than Jesus. Not surprisingly, they have some unorthodox beliefs about Jesus. Here are four things that the Jehovah’s Witnesses get wrong about Jesus.
1. Created Being
Jehovah’s Witnesses, like the ancient Arians, believe that Jesus was a created being. That doesn’t mean that he was only human. They believe he is a powerful being, one involved in creation, but different from God. Christians believe in one God: Father, Son and Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity.
2. Archangel Michael
Related to the first item, they believe that Jesus was not just a created being, but specifically the archangel Michael. They get this from 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Not only does that passage not specify that the archangel is Michael, the natural reading is that the angel is announcing Jesus’ return. Plus Hebrews 1 argues explicitly that Jesus is superior to the angels.
3. Spirit Resurrection
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the incarnation was only temporary and that at the resurrection, Jesus returned to the state of a purely spirit being. In contrast, Christians believe in a bodily resurrection. Yes Jesus’ body was transformed, but it has continuity with the physical body that was in the tomb. Luke 24 states explicitly that Jesus had a physical body and not a spiritual body.
Christians look for the return of Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses, in contrast, believe Jesus already returned. In 1914, Jesus returned invisibly in his spirit form (see above) and set up the kingdom in heaven. This came after numerous mistaken predictions about Jesus’ return. They fixed that with an invisible return that can’t be proved or disproved.
What About the Cross?
I could have included their belief that Jesus died on a stake rather than a cross. But I don’t see this as an essential belief. It doesn’t really matter the shape on what Jesus was killed, what matters is that Jesus died for us.