The Unique Beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses: An Anglican Perspective
AuthorBridges, David L.
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Among Christian faith groups, the people known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, led by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, are a unique group that does not recognize the current or historical nature or beliefs of any other Christian or faith group. This project seeks to define the unique beliefs of the Witnesses and compare them to the beliefs of the mainstream Church, particularly the Anglican perspective as defined by Anglican authors, the Book of Common Prayer 1979, and various translations of Holy Scripture. The Anglican standpoint is taken primarily from three systematic theology texts. Introduction to Theology, 3rd Edition by Owen C. Thomas and Ellen K. Wondra was originally prepared for an introductory course in Christian theology at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a summary of contemporary discussion of the Bible and Christian history. Christianity: An Introduction, 2nd Edition by Alister E. McGrath presents a basic understanding of the beliefs of Christianity as an essential entry-level step to studying Scripture and in practicing the Christian faith. Classic Christianity by Thomas C. Oden provides a consensus view of the Christian faith, examining ancient Christian tradition and bringing it to the contemporary Church, providing a synthesis of the whole of Christian thought. iv This project does not attempt to discuss all aspects of Witness doctrine and practice, but is intended as an introduction to the core beliefs developed by the Watch Tower Society, and how those core beliefs shape the lives of the Witnesses. Chapter 1, The Identities of Jehovah God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, examines the anti-Trinitarian views of the Witnesses and the effect of that viewpoint on the Witnesses’ understanding of the identity of the three revelations of God. Chapter 2, A Theocratic Order not of this World, discusses the separatism practiced by the Witnesses, their eschatological understanding of Scripture, and the class structure of the Organization. Chapter 3, Exclusive Knowledge from Jehovah God, examines the Witnesses belief that no religious organization or faith structure was authorized by God from the time of the Apostles until Watch Tower founder, Charles T. Russell heard the call of Jehovah God to be the bearer of truth at the end of the, so called, Gentile Times. This chapter also offers insights into the door-to-door ministry of the Witnesses. Chapter 4, The Death of Jesus, considers the Witnesses’ understanding of the Lord’s Supper, its meaning to them, their rejection of the Cross as a symbol of true faith, and the gift of grace. Chapter 5, The Sacraments, discusses the Witnesses’ practice of memorializing the death of Jesus, their practice of Baptism and the judicial committee process employed by the Witnesses, including disfellowshipping. The Conclusion, Is Ecumenical Accord Possible?, considers how the Witnesses’ separatism from the world and all other faith groups prevents them from joining forces with the mainstream Church to do the work of Christ in working to end the marginalization of any individual.