I AM AN AGNOSTIC WHO DECIDED TO STUDY WITH MY JEHOVAH’S WITNESS FRIEND. What Consequence Should I Expect if I Decide Not to Continue My Studies Because I Don’t Believe in God?
“I am currently studying with a Jehovah’s Witness friend who I respect a lot. I only agreed to consider this since I am agnostic and do not believe in a higher power. However, I always thought, ‘Who am I to have such thoughts when billions believe I am wrong?’ I believe in truth, and if I claim to be a truth seeker, then I must admit that I do not know everything, especially the origin of man. I have studied the great questions we all have: ‘Where does man come from? What was the first living cell and where did it spring from? What created the spark that launched the cosmos at the beginning?’ Unfortunately, I can’t reconcile these questions with the belief in God; although the Bible is the most unique book I have ever encountered… Since I was told that my study is understood to be a journey that yields no consequence unless it results in an admitted knowledge resulting in baptism, implies, to walk away should yield no consequences to the relationship of a great friend who began this journey as my teacher. …Yet, I am struggling. Not just with my faith, but with my journey and the choice I made to take this journey down this particular road. What should I expect as a consequence knowing what I just told you? I look forward to your reply and will consider that reply thoughtfully.”
We appreciate your willingness to be teachable. Your quest for truth is commendable, and it is admirable that you value your friendship with this Jehovah’s Witness enough to seek to maintain it. It is true that if you walk away from your studies now, before you fully embrace their belief system through baptism, your Jehovah’s Witness friend should still be allowed to have contact with you. The Watchtower’s shunning policy only applies to those who leave after being baptized into the belief system or to those who strongly oppose their beliefs to the point of publicly criticizing them. So, if you desire to maintain your friendship with this person, we agree that it is best that you stop your studies with him now.
The other reason we would encourage you to stop your studies with this friend is because spiritual deception is very real. While both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians regard the Bible as accurate, Jehovah’s Witnesses skew their interpretation of many key Biblical passages to the point that they misrepresent Christianity. So, if you are a truth-seeker, interested in pursuing the Christian answer to life’s questions, it would be wise for you to consider an alternate source for your information, and one that is more credible and widely accepted by the traditional Christian community. A couple websites we would recommend are as follows:
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE STANDARD?
Now considering your journey of faith, as someone who is seeking truth, what do you regard as your ultimate standard for determining truth? Which comes first? Is it your standard for judging truth vs. error, or is it your knowledge of reality?
We would submit to you that without an outside objective standard, your own biased perception of reality is what you use to determine your method of knowing truth (i.e., epistemology). For how can you create an apple sorting machine without first knowing something about the apples you are sorting? In the same way, your perception of reality that is biased on the information you have received (you can’t know what you have not been exposed to) becomes the grid by which you sort truth from error.
Now here is where the problem lies. Since it is impossible for you, a finite human being, to have first hand knowledge of the universe, your epistemology, based upon your own biased perception of reality, is flawed. Yet, if you decide not to look within yourself for an ultimate standard of epistemology, you must look without.
Now you have two possibilities: To embrace supernatural revelation from a higher source as your ultimate standard or to embrace what the majority of people believe. If you choose to go with the later, your risk of error is high because the majority can and is often wrong. Just consider history: The multitudes that followed Hitler in exterminating the Jews and the multitudes that thought the earth was flat in Columbus’ day. Yet, Columbus read in the Bible that the earth was a sphere (Isaiah 40:22), and because his ultimate standard was the Bible (supernatural revelation), and not what the majority believed, he took the risk and discovered America. Where would America be were it not for the faith of that man in using the Bible as his ultimate standard?
We challenge you to continue to pursue truth and to determine what your ultimate standard will be for your study of epistemology. For both Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, our ultimate standard is the Bible because it claims to be authored by the Supreme authority Himself, who knows everything because He is the Creator of all. We believe that without this Supernatural Ultimate Standard, a Source of complete knowledge to discern truth and error, we are left with speculative opinion and nothing else; hence, the gravity of your spiritual situation, if you choose to reject this supernatural revelation.
Ultimately, the eternal question boils down to one of two possibilities: Either the Bible is true, its claims infallible because its source is from an Almighty God whose “understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5), or it is just another fallible book, full of discrepancies and contradictions, written by the opinions of man. In our opinion, this is the question that must be answered first and foremost before you go any further in your quest for truth. To answer this question, we highly recommend the following resources authored by former agnostics and skeptics who were converted to Christianity when they examined the evidence:
- THE CASE FOR A CREATOR: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God, By Lee Strobel
Once you understand that God exists, that He has given mankind an ultimate standard for epistemology and that everyone is accountable to Him for their actions, based on His laws of morality revealed both in conscience and written revelation, you are ready to scrutinize the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses (and any other religious group) against the clear statements of the Bible to determine if what they are teaching is accurate.
It is here, on key doctrines of the Christian faith, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from traditional Christianity on many key areas. The following is a short list of the most consequential teachings:
KEY DOCTRINES THAT JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES DISTORT:
There are many Biblical doctrines we could point out that differ from the Jehovah’s Witness perspective. These include (but are not limited to) their views of the soul, spirit, hell, and blood transfusion. Yet, when it comes to eternity, a person’s belief in or denial of such doctrines poses little consequence. So, for our purposes, we will focus on two fundamental areas: Their distortion of Jesus Christ and their distorted view of salvation.
1. Jehovah’s Witnesses Distort the Deity of Jesus Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that there are two Gods – an Almighty God, called “Jehovah” and a lesser, created “god” called “Jesus”. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is only one God who never had any “gods” created after Him (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6). Because Jesus never had a “beginning of days” (Hebrews 7:3), Jesus is called the “everlasting father” (Isaiah 9:6), the possessor of eternity who alone can give eternal life (John 10:28). Furthermore, the Bible proclaims that no one was with Jehovah when He created all things (Isaiah 44:24); yet Jesus is called the Creator of “all” things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17). Thus, Jesus is the “Almighty” Jehovah of Revelation 1:7-8, the “One” Who is coming.
2. Jehovah’s Witnesses distort the identity of Jesus Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus is the created Archangel Michael. Yet, nowhere in the Bible is the Son of God ever called Michael. In fact, to the contrary, the Bible rhetorically proclaims that no angel has ever been called God’s Son in the way that Jesus is called the Son of God:
“For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you’? And again, ‘I will be a father to him and he shall be a son to me’?” —Hebrews 1:5
This text not only implies that no angel is like Jesus, but it goes on in the next verse (Hebrews 1:6) to proclaim that Jesus is worthy of worship by the angels! This adoration would hardly be fitting for the created Michael the Archangel who undoubtedly would have rejected worship like other created angels have done (Revelation 22:8-9). Other Scriptures that prove that Jesus is not Michael are as follows:
1. In Jude 9, Michael did not have the authority to rebuke Satan, but Jesus did (Mark 8:33).
2. Michael is called “one” of the many chief princes in Daniel 10:13, indicating Michael is one among many peers. Yet, Jesus is called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), indicating that no kings or lords are equal to Jesus.
3. Michael never created anything, but Jesus is called the Creator of all powers and authority, including the invisible angels (Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3).
4. Hebrews 2:5 states that no angel will be given God’s future Kingdom, yet, Jesus has already been given all authority in heaven and on the earth (Matthew 28:18) and will one day rule the earth (Acts 17:31).
3. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses reject entrance into the New Covenant that is the means of salvation for all mankind.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses artificially split their followers into two groups: The 144,000 Heavenly Class and the “Great Crowd” Earthly Class, they twist the Scriptures in Revelation that strictly reference 144,000 Jewish males and claim that these verses teach that anyone outside of this group does not have Jesus as their Mediator (see Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace, WTBTS 1986, p. 10), will not be allowed entrance into heaven and will not be allowed to partake in the New Covenant spiritual adoption out of Satan’s family into God’s family.
Nowhere does the Bible limit Heaven to 144,000 people, nor does it deny Jesus’ mediatorship and New Covenant privileges to anyone outside of this group. To the contrary, Scripture proclaims that anyone who excludes himself from the New Covenant, excludes himself from eternal life (John 6:53-54).
So, in answer to the question about whether your continued study with your Jehovah’s Witness friend will affect your eternal soul. We would say “Yes, it will.” If you choose to accept their belief system, not only do you risk loosing your friendship with your Jehovah’s Witness associate if you ever decide to leave the religion, but you risk falling into spiritual deception with eternal consequences. There is simply no honorable way out of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. For more information on these issues, we recommend these articles:
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