Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs

Learn What Doctrines Set Apart Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah Witness Beliefs
Founder of Jehovah's Witnesses Charles Taze Russell. Historical / Contributor / Getty Images

Some of the distinct beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses set this religion apart from other Christian denominations, such as limiting the number of people who will go to heaven to 144,000, denying the Trinity doctrine, and rejecting the traditional Latin cross.

Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs

Baptism - Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs teach that baptism by total immersion in water is a symbol of dedicating one's life to God.

Bible - The Bible is God's Word and is truth, more reliable than tradition. Jehovah's Witnesses use their own Bible, the New World Translation of the Scriptures.

Communion - Jehovah's Witnesses (also known as the Watchtower Society) observe the "Lord's Evening Meal" as a memorial to Jehovah's love and to Christ's redemptive sacrifice.

Contributions - No collections are taken up at services at Kingdom Halls or Jehovah's Witnesses conventions. Offering boxes are placed near the door so people can give if they wish. All giving is voluntary.

Cross - Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs state that the cross is a pagan symbol and should not be displayed or used in worship. Witnesses believe Jesus died on a Crux Simplex, or a single upright punishment stake, not a t-shaped cross (Crux Immissa) as we know today.

Equality - All Witnesses are ministers. There is no special clergy class. The religion does not discriminate based on race; however, Witnesses believe homosexuality is wrong.

Evangelism - Evangelism, or carrying their religion to others, plays a major role in Jehovah Witness beliefs. Witnesses are best known for going door to door, but they also publish and distribute millions of copies of printed material every year.

God - God's name is Jehovah, and he is the only "true God."

Heaven -  Heaven is an other-worldly kingdom, the dwelling place of Jehovah.

Hell - Hell is humankind's "common grave," not a place of torment. All the condemned will be annihilated. Annihilationism is the belief that all unbelievers will be destroyed after death, instead of spending an eternity of punishment in hell.

Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit, when mentioned in the Bible, is a force of Jehovah, and not a separate Person in the Godhead, according to Witness teachings. The religion denies the Trinity concept of three Persons in one God.

Jesus Christ - Jesus Christ is God's son and is "inferior" to him. Jesus was the first of God's creations. Christ's death was sufficient payment for sin, and he rose as an immortal spirit being, not as the God-man.

Salvation - Only 144,000 people will go to heaven, as cited in Revelation 7:14. The rest of saved humanity will live forever on a restored earth. Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs include works such as learning about Jehovah, living a moral life, regular witnessing to others, and obeying God's commandments as part of the requirements for salvation.

Trinity - Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs reject the doctrine of the Trinity. Witnesses hold that only Jehovah is God, that Jesus was created by Jehovah and is inferior to him.

They further teach that the Holy Spirit is a force of Jehovah.

Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses

Sacraments - The Watchtower Society recognizes two sacraments: baptism and communion. Persons of "a reasonable age" to make a commitment are baptized by full immersion in water. They are then expected to attend services regularly and evangelize. Communion, or "the Lord's Evening Meal" is practiced to commemorate Jehovah's love and Jesus' sacrificial death.

Worship Service - Witnesses meet on Sunday at the Kingdom Hall for a public meeting, which includes a Bible-based lecture. A second meeting, lasting about an hour, features the discussion of an article from Watchtower magazine. Meetings begin and end with prayer and may include singing.

Leaders - Because Witnesses do not have an ordained clergy class, meetings are conducted by elders or overseers.

Small Groups - Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs are strengthened during the week with small group Bible study in private homes.

To learn more about Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs, visit the official Jehovah's Witnesses Website.

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(Sources: Jehovah's Witnesses Official Website, ReligionFacts.com, and Religions of America, edited by Leo Rosten.)