In the first part of this series of articles on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we saw their beliefs concerning Christ. In the second part, we will look at some of their beliefs concerning man himself. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have several unique, but odd beliefs concerning man, his life, and his death.
The first thing that must be taken into consideration is the Russellite view of death. According to founder C. F. Russell, death is total annihilation, and when a man dies, he is therefore non-existent. Of course, as we saw in the first article on Christ, He is also considered a man, and it follows logically then, that Christ’s death on the cross followed the same pattern, ending in annihilation of His body and soul likewise.
Many Scripture passages reassure us that the ghastly death described by the leaders of this cult belongs to no man. John 5:24 illustrates comforting proof of this in the words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth any word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.” (KJV) The story of the rich man and Lazarus gives evidence that annihilation after death is not experienced by either wicked reprobate or God’s elect men. If these men had been completely destroyed, neither one could have spoken, since non-existent men are incapable of such, with no exception.
In order to continue this article, it is necessary that we look at the Russellite beliefs about men by dealing with the Believers and Unbelievers separately. There¬fore we will discuss further beliefs in two parts.
Russellism teaches that there was a resurrection in the spring of 1878. In this resurrection all of the Apostles and true believers who had died before then were resurrected as spirit-beings. This means that although these men have souls, they take on no particular physical form. They have, however, been endowed with the power to “manufacture” for themselves bodies and clothing suited to their needs. Thus, they have the ability to assume different appearances and with clothing suitable to the fashion of the era in which they are existing.
The Russellites also teach that there was another resurrection which took place in 1914, for the benefit of those saints which passed away after the 1878 resurrection. Those who were resurrected experienced this in the same manner as those before them in 1878 had, and are now living upon the earth as spirit-beings also.
The two groups of believers who received life again in these first and second resurrec-tions are known to the Jehovah’s Witnesses as the Bride of Christ or as “the little flock.” These have a “divine nature” and will reign with Christ during the Millennium which has begun already with the second resurrection.
Many an argument has arisen between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their doctrinal opponents on this question, not so much as to the veracity of their doctrine as to the logic of their ideas. The Russellites confess to the doctrine of the annihilation of the dead as we have seen before. The problem then arises over how annihilated beings can possibly be resurrected. The conniving leader of the Russellites has an answer to this problem, too. His answer — they are simply recreated. Obviously any person who is capable of employing his reason can see that this is a denial of the resurrection. Resurrection, the raising of the dead, the restoration of life, cannot take place with non-existent bodies and souls. Once again, many Scripture texts support the resurrection of the dead. One reference in Scripture that can be employed is I Cor. 15:35 and 44, where we read “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Thus, the beliefs of Russellism are once again refuted with ease.
The Russellites are proponents of many strange doctrines in contradiction with the Orthodox views which we accept as our own. Their beliefs about unbelieving men are no exception to this.
Russellism, first of all, teaches that the wicked dead have been raised in 1914, at the beginning of the Millennium, and as recreated spirit-beings, are also living upon the earth now. For these wicked men, the century from 1914 to 2014 is the “second- chance” era. Now is their opportunity to join up with the Bride of Christ as it is manifest in this world. If they do so, they will be made physically and morally perfect. Failure to do so in the appointed century will result in another annihilation, known as the Second Death.
But there is a catch for those repentant unbelievers. They will be on probation for 1,000 years. If they do not remain faithful to Christ, they, too, will experience the Second Death. If they do, however, manage to remain faithful, they will be granted everlasting life.
After the rest of the unbelievers have been eternally destroyed and only the Bride of Christ and the repentant unbelievers are left, they will receive their rewards. Those who have believed from the beginning receive immortality, which is life sustained without food. The repentant unbelievers who receive everlasting life will eat of the original Tree of Life to sustain them.
Of course, the wicked reprobate of this world find all these doctrines rather attractive, to say the least. Where else can you find a “doctrine” which advocates the position of sin? They find comfort in sin, a second chance, and at the same time in a belief which makes death look not-so-bad.
We have no need for the vicious, blasphemous Russellism as we have seen it now. We have the comfort of those who do not fear the death of this earthly tabernacle. We by God’s grace say with Paul:
“O death, where is they sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God,
Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I Cor. 15:55-57.