What Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught About Jesus Christ? | John Ankerberg Show

What Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught About Jesus Christ?

By: Dr. John Weldon
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By: Dr. John Ankerberg / Dr. John Weldon; ©2004
When a Jehovah’s Witness comes to your door, he’ll tell you, “We believe in the biblical Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior”. But when you read Watchtower Society publications, you’ll find something quite different.

What Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught About Jesus Christ?

The Watchtower “Jesus” existed in three different stages or phases, even, in a sense, as three different persons: 1) the Archangel Michael (also “the Word”); 2) the man Jesus of Nazareth; 3) a new superior, recreated Michael.

Clearly, there is believed to be a correspondence between the three. For example, the first person, Michael the Archangel, became Jesus; this “second” Jesus became a new Michael and so on, so that when Jesus came into existence, Michael was no longer, and when Jesus of Nazareth “resurrected” (was recreated) and became a new Michael, Jesus was no longer. To further confuse matters, it also appears from Watchtower Society [WS] writings that the human Jesus was not the same person as the pre-human or the post-human Jesus. The Witnesses are ambiguous at this point, seeming to both affirm and deny connections between the three entities. In light of WS con­cern with “rational” doctrine, not to mention their consternation with the doctrine of the Trinity, we could conclude, since trying to reason out WS Christology leads to confusion of mind, that it can’t possibly be true. Nevertheless, here are the Society’s three phases of Jesus.

Jesus as Michael the Archangel (also “the Word”)

Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God’s Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return. Michael is the only one said to be the “archangel,” meaning “chief angel” or “principal angel.”[1]

Michael was the first “spirit-son” of God. He was a direct creation of God (thereby becoming His Son) and finds his uniqueness in that fact. God eventually created other spirit-sons (angels) through this Michael. In heaven Michael was the head of the angels, or the archangel.

However, by virtue of his being the sole direct creation of his Father, the firstborn Son was unique, different from all others of God’s sons, all of whom were created or begotten by Jehovah through that firstborn Son.[2]

Jesus as a unique man

The Watchtower Society denies the Christian doctrine of the incarnation.[3] When Jesus was conceived, “Michael” no longer existed: the life force of the person that was Michael was transferred to a female ovum:

Since actual conception took place, it appears that Jehovah God caused an ovum or egg cell in Mary’s womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferral of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth (Galatians 4:4). Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word…. From the results revealed in the Bible, it would appear that the perfect male lifeforce (causing the conception) canceled out any imperfection existent in Mary’s ovum…. Since it was God’s holy spirit that made the birth possible, Jesus owed his human life to his heavenly Father, not to any man.[4]

As noted, the Society claims that Jesus “retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven.” Thus, when Jesus was born, Michael per se ceased to exist for “He laid aside com­pletely his spirit existence.”[5] “Almighty God divested the Son of his heavenly godlike existence and transferred his life from heaven to Mary’s womb.”[6] However, not all commentators would agree that Watchtower theology permits a continuity of identity between the pre-incarnate Michael, the incar­nate Jesus and the new post-incarnate Michael. In part this is due to conflicting data in Watchtower theology itself and in part to “Michael’s” own transformation from a special but mortal angel to a literal human being to a new improved, spiritually recreated and more powerful immortal angel.

Dr. James Bjornstad observes:

This doctrine reveals a disjointed view of Christ, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to portray continuity between the various states of existence. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the one who laid down his life at Calvary for our sins was not the one who existed in heaven and had been the Father’s agent in creation. Furthermore, he was not the one who was raised from the dead and who now rules in heaven over his kingdom.[7]

Anthony Hoekema asks:

Is there real continuity between the Son of God in his prehuman and his human state? Was the child born of Mary really the same individual who existed previously in heaven as the Archangel Michael? To this question it is difficult to give an unambiguous answer. On the one hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently speak of “Christ’s prehuman existence,” [they] say that the angel Michael was actually Jesus Christ in his prehuman spirit form, and assert that it was God’s only-begotten Son who became a man. Other passages from their writings, however, imply that there was no real continuity between Michael and the man Jesus Christ.[8]

Nevertheless, when Michael became Jesus upon the earth, this is when he earned his immortality.

Christ Jesus was first to receive immortality as a reward for his faithful course on earth….[9]
Finishing his earthly course free from flaw in any sense of the word, Jesus was acknowledged by God as justified. He was thus the only man who, through test, stood firmly and positively just, or righteous before God on his own merit…. Jesus Christ, after his faithful course until death was “made alive in the spirit,” given immortality and incorruption.[10]

The WS also teaches Jesus became “the Christ” at his baptism.

As regards Jesus, according to the angel’s announcement at his birth in Bethlehem he was to become a “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” When did he become Christ or “Anointed One”? After the prophet John the son of priest Zechariah baptized Jesus in the Jordan River…. Not at birth, but at thirty years of age Jesus became Christ or “Anointed One.”[11]

This contradicts Luke 2:11, which declares that Jesus was born the Christ. Nevertheless, the Society at this point believes that Jesus was “born-again,” becoming the first born of all begotten sons of God.

Jesus as a new improved Michael

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, when Jesus of Nazareth died, He ceased to exist. C.T. Russell stated, “The man Jesus is dead, forever dead.”[12] The body of Jesus, whether, as they claim, it was dissolved into gases or preserved as a future memorial, was not what was raised from the dead.[13]3 A new creation—the “better” Michael—was the one who appeared to the disciples by temporarily materializing a human body for them to see, much as the angels had in Genesis Chap­ter 19.

In light of this we may deduce several conclusions concerning the Jesus of the Watchtower Society.

1. Jesus never incarnated. As Nelson and Smith conclude:

The 1921 edition of The Harp of God declares, “The incarnation is scripturally erroneous. Indeed, if he (Christ) had been an incarnate being, he could never have redeemed mankind” (p. 101). Witnesses teach a total kenosis, that is, Christ had been a spiritual being, but on coming to this world he ceased being such and became nothing more than a perfect man.[14]

2. Jesus of Nazareth is dead.

Today only the new Michael exists. Dr. Bjornstad observes: “When Jesus died, he was annihi­lated. As a human being he was simply blotted out of existence. He just ceased to exist.”[15]

3. Jesus was not bodily resurrected.

If Jesus ceased to exist, He could not have been resurrected. According to the WS, there was only an improved spiritual recreation of the old Michael.[16] Thus, the new Jesus (Michael) bears no marks of the crucifixion and thus could not have been the same person as Jesus on earth.[17] (But again, Jehovah’s Witnesses speak of him as being the same person: “Regarding a future ‘coming,’ Jesus himself made it plain that at his second coming he would not be in the flesh, visible to hu­mans. He was resurrected as a spirit.”)[18] At this point, Bjornstad comments that Watchtower theol­ogy actually requires the permanent extinction of Jesus:

If it was not the material part of Jesus that was raised, perhaps it was his immaterial nature—his soul and/or his spirit. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the soul and the body are the same thing. So, if his body did not rise, his soul did not rise from the dead. Furthermore, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the spirit is nothing more than breath. In dying Jesus gave up this spirit or breathed his last breath, and thus his spirit could not be raised from the dead. If it was not the body of Jesus nor his soul nor his spirit that was raised from the dead, what then was resurrected according to Jehovah’s Witnesses? In actuality it was nothing. It was not Jesus who rose from the dead.[19]

This is why Jehovah had to recreate Michael as a new immortal spirit, for nothing was left of Jesus of Nazareth:

Though Jehovah’s Witnesses affirm belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they do not really believe in his resurrection. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in re-creation. They believe that Jehovah remembers your life pattern and then creates you again, or re-creates you after death as He remembers you. In Jesus’ case, Jehovah remembered the pre-human existence of Jesus as an angel, and thus re-created the angel Michael, the archangel, only this time immortal and of a divine order.[20]

In the process of recreation, Jehovah did not look to the material human stage of “Jesus” exist­ence, but to His previous existence as an “angel.”

4. The second coming of “Jesus” has already occurred invisibly.

Jehovah’s Witnesses initially taught that Christ returned in 1874; however, the date was laterchanged to 1914. Since He was “resurrected” (recreated) as a spirit creature, His return could not possibly be in a physical body, but it had to be in a spiritual body. Thus His coming was “invisible.”

Since the 1914 return of Jesus, He is now more important than He was prior to 1914. Why? Because for 1900 years, practically speaking, He was not a King. He obtained His kingdom in 1914 and as a result entered into an exalted status. Therefore, He was infused with a new

…royal capacity such as he had not possessed when he was down here on earth in the first century…. [He was now] a personage who had greater rank, authority and power than the one [before]…. This made service to him much more important now. It was a higher honor now to be in his service.[21]

In conclusion, the Watchtower Society’s doctrine of Jesus Christ logically denies his deity, immu­tability, sovereignty, eternity, birth as the Messiah, bodily resurrection, kingdom prior to 1914, physi­cal return and even His very existence! Yet in their door-to-door witnessing Jehovah’s Witnesses have told hundreds of millions of people, “We believe in the biblical Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior!”

NOTES

  1. Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1152. {Note: All Jehovah’s Witnesses texts are published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn NY.]
  2. Ibid., p. 918.
  3. Ibid., p. 920.
  4. Ibid.
  5. The Truth Shall Make You Free (1943), p. 246, cited in James Bjornstad, Counterfeits at Your Door (Glendale, CA: Regal, 1979), p. 67.
  6. Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie, p. 231.
  7. Bjornstad, Counterfeits at Your Door, p. 68.
  8. Anthony Hoekema, The Four Major Cults (Eerdmans, 1970), p. 272.
  9. Let God Be True (1946, rev. 1952), p. 74, cited in Hoekema, Four Major Cults, p. 295.
  10. Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 437.
  11. Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie, p. 211.
  12. Charles T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 5 (East Rutherford, NJ: Dawn Bible Students’ Association, 1906), p. 454.
  13. The Truth Shall Make You Free (1943), p. 264, cited in Bjornstad, Counterfeits, p. 93.
  14. W. M. Nelson, R. K. Smith, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” in Hesselgrave, ed., Dynamic Religious Movements, pp. 178- 179.
  15. Bjornstad, Counterfeits, p. 67.
  16. Ibid., p. 68; see Let Your Name Be Sanctified (1961), p. 272.
  17. Man’s Salvation Out of World Distress, pp. 42-43.
  18. The Watchtower, January 15, 1980, p. 31, emphasis added.
  19. Bjornstad, Counterfeits, pp. 92-94; see Make Sure of All Things, p. 255.
  20. Ibid.
  21. God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years, p. 354; cf. Man’s Salvation Out of World Distress, p. 42.

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon (born February 6, 1948) went to be with the Lord on August 30, 2014 following a long-time battle with cancer. John served for more than 20 years as a researcher for The John Ankerberg Show. During his tenure, he authored or coauthored more than 100 books, including the best-selling Facts On Series of books that has sold more than 2.5 million copies in 16 languages. His final book, published in July 2014 with Harvest House Publishers (coauthored with John Ankerberg), is especially fitting. How to Know You’re Going to Heaven offers a biblical and personal look at the way God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and the confidence the believer can have of eternity with Him in heaven (1 John 5:13). John’s life and work have touched countless others seeking to grow spiritually and better understand the Bible. His friends describe him as genuine, humble, and passionate to share the hope of eternal life with everyone he met. His work will continue through his many books, his online writings at The John Ankerberg Show website (JAshow.org), as well as through the many people John has personally influenced through his ministry.
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ChrisJoM L CossMARIERobert Recent comment authors
Chris
Chris

I feel really bad for JW’s that they have been so secured by Satan.

MARIE
MARIE

JOHOVA WITNESSES DO NOT BELIEVE MICHEAL IS JESUS !!! Their belief is real to whom believes theres jesus the son 1.The farther 2. holy spirit3. no diffrent than a catholic christain ….or eny other beliefs GOD IS LOVE HIS SPIRIT IS IN UNION WITH LOVE AND OUT OF LOVE THREW HIS SON JESUS WHICH IS IN ALL OF US !! EVEN IF YOUR AWARE OF IT OR NOT HE’S THERE ..So rewrite your script please not nice to say unyrue things about people ..EVEN IN DARKESS THERE IS LIGHT IF U UNDERSTAND THAT LIL BIT ULL KNOW SHE IS TJE… Read more »

MARIE
MARIE

oops i said she instead of he ..im not perfect yet iknow there are5 arche angels Top one is micheal whom cast OUT LUCIFER FROM HEAVEN …MANY ANGELS ONLY TOP FIVE R NOTED THREW HISTORY… We All return to the maker as its written so it is….He had plans for you before u was even in your mothers womb think about what that means it wowing and awesome..good day happy holiday this weekend..

Jo
Jo

I was a Jehovah’s witness for 20 + years and they do believe or at least the Watchtower teaches that Michael and Jesus are one and the same. I am sure that there are a lot of witnesses that don’t really believe that but that is their teaching through the Watchtower Bible and Tract society! Look it up on JW.org their own website.

Robert
Robert

You are not clear minded in your view of what JW believe at all. They don’t deny existence of Jesus or Michael at all. I have talked with many and never have I heard that. One reason they say he is the same is because the bible talks of Jesus and Michael leading GODS armies. I tell you what… the perception religion is starting to lead is shameful. Slandering in GOD’S NAME is certainly a sin.

MARIE
MARIE

ITS CALLED NOT KNOWING OR ABUSING WHAT GOD GAVE THEM TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING TRUTHFULL ABOUT THEIR OWN BELIEF NOONE CAN CHANGE THE TRUTH SO A LIE CHANGES THE TRUTH STAYS THE SAME ….NO NEED FOR HARSH WORDS SUCH AS SLANDER OR SINFULL WNO ONE IS SINLESS OR PERFECT SO THATS WHY WE NEED TO EXCEPT NOT PUSH PEOPLE INTO BELIEVING HOW WE VEIW THINGS LIKE I SAID TRUTH IS TRUTH CANT CHANGE IT ..IT IS SORT OF OUT OF BEIG SCARED PEOPLE TALK LIKE THAT …POSSIBLY SCARED OF THE TRUTH?? THRUTH IS BUITFULL AND SETS ONE FREE TO SEE… Read more »

M L Coss
M L Coss

Jesus is my Lord and Savior. The only way to the Father is through the Son. If you know Jesus you know God. He is God and God is Him. He is the way the truth and the light! And on and on……Jesus is God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are three in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s all. Thanks for reading!

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