Can a person be both a Jehovah’s Witness and a Christian? According to the teachings of the Bible, the answer is no.
The beliefs of Christianity and Jehovah’s Witnesses are incompatible in many ways. Allegiance to one set of beliefs compels renunciation of the other. Charles Russell, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1852, founded Jehovah’s Witnesses (see his biography). He claimed he had discovered significant errors in common Christian belief and wrote his interpretations of the original Bible to reflect his ideas. His commentary led to a set of teachings that contradicted the Bible. Later, his followers would declare that Charles Russell’s writings were superior to the Bible. “It [Charles Taze Russell’s Studies in the Scriptures, 1:348] is God’s sole collective channel for the flow of Biblical truth to men on earth” (The Watchtower, July 15, 1960, p. 439).
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim the source for all their writings is the Bible, but their interpretation contradicts the Bible. All Christian faiths declare the Bible to be the Word of God. We may have different understandings of the Bible, but Christians do not rewrite it.
A Look at Some of the Differences
The most singular conflict between the two faiths is that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus Christ, although divine, was created by God. This heresy is not new. The teaching first arose in the fourth century through Arius, who established Arianism—the belief that the Son was of a substance different from the Father. That error was refuted by the first Christian Council, which eventually wrote the Nicene Creed in 325. That Creed, a foundational affirmation of all Christian faiths, affirms that Jesus Christ is God and equal to the Father.
The Bible confirms repeatedly that Jesus is God and is eternal. He is not a created being. The apostle John began his gospel with this very fact.
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word [Christ], and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God Himself. (John 1:1 AMP)
After Christ’s death and resurrection, the other disciples saw the risen Christ before Thomas did. When they told him Jesus was alive, he expressed doubts. Then Jesus appeared to Thomas. Jesus told him to place his finger into His hands and his hand into His side and to stop doubting and believe. Thomas was overwhelmed at the sight of Christ and said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
How did Jesus respond? Did He correct Thomas for calling Him God? No—here is what He said: “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29).
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach the Trinity is an invention of Satan (Let God Be True, 1952, p. 93). They believe in the one God Jehovah, that God created Jesus, and that the Holy Spirit is an invisible, active force from Jehovah. However, the second Christian Council, held in 381, reaffirmed the divinity of Christ and went on to state the divinity of the Holy Spirit, making the Trinity a necessary Christian doctrine. The third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in 431 affirmed once again that the teachings of the two previous councils were cardinal doctrines of Christianity. All Catholic and Protestant Christian churches continue to affirm these creeds.
The Scriptures teach throughout that God is a triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three were clearly represented at the baptism of Jesus. God the Son was there in bodily form being baptized. God the Father spoke from heaven. God the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.
One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized.
As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form,
descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my
dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:21–22)
How can we be saved, forgiven of our sins, and assured that we will spend eternity in heaven? Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christianity offer two very different answers.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that man earns entry into heaven based on reward for good works (Charles Taze Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol 1., p. 158). Christianity teaches that we can’t be good enough or do enough good works to be saved, but God offers salvation as a gift through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The struggle between law (man earning God’s blessings through obedience) and grace (man simply receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance by faith in Christ) goes back through the entire Bible. The Pharisees were so hung up on the law—both God’s law and their own myriad of rules—that they missed recognizing Jesus as Messiah.
The Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by doing good works.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit
for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things
we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
God’s Plan for You
Jesus said the Truth was so simple that even a little child could understand it. So what is His plan for each of us?
God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God created a perfect earth and then created man to occupy and rule on the earth. However, the world was perfect no longer when Adam sinned. From that point on, all people have been born with a sin nature. All have sinned.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Since we have all sinned, we all deserve to be punished. God is holy and He cannot allow sin in His presence. But God loves us—and so He offered a plan. A plan for each of us. A plan for you.
He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins by shedding His blood on the cross.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into
the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—
not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice
to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9–10)
For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
When we trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and believe that He died to pay the price for our sins, God forgives us and invites us to spend eternity with Him. Eternal life comes by faith in Christ, not by any effort on man’s part.
God loves us so much that Jesus (God the Son) left heaven to take on human flesh that we might leave earth and take on heaven. He came to save us from our sins. Will you place your trust in Him today?
“However, those the Father has given me [Jesus] will come to me, and I will
never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God
who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should
not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them
up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe
in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
Bible verses that directly confirm the divinity of Christ: Romans 9:5, John 1:1-5 (JW bible has changed God to god), John 1:12–14; 5:18; 4:25–26,42; 8:23, 58; 10:33; 17:5, 24; Luke 1:32–33; 17:18; 19:44; Hebrews 1:1–8; Titus 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:9–10; Colossians 1:15–20; 2:9; Philippians 2:6; 2 Peter 1:1; Isaiah 54:5
A comprehensive criticism of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be found here.