Established in 1879 by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania, Jehovah's Witnesses bear many of the hallmarks of mainstream Christianity, while diverging from it in several key areas. The differences are significant enough that Jehovah's Witness Christians and mainstream Christians sometimes question each other's legitimacy as Christians.
Five key issues that distinguish Jehovah's Witness Christians from other Christians are:
Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity (God in three persons). God, or Jehovah, is a singular being. Jesus is Jehovah's created son through whom Jehovah created everything else. They believe his spirit, not his body, was resurrected, and that God is greater than Jesus. The Holy Spirit is seen as not a person, but Jehovah's force of action.
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Jehovah's Witness Christians believe in the Bible as God's Word like other Christians, but they prefer their own New World Translation. The New World Translation "sometimes translates key passages, such as those about the nature of Jesus Christ, differently than other reputable English-language Bible translations," according to Religion Facts
In terms of salvation, Witnesses believe Jesus died on a stake instead of a cross to pay for the sins of humanity. However, salvation is not through faith alone, but must be earned by obedience and loyalty to God's commands.
Regarding death and the afterlife, Jehovah's Witness Christians do not believe in the existence of hell as a place of torment. Rather, they believe that human existence ends entirely at death, although people "can be remembered by God and eventually be resurrected," according to the BBC
. This follows along with the belief that Jesus' resurrection was not a physical one, but was spiritual only.
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Jehovah's Witness Christians have distinct beliefs about the end times, as well. The BBC reports that Witnesses believe the end times began in 1914. This period will conclude with Judgment Day, the 1,000 year reign of Christ with the 144,000 "anointed" resurrected people who are chosen by God. Other people who prove their loyalty to Jehovah during the end times will live eternally on earth in the new paradise.
Those who "rebel against God will be permanently destroyed, as will Satan and the demons," according to the JW.org.
Although Jehovah's Witnesses and other Christians both seek to live by the Bible and follow Jesus, there are some important distinctions that set them apart from one another in definitive ways.
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