What are the Jehovah Witnesses beliefs?
At first glance, the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses are not much different than those of orthodox, mainstream Christianity. For instance, they believe in the veracity of the Bible, however, their Bible, the New World Translation contains language that has been changed from the original texts and manuscripts, including words not found in the ancient texts and articles not even existing in the original languages themselves.
Among their more problematic tenants, Jehovah's Witnesses adhere to the following:
1) Jehovah is the only name of God;
2) Jesus Christ was a created being and not God-in-the-flesh;
3) Jesus Christ died on a stake instead of an actual cross.
"Jehovah" is, in fact one of the names of God, however it is merely a transliteration. In other words, it is a word or a sound which is constructed of letters used to refer to God (YHWH) since, in ancient Hebrew tradition, God had no name that could be uttered. YHWH become JHVH, the letters which were interchangeable with the former, and then, in order to verbally pronounce this mutated construct, included vowels to form "JeHoVaH." Furthermore, in the Jehovah's Witness' Bible, any name for God from the original language is simply substituted with this derivative, making it a bit of a "strawman." So, while this is one of the names to which God is commonly referred, it is not the only name and is, in fact merely a constructed form of his true, original reference.
Secondly, according to Scripture (John 1:1) Christ ("the Word") was indeed present at the onset of creation and is God's "Son" in the spiritual, eternal sense. However, Jesus pre-existed everything that was created and He did this in such a way that did not compromise his equivalency with God the Father - they were one, according to Jesus Himself. Jesus was not, therefore an inferior, created being but rather a co-creator with God the Father, existing equally as part of what we know as "The Holy Trinity," comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Last, the assertion that Jesus was killed on a stake rather than a cross is merely another misunderstanding of the original language applied to a few verses which has been broadly imposed on all verses containing its uses. The word used for "cross" and "stake" can also be translated as "tree" or "pole." In some instances, it would be correct to use the word "stake." However, to apply it in every instance, ignoring the historicity of the matter, takes away from the spiritual tradition, intention, and power that this symbol represents to historical and present-day Christianity and makes for an unnecessary distraction. To wit, the King James Version uses the word "cross" 28 times when referring to the instrument of Christ's death. Historically, the Roman Empire, legally responsible for this lethal punishment, used crosses, not stakes. The process of crucifixion was meant to cause prolonged suffering as a deterrent to onlookers from committing similar crimes. Impaling on a stake would have provided a much quicker death due to the blood loss and, thus proved a much less effective tactic.
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