Today, as of old, a proper response to the primary question, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” (Matt. 22:42), constitutes a veritable touchstone of historic Christianity. Certain other aberrations in Biblical understanding may doubtless be tolerated if one is, so to speak, turned in the right direction with regard to Christology. But if a sect’s basic orientation toward Jesus Christ be erroneous, it must be seriously doubted whether the name “Christian” can rightly be applied to such a system.The Jehovah’s Witnesses have answered this question in such a way that any honest interpreter of Scripture must conclude that there is nothing Christian about such a system.
Such an unbiblical Christology leaves them with a defective view of the atonement, and thus a different gospel (cf. Gal 1:8-9). They declare, “We cannot earn salvation; it is possible only on the basis of faith in the value of the sacrifice of Jesus’ human life” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 216). Yet if Jesus’ sacrifice was merely a “human life,” we have no hope, for the mediator needed to be man and God to propitiate the just wrath of the Father, to be a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God (Heb 2:17-18; Isa 53:6, 10-12), and to provide a perfect righteousness for His people.
Now, I don’t say these things to create controversy or to draw lines in the sand and alienate people. I say that those who hold to the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians because they need to be saved. We who believe in the Christ revealed in Scripture must take every opportunity we are given to evangelize these precious people. We must present to them the Christ who is, and not the Christ of the Watchtower Society.
So when that knock on the door comes on Saturday morning, it should not be our practice to coldly and unlovingly slam the door in their faces. Following the example of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), must gently and patiently engage them with Scripture. When we do discuss these matters, we must not deal in mere platitudes and cultural-Christian catch-phrases, but rather must intelligently bring to bear what Scripture actually teaches on what they actually believe.
We must therefore be educated, committing ourselves to studying the Scriptures in order to have a firm grasp on such matters as presented throughout this series. Then we would also be Christlike, having compassion on those who are in bondage to false teaching, laying down our lives in love to be effectively equipped for snatching such as these out of the fire (Jude 1:21).
I hope this series has equipped us to do that.
- John Calvin -