Catholic Q&A

I see Jehovah’s Witnesses moving from door to door, and newspapers often mention their refusing blood transfusions and so on. What denomination are they?

“Jehovah’s Witnesses” are members of a new Christian religion, born in 1852 in the United States. The founder is a man named Charles T. Russell. Unlike founders of other new religions he does not claim to have received a new revelation, but he interprets the Bible in his own way and claims that he alone has discovered the correct meaning of the Bible. He especially took the liberty of interpreting arbitrarily the book of Revelation by John, and prophesied the arising of a battle with the forces of Satan, called Armageddon. He called for people to be included in the 144,000 who would be saved. He then tried to spread his interpretation of the Bible around the world, by publishing a booklet called “The Watchtower.”

Their refusal of blood transfusions originally arose from an Old Testament law. The law states that blood, which is the source of life, belongs to God, and hence even when we eat the flesh of animals, we must dedicate the blood to God. Jehovah’s Witnesses follow that law literally. They assert that since in blood transfusion we receive human blood, it is equivalent to drinking animal blood, which is not allowed. The Bible too as a matter of fact is subject to the constraints of the times. Hence, rather than take it literally, it is vital that we read its true meaning. To consider a literal reading of the Bible as an absolute, would mean to undermine the spirit of the Bible. Hence, the interpretation of the Bible must be based on the tradition of the Church.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the doctrine of the Trinity, which happens to be an orthodox element of Christian faith. Their zealous missionary work is indeed worthy of respect, but we need to be careful because it often makes people fanatical and self-righteous.

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