Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Annihilationists Too!

Oftentimes, when the topic of Conferred Immortality (Annihilationism) is brought up, some variation of this rebuttal soon follows: “Isn’t that what the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe?” The intention of this sort of rebuttal is to shut down the argument immediately, because who on earth wants to be associated with a cult like the JWs, right? This argument is fallacious though. It’s known as the genetic fallacy. That is, the actual position isn’t attacked. Instead, people who are associated with it determine the validity of the argument. Logically, it doesn’t matter if a 20 headed tiger monster believed it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

I usually give the extreme example of a Nazi. If a Nazi was strangling someone and looked up at the sky and said, “The sky is blue!” Would he be wrong? Of course not. Should we say that the doctrine of Christ’s deity isn’t true because the Roman Catholic church affirms it too? Of course not.  So, the truth of Annihilationism isn’t reliant on those who hold it. It stands or falls based on whether the Bible attests to it or not. The most interesting and ironic part about using the JW-Annihilation argument is those using it shoot themselves in the foot, seeing as how far more cults believe in conscious eternal torment than do annihilation. It would certainly be improper and fallacious to bring this up in an argument. Whatever your position is on any topic, be sure to be fair to the other person. Go after the position, not the person, origins of the argument, or those associated with it.

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4 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Annihilationists Too!”

  1. Although I tend to agree with your main point, the “slippery slope” concerns me. I know some conferred immortality folks, who in their zeal to say that Christ really died, ended up denying the deity of Christ. Of course most traditionalists are not content with the mystery of the hypostatic union, that we can’t explain how Christ is both God and human, or how the God-human can die. Thus the traditionalists tend to say that Jesus only died in human body (but not in “soul”). In reaction to this, some conferred immortality folks also tried to explain the mystery by denying the deity of Christ. This is somewhat parallel to those Calvinists who deny that all humans have a duty to believe the gospel, because they assume that duty depends on ability. The Calvinists who restrict the command of the gospel to “the prepared” are agreeing with Arminians that duty depends on ability.

    The most important thing to say about JWS is that there is a difference between conferred immortality and “annihilationism”. Technically, they are not the same. Conferred immortality folks (like me) teach that the non-elect will be raised for the purpose of condemnation, based on works, according to works, from the books. JWS deny this. Of course some say that what the JWs teach and what we teach are only different subsets within one large group called “annihilationists”. We do, after all, say that the non-elect are destroyed by God and perish in the end. But of course that’s what the Bible says, and it doesn’t use the word “annihilation”.

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    1. I agree, Mark. But the point of this paper isn’t to say that the JWs are like us. I was just making the point that we shouldn’t make the genetic fallacy argument.

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