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Arius and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses are often referred to as Aryans. The term goes back to the person Arius, who lived approx. 250 – 336 and became the father of what is called Arianism. [1] For a reflection on Jesus and God see: https://jehovasvidner.info/guds-herlighet-en-refleksion-over-joh-1/

There are several similarities, but also some differences between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Arius. He lived in a time when the question of the nature of Jesus was discussed. It is not all aspects of his theology we know, but something suggests that his theology came into being on the premises of platonism, where God needed a mediator between himself and the world that he himself had created. He was a priest in Alexandria, which has served as a gathering place for some philosophy back to the Jewish philosopher Philo, who was clearly platonic inspired.

 

Jesus according to Arius

Church and dome historians do not agree on why Arius understood  Jesus as he did. Traditionally, it has been understood that he saw God as uncreated and as the only one who has immortality, is everyone’s judge and unchangeable. Against this background, he was forced to place Jesus outside the being of God. Recent interpretations have seen his motivation as being the incarnation. He wanted to make sure that Jesus really lived and died. [2] Gregg, R. C., and Groh, D. E. 1977. The Centrality of Soteriology in Early Arianism. ATR 59 can be found here: https://earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/atr/59-3_260.pdf

One of the places where Arius and Jehovah’s Witnesses differ is on the issue of worship. Despite his view of Jesus, Arius insisted that he should be worshiped. Until 1954, that view was agreed upon, but then it was considered wrong. Historically, it happens at the same time as they publish their own Bible translation, which has made, for example, Paul Grundy sees a historical context [3] https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/worship-jesus.php .

Arius is mentioned positively by Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was – unlike some church people – in accordance with the Bible [4] WT69 7/15 p.422 .

 

Arius is condemned

At the Council of Nicaea in 325, Arius was condemned. He became part of the first of the three great conflicts in the ancient church: the Arian conflict, which was about the relationship between the father and the son; The Trinitarian conflict was about the relationship between the father, the son and the spirit, and the Christological dispute was about formulating the fact that Jesus was both God and man.

 

Arius and Jehovah’s Witnesses

If you look at the Watchtower, there have been 67 occurrences of Arius in the period 1959-2020. Some of them are purely historical references, and one makes the point out that Christianity decided for the Trinity teacher against the Arians. [note] VT66 5/91p.278 [/ note]. At the same time, Arius denied that the son was of the same nature as the father, which is in line with what Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves teach. His great opponent was Athanasius, who accused him of polytheism. In fact, unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, he maintained the right to worship Jesus, even though he was not of the same nature as the Father.

Noter

Noter
1 For a reflection on Jesus and God see: https://jehovasvidner.info/guds-herlighet-en-refleksion-over-joh-1/
2 Gregg, R. C., and Groh, D. E. 1977. The Centrality of Soteriology in Early Arianism. ATR 59 can be found here: https://earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/atr/59-3_260.pdf
3 https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/worship-jesus.php
4 WT69 7/15 p.422