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FIVE BELIEF SYSTEMS

TOPIC CHRISTIAN THEISM NEW AGE PANTHEISM HUMANISTIC ATHEISM MORMON POLYTHEISM WATCHTOWER FINITE GODISM (Jehovah's Witnesses)
The Bible          
Origin "God-breathed" By "spiritual" humans Purely human product Inspired by Heavenly Father Inspired by Jehovah
Nature Inerrant (without error) Has many errors Has many errors Many transcription/ translation errors Texts reliable but needed own translation
Authority God's final Word One of many inspired books No authority whatsoever Modern-day revelation needed As interpreted by the WT
Knowledge          
Source Biblical Revelation Intuition Observation/ Reason Biblical and modern-day revelation Bible and "theocratic direction" of WT
Right and Wrong Based on God's Word Ultimately no distinction Determined by society Modern-day revelation Bible and directives of WT
Truth Determined by God Relative Pragmatism/ empiricism Modern-day revelation Bible as interpreted by WT
God          
Nature Personal and infinite Impersonal force "Meaningless concept" Many finite gods with physical bodies Finite Jehovah with spiritual body
The Trinity Three Persons in one essence Denied or spiritualized Considered nonsense Father, Son, Spirit are three gods Of pagan origin
The Universe          
Origin Created ex-nihilo by God Emanation from god-force The "Big Bang" Gods creating worlds eternally Created by Jehovah
Relationship to God Distinct from God Within god-force Not applicable Each god has own world Jehovah lives in a certain place
Existence Dependant on God Illusion Self-existent Pre-existent matter Will exist eternally
Origin of life Created by God Emanation from god-force "Primordial soup" Infinite regress of gods creating worlds Created by Jehovah
Spiritual world Distinct from physical True reality Non-existent We lived as pre-existent spirits here Invisible parts of creation
Jesus Christ          
Person Full God and full man Reincarnated human being Just a human being First son of Father/ brother of Lucifer Michael the archangel
Conception/ birth "Born of the virgin Mary" Normal reincarnation Normal conception Father had sex with with Mary By a virgin
Unique? Only begotten Son of God One of many avatars Normal human being Eldest brother/ physical body via Father First creation of Jehovah
Purpose Die for His people's sins "Way-shower" Good teacher (if that) Make it possible to return to Father Pay for sin of Adam
Resurrection Vindication of Messiahip/ bodily Showed power any can have Denied Pattern for all persons Spiritual, not bodily
Intercession Only Mediator One of many mediators Not needed Shared with Joseph Smith Mediated by the WT
Second Coming Personal and bodily Spiritualized/ "Age of Aquarius" Denied To set up earthly kingdom Already occurred in 1914
The Holy Spirit          
Nature Full Deity and personality Power source Existence denied Finite god without a physical body Jehovah's invisible, active force
Regeneration Via the Holy Spirit Through own power Through own determination Via baptism by Mormon elder Only needed for the 144,000
Human Beings          
Nature of Image of God, but fallen Inwardly divine Same as all animals Same as Heavenly Father Not inherently sinful
Salvation          
What is it? Sins atoned for and forgiven No more reincarnations Improvement in life Exaltation to godhood Live forever in paradise on earth
Why needed? The Fall/ personal sins Don't remember we are god Problems in life and society We wanted to be like the Father Sin of Adam
How attained? Faith in Christ Realization of own divinity Faith in own abilities Keeping ordinances and commandments Become a JW, persevere in good works
Purpose Glorify God and enjoy Him forever Loss of personality Self-gratification Attain physical bodies Vindicate Jehovah's right to rule
Result Relationship with God Reunion with the One Improved self/ society Become a god with own world to rule/ populate End of suffering
Satan/ Demons          
Nature Personal, evil, spiritual beings Bad thoughts Non-existent Personal spiritual beings Personal spiritual beings
Future Damnation in hell Eliminate by realizing divinity Not-applicable Punishment, but not necessarily eternal Annihilation
The Afterlife          
After death Judgement/ resurrection Repeated reincarnations Non-existence Second chance to receive Mormonism Unconscious until resurrection
Heaven Place of joy with the Lord Union with the One Non-existent 3 degrees; highest - exaltation to a god Only for 144,000; rest on paradise earth
Hell Eternal, conscious torment Bad thoughts Non-existent Punishment, but not necessarily eternal Annihilation into non-existence
Human Suffering          
Origin The Fall Law of karma Evolution Our desire to be like the Father Sin of Adam
Final defeat by The Second Coming Human spiritual awareness Human efforts, if ever New cycle of each new world Battle of Armageddon

Notes:
"WT" is an abbreviation for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the organization Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) belong to. In this chart it is being used more specifically to refer to the "governing body" of the WT.

If you print this page, do so in "Landscape" orientation. It comes out looking much nicer that way.

The order of the topics above parallel the points on Darkness to Light's Confession of Faith.

For in-depth discussions and documentation for many of the above points, see the various articles and other items listed at Subject Index and Scripture Studies. The order in which the items are listed on these pages parallel the order of the topics above.

Five Belief Systems: Comparison Charts. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above chart originally appeared in Darkness to Light newsletter in 1993.
It was posted on this Web site in July 1996 and updated August 1997.

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