What Hope for the Jehovah’s Witnesses Based on Catholic Doctrine:
An Open Letter to Jehovah’s Witnesses from a Roman Catholic
Notwithstanding the official view of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jehovah God gives humankind lifesaving truth through only one religion, namely their own, Catholics believe that Jehovah does not limit himself when it comes from where life-saving truth can be found.
The Scriptures tell us that the truth about God can be found in his creation:
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.—Romans 1:20.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.—Psalm 19:2.
So great is this witness to the truth about God that Scripture claims that those who choose to ignore what they can learn from nature and choose to ignore God or worship false Gods “have no excuse” if they ignore this source of God’s truth.—Romans 1:20-21.
The Scriptures teach that God has imbued each and every person with the faculty of conscience to such an extent that “the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law.” How is such possible if they don’t worship or know about God? Because when God created each human, he designed all persons so that “the demands of the law are written in their hearts.” (Romans 2:14-15) This explains why people in general seek to do what is good to their neighbor and demand justice, even if they are not religious. Humans can’t escape their very nature, made in God’s image, that in itself testifies to the truth about our Creator. (Genesis 1:26-27) As the *Common English Bible *puts it: “They instinctively do what the Law requires,” and “their consciences affirm it.”—See also Sirach 17:7-15.
Truth In Other Religions
While keeping to our conviction that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Christ in which all fullness of God’s truth dwells, the Catholic Church also recognizes truth where it appears in other places. This is a notable difference from the religion and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In addition to nature and the faculty of conscience, facets of truth are common throughout the realm of religious and non-religious belief, practice, and convictions.
Because human society is a single community with a common origin in our Creator as well as a common destiny in Him, the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true which can be found among the peoples of the world. While only Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6), one cannot ignore that God works as he wills, often in ways that go beyond our expectations. The Bible itself is a testimony to the fact that Jehovah God has always surprised humanity, characteristically never saving us in the way we thought he would or according to standards we thought could never be adjusted or moved. As it is written:
You worked awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as had not been heard of from of old.—Isaiah 64:2-3.
Does that mean there is truth in the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Yes, it does indeed.
For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a great faith in the Bible. They also strive to live according to its standards in exemplary ways that endeavor to be imitated. They are honest people with a love for Christ, and they truly wish all mankind will take heed of the Gospel’s call to the Kingdom of God.
Not ignoring the significant differences between their religion and ours, Catholics do not view them as enemies of the Church or humanity at large as some have. While it is not possible to accommodate some of their doctrines and the way they are lived out (such actively shunning those who freely leave their ranks or are disfellowshipped), this is due to the Catholic view of human rights, including the dignity that comes with the freedom of conscience in all matters religious. Proper respect for the religious choices of others includes acknowledging them, tolerance, and open communication. If one person expects others to treat them so, they must do the same as they wish to be treated:
Do to others as you would have them do to you.—Luke 6:31.
Where human rights and the safety of others is not threatened, as with anyone else Jehovah’s Witnesses are worthy of being afforded the dignity and respect for their personal religious choices. And Catholics do not take the position of judge when it comes to stating whose worship God accepts or not. As such we view them as fellow children of God, working to spread the message of the Bible and heralding the good news of the Kingdom of God.