Is the Watchtower teaching universalism?

Consider this quote from the August 15, 2010 Watchtower Study Edition, p. 30:

12 Under the rule of the Greater Solomon, Jesus Christ, “the righteous one will sprout,” that is, flourish or prosper. (Ps. 72:7) Christ’s love and tender care will then be abundant, just as they were when he was on the earth. In God’s promised new world, even “the unrighteous” who are resurrected will be given a loving opportunity to conform to Jehovah’s standards and live. (Acts 24:15) Of course, those who refuse to act in harmony with divine requirements will not be allowed to continue living and mar the peace and tranquillity of the new world.

The Watchtower affirms their long-held view that both the righteous (which would include only Jehovah’s Witnesses) and the wicked (everyone else) will be resurrected to paradise, where they will be given a second chance to prove their faithfulness (or lack thereof). And on what basis?

“having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
(Acts 24:15)

From this verse alone, there is no way to determine where both camps get a resurrection to. Other Scriptures can offer more clarity:

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
(John 5:28–29)

Regarding this text, the Watchtower responds,

*** rs p. 338 Resurrection ***

Will some be raised simply to have judgment pronounced and then be consigned to second death?

What is the meaning of John 5:28, 29? It says: “All those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” What Jesus said here must be understood in the light of the later revelation that he gave to John. (See Revelation 20:12, 13, quoted on page 337.)

Both those who formerly did good things and those who formerly practiced bad things will be “judged individually according to their deeds.” What deeds? If we were to take the view that people were going to be condemned on the basis of deeds in their past life, that would be inconsistent with Romans 6:7: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” It would also be unreasonable to resurrect people simply for them to be destroyed. So, at John 5:28, 29a, Jesus was pointing ahead to the resurrection; then, in the remainder of verse 29, he was expressing the outcome after they had been uplifted to human perfection and been put on judgment.

Unless i’m misunderstanding the Watchtower, it doesn’t matter what you did on this earth insofar as your eternal fate is concerned; whether you served God or hated him. We all go to the same place and get, “uplifted to human perfection.”  Why does Jesus speak of ‘committing evil deeds’ in the past tense? Does this suggest that our judgment will be based on what we have done in this life, or the life to come?


8 thoughts on “Is the Watchtower teaching universalism?

  1. That is essentially true. Witnesses believe that when one dies you are acquitted of sin by your own death, thus inevitably get a second chance in the resurrection. It really makes this life pointless. Why, for example, die from refusing a blood transfusion if your “sin” of transfusing blood is forgiven/acquitted at death?

  2. Do they far from it. What weird thing to even suggest Mike. The fact that they teach annihilation should have made you think twice about even posting this.

    The irony here is that Protestants and Catholics do teach universalism. When they state that everyone will be very much alive in eternity whether experiencing joy in paradise or eternal anguish in hell it they teach that immortality is not a gift but is inherit in all humans whether you are a believer or not.

    1. Riven-

      Thanks for your comment. I agree it’s a strange thing to suggest, but either i’m misunderstanding something or the Watchtower just isn’t being clear. I’m open to correction, but what I posted says what it says.

      On your second point, that’s not universalism unless you want to redefine how words have been traditionally used. Universalism is not simply living consciously for eternity. Universalism is that everyone lives in paradise forever.

      So even if the Watchtower is saying what I think they’re saying (all are resurrected to live through the millennium), it still wouldn’t be strict universalism because even the resurrected ones could end up being unfaithful in the millennium and thus destroyed.

  3. I would say you are definitely misunderstanding. I mean they teach that some will
    1.not even receive a resurrection ,

    2.after the thousand years some will be destroyed

    I really cant see as one who reads a lot of their literature could misunderstand or even suggest such a thing as that they teach universalism.

    1. Riven-

      I’m not saying that the WT *is* teaching universalism. I’m simply asking the question and showing some similarities. It’s definitely not traditional universalism, but there are some striking similarities.

  4. Mike as one who believes in traditional hell and who believes in an immortal soul
    Please explain this
    Where do the wicked get their immortal bodies in the resurrection for them to be forever tortured?

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