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If we had a dollar for each time someone has asked us whether we were Jehovah's Witnesses, we would be rich today. We do have some similar teachings, but the people who ask rarely know anything about what we teach. All they know is that we are out witnessing on the streets, and on that basis they assume that there is a strong possibility that we are Jehovah's Witnesses.

We deny any connection with the JW's; but at times we feel guilty about that, because there is a certain comradeship with all who suffer for their faith. And JWs have certainly suffered for theirs. At any given time there would be countries in the world where Jehovah's Witnesses are jailed and even killed because of their faith. Though they are almost universally hated, those who hate (and fear) them can usually give only the vaguest reasons for their hate and fear. This is true even in educated Western, so-called Christian, countries like America, England, and Australia.

A common excuse for hating the Jehovah's Witnesses because they do not believe in the Trinity. The JW's believe that Jesus is the Son of God (as Jesus is quoted as having said so often in the Bible), but they stop short of calling him God. Along with Jews and Muslims they believe that it is wrong to make Jesus equal to God.

We do not share this teaching, and if it were the real issue, we could confidently deny any connection with the Witnesses. But it is not the real issue. The thousands who assume we are members of that group do not do so on the basis of anything we have said about the Trinity, or about the divinity of Jesus.

No, the real issue is simply that Jehovah's Witnesses witness. Anyone who dares to hand out literature on the street or go door to door spreading their faith is going to be confused with them. But the Jehovah's Witnesses are also critical of mainline churches. These are two of several points that we have in common with them.

No, we are not Jehovah's Witnesses, but yes, we do witness regularly, and yes, we do have the audacity to criticise the churches as a whole.

Mind you, all of the other churches criticise one another as well; but they do so privately and pointedly, always being clear that their criticisms are aimed at specific denominations only. Evangelicals sling off at the Catholics. Modernists sling off at the fundamentalists. Non-Pentecostals sling off at the Pentecostals. Baptists sling off at infant baptisers. And they all sling off at Jehovah's Witnesses.

But we dare to say that something deeper has been missed by the lot of them. Something like genuine, childlike faith in the teachings of Jesus. We believe that if people had more faith in Jesus, they would be out witnessing more, they would be more fervent in their witness, and they would be less interested in the materialistic pursuits that have made the church as a whole lukewarm and largely ineffectual.

But along with our emphasis on witnessing and our dissatisfaction with the churches, there are a couple of other similarities which exist between ourselves and Jehovah's Witnesses. The Witnesses also share our beliefs about pacifism, and our interest in Bible prophecy.

Wars would have to be one of the most horrible fruits of a materialistic world... so much so that even the people who wage them admit that war is abhorrent. But those of us who suggest that the solution is to turn the other cheek are hated by all sides. Our faith in Jesus and his teachings about the "kingdom of heaven" cause us to limit our loyalty to the governments of man. But for those who can see no further than their various political ideologies such a faith can be seen as a threat. Such is the result of our pacifist stand.

And our understanding of Bible prophecy is that there will be growing persecution against true believers, as the world slips farther away from God. We cannot agree with the Witnesses that the kingdom of heaven has already come, and that the Watchtower Society is it. But we do share their hope for a new world someday, that will be ruled over, in love, by God. And we realise that it will take a willingness to lay down our lives in love for such a world to become a reality.

We believe that there are sincere people in every religion, and that the nit-picking theological issues that the various religions use to put one another down are not really going to be the issues that God looks at when we stand before him. On this basis, we believe that many Jehovah's Witnesses will share with us in the kingdom of heaven when Jesus returns.

So why don't we just join up with them? Probably because so many of them show the same bigoted attitude toward anyone who is not a part of their organisation that the churches have shown toward them. They religiously refuse to even read what we have to say, and their faith seems to be in their organisation more than in a God who is bigger than any of our organisations. Like so many in the churches, they seem to assume that Jehovah would punish them if he were to hear that they showed generosity toward someone whose theology was not exactly the same as theirs. This ridiculous refusal to give even a couple of cents for a tract from someone like ourselves does not come from God. It is more likely that it comes either from miserly greed or from religious paranoia. Neither spirit impresses us.

We love many JWs as individuals, as we love all true believers in all religions. But our faith must ultimately be in God himself and in his only begotten Son, Jesus. That seems to bother the JWs almost as much as it bothers the rest of the institutional church.

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