Catholicism and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two distinct branches of Christianity with unique beliefs, practices, and histories.
This article aims to compare these two groups, highlighting key differences and similarities.
From their views on sacred texts to their organizational structures, we’ll examine what sets each apart.
Comparing Catholicism and Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Comparison
“Roman Catholicism” combines “Roman” to indicate the church’s base in Rome and “Catholicism,” meaning universal.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses” uses “Jehovah,” an English-language representation of God’s name, and “Witnesses” to signify those who bear witness to Jehovah.
|Name||Roman Catholicism||Jehovah’s Witnesses|
|Size||Approx. 1.3 billion worldwide||Approx. 8.7 million worldwide|
|Date Started||1st Century AD||1870s|
|Founder||Jesus Christ (according to tradition)||Charles Taze Russell|
|Key Beliefs||Trinity, Papal authority, seven Sacraments||No Trinity, God’s Kingdom, Jesus as first creation|
|Key Practices||Mass, confession, prayer||Door-to-door evangelism, no blood transfusions, Kingdom Hall meetings|
|Divisions||Latin Church, Eastern Catholic Churches||No major divisions; organized congregations|
|Central Location||Vatican City, Rome||Warwick, New York, USA|
|Sacred Texts||Bible, Catechism, Papal Encyclicals||New World Translation of the Bible|
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid blood transfusions?
Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid blood transfusions based on their interpretation of biblical passages that command abstaining from blood.
They believe that accepting blood, even medically, is a serious violation of God’s law and can jeopardize their relationship with Him.
Alternatives to transfusions are sought in medical treatments.
What is the New World Translation?
The New World Translation (NWT) is a Bible version produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
First released in 1950, it was created by the Watch Tower Society’s Translation Committee.
The NWT is distinct for its use of “Jehovah” in both Old and New Testaments. It’s been translated into multiple languages.
Keeping reading to see a comparison table of the New American Bible, which is officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, and the New World Translation.
Catholic and Jehovah’s Witnesses Beliefs
|God||One God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit||One God, Jehovah; Jesus as first creation|
|The Universe||Created by God; fallen due to sin||Created by Jehovah; fallen due to sin|
|Ultimate Reality||God is the ultimate reality; omnipotent, omniscient||Jehovah is the ultimate reality; omnipotent, omniscient|
|Human Beings||Created in God’s image; fallen due to original sin||Created perfect; fallen due to sin|
|Problem with the World||Sin and separation from God||Sin and separation from Jehovah|
|Solution to the Problem||Salvation through faith and works; sacraments||Faith in Jehovah and Jesus; evangelism|
|The Afterlife||Heaven, Hell, Purgatory||Paradise Earth for most; Heaven for 144,000|
Catholic and Jehovah’s Witnesses Doctrine
The Trinity in Christian theology refers to the belief in one God existing in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
These three are co-equal, co-eternal, and indivisibly united in one essence.
All orthodox branches of Christianity, including Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox, affirm this doctrine.
|The Bible||Infallible when interpreted by the Magisterium||Infallible; New World Translation preferred|
|God||One God in three persons; omnipotent, omniscient||One God, Jehovah; omnipotent, omniscient|
|Jesus Christ||Fully God and fully man; Savior of humanity||First creation by God; not divine; Savior|
|The Trinity||One God in three persons; co-equal||Rejects the Trinity; God is one being|
|The Holy Spirit||Third person of the Trinity; active in the world||Holy Spirit is God’s active force, not a person|
|The Atonement||Christ’s sacrifice redeems humanity||Christ’s sacrifice redeems humanity; opens path to paradise|
|The Resurrection||Literal and bodily resurrection of Jesus||Literal resurrection; not bodily for Jesus|
|The Church||One true church led by the Pope||Only true organization led by the Governing Body|
|Church Tradition||Sacred Tradition and Magisterium important||Rejects church tradition; only Bible matters|
|The Second Coming||Awaited; details guided by church teaching||Imminent; will establish God’s Kingdom on Earth|
What is the Magisterium in Catholicism?
In Roman Catholicism, the Magisterium is the church’s teaching authority, exercised by the Pope and bishops.
It interprets and preserves doctrine, ensuring teachings remain consistent.
The Magisterium is the final arbiter in interpreting the Bible and Sacred Tradition.
New American Bible (NAB) vs. New World Translation (NWT)
|New American Bible||New World Translation|
|Origin||Catholic translation||Jehovah’s Witnesses translation|
|Date of Publication||First edition 1970||First edition 1950|
|Translation Method||Dynamic equivalence; scholarly approach||Literal translation; unique terms|
|Included Books||73 books including Deuterocanonicals||66 books; no Deuterocanonicals|
|Footnotes||Extensive footnotes and cross-references||Limited footnotes; focus on doctrinal points|
|Usage||Used in Catholic liturgy and study||Used by Jehovah’s Witnesses for study and evangelism|
|Divine Name||Uses “God” and “Lord”||Uses “Jehovah” for God’s name|
|Availability||Widely available; various editions||Primarily available through Jehovah’s Witnesses; limited editions|
How do Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret John 1:1 differently?
John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Orthodox Christians interpret this as affirming Jesus’ divinity, equating the “Word” with Jesus.
They believe Jesus is fully God. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation renders the verse as “the Word was a god,” suggesting Jesus is a divine being but distinct and lesser than Almighty God.
This reflects their non-Trinitarian view.
Comparing Catholic and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Practices
|Worship Services||Mass; highly liturgical||Kingdom Hall meetings; less liturgical|
|Sacraments/Ordinances||Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, etc.||Baptism; Memorial of Christ’s death|
|Prayer||Formal prayers like the Rosary; personal prayers||Personal prayers; no use of religious symbols|
|Clergy||Priests, bishops; celibate clergy||Elders; no clergy class; not celibate|
|Church Governance||Hierarchical; led by the Pope||Hierarchical; led by the Governing Body|
|Bible Study||Encouraged; part of catechism||Encouraged; often in organized study groups|
|Fasting||During Lent and specific days||No specific fasting days|
|Music||Traditional hymns; choral music||Kingdom songs; no use of religious symbols|
|Social Outreach||Charitable work; social justice initiatives||Limited; focus on evangelism|
Sacraments in Catholicism and Jehovah’s Witnesses
|Catholic View||Jehovah’s Witnesses View|
|Number of Sacraments||Seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, etc.||Ordinances rather than sacraments; includes Baptism and Memorial of Christ’s death|
|Role in Salvation||Means of grace; essential for salvation||Necessary for a relationship with Jehovah; not essential for salvation|
|Who Can Administer||Ordained clergy||Baptism by elders; Memorial by congregation|
|Age of Participation||Varies; Baptism usually as infants||Baptism as adults after study and dedication|
|Frequency||Varies; Eucharist often weekly||Baptism once; Memorial annually|
|Formality||Highly ritualistic||Less ritualistic but formal|
|Authority||Administered under the authority of the Pope||Administered under the authority of the Governing Body|
10 Key Events in Catholic and Jehovah’s Witnesses History
|1||Council of Nicaea, 325 AD||Formation of Bible Student movement, 1870s|
|2||Great Schism, 1054||Publication of “The Watchtower,” 1879|
|3||Crusades, 1095-1291||Name changed to Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1931|
|4||Inquisition, 13th Century||Release of New World Translation, 1950|
|5||Council of Trent, 1545-1563||Refusal of blood transfusions doctrine, 1945|
|6||Counter-Reformation, 16th Century||Formation of the Governing Body, 1971|
|7||Vatican I, 1869-1870||Legal victory in U.S. Supreme Court, 1943|
|8||Vatican II, 1962-1965||Persecution in Nazi Germany|
|9||Papal Infallibility declared, 1870||Expansion of door-to-door ministry, 1920s|
|10||Election of Pope Francis, 2013||“Great Apostasy” teaching solidified, 1920s|
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