Jehovah’s Witness Vs. Mormon: What Is the Real Difference

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/14/23 •  15 min read

This article aims to explore the real differences between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons by examining their historical origins, beliefs and doctrines, sacred texts and scriptures, worship practices and rituals, as well as their community and organizational structures. By juxtaposing these aspects, we seek to foster understanding among readers who desire a comprehensive understanding of these two religious groups. Through an academic style of writing that is objective and impersonal, this article presents a loving, compassionate, and wise analysis of the distinctive characteristics that set Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons apart from each other.

The origins of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be traced back to the late 19th century when Charles Taze Russell founded the Bible Student movement. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Russell was chosen by God to restore true Christianity, and they follow his teachings as interpreted by the Watchtower Society. On the other hand, Mormons, also known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, trace their origins to the early 19th century when Joseph Smith claimed to have received divine revelations and restored the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons consider themselves to be Christians, but they differ in their beliefs and doctrines. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of humanity, but they do not believe in the Trinity. They believe that Jesus is subordinate to God and is not equal to Him. Mormons, on the other hand, believe in the Trinity and consider Jesus Christ to be the literal Son of God. They believe that Jesus is one of three divine beings in the Godhead.

When it comes to sacred texts and scriptures, both religious groups have their own unique collections. Jehovah’s Witnesses primarily rely on the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which they believe to be the most accurate translation of the Bible. They also consider the Watchtower publications to be authoritative sources of spiritual guidance. Mormons, on the other hand, believe in the Bible as well as additional scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. These additional texts are considered to be revelations given to Joseph Smith and other prophets.

In terms of worship practices and rituals, Jehovah’s Witnesses gather in Kingdom Halls for their weekly meetings, which include Bible study, prayer, and singing. They do not have elaborate ceremonies or rituals. Mormons, on the other hand, have regular Sunday services in their meetinghouses, where they partake in sacraments such as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. They also have additional rituals such as baptism for the dead and temple ceremonies.

When it comes to community and organizational structures, Jehovah’s Witnesses are organized into congregations, which are overseen by elders. They have a centralized leadership structure with the Governing Body in New York making important decisions for the worldwide organization. Mormons have a hierarchical structure with a President who is considered to be a prophet, seer, and revelator. They have a well-established system of wards and stakes, with a bishop overseeing each ward and a stake president overseeing multiple wards.

To further illustrate the differences between these two religious groups, let’s turn to a biblical story. In the book of Acts, we read about the apostle Paul and his encounter with the Bereans. The Bereans were commended for their diligent study of the Scriptures to test the teachings they heard. This highlights the importance of personal study and critical examination of religious teachings.

In conclusion, while Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons both identify as Christian religious groups, they differ in their beliefs, doctrines, sacred texts, worship practices, and community structures. Understanding these differences can help foster respect and dialogue between individuals of different faiths. As we strive for a comprehensive understanding, let us remember the words of Proverbs 4:7, ‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.’

Key Takeaways

Historical Origins and Founders

The historical origins and founders of Jehovah’s Witness and Mormonism differ significantly, and understanding these origins can shed light on their differing beliefs and doctrines. Let’s explore the historical context and the stories from the Bible that shaped these religious movements.

Jehovah’s Witness was founded by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870s in the United States. Russell’s teachings were rooted in his interpretation of biblical prophecies, including the imminent end of the world. One relevant Bible verse is Matthew 24:14, where Jesus says, ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ Russell believed in the urgency of spreading the gospel and actively engaging in evangelism.

On the other hand, Mormonism, officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s. Smith claimed to have received divine revelations, including a visitation from God the Father and Jesus Christ. These revelations led to the translation of the Book of Mormon, which Mormons consider to be another testament of Jesus Christ. The story of Joseph Smith’s encounter with God and Jesus Christ parallels the biblical accounts of prophets receiving divine messages, such as Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3.

Mormonism places a strong emphasis on family values and missionary work. One Bible verse that resonates with this emphasis is Joshua 24:15, where Joshua declares, ‘But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ Mormons believe in the eternal nature of families and strive to strengthen family bonds through temple ordinances and teachings on marriage and parenting.

In addition to understanding the founders’ teachings, it is important to consider the broader cultural impact of these religious movements. For Jehovah’s Witness, their commitment to active evangelism aligns with the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20, where he instructs his disciples to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to fulfill this commission by spreading their beliefs and engaging in door-to-door evangelism.

Beliefs and Doctrines

Beliefs and doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are shaped by their unique theological perspectives, which can be explored through relevant biblical facts and quotes. Let’s delve into some of their distinct religious practices and salvation beliefs.

Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize the importance of evangelism and door-to-door preaching as a means of spreading their message and saving souls. They believe that salvation is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses also focus on adherence to God’s moral standards, guided by passages like James 2:26, which states, ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’

On the other hand, Mormons place a strong emphasis on family and the eternal nature of relationships. They believe that salvation involves not only faith in Jesus Christ but also participation in temple ordinances, such as baptism and marriage. In 1 Corinthians 15:29, the apostle Paul mentions the practice of baptism for the dead, which aligns with the Mormon belief in the importance of these sacred rituals for eternal salvation. Additionally, the Book of Mormon, a scripture cherished by Mormons, emphasizes the significance of families and eternal bonds.

To further illustrate the significance of these beliefs, let’s turn to a factual story from the Bible. In the book of Acts, we find the account of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34). After an earthquake shook the prison where Paul and Silas were held captive, the jailer feared that the prisoners had escaped and was about to take his own life. However, Paul and Silas assured him that all the prisoners were still present. Moved by this display of faith and the power of God, the jailer asked Paul and Silas, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ (Acts 16:30).

Paul and Silas answered directly, saying, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household’ (Acts 16:31). The jailer and his household were then baptized, highlighting the importance of both faith and baptism in the process of salvation. This biblical story aligns with the beliefs of both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, as they emphasize the role of faith and specific religious practices for salvation.

These contrasting beliefs and practices highlight the diversity within the realm of religious belief and the various paths that individuals may take in search of spiritual fulfillment. Exploring the sacred texts and scriptures associated with each religious tradition, such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon, can provide further insights into the foundations of these beliefs and doctrines.

Sacred Texts and Scriptures

Sacred texts and scriptures hold immense significance in shaping the religious practices and doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. These texts serve as the bedrock upon which their beliefs and interpretations are built. Let’s delve into their approaches to interpretation and authority, supported by relevant facts and quotes from the Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Governing Body serves as the central authority responsible for interpreting scripture and establishing doctrine. They firmly hold the conviction that their interpretations are guided by the Holy Spirit, ensuring accuracy and consistency. This aligns with the words of Jesus in John 14:26, where he promised, ‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’

On the other hand, Mormons have an open canon, allowing for ongoing revelation through their living prophet. This belief grants the prophet the authority to receive divine guidance and provide interpretations. It is in harmony with Amos 3:7, which states, ‘Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.’

To further exemplify the significance of sacred texts, let’s turn to the story of the Bereans mentioned in Acts 17:11. The Bereans were commended for their diligent study of the scriptures to verify the teachings they received. They set an example for all believers to search the scriptures to confirm the validity of any interpretation or teaching.

In terms of the role of women, Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize male leadership in congregations and limit the role of women in teaching and leadership positions. However, it is crucial to note that women in the Bible played significant roles in leadership and teaching. For instance, Deborah, a prophetess and judge, served as a strong leader in Israel during a time of great need (Judges 4:4-5). This highlights that women can indeed serve in influential positions within religious contexts.

In contrast, Mormons have a more inclusive approach towards women. They can serve in various leadership roles within the Church and actively participate in temple ordinances alongside men. This inclusivity aligns with Galatians 3:28, which proclaims, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’

Worship Practices and Rituals

Worship practices and rituals hold significant importance in the religious traditions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, allowing believers to express their devotion and establish a connection with the divine. These practices are deeply rooted in biblical teachings and are supported by various passages from the Holy Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses place great emphasis on personal prayer, recognizing it as a direct means of communication with God. As it is written in Matthew 6:6, ‘But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’ This verse highlights the importance of private prayers, which Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in regularly. They express their personal needs, offer gratitude, and seek guidance through written or spontaneous prayers.

Mormons, on the other hand, lay significant importance on both family and communal prayer. As mentioned in Matthew 18:20, ‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ Mormons believe that gathering together as a family or community enhances the power of their prayers and strengthens their bond with God. They regularly come together to pray as a family and also offer public prayers during their worship services. This communal prayer practice helps foster a sense of unity and shared faith among Mormons.

The significance of these worship practices and rituals is further exemplified by numerous stories from the Bible. For instance, the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:10-23) showcases the power of personal prayer. Despite facing persecution, Daniel continued to pray to God, expressing his unwavering faith and devotion. This story serves as a reminder to Jehovah’s Witnesses about the importance of personal prayer, even in challenging circumstances.

Moreover, the biblical account of Jesus praying with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) highlights the significance of communal prayer. Jesus sought the support and companionship of his disciples during a time of distress, emphasizing the strength that comes from praying together. This narrative resonates deeply with Mormons, who value the practice of family and communal prayer as a means of drawing closer to God and supporting one another.

In addition to prayer, both religious groups observe religious holidays that hold deep meaning for their faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorate the Lord’s Evening Meal, also known as the Last Supper, as instructed by Jesus in Luke 22:19-20. This commemoration allows them to express their faith and remember the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity. Mormons celebrate significant Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, acknowledging the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These rituals serve as a reminder of the central events in their religious history and inspire believers to deepen their spiritual connection.

Understanding the significance of these worship practices and rituals is crucial when examining the sense of community and organizational structure within each religious tradition. These practices not only allow believers to connect with the divine but also foster a sense of unity, shared values, and mutual support among the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.

Community and Organizational Structure

Community and organizational structure are of great significance in shaping the religious traditions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. These two religious groups have distinct leadership hierarchies and congregation dynamics, which are informed by biblical principles and teachings.

In terms of leadership hierarchy, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a centralized structure governed by a body of elders known as the Governing Body. This group provides spiritual direction and guidance to Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. The Bible supports this concept of appointed overseers, as stated in Acts 20:28: ‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God.’

Similarly, Mormons have a hierarchical structure led by a prophet, who is considered the ultimate authority on spiritual matters. This structure is based on the teachings of the Book of Mormon, which states in Doctrine and Covenants 107:91-92: ‘The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made. This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner.’

When it comes to congregation dynamics, Jehovah’s Witnesses place a strong emphasis on door-to-door evangelism and regular meetings at Kingdom Halls. This practice is rooted in Jesus’ command to preach the good news to all nations, as mentioned in Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’

On the other hand, Mormons have a deep sense of community and gather for worship services at local meetinghouses. This communal aspect is inspired by Hebrews 10:25, which encourages believers to ‘not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.’

To further understand the importance of community and organizational structure, let us turn to a biblical story. In Acts 2:42-47, we read about the early Christian community that devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. They shared their possessions, took care of one another, and worshiped together. This example highlights the vital role of community and structure in nurturing faith and providing support to believers.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.