Restorationist Christian appellation

Jehovah’s Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. [ 5 ] The group reports a global membership of approximately 8.7 million adherents involved in evangelism and an annual Memorial attendance of over 21 million. [ 4 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses, a group of elders in Warwick, New York, United States, which establishes all doctrines [ 6 ] based on its interpretations of the Bible. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] They believe that the destruction of the stage worldly concern organization at Armageddon is at hand, and that the establishment of God ‘s kingdom over the worldly concern is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity. [ 9 ] The group emerged from the bible Student movement founded in the recently 1870s by Charles Taze Russell, who besides co-founded Zion ‘s Watch Tower Tract Society in 1881 to organize and print the bowel movement ‘s publications. [ 3 ] A leadership dispute after Russell ‘s death resulted in respective groups breaking off, with Joseph Franklin Rutherford retaining operate of the Watch Tower Society and its properties. [ 10 ] Rutherford made significant organizational and doctrinal changes, [ 11 ] including adoption of the diagnose Jehovah’s witnesses [ note 1 ] in 1931 to distinguish them from other bible student groups and symbolize a break with the bequest of Russell ‘s traditions. [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door sermon, distributing literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and for refusing military service and blood transfusions. They consider the function of God ‘s name vital for proper worship. They reject Trinitarianism, implicit in immortality of the soul, and hellfire, which they consider to be unscriptural doctrines. They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays or other holidays and customs they consider to have pagan origins antagonistic with Christianity. [ 16 ] They prefer to use their own bible translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, [ 17 ] although their literature occasionally quotes and cites early bible translations. [ 18 ] [ 19 ] Adherents normally refer to their body of beliefs as “ The truth ” and consider themselves to be “ in the truth ”. [ 20 ] They consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the charm of Satan, and most limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses. [ 21 ] Congregational corrective actions include disfellowshipping, their term for formal ejection and avoidance, a end recourse for what they consider good offenses. [ 22 ] [ 23 ] Baptized individuals who formally leave are considered disassociated and are besides shunned. Disfellowshipped and disassociated individuals may finally be reinstated if deemed penitent. [ 24 ] The group ‘s position regarding conscientious expostulation to military service and refusal to salute state symbols ( like national anthems and flags ) has brought it into conflict with some governments. [ 25 ] [ 26 ] [ 27 ] [ 28 ] Consequently, some Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have been persecuted and their activities are banned or restricted in some countries. persistent legal challenges by Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have influenced legislation related to civil rights in several countries. [ 29 ] The arrangement has received criticism regarding biblical translation, doctrines, and alleged compulsion of its members. The Watch Tower Society has made diverse unfulfilled predictions about major biblical events such as Christ ‘s Second Coming, the second coming of God ‘s Kingdom, and Armageddon. Their policies for handling cases of child sexual abuse have been the subject of respective conventional inquiries .


Background ( 1870–1916 )

In 1870, Charles Taze Russell and others formed a group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to study the Bible. [ 30 ] During the course of his ministry, Russell disputed many beliefs of mainstream Christianity including immortality of the soul, hellfire, predestination, the animal return of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the burning up of the world. [ 31 ] In 1876, Russell met Nelson H. Barbour ; later that class they jointly produced the book Three Worlds, which combined restitutionist views with end clock prophecy. The ledger taught that God ‘s dealings with humanness were divided dispensationally, each ending with a “ harvest, ” that Christ had returned as an invisible spirit being in 1874 [ 31 ] inaugurating the “ harvest of the Gospel age ”, and that 1914 would mark the end of a 2520-year period called “ the Gentile Times ”, [ 32 ] at which time earth society would be replaced by the full establishment of God ‘s kingdom on earth. [ 33 ] [ 34 ] [ 35 ] Beginning in 1878, Russell and Barbour jointly edited a religious journal, Herald of the Morning. [ 36 ] In June 1879, the two separate over doctrinal differences, and in July, Russell began publishing the cartridge holder Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, [ 37 ] stating that its aim was to demonstrate that the world was in “ the last days, ” and that a new age of earthly and human restitution under the reign of Christ was at hand. [ 38 ] From 1879, Watch Tower supporters gathered as autonomous congregations to study the Bible locally. thirty congregations were founded, and during 1879 and 1880, Russell visited each to provide the format he recommended for conducting meetings. [ 39 ] [ 40 ] [ 41 ] In 1881, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was presided over by William Henry Conley, and in 1884, Russell incorporated the company as a non-profit business to distribute tracts and Bibles. [ 42 ] [ 43 ] By about 1900, Russell had organized thousands of part- and full-time colporteurs, [ 37 ] and was appointing extraneous missionaries and establishing ramify offices. By the 1910s, Russell ‘s arrangement maintained about a hundred “ pilgrims, ” or traveling preachers. [ 44 ] Russell engaged in meaning ball-shaped publication efforts during his ministry, [ 45 ] [ 46 ] and by 1912, he was the most distribute christian writer in the United States. [ 47 ] Russell moved the Watch Tower Society ‘s headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, in 1909, combining printing and corporate offices with a theater of worship ; volunteers were housed in a nearby residency he named Bethel. He identified the religious movement as “ bible Students, ” and more formally as the International Bible Students Association. [ 48 ] By 1910, approximately 50,000 people worldwide were associated with the motion [ 49 ] and congregations re-elected him annually as their “ pastor. ” [ 50 ] Russell died October 31, 1916, at the historic period of 64 while returning from a ministerial speaking go. [ 51 ]

Reorganization ( 1917–1942 )

In January 1917, the Watch Tower Society ‘s legal representative, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, was elected as its future president. His election was disputed, and members of the Board of Directors accused him of acting in an authoritarian and close manner. [ 52 ] [ 53 ] The divisions between his supporters and opponents triggered a major upset of members over the future ten. [ 8 ] [ 54 ] In June 1917, he released The Finished Mystery as a seventh volume of Russell ‘s Studies in the Scriptures serial. The ledger, published as the posthumous exercise of Russell, was a compilation of his commentaries on the Bible books of Ezekiel and Revelation, plus numerous additions by bible Students Clayton Woodworth and George Fisher. [ 55 ] [ 56 ] [ 57 ] It powerfully criticized Catholic and Protestant clergy and christian involvement in the Great War. [ 58 ] As a solution, Watch Tower Society directors were jailed for sedition under the Espionage Act in 1918 and members were subjected to mob ferocity ; the directors were released in March 1919 and charges against them were dropped in 1920. [ 59 ] Rutherford centralized organizational dominance of the Watch Tower Society. In 1919, he instituted the appointee of a director in each congregation, and a year late all members were instructed to report their hebdomadally preach activity to the Brooklyn headquarters. [ 60 ] At an external convention held at Cedar Point, Ohio, in September 1922, a modern emphasis was made on door-to-door sermon. [ 61 ] Significant changes in doctrine and administration were regularly introduced during Rutherford ‘s twenty-five years as president of the united states, including the 1920 announcement that the Hebrew patriarch ( such as Abraham and Isaac ) would be resurrected in 1925, marking the begin of Christ ‘s thousand-year earthly Kingdom. [ 62 ] [ 63 ] [ 64 ] Because of disappointment over the changes and unfulfilled predictions, tens of thousands of defections occurred during the first half of Rutherford ‘s tenure, leading to the formation of several Bible Student organizations independent of the Watch Tower Society, [ 65 ] [ 66 ] [ 67 ] [ 68 ] most of which still exist. [ 69 ] By mid-1919, equally many as one in seven of Russell-era Bible Students had ceased their association with the Society, and vitamin a many as three-quarters by the end of the 1920s. [ 67 ] [ 70 ] [ 71 ] [ 72 ] On July 26, 1931, at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, Rutherford introduced the new name – Jehovah’s witnesses – based on Isaiah 43:10 : “ ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my handmaid whom I have chosen : that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he : before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. ‘ ” ( King James Version, KJV ) —which was adopted by resolution. The name was chosen to distinguish his group of bible Students from other autonomous groups that had severed ties with the Society, equally well as symbolize the abetment of new outlooks and the promotion of clean evangelizing methods. [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ] In 1932, Rutherford eliminated the system of locally elected elders and in 1938, introduced what he called a “ theocratic ” ( literally, God-ruled ) organizational system, under which appointments in congregations worldwide were made from the Brooklyn headquarter. [ 60 ] From 1932, it was taught that the “ little flock ” of 144,000 would not be the alone people to survive Armageddon. Rutherford explained that in addition to the 144,000 “ anointed ” who would be resurrected—or transferred at death—to live in heaven to rule over earth with Christ, a separate class of members, the “ great multitude, ” would live in a eden restored on earth ; from 1935, newfangled converts to the motion were considered partially of that class. [ 73 ] [ 74 ] By the mid-1930s, the timing of the begin of Christ ‘s bearing ( greek : parousía ), his coronation as king, and the start of the “ death days “ were each moved to 1914. [ 75 ] As their interpretations of the Bible evolved, Witness publications decreed that saluting national flags is a form of idolatry, which led to a new outbreak of mob violence and government opposition in the United States, Canada, Germany, and other countries. [ 76 ] [ 77 ] Worldwide membership of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses reached 113,624 in 5,323 congregations by the time of Rutherford ‘s death in January 1942. [ 78 ] [ 79 ]

Continued development ( 1942–present )

Nathan Knorr was appointed as one-third president of the united states of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1942. Knorr commissioned a raw transformation of the Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the wide interpretation of which was released in 1961. He organized large international assemblies, instituted modern aim programs for members, and expanded missionary activity and branch offices throughout the earth. [ 80 ] Knorr ‘s presidency was besides marked by an increasing use of explicit instructions guiding Witnesses in their life style and impart, and a greater use of congregational discriminative procedures to enforce a hard-and-fast moral code. [ 81 ] [ 82 ] From 1966, Witness publications and conventionality talks built anticipation of the possibility that Christ ‘s thousand-year predominate might begin in late 1975 [ 83 ] [ 84 ] [ 85 ] or shortly thereafter. [ 86 ] [ 87 ] The number of baptisms increased significantly, from about 59,000 in 1966 to more than 297,000 in 1974. By 1975, the number of active members exceeded two million. Membership declined during the late 1970s after expectations for 1975 were proved incorrect. [ 88 ] [ 89 ] [ 90 ] [ 91 ] Watch Tower Society literature did not state dogmatically that 1975 would decidedly mark the end, [ 86 ] but in 1980 the Watch Tower Society admitted its responsibility in building up hope regarding that year. [ 92 ] [ 93 ] The offices of elder and ministerial handmaid were restored to Witness congregations in 1972, with appointments made from headquarters [ 94 ] ( and subsequently, besides by outgrowth committees ). It was announced that, starting in September 2014, appointments would be made by traveling overseers. In a major organizational renovation in 1976, the power of the Watch Tower Society president of the united states was diminished, with authority for doctrinal and organizational decisions passed to the Governing Body. [ 95 ] Since Knorr ‘s death in 1977, the put of president of the united states has been occupied by Frederick Franz ( 1977–1992 ) and Milton Henschel ( 1992–2000 ), both members of the Governing Body, and since 2000 by others who are not Governing Body members. In 1995, Jehovah ‘s Witnesses abandoned the theme that Armageddon must occur during the lives of the genesis that was alive in 1914 and in 2010 changed their teaching on the “ generation ”. [ 96 ] [ 97 ] [ 98 ]

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Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are organized hierarchically, [ 2 ] in what the leadership calls a “ theocratic organization ”, reflecting their impression that it is God ‘s “ visible organization ” on earth. [ 99 ] [ 100 ] [ 101 ] The organization is led by the Governing Body—an all-male group that varies in size, but since January 2018 has comprised eight members, [ 102 ] all of whom profess to be of the “ anoint ” class with a hope of celestial life—based in the Watch Tower Society ‘s Warwick headquarters. [ 103 ] [ 104 ] There is no election for membership ; newly members are selected by the existing body. [ 105 ] Until late 2012, the Governing Body described itself as the congressman [ 106 ] [ 107 ] and “ spokesman ” for God ‘s “ faithful and circumspect slave classify ” ( then approximately 10,000 self-professed “ anointed ” Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ). [ 108 ] [ 109 ] At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Watch Tower Society, the “ faithful and circumspect slave ” was defined as referring to the Governing Body only. [ 110 ] The Governing Body directs several committees that are responsible for administrative functions, including publish, assembly programs and evangelizing activities. [ 111 ] It appoints all arm committee members and traveling overseers, after they have been recommended by local branches, with traveling overseers supervising circuits of congregations within their jurisdictions. Traveling overseers appoint local elders and ministerial servants, and while branch offices may appoint regional committees for matters such as Kingdom Hall construction or catastrophe respite. [ 112 ] The leadership and supporting staff lives in properties owned by the administration worldwide referred to as “ Bethel ” where they operate as a religious community and administrative unit. [ 113 ] Their living expenses and those of other full-time volunteers are covered by the constitution along with a basic monthly stipend. [ 114 ] [ 115 ] [ 116 ] Each congregation has a body of appointed unpaid male elders and ministerial servants. Elders maintain general province for congregational administration, setting meeting times, selecting speakers and conducting meetings, directing the public preach work, and creating “ judicial committees ” to investigate and decide disciplinary action for cases involving sexual mismanage or doctrinal breaches. [ 117 ] New elders are appointed by a traveling overseer after recommendation by the existing body of elders. Ministerial servants—appointed in a alike manner to elders—fulfill clerical and attendant duties, but may besides teach and conduct meetings. [ 111 ] Witnesses do not use elder as a championship to signify a conventional clergy-laity division, [ 118 ] though elders may employ ecclesiastical privilege regarding confession of sins. [ 119 ] [ 120 ] Baptism is a requirement for being considered a member of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses. Jehovah ‘s Witnesses do not rehearse baby baptism, [ 121 ] and previous baptisms performed by other denominations are not considered valid. [ 122 ] Individuals undergoing baptism must affirm publicly that dedication and baptism identify them “ as one of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses in affiliation with God ‘s spirit-directed organization, ” [ 122 ] though witness publications say baptism symbolizes personal commitment to God and not “ to a man, work or organization. ” [ 123 ] [ 124 ] Their literature emphasizes the want for members to be obedient and patriotic to Jehovah and to “ his organization, ” [ 125 ] [ 126 ] [ note 2 ] stating that individuals must remain share of it to receive God ‘s favor and to survive Armageddon. [ 127 ] [ 128 ]


The organization produces a significant total of literature as part of its evangelism activities. [ 129 ] The Watch Tower Society has produced over 227 million copies of the New World Translation in unharmed or in separate in over 185 languages. [ 130 ] In 2010, The Watchtower and Awake! were the most widely distributed magazines in the worldly concern. [ 131 ] translation of Witness publications is done by over 2,000 volunteers global, producing literature in 1,000 languages. [ 132 ] [ 133 ] Publications are besides available on-line at the organization ‘s official web site .


much of their financing is provided by donations, primarily from members. There is no tithe or collection. [ 92 ] In 2001 Newsday listed the Watch Tower Society as one of New York ‘s forty rich corporations, with revenues exceeding $ 950 million. [ 129 ] [ 134 ] The administration reported for the lapp year that it “ spent over $ 70.9 million in caring for extra pioneers, missionaries, and traveling overseers in their field servicing assignments. ” [ 135 ] [ note 3 ]


Sources of doctrine

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe their denomination is a restoration of first-century Christianity. [ 136 ] Doctrines of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are established by the Governing Body, which assumes duty for interpreting and applying scripture. [ 8 ] [ 137 ] [ 138 ] The Governing consistency does not issue any individual, comprehensive examination “ instruction of faith ”, but prefers to express its doctrinal position in a diverseness of ways through publications published by the Watch Tower Society. [ 139 ] Their publications teach that doctrinal changes and refinements result from a summons of progressive revelation, in which God gradually reveals his will and purpose, [ 140 ] [ 141 ] [ 142 ] [ 143 ] and that such nirvana or “ new light ” [ 144 ] results from the application of cause and learn, [ 145 ] the steering of the holy place spirit, and commission from Jesus Christ and angels. [ 146 ] The Society besides teaches that members of the Governing Body are helped by the holy place spirit to discern “ cryptic truth ”, which are then considered by the entire Governing body before it makes doctrinal decisions. [ 147 ] The group ‘s leadership, while disclaiming divine inspiration and infallibility, [ 148 ] is said to provide “ divine guidance ” [ 149 ] through its teachings described as “ based on God ‘s Word therefore … not from men, but from Jehovah. ” [ 150 ] [ 151 ] The entire Protestant canon of scripture is considered the cheer, inerrable bible of God. [ 152 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses consider the Bible to be scientifically and historically accurate and reliable [ 153 ] and interpret much of it literally, but accept parts of it as emblematic. [ 154 ] They consider the Bible to be the final authority for all their beliefs, [ 155 ] although sociologist Andrew Holden ‘s ethnographic discipline of the group concluded that pronouncements of the Governing Body, through Watch Tower Society publications, carry about as much burden as the Bible. [ 156 ] Regular personal Bible reading is frequently recommended ; Witnesses are discouraged from formulating doctrines and “ individual ideas ” reached through Bible research freelancer of Watch Tower Society publications, and are cautioned against reading early religious literature. [ 157 ] [ 158 ] [ 159 ] Adherents are told to have “ complete confidence ” in the leadership, keep off incredulity about what is taught in the Watch Tower Society ‘s literature, and “ not advocate or insist on personal opinions or seaport private ideas when it comes to bible agreement. ” [ 160 ] [ 161 ] [ 162 ] [ 163 ] The organization makes no provision for members to criticize or contribute to official teachings [ 164 ] and all Witnesses must abide by its doctrines and organizational requirements. [ 165 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses emphasize the use of God ‘s mention, and they prefer the class Jehovah —a voice of God ‘s name based on the Tetragrammaton. [ 166 ] [ 167 ] [ 168 ] They believe that Jehovah is the alone dependable God, the creator of all things, and the “ Universal Sovereign ”. They believe that all worship should be directed toward him, and that he is not part of a Trinity ; [ 169 ] consequently, the group places more emphasis on God than on Christ. [ 170 ] [ 171 ] They believe that the Holy Spirit is God ‘s lend oneself might or “ active force ”, rather than a person. [ 172 ] [ 173 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that Jesus is God ‘s only direct creation, that everything else was created through Christ by means of God ‘s power, and that the initial single-handed act of creation uniquely identifies Jesus as God ‘s “ only-begotten son ”. [ 174 ] Jesus served as a jesus and a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of world. [ 175 ] They believe Jesus died on a one upright post rather than the traditional crabbed. [ 176 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that Jesus was resurrection with a “ intent soundbox ”, and that he only assumed human form for a temp period after his resurrection. [ 177 ] biblical references to the Archangel Michael, Abaddon ( Apollyon ), and the Word are interpreted as names for Jesus in diverse roles. [ 178 ] Jesus is considered to be the only mediator and high priest between God and humanness, and appointed by God as the king and judge of his kingdom. [ 179 ] His function as a mediator ( referred to in 1 Timothy 2:5 ) is applied to the ‘anointed ‘ class, though the ‘other sheep ‘ are said to besides benefit from the musical arrangement. [ 180 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that Satan was originally a perfect angel who developed feelings of egotism and craved worship. Satan influenced Adam and Eve to disobey God, and humanness subsequently became participants in a challenge involving the competing claims of Jehovah and Satan to universal reign. [ 181 ] other angels who sided with Satan became demons. Jehovah ‘s Witnesses teach that Satan and his demons were hurl down to earth from heaven after October 1, 1914, [ 182 ] at which point the end times began. They believe that Satan is the ruler of the current populace order, [ 181 ] that human club is influenced and misled by Satan and his demons, and that they are a cause of human suffering. They besides believe that human governments are controlled by Satan, [ 183 ] but that he does not directly control each homo rule. [ 184 ]

life after death

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe death is a state of non-existence with no consciousness. There is no Hell of ardent badgering ; Hades and Sheol are silent to refer to the condition of death, termed the common grave. [ 185 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses consider the soul to be a biography or a survive soundbox that can die. [ 186 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that humanness is in a extraordinary state, [ 186 ] from which exhaust is only possible by means of Jesus ‘ shed blood as a ransom, or atonement, for the sins of world. [ 187 ] Witnesses believe that a “ little flock ” of 144,000 choose humans go to heaven, but that the majority ( the “ early sheep ” ) are to be resurrected by God to a cleansed ground after Armageddon. They interpret Revelation 14:1–5 to mean that the number of Christians going to heaven is limited to precisely 144,000, who will rule with Jesus as kings and priests over earth. [ 188 ] They believe that baptism as a Jehovah ‘s Witness is vital for salvation [ 189 ] and that entirely they meet biblical requirements for surviving Armageddon, but that God is the final pronounce. [ 190 ] [ 191 ] During Christ ‘s millennial reign, most people who died anterior to Armageddon will be resurrected with the expectation of live constantly ; they will be taught the proper room to worship God to prepare them for their final test at the end of the millennium. [ 192 ] [ 193 ]

God ‘s Kingdom

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that God ‘s Kingdom is a literal government in eden, ruled by Jesus Christ and 144,000 “ spirit-anointed ” Christians drawn from the earth, which they associate with Jesus ‘ mention to a “ newly covenant ”. [ 194 ] [ 195 ] The kingdom is viewed as the means by which God will accomplish his original purpose for the ground, transforming it into a paradise without illness or end. [ 196 ] It is said to have been the focal point of Jesus ‘ ministry on land. [ 197 ] They believe the kingdom was established in heaven in 1914, [ 198 ] and that Jehovah ‘s Witnesses serve as representatives of the kingdom on worldly concern. [ 199 ] [ 200 ]


A cardinal teach of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses is that the current world era, or “ system of things ”, entered the “ last days “ in 1914 and faces at hand destruction through intervention by God and Jesus Christ, leading to deliverance for those who worship God acceptably. [ 201 ] They consider all other contemporary religions to be false, identifying them with “ Babylon the Great “, or the “ prostitute ”, of Revelation 17, [ 202 ] and believe that they will soon be destroyed by the United Nations, which they believe is represented in scripture by the scarlet-colored angry beast of Revelation chapter 17. This development will mark the begin of the “ capital trial “. [ 203 ] [ 204 ] Satan will subsequently use universe governments to attack Jehovah ‘s Witnesses, an carry through that will prompt God to begin the war of Armageddon, during which all forms of government and all people not counted as Christ ‘s “ sheep ” will be destroyed. After Armageddon, God will extend his heavenly kingdom to include earth, which will be transformed into a eden alike to the Garden of Eden. [ 205 ] Most of those who had died before God ‘s interposition will gradually be resurrected during the thousand class “ judgment sidereal day ”. This judgment will be based on their actions after resurrection rather than past deeds. At the end of the thousand years, Christ will hand all authority spinal column to God. then a final screen will take identify when Satan is released to mislead perfect world. Those who fail will be destroyed, along with Satan and his demons. The resultant role will be a amply tested, laud human race on worldly concern. [ 206 ] [ 207 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ began to rule in eden as baron of God ‘s kingdom in October 1914, and that Satan was subsequently ousted from eden to the earth, resulting in “ woe ” to humanity. They believe that Jesus rules invisibly, from heaven, perceived only as a series of “ signs ”. They base this impression on a render of the Greek word parousia —usually translated as “ coming ” when referring to Christ—as “ presence ”. They believe Jesus ‘ presence includes an stranger period beginning with his inauguration as king in heaven in 1914, and ending when he comes to bring a final judgment against humans on earth. They therefore depart from the mainstream Christian impression that the “ moment coming “ of Matthew 24 refers to a single here and now of arrival on earth to pronounce humans. [ 208 ] [ 209 ]

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worship at a Kingdom Hall in Portugal Kingdom Hall in Kuopio, Finland Meetings for worship and study are held at Kingdom Halls, which are typically functional in character, and do not contain religious symbols. [ 210 ] Witnesses are assigned to a congregation in whose “ territory ” they normally reside and attend weekly services they refer to as “ meetings ” as scheduled by congregation elders. The meetings are largely devoted to study of Watch Tower Society literature and the Bible. The format of the meetings is established by the group ‘s headquarter, and the discipline topic for most meetings is the lapp global. [ 210 ] Congregations suffer for two sessions each week comprising four distinct meetings that entire about three-and-a-half hours, typically gathering mid-week ( two meetings ) and on the weekend ( two meetings ). Prior to 2009, congregations met three times each workweek ; these meetings were condensed, with the intention that members dedicate an even for “ syndicate worship ”. [ 211 ] [ 212 ] Gatherings are opened and closed with hymn ( which they call Kingdom songs ) and abbreviated prayers. twice each class, Witnesses from a number of congregations that form a “ circumference ” gather for a one-day assembly. Larger groups of congregations meet once a year for a three-day “ regional convention ”, normally at rented stadiums or auditoriums. [ 213 ] Their most important and grave event is the commemoration of the “ Lord ‘s Evening Meal ”, or “ Memorial of Christ ‘s Death “ on the date of the jewish Passover. [ 214 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses outside the british Museum, 2017

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are known for their efforts to spread their beliefs, most notably by visiting people from house to house, [ 215 ] [ 216 ] [ 217 ] distributing literature published by the Watch Tower Society. [ 218 ] The objective is to start a regular “ bible study ” with any person who is not already a extremity, [ 219 ] with the intention that the scholar be baptized as a penis of the group ; [ 220 ] [ 221 ] Witnesses are advised to consider discontinuing bible studies with students who show no interest in becoming members. [ 222 ] [ 223 ] Witnesses are taught they are under a biblical command to engage in public preach. [ 224 ] [ 225 ] They are instructed to devote as much clock as potential to their ministry and are required to submit an individual monthly “ Field Service Report ”. [ 226 ] [ 227 ] Baptized members who fail to report a calendar month of preaching are termed “ irregular ” and may be counseled by elders ; [ 228 ] [ 229 ] those who do not submit reports for six back-to-back months are termed “ inactive ”. [ 230 ]

Ethics and morality

All sexual relations outside of marriage are grounds for extrusion if the individual is not deemed penitent ; [ 231 ] [ 232 ] homosexual bodily process is considered a serious drop the ball, and same-sex marriages are prevent. abortion is considered murder. [ 233 ] Suicide is considered to be “ self-murder ” and a drop the ball against God. [ 234 ] Modesty in dress and dressing is frequently emphasized. Gambling, drink, illegal drugs, and tobacco practice are forbidden. [ 235 ] Drinking of alcoholic beverages is permitted in moderation. [ 233 ] The family structure is patriarchal. The conserve is considered to have authority on family decisions, but is encouraged to solicit his wife ‘s thoughts and feelings, a well as those of his children. Marriages are required to be monogamous and legally registered. [ 236 ] [ 237 ] Marrying a non-believer, or endorsing such a coupling, is strongly discouraged and carries religious sanctions. [ 238 ] [ 239 ] Divorce is discouraged, and remarriage is forbidden unless a divorce is obtained on the grounds of adultery, which they refer to as “ a scriptural divorce ”. [ 240 ] If a divorce is obtained for any early cause, remarriage is considered adulterous unless the anterior spouse has died or is since considered to have committed sexual evil. [ 241 ] Extreme forcible abuse, willful non-support of one ‘s family, and what the denomination terms “ absolute hazard of spiritualty ” are accepted as grounds for legal separation. [ 242 ] [ 243 ]

corrective action

courtly discipline is administered by congregation elders. When a baptize member is accused of committing a good sin —usually cases of sexual misbehave [ 117 ] [ 244 ] or charges of apostasy for disputing Jehovah ‘s Witness doctrines [ 245 ] [ 246 ] —a discriminative committee is formed to determine guilt, provide assistant and possibly administer discipline. Disfellowshipping, a form of shun, is the strongest form of discipline, administered to an wrongdoer deemed cussed. [ 247 ] Contact with disfellowshipped individuals is limited to direct class members living in the lapp home, and with congregation elders who may invite disfellowshipped persons to apply for reinstatement ; [ 248 ] dinner dress commercial enterprise dealings may continue if contractually or financially obliged. [ 249 ] Witnesses are teach that avoiding social and spiritual interaction with disfellowshipped individuals keeps the congregation free from base determine and that “ losing precious company with love ones may help [ the banish individual ] to come ‘to his senses, ‘ see the seriousness of his wrong, and take steps to return to Jehovah. ” [ 250 ] The practice of shunning may besides serve to deter other members from dissentient demeanor. [ 251 ] Members who disassociate ( formally resign ) are described in Watch Tower Society literature as arch and are besides shunned. [ 252 ] [ 253 ] [ 254 ] Expelled individuals may finally be reinstated to the congregation if deemed penitent by elders in the congregation in which the disfellowshipping was enforced. [ 24 ] Reproof is a lesser shape of discipline given formally by a judicial committee to a baptized witness who is considered penitent of unplayful sin ; the admonish person temporarily loses blatant privileges of service, but suffers no restriction of social or spiritual company. [ 255 ] Marking, a restrict of social but not apparitional family, is practiced if a baptized member persists in a course of military action regarded as a irreverence of bible principles but not a serious sin. [ note 4 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe that the Bible condemns the shuffle of religions, on the basis that there can only be one truth from God, and therefore disapprove interfaith and ecumenic movements. [ 256 ] [ 257 ] [ 258 ] They believe that alone Jehovah ‘s Witnesses exemplify true Christianity, and that other religions fail to meet all the requirements set by God and will soon be destroyed. [ 259 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are teach that it is critical to remain “ separate from the world. ” The Witnesses ‘ literature defines the “ world ” as “ the bulk of world apart from Jehovah ‘s approve servants ” and teach that it is morally contaminated and ruled by Satan. [ 260 ] [ 261 ] [ 262 ] Witnesses are taught that association with “ worldly ” people presents a “ danger ” to their faith, [ 263 ] and are instructed to minimize social contact with non-members to better maintain their own standards of morality. [ 264 ] [ 265 ] [ 266 ] [ 267 ] Attending university is discouraged and craft schools are suggested as an alternate. [ 268 ] [ 269 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses believe their commitment belongs to God ‘s kingdom, [ 270 ] which is viewed as an actual government in eden, with Christ as king. They remain politically impersonal, do not seek public office, and are discouraged from vote, though individual members may participate in uncontroversial community improvement issues. [ 271 ] [ 272 ] Although they do not take separate in politics, they respect the authority of the governments under which they live. [ 273 ] They do not celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, nor do they observe birthdays, national holidays, or other celebrations they consider to honor people other than Jesus. They feel that these and many other customs have heathen origins or reflect a chauvinistic or political spirit. Their position is that these traditional holidays reflect Satan ‘s master over the world. [ 274 ] [ 275 ] [ 276 ] Witnesses are told that ad-lib giving at other times can help their children to not feel deprived of birthdays or other celebrations. [ 277 ] They do not work in industries associated with the military, do not serve in the armed services, [ 278 ] and refuse national military serve, which in some countries may result in their halt and imprisonment. [ 279 ] They do not salute or pledge commitment to flags or sing national anthems or patriotic songs. [ 280 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses see themselves as a global brotherhood that transcends national boundaries and ethnic loyalties. [ 281 ] Sociologist Ronald Lawson has suggested the group ‘s intellectual and organizational isolation, coupled with the intense indoctrination of adherents, rigid home discipline and considerable persecution, has contributed to the consistency of its sense of urgency in its apocalyptic message. [ 282 ]

rejection of blood transfusions

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses garbage blood transfusions, which they consider a violation of God ‘s law based on their interpretation of Acts 15 :28, 29 and early scriptures. [ 283 ] [ 284 ] [ 285 ] Since 1961 the bequeath credence of a blood transfusion by an cussed extremity has been grounds for extrusion from the group. [ 286 ] [ 287 ] Members are directed to refuse blood transfusions, even in “ a life-and-death situation ”. [ 288 ] [ 289 ] [ 290 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses accept non-blood alternatives and other checkup procedures in stead of blood transfusions, and their literature provides information about non-blood checkup procedures. [ 291 ] Though Jehovah ‘s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions of solid rake, they may accept some blood plasma fractions at their own delicacy. [ 292 ] [ 293 ] [ 294 ] The Watch Tower Society provides pre-formatted durable ability of lawyer documents prohibiting major blood components, in which members can specify which allowable fractions and treatments they will personally accept. [ 295 ] [ 296 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have established Hospital Liaison Committees as a accommodative arrangement between individual Jehovah ‘s Witnesses and medical professionals and hospitals. [ 297 ] [ 298 ]


Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have an active presence in most countries, but do not form a big region of the population of any country. For 2021, Jehovah ‘s Witnesses reported approximately 8.7 million publishers —the term they use for members actively involved in preaching—in about 120,000 congregations. [ 4 ] For the same year, they reported over 1.4 billion hours spent in preaching activeness, and conducted Bible studies with more than 5.9 million individuals ( including those conducted by Witness parents with their children [ 299 ] [ 300 ] ). In 2021 Jehovah ‘s Witnesses reported a cosmopolitan annual increase of 0.7 %. Over 21.3 million people attended the annual memorial of Christ ‘s death. [ 4 ] According to the Watch Tower Society, more than 25,600 members have died from COVID-19. [ 301 ] The official published membership statistics, such as those mentioned above, include only those who submit reports for their personal ministry ; [ 302 ] official statistics do not include inactive and disfellowshipped individuals or others who might attend their meetings. As a leave, merely about half of those who self-identified as Jehovah ‘s Witnesses in independent demographic studies are considered active by the faith itself. [ 303 ] [ 304 ] The 2008 US Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life sketch found a low retention pace among members of the appellation : about 37 % of people raised in the group continued to identify themselves as Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ; [ 305 ] [ 306 ] the following lowest retentiveness rates were for Buddhism at 50 % and Catholicism at 68 %. The study besides found that 65 % of adult Jehovah ‘s Witnesses in the US are converts. [ 307 ]

sociological analysis

Sociologist James A. Beckford, in his 1975 study of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses, classified the group ‘s organizational structure as Totalizing, characterized by an assertive leadership, specific and pin down objectives, control over competing demands on members ‘ time and energy, and see over the quality of new members. other characteristics of the categorization include likelihood of friction with layman authorities, reluctance to co-operate with other religious organizations, a high rate of membership dollar volume, a low rate of doctrinal switch, and hard-and-fast uniformity of beliefs among members. [ 308 ] Beckford identified the group ‘s chief characteristics as historicism ( identifying diachronic events as relating to the outworking of God ‘s determination ), absolutism ( conviction that Jehovah ‘s Witness leaders dispense absolute truth ), activism ( capability to motivate members to perform missionary tasks ), rationalism ( conviction that Witness doctrines have a rational footing barren of mystery ), authoritarianism ( rigid presentation of regulations without the opportunity for criticism ) and world indifference ( rejection of certain worldly requirements and aesculapian treatments ). [ 309 ] Sociologist Bryan R. Wilson, in his circumstance of five religious groups including Jehovah ‘s Witnesses, noted that each of the denominations : [ 310 ]

  1. “exists in a state of tension with the wider society;”
  2. “imposes tests of merit on would-be members;”
  3. “exercises stern discipline, regulating the declared beliefs and the life habits of members and prescribing and operating sanctions for those who deviate, including the possibility of expulsion;”
  4. “demands sustained and total commitment from its members, and the subordination, and perhaps even the exclusion of all other interests.”
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A sociological comparative study by the Pew Research Center found that Jehovah ‘s Witnesses in the United States ranked highest in statistics for getting no further than high educate graduation, impression in God, importance of religion in one ‘s life, frequency of religious attendance, frequency of prayers, frequency of Bible reading outside of religious services, belief their prayers are answered, belief that their religion can only be interpreted one way, impression that theirs is the lone one true faith leading to endless life, opposition to abortion, and opposition to homosexuality. In the study, Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ranked lowest in statistics for having an interest in politics. [ 311 ] [ 312 ] It was besides among the most ethnically diverse religious groups in the US. [ 307 ]


Controversy surrounding respective beliefs, doctrines and practices of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses has led to opposition from governments, communities, and religious groups. religious observer Ken Jubber wrote that “ Viewed globally, this persecution has been then haunting and of such intensity that it would not be inaccurate to regard Jehovah ‘s Witnesses as the most persecute group of Christians of the twentieth century. ” [ 313 ]


political and religious animosity against Jehovah ‘s Witnesses has at times led to mob carry through and government oppression in assorted countries. Their stance regarding political disinterest and their refusal to serve in the military has led to imprisonment of members who refused conscription during World War II and at other times where national serve has been compulsory. Their religious activities are presently banned or restricted in some countries, [ 314 ] including China, Vietnam, and many Muslim-majority countries. [ 315 ] [ 316 ] Countries where Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ‘ activities are banned Authors including William Whalen, Shawn Francis Peters and former Witnesses Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Alan Rogerson and William Schnell have claimed the arrests and throng violence in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s were the consequence of what appeared to be a debate path of aggravation of authorities and early religious groups by Jehovah ‘s Witnesses. [ 329 ] [ 330 ] Harrison, Schnell and Whalen have suggested Rutherford invited and cultivated opposition for promotion purposes in a bid to attract dispossessed members of company, and to convince members that persecution from the outside world was evidence of the truth of their fight to serve God. [ 331 ] [ 332 ] [ 333 ] Watch Tower Society literature of the period directed that Witnesses should “ never seek a controversy ” nor resist catch, but besides advised members not to co-operate with police officers or courts that ordered them to stop sermon, and to prefer jail rather than pay fines. [ 334 ]

Legal challenges

respective cases involving Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have been heard by Supreme Courts throughout the world. [ 335 ] The cases broadly relate to their right to practice their religion, displays of patriotism and military service, and rake transfusions. [ 336 ] In the United States, legal challenges by Jehovah ‘s Witnesses prompted a series of department of state and federal woo rulings that reinforced judicial protections for civil liberties. [ 337 ] [ 338 ] Among the rights strengthened by Witness court victories in the United States are the protection of religious behavior from federal and state noise, the right to abstain from patriotic rituals and military service, the right of patients to refuse checkup treatment, and the correct to engage in public converse. [ 339 ] alike cases in their party favor have been heard in Canada. [ 340 ]

criticism and controversy

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have received criticism from mainstream Christianity, members of the aesculapian community, early members and commentators regarding their beliefs and practices. The bowel movement has been accused of doctrinal inconsistency and reversals, failed predictions, mistranslation of the Bible, harsh treatment of former members and authoritarian and coercive leadership. criticism has besides focused on their rejection of blood transfusions, particularly in dangerous medical situations, and failing to report cases of sexual misuse to the authorities. Many of the claims are denied by Jehovah ‘s Witnesses and some have besides been disputed by courts and religious scholars .

free address and think

Doctrines of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are established by the Governing Body. [ 341 ] [ 342 ] The denomination does not tolerate disagree over doctrines and practices ; [ 151 ] [ 343 ] [ 344 ] [ 345 ] members who openly disagree with the group ‘s teachings are expelled and shunned. [ 246 ] Witness publications strongly discourage followers from questioning doctrine and rede received from the Governing Body, reasoning that it is to be trusted as function of “ God ‘s administration ”. [ 345 ] [ 346 ] [ 347 ] [ 348 ] It besides warns members to “ avoid independent think ”, claiming such thinking “ was introduced by Satan the Devil ” [ 349 ] [ 350 ] and would “ cause division ”. [ 351 ] Those who openly disagree with official teachings are condemned as “ apostates ” who are “ mentally diseased ”. [ 251 ] [ 352 ] [ 353 ] former members Heather and Gary Botting compare the cultural substitution class of the appellation to George Orwell ‘s Nineteen Eighty-four, [ 104 ] and Alan Rogerson describes the group ‘s leadership as totalitarian. [ 354 ] other critics say that by disparaging individual decision-making, the group ‘s leaders cultivate a arrangement of unquestioning obedience [ 157 ] [ 355 ] in which Witnesses abrogate all province and rights over their personal lives. [ 356 ] [ 357 ] Critics besides accuse the group ‘s leaders of exercising “ intellectual dominance ” over Witnesses, [ 358 ] controlling information [ 246 ] [ 359 ] [ 360 ] and creating “ mental isolation ”, which erstwhile Governing Body penis Raymond Franz argued were all elements of judgment manipulate. [ 361 ] Jehovah ‘s Witness publications state that consensus of religion aids oneness, and deny that integrity restricts identity or resource. [ 362 ] Historian James Irvin Lichti has rejected the description of the appellation as “ totalitarian ”. [ 363 ] Sociologist Rodney Stark states that Jehovah ‘s Witness leaders are “ not constantly identical democratic ” and that members “ are expected to conform to quite stern standards, ” but adds that “ enforcement tends to be very cozy, sustained by the close bonds of friendship within the group ”, and that Jehovah ‘s Witnesses see themselves as “ separate of the baron structure preferably than subject to it. ” [ 90 ] Sociologist Andrew Holden states that most members who join millenarian movements such as Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have made an inform choice. [ 364 ] however, he besides states that defectors “ are rarely allowed a dignify die ”, [ 251 ] and describes the administration as autocratic. [ 341 ]

New World transformation

respective Bible scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger [ 365 ] and MacLean Gilmour, [ 366 ] have said that while eruditeness is discernible in New World Translation, its render of sealed text is inaccurate and biased in favor of Witness practices and doctrines. [ 367 ] [ 368 ] [ 369 ] [ 370 ] [ 371 ] [ 111 ] Critics of the group such as Edmund C. Gruss, [ 372 ] and christian writers such as Ray C. Stedman, [ 373 ] Walter Martin, Norman Klann, [ 374 ] and Anthony Hoekema [ 375 ] state that the New World Translation exhibits scholastic dishonesty. Most criticism of the New World Translation relates to its render of the New Testament, particularly regarding the introduction of the name Jehovah and in passages related to the Trinity doctrine. [ 376 ] [ 377 ]

Unfulfilled predictions

Watch Tower Society publications have claimed that God has used Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ( and once, the International Bible Students ) to declare his will [ 378 ] [ 379 ] and has provided advance cognition about Armageddon and the establishment of God ‘s kingdom. [ 380 ] [ 381 ] [ 382 ] Some publications besides claimed that God has used Jehovah ‘s Witnesses and the International bible Students as a contemporary prophet. [ note 5 ] George D. Chryssides stated, “ while prediction may be contribution of a biblical prophet ‘s character, the root think of of prophecy is that of proclaiming God ‘s parole. ” He went on to say that, “ Jehovah ‘s Witnesses … are the recipients of prophecy, who regard themselves as invested with the interpretation of biblical writings. ” [ 383 ] [ note 6 ] With these interpretations, Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ‘ publications have made assorted predictions about earth events they believe were prophesied in the Bible. [ 384 ] [ 385 ] Failed predictions have led to the change or abandonment of some doctrines. [ 386 ] [ 387 ] Some failed predictions had been presented as “ beyond doubt ” or “ approved by God ”. [ 388 ] The Watch Tower Society rejects accusations that it is a faithlessly prophet, [ 389 ] stating that its interpretations are not inspired or infallible, [ 390 ] [ 391 ] [ 392 ] and that it has not claimed its predictions were “ the words of Jehovah. ” [ 389 ] Chryssides has suggested that with the exception of statements about 1914, 1925 and 1975, the changing views and dates of the Jehovah ‘s Witnesses are largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology preferably than to fail predictions. Chryssides further states, “ it is consequently simplistic and naïve to view the Witnesses as a group that continues to set a single end-date that fails and then devise a new one, as many counter-cultists do. ” [ 393 ] however, sociologist Andrew Holden states that since the foundation of the motion around 140 years ago, “ Witnesses have maintained that we are living on the precipice of the end of clock time. ” [ 394 ]

Handling of sexual abuse cases

Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have been accused of having policies and culture that help to conceal cases of intimate misuse within the administration. [ 395 ] The group has been criticized for its “ two witness principle ” for church discipline, based on its application of scriptures in Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:15–17, which requires intimate abuse to be substantiated by secondary testify if the accuse person denies any wrongdoing. [ 396 ] [ 397 ] [ 398 ] In cases where documentation is lacking, the Watch Tower Society ‘s education is that “ the elders will leave the matter in Jehovah ‘s hands ”. [ 399 ] A former member of the headquarters staff, Barbara Anderson, says the policy effectively requires that there be another witness to an act of harassment, “ which is an impossibility ”. Anderson says the policies “ protect pedophiles rather than protect the children. ” [ 400 ] Jehovah ‘s Witnesses maintain that they have a hard policy to protect children, adding that the best way to protect children is by educating parents ; they besides country that they do not sponsor activities that separate children from parents. [ 396 ] [ 401 ] [ 402 ] [ 403 ] The group ‘s failure to report misuse allegations to authorities has besides been criticized. [ 404 ] The Watch Tower Society ‘s policy is that elders inform authorities when required by law to do so, but differently leave that action up to the victim and his or her family. [ 396 ] [ 405 ] [ 406 ] William Bowen, a erstwhile Jehovah ‘s Witness elder who established the Silentlambs arrangement to assist sex mistreat victims within the appellation, has claimed Witness leaders discourage followers from reporting incidents of intimate mismanage to authorities, and other critics claim the constitution is loath to alert authorities in order to protect its “ crime-free ” repute. [ 395 ] [ 407 ] In court cases in the United Kingdom and the United States, the Watch Tower Society has been found negligent in its failure to protect children from known arouse offenders within the congregation. [ 408 ] [ 409 ] The Society has settled early child abuse lawsuits out of court, reportedly paying american samoa much as $ 780,000 to one plaintiff without admitting wrongdoing. [ 400 ] In 2017, the Charity Commission for England and Wales began an question into Jehovah ‘s Witnesses ‘ handle of allegations of child sexual pervert in the United Kingdom. [ 410 ] [ 411 ] The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that of 1,006 allege perpetrators of child sexual mistreat investigated by Jehovah ‘s Witness elders since 1950, “ not one was reported by the church to profane authorities. ” [ 342 ] The Royal Commission besides found that the Watch Tower Society legal department routinely provided incorrect information to elders based on an incorrect sympathy of what constitutes a legal obligation to report crimes in Australia. [ 412 ] [ 413 ] In 2021, Jehovah ‘s Witnesses in Australia agreed to join the state ‘s redress schema for sexual assault survivors to maintain its jacob’s ladder condition there. [ 414 ]



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