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"the Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are commissioned by Jehovah himself to preach the good news of the kingdom to all nations." - CARM
Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers
Who are the Jehovah's Witnesses?
The Jehovah's Witnesses consist of more than 7.5 million dedicated and baptized publishers who collectively spend over a billion hours each years preaching their message to the public. The Jehovah's Witnesses claim to believe the 66 books of the Bible as inspired and accurate. The Jehovah's Witnesses derive their name primarily from Isaiah 43:10, which states in part, "'You are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'even my servant whom I have chosen.'"
Therefore, the Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are commissioned by Jehovah himself to preach the good news of the kingdom to all nations. Thus far they have established congregations in over 230 lands worldwide over 250,000 new baptized publishers (as of 2011).
How did the Jehovah's Witnesses get started?
Charles Taze Russell was the primary founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, beginning in the early 1870's. However, the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves believe their history began in the early church with Jesus Christ and the apostles. The Jehovah's Witnesses claim an apostasy developed shortly thereafter, leaving the church corrupted for centuries until Charles Taze Russell established their beliefs once again.
Because Charles Taze Russell was so repulsed by the beliefs of so-called "Christendom," he formulated his own beliefs based on his understanding of the Bible. Charles Taze Russell himself readily admitted a great indebtedness to the Seventh Day Adventists in refining his doctrine and renewing his passion for the Scriptures. This led Russell to not only organize his own group of those who were known as, "The Bible Students," but created his own magazine titled, "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence." In years following, the publishing organization now known as the "Watchtower Bible and Tract Society" was established.
What is the New World Translation?
The New World Translation is the Jehovah's Witnesses own translation of the 66 books of the Bible. The first edition was published in 1950 and contained the Christian Greek Scriptures. Subsequent editions contained the entire canon. The idea of a "fresh" translation was originally proposed in 1946 by the Watchtower Society president, Nathan Knorr.
The Jehovah's Witnesses sought for a new translation because they believed most were influenced by pagan philosophy. They also desired a new translation because of new manuscript and archaeological discoveries that rendered a greater understanding of the Biblical languages. However, one of the primary reasons for a new translation was to restore the divine name of "Jehovah" to the English Bible. Since the publishing of the New World Translation, many scholars have criticized the Jehovah's Witnesses for a translation they purport to be biased in order to fit their doctrines.
What is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society?
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the writing and printing headquarters run by the Jehovah's Witnesses; or more specifically, those of the "anointed class." The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's primary publications include The Watchtower and Awake! magazines, in addition to The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures . The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society also publishes many other books, pamphlets and tracts.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the only appointed channel for which God is dispensing spiritual food today. The Jehovah's Witnesses have full confidence in the information provided through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and do not question it. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publishes millions of copies of their literature in hundreds of languages worldwide. The central headquarters of the Watchtower is located in Brooklyn, NY.
What is the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses?
The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses consists of seven men who represent the "anointed class" of Jehovah's Witnesses. They are considered to be the ruling council by which all Jehovah's Witnesses are to follow. The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses believe themselves to have been exclusively appointed by Jesus Christ himself in 1919 to be responsible for all his earthly kingdom interests.
The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be modeled after the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 whereby decisions were made for the entire Christian congregation. The Governing Body is the reason for which Jehovah's Witnesses think they can attain their complete worldwide unity in doctrine and practice.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe regarding the name Jehovah?
The name of God (also known as the Tetragrammaton) appears in the Hebrew Scriptures over 6,000 times. The Jehovah's Witnesses have chosen to include the Anglicized version of the name (i.e. "Jehovah") in The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures where the Tetragrammaton appears. The Jehovah's Witnesses have also printed the name in over 200 places in the Christian Scriptures.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have long criticized so-called "Christendom" for their "removing" the name from the Hebrew Scriptures and replacing it with "LORD." Because the Jehovah's Witnesses so highly emphasize the name of "Jehovah" in doctrine and practice, they believe this to be a primary reason for which they can claim to be "God's organization."
Who are the 144,000 amongst Jehovah's Witnesses?
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach the 144,000 spoken about in Revelation 7 and 14 represent an "anointed" class with a unique hope of going to heaven. This group of Jehovah's Witnesses is to be contrasted to those who hope to live forever on a restored paradise earth (e.g. the "great crowd" of Revelation 7). These "anointed" Jehovah's Witnesses believe themselves to be a "ruling class" of kings and priests. For this reason, Jehovah's Witnesses have structured themselves in such a way to see the "anointed class" as dispensing spiritual information as if it were God himself.
In addition to having a hope of going to heaven as a ruling class in God's government, the 144,000 are said to be unique in several other ways, including:
1. Experiencing the new birth
2. Partaking the Lord's supper
3. Belonging to the New Covenant
4. Viewing Christ as their exclusive mediator
5. Members of "Abraham's seed"
No one in the "great crowd" (which includes all but about 8,000 Jehovah's Witnesses today) are said to be included in these 5 categories.
What do the Jehovah's Witnesses believe about Jesus?
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ is Michael the Archangel, Jehovah's first and greatest creation. After existing in relationship with Jehovah for millions of years, Jesus was used as the instrument by which all other things were created. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is a distinct god from Jehovah.
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus died on a torture stake, buried, and raised from the dead as a spirit creature into heaven. According to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Jehovah disposed of Jesus' physical body by dissolving it. The Jehovah's Witnesses staunchly deny the Trinity and the teaching that Jesus is God Almighty.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about the Holy Spirit?
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that God's holy spirit is his active force. The Jehovah's Witnesses strongly deny the holy spirit as a person of the Trinity. According to the Jehovah's Witness doctrine, God's holy spirit was used to accomplish the creation of the universe.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that holy spirit can be likened to electricity whereby it can energize to accomplish Jehovah's will. The Jehovah's Witnesses intentionally refrain from capitalizing "holy spirit" and usually leave out the definite article "the" in their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures to harmonize with their understanding of the Scriptures.
Why do Jehovah's Witnesses go door to door?
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are the only ones truly preaching the good news of the kingdom. In addition, they believe they are the only ones doing this in a worldwide and unified effort. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that going door to door as an evangelism effort is in line with what the early church taught.
When the Jehovah's Witnesses come to someone's home, one of their ambitions is to begin a "free home Bible study" with that person or family. In doing so, they will often study a Watchtower publication that can last for several months. All baptized Jehovah's Witnesses are required to spend at least several hours a month going door to door if they want to remain in good standing in the organization.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about the Kingdom of God?
The Jehovah's Witnesses see the Kingdom of God as a royal government headed by Jesus Christ. The Jehovah's Witnesses hold to the Kingdom of God as a central tenant of their doctrine and practice. Most Jehovah's Witnesses do not see themselves as rulers in the Kingdom of God. Instead, they believe themselves to be subjects of this government under the rule of the 144,000 and Jesus Christ.
The Jehovah's Witnesses also hold to a very strong form of pacifism, which results in a refraining from politics and war. Because they believe that all earthly governments will be destroyed at Armageddon, they view the Kingdom of God as a primary hope in seeing the earth restored into a paradise under the rule of the anointed class of 144,000 and Jesus Christ.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about hell and the soul?
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that hell is the common grave of dead mankind. The Jehovah's Witnesses deny the wicked will be subject to eternal torment. Instead, they will die and remain in the grave for all eternity.
The Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe the soul survives the death of the body. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that when someone dies, their "soul" dies and remains in an unconscious state until a resurrection occurs. The soul, according to Jehovah's Witnesses, is primarily in reference to the life of a creature.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe about salvation?
According to the Jehovah's Witnesses, one must worship Jehovah in association with the provisions provided by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in order to be saved. Therefore, one must be in regular meeting attendance and participate in the door-to-door preaching work. Those who do not will be destroyed at Armageddon.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the information provided by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is integral to one's salvation. This information would teach that one must have faith in Jehovah and Jesus Christ in addition to demonstrating one's efforts in good works. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that one's salvation can be lost through living an immoral lifestyle or leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses.
What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe happened in 1914?
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus was installed as heavenly king began in 1914. According to the Jehovah's Witnesses, this marks the beginning of the "last days" whereby there would be a dramatic development of world events—pestilences, earthquakes, war, etc. The Jehovah's Witnesses arrive at 1914 by tying together various streams of biblical chronology.
The date of 607 B.C.E. is when the Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jerusalem was destroyed. However, most scholars hold to 586/587 B.C.E. for this event. The Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained the 607 B.C.E. date as a very prominent link in the 1914 chronology.
Why do Jehovah's Witnesses shun those who leave the organization?
When a Jehovah's Witness is disfellowshipped for immoral behavior, openly denies Watchtower doctrine, or chooses to voluntarily disassociate themself from the organization; they are shunned. The act of shunning involved a ceasing of communication with the exception of necessary circumstances. The Jehovah's Witnesses will claim to shun not only because the Watchtower has advised them to, but because they believe the Bible teaches it.
For a Jehovah's Witness, leaving the organization is tantamount to leaving Jehovah altogether. The Jehovah's Witnesses not only view it as an act of rebellion, but as an act of betrayal.
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