Despite commonly associating Jehovah’s Witnesses with the act of going door to door and discussing religion, they are actually a distinct faction of the larger Christian religion. In addition to their unique beliefs about life and the afterlife, they also hold their unique perspectives on various global matters.
The founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses is Charles Taze Russell. This faith is derived from Orthodox Christianity and is led by the Watchtower Society headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They believe in Almighty God, also known as Jehovah. They acknowledge Christ as God’s son and recognize him as being inferior to God. The faithful anticipate a peaceful kingdom under Christ’s rule. After the battle of Armageddon, the Earth will undergo significant changes. Ultimately, the wicked will be destroyed, the righteous will inherit the Earth, and 144,000 individuals will ascend to heaven (Fama 1).
In 1884, the Watchtower Society was founded by Russell, which was the early name for Jehovah’s Witnesses. This society serves as the leading and governing body of the religion, and it believes to be the sole channel between God and humanity (Campbell 1). The headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses is situated in Brooklyn, New York. In adherence to their faith, Jehovah’s Witnesses are obliged to attend meetings held by the local Society within their community at least three times a week. These meetings, organized by the Society, play a significant role in the followers’ religious practice as they establish and enforce various laws. One prominent aspect of the Watchtower Society is its history of making predictions. Throughout its existence, it has made several predictions, including one in 1874 when they believed that Jesus had returned to Earth to establish his invisible kingdom. In 1914, they anticipated Jesus would judge humanity and expected significant events in 1918 (Campbell 1). However, by 1925, when no supernatural occurrences transpired, three-fourths of the members had left the Watchtower Society (Campbell 1).
According to the Society, predictions are made regarding the battle of Armageddon and the world’s end. They believe that a generation spans eighty years. After each milestone of a generation, something significant can occur. The previous generation’s conclusion occurred in 1994, which is eighty years after the expected prediction of 1914 plus 1998. This belief is based on the average human lifespan of eighty years mentioned in the psalms. The Society is heavily involved in governing and overseeing the religion (Campbell 2).
The Watchtower Society expects all its members to obey its laws without any exceptions, requiring them to adhere to the provided instructions and guidance. If a member disobeys, they may be reported by another member and subsequently subjected to shunning or a punishment determined by the Watchtower Society (Shaun 1).
The significance of Christ in this religion is notable. Their belief holds that Christ is the Son of God and is subordinate to Him. They also believe that Christ was God’s first creation. Moreover, they hold the belief that Christ’s human existence served as a ransom for obedient humans. According to their claims, Jesus examined their organization in 1919 and identified a “faithful and discreet slave class” who offer spiritual nourishment to true believers (Fama 1). At present, they believe that Christ exists in spiritual form. This religious group maintains that although Christ’s kingdom exists, it remains invisible to everyone. Much of their understanding regarding the afterlife revolves around Christ. They assert that humanity can survive today because of Christ’s sacrificial death, which saved humanity. Interestingly, they reject the idea of Jesus dying on a cross; instead, they believe he died on a stake. Therefore, wearing or owning a cross is prohibited as it contradicts their belief in Jesus’ death on a stake.
One crucial aspect of this faith is the expectation for followers to spread awareness of their religion to others. They fulfill this duty by visiting people’s homes and discussing their beliefs, while encouraging others to embrace the “right religion.” This weekly practice is mandated by the society, as members are required to actively engage in recruiting new individuals and submit monthly reports on their outreach efforts to the congregation.
The followers of this religious society lead a simple lifestyle and avoid any form of worldly association. This means they cannot partake in activities such as attending class reunions, becoming cheerleaders or girl scouts, holding public offices, or participating in wars. They believe that even going to college is unnecessary, as it is only pursued to earn more money, which contradicts their belief in leading a simple life without material desires. One particular aspect they strongly adhere to is their avoidance of communication with ex-members. Even if someone’s own family member decides to leave the society, they would be shunned by their siblings, parents, and all other Jehovah’s Witnesses. Furthermore, they oppose the donation and receipt of blood.
Ricarda Bradford, who was seriously injured in a car crash, faced a critical need for a blood transfusion. However, her father, who adhered to the Jehovah’s Witness faith and its belief against blood transfusion according to the Bible, denied giving consent. Tragically, Ricarda passed away on her sixth birthday as a consequence. (Fama 1)
Followers of the Watchtower Society must remain loyal to their own faith. Marrying someone outside the faith will result in harsh judgment from the society.
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, their ultimate goal is to live a virtuous life in order to be rewarded with a place in the New Earth or heaven after death. They believe that rather than facing destruction, the Earth will transform into a heavenly paradise in the future. This group believes that only 144,000 individuals will go to heaven while the rest of humanity deemed righteous by God will peacefully reside on Earth. To achieve this destiny, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to be morally upright and faithfully follow the teachings and commandments of the Bible.
According to their beliefs, the Bible is considered as God’s Word and the ultimate truth (What 2). They regard the Bible as a more trustworthy source than tradition (What 2), and claim that all societal norms and practices are derived directly from the Bible.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses is a widely practiced faith at present, with beliefs that differ from Orthodox Christianity but still bear many similarities. This religion enforces strict rules and regulations that all Witnesses are required to follow. Additionally, they possess prophecies and make various predictions. The followers of this faith consider themselves to be “God’s Visible Organization” (Fama 1). Embracing a simple lifestyle, they affirm that living peacefully is contingent on adhering to the teachings of the Watchtower Society, with the ultimate goal of securing a place on the new Earth following judgment (Fama 1).
Campbell, Timothy. “Tacking Into the Wind With No Destination,” © 1995.
Visit the website http://members.aol.com/beyondjw/quikhist.htm.
Fama, Sebastian R., “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Shaun’s article titled “Become a JW and You Can’t” can be found at http://www.jwfiles.com/jw-cant.htm.
“What Do They Believe?,”