Jehovah Witnesses Beliefs
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) founded the Jehovah Witnesses, originally known as Russellites or Millennial Dawn People. The first group began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1870. In 1884, the Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was started and later changed to the well-known Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and is today, one of the world's best known, best supported and most popular publishers with over 16,500,000 circulation worldwide. They have distributed over 1 billion Bibles, books and tracts in over 200 languages.
Russell, who died in 1916 was replaced by "Judge" Rutherford as president. As a lawyer and circuit court judge in Missouri he wrote extensively about Jehovah Witness beliefs and practices including books and tract.
Jesus did die on the Cross but, as the prophets predicted, they say, only began his heavenly rule in 1914. For Russell, World War I was the worldwide struggle that would usher in Christ's return to earth.
With predominant emphasis on the End Times of the world, they quote extensively from the Bible and its eschatological teachings and theocracy, the rule of God in the universe. God is One and Jesus is merely another creature, like man, albeit, an elevated creature because of his role. But, God is not a Trinity and Jesus is not God as orthodoxy has taught throughout the ages. God ruled peaceably and perfectly in the beginning. But Satan rebelled, was cast to earth as ruler and mankind followed soon thereafter. Jesus came to end the rule of Satan over man and earth.
Jesus did die on the Cross but, as the prophets predicted, they say, only began his heavenly rule in 1914. For Russell, World War I was the worldwide struggle that would usher in Christ's return to earth. When that didn't happen, Russell reorganized the whole movement and in 1918 declared that in fact, Christ "came to the temple of Jehovah". Now, Satan's rule was indeed nearly over and thus became the evangelistic thrust of the Witness movement today.
God is "calling out" His own people in order to give them life in the new world after the final battle of good versus evil, the battle of Armageddon. Christ will lead the righteous "host of heaven, the holy angels" who will destroy Satan and his minions. After which, God's people will inhabit the new earth. The 144,000 mentioned in Revelation are Christians who will become the "bride of Christ" and with Him, will rule from heaven.
Organizationally, Jehovah Witnesses meet not in Churches but in Kingdom Halls. They refer to themselves as congregations and are arranged in "circuits" of about twenty. A traveling minister spends a week or so with each congregation. Circuits are then grouped into districts, numbering about 40 in the U.S. along with over 200 in other countries.
Their convictions not to salute the flag, bear arms in war or participate in local or national government or submit to blood transfusions has garnered them considerable criticism by others but they retain these practices less because of pacifism or unpatriotic fervor than an attempt to stay separated from the world and its evil influences which are ruled over by Satan. Only at his future overthrow will Witnesses be able to freely obey laws that do not conflict with the laws of God.
Membership today exceeds 990,000 with over 11,000 congregations
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