To be recognised witnessing people
When we go out on the streets often people take us to be Jehovah Witnesses. This probably because they find us openly talking about the Name of God and Witnessing not only about Jehovah but also about His Word, using like the JW’s the Bible, which we consider the infallible Word of God.
What most people do not see is that we do not speak to them using the JW magazine the Watchtower and that we do invite them to use their own proper Bible and that we have mostly different Bible versions with us, where-from they may choose.
Many people do have the impression that the only way a Witness can “reason on a scripture” is by employing the Watchtower’s unique belief system. In other words, The Society is encouraging the Witness to overlay the said text with Watchtower reasoning. This is a subtle but effective way of changing the original meaning of a text to suit the polemics of the Jehovah’s Witness. In this way the scriptures are made to bend and twist to fit the Watchtower’s doctrinal mold, they would say.
When they hear our teachings they often remark that the JW are also saying that. But would it not be normal if they are calling themselves serious Bible Students and we as Bible researchers are also calling ourselves serious Bible-students, that by using the same Book of books, the bible we would come onto the same or similar findings?
For us it is a little-bit annoying that we are taken for JW, because we are not connected with them and we do find it not serious that they claim that Charles Taze Russell founded their Movement, whilst he did not create the group called Jehovah Witnesses nor did he want to have people following a human organisation or a specific human person.
Pastor Russell has never associated with “Jehovah’s Witnesses” nor did he ever claim the name. Pastor Charles T. Russell died in 1916. The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” came into existence later. Associating Pastor Russell with “Jehovah’s Witnesses” leaves the decidedly mistaken view that their teachings and beliefs are alike. Such is not the case and we even would say if Russell would come today to that organisation he would never be allowed to become a member.
The American organisation which is saying they are an organisation of God, for us is led by human beings, like our organisation. In 1976, all activities of the Watch Tower Society were brought under the supervision of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They as we may be under the blessing of Jehovah, but we all have the problem we are part of the human structure, living in this world. JWs are now using the legal entity the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as their “legal instrument”, that this is supposed to mean that Charles Taze Russell was actually the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization. Of course, in reality, the legal instrument as Russell envisioned it, was not designed to be the legal instrument of an organization such as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” As he designed the Society, it was a legal entity for coordinating communication amongst the Bible Students and as a service organization.
Russell not a founder of any religion
When you look at the different writings of Pastor Russell you may see that he was a non-sectarian and that like Jesus did not want to create a new religion, Russell also did not want to be the founder of any religion. Charles Taze Russell did not believe in, and refused to allow the Watch Tower Society in his days, to be used as an authority over other Christians or congregations. Just before his death, he published in the Watch Tower:
“Let it be borne in mind that the Society exercises no authority, makes no criticism, but merely gives advice; and that in the interest of the Lord’s Cause and the Lord’s people.”
Because as human beings living in this world we are bounded to certain regulations in this world and certain practicalities. Wherever people may want to come together and form a group of eager students of the Bible, they shall have to come to organise themselves to rent spaces, to arrange meetings and to take care of administrative tasks and publications. It was in this way Russell recognised:
We believe that a visible organization, and the adopting of some particular name, would tend to increase our numbers and make us appear more respectable in the estimation of the world.
But he continued:
The natural man can see that a visibly organized body, with a definite purpose, is a thing of more or less power; therefore, they esteem the various organizations, from which we have come out, in obedience to the Master’s call. But the natural man cannot understand how a company of people, with no organization which they can see, is ever going to accomplish anything. As they look upon us, they regard us simply as a few scattered skirmishers–a “peculiar people”–with very peculiar ideas and hopes, but not worthy of special notice.
Looking at a higher person as a cornerstone or “Good and faithful servant”
Though like the earlier Bible-student Dr. John Thomas, brother Charles looked at somebody more important than any other human being, who was given the right by his heavenly Father to be a cornerstone for the Church of God, and for being a High priest and mediator between God and man. For many people it is unbelievable that we can be not structured form a central committee or governing body. They all think all denominations must be structured like the main churches and in particular like the Roman Catholic Church having a person at the top leading some ‘special’ men who say what the others have to believe and have to do. By the Jehovah Witnesses we can see in their “Faithful servant” the same figure as the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. The JW community takes everything what the board in Brooklyn decides as the only one truth, and when they change mind they say it is the “new light” been given by God, as if God would find it necessary to have them believing one thing first and changing their belief on an other time; they seem to forget that God never changes.
Roy D. Goodrich produced between 1952 and 1977 a periodical and created a movement centred upon that periodical “Back to the Bible Way“. Its primary function was to help spread the thought of Goodrich, who had been excommunicated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for disagreeing that Charles Taze Russell was the good and faithful servant promised in the Parable of the Talents, as well as 1914 being the date of the Apocalypse, as Russell had projected. Later the JW made the Governing Body in the good and faithful servant.
United under Christ and not under a govern body or human organisation
For the outside world we my be unstructured and the different groups of Bible Students and Bible Researchers may have different ecclesiae with different ways of presenting their worship services of different ways of handling the preaching, they still can find themselves united with other brothers and sisters all over the world. This because we are united under Christ and not under a human person or one typical human organisation.
Russell wrote about it:
though it is impossible for the natural man to see our organization, because he cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, we trust that you can see that the true Church is most effectually organized, and in the best possible working order. (See the plan of our organization, as stated in October issue, under the caption “The Ekklesia.”)
Communities like in early Christian days
We see our communities like the early church organized, governed, and in perfect unity and harmony under the rulership, leadership or headship of Jesus. We do not want to oblige to laws emanating from human beings their heads, or rulers and law-givers. God has given His Word to Guide us and to give us enough information how to run our small communities and still being part of the whole unity.
There are two senses in which the true church of Christ may be considered: All who like the early church were fully consecrated to the doing of our Father’s will, amenable only to Christ’s will and government, recognizing and obeying none other — these saints, from the beginning of the Gospel Age down to its close, when all of this class are sealed, constitute the “Church of the First Born,” whose names are written in heaven. These are all one in aim, hope and suffering, and in due time will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to the great inheritance — heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised for them that love him.
No chains to man
We join Jesus’ church and have our names recorded as members by consecration and have our bounds only to Christ and no chains to man. We only can repeat the words of brother Russell:
remember that Jesus is your pattern and teacher, and neither in his words nor acts will you find any authority for binding yourselves with creeds and traditions of the elders, which all tend to make the word of God of none effect, and bring you under a bondage which will hinder your growth in grace and knowledge, and against which Paul warned you, saying, “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1.)
Already long before Russell was born there where serious students of the Word of God. In Europe several individuals in their own little communities tried to live according to the Gospels. The Gospel Faith was their leader and made them come together in their houses to worship the Only One God. Though the main churches did everything to get rid of those people who did not want to comply with the Trinity teachings, those believing in only One True God continued to spread their faith and managed to baptise new members, often in secret and in certain places in open air.
In Belgium, when it did not yet exist, the grounds here were stimulated to study the Bible and to become a follower of the real Christ, the Jewish man, by the lineage of brethren and sisters made by the Waldensians (also known variously as Waldenses, Vallenses, Valdesi or Vaudois). The Swiss ‘Brűder in Christo’ or Brethren in Christ paved the way to get more small communities of followers of Christ who considered themselves as brothers in Christ and sisters in Christ.
Wanting to be brothers and sisters in Christ
The Brethren in Christ had only one thing in mind, to be able to possess the simple truth of the Christians of the first century. Writings from their midst, leaves little doubt that those had found that Gospel Truth and confessed. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was next to other doctrines a belief they would not mind to be burned if necessary, which many of them did.
In Holland we got to see the Brethren in Christ in the 16th century, with Rudolph Martin a famous personality, dissenting with Menno Simons. The Anabaptists who became known as Mennonites came to form communities on the basis of credobaptism or Believer’s baptism. It was Melchior Hoffman who introduced the first self-sustaining Anabaptist congregation in the Netherlands, when he taught and practiced believers’ baptism in Emden in East Frisia. Before 1540, David Joris, an Anabaptist of the “inspirationist” variety, had been the most influential leader in the Netherlands. By 1544, the term Mennonite or Mennist was used in a letter to refer to the Dutch Anabaptists.
From the Low countries going overseas
Partly because of the individual efforts of many faithful believers who followed the task Jesus had given in the first century, the spreading of the Word of God went from the Low Countries overseas. it was in the beginning of the 17th century in England that the doctrine of the Brethren became known. Around this century and the next the faith fanned out in all directions. People, some of whom did not belong to the Brothers, who have been involved in the preaching of the Gospel, in writing or mouth-ling, which include the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the millennial kingdom proclaimed, were John Biddle (founder of English Unitarianism) and Brenius in the 17th century, Newton and Spalding in the 18th century, Epp and Smith in the 19th century.
Due to various circumstances, the doctrine of truth came also in several places in America, though, it must be said, no longer in such an organized form as was the case with the Brothers in Switzerland and the Low Countries. There was a kind of spiritual revival to come back again for bringing many people together in a common faith. With the idea to create a kind of reformation it was on the way to the New World and when they had arrived in America that people continued to think about their discussions on the boat voyage and began to show more interest in what really was written in the Bible. With God’s help they got more insight and succeeded quite well in bringing others to the Word of God. By evangelical work of Elias Smith, who had studied the beliefs of others and to this end was converted, a pretty big change in spiritual thinking was created. It was the other medic John Thomas who also emerged as a seeker of the truth of the Gospel who, as an immigrant from England to America, had made the promise to study the Word of God and to come to understand the true state of man after death. This stemmed from a shipwreck and the anxious moments after it, he had to go through.
Frictions between Old World teachings and New World visions
As three centuries earlier in Switzerland friction arose with the Reformers now again there was friction between those who wanted to preach their church ideas from the Old World. There was one difference. The power of the church in America was not as great as in Europe in the old days; times had changed, so-called heresy was no longer “punished with death . Dr. Thomas and other preachers who studied the bible could remain free to walk around; there was no prosecution. This tolerance has certainly contributed to the Biblestudy of John Thomas continued to attract as many listeners and the group of believers, who later became the “Brothers in Christ”could increase. For the first time after a long time there was a group arising professing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and preaching and the teaching the practice of the first Christians.
Until then different people had organized Bible study groups which attracted those interested, but it still did not grow into a group that would remain. However, the time of John Thomas appeared to be ripe. Also, several other groups, by the influence of the religious thought of the time, more or less simultaneously or subsequently aroused. Many who heard Dr. Thomas speaking and had gone in discussion with him, became convinced of the truth and started their own little groups. As such Charles Taze Russell also found the way to begin preaching on his own and getting more followers. The doctrine of the second coming of Jesus Christ was on religious reveille as in the 16th and 19th century very important. It was expected that it was coming soon also. But where John Thomas differed with many of his contemporaries, was that he drew one line with the Brothers of the 16th century, although he did not know himself, was the totally different perspective on many of the biblical teachings about important doctrines. With John Thomas the group of “Brothers in Christ” got re-born and many Bible students continued in the tradition of his teachings.
Several sorts and groups of Bible Students and catholicity
The Belgian Bible Students and the Belgian Christadelphians at the beginning of this new church-year had a further look at the development of our movement debunking the idea so many people have about the JW being the true and only Bible Students.
Dr.Thomas and Pastor Russell did not like organised church. That Russell, even his later years, still did not believe in the idea of such an organization as the JWs can be seen from Russell statement as published, one year before Russell died, in “The Bible Students Monthly”, Volume 7 (1915), Number 9, in the article entitled, “The Catholic Church — St. Peter’s Kingdom Keys”.
I am aware that several churches claim to be Catholic, each declaring itself the true Church and reprobating the others as heretical. I take the still broader catholic ground-that the word catholic means general; and that any limitation such as Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, etc., to that extent denies their catholicity.
Perhaps, therefore, I am really saying that I am more catholic than any of these brethren.
I must prove my point or be misunderstood. I hold, and few, if any, will dispute it, that the one catholic or general Church of Christ is that mentioned in the Bible-” the Church of the Firstborns, written in Heaven.” If this be admitted, my next proposition is that the Lord in Heaven records as members of His true Church all the saintly-whether Roman Catholics, Anglican Catholics, Greek Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, or Presbyterians, etc.-and none others.
Have we not here the one Church, catholic, universal, the only Church which the Bible recognizes? In the past we have been too narrow and have sup posed that God was as narrow as ourselves. It was on this account that Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists persecuted and were persecuted, each thinking itself the true Church. Are we not all getting broader conceptions of our God and of His Church? Do we not see that we were mistaken in calling the outward organization the Church of Christ instead of remembering that the Lord alone writes the names of the Church, that He alone reads the hearts, that He alone is the Judge, and that He alone has the right to blot out the names of reprobates?
Apostles against Sectarianism
St. Paul wrote against sectarianism, already manifest in his day-some saying:”I am of Paul”; others, “I am of Peter”; etc. The Apostle asks, “Is Christ divided: “(1 Cor. 1:10-13) He explains that these sectarian names signified a spirit of division that failed to recognize the true Head of the Church, His true representatives and His true members. The entire foundation of divided Christianity would disappear and the true Church of Christ be speedily manifest, if true catholicity were acknowledged.
As Russell explained, ‘his’ Bible Students Association in his day was not “an organization”. Just a few weeks after the death of Charles Taze Russell changes started taking place and people wanted to get the power of the group who were around Russell. Russell assumed no authority over the local congregations of Bible Students, except to serve as “pastor” to those congregations that had elected him to that position. He did not believe in such an organization as Rutherford later formed after Russell died. Rutherford, in fact, rejected the core teachings of Russell, and replaced them with his own teachings. Rutherford, not Russell, was the one who set up an authoritative organization. Rutherford evidently realized that the core teaching of the “ransom for all” would not be an effective doctrine to sustain an organization such as he envisioned, and thus he dropped that teaching to make it a ransom for some, but not all, and he adopted a teaching of eternal destruction for almost all who disagreed with him, something Russell never thought to do. Russell was certainly not the founder of that which he did not believe in.
Rejecting autocrat judge Rutherford
By 1928, the vast majority of the Bible Students worldwide had rejected Rutherford’s new organization and Rutherford’s new gospel. From the perspective of most of these Bible Students, they were not “leaving” Rutherford’s alleged “Jehovah’s visible organization”; they were, in effect, refusing to accept his new organization.
Dr. John Thomas, Charles Taze Russell and many other Bible Students from the first hours of the American restoration movement, actually preached against similar fear tactics that are now used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Charles Taze Russell’s message of good news of great joy that will be for all the people is almost the very opposite of the bad tidings of great woe that will be for most of the people (of eternal destruction in Armageddon) that is promulgated by the JW leadership.
Today you still may find different groups of Bible Students which have nothing to do with the Jehovah Witnesses and still keep to the older ideas of Dr. Thomas or Pastor Russell or developed further in the Truth, but having different ideas than the JWs. Several may have chosen to be grouped under a worldly organisation, but this only for practical reasons. Some of them are very local others may have a wide following like the International Bible Students Association.
Please do find additional reading:
- Two new encyclopaedic articles
- What are Brothers in Christ
- Who are the Christadelphians
- Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
- Different approach in organisation of services #1
- Different approach in organisation of services #2
- Different approach in organisation of services #3
- Looking at older articles series over Russell on the previous Bible-scholar Association
- A man from the North wanting to have control in Belgium
- Christadelphians today
- Jehovah’s Witnesses Cover Up Child Sex Abuse (thetakeaway.org)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have 8 million worshippers across the world. Most Americans meet them face-to-face on their doorsteps, as worshippers practice “field service” ministry, going door-to-door in neighborhoods throughout the country.
Growing up in Fremont, California, Candace Conti was among them. She recalls ringing doorbells and distributing Bible literature to potential worshippers.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses to kids: Pay attention in church or you might die (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
And so we see the form of terror that religion must instill in children to make them believe. It’s no less harmful because it comes in the form of a cute cartoon.
- Jehovah’s Witness Leaders Accused Of Covering Up Child Sexual Abuse (hereandnow.wbur.org)
- It’s been 13 years since the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal broke. Now, a new investigation finds that the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have instructed elders to keep cases of child sexual abuse a secret, both from law enforcement and from their own congregations.
- Clarification 04/02/15 (dailyrecord.co.uk)
In our article of 29 October “Anger at leaflets”, which reported some local views that leaflets making claims about certain beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses about rape and paedophilia were offensive to them and “contained lies”, we published one sentence stating that the leaflets contained false claims against the religion, without qualifying this as a claim by others.
- Not just a Catholic thing (meta.ath0.com)
Within the organization, the Watchtower has final say over who is considered a serial child abuser. According to a 2012 Watchtower memo: “Not every individual who has sexually abused a child in the past is considered a ‘predator.’ The (Watchtower), not the local body of elders, determines whether an individual who has sexually abused children in the past will be considered a ‘predator.’” »
- “I grew up as a nerdy kid. I was a Jehovah’s Witness. People… (humansofnewyork.com)
“I grew up as a nerdy kid. I was a Jehovah’s Witness. People were always making fun of me. Then on the first day of high school, three older kids came up and tried to rob me and my friends. My friends ran away, so the kids knocked me to the ground and beat me badly. On that day I decided that being nerdy wasn’t working for me. I realized that being smart and intelligent wasn’t going to protect me. So I decided to stop being me. I started engaging in things, hanging around guns, stuff that I knew was wrong. I felt like the only way to survive was to not isolate myself from the pack.”
- Five Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested in Malawi for refusing give blood to terminally ill child (nyasatimes.com)
- In Azerbaijan, Jehovah’s Witnesses can face up to five years in prison for distributing religious literature (panorama.am)
A Judge in the Azerbaijani capital Baku ordered two female Jehovah’s Witnesses to be held for three months in the National Security Ministry secret police investigation prison, according to the decisions seen by Forum 18 News Service. Irina Zakharchenko and Valida Jabrayilova face up to five years’ imprisonment if convicted of offering religious literature without state permission.
- Religious Couple Returns $2,631 to Burger King Because “Jehovah Sees Everything” (patheos.com)
Here’s a question for you: If you’re honest because you believe God is watching you, are you really an ethical person?