Ignorant (but not insulting) question about Jehovah's Witnesses

This question comes only out of ignorance of having never known a J.W. or even had someone come to the door. P.S., I am not looking to be prosletyzed, by the way, I’m Catholic and we get enough of that already :slight_smile:

The question is, where does the JW “church” fit in among the broad classifactions of religions, i.e. Protestant? What do they consider themselves? What are they considered to be by other religious scholars?

Jehovah Witness are not Christian in the proper sense. They are often lumped into Protestand but clearly deviate so much from mainstream Protestant groups that they can best be regarded as a “CULT” of Christianity. However since “CULT” is a negative word most people are hesitant to use it.

That would be the same as saying neither Mormans nor Christian Scientists are Protestant either.

These three Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Mormans are often considered the three great cults.

For instance the Mormans add addtional scripture (like the book of Morman).

But the JW are not Protestand, Catholic or Orthadox, so you would have to define a 4th area of Christianity or simply exlude them from Christian religions, which a lot of scholors due.

Just because one accepts he divinity of Jesus doesn’t make that regligion Christian.

I can’t answer most of your questions, but having toyed with a JW for some period of time, I think I can tell you some of what they think about themselves.

They prefer a very literal interpretation of the Bible. This is merely an observation, but my “indoctrination” focused almost entirely on Genesis–I probably didn’t get very far into it. Here’s most of what I learned, and since most of it was learned on hung-over Saturday mornings (on one occasion nude, under the covers, on a fold-out couch, with a very nude and confused young woman–it’s those moments for which I live), I cannot vouch for its complete accuracy.

  • The entire Universe is created specifically for humankind. Man’s mission is to “subdue the Earth” for our own purposes of, um, enlightenment. The 99.999… percent of the rest of the Universe is window dressing or something.

  • Humankind bears the mark of sin, first for the indiscretions of Adam and Eve, and later because Jesus died for our sins (no, I can’t figure that out either). Only those who overtly atone will be invited to God’s Kingdom.

  • One must consciously and willingly accept Jesus. Therefore, those ignorant of the word of God are condemned to… nonexistence, I think, as is anyone who disagrees with their particular script. I never got a lot of fire and brimstone out of the fellow I spoke with.

If I were to categorize the JW, I would put it under Protestantism, somewhere close to Baptism and other “Born Again” faiths. The difference seems to be largely that of specific doctrine. They’re on God’s team, and everyone else is either an adversary or a potential convert.

All I know is that they believe that the 144,000 saved is very literal. The 144,000 ‘most Christian’ people will be saved at JD.

Sofa King, you did not get too far in. You got only the bits designed to induce folks to get comfortable. JW’s are nowhere near the Baptists, theologically. Markxxx gets it closer.

In other times, Christians would have referred to Mormonism, CS and JW as “Heresies,” but so many heresies have since become accepted churches it’s no longer styled. Although it’s become usual to call anything not Catholic or Orthodox as “protestant”, still JWs are way out of the theological core of fundamentalism, pentecontalism, or mainstream evangelical protestantism. The average theologically-literate Evangelical Protestant would react to being lumped together with JWs in a way similar to how a Reform Jew would react to being lumped together with Christians.

The key elements in JW doctrine that diverge from mainstream Christianity are:

(a) they deny the Trinity and, of course, the deity of Jesus; the man, Jesus, is said by them to have been “an Angel” (Michael, apparently)

(b) they do not believe in the persistence of the immortal soul; according to JW doctrine it just plain and simply goes away until God miraculously re-instates it on Judgement Day (maybe He stores it in a compressed pkZip archive on removable media)

© their “Hell” after Judgement, for the wicked, is simply to be killed again, this time for good: incinerated into just plain nonexistence

(d) Only 144K outstanding “martyrs” will “go to heaven” with Jesus; as for the rest…

(e) The rest of “the righteous” will live forever physically (i.e. breathing, eating, going to the toilet)on this Planet Earth/Terra/Sol-III, which will be miraculously restored to pristine condition and under the government of Jesus and the 144K saints will be so well managed it will be able to feed and house all forever.


JR has got it.

I’ve had some dealings with a few different JW. Nice bunch, really. Good debaters so long as you stuck to philosophical arguments.

Everything that I know has been covered well: literal interpretation, absence of hell as eternal punishment, etc. They don’t screw around in their bibles, either. No more “thee” and such, they’ve replaced it with the vernacular. Also, of course, they call God by name. and the whole thing is more cross-referenced than (tautological? ;)) than a dictionary.

I’ve got quite a few Watchtower books around if you’ve got any specific questions. They make for interesting reading.

My goodness, don’t tell Jodi that!