Talk:Jehovah's Witnesses/Archive 5

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Origins of JW's

I am adding the comment that JW's view themselves as having begun with Abel, who was the first human to die for His faithfulness to Jehovah. Comments? george m

Would that definition also include every other Christian of every stripe who died for their faithfulness to God? Wesley 21:17, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Honestly, I don't know if I really like this comments inclusion, if it is true (a basic search of watchtower library turned up nothing), it is certainly not a main or even well known idea. -- elykyllek 23:57, Oct 10, 2004 (UTC)

Actually, there are many references to this idea in publications of the WTB&TS. For example, the book "Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom" states:

At Hebrews 11:4, Paul identifies Abel as the first witness of Jehovah, saying: "By faith Abel offered God a sacrifice of greater worth than Cain, through which faith he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness respecting his gifts; and through it he, although he died, yet speaks." In what way did Abel serve as a witness for Jehovah? The answer centers around why Abel's sacrifice was of "greater worth" than Cain's. - (New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1993: 13)
For another reference, see “Watchtower”, September 1st, 1995, page 9, paragraph 5. --DannyMuse 05:47, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Ignoring for the moment that in both those references it doesn't explicitly say that JWs view themselves as having begun with Abel, we still must consider if this is a main doctrine and should be included, or a very obscure and irrelavant one that should not. We do not for example include information anywhere on wikipedia about the Chieftain spoken of in Ezekiel (March 1st Watchtower 1999 page 13 paragraph 13), and nor should we, so we must decide on top of whether or not the information is accurate, also whether or not it is relevant. -- elykyllek 16:43, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)
I definitely don't know enough to say whether JWs generally view themselves as having begun with Abel, but I strongly agree with Elykyllek that that should be the main test of whether to include that in the article. Otherwise, it would need to be either deleted, or *possibly* included as something believed by (whomever), if that's worth noting. Wesley 03:46, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yup. Tom - Talk 04:35, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
RESPONSE: I would respectfully ask those that are unsure about this point to consider a few things:
The "Proclaimers" book (published by the WTB&TS) which I referenced above states: "At Hebrews 11:4, Paul identifies Abel as the first witness of Jehovah."
It would be relevant to note the following comment regarding the purpose of this volume as stated by its publishers in its foreword:
"The editors of this volume have endeavored to ... present a history of a people who intensely believe and preach what the Bible says."
The above quote regarding Abel is found on page 13 of the book under the subheading: “Early Witnesses of Jehovah.” You may disagree with whether or not this is what the scriptures mean, but it is clear that this book published by the WTB&TS explicitly states the JW belief that "Abel [is] the first witness of Jehovah."
    • Perhaps some of the current confusion comes from the expression, "having begun with Abel" which was used at the outset of this section. JW's do NOT believe that Abel started their religion. Rather they believe that Jehovah set forth through the scriptures how he is to be worshipped. Abel just happened to be the first faithful example. This is why Paul started his discourse about faithful ones (Hebrews 11) by referring to him. There, Paul describes a number of faithful men and women from pre-Christian times as “a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). His listing begins with Abel and ends with “Samuel and the [other] prophets. (Heb. 11:32).
    • Indeed, the very name Jehovah's Witnesses focuses on how they view their relationship to God. The Bible is filled with many accounts of faithful servants of God as already noted. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are following in the course set out by these faithful witnesses of Jehovah, a course which began with Abel and extends to the present.
    • While JW's are familiar with the modern history of their organization, they view things more in terms of those that serve and worship Jehovah and those that do not. This viewpoint spans the totality of human history. It is this perspective which is recorded in the Bible.
    • Finally, here are some suggestions to help any who are interested in locating these and similar references in the publications of the WTB&TS. They are relatively easy to research. You might try looking in the Index 1986-2003 under:
    • Abel, Pre-Christian Witnesses; or,
    • Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pre-Christian Witnesses; or,
    • Look up the references to Hebrews 11:4, there are many!

So, no, this certainly is not an obscure idea and it most definitely is relevant. It is one which any dedicated and baptized Witness of Jehovah would be well acquainted.--DannyMuse 06:07, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Here's a relevant quote from the Watchtower website from the on-line article "Jehovah's Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?" (paragraph 9):
  • "Jehovah God had witnesses on earth during the thousands of years before Jesus was born." - [1]
This is immediately followed by a reference to Hebrews 11. --DannyMuse 16:31, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Creation of Archive #3

As we were getting warning messages regarding the size of this discussion page I moved all discussion threads which were older than one month and/or undated to a new archive:

However, I did leave comments on the "Nontrinitarian" subject as it still seems to be a hot topic. --DannyMuse 05:47, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

NPOV again

The NPOV header was removed tonight by Summer Song. There was no explanation. As far as I can tell, most of the editors here are working hard at coming to a WP that is fair, accurate and balanced. That being said, there are still quite a few unresolved issues. Is everyone else settled on the page and I just missed it? Comments please. --DannyMuse 06:17, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I would say leaving it in is not a bad idea, though I removed it some time back when we all agreed about "non-trinitarian Christian". We are obviously not finished. My suggestions above and your responses are still the direction to go, I think. The great WP:JW struggle has only barely begun. Believe me, we will all know when it is finished. And the article will be much better then. It is great to work with a dedicated Wikipedian like you. Tom - Talk 20:19, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think it is more tidy if the links are under the headlines the way I now have placed them. The links are not needed two times then. Then I put them away from the end of the article.

_ Summer Song

Since Mediation is no longer needed and there seems to be no serious editing on the article (it has improved dramatically) I am going to remove the "NPOV" msg. george m

PS, Good work Danny Muse. The look of the article is much improved.

recent history + religion vs. denomination

I have reintroduced the NPOV tag.

Reasons 1) denomination was changed into religion. Usually denomination designates subgroups within one religion. (See Religious denomination.) Now we have a difficult question: is JW a subgroup within Christianity? JWs regard all other Christian groups as groups that have fallen away from the true Christian faith. And the other way round quite a number of critics claim that it is the JWs who fell away from true Christianity. This phenomenon can also be observed elsewhere, e.g. within Islam. Ahmadiyya is considered to have fallen away from true Islam by a lot of non-Ahmadiyya-Muslims. Personally, as a non-JW (Seventh-Day-Adventist) I see big differences between what I consider true Christianity and JW beliefs, but I would still say that an outside observer who is not involved in our little wars about what true Christianity is and what isn't, would certainly come to the conclusion that there are still quite a lot of similarities in what these groups believe, that both belong to Christianity. So 'religion' is not a good description for JW.

Unless of course, one would contend that JWs are not Christians. This position was taken here a number of times, but as far as I remember, JWs did not like that description. So how comes that we now have the demand that JWs should be considered a religion of their own.

Besides: the word "association" from the very first paragraph is linked to "religious denomination". This has been the case for some time. I did not write that, and it was unchallenged. Why then is it not accepted to write 'denomination' in the text itself?

2) Talking about "recent history" when talking about 130 years is not correct, not even in comparison to 6000 claimed years of history. An example: German history can be traced back at least 1300 years. But recent German history would be German history since, say, 1990. One might perhaps talk about "modern" history. But then I would still contend that this is not a NPOV. JWs claim that their religion is identical to the religion of the early church. They also claim that very early, true Christianity disappeared in the great falling away from the truth. They also claim that the true Gospel was rediscovered in the 1870s in the group around Charles Taze Russel. That is quite a lot of claims. What can be easily historically verified is the group around Russel and the developments from there. One can also state that JWs claim that the early church and JWs were identical. Allmost all non-JW would object to this claim. So when we talk about a NPOV we could only say that a) they believe that Abel was the first witness (although this is not a main point in JW teaching, and I wonder how this minor fact made it into the introduction.) b) that they claim/see/think that they have identical beliefs as the early church, that then there was a big falling away c) that in the 1870s true Christianity was rediscovered and that JW call this "recent history of God's people" in comparison to the ancient history of God's people, that ended when true Christianity disappeared from this planet. I would not object to an introduction along this lines. But just stating that "The recent history of this religion begins in the late 19th Century in the United States." is JW slang and certainly not NPOV.

Kind regards,

Heiko Heiko Evermann 11:18, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Very well stated, Heiko. As a Latter-day Saint, I can identify with the sentiments among JW's that lead them to speak in the terms they do. If {Latter Day Saint Movement|Latter Day Saints]] had the nerve (or, in our manner of thinking, the bad manners) of the JWs, we would also speak in such terms. We would say we are Christians and all the rest are "nominal" Christians. We would say that, since after all we are a "restoration" (complete with angelic minstrations, visions, and apostles) of the "primitive" church, our history since 1830 is our "recent" history. But we see that such positioning is ludicrous. We (unfortunately) do not own the word "Christian". And Peter and Paul did not call themselves "Latter Day Saints" (just saints). So it is for the JWs. Abel, Moses, Isaiah, and Judas did not call themselves JWs. The JW movement (or whatever) started with Charles Russell. This article needs major discussion as I called for above, and the NPOV notice should stay up (though I won't be adamant on that point) until all parties are agreed. p.s. Let me clarify that in our LDS hearts we don't actually think all the others are not Christians; to us the term Christian is big and inclusive of all who honor, accept, and follow Christ. Tom - Talk 16:04, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Anonymity-I haven't been on Wikipedia for a long time and I must say I was just shocked by all the fighting and bickering that went on. This is a good subheading to put this on, because it talks about the core issue that people have against the Witnesses. Do not worry, however, I am not talking to anyone inparticular. Allow me, if you will, to offer my response to this. Has anyone asked themselves why Jehovah's Witnesses make what you call "ludicrous" claims? These claims that you hear and instantly accuse us of being arrogant, these claims have reason and study behind them. How do you honestly imagine our meetings to be? Do you think there is a man up there whipping the crowd into a frenzy? Saying, "You are better than them! You are superior!" Why do you hear men say good things about themselves and believe with haste that they are saying bad things about you? If a child says he can run faster than his entire class, do you condemn him for calling every other child in his class slow? No, for he did not say they were slow. But rather, if you do not believe him, then you should put him to the test. And if he actually does run fast, will you then believe that someone can tell a positive self-truth without being pompous? Likewise, you say that we are arrogant. Put us, then, to the test when we come to your doors. And if we prove ourselves to be truthful, not lacking the answers you demand, will you then believe that we are likewise not arrogant? But rarely does anyone do this. No, but rather, you close your doors with a dismissive, "I'm not interested." And you think to yourself that we are arrogant for coming to your door though we could not even utter a greeting to you. And to yourselves you talk about us and say that we are self-righteous because we claim to be the only ones. And you praise yourselves because you say out loud that you love all Christians despite what name they put on the sign in front of their Church. But why do you have your name on your sign if you love their name on their sign? We are not affraid to preach to you even if you will hate us for what we preach. And if you allow your hearts to be open, not closed because you merely think it is open, then we will be able to teach you why it is we believe what we believe. Faith is not what you believe, it is why you believe it. Why, then, do you question our faith when you do not know why we believe it? It has been seen that you know what we believe, but it is also seen that you do not know why. Silence yourselves, then, before you condemn us for what you condemn us for. Because what you say that we do, you are doing to us. It is your command to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and yet you do not love us. But rather than saying that you have broken the command, you rather say that we are not your neighbor and that you have no obligation to love us. Stop accusing others so that you yourselves do not have to be accused. For the reward you will receive is the reward you give. Soon those you accused will be rewarded when you yourselves will be accused. If you truly love your neighbor, then you will preach to your neighbor when it is your gift to preach. But also you will keep silent when it is your gift to keep silent.

Anonymity, thank you so much for your comments here. Your contributions are desperately needed here. Perhaps you weren't aware (maybe because it wasn't evident in all the bickering), that at Wikipedia wikilove ought to prevail. I for one appreciate the faith of JWs who would die for their ideals. And I for one am troubled by any who would assign impurity to the pure in heart. The Master said that all men might know "ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another". I apologize for weakness in my words above. It was my intent to say that I can identify with the sentiments among JWs that lead them to speak as they do. I got carried away into fighting words that I shouldn't have used as I tried to also express that I thought such sentiments weren't always wise to carry to their hyperbolic extreme in the company of others. But for the purposes of Wikipedia, it is important that we lay all these sentiments on the table so that we may characterize them fairly in our articles on JWs. Again, I am so glad you are here, because I know that if we work together in love, we will succeed in capturing the heart of JWs here in this article in a way that respects the anti-bias policy of the Wikipedia. I hope you will persist with us until we achieve a success. I know that there are other editors besides myself who will assist along the way, and that when we finish the article will be more satisfying and useful to all. Tom - Talk 16:06, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Anonymity, it's clear that you are responding to much more than what has been said here on wikipedia, and that you are upset at the way JW's are treated by non-JW Christians. No doubt we all fall short, and no denomination or religion is without its share of sinners. I do wonder though, whether you (and Tom) realize how incredibly offensive teaching about a Great Apostasy is, to suggest that there were essentially no real Christians and no real Church for over 1,500 years of church history. Sure there are some dark spots in that time span, but what does that teaching say about all the holy men and women of God during that time? And what does it say about God, that he would allow over 1,500 years to pass before restoring his church through a Joseph Smith or a Charles Russell? If Smith was visited by angels, what about all the saints who were visited by angels down through the centuries before him? Wesley 16:10, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Wesley, I think coming to an understanding on this is important to our work here. And I think it is important that you get a sincere answer from Anonymity as well as the answer I am giving you here. Now for my answer. I will try to go sentence by sentence and parallel your thoughts, and I will try to speak for my Mormon brethren as well as myself: Tom - Talk
  • I believe Mormons are sensitive to how offensive it is to teach about a Great Apostasy; I think we finally acknowledged that in our Mormonism and Christianity struggle by making it clear in the article that Joseph Smith dropped the first bombshell in the "uneasy relationship". Tom - Talk
  • Mormons don't explicitly suggest or assert that there were no real Christians for over 1,500 years, though in our hearts and attitudes, yes, we do despise the saints of all those years; we don't generally study Perpetua, Saint Augustine, Saint Francis of Assisi, Wesley, Luther, Calvin, etc., though we do pay some of them, whom we call "reformers" homage. Tom - Talk
  • We assert there was no real Church, because we stake high importance on church leaders who are guided by heavenly revelation and exercise holy priesthood keys, and we picture the "Great Apostasy" as devoid of these. Tom - Talk
  • While our Great Apostasy teaching explicitly speaks of multitudes of holy men and women of God during that time, we admittedly fail to personally appreciate them sufficiently because of the (inordinate?) value we place on institutional ecclesiastical legitimacy; for this I sincerely request your forgiveness. Tom - Talk
  • If our teaching of a Great Apostasy is understood to imply that 1,500 years of humans were not subject to salvation, then it says terrible things about God. This is the most important issue of all you raised. And it is especially important here than I seek carefully to speak honestly for my Mormon brethren. The typical Mormon understanding/teaching is that all humans are children of God. All humans are susceptible to light and inspiration through the conscience ("Light of Christ"), Holy Spirit (we believe the establishment of USA, invention of printing, Bible translation efforts, etc. were inspired), visions, dreams, visitations, etc. to the degree they seek the Father. In this personal sense the Great Apostasy may or may not have occurred for any individual or family, though none had the blessings of "ecclesiastical legitimacy" (True Church). We generally teach and believe (surprise) that personal eternal salvation is irrespective of True Church being present; it depends solely on one's personal continual receptivity and submission to light and truth. So what does our teaching of 1,500 years of No True Church say? Nothing about God; volumes about institutional humanity. It says institutional humanity could not support True Church until printing press, Bible publication, and United States freedoms came along. At least I think this is the internal model that we generally use. We are quite careful to expressly say the Great Apostasy does not imply no salvation and no God for 1,500 years. Tom - Talk
  • Mormons don't generally think about all the saints who were visited by angels down through the centuries. I guess we are guilty of partisan thinking and tunnel vision. We might say, "What angels? When?" I am afraid that the ministration of angels during the Great Apostasy just doesn't fit our popular mental model. But if I, Tom, refer back to core Mormonism (scriptures) rather than general Mormonism (what gets to the end of the row, to use a farmer's expression), I come up with a need to adjust my thinking and say that I rejoice with all those saints in the mercies of Heaven, and I view myself as a part of a larger community of disciples of Christ who are in turn a part of a global community of children of God who are mostly doing their best to make it safely through this life and into the Next. And I think my Mormon brethren might generally agree with me on that thought. Tom - Talk

Tom - Talk 17:06, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thank you, Tom, for your thoughtful response. Perhaps part of our 'crossed communications' is because in Orthodoxy, no one is saved outside the Church. (one Body of Christ... one true Vine... etc.) This is not to say that no one without a man-given "Orthodox" label might not be saved, for the final judgment is in God's hands alone; but to hear whoever say that there was no valid Church for all those centuries seems at least on the brink of saying there was no salvation either. So thank you for clarifying that. Wesley
I am very glad that we are clear on this. It is a fundamentally true and important difference that hinders understanding. Tom - Talk 19:07, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I wonder if Anonymity or some other Jehovah's Witness would elaborate on whether their church's teaching on that interlude between the first Apostasy and Russell's Bible studies is similar or different to what Tom just described? Wesley
Not that it matters greatly to this discussion, but the Orthodox church's "internal" history is full of stories of angelic visitations and miracles of many kinds, all through the ages. There is an old account of the archangel Michael diverting a river to spare a church building from flooding, for example; I think the church was in Collossae. Some people in my parish recently returned from visiting a monastery where the entire incorrupt body of a 20th century saint is still lying in state in the monastery church's nave (main worship area), without decay. Another in the 20th century is reported to have turned away hurricanes that threatened a community of believers on an island in the Philippines. I heard this from a priest who said he heard it from an eyewitness, so it's admittedly hearsay, but certainly not some 5th century legend. I know others who have seen this saint's vestments, kept in a church here in the U.S., and smelled the smell of incense and myrrh they still exude. All this is not because of any special virtue possessed exclusively by the Orthodox; far from it! Rather, God's grace still abides in the Church He founded nearly 2,000 years ago; that same Church is still the Body of Christ. Also, the bishops consistently teach that no one should become a Christian because of any such miracle or visitation, that the only miracle worth becoming a Christian over is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wesley 03:23, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
This is an important issue. 20 years ago on my mission, reports of this type were very unsettling to me, so I figure they are to most Mormons. And from your statement here, I gather similar reports of miracles from Hindus, Jews, or Buddhists would be unsettling to you and your brethren. This morning in my family devotional, we read "maketh his rain to fall on the just and the unjust". Likewise, I am now comfortable that the Father also maketh his miracles to blossom on the Jew and Gentile alike. "Of a truth I percieve that God is no respecter of persons. But of ever nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him. For years I have been ruminating on a statement of Joseph Smith's that "Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views and boundless in His mercies than we are willing to believe or to recieve" and our Lord's "they that are not against us are in our favor." I now believe that this is core truth of life, though my earlier sentiments were probably more typically Mormon (we are all naturally partisan). So I would say you would be perfectly justified to call a Mormon in error for despising the saints of Orthodox history, as would I be justified to call my brethren in error for mocking the sincere sacrifices of the JW's. Tom - Talk 19:07, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hi Anonymity,

first of all, thanks a lot for your long posting. "Why do you hear men say good things about themselves and believe with haste that they are saying bad things about you?" Well, JWs explicitly DO say things about my church that I consider to be bad things. I will give You one example: take a look at the last page of the paradise-book. It explicitly states (Paragraph 14) "If you want to be blessed with eternal life, you must belong to Jehovah's organization and do his will". (translated from the German edition).

"Has anyone asked themselves why Jehovah's Witnesses make what you call "ludicrous" claims? " I think that these claims come from a wrong interpretation of the Bible.

"How do you honestly imagine our meetings to be? Do you think there is a man up there whipping the crowd into a frenzy? " Nobody said so.

"Put us, then, to the test when we come to your doors. And if we prove ourselves to be truthful, not lacking the answers you demand, will you then believe that we are likewise not arrogant? But rarely does anyone do this. " Well, I did. For a non-JW I think I can say that I know your teachings very well. So far my major questions have not been answered. I have tried several times to get Bible-based answers from JWs about these questions, but they did not give me these answers. These questions keep nagging me for years and I would really appreciate your help to get these questions answered, preferably in private E-Mail. Just write me your address on my wiki user page for example and we can talk about it.

"And to yourselves you talk about us and say that we are self-righteous because we claim to be the only ones." I would not object to that if I came to the conclusion that you were right. But after a thorough investigation of your teachings I came to the conclusion that you are not. As far as wikipedia is concerned, one thing that is missing in the article is that you indeed claim to be the only ones. (All others are Babylon the great.) I think that this is a major point. I think that this should be stated openly and matter-of-factly. It should be stated, because it is a major difference to quite a number of other churches who differ in minor aspects but accept each other as true Christians. It should be stated matter of factly, that JWs do not regard other Christians as true Christians and it should also be stated that quite a number of the other Christians think likewise about JWs. In fact this is such a major point that this could already be stated in the introduction.

"And if you allow your hearts to be open, not closed because you merely think it is open, then we will be able to teach you why it is we believe what we believe. Faith is not what you believe, it is why you believe it." Feel free to do so.

"Why, then, do you question our faith when you do not know why we believe it?" As I said, I do know it quite well.

"It has been seen that you know what we believe, but it is also seen that you do not know why." I happen to know a lot about the background of your teaching. As I said, my conclusions differ from yours and I would really like to discuss this with you. But that is another story. Here the question is about whether or not the wiki article about your faith and your organisation is NPOV, and my opinion is that it isn't.

1) I do not agree that JWs are a religion of their own. To me they are one of the many Christian denominations, and one that dismisses all other Christian denominations as groups that fell away from the truth. 2) I do not agree with their (from my perspective) conquest of the early church's history as their (and not our) history.

That is why I object to the phrase "The recent history of this religion begins in the late 19th Century in the United States." We can discuss about how it will be changed, but I want to see that changed. This cannot remain without a qualifier that this is the JW point of view. And working on the article, I would also see their belief included that they are the only true Christians today. I disagree with this point, but I have no problems seeing that stated matter-of-factly in the article. Anyone who reads the article to learn about a NPOV about JWs should find out that you and we have fundamentally different opinions about what true Christianity is.

Here is a proposal, to have a start: Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) are an international association (link to denomination) of believers known worldwide for their zealous proselytizing work. They see themselves as Christians, but they believe that some time after the early church, the church departed from the original faith in major points ( Great Apostasy ). So they prefer to call themselves Jehovah's witnesses, a name based on a passage from Isaiah 43:10, which reads, "'YOU are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah ..." (NWT) ("Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah . . ." - ASV) in order not to be confused with (other) Christian denominations. They believe that true Christianity was rediscovered in the 1870s by a group around Charles Taze Russel and that in 1914 (or was that 1919?) Jesus chose this group to lead the end time church and thus all (other) Christian groups are not accepted by Jehovah God. Based on Jesus' command to teach and make desciples (see Matthew 28:19,20) they see it as their mission to spread (what they believe to be) the original faith in Jehovah God, which started with Abel (who died as the first martyr) and continued throughout history (See Hebrews 11:4 and 12:1.) with the exception of the period of the Great Apostasy.

Other Christians however, see several major teachings of JWs as departure of true Christianity and so relationships between JWs and non-JWs have a tendency to be difficult.

Would something along these lines be acceptable to everyone? I have tried to incorporate

  • the mutual claims about true Christianiy
  • Mt 28 as the foundation behind the missionary work
  • Abel as the first martyr
  • the Great Apostasy

And I have tried to state it as their point of view, which to me is totally acceptable, even when I disagree with them. But things that are not generally accepted (such as "recent history of this religion") must be qualified as "they think" etc. to be NPOV.

Kind regards

Heiko Evermann 21:51, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

george m-"But things that are not generally accepted (such as "recent history of this religion") must be qualified as "they think" etc. to be NPOV." - I agree.
I would like to tweak your submission if I may:
Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) are an international association (link to denomination) of believers known worldwide for their zealous proselytizing work. They see themselves as Christians, but they believe that some time after the early church, the church departed from the original faith in major points ( Great Apostasy ). So they prefer to call themselves Jehovah's witnesses, a name based on a passage from Isaiah 43:10, which reads, "'YOU are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah ..." (NWT) ("Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah . . ." - ASV) in order not to be confused with (other) Christian denominations. They believe that true Christianity began to be rediscovered in the 1870s by a group around Charles Taze Russel and that in 1914 (or was that 1919?) Jesus chose this group to lead the end time church and thus all (other) Christian groups have rejected Jehovah God. Based on Jesus' command to teach and make desciples (see Matthew 28:19,20) they see it as their mission to spread what they believe to be the original faith in Jehovah God, which started with Abel, (who died as the first martyr See Hebrews 11:4 and 12:1) was restored by Jesus and continued throughout history, with elements being presenrved throughout the period of the Great Apostasy.
Some other input is probably needed, but I like it like this.
I think this is a good direction overall. Would it be fair and accurate to change "early church" to "first apostles", just to be less vague? This would match what is said in the JW section of Great Apostasy. Also, I would be interested to see later in the article something about how 'elements [were] preserved through the period of the Great Apostasy."
george m- let's look at it:

Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) are an international association (link to denomination) of believers known worldwide for their zealous proselytizing work. They see themselves as Christians, but they believe that some time after the death of the last apostle the church departed from the original faith in major points ( Great Apostasy ). So they prefer to call themselves Jehovah's witnesses, a name based on a passage from Isaiah 43:10, which reads, "'YOU are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah ..." (NWT) ("Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah . . ." - ASV) in order not to be confused with (other) Christian denominations. They believe that true Christianity began to be rediscovered in the 1870s by a group around Charles Taze Russel and that in 1919 Jesus chose this group to to represent his government and thus all (other) Christian groups have rejected Jehovah God. Based on Jesus' command to teach and make desciples (see Matthew 28:19,20) they see it as their mission to spread what they believe to be the original faith in Jehovah God, which started with Abel, (who died as the first martyr See Hebrews 11:4 and 12:1) was restored by Jesus and has continued throughout history, with elements being preserved throughout the period of the Great Apostasy as well.

I think this is a little better, and more in the article about 'elements [were] preserved through the period of the Great Apostasy," later as well some some other points.
I can't understand why you want to emphasis Great Apostacy in this article, and I can't accept it. Besides, JW don't use the word "Great Apostacy". Rantaro 08:26, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The reason is this: JWs put a lot of emphasis on the teaching that Jehovah God sees all other religious groups together are "Babylon the great". This is valid for all centuries apart from the church at the time of the apostles and apart from the bible study group started by Charles Taze Russel, that later became Jehovah's witnesses. If "great apostacy" is not so frequently used among JWs, would you prefer mentioning Babylon the great? Maybe that would be clearer. The fact that all other religious groups are rejected by JWs is so important in the Watchtower magazine, that it should somehow be mentioned even in the introduction. There is only one thing that really needs clarification:what was preserved in the time of the apostasy. This might be done in the main article below. I think I like the introduction the way it is. If there are no further propolals, I will change it tomorros. Heiko Evermann 22:02, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I am listing two times the Watchtower uses the phrase "great apostasy". They are fairly recent. As you can see, while we have not explored this idea in depth in the last few years, it is a concept we have dealt with quite a bit in the past and should be at least somewhat familiar with as Jehovah's witnesses. - george m

w00 5/1 p. 9 Firmly Uphold Godly Teaching par. 8

"In fulfillment of his words, after the death of the apostles, a "great apostasy" led to the development of Christendom."

w00 10/15 p. 25 Working in the ?Field??Before the Harvest

"Matthew reports that they asked: 'Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.' In response, Jesus interpreted the parable, foretelling a 'great apostasy' that would develop among his professed disciples. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-38, 43)"

I think that

Anonymity-I wanted to see how the discussion developed before I responded to any comments. As there were three members who directly brought up my user name, I will directly respond to them:

TO: Tom- I appreciate your levity. If you are serious in your saying that I am important to this article, then perhaps you will heed my advice. Enable to make this article unbiased, all must stop their insistence that everything a JW says is POV and everything anyone else says is NPOV. I will not blame you if you disagree, but religion is not a topic akin to, say, Sports. With many subjects of the world, there is indeed a plausible NPOV. But God is above the world, and scriptures such as Romans 6:16 illustrate God's strict principle that there is no neutral ground when it comes to serving him and worshiping him. Either you are righteous or you are unrighteous. Ergo, an NPOV can only exist for a religion if that religion is not blessed and guided by God. To insist, then, that there is an NPOV for any religion is to say that such a religion is merely what a group of people believe and not the truth about a supreme being. Since JW's insist, however, that our faith is not just a man-made fairytale, implying that would be a POV because there is a group of people (us) that possess an opposing POV. Do you see the paradox? NPOV does not exist for this issue. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that there is no NPOV when it comes to describing how God interacts with humans because God has given us scriptures to know that agnosticism is as detestible to him as false religion. So to push for an NPOV is just as pushing a POV onto us. There are only two sides to religion, belief and disbelief. Both are POV. I am actually very sorry, I do not wish you to view this negatively. But simply put, no religious article in this entire Wikipedia is actually NPOV because all zealous religious members believe their creed is true and there is no "compromise" between belief and disbelief. "Compromise" is a nasty word when it comes to faith, it means you have a little less of it than you did before.

Dear Anonymity, I do not remember anyone who claimed that everything JWs say is POV and everything critics of JWs say is NPOV. The truth is much simpler. Everything JWs say is POV and everything the critics say also is POV. Only when it comes to undisputed facts, things can become NPOV. Concerning your doctrine, it is a fact that you teach certain things. So one can write "JWs teach xy" and it is NPOV, even if I disagree with your teaching. As there is a number of things where I disagree with your teachings (because I read my Bible and came to different conclusions), there are certain things that I do not want the articles about JWs in the wikipedia to be presented as facts. In those cases I will be very diligent and persistent to have these things straightened out. Kind regards Heiko Evermann 19:41, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thank you very much again for sticking with this. It may take longer than you think. But we can do this, and we need to energy and input. What I'd like to do, if it doesn't come across as being short with you, is ask you to take a few minutes and read carefully our document on neutrality. Also read the tutorial referred to at the top of that article. But focus especially on the main document. I think you will find it liberating and give you some ideas for how to approach this. Let me know when you have had a while to ponder the implications for our present discussion. Tom - Talk 19:19, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

TO: Wesley- You are a man of hasty conclusions, which in many circumstances is a great thing. It can be, however, a form of hypocritical presumptuousness when your hasty conclusion is that of what others feel. You mentioned that I was angry at something outside Wikipedia; to that I am refering. I wrote that paragraph to present the view nobody had yet presented. This discussion page has delt primarily with Jehovah's Witnesses from the perspective of nonbelievers. I presented a mirrored view, which I was led to believe is the point of discussion: to explore all sides. I have no anger towards anyone of you or anyone at the door I seek to preach to. I do not know any of you nor any one at the door I seek to preach to. It is silly, even to be angry with people you do not know. What is encouraging, though, about your comment, is that you interpreted my mirror-view as a negative. Perhaps you are now one step closer to seeing things from eyes not your own. I have read what you have written, and I have noticed that you solely attack what you disagree with rather than advocate what you believe in. Do you not know? You cannot prove that YOUR religion is correct simply by proving that another's religion is not. You must dedicate your obviously fast and analytical mind to supporting your own faith. Why do you spend so much time here in the Jehovah's Witnesses discussion page? Does it make you feel good to attempt to make a JW not feel good? Do you believe it is your place and right to do so? That is not wikilove or just plain love. That is bitterness. Please, do not be insulted by this, and I know how ridiculous that may sound. I do not know you, you may even be an eight-year-old child from Peru with a very vivid imagination and accurate english dictionary. I have no authority over you, and that is what we both want. Please, however, do not try to interpret my emotions from simple text that I formated to sound pointed and powerful. I'm asking you as a human being, don't form opinions about people foreign to your familiarity. As regards your question about delayed divinity, this is not the place to discuss is, ironically. Jehovah's Witness protocol is not to argue dogma over a chat-room (and that is what this is to a very similar extent). If you give me your home address I can send word to a Congregation near to you who will send Witnesses over to answer your curiosities. The internet is not a trustworthy place for such a personal subject as faith. I really do hope you consider it, I would love to know that the interest you've shown in Jehovah's Witnesses is being satisfied in person. This discussion page only serves to raise more and more questions. Just reply with a yes or something and we can work out a secure way to transmit contact information.

Anonymity, I apologize if I seemed to call you angry; I should not presume to know what your emotions are, beyond what you tell me, especially when this medium provides no body language or voice inflection, etc. I believe however that the word I used was "upset," if you'll forgive my nitpicking. If I seem terribly 'negative' and not advocating my own religion here, it is because I am trying to limit my discussion to the current article. Over the years, I have worked on a number of articles from a more 'positive' direction (to borrow your terminology), including Eastern Orthodoxy, Trinity, Resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. Not everything can or should be said in every article. Wesley \
What you and I must both acknowledge though, is that no article can be a straightforward JW or Orthodox catechism, as either of us might wish. The most that Wikipedia can say is that 'JW's believe that ...', 'Orthodoxy teaches that...' etc. I understand the point you make to Tom about your dislike of compromise, and I respect it. However, if you cannot compromise to this extent, to work within Wikipedia's NPOV policy, then you will find your opportunities to be involved here very limited. Following NPOV is the price of participation here; if that price is too high, that's fine; it will be easier for both you and all the rest of us the sooner that is recognized. Wesley \
As for having JW's visit me, I don't know that that would be especially profitable for me or them. The last ones who visited were very courteous, but weren't interested in discussing anything beyond whether I would like a copy of Awake! magazine. I didn't need the magazine to tell me that Jesus did miracles (the main topic of the issue they had with them apparently), and that seemed to end the conversation. However, if you would like to contact me directly by email, there should be a link on my User page that will allow you to do so. Or you can leave a message on my Talk page. Wesley 16:08, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

TO: george m- I am rather amused. Do not worry, I'm not patronizing! But when I wrote what I wrote, I had in mind what would most likely be said to each point. That is normally how it works, huh? You write with the mental preconception of what will be written in response to what you write. My points were not arguable, thought. I know that any point is technically arguable, because anyone can choose to argue with anything. If I chose, I could choose to argue that bald people get better cell phone reception. No, but rather my point is that I was writing so as to stop a particular string of writings. I was responding to the source of conflict, and to the conflict itself. I was not adding an opinion to the discussion, I would prefer not to have a part in a discussion of many people who each have a negative opinion of the fine peoples I humbly try to represent. Who would? In your experience, do people change their minds after their minds are made up? Such an event is rare, too rare to depend on. And by no means should I place the reputation of my entire religion on the closed hearts of such ones to change what they strongly believe in. Such an act would be foolish. I can imagine that this is frustrating, and do not feel like you should defend yourself, but I must say that you missed my point. It was my point to make, thought, so if you do want to defend yourself from that statement you will have difficulty. After all, since it is my point, who are you to tell me what my point is? I don't mean that insultingly, it's just a barrier that has not often been breached by those trying to breach it. The only real reason people try, mostly, is because their pride is hurt and they want to redeem themselves by vocalizing their disagreement. But pride can be a good thing if not misplaced, so it would be wrong of me to form an opinion of you just because you wanted to argue with something that was never intended to be argued with. And besides, it would be my fault if your pride was hurt. So rather than drawing this out in a petty argument I ask please that you accept my apology for the way I write instead. I'm a naturally audacious person who lacks the gift of tact; but it's never my intention to offend people. Now I know, most people on this forum have been shown to write something like "Don't worry, I wasn't offend. But this is why you're wrong..." I don't know what it is about human beings, but when we say they are offended, when they are actually offended, they only get more offended. Please for the sake of peace, then, don't get offended in the first place. You just need to rationalize to yourself that I'm not trying to offend, because I'm not, and the good in your heart should then be able to forgive me for any offensive thing I might say. With that all said, I don't really feel any impulse to respond to your post, sorry. I know you read a lot just to get to this point and now I say I'm not going to respond to you, really sorry. It was all opinion, and I'm not in the business of attacking opinions. You did propose a request, however, and I am in the business of addressing requests. I will not give out my e-mail address, I'm sorry. A level of distrust is needed in a place where truth can be so easily disregarded. It only takes someone five seconds to write a lie on the internet, so I don't want even the possibility of a liar into my personal gateway to the information super-hi-way. Just as I said above, however, if you are truly interested in this I'm sure we can arrange a trustworthy method of getting some qualified members of a nearby Congregation to come to your door. Besides, a JW closer to your geographical location would be more aware of who you are than I could so it's just more logical and safe to take that route. Please forgive my over-cautiousness, it's not that I don't trust you particularly. I don't trust anyone that has no concrete way of validating their identity.

Forgive my intrusion here. You can each use the secure E-mail This User link from your respective user pages if you each have provided a (completely protected) e-mail address with your registration. Simply make sure your e-mail in your user preferences is correct, then invite another user to e-mail you through the system. Tom - Talk
I don't think that system is entirely secure from the standpoint of protecting privacy. You can send me an email through it without knowing my actual email address, but the From: header will contain your email address, so by emailing me through the system, you have revealed your own personal email address. If I hit "Reply" and respond to your wikipedia-email, the email goes straight from my client to yours, and you would then know my email address. At least, this is how it seemed on the few occasions when someone used the system to email me personally. Wesley 22:03, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
That is correct. Thank you for the disclosure. Tom - Talk 17:48, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Intrusion part 2. I for one am finding my mind and heart change all the time as I learn to listen more. They have certainly changed since I started editing Wikipedia. I hope I am not all that "rare" in that respect. A word to the wise: the fact that God reigns and Jesus is the promised Messiah and Savior doesn't mean I (or you) personally am plugged in to the truth. Our internal models are necessarily imperfect. That is to say, holding Mormonism as perfect doesn't mean a Mormon boy (or a Mormon 40-year-old) has a corner on the truth quite yet ;-) . Tom - Talk 19:31, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Archive #4

I moved the majority of the text to a new page, and we are still at 31 KB with the current discussion. george m


This is just to get attention: Would anyone like to discuss with me the subject I have brought up at: Talk:Jehovah

General Layout and Content Suggestions

Wow, editing and discussion on this page has really been active the last few days. Lots of differing points of views have been put forth as well as lots of questions. It's encouraging that the discussion has been for the most part respectful and with the goal of getting a good, working page happening. Still, there remains several unresolved issues. Since my initial flurry of edits, I've been doing lots of research and reflection in an effort to contribute positively without being antagonistic.

As a result and in response to the comments of several contributors, in particular Tom, Tom, Wesley and george m, I am suggesting the following principles and points for consideration regarding the General Layout and Content of this page:

First, from the Wikipedia:Manual of Style:

  • Identity - "When writing an article about specific people or specific groups, always use the terminology which they themselves use (self identification)."
  • That being noted, it would be good for all editors and contributors to keep in mind that JW’s do NOT refer to themselves as “nontrinitarians.” While it is doctrinally accurate it is most certainly not a term we (JW's) would ever use to describe ourselves or define our faith. It is however appropriate to discuss in the section on doctrine that JW's do not believe the Trinity is a Bible teaching.

Next, here are some General Content & Layout Guidelines:

  • Good explication starts generally and then adds specific details. Compare how other good, well-designed WP pages are layed-out;
  • WP:NPOV - "all articles should have a neutral point of view … [this] is 'absolute and non-negotiable'";
  • It just seems odd to begin a definition by saying what something is not, ie. JW's are Non-Trinitarians. They are also NOT a lot of other things! This is relevant, but should it really be at the top, or would it serve the article better by being put later in the details of the discouse?
There seems to be a recurring trend to put details such as this in the opening sentences when they really would be better left to later in the article. Why? Several reasons:
1. It just makes more sense for discourse considerations, general first, details later.
2. It would be less controversial and allow all of us to move on with the work.
What could be holding some back from accepting this? Could it be personal bias?

Please also consider these current WP entries for:

  • a follower of the faith of Christianity
  • those who followed Jesus as his disciples
  • Disciple - a term for "learners" or "students;" and especially, for the followers of Jesus.
  • Christianity- Christianity is centered on the belief that Jesus is the saviour of humanity.
According to these current WP definitions, this is how JW's identify themselves. So, again, according to WP Guidelines on Identity none of us should have any problem with these terms being used in reference to JW's in the initial descriptive language. Details and differing viewpoints properly should be included in the remainder of the text where appropriate, organized by sub-topic and order of importance. --DannyMuse 05:36, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thank you Danny for these well reasoned suggestions. Perhaps it will come as no surprise that I disagree with your interpretation of both Wikipedia's guidelines and of Wikipedia's Christianity article.

Regarding self identification, the closest thing from that article that applies here is cultural identity: Cultural identity is the (feeling of) identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as she/he is influenced by her/his belonging to a group or culture. Common habits, characteristics, ideas may be clear markers of a shared cultural identity, but essentially it is determined by difference: we feel we belong to a group, and a group defines itself as a group, by noticing and highlighting differences with other groups and cultures.

Christianity from this sociological perspective has defined itself as a group by noticing and highlighting differences with other groups, including its insistence on Christ's full divinity and humanity. It is a fact of history that the great majority of people who have identified themselves as Christians, from the second century (arguably from the first depending on New Testament translation and interpretation) to the present century, have thought so. The Jehovah's Witnesses apparently agree with this historical assessment, saying that all those so-called Christians from the second to 18th centuries weren't really Christians, and most of those who call themselves today aren't either. The Jehovah's Witnesses have defined themselves as a group in part by differentiating themselves from all the other groups that call themselves Christian. To claim the label "Christian" while using it with an implicit definition that is drastically different from what is commonly understood within and without Christendom, is misleading and dishonest.

In the Christianity article, I could not find any place where it said Christianity was "centered on the belief that Jesus is the savior of humanity". Perhaps it was edited before I could find it, or you were paraphrasing something else. In any case, the Doctrine section of that article enumerates the 'mainstream' articles of faith throughout history that have defined Christianity. Jehovah's Witnesses reject the main teachings described here; they don't use the primary symbol of Christianity, the Christian Cross; and they disassociate themselves from the vast majority of the History of Christianity; what they acknowledge as shared, namely the first century during the lives of the original apostles, they have rewritten.

In short, I don't mean to deny that Jehovah's Witnesses call themselves followers of Christ, or the only followers of Christ. What I mean is that because they themselves draw such huge distinctions between themselves and what has historians, sociologists and anthropologists know as Christianity, that this term should not be used to describe them in the introduction. Rather, their alleged connection with first century followers of Jesus should be mentioned further down in the article. Wesley 16:35, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I personally am in disagreement with the finger-pointing implications of the words "They see themselves as Christians, but..." I think it is essential that JWism be identified in the intro as a branch of Christianity, and in order to do that, Wesley reminds us that we need a qualifier. We need to work on this further. Any Hindu or Atheist needs to read "JW-ism is a XXXX-ish branch of Christianity." Short of that, how can we be encyclopedic? We need content, not pseudo-NPOV fluff. Tom - Talk
We should not forget that we are talking about real people here with real beliefs and real feelings, myself included.
For over twenty years I have closely studied the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. And I have tried my best to follow his teachings in my personal life. THAT makes me a Christian. Citing some “historians, sociologists and anthropologist” who says that because my beliefs are out of the “mainstream” as evidence that I am not a Christian is simply ridiculous.
Of course you are right. And all the more so that you love your Lord enough to forego blood transfusions and birthday parties. I reverently and gladly call you a Christian. Your actions here have demonstrated that to me. If you act the way you do and self-identify as a Christian, how could I accuse otherwise? And I personally go further. If you self-identify as a Christian, and it is not a whimsical joke, but is truly your main faith self-identification, who am I to accuse otherwise? I wish all the JW editors here to understand that clearly; you do not have to defend your faith before me. I only came responding to the Request for Comment because I know a little (as a fellow Christian who in his early days was less generous and continues to be always interested) about JWs. I want you to tell us all about yourselves at the Wikipedia. With love, Tom - Talk 14:43, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Just because we (the contributors to this page) believe things differently or hold a different point of view, that is not license to make insensitive and even offensive statements. Some of the contributors seem to be forgetting the importance of objectivity and as a result are doing this. Whether they are doing this consciously or not I do not know, but the effect is the same. It certainly isn’t helpful. It also isn’t Christian. If our personal beliefs prevent us from being objective, then perhaps we shouldn’t be contributing to the work on this project. --DannyMuse 16:45, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I apologize that my words have not been always as exemplary in this discussion ("peudo-NPOV fluff" and "man behind the curtain") as have Danny's. You are an example to me. Kindly yours, Tom - Talk 14:43, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Danny, I'm sorry if I've upset your feelings. I have been trying to avoid personal attacks and to discuss the subject objectively. In case I have implied otherwise, let me make it clear that I don't presume to know anything about your personal relationship with God or what your eternal destiny might be. I hope you experience God's mercy and lovingkindness in increasing measure. (Same for the rest of you Wikipedians.) \
My citing of historians etc. was my perhaps feeble attempt at objectivity. I was also trying to say that Jehovah's Witnesses as a religion is not within the tradition or category that most people think of when they hear the word "Christianity". I will admit that appealing to history generally seems to favor my own affiliation, Eastern Orthodoxy, so my bringing it up isn't entirely neutral. I still think that if a word is being used contrary to its generally understood meaning, the difference needs to be noted somehow. Wesley 16:56, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Then, do we just want to go back to "JWs are a nontrinitarian Christian denomination (or group)"? --Gary D 00:17, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)

Content we would like to see

The JW editors are going to have to help us with this. But we need content. Please add areas that are needed. This can and must evolve into a full area of the Wikipedia where folks like me can get straight, reliable, neutral information. Only Wikipedia can do this, and it is up to us. Tom - Talk 22:59, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

  • About Awake and Watchtower Magazines
  • About the Watchtower Society and how it relates ecclesiastically to the JWs
  • The organization model of the "association of believers"
    • Hierarchy
      • Successors to Russell
      • History of succession and control of the society
    • Accountability
    • Geographic divisions
  • Who has final editorial control over Awake and Watchtower?
  • What are the weekly meetings
    • Worship service
    • Classes for all ages
    • History of development sisnce Russell
  • Music: What is the role of music in meetings and homes?
    • Style
    • Instruments
  • Study curriculum
    • Is there a uniform worldwide curriculum published by a central authority? If so, what and who is that authority?
    • What is the history of the curriculum since Russell?
  • New World Translation of the Bible
      • History
      • Usage/review outside JW-ism
See The Watchtower and Awake! for first question.
Jehovah's Witnesses think Watch Tower Society is legal organization and branch office of JWs. They think their leader is Jesus Christ who has ruled in heaven since 1914.(Matt.23:10) They think Russel was not their leader. Russel also thought he was not their leader but their slaves.(Matt.23:11) Of course they think later Watchtower presidents and body of government (writers of publications) are not JWs leaders. Body of government think they are "the faithful and discreet slave" of Jesus Christ. (Matt.24:45-47) JW doctrine has changed by their Bible understanding. For example, Russel celebrated Christmas and Watchtower in Russel's time figured cross. Now, JWs don't celebrate Christmas and not figure cross because they know it come from pegan. --See also Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses
About music, they use music for praising Jehovah in meetings. They don't use instrument but CD or audio cassette of song.
Study curriculum was written on The Watchtower and "Our Kingdom Ministry" (brochure for only JWs). It is almost same over the world.(Of course, some points are different by contries.) And change of curriculum was given in meetings. --See also Organizational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses and Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses
See New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures for last question. Rantaro 15:06, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thank you, Rantaro. This will take a while to sort through. Tom - Talk 04:13, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

OK. I kind of feel like I am Wesley now, trying to get a straight answer from the Mormons.  :-) I sense something wrong here, but I unfortunately am having a hard time putting my finger on it. I sense that there are key pieces of knowledge about the Jehovah's Witnesses that the average Baptist, Buddhist, Mormon, Atheist, or Space alien might want to know, but that are not being presented prominently here. I will try to pinpoint what they are:

  1. People want to know whom they are looking at. It is obvious to outsiders from the monolithic nature of the Witnesses that they are not simply a "tradition" like Hinduism or Buddhism. They are quite obviously a tightly managed organization. And it is rather unsettling to an outsider to see an obviously tightly managed organization (complete with printing house, standard curricula, and worldwide identical beliefs) with no leader. We understand the Catholic Church has a Pope and England has a Prime Minister or Queen. And we know that the Witnesses likewise have a president. But this is not acknowleged. It is commendable if the Witnesses seek to focus on Jesus Christ rather than on a charismatic leader. But they need to also disclose who is driving their ship.
    • We read, "Rutherford was succeeded by Nathan H. Knorr." And whom was he succeeded by, and what is the leadership situation today????
  1. People want to know how movements and organizations have developed. How were they 100 years ago? Did they always avoid participation in school birthday parties? We want to see some honest history of the development of the movement. Who have been its formative minds and spirits? Whose ideas have shaped it into the distinctive group it is today?
  2. People want to see how it fits in the world. We need an honest view of its combinations and schisms. I read something in researching for this about a Dawn Age movement or something like that. We want to know about related movements and groups whose ideas may have influenced or been influenced by the Witnesses.

If you can better answer these "who is behind it all and who has been behind it all" questions in this article or at least refer to them here, I think it will be a good start. It is ineffective to put all the good parts in obscure articles. If you have ever seen the Wizard of Oz, the world wants to see the man behind the curtain. You have said elsewere that the identity of the president is not important to you--that it is the view of an apostate--but it is a part of human knowledge that Wikipedia is commissioned to present. Yes, we must explain well the Witnesses conception of the unimportance of leadership identity, but to the rest of the world, leaadership carries with it accountability. And I think it is reasonable to reflect that value here while we also explain your POV. I'm afraid that the Wikipedia value of "present all human knowledge" is going to have to carry the day. Tom - Talk 07:59, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

RESPONSE TO TOM HAWSTROM: There's no secret as to the organizational structure of JW among JW's. In fact, if you want to know more about it yourself, then I suggest you go to a local Kingdom Hall and ask the Witnesses there to help you find the information you're seeking. Or better yet, go to the World Headquarters in Brooklyn.
There is currently on WP this info:
Details regarding the Governing Body (GB), past and present, is readily available in WT publications and in our annual yearbooks. The organization structure from the GB down to the local congregation is described in detail in publication such as the "Proclaimers" book or the brochure, "Jehovah's Witnesses." Both of these are readily available at any local Kingdom Hall for any that are sincerely interested in learning. All you have to do is ask.
Consider yourselves asked. Please summarize all these answers in the article. Tom - Talk 23:46, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Clearly there IS leadership. However our organization is NOT run like the Catholic Church or the government of England. So if you expect to find a similar structure you're not going to. The focus is not on the individuals in leadership positions, but on Jehovah and the preaching work that Jesus has assigned us to accomplish. --DannyMuse 16:07, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
But the same need for accountability still exists. Somebody is printing all those curriculum materials. Someone is guiding the unique, unified doctrine. We just want you to tell us all about it. You guys have repeatedly told us to go look here or there for the info. But this isn't an idle discussion we are having. We are building the world's greatest encyclopedia. Don't forget that. You, the Witnesses, need to write all about your story here. Not as a tract or as proselytizing, but as simply your story, warts and all. "All human 'knowledge'" Tom - Talk 23:43, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Response 2
I say to you again, Jehovah's Witnesses believe their leader is Jesus Christ, sprit one, not Watchtower presidents like Rutherford or Knorr. They believe they obey directions of Jesus Christ in heaven. They believe Jesus Christ instruct "faithful and discreet slave" class (Matt.24:45) or body of government (writers of publications) of Jehovah's witnesses. They think all the Witnesses(including Watchtower presidents and body of government) are equal.
The critics of JWs can't understand Jesus' presence, so they say that body of government of JW are their leaders. Some critics say that Watchtower presidents are their leaders because Watchtower presidents was a body of government in the past. (Now both are different, then I think nobody can't say Watchtower president is their leader.)
Of course you understand that this is an offensive statement that can't be carried into editing implementation. Tom - Talk 23:43, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
If you want to know how movements and organizations have developed, please read the book published by Jehovah's Witnesses, such as "Jehovah's Witnesses -- Proclaimers of God's Kingdom".
Or you can see Official website of Jehovah's Witnesses. Excuse me, I'm not native English, I can't explain well.
There are two reasons why they avoid participation in school birthday parties:
  • They think celebration of birthday come from pegan. "The Lore of Birthdays" says The custom of [birthday] candles on the cakes started with the Greeks. . . . Honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers were placed on the temple altars of [Artemis]. . . . Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes. . . . Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune. . . . Birthday greetings and wishes for happiness are an intrinsic part of this holiday. . . . Originally the idea was rooted in magic. . . . Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Jehovah's Witnesses believe Christian must avoid pegan customs.(2 Cor.6:15)
  • Bible explain two birthday parties at Genesis 40:20-22 and Matthew 14:6-11. In both descriptions, a man was killed. So Jehovah's Witnesses believe Bible reports unfavorably about birthday celebrations. Rantaro 16:49, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

new introduction

After our long discussion I have now committed what we had talked about under "recent history + religion vs. denomination". I made some slight modifications on the way (paragraphs and some details) The side note "non-trinitarian" that we found in the intro before, did not make it to the final version: In the discussion Danny pointed out that this is not a way JWs would describe themselves. I think that this is a detail that should be (and is) discussed under "doctrine", but I added the mutual non-acceptance between JW and non-JW. (There had been some discussion about mentioning non-trinitarian in the introduction, and meantioning that was very dear to some, but as far as I understood it, the reasoning behind that was that this is something so important to some Christians that because of the rejection of the trinity they believe that JWs are not Christians at all. I thought it would be easier to just mention the mutual claim that it is the other side that departed from the truth and to deal with the details under "doctrine". Besides I added links to the book of Matthew and I corrected the quotation from Isa 43:10, it reads "Jehovah" in the NWT, but it reads "LORD" in the AV (I checked it at And I removed the NPOP-tag. I think the current version is a big improvement and I hope that basically everyone can agree with the passage as it is now, and that only minor editing will follow. If you decide to do major changes in the intro, I kindly ask you to discuss it first unter Talk:Jehovahs Witnesses. Heiko Evermann 19:24, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

For the record, the nontrinitarian qualifier doesn't seem necessary given the way the rest of the intro is written. Good job Heiko. I hope that future edits won't make it necessary to reintroduce it. Wesley 22:06, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I don't see it as possesing that certain quality that will make it endure. I predict we will see more edits by JW's who take exception to "they see themselves as Christians, but...". And it seems a little out of the everyday to get into apologetics right from the start "Ye are my witnesses". The Mormon articles, for example (and maybe this is an oversight) don't say "They consider themselves the same church established by Christ, with prophets and apostles, but call themselves latter day saints to distinguish themselves from the saints under the early apostles." Tom - Talk 22:33, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

If this introduction is NPOV, no Christianity group can say that they are Christianity. Jehovah's Witnesses think other Christianity groups are formal Christians. Then can I rewrite that other Christianity groups are not Christianty groups, but they only think Chritianty groups? Rantaro 01:46, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

EXPANATION FOR RECENT EDITS, 28 Oct, 2004: The addition of the "Origins" section really helps with the logical organization and flow of the article. And Heiko Evermann's intro has certainly helped move things forward. As good as his intro is, I believe the prose was/is a bit awkward in places because each sentence tries to incorporate so many POV's. The diplomacy of his writing is excellent, but alas the readability suffers. This is why I made some "slightly-more-than-minor" edits to the first paragraph. I have some suggestions for the balance of the Intro which I will leave for later as I want to proceed slowly and get everyone's input. hanks! --DannyMuse 16:22, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

More good words for Danny from me. Thanks! Tom - Talk 17:32, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

New Intro, what it's missing

When I come to the article, here's what I want to find in the intro, but don't.

  • Where is JW based?
  • How is JW classified among christianity? Is it related in anyway to any other branches? Does it have any schisms or offshoots?
  • How many adherents are there?
  • Where are the adherents distributed?
  • Who are some notable adherents?

The fourth paragraph is much closer than the preceding three to what I expect to learn when I happen upon this page. Tom - Talk 22:33, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

OK, some replies.

  • Where is JW based?

The adminstrative center for JW's worldwide is in Brooklyn NY

  • How is JW classified among christianity? Is it related in anyway to any other branches? Does it have any schisms or offshoots?

People of other faiths attempt to categorize JW's as a denomination, but JW's believe their faith to have been culled from the many fragmented truths of the churches of christendom, long lost or hidden.

  • How many adherents are there?

This is dealt with in the article. A link is provided.

  • Where are the adherents distributed?

See above

  • Who are some notable adherents?

Perhaps a list can be made, I think one already exists.

Also, I will be busy for a couple of weeks and not likely to participate much, so have fun working on the aticle! george m

Lineage of Jehovah's Witnesses

It appears that Jehovah's Witnesses are sometimes classified as arising out of the Millerites, who came out of 19th century Restorationism. This might be useful to include, along with the fact that JW's don't see or acknowledge this connection. Wesley 16:24, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

But JWs' belief is different from beliefs of Millerites, and Restorationism. For example, JW don't believe that Daniel 8:14 speaks prophetically of Christ's return to earth. And Restorationism says that restorationists think Jesus was Second Coming, but JW think that Jesus is invisible presence, not visible coming. Rantaro 07:11, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
No doubt their beliefs are different, but that doesn't mean that JW's weren't originally influenced by these movements. Christianity itself initially developed from Judaism, although its beliefs are different in some very important respects, and it did go from most of its believers being former Jews to to also gaining converts from other religions. Wesley \
Consider these passages from the Charles Taze Russell article (and I'm assuming this is reliable, please correct me if it's not): [Charles Russell wrote]: '... What I heard sent me to my Bible to study with more zeal and care than ever before, and I shall ever thank the Lord for that leading; for though Adventism helped me to no single truth, it did help me greatly in the unlearning of errors, and thus prepared me for the Truth.' Adventism of course is part of Restorationism. Later in that article, it says: At this point Charles Russell no longer wanted to consider himself an Adventist, nor a Millerite. But, he continued to view Miller and Barbour as instruments used by God to lead His people in the past. The formation of a distinct denomination around Russell was a gradual development. His immediate break was not with Adventism, but with the person and policies of N. H. Barbour. If this is true, then it would be worth mentioning this link to the Adventists and Millerites, even though JW's have strongly broken from them since the time Russell was inspired by them to study the Bible and do what it said, based on his understanding of it. Wesley 16:37, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
In the past, it's fact that Russell edited "Herald of the Morning" with N.H.Borbor, but Borbor rejected teaching of the ransom, and Russell withdrew his support from the Herald. Today Jehovah's Witnesses have no relation with Borbor. Precisely, Jehovah's Witnesses don't think that C.T.Russell is a patriarch of them. He is only "brother" or a fellow of JWs. JWs think he made some mistakes because he is also a son of Adam.(Rome 5:12) Rantaro 01:28, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yes, JW's have continued to develop their teachings as their understanding increases. In the early days though, their beliefs were partially shaped and influenced by the Adventists and Millerites, or so it seems. And they weren't the only ones in 19th century America looking for some alternative to the mainstream denominations. That's all that's meant by suggesting they "developed from" or "arose from" these earlier movements. They would not have had Bibles to study in the first place if they hadn't come from some kind of Christian background and lived in a time and place where Bibles were obtainable. Wesley 17:09, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
When we ask you to include context and lineage in the article (as we believe you insiders can do best if you will), we are not suggesting that you honor Russell, or the Adventists, or the Millerites. We are only suggesting that you disclose and acknowledge their influence on your development. Nature abhors a vacuum, and we editors abhor a movement that exists in a vacuum, which we know is not really the case. I really am thankful that there are several JW editors participating here. As I understand, we have Rantaro, Sam Spade, and Danny Muse. Are there others we could get to help with this? Tom - Talk 17:29, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Now thats proselytizing! How did I manage to become a JW w/o knowing it? Sam [Spade] 19:49, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
:-0 Oops. You are appreciated nonetheless.  :-) Tom - Talk 22:52, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hoorah! Sam [Spade] 23:25, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

mutual non-acceptance

I have reverted the change by and reintroduced the sentence "(The non-acceptance is mutual: quite a number of non-JW Christians believe that it is the JWs who have departed from the truth.)". Reason: The mutual non-acceptance is a major point in the discussion about JWs. The sentence had replaced the original point of "non-trinitarian Christians". IMO it does make sense to mention this in the introduction. JWs do stress a lot that they do not accept other Christians as genuine Christians. It is this claim (action=reactio) plus major doctrinal differences that move many Christians to think likewise about JWs. The details of the article are negotiable, but the basic fact that this must be mentioned is not. If the current phrase is not acceptable, we might look for alternative wordings. But some information that they consider themselves the only Christians and that others think that they are not Christans at all belongs to a fair discussion of JWs. I had specifically asked to _discuss_ changes in the introduction first. And therefore I am a bit disappointed that the sentence deleted a) without a named user, just IP (so that it is not possible to discuss this in any way with the one who changed it) b) without comment why he/she found the sentence inappropriate c) without taking into consideration several days of discussion d) without even bothering to add the now missing information elsewhere in the article. Hence my revert. Feel free to discuss the current introduction, feel free to change it, but not this way. Kind regards Heiko Evermann 21:19, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think this is POV because this doesn't explain what is the truth. Rantaro 14:53, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It is important that it not explain what is the truth, since that is exactly what is disputed. The JWs of course think that their body of teachings is the truth, or perhaps rather the closest approximation to the truth. Trinitarian Christians think that their body of teachings is the truth, etc. For the NPOV policy of wikipedia, the article itself cannot choose one side or the other, but rather present both sides. What is indisputable is that "These people say X, but these other people say Y." Clear enough? Wesley 17:37, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't believe you have yet taken the time to carefully read Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View, Rantaro. It would really help immensely if you would do that. I am currently in the middle of my third or fourth careful reading of that document. It is important that you first understand that it is the best explanation available of our "absolute and non-negotiable" bias avoidance policy and second that you internaliize what it says. It is hard to proceed in these discussions without a mutual understanding of our common goal. I am lately impressed by the following ideas. Let us know if you discover others: Tom - Talk
  • We are to describe all POVs with a consistently positive, sympathetic tone.
  • We are to represent all POVs fairly (I had recently been saying "all significant POVs"). It may be fair to give some very fringe POVs very little or no air.
  • Facts (or truth) are those things about which there is not known to be any dispute by otherwise rational people. If there is dispute, it isn't a fact for the purposes of Wikipedia.

Tom - Talk 16:38, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Question from JW

The second sentence say: They see themselves as Christians, but they believe that some time after the death of the last apostle the church departed from the original faith in major points (Great_Apostasy). Does this mean that believing Great Apostasy is not Christianity doctrines? If so, this is POV, and I think this is against Bible teaching.(2 Thess. 2:3-7; 1 John 2:18; 2 John 7) And the third sentence say: So they prefer to call themselves Jehovah's witnesses. But naming Jehovah's Witnesses are not directly related with Great Apostasy. Watchtower publication explain [naming Jehovah's Witnesses is to] distinguish themselves from others who claimed to be Christians("Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom" pp150) Then I think this explanation will be misleading. Rantaro 02:46, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think you misunderstand the sense of that sentence. As I understand it, it means something like They see themselves as Christians, but distinct from all others who call themselves Christians because some time after ... It isn't supposed to read in the sense of They themselves as Christians, but they're really not because... Would my first example above or something like it be acceptable and more clear? Might be wordier than it needs to be, but then again it might need to be that wordy. Different Christian groups think different things about a so-called Great Apostasy; that article details the many variations. Wesley \
Regarding those passages, I think Christians of every stripe agree that apostates exist. The differences are over who the apostates are, or how to tell. Paul had this advice: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NKJV) Our disagreement is over whether the Thessalonians and other readers did in fact stand fast and hold the traditions they were taught, followed by succeeding generations who did the same, or whether there was at some point a complete break. Protestants (including JW's) generally believe there was a complete break, but disagree as to whether it was in the 2nd century, the 16th century, or somewhere in between. The article should not endorse one view or the other, unless such 'endorsement' is clearly attributed to the appropriate group(s). Wesley 17:04, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)