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Jehovah's Witnesses

(abandoned lowercase “w” ca. 1972) 1. Adv. group founded ca. 1872 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by C. T. Russell*; name based on Is 43:10; known also as Millennial Dawnists (after a book by Russell entitled Millennial Dawn, pub. in the 1880s), Russellites, and Internat. Bible Students Assoc.; several local groups were known as Watch Tower (or Watchtower) Bible and Tract Soc. Russell claimed to be the 7th messenger of Rv 11:25, rejected the doctrines of hell, Trin., and immortality of the soul, denounced chs. and the contemporary soc. order, and promised a “3d world,” the golden age of mankind. J. F. Rutherford* succeeded Russell. Jehovah's witnesses engage in worldwide preaching and in propaganda through literature, radio, and colporteurs.

2. The cen. idea of Jehovah's witnesses is belief in the complete reorganization of the soc. order through establishment of Jehovah's theocracy. Adherents consider themselves to be faithful witnesses of Jehovah who must proclaim that the present “world” will be destroyed in the final war of Armageddon; that Jehovah is now gathering His faithful witnesses to est. His theocracy, which will be the only form of govt. in the “world to come,” and will offer the only refuge for distressed humanity. The “divine plan of the ages,” acc. to Russell and Rutherford: The hist. of the world falls into 3 great dispensations, in each of which man is given an opportunity to merit for himself the right to live in this world “for ages to come” by obedience to God's law. Good angels were in charge of the 1st dispensation, but they were unable to control the counter govt. which Satan est. Satan misled Adam and Eve by teaching them the lie of the immortality of the soul. Through disobedience of God's laws, man forfeited the right to live. In the 2d dispensation, beginning with Noah and ending with Armageddon, Satan used as allies the capitalistic system, human govts., and chs., to prevent man from being obedient to God's theocracy. Only few can withstand the onslaughts of Satan's allies and merit the right to live. Chs. are singled out as allies of Satan because organized chs. have undermined Jehovah's authority through the lie of the Trinity. Jehovah's witnesses speak of Christ as God's Son, but deny the eternal preexistence of the 2d Person in the Trin. and speak of the Logos only as God's chief administrator. Hell is said to be a place of entire destruction or annihilation. Jesus is said to have voluntarily given up His right to live and to have deposited it with God; thus He made it possible for God to restore the right to live to all men. Besides Christ, also the 144,000 of Rv 7:4–8, by perfect obedience to God's theocracy, earned the right to live. But they also give up the right to life; with Jesus they constitute “the Christ.” They alone will receive immortality. The rest of mankind will be resurrected; that is, new bodies will be created for them and their right to life will be restored to them. They will be given opportunity for 100 yrs. to be obedient to God's theocracy in the “new world.” Those who at the end of the probationary period are not obedient will be annihilated. The obedient will live under God's theocracy for ages to come. FEM

See Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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