But I'll try. Please, let me know specific questions in the comments or via email and I will answer them from my own experience and quoted from the JW literature.
Anything marked with an asterisk I will cover later, and turn the marked words into a link to that section.
In the beginning, God created Scott.
|Check my threads - epic outfit!|
HE thought to himself, "Bloody hell, what a top effort!" and even the nurses knew that I was b-b-b-bad to the bone. (I may have borrowed lightly from other stories here)
A bit before the beginning (1870 to be precise), an American chap by the name of Charles Taze Russell created a group to study the bible. He was able to spout such incomprehensible waffle that others were cowed in his presence, prostrating themselves before him. These followers were formed into local congregations that studied his magazines and books.
Russell invented the 'theocratic calculator' (see above: incomprehensible waffle), and using some funky maths worked out that Armageddon* was due in 1914.
There were many changes from then to now. They switched from "Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence" (or Zwahocp to those in the know) to Jehovah's Witnesses. The new name was based on Isaiah 43:10: "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen".
The congregations were brought under a central control in Brooklyn*, those disappointed with the non-event of 1914 where told 'it was the beginning of the end, not the literal end', and we were introduced to a new concept:
The Governing Body.
To give some perspective, let me describe the complex hierarchy of the JW church.
Un-baptised Publishers - Once inside the embrace of Jehovah, new recruits and children are given the glorious opportunity to serve god by being allowed to door knock. These people, while not baptised, are required to demonstrate a working knowledge of the religion, and declare their unwavering loyalty to God and his Organisation. This usually only happens after many months of consistent attendance.
Baptised Publishers - As above, but this group has undergone the 'big dip'! Baptism* involves an in-depth interview by Elders, a public declaration of their loyalty to God and his Organisation, and must display a deeper knowledge of doctrine and the bible. Baptised members are liable for discipline by the 'Elders' of the church.
Ministerial Servants - Think of this lot as the administrators of the local congregations - they get handed the responsibility to organise literature orders, oversee door knocking, and generally all the other crappy jobs around the place. To attain this level, you must have demonstrated many years of faithful service, and be an upstanding and knowledgable member of the congregation.
Elders - The heads of the Local Congregation. Elders are responsible for passing on the teachings handed down to them, and for 'shepherding' their flock. This includes disciplining members, and approving new recruits for higher privileges. Approval for being an Elder comes directly from Brooklyn. There is much more, but the detail comes later. Think secret directives, hiding of sexual deviants, and obstructing justice.
District Overseer - The Area Manager of the JW world - this bastard trips around his designated circuit of Congregations dishing out specific messages to the masses, and liaising with the Elders in each area to keep tabs on what is going on with their parish. The D.O is always an Elder who has been promoted after many years.
Bethelites - Each country has a Bethel. Think Mormon compound, but without the rampant sex. Acting as a countries H.Q., the Bethel is staffed by volunteers to produce and ship the bible literature as directed from above. These volunteers are called the Bethel Family, undertake a vow of poverty (they get given $26.40 per week to live on) and rarely leave the compound. 6AM starts and limited association with the opposite gender are the name of the game here.
The Governing Body - This mystical group of men (no women allowed! Cooties and all that…) are the cream of the crop, the ducks nuts, personally holding the Holy Bluetooth Earpiece to receive direction from Jehovah. Lets elaborate on this group in a bit of detail.
Jehovah's Witnesses state that not everyone is going to heaven - in fact, only 144'000 will make their way to the clouds and will be given harps. These people are called the Anointed Class, and they will rule with Christ over the earth! But who is on earth? The remaining masses will be split at Armageddon into two groups - those that are good and those that are bad, and those that are really bad. 'Really bad' being those that commit a select few sins that cannot be forgiven, namely obstructing the church.
The good and bad (including everyone in history after Jesus was killed) will be made into perfect humans, and get given the immensely tedious task of returning the earth to its perfect state; presumably because God is tired after trying to make my body any better than it was. I always hoped I would get given a tropical island to clean up; reality (?) would dictate I would be given some heavily populated Chinese megacity.
|God plays another practical joke on Scott...|
The really bad get thrown into 'Gehenna', a figurative place signifying complete (not eternal) destruction. Important definition there, as JW's do not believe in eternal torment, just oblivion.
So, the Governing Body!
Jesus spoke of a "faithful and discreet slave" in a parable - the gist of the story being a Master appoints a trustworthy slave to govern over his belongings and estate. The Slave is taught to members as being the anointed ones going to heaven (because once there they will rule with him), and the Governing Body is a select few of these living anointed people who pass down the doctrine and teachings from God himself!
Note that the Governing Body is not elected by anyone, but rather chosen from the existing members. It also does not take any guidance from other anointed people when making up new tripe. They simply market themselves as "spokespeople" for the anointed ones to divert attention away from their complete control of the organisation.
Of course, the whole concept of a Governing Body is not found in Scripture anywhere, nor is a class structure of Christians.
Anyways, these groups form the "Theocratic Hierarchy" of the JW church; basically that it is a direct extension of God's will on this earth.
Any questions so far?