Jehovah's Witnesses are not Fundamentalists

by JeffT 23 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • JeffT


    1. The Trinity:

    God is one "What" and three "Whos" with each "Who" possessing all the attributes of Deity and personality.

    2. The Person of Jesus Christ:

    Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.

    3. The Second Coming:

    Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.

    4. Salvation:

    It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    5. The Scripture:

    It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life.

    In an earlier thread I said that I didn?t think that JW?s meet the criteria for fundamentalists based on the fact that they didn?t believe in the trinity nor did they believe in salvation by grace alone. The above list is taken from a fundamentalist website and is their take on what being a fundamentalist is all about.

    (Side note: fundamentalism runs back to about the early 1900?s with a revival movement based on these "fundamental doctrines." The website I referenced is extremist, but it gives some history and is, as I said, their definition of themselves.)

    I think that looking at the above Witnesses fail all five tests. Clearly they do not believe one and two at all, they do not believe that three involves a physical return to Earth, and Salvation must be earned by works, specifically selling Watchtowers.

    Five is a bit trickier, but I think that while they give lip service to the inerrancy of the Bible, it has to be understood in terms of their interpretations. Additionally they do not believe (whether they will admit it or not) that Scripture alone is sufficient for Christian understanding. A Christian must be in contact with the Society and reading its interpretative literature in order to be in full contact with God.

    I therefore believe that JW?s are not fundamentalists.

  • mustang


    I believe that your synopsis is quite good, as far as the "rules" (or these specific rules, if they be the ultimate criteria) are concerned.

    This might be a good start for some more in depth analysis. Such a 'rule-based' analysis would prove interesting.

    I also believe that one of the criteria is a more subjective view based on the general demeanor and treatment of those subjected to the religion and those who are outside of it. This gets into more crude elements of emotions and physical treatment. Those treatments may not be very biblical at times, but are altogether real.

    It would seem to me that the date of 1900 is a bit short for the history of 'fundies'. If we restrict ourselves to Protestants, European based religionists and 'Bible based' considerations, I would think that we would have to consider at least going back as far as the Calvinists and the Puritans.

    The last two paragraphs reflect another possible definition of Fundamentalism having to do with RESTRICTION of belief and actual freedom of religion as opposed to a list of specific doctrines; this goes further to include RELIGIOUS THOUGHT, instead of just the religion itself.

    As a case in point, I suggest comparing the Calvinists to their near contemporaries, the Huguenots. I have little understanding of Huguenot specifics (other than being descended from them). But I believe that they allowed a considerable range of free thinking and ensuing debate in their rendition of worship.

    Compare the likelihood of debating a JW belief to a JC (ends in DF'ing) with telling a Puritan tribunal that you are going to be a witch (ends in burning at the stake).

    In contrast, the Huguenots seemed to allow a wide latitude in what JW's would call 'harboring private thoughts'. It may be that this is what led to their demise in this country and Europe; I hear they are doing fair in South Africa.

    In addition, as we are being shown of late, there are other Fundamentalists, such as the radical Islam effects. These have a considerable history, going well beyond the 1900 date (in reverse time, of course). However, in a previous paragraph I mentioned restricting these thoughts to 'Bible-based' subjects :)

    I submit these thoughts for you consideration:)


    Who is off to learn more of his ancestors and their religion

  • uwishufish

    I guess the Branch Davidians wern't either. For me, they just as JWs would be classified as a cult.

  • JeffT

    Mustang, go to the site I linked or do some googling. The term "fundamentalist" as applied to Christians is a late addition. It began with a book called (drum roll) "The Fundamentals." Obviously these concepts had been around for a long time but the term was not applied to them. My point in bringing this up is that people who call themselves "Fundamentalists" in a Christian text, have a specific idea of what they mean by that statement, that I believe is frequently misused by some people.

    Interestingly "Al-qaeda" is Arabic for "the base" or "the fundamentals."

  • Arthur

    They are a grotesque hybrid of first century Judaism and nineteenth century Adventism

  • mustang

    So, you're telling me that this group went off by themselves and declared that 'that's the way it is'?

    That is like the JW's saying 'we aren't a cult', but acting like one and all onlookers saying that they are.

    It's controversial; this group didn't get a consensus beyond themselves. Likely few will agree with them or you.

    As I mentioned earlier, this looks like a good starting point; but it probably isn't an endgame.

    BTW, thanks for the illumination, thus far.


    PS: if we toss JW's out of the 'fundie' camp, Arthur has an excellent description to carry on this taxonomy.

  • avengers

    "The term can also refer specifically to the belief that one's religious texts are infallible and historically accurate, despite possiblecontradiction of these claims by modern scholarship."

    Seems like the JW's are fundamentalists. ??

  • greendawn

    "They are a grotesque hybrid of first century Judaism and nineteenth century Adventism" That is precisely what they are with perhaps a little of the spirit of free masonry added in. Only the naive fail to see the judaising influence (emphasis on jehovah, marginalisation of Christ, excessive emphasis on the old testament and its legalistic approach, refusal to participate in the new covenent). As for the adventists they are well known for their end of times hysteria which has so profoundly infected the dubs who are in effect an adventist offshoot.

  • Inquisitor
    My point in bringing this up is that people who call themselves "Fundamentalists" in a Christian text, have a specific idea of what they mean by that statement, that I believe is frequently misused by some people.

    A fundamentalist is one who tells others that he/she knows the "true" meaning of the scriptures (back to the fundamentals) and knows the one true path to salvation. In the fundamentalist's mind, everyone else has deviated from the divine word and is condemned by their deviant practices and heretical beliefs.

    Now by that modern definition, JWs ARE fundamentalists.

    It no longer matters what the fundamental beliefs are. That is no longer a requirement to be a fundamentalist. That may have been the historical definition of a fundamentalist, but it is no longer the one that comes to mind when someone is labelled such. Our society has changed the meaning of that word to capture the essence of what is a fundamentalist.

    It works the same way with the word "gay". If you declared that you're feeling gay today, people are less likely to think that you're feeling an emotional high. That is not a "frequent misuse" of the meaning of the word. Sure, you can preach till you're smurf blue, that the historical meaning of "gay" is such and such. But your defnition cannot change the etymological evolution of these words.

    To think you can is to think like a fundamentalist, where you must be right because the world is wrong.


  • JeffT

    I think some of you are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. "Fundamentalism" is a specific branch of Christianity with a set of doctrines that they have set out for themselves, just like any other branch of Christianity. It is a term that has defined characteristics, which JW's don't meet. Changing the meaning of a word because we want to use it for some other purpose is an unfair use of language. I know people that call Democrats "Communists" but they aren't right.

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