What is the most obvious thing you can think of about Jehovah's Witnesses from the standpoint of worldwide recognition?
Wouldn't it be 2 primary things: the name Jehovah and secondly, the public testimony or witnessing?
Let's begin deconstructing those two things.
First, why would Christians refer to themselves by any other name than Christian?
It was first in Antioch (in the 1st century) they began calling themselves Christian, according to scripture.
Did early Christians ever call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses? No.
The Old Testament Jews did not call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses either.
In fact, the religion of Judaism identifies itself in terms of its own ethnic origins rather than any evangelical testimony about Jehovah. The word "Jew" (in Hebrew, "Yehudi") is derived from the name Judah, which was the name of one of Jacob's twelve sons.
Secondly, did the Jews go from city to city, tribe to tribe, nation to nation witnessing about Jehovah? No. They avoided contact with outside people. Judaism was not Jehovahism. Judaism was concerned with rituals and ceremony (sacrifices and law keeping) in order to receive protection from God.
Jews moved about and did what they did under the auspices of divine approval, specifically protected and approved by the deity Jehovah. Noteworthy is the fact Jews were not evangelizing or aiming to acquire members from the outside. They were chiefly concerned with internal affairs. The world at large meant nothing but trouble.
Christianity, on the other hand, after the destruction of ritual worship in Jerusalem, became more and more about safety in numbers since the Jews were scattered (Diaspora). For Christians to survive they had to gain members. This was done by word-of-mouth (witnessing).
QUESTIONING THE OBVIOUS
Early Christianity believed one fundamental hardcore teaching which it trusted no matter what: Jesus would return shortly and take them to His heavenly kingdom.
The facts of history demonstrate this 'return shortly' evaporated into a broken promise.
HOW DID CHRISTIANITY CONTINUE if the most basic promise of Jesus returning shortly failed?
Christianity changed to a new fundamental and spiritualized the old fundamental; EXACTLY the way Judaism had done. In other words, Christianity continued by inventing a new foundation each time the old foundation failed. Christianity became an organized central government.
Jews expected an earthly Messiah who would be like David and become king. Instead, some Jews embraced Jesus while others began a revolutionary insurrection against Rome. Jesus was executed and the temple destroyed.
Where does this leave us in our deconstruction project?
We find that it is the nature of superstitious belief that, because it is wishful thinking, it can be modified and adapted to fit new circumstances. It can MOVE THE GOALPOSTS. This isn't seen as 'cheating' but it is psychologically necessary.
Unless religious faith is adaptable, malleable and changeable it dies.
Charles Taze Russell's core group of early followers rallied around what?
A NEW BIBLE STUDY METHOD which was detailed Subject by Subject.
The Bible was the center of attention.
Russell began shifting appreciation for BIBLE to his OWN writings as superior!
He bragged that a person who used only his Studies in the Scriptures would be far better off than a person who used only the Bible.
This was ADAPTATION and a SHIFT from basic Protestant sola scriptura to CULT control.
After Russell's death, Judge J.F.Rutherford's biggest problem was finding a way to peel off the cult of personality from Pastor Russell and, somehow, apply it to himself. The meaning of the identity: Christian WAS TOO AMBIGUOUS. The meaning of the identity: Bible Student WAS TOO AMBIGUOUS.
By inventing a new identity JEHOVAH'S WITNESS, Judge Rutherford did what Jews did when being a Jew became a liability (Romans saw them as insurrectionist enemies).
This was CHANGE, adaptation, malleability, and survival.
Every time a religious foundation is upended it must be morphed, shifted, redefined in order to remain useful.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES were CHRISTIAN, but being 'Christian' was associated with Bible Students and Russell.
Rutheford tore off that 'Christian' label and REBRANDED by changing it to JEHOVAH.
When Rutherford died, Nathan Homer Knorr rebranded JW's as Missionaries and Ministers rather than street peddlers denouncing Government, Big Business, etc.
NEW LIGHT is merely the process of retiring unworkable foundational beliefs. It requires subtle transition and nothing more.
THE CORE IDENTITY of JW's shifted completely in 1972/73 to an ORGANIZATION LOYALTY cult.
It is no longer chiefly about Bible, magazine sales, or missionary work. It is about a bloodless coup of REFORMATION occurring recently in which all the annoying and troublesome identifying doctrines are scrapped.
This new Jehovah's Witnesses is now ABOUT ITSELF.
It has become a Narcissistic SELF-WORSHIPPPING cult. The image of this beast is JW.ORG