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I just read a wiki page on Jehovah's witnesses, visited their official website, and was quite surprised that in the list of their believes there is a striking absence of the definition (or at least description) of their concept of the Church.

According to what I can see at the moment, they are only using the word "church" or plural "churches" in reference to the numerous religious groups in the main-stream Christianity (which they consider all to be in apostasy), while they themselves prefer to speak about the Kingdom, rather than the Church.

Is it a result of their special translation of the Bible (in which many words were translated quite differently from the way it is done in the majority of Bible translations, for example, in many places the word that is translated in other translations as "fellowship" in their translation is rendered as "sharing") or am I simply missing out on something here?

What's their concept of the Church? What's their teaching on the Church? When did it start? How long has it been around? Has it always existed since it was started or, perhaps, it was over at some time and then re-stated again?

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At least in Eastern Orthodoxy the Jehovah's witnesses are considered sectarians and to be avoided. Therefore I would avoid any of their 'teachings'. – Andrei Rinea May 26 '12 at 20:10
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The word church has various meanings. It can be used to refer to an physical building. Witness churches are called Kingdom Halls. It can also be used to refer to a group of believers in a specific area. For sense of the word, Witnesses use congregation, which I believe is quite common for many branches of Christianity.

But the word church has another meaning, and it is this meaning I think you're asking about. The "church" as the united body of all believers. For this sense, Witnesses don't have a direct word. They do use the word Christian in a very narrow sense, to refer only to themselves. Perhaps that's their nearest equivalent. And yes, they do believe that "true Christianity" essentially died out after the First Century, and (with the exception of a few brief flames here and there) was reborn with them.

The church may also be the organisation, the institution, as distinct from the individual members thereof. For that sense, the Witnesses use various words, notably, the word organisation itself. They may also talk of the "Faithful and Discreet Slave", which is the teaching body of the organisation (basically, the group that define the doctrine).

The finer points of how the Faithful and Discreet Slave is distinct from the Governing Body have now escaped me. I used to know that. I've forgotten.

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Thanks. Do they have any teaching or a concept of the universal Body of Christ? – brilliant May 19 '12 at 21:32
No. Or, at least, not by that name. To be honest, I'm not sure what the universal Body of Christ is, so I couldn't say whether they have an equivalent. – TRiG May 19 '12 at 22:02
"To be honest, I'm not sure what the universal Body of Christ" - By saying "universal Body of Christ" I didn't mean to introduce any new concept - perhaps, I shouldn't have used the word "universal" here - I just meant what Paul was talking about in Rom. 12:4, 1st Cor. 12:12, Eph. 1:23, 4:12, 16, Col. 1:24, 2:19 - that all the believers in Christ constitute His One Body of which Christ is the head. Do JW's have this teaching? (I am sorry for asking again - I just have no one who had an experience of being among them). – brilliant May 20 '12 at 2:37
@brilliant I believe you question in this comment should be a new question to cut down on conversation. – user1054 May 20 '12 at 11:15

I have specifically asked them this question. They see all kinds of negative words from Jesus towards the churches, so they do not have churches. Instead, they have small groups every few nights.

Any JW that goes into a Christian or other church, will get cut off from the rest of the group.

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What do you mean by "every few nights"? Do you meant that they have groups only for a few days? If yes, then what happens to those groups afterwards? – brilliant May 20 '12 at 13:55
I don't know what you're talking about. I've been to a fair few church services as a Witness. Well, funerals. Funerals are a big deal in Ireland. – TRiG May 24 '12 at 13:18
I routinely visited other churches and nobody cut me off. I was asked about that but I just told them I don't want to invent a definition of other religions, so I go in order to know I have not just arbitrarily decided one is any more right than the other. And on top of that it afforded the option to talk to other religions about JW in a more welcoming light. I left on my own because I still believe there is no one "right" belief system. @brilliant - small groups means they have services 3 days a week. Each a different variety. – Bubbles Feb 19 '14 at 2:28

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