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I have heard that within the JW faith, there are additional teachings that converts do not learn until after some time has passed since their inclusion into that group or the convert achieves some level of merit within their organization.

Do the Jehovah's Witnesses keep some of their teachings secret from the general public and from new converts to their faith?

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All the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses are publicly available on their Jehovah’s Witnesses' Official Website and made known in their public ministry and literature. There are no secrets that take time or merit to unlock.

I have been a Witness my entire life (42+ years), and the things I study and learn now are the same things I studied in my teenage years before I was baptized.

The only thing that might be considered "secret" is the guidebook that elders receive upon their appointment, which is kept confidential and not distributed to other congregation members or the public. There is nothing in there related to teachings, however, it is merely procedural guidelines for handling congregation matters. Much of what is written there is sourced from other publicly available Witness literature.

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    There is also the matter of teachings of the past that have been refined or even admittedly wrong. – Kris Jul 28 '16 at 22:53
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    @Kris That's true. The Online Library doesn't contain a lot of the outdated or very old articles. There is the Watchtower Library which is available only on CD for accessing older articles, but in my experience the older articles don't add any significant information to what modern ones say. It was useful maybe one time when I was doing research on dinosaurs. – 4castle Dec 22 '16 at 5:06
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You could say there is a level of ambiguity in some of their teachings. Most, if not all, teachings are available on their website. However some of their teachings need to be read between the lines.

For instance, this page on Babylon the Great Harlot, though only hinting at it, it is actually aimed toward the Catholic and Protestant Churches though it doesn't openly say so.

So while their teachings are public, for the most part, you may not get a 100% explanation from them without analyzing or reading between the lines. As far as I'm aware they don't hold secretive teachings like LDS do (i.e. handshakes). Though if there are secrets only a member would truly know, which I'm not.

  • Babylon the great is considered to be all false religion in the world Christian and non Christian. Your final sentence get us to a non answer as I stated in comment on question : This question is really not answerable if someone says yes and gives examples they would by the fact that they were found not be secret. If they say no well of course that is because the secrets are secret. – Kris Jul 29 '16 at 13:24
  • Also an answer that tells us to read between the lines is hardly a well sourced answer. – Kris Jul 29 '16 at 13:33
  • 1 - Anything in book of Revelation is often up for debate behind meaning and context. 2 - Ambiguity can equate to secrecy 3 - The Mormons have 'secret handshakes' which is known by those outside the church but that is still considered a 'secret' teaching, same goes for Free Masons and their practices. – Whirlwind991 Aug 1 '16 at 0:50
  • Don't lose focus on the op question your post does not answer it – Kris Aug 1 '16 at 17:51
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    A propos "For instance, this page on Babylon the Great Harlot, though only hinting at it, it is actually aimed toward the Catholic and Protestant Churches though it doesn't openly say so."...eh so since the page does not say what you claim then what is the source for your claim? Some evidence of what you are saying would need to be included, otherwise anyone can just claim anything here. – user100487 Jun 20 '17 at 3:51
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Though the vast majority of WT literature is available openly, there are indeed some things reserved for the privileged. You need to know where to look to find these, and the common JW has never seen them.

An example: The Elders handbook: "SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD"

As to secret teachings, let me give you this perspective. Take a look at their initial study book, What does the Bible Really Teach?. Read what they teach to the initiate. The chapter on Jesus, for example (ch 4). If you read it, you might conclude their view of Jesus is not so different from a main stream Christian. However, the chapter doesn't go into explaining that the "pre-existant" Jesus, is Michael an archangel. Nor does it explain that after Jesus' human death, Jesus was "re-created" back into the spirit-creature Michael.

I could go on, but your concern is most definitely warranted. In my conversations and studies with them thus far, I would say ALL their doctrines are so complex and labyrinthine that they cannot possibly explain one single doctrine in one document alone. In other words, all their doctrines are kept to some degree from the initiate, the general public, and from new converts.

  • The link is bothersome primarily because you're linking to a website that is violating copyright, as well as the express prohibition against the book's general distribution or conversion to a digital format (read the first two pages after the cover). That site is breaking copyright law, and beyond mentioning that it exists, it doesn't improve your answer to link to it. – 4castle Dec 24 '17 at 18:46
  • I wouldn't consider the teachings about Michael to be "hidden" or "secret" at all. The teachings are in plain sight, they just aren't relevant to the main discussion of Jesus' life in chapter 4. Instead, it's discussed in the Appendix of the Bible Teach book. When I conduct Bible studies, it's the article we consider directly after finishing chapter 4. – 4castle Dec 24 '17 at 19:30
  • @Kris Links to material hosted elsewhere potentially without permission are not actually themselves a copyright violation or something this site is culpable for policing. This answer is problematic for other reasons, but the presence of the link itself is not a legal issue. – Caleb Dec 26 '17 at 10:44
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    Is it your contention that the initial study book should include everything Jws have ever taught about everything? That would be a very big book.:) – Kris Dec 27 '17 at 17:46
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    That elders handbook "SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD" is a procedure manual (recommendations on what should be done in situation X, Y, Z, and so on). It does not introduce any doctrines and for that reason it is not an example of secret teachings. – coderworks Dec 27 '17 at 21:40

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