Started as a simple Bible class in 1870 by Charles Taze Russell. Russell had extreme difficulties with the doctrines of heaven and hell which lead him on a search for a belief system that was most comfortable for him. He heard a “Second Adventist” preacher named Jonas Wendell. The following citation is from an official Jehovah’s Witness publication, published on truthnet.org
Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty dingy hall in Allegheny, Pa., where I heard religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the view of the Second Adventists, the preacher being Mr. Jonas Wendell.
Zion’s Watch Tower, July 15, 1906 Page 3821 Society’s reprints
The Second Adventists were a splinter group from the Millerites that were dispersed after their many predictions of the return of Jesus and the subsequent apocalypse failed and left them disillusioned. The Second Adventists would join with a few other splintered Millerite groups and eventually form what is today known as the Seventh Day Adventists.
It is from his own deep seated fears and this Adventist theology that Russell would emerge with beliefs that discarded many historic, orthodox, and scriptural Christian essentials like the Trinity, The Person and Deity of Jesus, The Person of the Holy Spirit, Heaven, Hell, and Salvation, deeming them “unbiblical” and “heretical”.
In 1876, Russell sought to publish his aberrant beliefs and partnered with a friend to help contine the publishing of “Herald of the Morning” which had falsely predicted the return of Jesus in 1874 but rather than admit the mistake, the publishers would claim that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874. This caused most to fall away from the “Herald” group but some then believed that the rapture would occur 3-1/2 years later in 1878. It did not. The “Herald” failed and Russell took it over for a song and renamed it “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence”, publishing the first edition in 1879. This little publication started by a 25 year old Bible Study “Pastor” would eventually grow into the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society” and would publish nearly 18 million issues in over 200 countries by the year 2010.
All members of the Jehovah’s Witness gather all doctrine, spiritual guidance, and advice for living from these publications of the Watchtower. They rely on the printed literature of this massive machine as much as Christians rely on the Bible.
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus has secretly returned and is in an “inner room” known only to a privileged few.
This claim, like the secret, hidden “Golden Plates” which supposedly authenticate the claims of Mormonism, unfortunately, can never be proven, examined, or even witnessed by anyone…not even the regular everyday Jehovah’s Witness (or Mormon for that matter).
Lets make a quick comparison between authentic, historical Christianity, and the doctrines of Russell and Rutherford as propagated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn, NY.
Christian Jehovah’s Witness
Nature of God Trinity Jehovah only
Jesus Deity, 2nd Person of Trinity Created being: formerly
Michael the Archangel
Holy Spirit Deity, 3rd Person of Trinity An impersonal force
Salvation Grace Alone through Faith alone Belonging to and working
an acceptable number of hours for, a Jehovah’s Witness “Kingdom Hall” (JW name for ‘church’)
Heaven A location close to God and all Only for the 144000 in
things good, enjoyable, and Revelation, who are already fulfilling. Only for those there. All Jehovah’s Cleansed by Jesus’ blood Witnesses since the 144000
all died off are bound to this Earth as their sort of “heaven”
Hell A location completely removed Doesn’t exist: Soul sleep
From God whereby nothing good when we die
Exists: No comforts, no joy, no love.