SPLINTER GROUPS
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Inclusion on this webpage does not signify our endorsement of these groups.


INTRODUCTION

The Watchtower Society claims that the Jehovah's Witnesses has maintained a global brotherhood without any divisions, denying any denominational divisions or sects among them:

The Watchtower, November 1 (2009) p.19 article "Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Protestant Religion?"
"...unlike the Protestant movement, which has splintered into hundreds of denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintained a united global brotherhood. "

However, this claim is woefully inaccurate. The Jehovah's Witness denomination has, indeed, been plagued by divisions and sects over the past several decades. This, we base on their own definition of the word "Sect":

Insight On the Scriptures (1988), Vol. 2 p.886 "Sect"
The Greek word (hai'-re-sis, from which comes the English word “heresy”) thus translated means “choice” (Le 22:18, LXX) or “that which is chosen,” hence “a body of men separating themselves from others and following their own tenets [a sect or party].” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1889, p. 16)

The basic gist is that it describes any group that leaves a larger group in order to follow their own beliefs. This has, indeed, happened within the brotherhood of Jehovah's Witnesses. And, in truth, the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves are a sect, as they have broken away from the Bible Students in 1918.

Many, though not all, of the splinter groups have websites in which you can view. We will provide the URLs to the websites as we know them, but please realize that this does not signify our endorsement of them.


THE BIBLE STUDENTS

Bible Students is the name of the religious group started by Charles Taze Russell. Pastor Russell, as he was known, was the second president of the Watchtower Society*, and he gained quite a following until his death in 1916. Following his death a power struggle regarding who should be the next president of the Watchtower Society ensued. Eventually, Joseph Rutherford gained control and took his position as the third president of the Watchtower Society. Four members of the Board disagreed with his installation, refused to recognize him as their president, and tried to re-establish organizational order according to the procedures under Russell. As a result, Rutherford found a technical loophole in which he was able to oust them from their positions. This opened the way for Rutherford to retain his position, and by January 1918 the four ousted Board members, and their supporters, were no longer recognized as fellow Bible Students under Rutherford's administration. From this point forward Rutherford began publishing newer teachings and procedures while continuing to use the name “Bible Students” for the Watchtower Society's followers. Meanwhile, the group of rejected Bible students continued to worship and function according to Pastor Russel's outline. By 1931, a large number of the Bible Students left Rutherford's Administration in favour of keeping with Russell's original teachings. In that year Rutherford renamed his group “Jehovah's Witnesses,” completely severing any lingering ties to the Bible Students and Pastor Russell. A version of these events is found in the Watchtower Society's publication Jehovah's Witnesses -- Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, Chapter 6.

*According to the Watchtower Society, W.H. Conley was the first president: Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, p.576

Although the Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that Pastor Russell was their denomination's human founder, this isn't quite accurate. The truth is that Rutherford is the original founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This is evident in the fact that modern day Bible Students continue to adhere to Russell's teachings, whereas modern day Jehovah's Witnesses adhere to teachings which came handed down from Rutherford.

A Jehovah's Witness may challenge this last statement, but the facts are the facts: Modern day Jehovah's Witnesses live according to teachings that were unique to Rutherford, such as: The doctrine that Jesus died on a singular stake instead of a two-beamed cross, the requirement to evangelize from house-to-house, the monthly reporting of the number of hours individuals spend in the door-to-door work, the establishment of the year 1914 as Christ's invisible rulership, the shunning of holidays and birthdays, the avoidance of saluting the flag, the publication of the Awake! magazine (previously called “Golden Age” and “Consolation”), rejecting the worship of Jesus Christ, and so on. As a matter of fact, the Watchtower Society has clearly stated that they do not preach the teachings of Russell: “...but who is preaching the teaching of Pastor Russell? Certainly not Jehovah's Witnesses! They cannot be accused of following him, for they neither quote him as an authority nor publish nor distribute his writings” (Awake! May 8, 1951 p.26).

The Bible Students still exist today, and they themselves have also branched off into several different sects: The Pastoral Bible Institute, Berean Bible Institute, Dawn Bible Students Association, Independent Bible Students, Berean Bible Students, Free Bible Students, and Layman's Home Missionary Movement, just to name a few.

When the Jehovah's Witnesses broke away from the original Bible Students, was that the end of their splintering? No. As this article will show you, the Jehovah's Witnesses have continued to spawn splinter groups even though the Watchtower Society does not officially recognize this:

 

BIBLE FELLOWSHIP UNION

According to the "Bible Fellowship Union", their group began in 1945 with the intention of spreading Russell's teachings, as well as supporting the accuracy of biblical history, archaeology and prophecy. It was headed by Albert Hudson until he died in 1995, after which Derrick Nadal became editor. In his early years Hudson was affiliated with the Watchtower Society but he discontinued this association shortly after Russell died. Although we could not find membership numbers, they do have a website which publishes their monthly magazine "The Bible Study Monthly". According to their website: This journal is published for the promotion of Bible knowledge, maintaining the historical accuracy of the Scriptures and validity of their miraculous and prophetic content viewed in the light of modern understanding. It stands for the pre-millennial Advent of our Lord and His reign of peace and justice on earth. It is supported entirely by the voluntary gifts of its readers and all such gifts are sincerely appreciated. You can view their website by clicking here.

 

THE TRUTH FAITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ASSOCIATION

The Government of Romania instituted a ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1948 which lasted until the ban was lifted in 1990 (after the communist regime collapsed). During the years under ban, the Romanian Jehovah's Witnesses were unable to have free access to current Watchtower Society literature and thus had to make do with what little literature they already had. Although some newer literature was able to be smuggled in, these newer publications were a rare commodity that came few and far between. Due to these difficulties, Watchtower Society “new light” wasn't reaching the Romanian members in sufficient numbers. Therefore, after the ban was lifted, the Governing Body from the Watchtower Society met with the Romanian elders to help them “catch up” on all they missed over the years.

Because there had been so many changes in the teachings during the time of ban, some of the Romanian membership believed that the Watchtower Society had gone apostate during that time; thus they decided that the right thing to do would be to separate from them. In 1992 they formed the True Faith Jehovah's Witness Association, which is actually a collective of groups. These ones staunchly adhere to earlier Jehovah's Witness doctrine taught before 1960, and continue with practices such as the regular use of God's name (“Jehovah”), gathering together in annual conventions, performing the door to door ministry, immersion baptism, and the publication of a magazine (The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom). Although we have been unable to find current membership numbers, it is notable that their website can be read in eight different languages: English, Romanian, French, Italian, Magyar, Spanish, German, and Russian. You can access their website here.

 

THEOCRATIC ASSOCIATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

This is a Russian based group who also believed that the Watchtower Society went apostate when it published “new light” on certain doctrines, believing that the changes were actually a deceptive ruse from the KGB; therefore they discontinued using Watchtower publications printed after 1962. This group has grown to have members in Russia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Because the group does not document attendance records, the number of members is currently unknown. This group offers some of the earlier Jehovah's Witnesses literature pre-1962. This group is also associated with the Theocratic Bible Institute. We could not find a website for this group, but they are mentioned on another website accessed here.

 

THE LORD'S WITNESSES

The Lord's Witnesses is a British based group founded by Gordon Ritchie, a former Jehovah's Witness who was disfellowshipped for apostasy in 1996. This group still holds to a few of the Jehovah's Witness teachings, such as rejection of the Trinity, God's personal Name (“Jehovah”), Jesus as the Archangel Michael, 1914 as the end of the Gentile Times and Christ's presence, disfellowshipping, refusal to orally consume blood, and acceptance of new light, among a few other things. Many of the non-Jehovah's-Witness-based doctrines they teach are far removed from Bible truth. This group has adherents on both the European and North American continents. You can access their website here.

CHRISTIAN WITNESSES OF JAH

The Christian Witnesses of Jah was founded by Greg Stafford, a disassociated Jehovah's Witness. According to their online tract titled “Christian Witnesses of Jah” (2009), they state: “Christian Witnesses of Jah are those who have come to accept as true, without claiming to know for a certainty, that there is a God named Jah, that he sent forth a Saviour or Messiah known as Jesus of Nazareth, and that we can learn a great deal about them from the Bible. We reject the idea that we must follow what can be shown to be nothing but traditions from men or from women, that is, traditions which clearly contradict the good reasons for belief found in nature and supported by the Bible.”

This group promotes the gathering of believers in individual homes for worship and publishes free online literature. You can read their tract here.

 

GOD'S KINGDOM SOCIETY

This is a rather large group which has its headquarters located in Nigeria, Africa. It began with a man named Gideon M. Urhobo who, after reading some literature published by Joseph Rutherford, briefly became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. It wasn't long before Urhobo began disagreeing with some of the Watchtower Society's teachings, resulting in his being disfellowshipped for apostasy. Therefore, he began teaching the Bible as he understood it to mean, thus founding the God's Kingdom Society. The headquarters of God's Kingdom Society does not keep a tally of its membership numbers (because they believe it is unbiblical to do so; 2 Samuel 24), but it is notable that the website can be read in over 50 languages and they list contacts for 49 branch offices in at least 9 different countries in the African and North American continents. Some estimates state that the number in the membership is as high as 3 million. You can view their website here.

TRUE FRIENDS OF JEHOVAH'S WAY and
THEOCRATICE ASSOC. OF TRUE WORSHIPERS OF JEHOVAH

This is actually a collective of groups from the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, etc. which eventually spread into the Americas. This group publishes literature in several languages, including: English, Slovak, Romanian, Korean, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish. Much like some of the other groups mentioned in this article, it was the fall of communism that produced this collective with a similar story: During the reign of communism Jehovah's Witnesses were banned in the communist countries; therefore they were unable to receive fresh and updated literature from the Watchtower Society during that time. Once communism fell, the Watchtower Society was able to freely distribute new literature to these ones. Upon receiving the new literature many of the Jehovah's Witnesses became painfully aware” of the doctrinal changes which steered away from the older teachings they had been adhering to for so long while under ban. These ones came to the conclusion that the Watchtower Society had become apostate and therefore refused to accept the newer teachings as truth. This crisis spawned numerous splinter groups, and so it was decided to create The Association of True Friends of Jehovah's Way in order to unite these groups, forming what they consider to be a Theocratic Association of True Worshipers of Jehovah God. Each group who is united under the umbrella of this organization consider themselves to be Jehovah's Witnesses, although the Watchtower Society does not recognize them as such. You can view their website here.

THEOCRATIC BIBLE INSTITUTE

The Theocratic Bible Institute publishes the online journal “Kingdom Witness.” According to their website they are not an organization, but simply a publisher of Bible based literature. This group has a global readership in numerous countries on all six inhabited continents, and was selected as the official publisher of literature for the International Theocratic Bible Students Association in the Republic of Slovakia. This group has connections with the following organizations: True Friends of Jehovah's Way, True Faith Association of Jah's Worshipers, Theocratic Association of Jehovah's True Witnesses (Russia, Siberia), International Theocratic Bible Students Association (Republic of Slovenia), The Syrian Bible Students, and the True Faith Jehovah's Witness Association (The Americas). You can view their website here.


YAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS WORLD WIDE

This is a sect founded by Donald Curtis Burney and is known as the YORWW or "Living Waters" Congregation. Since the year of 2006, it's headquarters & center of activity has primarily been located in the West Indies island of Jamaica. According to Burney's own biography, he was born and raised as a Jehovah's Witness and was eventually baptized into the denomination at the age of 15, in 1968. Ten years later, in 1978, he was accepted as an elder (pastor) in his local congregation. A few months after that appointment, he achieved the rank of Presiding Overseer (the head pastor of the congregation). It was some 13 years after this appointment, in 1991, that Burney officially left the denomination after having privately questioned the Jehovah's Witness doctrine for over a decade. Several of his family members and friends from the Jehovah's Witness congregation (16 in all) joined him in his exit as well, forming what was first called TWMC [Two Witnesses Must Come] Movement. Ten years after that, in 2001, Burney founded the YORWW Congregation where he currently claims to be the "Chieftain" (Eze. 44:3) within God's spiritual temple and also the "Ark of the Covenant" and the atoned-for "Scapegoat" of Leviticus 16:10. This splinter group hosts an undisclosed number of members to date. Over a twenty (20) year period since their formation, this group has published books, given media interviews, created websites, and publicly distributes doctrinal literature for free. You can view their website here.

 

Divine Truth / God's Way of Love

The Divine Truth / God's Way of Love group is headed by Alan John Miller, an ex-Jehovah's Witness elder located in Queensland, Australia. According to Miller, he is Jesus Christ incarnate, and he is paired up with Mary Luck, who is the reincarnate Mary Magdalene. Luck isn't the first to be claimed as Mary Magdalene; the first claimant to this name was a woman named Karen, whom Miller left his wife and children for. Many of his followers claim to be other reincarnations from the Bible, such as Cornelius the soldier, John the Baptist and the parents of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Miller always refers to himself as Jesus, and when he speaks of events from the New Testament he speaks of them in the first person (ex. "when I fed the crowd with two fishes and five loaves of bread...." ). According to his website, he claims "one of the main reasons Mary and I returned to earth was so that we could illustrate by our own personal example, what would be required for humankind to develop to the point of, and then experience the New Birth, or being Born Again, while we remained on earth. After remembering these things again in this life, which began to happen for me around 7 years ago, in 2004, I began the process of progressing towards God in the same manner as I did in the 1st century, but this time from a condition of error or sin (which means missing the mark of love). So, just like you, I am currently a work-in-progress, using the teachings I am providing you on this website and through other forms, to enter the same condition of at-onement with God, but this time, instead of coming from a condition of perfection as I did in the 1st century, I am coming from a condition of sin and error. Mary in this life began this process 3 years ago, in 2008." During interviews, Miller has said "Because of my personal desire and passion for God, as I grew, I recognised not only that I was the Messiah that was foretold by ancient prophets, but also that I was in a process designed by God that all humans could follow, if they so desired." You can view his website here.


Concluding Remarks

This article doesn't list all of the groups who have splintered from the Jehovah's Witnesses, as there are too many to list. Clearly, the Jehovah's Witnesses have endured a wide level of splintering over the years even though the Watchtower Society refuses to acknowledge them. In the eyes of the Watchtower Society, these splinter groups are apostate and ceased being Jehovah's Witnesses the moment they rejected the Watchtower Society's teaching; therefore they do not view them as “Jehovah's Witnesses,” and thus claim that splintering didn't happen. However, what is a splinter group other than a group who breaks away from a parent group?