Watchtower Judicial System Overview
- The Watchtower’s Authoritarian “Theocratic” Structure - Today we begin an examination of the Watchtower Society’s law system—that is, its rules and enforcement system.
- The Watchtower Judicial System - I don’t think the Watchtower truly understands the radical difference between the Old Testament and the New. It doesn’t believe that people become Christians by being born again, having the Holy Spirit indwell them, being transformed from the inside out, living by grace and the spirit.
- Watchtower “Privileges” - As we consider how to relate to Jehovah’s Witnesses and how to get through to them, it’s important for us to understand the legalistic society that is the Watchtower religion—specifically, the degree to which local elders exercise control over the Witnesses in their congregation.
- “Marking” - Not believing that the ordinary Christian is supposed to live in response to the promptings of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Watchtower controls Jehovah’s Witnesses from the top down by means of rules and enforcement systems. One of the disciplinary methods it employ is known as “marking.” What is “marking,” and how is it done?
- Private Reproof - In the Watchtower system, if the elders form a judicial committee and have a hearing which establishes serious wrongdoing on the part of a Jehovah’s Witness in their congregation, they have to decide what sanction to impose. They have three options: private reproof, public reproof, or disfellowshipping.
- Public Reproof - In the Watchtower’s judicial system, when do the elders reprove a person privately and when is the reproof to be public? If the reproof is public, who is notified and how much are they told?
- How Disfellowshiping Works - Disfellowshipping is the ultimate penalty Watchtower elders can impose. The person is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. He or she has been removed from peaceful relations with Jehovah God. It is considered the equivalent of a spiritual death sentence because “outside of God’s moral organization there is no everlasting life.”
- Disfellowshiping Offenses - The Watchtower elders’ manual, Shepherd the Flock of God, 2019 edition, Section 12, contains a long list of “offenses that may require review by a judicial committee. Of course, this list is not comprehensive. There may be other matters that would also merit the attention of a judicial committee.” (12:2) I will list them for you, along with the subparagraphs within Section 12 where they can be found. Then I’ll make specific comments regarding a few of them.
- Helping Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses - How can we help ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, people who once were baptized Witnesses but who have now voluntarily disassociated themselves or who have been disfellowshipped by the congregation’s elders?