Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Which Truth is "the Truth"?

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that in the latter part of the 19th century Jehovah God used a young man named Charles Russell, a haberdasher, to find truth in the Bible. Russell eschewed all organised religion and started his own Bible study group, publishing the findings of his studies in a pamphlet that he paid to have printed and distributed.

In time Russell sold his business interests and eagerly began preaching the message that Jesus Christ had returned, invisibly, in 1874 [1]. He believed this was a truth revealed to him by God. He absolutely believed that Christ would end the present age with Armageddon in the year 1914. However, 1914 came and went and nothing happened other than World War 1 (then known as the Great War) started. But no Armageddon and no 'rapture'.

But Russell doggedly believed he alone had the truth. He went on to publish a series of books called "Studies in the Scriptures". Via these tomes he developed and taught his idea that through studying the Great Pyramid of Gizza, literally measuring it's passageways, man could ascertain God's divine plan for mankind down through the ages. Again, Russell believed that was truth revealed by Jehovah God. He was to claim that his "Studies in the Scriptures" was like the Bible in topical form and that only by reading his books one could fully understand God's inspired Word. In fact, if a person were to choose to only read the Bible, he would not be able to hold onto the spiritual light of truth. He actually claimed that "Studies in the Scriptures" practically was the Bible. [2].

However, what if a Jehovah's Witness in 2010 were to start preaching from the platform or from door-to-door that Christ had actually returned in 1874 and that God's plan for mankind could be ascertained from measuring a pyramid*? What if a Jehovah's Witness were to source the entire "Studies in the Scriptures" series and base their Christian beliefs on what was contained therein? Asides from believing things like Michael the Archangel is the Pope, would they be in step with "present truth"? Could they said to be in "the truth"?

You see, the question needs to be asked which truth is "the truth"? Russell thought he was in "the truth", but he obviously wasn't as Jehovah's Witnesses have rejected all of his "unique" beliefs as being false. Rutherford wasn't in "the truth" when he proclaimed that 1925 was more set in scripture than 1914. None of Rutherford's bold predictions came true. He wasn't in "the truth".

Yet Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that they are in "the truth". But how do they know? Russell thought he was, Rutherford thought he was and Witnesses in the late 80s thought they were in "the truth" when they believed the Governing Body's teaching that the generation of 1914 would still be alive when Armageddon came. Yet none of them were in "the truth"; what they believed was false.

Again, I have to ask, how do you know you're in "the truth"?

* this practise is known as pyramidology and is certainly a questionable practice for a Christian. 

[1] "Proclaimers" book pages 46-48

[2] "If the 6 volumes of 'Scripture Studies' are practically the Bible topically arranged, with Bible proof-texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes- 'The Bible' in an arranged form. That is to say, they are not merely comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself...Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible itself, but we see also that if anyone lays the 'Scripture Studies' ... after he has read them for 10 years-if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone...out experience shows that within 2 years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he has merely read the 'S.S.' with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years." (Watchtower, Sept 15, 1910)

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Answering StandFirm's Defence of 237

In this post I want to address, point by point, the defences made by Jehovah's Witness apologist StandFirm of the addition of the word "Jehovah" 237 times to the Greek text from which New World Translation is based.

Before I do so, it's important for readers to understand why this matters. The word Jehovah is a transliteration of the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH. YHWH was one of the names the Lord and God of Israel made himself known by. In the 13th century a monk named Raymundus Martini Latinised YHWH and thus it became Jehovah. However, as there is no J or V in the Hebrew alphabet, Raymundus was in error. In other words, God isn't, and never has been known as Jehovah. Perhaps Yahweh more closely transliterates the tetragrammaton, but there's no way of knowing how the Jews pronounced YHWH as by around 300BC they had a superstitious fear of saying the name and instead preferred to use 'adonai' or 'elohim'. Therefore, whenever the Gospels depict Jesus reading or quoting from the Hebrew scriptures, he most certainly would not have said "Jehovah" or even YHWH, no matter how it was pronounced (and as noted above, it definitely wasn't pronounced as "Jehovah" due to two of the letters not existing in his language). He would have kept within Jewish tradition by saying 'adonai' or 'elohim'.

In the Greek text of the New Testament the word 'kyrios' is used frequently and is translated as "Lord" in English. Within the text, Jesus is identified as 'kyrios' or Lord. The belief that Jesus is Lord* is an absolute corner stone of Christianity, and any deviation from holding up Jesus as Lord, and recognising that he alone holds this position, would be an act of apostasy**.

So, when the translation committee of the NWT, as endorsed by the Governing Body, decided to replace the word 'kyrios' with Jehovah in the Greek text, they significantly altered the meaning of the inspired word of God, shifting the focus away from Jesus as Lord and onto the name Jehovah. This is an act of apostasy and as such makes the NWT an apostate Bible, a Bible that cannot - and should not - be trusted***.

It is from this position that I requested that StandFirm defend the 237 times Jehovah has been inserted into the Greek text. His defence can be found here.

The thrust of his defence focuses on my accusation that the NWT is an apostate Bible for adding Jehovah to the Greek text, and he aims to expose my accusation as inconsistent by citing 7 other Bibles that use the word Jehovah also. In fact, he calls it a "massive double standard" Therefore I'll address this first.

"1. Translations into native African, American, and Pacific languages-Many of these contain 'Jehovah'. These translations have drawn many to Christianity. Are they apostate?"

Where do they contain Jehovah? In the Hebrew, or Old Testament? And if they do contain Jehovah in the Greek, or New Testament, is it 237 times? Do these Bibles specifically shift the focus and attention away from Jesus as 'kyrios'?

"2. The Emphatic Diaglott-It contains God's name multiple times in it. Is it apostate?"

Where, exactly, does the Diaglott (a Greek interlinear New Testament translation) use Jehovah (let's not get confused by referring to it as "God's name" when it clearly isn't)?

"3. Translations of the New Testament into Hebrew-These contain the Tetragrammaton (God's name). These are the sources for the Name in the New World Translation. Are they apostate?"

As already explained in this rebuttal, using translations of the Greek into another language, such as Hebrew, as the basis for replacing 'kyrios' with Jehovah is an act of intellectual stupidity at best, dishonesty at worst. If the Greek text says 'kyrios' why appeal to a translation in a completely different language that uses a totally different form of alphabet to justify changing the text - and therefore, meaning - of the inspired word of God?

"4. Today's English Version-It adds the name 'Jesus' at Revelation 22:12, even though that is not in the original Greek at all. Is it apostate?"

First of all, what is "Today's English Version"? I've Googled it and find no reference to it. However, does the addition of Jesus completely change the meaning of the text, and by extension, the Christian belief that Jesus alone is Lord (kyrios)? The text says "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done." Who is coming soon? The Lord (kyrios) Jesus, as is adequately borne out by the context.

"5. The Douay Version-The Douay Version is a translation of the Latin Vulgate. Similarly, the New World Translation where God's Name appears is a translation of the aforementioned Hebrew versions. Is the Douay Version apostate?"

Once again, appealing to Hebrew translations of the original Greek manuscripts is not how to answer the accusation of the 237 insertions of Jehovah. And then we have the need for evidence; where, exactly, does the Douay Version use Jehovah? I think you may be mistaken in citing it as a Bible containing Jehovah. Lastly, the Douay Version was the Bible favoured by Catholics for many, many years; are Jehovah's Witnesses now appealing to the Catholic faith to back up their insertion of Jehovah 237 times into the Greek text of the New World Translation?

"6. The English Standard Version-It is a revision of the Revised Standard Version, itself a revision of the American Standard Version, yet again iself [sic] derived from the Revised Version, itself a revision of the King James Version. The New World Translation's Divine Name is taken from the Hebrew versions mentioned. Are all these translations apostate?"

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning, other than to notice that you're again appealing to Hebrew translations of the Greek manuscripts.

As for the likes of the ESV (my preferred choice of Bible version as it's a word-for-word translation) being apostate, only if they are abandoning religious beliefs; ie. are they taking attention away from Jesus being Lord and placing the focus of the reader elsewhere.

"7. The Living Bible-It is a paraphrase and translates many verses much differently than the original Greek. Is it apostate?"

Does the paraphrasing of the Living Bible lead people away from the teaching that Jesus is Lord (kyrios) by significantly altering the text of the extant Greek manuscripts to place the focus on the name Jehovah? If not, then no, it's not apostate.

StandFirm then concludes his defence of the NWT by making this statement;
"As is obvious by now, the New World Translation does not add to God's Word at all. Rather, what it did is perfectly acceptable by the standards applied to other Bibles. Could it be that opposers call the New World Translation apostate simply because they hate Jehovah's Witnesses, who made it?"

Firstly, it's obvious that the NWT does add to the God's Word. It does so by replacing 'kyrios' dozens of times with the Latinsed word Jehovah, thus taking attention and focus away from Jesus as Lord. This is serious and throws all teachings based on the NWT into question. It is also far from "perfectly acceptable".

As yet StandFirm has not addressed the other occasions whereby the NWT adds to God's Word, such as at Philipians 2:9,10 (adding the word 'other' to change the meaning of the original text) and Colossians 1:16,17 (again adding 'other', which changes the meaning of the text, removing Jesus from his position of Creator of all things in heaven and on earth).

I have to take issue with this accusation;
"Could it be that opposers call the New World Translation apostate simply because they hate Jehovah's Witnesses, who made it?"

That's quite a statement, and it's in error on a couple of counts. Firstly, Jehovah's Witnesses didn't "make" the NWT. The NWT was "translated" by a committee appointed by the Governing Body. As the Watch Tower Society refuses to name the translators, let's assume that it was a team of 20 individuals. Let's also assume that the Governing Body at the time consisted of 18 members. That makes around 38 men who were involved in the translating and approval of the NWT. Jehovah's Witnesses number around 7 million today. But even based upon their numbers back in the 1950-60s, 38 men is a minute fraction of the over all sect. Therefore, "Jehovah's Witnesses" didn't "make" the NWT. A very tiny minority of their number did on the authority of the Governing Body, who will one day render an account for misleading millions of sincere people.

And since when is questioning the honesty of a Bible translation equatable to hating the group who use it? This is a huge red-herring and certainly places doubt over the intellectual honesty of the one making the claim.

If a small group of men get together and significantly alter the text and meaning of God's inspired word, and then push forward their apostasised version as the only accurate translation of the Holy Bible, then the ones who have placed their trust in these men aren't to be hated, but rather pitied.

In fact, it is incumbent upon those of us who have found the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord to expose the dangerous lies and falsehoods found in religious organisation such as the Watch Tower Society, which itself bears this out in their publications;
"It is not a form of religious persecution for anyone to say and to show that another religion is false. It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing person to see the difference between false religion and true religion. (Watchtower, Nov. 15, 1963, p. 688)"

"We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with Gods Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination. It should be the sincere desire of every one of us to learn what Gods will is for us, and then to do it." John 8:32 (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, 1968, p. 13)

"Consequently, is it unchristian today to offer Bible-based comments about another's religion? The scriptural answer must be No. True, criticism that reveals faults in the teachings or practices of someone's religion might at first seem severe. Yet, how should one react? Not like those who became violently enraged over Stephen's criticism. Rather, note the fine reaction of some Athenians who heard Paul's comments. They accepts the Bible truth and became believers, to their eternal benefit. Compare Acts 17:11, 12. Far from being rejected as unchristian then, criticism based on gods word should be carefully considered, for it can bring real benefits". (Awake! Nov. 22, 1974, p. 28) "

StandFirm has attempted to rebut my concerns about appealing to Hebrew translations of the extant Greek manuscripts by stating;
"What if they led Jews to Christianity?"

Indeed, but does that make it acceptable to change 'kyrios' to Jehovah, drawing attention away from Jesus as Lord? Could the same argument be applied to Islam? Would it be acceptable to translate the Greek manuscripts into Arabic, changing 'kyrios' to Allah, or worse, Muhammad?

He then continues;
"Obviously it is not, and you know that full well. That was a short debate, huh? Are you happy now that I've said it?"

I'm not sure if to interpret that statement as petulance due to realising that both his arguments and his Bible are in error. However, the point remains; the NWT is an apostasised version of the Holy Bible and StandFirm, by his own admission, realises that Jehovah is not found anywhere in the Greek text of the Bible. So, why defend its insertion? And why trust a version of the Bible that has been corrupted to take attention away from Jesus as 'kyrios'?

Finally, he concludes;
"By the way, you must admit, by your own standards, that all 7 of the Bibles I mentioned are apostate also; or else demonstrate how your standard does not apply."

I believe I have done so in this text.

* Romans 10:9, 2 Cor 4:5
** apostasy is defined as "the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief."
*** if Jesus is 'kyrios' and is to be revered as such, then to shift the focus away from Jesus onto another person is an abandonment of 1st century Christianity.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Governing Body?

Jehovah's Witnesses are a religious faith group that are "fed" via "spiritual food" printed, published and distributed by a corporation named the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught via this corporation that God is using only one organisation on earth today, and that the Watch Tower Society is it.

The "spiritual food" printed and published by the Watch Tower Society is compiled and approved for distribution by a group of men known as the Governing Body. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught by the Governing Body that they represent a group called the "faithful and discreet slave".

However, this concept is not found with any degree of clarity in the Bible.

So, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses is this; can you show me the Governing Body in the Bible?

Where is the Evidence for This Claim?

And what does it do to the Bible, overall?

This is a screen shot from a YouTube video that claims such things as YHWH (or Jehovah) "appears in the Christian Greek Scriptures but was quickly removed and replaced with ky'rios or The-os (God, Lord*).

This is a massive claim. It means that before the New World Translation was published in the 1950s, all Bibles were corrupt. But where is the actual evidence that YHWH (or Jehovah) was "quickly removed" from the original Greek copies of the Gospels and epistles? And where is the evidence that Paul, Peter and the other evangelistic apostles taught Gentile Christian converts a Hebrew name for God when they spoke so frequently about the Lord Jesus? The Greek language is massively different from Hebrew. Do Jehovah's Witnesses honestly expect us to believe that when Paul wrote his epistles he inserted four Hebrew characters into his Greek text rather than simply use the Greek word kyrios, as is found in the extant Greek manuscripts?

And what about the apostles Peter and John? Between their 5 letters they mention YHWH (or Jehovah) not once! If the four Hebrew letters were used so frequently among 1st century Christians, whether of Hebrew descent or Gentile, why didn't these two faithful followers and witnesses of Christ use them in their letters?

The reality is that the Governing Body has infused an obsession with the name Jehovah into all Jehovah's Witnesses. But the evidence found in the Bible points to the name Jesus as being the most important name in the universe - literally in heaven and on earth. The name Jesus is the name that brings salvation to men, not the name Jehovah.

If the name Jesus is the most important name, who has inspired the Governing Body to put such an overwhelming evidence on the name Jehovah?

* actually, it's the other way around; kyrios = Lord and theos = God.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

StandFirm Continues to Wilfully Miss the Point on 237.

StandFirm has replied to my questions on his justification of the Governing Body adding Jehovah 237 times to the Greek scriptures;
No need to justify what is accepted practice.

By 'Hebrew Translations' I was referring to translations of the New Testament from Greek into Hebrew, and I have clarified the original post.

My entire point is that what we did is standard practice. Are you willing to admit that the New World Translation is not 'apostate' for doing this? Are you?
So let me understand this, the basis for inserting YHWH (transliterated into the erroneous Jehovah) is by looking at Hebrew versions of the Greek manuscripts, rather than looking at the actual extant Greek manuscripts themselves?

In other words, the Greek manuscripts (from which the New Testament is translated into, let's say, English) don't contain YHWH, but the Hebrew translations of the Greek do? Therefore by referencing translations of the original manuscripts, the NWT is somehow accurate?

Can you cite these Hebrew translations of the Greek scriptures, please? Are you sure you aren't confusing them with the Jesuit translations into Hebrew of the Greek scriptures, translations that date from around the 1300s?

If these Hebrew translations added YHWH where it isn't found in the extant Greek manuscripts then, yes, they are apostate. And so is the NWT for relying on them.

The rest of your argument is one big red herring, I'm afraid; the issue is whether the name Jehovah (I'll even grant you the possible full YHWH) is found in the extant Greek manuscripts, not whether other versions of the Bible add Jehovah to the Hebrew scriptures or use paraphrasing rather than word-for-word translation techniques.

I have to say, I'm really disappointed that this is your justification for the Governing Body sanctioning the insertion of a false name for God 237 times into the Christian Greek scriptures.

It seems that StandFirm is of the opinion that many other Bible translations have added Jehovah into the Christian Greek scriptures. Yet, he fails to cite one example of this taking place. And even if he were to have such an example (or examples), would its (their) existence suddenly make the practise of adding words to the extant Greek manuscripts justified?

Questions for StandFirm re. 237

My questions in response to StandFirm's blog post.

I thought the debate was to be about the justification of adding the word Jehovah 237 times to the Greek text of the Bible when it does not appear anywhere in any of the exact Greek manuscripts. You don't seem to be giving any justification, but rather are simply pointing to other Bibles that have the name Jehovah in them.

Can you help me understand what you're saying, please? Particularly, I need you to help me understand what you're stating when you refer to Hebrew translations. I thought we were talking about the Greek scriptures, ie. the parts not written in Hebrew, but rather in Greek. I assumed our debate was going to be on the 237 times that Jehovah is added to the Bible books Matthew through Revelation.

You do understand, I'm sure, that Jehovah isn't actually God's name, but rather one of the names God revealed himself to the Jews is by the Hebrew letters 'YHWH' of which we have no definitive English transliteration. Is your assertion that the writers of the Greek scriptures added the 4 Hebrew letters above into their letters and testimonies? I just want to be clear on whether you realise this before I write my comments on my blog.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Born Again?

Jehovah's Witnesses oftentimes, in my personal experience, exude an air of haughty disdain for any Christian who professes to be "born again", sometimes using the term "born-agains" as a pejorative. This is, however, the accepted practice of Jehovah's Witnesses, as taught by the Governing Body*.

The term "born again" is Biblical and comes from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, as Christians we accept what he has to say on the idea of being born again as he alone speaks truth.
John 3:3 In answer Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3: 7 Do not marvel because I told you, YOU people must be born again. [emphasis added]
 Jehovah's Witnesses hope to, one day, live on a paradise earth, ruled over by God's Kingdom (Revelation 21:1-4). However, Jesus says that if anyone wants to even see the kingdom of God, they must be born again. As Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only the 144,000 as described in Revelation are born again, only around 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses currently alive can lay any claim to being part of - or seeing - the kingdom of God.

My question for Jehovah's Witnesses is this, why, when Jesus says you must be born again to even see the kingdom of God, do you believe that you don't need to be? 

* The Governing Body, through it's publishing channel the Watch Tower Society, encourages and endorses the use of name-calling. For example, terms like "apostate", "irregular", "weak", "so-called Christians" are used to classify certain people into groups according to their position to the Governing Body and its teachings.

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: How Much?

Jehovah's Witnesses are a works-based faith group, whereby they believe they need to perform certain works in a certain way and with a certain level of faithfulness in order to receive justification and, ultimately, salvation*. They believe that they can earn God's favour and grace and that somehow it's up to them to "keep themselves in God's love"**.

The Bible, teaches, however, that it's faith in Jesus that rewards us with salvation, as it's Jesus's righteous work at Calvary that is the only work that saves. This is a gift from God and cannot be earned.

So, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses is, how much of your salvation is dependent on you, and how much on Jesus's righteousness? 5% you 95% Jesus? 23% you 77% Jesus?

*by salvation I mean that they won't be destroyed at Armageddon.
** the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses have condensed their guide to living correctly as a Christian into a book called "Keep Yourself in God's Love". This book contains rules that Jehovah's Witnesses follow regarding extra-Biblical matters such as masturbation and blood fractions.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Who Lied?

The Governing Body uttered the following, as printed in the Watchtower magazine;
    "Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and "the faithful and discreet slave."" Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14 
When the truth, as revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and the "faithful and discreet" slave turns out to actually be false, Jehovah's Witnesses have a problem. Either Jehovah lied, and the Bible says he can't. Or Jesus lied, and the Bible calls him "the truth". Or the "faithful and discreet slave" lied.

So, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses is, when the Governing Body no longer believes something they previously taught as truth revealed by Jehovah God, through Jesus, who lied?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Honour?

John 5:22 For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son,23 in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Jesus here claims that he's to be honoured, just as the Father is honoured. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the name of the Father is Jehovah. So, Jesus is claiming that he has to be honoured in the same way that Jehovah is honoured.

Considering Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus to be a created thing, Michael the Archangel, considering the Governing Body teaches them that Jesus was just a "good man" (a great man, admittedly), considering that Jesus will be mentioned 5 or 6 times fewer per Watchtower magazine as Jehovah, considering statements like the following (to be found in the August 2008 Watchtower magazine, page 17, paragraph 4:
Jehovah and “the faithful and discreet slave” deeply appreciate all their past and present contributions to the Kingdom work. (Matt 24:45)
Considering all of that, and more, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses is, how exactly do you honour Jesus, just as you honour the Father? 

Friday, 14 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Father?

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that out of all the hundreds of millions of Christians who have ever lived, only 144,000 were actually picked by Jehovah to be spirit-anointed, to be brought into his family and welcomed into heaven upon their death.

Only this small group of 144,000 believers have the right to call Jehovah "Father".

As only around 10,000 of this group are still alive in earth today, the overwhelming majority Jehovah's Witnesses (of whom there are roughly 7 million) are not God's children.

My question for Jehovah's Witnesses: why do you call Jehovah "Father" when you pray?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Equal?

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that Jesus, the Son, is not co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. The Governing Body get this teaching from Arianism, a Christian heresy. They do not get this teaching from the Bible (see Psalm 90:2, Hebrews 9:14 and Revelation 22:13).

However, the Watch Tower Society publish doctrine from the Governing Body that suggests that Jehovah's Witnesses are to believe that Jesus is equal with someone.

    "Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and "the faithful and discreet slave."" Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14 
What is this text suggesting? The Jesus and the "faithful and discreet slave" are used by Jehovah God to reveal truth.*

Therefore, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses; why is it when the Bible describes Jesus as the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth, the possessor of the "name above every name", the one to whom every knee in heaven and earth will bend, and the one who became our sin so that we can have his righteousness, does the Governing Body put itself in an equal position with Him?

* This truth is subject to change.

237 Times - A Debate Request

This is to notify readers that I have asked StandFirm to debate me on the 237 times "Jehovah" has been inserted into the text of the New World Translation. Thus far, my comment requesting this debate* has not been published on his blog and I have had no response via the email address I offered him to contact me by.

The reason I wish to debate him on this topic is that this apostate corruption of the inspired text of the Bible is at the very heart of the Governing Body's misleading of Jehovah's Witnesses; because they can cite corrupted verses in their corrupted Bible gives the Governing Body the authority they need over Jehovah's Witnesses.

However, facing up to this fact is a challenge for even the most confident Witness apologist; how do you defend the Governing Body for actually changing, and adding to, God's Word to support their "unique beliefs"?

It's an issue that's clearly very sensitive to StandFirm as he has already threatened to delete comments of mine that make reference to he 237 insertions of YHWH. He has also studiously avoided providing me with any New Testament reference to 1st century Christians witnesses about "Jehovah", instead merely saying "they talked about God all the time", which isn't the same thing and presupposes the existence of YHWH 237 in the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles.

*StandFirm's original comment "challenging" me to debate him seems to missing from his blog. Perhaps he realises he's bitten off much more than he can chew.

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: How Many Gods?

As a Christian I'm a monotheist, that is, I believe in only one, true God. The word "true" means that I view all other gods as "not true", or false. Therefore, any God other than the Christian God is a false god. I take this position due to the Bible's consistent teaching, from Old to New Testament, that there is only one, true God.

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that Jehovah alone is God. He is Almighty God. But the Bible says that Jesus is God*.

My question for Jehovah's Witnesses: why are you polytheists?

*Isaiah 9: 6 For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

John 20:28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see and yet believe.” [Spoken by Thomas, without correction, to Jesus. 'Ho theos' = "the God", something the Governing Body teaches is never said about Jesus. Yet there it is, in black and white.]

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Al´pha and the O·me´ga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.” [note: "Jehovah" is not in the original Greek, but rather 'kyrious',or Lord. The context clearly shows this is talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. As is the case in dozens of examples, God's inspired word has been altered by the Governing Body to support their Christ-dishonouring doctrines.]

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Answering 'Things Witnesses Can't Do' Refuted 1-10'

StandFirm has addressed roughly 110 'Things Witnesses Can't Do' because;
Become a Jehovah's Witness and you can't...

This list is obviously meant to make Witnesses seem fanatical. Of course, many of these are not true, twisted, etc., you know, usual apostate ploys. We are not 'forbidden' to do anything, but as a result of careful study we as a united congregation wisely shun certain things.
He claims to address the seemingly fanatical rules that Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to following in order to remain in good standing before God (the reality is, the only good standing Witnesses are interested in is before the local elders).

His responses are explained as follows;
Here is what the classifications mean:TRUE
A disfellowshipping offense if done unrepentantly.
Spoken against in the publications and in talks, or some types or aspects wrong. Not a disfellowshipping offense.
Nothing wrong at all.
 "A disfellowshipping offense if done unrepentantly." - This statement is incredible, especially when one goes through the list of 110 things Jehovah's Witnesses are alleged to not be able to do. The Bible gives a limited list of "disfellowshipping offences";
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. [emphasis added]
Pretty straightforward. Not an exhaustive list. So, quite where the Governing Body finds these other misdemeanours whereby a Jehovah's Witness can be disfellowshipped is puzzling.

Then we have 'Partly', which denotes  "Spoken against in the publications and in talks, or some types or aspects wrong. Not a disfellowshipping offense." So, for these infractions you won't be disfellowshipped. But where does the authority come for making these rules in the first place? Not the Bible, but rather, "publications and...talks". Could this be viewed as "going beyond the things written"?

Let's consider the first 10 things Witnesses can't do.

1. Celebrate Mother's Day 

A Jehovah's Witness can be disfellowshipped - cut off from the congregation - for celebrating Mother's Day. The reason?

What is the origin of Mother's Day? It's modern day origin is from a woman named Anna Jarvis, but the idea comes from much older pagan festivals, such as the Greek festival to Cybele, and a Roman holiday named Matronalia, where, interestingly, gifts were given to mothers.
Jehovah's Witnesses honor their mothers year round. (Deuteronomy 5:16, Proverbs 23:22)
A reference clearly indicating that Witnesses do not celebrate Mother's Day can be found in the 
Reasoning book on page 182.
Is the Governing Body consistent in it's application of the "pagan origins" rule? See my previous posting about piñatas and how there are times when the pagan origins don't matter.

Let's move onto the next 2 items;

2. Celebrate Father's Day

Father's Day has no pagan origin; but is still giving undue honor to humans. See last point.
3. Celebrate Grandparent's Day

Same as Father's Day.

See December 2006 
Awake! page 20 where a young sister is commended for not celebrating Grandmother's Day. [2]
So, no pagan origins here, but Jehovah's Witnesses aren't allowed to do it, not because the Bible says it's wrong, but because of the "Spoken against in the publications and in talks, or some types or aspects wrong. Not a disfellowshipping offense" rule. In other words, the Governing Body has gone beyond what's written in the Bible and instituted a Pharisaical law. God hasn't expressed his displeasure over Father's Day, for example, so why do the Governing Body produce publications and talks that state their opinion on what they think God will feel about it?

And what's this about unduly honouring someone? Where do wedding anniversaries fit into this ruling? Doesn't the celebration of a wedding anniversary unduly honour the couple?

4. Celebrate Birthdays

Birthdays have a pagan origin with festivals dedicated to guardian spirits and the like. There is no evidence the Jews or the early Christians celebrated birthdays. Also, the Bible only references birthdays in a very bad light both times, and they were celebrated only by pagans.
The Bible doesn't mention Christians of Jews wearing wedding dresses or having wedding cakes, but both have pagan origins and both are practiced by Jehovah's Witnesses. Should these be abandoned? How are birthday's viewed today? Are they seen or understood as being pagan? See above reference to  piñatas.

5. Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is ostensibly based on the colonists and Indians having a meal together, but the facts of history show otherwise. [4] Harvest festivals and the like have been around for a very long time. Thanksgiving is basically a patriotic holiday.
John 15:19:
"you are not of the world"
Again, a Jehovah's Witness can be disfellowshipped for celebrating Thanksgiving. Where does Thanksgiving fit into 1 Cor 5:11-13? Remember, being disfellowshipped cuts you off from the entire Jehovah's Witness community, including family members. And how, exactly, does John 15:19 fit in? Couldn't that be taken out of context and applied to any variety of ordinary things people do, day in, day out, around the world? What about Romans 14:5,6?

5 One [man] judges one day as above another; another [man] judges one day as all others; let each [man] be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day observes it to Jehovah.
Is the Bible forbidding the observance of certain days? Paul was writing to Roman Christians, some of whom, in their immaturity, kept certain holy days, like the sabbath. Paul was saying, observe what days you like, just do it for God's honour. (Note: Paul did not say Jehovah, but rather 'kyrios' or Lord, in reference to Jesus.)  

6. Celebrate New Year's Eve or Day

New Year's has its origin in an ancient Roman festival to the god Juno. It is marked by revelries and overdrinking. (Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3, 4) [5]
What if you don't mark it with revelry and drinking? Would you still be disfellowshipped? And should we start looking at the names of the months and days of the week? Many of these have their origins with ancient Roman gods. 

7. Celebrate Christmas

Christians are never commanded to celebrate Christ's birth. The date December 25 is false; much of Christmas taken directly from a very similar pagan Roman festival called Saturnalia. Parents also lie to their children about 'Santa Claus'. (John 8:44) [6]

"Christians are never commanded to celebrate Christ's birth" is a strawman argument. No one is claiming it's a command to celebrate Christ's birth. But each Christian has the freedom before God to decide whether they will or not, according to the instruction found in the Bible.

What if you don't lie to your kids about Santa Claus? What if you celebrate Christmas as a mere secular day of gift giving and family get-together? Would you still be disfellowshipped? Where in the Bible does it say that remembering the birth of Jesus, no matter what the date, is wrong?  

Much of what happens at a wedding is taken directly from pagan practices and celebrations; wedding rings, wedding dresses, wedding cakes, bridesmaids etc. Where is the consistency, or are Jehovah's Witnesses disfellowshipped for getting married in a white dress, having bridesmaids and cutting the wedding cake?

8. Celebrate Halloween

Halloween must be the most grotesque 'holiday' there is. Honoring witches, demons, and paganism? Absolutely not!
More extra-Biblical reasons to excommunicate their members. Halloween is undoubtedly pagan and is a very dark celebration.  But I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it suggests a person should be excommunicated for celebrating it. 

9. Celebrate Easter
Christians are never commanded to celebrate Christ's resurrection. Most of Easter comes from pagan fertility (sex) festivals. [7]
See above points about using the 'pagan origins' argument inconsistently. And, again, a Jehovah's Witness would be disfellowshipped for celebrating Christ's resurrection? Once again we find a strawman; no one is claiming Christians are commanded to celebrate Christ's resurrection. However, we choose in our Christian freedom to remember the most amazing day in human history, casting aside any alleged pagan origins and claiming the day for Christ.

10. Celebrate Flag Day

If Witnesses do not salute the flag, they certainly would not celebrate Flag Day.
Flags are worshipped, comparable to burning incense to the Roman Caesar. [8]
More extra-Biblical rules. Notice that, once again, a Jehovah's Witness would be disfellowshipped for celebrating flag day, particularly because of the strawman 'worshiping the flag' rule. I agree, that worshipping, or putting on high, anything or anyone, is idolatry. But why do Jehovah's Witnesses worship the Watch Tower Society? Why do they venerate buildings, such as their Branch Offices?

"The world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses is in New York. Located there is the Governing Body, a central group of experienced elders who oversee the worldwide congregation. There are also over 100 branch offices around the world. At these locations, volunteers help to print and ship Bible literature. Direction is also given to the organizing of the preaching work. Why not plan a visit to the branch office nearest you?"
"What Does God Require of Us?" Lesson 14 Par. 6 
Here's what's disturbing to me in all of this; the Governing Body writes all of these extra-Biblical rules and virtually expects Jehovah's Witnesses to jump through hoops in order to, in some way, keep themselves in good favour with God. But how can any of us, through our works or observance of law, be made right with God? The simple answer from the Bible is, we can't!
Galations 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners from the nations, 16 knowing as we do that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus, even we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be declared righteous due to faith toward Christ, and not due to works of law, because due to works of law no flesh will be declared righteous.
Galatians 3:1 O senseless Ga·la´tians, who is it that brought YOU under evil influence, YOUbefore whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed impaled? 2 This alone I want to learn from YOU: Did YOU receive the spirit due to works of law or due to a hearing by faith? 3 Are YOU so senseless? After starting in spirit are YOU now being completed in flesh? 4 Did YOU undergo so many sufferings to no purpose? If it really was to no purpose. 5 He, therefore, who supplies YOU the spirit and performs powerful works among YOU, does he do it owing to works of law or owing to a hearing by faith? 6 Just as Abraham “put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Galations 3:21 Is the Law, therefore, against the promises of God? May that never happen! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, righteousness would actually have been by means of law. 22 But the Scripture delivered up all things together to the custody of sin, that the promise resulting from faith toward Jesus Christ might be given to those exercising faith. 
 Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5 made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness YOU have been saved 6 and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming systems of things there might be demonstrated the surpassing riches of his undeserved kindness in his graciousness toward us in union with Christ Jesus. 8 By this undeserved kindness, indeed, YOU have been saved through faith; and this not owing to YOU, it is God’s gift. 9 No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting. 
That's why we need Jesus, not a publishing corporation, not a "visible organisation", but rather the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

If we could make ourselves right with God through the keeping of rules or law, then Jesus did not need to become sin for us, in order for us to receive his righteousness (2 Corithians 5:21). But rather, the only means for salvation is to be found in Christ alone. Nowhere else.

Jehovah's Witnesses, please, look to Jesus for your salvation, not to the keeping or rules set down by imperfect men to whom no salvation belongs.