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.

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