Daily Archives: February 15, 2014

Questions about Cults and Religions: What Is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society?

 

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an organization directed by the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Watchtower Society was founded in 1886 and is currently located in Brooklyn, New York. The Watchtower possesses tremendous control over its members and has gone so far as to produce its own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. The Society has gone through several presidents since its founding and has positioned itself as a major competitor to evangelical Christianity. While claiming to be the only legitimate followers of Jehovah God, the Watchtower denies and even opposes several of the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

To begin with, the Watchtower gets wrong one of the most important of all religious questions: Who is Jesus Christ? The Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus Christ is actually the first creation of Jehovah God, not God incarnate as the Bible clearly teaches (Titus 2:13; Colossians 2:9). In doing so, they have placed Christ in the category of creature rather than acknowledging His rightful place of Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16–17; John 1:1–3). They have repeated the deadly error of Arianism, which was condemned as heresy by the Christian Church at the Council of Nicea and is easily refuted by a fair reading of Scripture.

Since its inception, the Watchtower has denied the biblical teaching of the triune God (one Being who exists as three co-equal, co-eternal Persons) and gone so far as to say that the God of Christianity is a satanic counterfeit. Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and a former President of the Society, even referred to the Christian concept of God as, “the devil himself.” The God of the Watchtower is not the biblical God and is therefore not capable of saving people from their sins.

In an attempt to justify their doctrines through biblical exegesis, the Society produced their own translation of the Scriptures in 1961. This translation, known as the New World Translation, is regarded by the Jehovah’s Witnesses as the only faithful rendering of the biblical text. The NWT is unique in that it is the first intentional systematic effort at producing a complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing with a group’s doctrine. Greek scholars from across the theological spectrum have repeatedly criticized the NWT as an inaccurate rendering of key biblical passages.

The late Dr. Bruce Metzger, formerly Professor of New Testament Language at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of several highly acclaimed books on textual criticism stated, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses have incorporated in their translations of the New Testament several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek.” Dr. Robert Countess, who completed his PhD dissertation in Greek on the New World Translation, is on record as saying that the Watchtower’s translation “has been sharply unsuccessful in keeping doctrinal considerations from influencing the actual translation. It must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some points it is actually dishonest.”

A further reason to reject the claims of the Watchtower is their long history of engaging in false prophecy. The Watchtower Society has on numerous occasions predicted in print the end of the world, the most recent dates being in 1946, 1950, and 1975. What makes their false prophecy all the more damning is when their false predictions are seen in the light of their claim to be “the true prophetic mouthpiece for God on earth at this time.” The Society’s history of false prophecy stands in stark contrast to the standard for a true prophet laid out in Scripture: “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).

Moreover, the Watchtower continues to engage in cultic manipulation of its people through the prohibition of military service, the celebration of holidays, and the saluting of the nation’s flag. The impetus for these restrictions is rooted in their false claim to be the exclusive organized collection of Jehovah’s people. The Watchtower views these practices as devices of Satan to lead people away from Jehovah. The Watchtower sees the entire “world system” (any activity not connected with the Watchtower) as connected to Satan and is thus prohibited. This would include the practice of blood transfusions, which the Watchtower wrongly believes to be prohibited by Scripture. The Watchtower has stated that a blood transfusion “may result in the immediate and very temporary prolongation of life, but at the cost of eternal life for a dedicated Christian.” The Society wrongly assumes that the biblical prohibition of eating blood (Genesis 9:4; Acts 15:28–29) extends all the way to the modern practice of blood transfusions, a restriction that, in practice, has cost the very lives of many Jehovah’s Witnesses and even their children.

Despite a track record of repeated false prophecies, a cultic isolation of their own people, and a flagrant mistranslation of the Bible to justify their own theology, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society continues to gain unsuspecting converts every year. It is the job of biblically faithful Christians to be prepared to refute these errors with sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). As Jude tells us, we must “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Posttribulational View of the Rapture (Posttribulationism)?

 

When considering any question involving eschatology (the study of end times), it is important to remember that almost all Christians agree on these three things:

1) There is coming a time of great tribulation such as the world has never seen,
2) After the Tribulation, Christ will return to establish His kingdom on earth,
3) There will be a Rapture—a “catching away” from mortality to immortality—for believers as described in John 14:1–3, 1 Corinthians 15:51–52, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17. The only question regards the timing of the Rapture: when will it occur in relation to the Tribulation and the Second Coming?

There are primarily three theories about the timing of the Rapture: the belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins (pretribulationism), the belief that the Rapture will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation (midtribulationism), and the belief that the Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation (posttribulationism). This article deals specifically with the posttribulational view.

Posttribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs at the end, or near the end, of the Tribulation. At that time, the church will meet Christ in the air and then return to earth for the commencement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His Kingdom) happen almost simultaneously. According to this view, the church goes through the entire seven-year Tribulation. Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, and many Protestant denominations espouse a posttribulational view of the Rapture.

One strength of posttribulationism is that Jesus, in His extended discourse on the end times, says He will return after a “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21, 29). Also, the book of Revelation, with all its various prophecies, mentions only one coming of the Lord—and that occurs after the Tribulation (Revelation 19–20). Passages such as Revelation 13:7 and 20:9 also lend support to posttribulationism in that there will obviously be saints in the Tribulation. Also, the resurrection of the dead in Revelation 20:5 is called “the first resurrection.” Posttribulationists assert that, since this “first” resurrection takes place after the Tribulation, the resurrection associated with the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 cannot occur until then.

Posttribulationists also point out that, historically, God’s people have experienced times of intense persecution and trial. Therefore, they say, it should not be surprising that the church also experiences the Great Tribulation of the end times. In relation to this, the posttribulational view distinguishes “Satan’s wrath” (or “man’s wrath”) from “God’s wrath” in the book of Revelation. Satan’s wrath is directed against the saints, and God allows it as a means of purifying His faithful. On the other hand, God’s wrath is poured out on the Antichrist and his godless kingdom, and God will protect His people from that punishment.

One weakness of posttribulationism is the clear teaching of Scripture that those who are in Christ are not under condemnation and will never experience the wrath of God (Romans 8:1). While some judgments during the Tribulation specifically target the unsaved, many other judgments, such as the earthquakes, falling stars, and famines, will affect the saved and unsaved equally. Thus, if believers go through the Tribulation, they will experience the wrath of God, in contradiction of Romans 8:1.

Another weakness of the posttribulational view is that it must, to some extent, allegorize the Tribulation. Many posttribulationists teach that we are living in the Tribulation now; in fact, some say the Tribulation began immediately after Pentecost in Acts 2. Such teaching ignores the singular nature of the Tribulation as presented in Scripture (Matthew 24:21), that it will be a time of distress unparalleled in the history of the world. Also, posttribulationists face a difficulty in explaining the absence of the word “church” in all biblical passages related to the Tribulation. Even in Revelation 4–21, the lengthiest description of the Tribulation in all of Scripture, the word “church” never appears. Posttribulationists must assume that the word “saints” in Revelation 4–21 means the church, although a different Greek word is used.

And a final weakness of the posttribulational view is shared by the other two theories: namely, the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Is the Definition of Idealism?

 

In popular culture, an idealist is generally defined as “a person who sees the world as it could be rather than as it currently exists.” An idealist is full of hope, even to the point of impracticality; Don Quixote was an idealist. However, that definition has little to do with idealism as a philosophy. Idealism, for the purpose of this article, is the belief that reality is fundamentally a mental concept. In this worldview, everything knowable is composed of the mind or spirit. Various philosophers have taught idealism throughout history, including Plato.

The major biblical concern regarding idealism is the emphasis it places on the mind. According to idealism, the human mind is the sole authority and basis for all reality. There is no universe for our minds to discover; rather, our minds determine what is real. Awareness creates existence. This contradicts the opening words of Scripture: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). There was a reality before the human mind was there to be conscious of it.

A second biblical concern is that idealism downplays the importance of God’s revelation to humanity. If reality is what our mind creates, what role does God’s revealed Word play? Is the Bible simply the reality of someone’s mind in a past generation that helps shape the reality of our minds today? If so, then Scripture’s importance and impact are negligible.

Scripture is perfect and true. Psalm 18:30 teaches, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Both God and His words are true. This is why Paul wrote that Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). God and His Word are real and distinct from the human mind; they are not constructs of the human intellect.

A third biblical concern is that idealism conflicts with God’s transcendence. If God is Creator of all, above all, and knows all, then reality is much more than our minds can comprehend or conceive. God exists, whether or not we are aware of Him. The idealist view that the human mind conceives reality puts a human limitation on truth and denies the fact of a supernatural God.

Ultimately, our reality is not based on what our mind produces but on what God has made. He has created us, sustains us, and gives us life and strength. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our goal is not to create our own reality, but to better understand the reality that God has made.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Assurance of Salvation Part 9: Four kinds of people and the result of our testing in the faith

The Domain for Truth

Go to Part 8

Rembrandt-philosopher

l. Four kinds of people and the result of our testing in the faith

i.      Establish the need: Have you tested yourself to see if your Christian faith is genuine?

ii.      Purpose: Today we will see four possible kinds of people who have not and have tested their salvation.

These are divided into those who have and have not tested their salvation:[1]

1. Those who are not saved and know it

2. Those who are saved are not sure of it

3. Those who are unsaved but do not know it

4. Those who are saved and know it

iii.      Two kinds of people who have not tested their faith

1. Those who are unsaved but do not know it

a. Proof:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of…

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20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire

If you have been waiting for the “global economic crisis” to begin, just open up your eyes and look around. I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be “irrelevant” to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon. Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber’s wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet. After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008. As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries. This is truly a global phenomenon. (Read More….)

If America Continues To Go Down The Same Path As Europe, This Is What Life Will Be Like…

Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing. But that is the path that we are currently on. For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave. Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated. You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite. They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos. They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else. In essence, Europe is like a giant religious cult in many ways (minus the religion). With each passing year, the number of rules and regulations governing the daily lives of Europeans steadily grows, as does the level of control. If you try to live outside of that control, you could very well find yourself in a direct confrontation with the authorities very rapidly. (Read More…..)

Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That (14 Feb 2014)

 

  • Steve Lawson on why it is necessary to preach the wrath of God.
  • What do Mother Theresa and Hitler have in common?
  • I wrote last year about The Clergy Project, a group designed to give clergy of various faiths a “safe place” to question and doubt their faith. One pastor joined that group and now has revealed that he is an atheist.
  • Students at Wheaton College were upset that the school allowed Rosaria Butterfield to speak to the student body. Butterfield is a former lesbian whose book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, tells the tale of her conversion to Christianity.
  • Investing in your crown of exultation.
  • You can thank reader Rick for providing your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Ken Ham’s response to Bill Nye’s Facebook-issued challenge.
  • Nothing says ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ like murdering your unborn child. This is a disgusting display of depravity.
  • Michael Kruger on the book of Revelation’s journey into the canon.
  • Steven Furtick’s new book crashes and burns on the issue of biblical inspiration.
  • Hey, look, Furtick made local headlines in Charlotte.
  • The only thing sadder than this headline is the fact that I’m not at all surprised by it.
  • Pastor Don Green is running a series of posts on his Facebook page on the topic of homosexuality. I urge you to follow along as he examines the issue from a biblical perspective. Start here. Then read this, this and this.
  • John MacArthur preaches on the pathology of false disciples. This is only one sermon in a multiple-part series. If you’re able to listen to all of the messages, I encourage you to do so.

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“The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later” – Pipes in NRO

Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini brought his edict down on Salman Rushdie. Iran’s revolutionary leader objected to the author’s magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses because of its insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad and responded by calling for the execution of Rushdie and “all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents.”

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Four Prominent Issues From The Ken Ham/Bill Nye Creation Debate

Many news outlets have covered the recent creationism/evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum Tuesday on Feb. 4, 2014, in Petersburg, Ky., but few are pointing to particular arguments that were made. While many issues were left out in the debate, there were four that played most prominently in the debate ……. Click here for full story

New Survey Finds British Adults And Children Are Biblically Illiterate

Despite being the world’s best-seller, the Bible today faces one of its greatest challenges – many never read it regularly. According to research recently released by the Bible Society, Bible literacy in Britain is falling through the generations ……. Click here for full story

Anti-Israel Christian Churches: The Norm Or The Exception?

A new ‘study guide’ on Israel, released in January by the Presbyterian Church (PC) USA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) for the church’s 2.4 million members, is causing quite a stir. The 68-page publication is being released just ahead of the church’s biennial General Assembly being held in Detroit this June, where the group will again consider divestment from companies that deal with Israel’s military ……. Click here for full story

CultureWatch: Gender Bender Insanity

If you want to destroy a society, just target its sexual norms and values. If you can subvert and pervert human sexuality you can effectively kill a culture. We are seeing this played out before our very eyes right now. The bitter fruit of the sexual revolution of the 60s is still being manifest, and it does not look pretty.

The sexual anarchists knew that they could fundamentally transform a culture by unleashing a no-holds-barred sexual revolution. And it has been every bit as momentous and far-reaching as the various communist revolutions of last century.

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EU Considering Savings Account Confiscation, Is USA Next?

Given the American president’s fondness for national socialism, the chances of this coming to America are actually fairly high. After all, isn’t he the same guy who got a law passed that forces you to purchase something you don’t want and if you refuse will fine you and throw you into prison?

Yep, that’s the guy…

Zero Hedge: At first we thought Reuters had been punk’d in its article titled “EU executive sees personal savings used to plug long-term financing gap” which disclosed the latest leaked proposal by the European Commission, but after several hours without a retraction, we realized that the story is sadly true. Sadly, because everything that we warned about in “There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis” back in September of 2011, and everything that the depositors and citizens of Cyprus had to live through, seems on the verge of going continental.

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Federal Court: North Carolina ‘Choose Life’ License Plate Unconstitutional

According to Christian News Network:

North Carolina’s ’Choose Life’ license plate is unconstitutional because the state doesn’t provide the same forum for motorists on the other side of the contentious issue, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a federal judge’s ruling that the “Choose Life” license plate is unconstitutional.

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The Other Shoe Drops in Kentucky: Federal Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in the Commonwealth

Albert Mohler, President of Baptist Theological Seminary, expresses his dismay over a Kentucky judge’s decision to grant full recognition to same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.” Those are the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, drawn from his dissent in the case United States v. Windsor, handed down last year. In that case, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the United States government could not refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Court struck down a law passed by massive majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. While the Court did not rule that all fifty states must immediately legalize same-sex marriage, it set the stage for this eventual result. Justice Scalia made that point clear in his dissent.

Now, Justice Scalia’s prophecy has come to pass in Kentucky. Today, U. S. District Judge John G. Heyburn declared that Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states violates the equal protection clause of the U. S. Constitution. Judge Heyburn did not rule that Kentucky must now marry same-sex couples, but that the state must grant full recognition to same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Nevertheless, Judge Heyburn recognized that his decision points to that eventual result, stating that “there is no doubt that Windsor and this Court’s analysis suggest a possible result to that question.” If anything, that is an understatement. As with Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion in Windsor, Judge Heyburn now clearly points to the striking down of any state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. As Justice Scalia predicted, we did not have to wait long for the other shoe.

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Acting Like Men? Pastors, Pulpits and Profanity

Photo: YouTube; A Christmas Story

When a pastor abuses this privileged position, Christians ought to grieve. When a pastor publicizes his sin from the pulpit or, even worse, acts sinfully in the pulpit but does not acknowledge his behavior as being sinful and reprehensible to God, then those watching cannot help but begin to question that pastor’s qualifications. After all, if a man cannot present himself as above reproach when he is in the pulpit, what might he be doing outside of it? This is not meant as an accusatory statement, but rather stands as a logical question that might be asked.

There was a time when Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll was well known as the deliberately crude, “cussing pastor.” He seems to have since softened his language (or perhaps has traded it for other, more disturbing pastimes), but the trend of cussing in the pulpit has not entirely faded from evangelicalism. And since a man is understandably influenced by the company he keeps, it seems rather interesting, if not disheartening, to listen to the following clip of James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, as he preached this past Fall at the Act Like Men conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. A conference, it may be noted, where one of MacDonald’s co-stars was Mark Driscoll.

(Language warning.)

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