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Tom Rook

WOW! What a defense of Jehovah's Witnesses ! I am old enough to remember this stuff, or know it is true from the folks who were there.

"We kicked them while they were up" (paraphrased). WOW.

Tom.Rook@Technik-SA.US

Tobias Fong

Ha ha, maybe you are right. Well, I've said it before, and I'll sa it again. Just because a bunch of people from a certain denomination does something bad or disagreeable, it is not fair to judge the entire denomination based on that. I completely disagree with that lady who called yo guys "religious weirdoes". Just what makes her think your denomination is weird and hers is ordinary?

I'm one person who advocates religious tolerance, so I would't agree with blasting other denominations as "enemies of God" and "instruments of satan". Tht's really extreme, and as I've said, just because a few does it, doesn't mean the others do. It just takes one bad egg to give the entire denomination a bad impression. Which is hat I meant by being judgemental. Let others do what they think is right, and do what you think is right accordingly, without other people influencing you. You're right, it's actions that speak louder than beliefs, but you shouldn't judge the actions of others. Leave the judging to God.

tom sheepandgoats

Thank you, Tom. Nice first name.

Tobias:

There is something to be said for not being judgemental. Nobody likes a self-righteous person. But as described here, beliefs eventually come out as actions, and the actions in this case contributed to millions dead and wounded. (exactly the opposite of Christ's example, which the clergy professed to follow) Hence, we don't think criticizing the responsible religions is innappropriate. Clearly, they threw away whatever authority they might have had to lead people to God. It's best to point that out, just like you'd hope your government would warn you about a contaminated food or water supply. That way you can avoid them, and seek food and water that is clean.

Jesus often uttered similar words. For example:

"Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness." Matt 7:21-23

Tobias Fong

Hmm...if you put it that way, yes, wrong actions resulting from incorrect beliefs will impact everyone negatively.

Yes, but here's what I'm getting at. Just because the Pope, or the Clergies, or Church Leaders, or whoever was holding authority then, made the wrong choices (advocating war, encouraging the formation of League of Nations, etc) does not mean the followers are at fault.

There were a few "conventional" churches who were against the war as well. And you cannot expect every single Christian to agree with the Pope, or their leaders. What about these "dissidents"? Are they enemies of God too? Part of satan's brethren? Maybe you didn't mean to include them, but the enemies CD indiscriminately included them all the same.

Even religious leaders make mistakes too. That lies partly due to them being human, and most likely you cannot call them satanists because of that. That would be a tad too harsh. And of course there are the corrupted leaders who twist the words of the Bible and the teachings of their deominations to achieve their ungodly goals (the Crusades being an example). Can we blame the denomination then? No. I've mentioned it before. Usually, when there is something wrong, the fault lies with the often too-human believers, not the religion (or in this case denominations).

It is indeed our actions that shape us. Unfortunately, it is te HUMAN believers who carry out the act, not the denomination. Some innocent denominations may even have their teachings twisted and bent by power-hungry "leaders" with political ambitions . THe followers and denomination are just innocent parties caught up in the mess later. It is not the Church, or the denomination's fault. It is very unfortunate, but realistically it is always because of a few corrupt believers that the rest of the denomination and believers get a bad name.

That said, you wouldn't like it if the other denominations called the Jehovah's Witnesses instruments of Satan too, right? Do unto others what you want others to do to you. Besides, just as they have done wrong judgments in the past, they also have done lots of good too. Like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther etc. I'm not saying we should let the good deeds cover up the bad ones, I'm just sayng we should look at both and not merely condemn them for the bad ones.

TJ

It seems to me that the popular, politically-correct view today is that truth is relative, i.e. that all religions lead to God. But the Bible establishes truth as absolute and unchanging, there is a right way and a wrong way, and it is by a religion's 'fruits' that you can recognize which is which. (Matthew 7:16)

Of course, that doesn't mean that all people in a particular religion are bad, which is why the Bible states, "Get out of [false religion], *my people*, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues." (Revelation 18:4)

If truth is real and absolute, it is not enough to just want to do what is right, you have to learn the real truth and live according to it. "There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward." (Proverbs 14:12)


TJ

tom sheepandgoats

Tobias -

It depends upon what you think religion is. Is it merely a personal philosophy or is it also a tool of God? And a pathway and a vehicle to take one closer to him? To the extent it is a vehicle, why choose a dilapidated, sabotaged wreck with a chauffer who's not watching the road?

If God truly invites us to approach him, is he not capable of providing a vehicle to help us in that approach, rather than one that throws obstacles in our path? Sure, people are imperfect and will say and do rash things, sometimes even shocking things. But if a leader does such - repeatedly - and yet stays in position of leadership, does that not cast doubt upon whether that organization is genuine or not? Note that the bishop of London uttered his warlike speech "a thousand times," yet continued as bishop. Our people err, too, sometimes grievously. When that happens in a serious way, not merely a human foible, they relinquish their position of leadership, since it is felt they ought to get their own act together if they are to advise others on how live as Christians.

We think the entire structure is guided by God. We think God is capable of guiding humans who put faith in him. Sure, our organization is human, and so if you look for examples of human error, you will find some. You can also find many such examples in the Gospel accounts and book of Acts, records of first century Christian activity. But you won't find among the leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses, just as was true in the first century, the shocking misconduct typical of many religious leaders today. We keep our own house clean, within the understandable limits of human imperfection.

A partial description of our governing arrangement is here:
http://tinyurl.com/57rj3q


And as TJ pointed out (thanks, TJ) "Of course, that doesn't mean that all people in a particular religion are bad." There are good people in all religions. It's the religions themselves that are rickety. That's why we, for the most part, went directly to the good people then, the same as we do now. Not being empowered to judge who is good and who is bad, we go to everyone. The good people are not well-served riding in a rancid vehicle. It endangers them, just as Jesus said regarding those following the "blind" religious leaders of his day: "Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Matt 15:14


And as to "That said, you wouldn't like it if the other denominations called the Jehovah's Witnesses instruments of Satan too, right?"....they do it all the time.

Tobias

Yeah, if they do it all the time, I guess it's fair if you retaliate. An eye for an eye, after all.

You got me there. My beliefs tend to deviate toward the "personal philosphy" side rather than tool of God. The problem I have with most institutions is that every single one of them claims that they are the true word of God, and all of them have their corresponding evidence so you cannot dismiss them all at once. This leads to me wondering which to follow and in the end I decide to follow my heart as opposed to a congregation.

So you would not be wrong to call my beliefs personal philosophy while relying on a tool of God (the Bible).

Now you're right that God will provide the vehicle. Or rather, the materials required to construct the vehicle. In the end, the vehicle is still built by humans, whether or not the materials were given by God, and of course a Jehovah's Witness will claim that the vehicle belonging to the Jehovah's Witnesses is the providing vehicle on the right path. Ditto for Catholics, Protestants, etc. But can any of the vehicles claim to have been built (or in this context talk directly) to God? Our materials are ultimately the same (the Bible), but the workmanship is still by humans. Even C.T. Russell cannot claim to have directly spoken to God to get his conclusions for his beliefs, nor can the Pope.

I'm not downplaying your faith, just explaining why I'm hesitating to follow any congregation, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics included. I do not think you are heading the wrong path, but neither do I think the Catholics or Protestants are going down the wrong path either.

I think, given God's immense power, He will surely find a way to provide for all the different denominations somehow. That's what I hope, anyway, but it might not happen.

TJ

Hi Tobias,

You said, "The problem I have with most institutions is that every single one of them claims that they are the true word of God, and all of them have their corresponding evidence so you cannot dismiss them all at once. This leads to me wondering which to follow and in the end I decide to follow my heart as opposed to a congregation."

The problem with that philosophy is stated plainly at Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?" Jesus started the congregation for a reason, precisely because we are not meant to go it alone.

But your observation that there are many organizations claiming divine favor is a valid one. Try looking at it this way, if you run a store in an area where there is a lot of counterfeiting going on, how would you handle it? Would you try to track down all the different kinds of counterfeits to closely examine each of their features, or would it be more pragmatic to closely study what features identify real money?

What features does the Bible point us to in order to identify true religion?


TJ

Screech

I spoke to someone who said, "yet Jesus was a part of the Jewish system of things, which was rejected by God. So why is it dangerous for Christians today to be a part of a church if it isn't the 'right' one?"

Interesting question. I will refrain from quoting scriptures that have already been quoted. My answer to this is simple. When Jesus was alive on Earth, the Jewish religious system was the covenant through which God was dealing with mankind. It was His blessed arrangement. However, Jesus was there to, not only fulfill that covenant (it was put there to point the way to the coming Messiah), but to replace it.

When Jesus began his preaching campaign, you'll notice in the gospels that he condemned many religious leaders in that day. He preached his message to all, pointed out the flaws in that system, explained why it was not going to be blessed by God any more, and instituted the replacement that WAS blessed by God.

To me, it seems fair to say that Jehovah's Witnesses feel the need to imitate Jesus. Pointing out flaws with the organizations (which is often demonstrated by the human leaders), preaching the message to all (to find those who want to find God's truth in the Bible, and not just have their ears tickled), and do their best to maintain an organization that has (in JW opinion) been blessed by God to replace all other worship.

Did Jesus try to change the broken system in those days? No. Did Jesus try to tell people that all religions lead to God? No. He pointed the way. In like manner, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that we are following Jesus' example in this manner. We do not try to change governments (we feel all human governments are condemned by God, soon to be replaced by His rule), we do not try to fix churches or other religions, we simply show what we have found to be the clearest and uncontaminated teachings of God in the Bible.

If we are wrong, then I guess God will make it known, yet I do not believe that we are.

Tobias

You're right, the heart is indeed treacherous and we're not supposed to go into it alone. That's my biggest mistake.

Unfortunately, every counterfeit will have features that proves that they are real money. It's a bit hypocritical (though I do not think you mean it) to say your congregation is the genuine while everything else is counterfeited. You have the evidence from the Bible to prove your bills are authentic, but so do all the other different bills. See what I mean? Even the counterfeits used evidence or features from the Bible, and in the first place, they were not intended as counterfeits. It is hard to judge then because everyone is sincere about their own beliefs and congregation.

And to be fair, the Bible does cover ALL denominations, whether Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics or Protestants. So even if you study it, you won't get a definite answer. And for every Bible student, there will be a different interpretation of the Bible, which is what led to all these different congregations in the first place.

As for why I still follow my heart, my heart is what led me to religion and God in the first place. It was (and still is) my heart that accepted Jesus, and it is my heart who unfailingly believes in God. If you were to rely on cold logic and evidence, you'll find that a lot of cold, hard truth and reality contradicts religion. The Bible doesn't work on logic. I may be mistaken, but I believe it works and relies on your heart (and faith), rather than all the logic and evidence Christians are pulling out to prove their denominations and beliefs today. Of course, you can argue religion works on faith, not logic, but if you didn't follow your heart in the first place, where did you get yoru faith? It is precisely because your heart tells you to believe and to place your faith in the Bible that you do, right? True, the heart may be treacherous, but it is the way that leads to Jesus.

TJ

Hi Tobias,

Well of course all counterfeits have features that imitate the real thing, that's what makes them counterfeit. But no counterfeit is an exact copy, there are always flaws that can be found under close examination.

Let's take one example of what the Bible says will be found in the true religion:

"And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream. . . . Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:2, 4)

The context there indicates that the "nations" are not literally the countries on the earth, but rather *individuals* out of all countries on earth.

Now what worldwide religion do you see today whose international members do not participate in warfare? Isn't that a fairly easy one to investigate?


TJ

Tobias

There are, unfortunately, a great number of religions whose members do not participate in warfare. Buddhism, taoism and Hinduism, to name a few. Most religions advocate peace. Actually, even the Quran advocates peace, but extremists and terrorists just twist the words of Islam to deceive followers, so you cannot say Islam is a work of Satan either. If I'm not wrong, islam actually doesn't even believe in the existence of the devil, though I have to confirm that one.

Warfare one is not a good example though. I mean, if your country is invaded, regardless of your religion, your government and military will stand up to fight the invaders. It's not beneficial to let the aggressors just steam-roll over you. And the Old Testament has over a dozen accounts of bloody wars (remember the one where the wall collapsed after three days of marching around it?) where God actually helps the soldiers. So you cannot just dismiss the notion of warfare.

tom sheepandgoats

I like this, Tobias.

"As for why I still follow my heart, my heart is what led me to religion and God in the first place. It was (and still is) my heart that accepted Jesus, and it is my heart who unfailingly believes in God. If you were to rely on cold logic and evidence, you'll find that a lot of cold, hard truth and reality contradicts religion. The Bible doesn't work on logic. I may be mistaken, but I believe it works and relies on your heart (and faith), rather than all the logic and evidence Christians are pulling out to prove their denominations and beliefs today."

It's not heart without logic. It's not logic without heart. It's an interplay of the two. Those who speaks only in terms of one or the other undermine themselves.

And I don't disagree with this:

"You have the evidence from the Bible to prove your bills are authentic, but so do all the other different bills."

I've no doubt that's true, but so what? It just means your task is defined for you. It means your task may not be easy. After all, in the world of ACTUAL money, counterfeiters also make their bills appear as genuine as possible. And the world of commerce rises to the occasion so as to distinguish which is which; it doesn't just give up and say that all bills must be valid.

And so, with regard to the screening TJ proposed, you replied "there are, unfortunately, a great number of religions whose members do not participate in warfare." Very true, but if you agree this is a true screening, you certainly have narrowed the field, haven't you? Now on to the next screening. Maybe some more religions will be filtered out.

But you don't appear to regard non-participation in warfare to be a true screening. You observed: "if your country is invaded, regardless of your religion, your government and military will stand up to fight the invaders." That observation suggests another question. Do you believe that peace will come through joint efforts of the nations someday resolving their differences, perhaps with "God's blessing?" Or will peace come through a government from God (God's Kingdom) which replaces those human governments, and rules in their stead? If you think the former, can you point to any shred of evidence that such may be the case? Jehovah's Witnesses think the latter. It causes them to take a neutral position during national conflicts, since they represent another 'kingdom,' just as an ambassador representing another government would remain neutral to conflicts within his host nation. In fact, eschewing nationalism, though we view it as a Christian obligation, has brought much opposition upon Jehovah's Witnesses. One can readily speak peace during times of peace, but during times of war, there is tremendous pressure to conform to prevailing wartime spirit, and our greatest source of opposition then often comes from our own national government, sometimes whipped up into a frenzy by 'nationalist" religious leaders. That was certainly the case during both World Wars I and II.

Naturally, we, too, develop a fondness for the land of our birth, whatever land that may be. Were we to choose sides, our first instincts would invariably be toward the homeland, no doubt. Don't think that Christian neutrality is an easy choice. But we recognize earth's current state of affairs, little more than an adult version of that children's game King of the Mountain, (do you have that where you are?....one kid strides atop a mound, and tries to shove all challengers off) is not the means by which God purposes to rule the earth. Ours is a game of awaiting that true kingdom, foretold in the Bible, and advertising it.

To serve as agents for that incoming government of God is to publicize it. We have no part whatsoever in bringing that kingdom about. God does that himself. We merely serve as 'ambassadors' for that kingdom, proclaiming its imminent arrival.

Tobias

I see. That may be the case. I don't think they have that game King of the Mountain here nin Singapore, but I can relate to that analogy.

Well the problem, if you and the Jehovah's Witnesses are right, is that if you dissolve all the governments, the world will be thrown into a state of anarchy. Sorry about the error earlier. It was seven days, not three days. Anyway, I would think, given our current global situation, the joint efforts of nations setting aside their differences, would seem more probable. Because if you think about it, the world is too huge for one government to control (even if it's from God's Kingdom), AND there would mean the abolishment of all other religions and atheism except Christianity. If you recall that I am an advocate of religious tolerance and allowing people to choose and believe their own beliefs and religion (or atheism), I've to admit that doesn't sit well with me.

Unfortunately, those ideals are admittedly against the Bible. Though I believe in God, I'm more inclined toward universal reconcilation, despite the Bible not saying anything about it. You can say my ideals and religious beliefs are messed up, I don't blame you. But from where I come from, Singapore, it is impossible to co-exist with all other citizens if you don't practice religious tolerance. We have Hinduism, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists and even the ever-prevalent atheists, just to name a few. Maybe that contributed to shaping my ideals, yeah, but if you start preaching and evangelizing here you'll offend all the other religions (though Chuches still do it here) and I personally do not wish to cause a riot.

tom sheepandgoats

"Well the problem, if you and the Jehovah's Witnesses are right, is that if you dissolve all the governments, the world will be thrown into a state of anarchy."

We do not dissolve all the governments. God does. If, for some reason, he decides not do it, it does not happen, and we end up with egg on our faces. But we do not do it. We publicize God's Kingdom, that's all, and do our best to live per it's requirements. But we have, absolutely and literally, no part whatsoever in bringing it about, much less dissolving existing governments.

It's a very important distinction. For we are the least intrusive of religions, insofar as our relations with human governments are concerned. Nearly all faiths....and certainly the different brands of churches....try to insert their views into public policy. Usually it is through the legislative process, whatever that may be in any given country. Sometimes, it is through violence. Jehovah's Witnesses do neither. We stay neutral.

Our example demonstrates how groups (religious or not) with highly polarized views can yet get along with one another. We speak, but in no way interfere, with the choices others make or lives they live. If our choices and lifestyles differ from those of others, they are our choices and lifestyle only. We don't tell others what to do.

Tobias Fong

"We speak, but in no way interfere, with the choices others make or lives they live. If our choices and lifestyles differ from those of others, they are our choices and lifestyle only. We don't tell others what to do."

That's a great way to put it! I completely agree with that! That's basically what my ideals, as I've said earlier, are about.

About the dissolving governments thing, I meant that as a figure of speech. I didn't really literally mean you guys, as the Jehovah's Witnesses, dissolve the governments by yourself (that's why I added from God's kingdom). Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Nearly all faiths - I disagree with. Yes, Christianity and perhaps Islam have somehow found their way into politics, but most religions in the world such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinuism, North American Indians' Shaman beliefs, Africa's, etc. do not insert their views into public policy. You'll find the most outspoken religion who does is actually Christianity. Communism, for example, has no roots in, say Buddhism or Russian religion, but is written by Russian revolutionist Karl Marx, whom if I'm not mistaken, is an atheist. Democracy is Greek, and stretches far back as 1000BC. If any religion influences it I think it's the Greek Gods from Mt. Olympus. All the countries who practice democracy hardly have any religions (other than Christianity again) poking into it.

A lot of laws are based around the Ten Commandments and Christian views of right and wrong. I do not believe any other religion (other than Islam in the Middle East) influences governments and laws to any extent, because in Buddhism and Taoism, for example, they encourage you to lose all desires and desire nothing (similar to what Jesus told the rich man), and attain a sense of inner peace. In practice, a government who practices capitalism cannot conform to such beliefs or the country's economy will collapse. See?

tom sheepandgoats

Yeah. I do. Thanks.

I stand corrected. It is primarily Christendom that meddles with the powers that be. And it is, far and away, Christendom with which we have our strongest disagreements. Because they claim to represent Christ, but act in ways that belie that claim.

TJ

Hi guys, excellent discussion.

I think it's great, Tobias, that you are tolerant of others. As Tom pointed out, Witnesses remain neutral in politics and strive to respect others' beliefs as well.

But I'm wondering about your view of truth. Do you believe that all religions have truth, possibly some more than others? Or do you believe that each religion is 'true' for the person that believes it even though it may conflict with another person's brand of 'truth'?

Thanks,
TJ

Tobias

I believe more in the latter. As I've said before, I might be wrong, so don't take my word for it. Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, I prefer to remain neutral and respect others' beliefs.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I do think the truth is subjective to individuals. There are people who think it is plainly obvious that the world is created by God (given the complexity of human nature and the world) and there are people who think it is not intelligent to believe in God. Can we say either is wrong? Since we belong to the first category, of course we'll say the latter is incorrect in their beliefs, but from a neutral standpoint you'll see why atheists believe the way they do.

But just because I believe in God, I do not think it is reason enough to override other people's beliefs, no matter how conflicting they are. Also, despite my strong conviction in my faith in Jesus, I am open to other possibilities (Dan Brown and his da Vinci Code not withstanding). I mean, none of us are God, so who's to say whose religion is right and whose religion is wrong? Of course, I'm not saying we start doubting our religion or anything, but I think it's good to keep and open mind and consider all the infinite possibilities.

rbk

You don't tell others what to do? Really? Every meeting you people have is telling others what to do, wear, how to raise your kids. Funny how divorce and rebellious kids run rampant in your organization. You also publically humiliate people to make them conform.

tom sheepandgoats

What you call "telling others what to do" we call providing instruction, discussion, application of Bible topics. Of course we do that. That's why congregation members come. It's what they expect and what they've searched, often a long time, for. There's lots of organizations that tell you to do whatever you want to do. We're not one of them. We provide concrete guidance from the scriptures.

But that's all we do. Our standards are ours only. We make no effort to impose our standards upon society at large. Few churches are content to regulate only themselves. And not a few ignore themselves, yet attempt to regulate others.

Divorce and rebellious kids? Depends upon where you look, I guess. But divorce is no longer unheard of, as it once was. I'll grant you that.

Peter

Can the author tell me where the text of the quotes came from. Yes, the one I'm interested in the most says "La Dernière Heure, January 7, 1967" but surely there was an English bibliographic reference that was missed. In other words, where did you copy these quotes from?

tom sheepandgoats

Most quotes are from the book Preachers Present Arms, by Ray H Abrams, a sociologist. He cites scores, perhaps hundreds, of examples, quoting church bulletins and magazines of the time. I believe his book was published in 1933 and was updated after the Vietnam war.

Jeffrey Foxmore

This exact question was addressed by the Supreme Court of the United States in the year 1940, resulting in a Landmark Decision:

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=310&invol=296

And here is the material in question:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt3mJCsAiI0

Stuart Bell

Your quotation of Winnington Ingram is wrong, because there's a whole virus of misquoting of him which started in 1960. Not your fault, but the fault of lazy historians using secondary sources. Stuart B,

tom sheepandgoats

Are you saying that the Pittsburgh Seminary Journal has it wrong?

Wikipedia says this about him:

"During World War I Winnington-Ingram threw himself into supporting the war effort and visited the troops on both the Western Front and at Salonica and the Grand Fleet. For his war work he was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece) and the Order of St. Sava, 1st Class (Serbia"

He also authored this publication (among others): The Church in time of war (1915)

Any idea who would misquote him, why, and what he actually did say?

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