Most Church Doctrines Are Not Found in the Bible

It is the attempt to read them in that causes people to throw up their hands in despair, sometimes even in disgust, of ever understanding it. To the extent that happens, it makes such doctrines very destructive.

From time to time, this is acknowledged by some clergyman or other.  For example, Richard Lowell Bryant, a United Methodist minister, rained on ‘Trinity Sunday’ recently by declaring of the doctrine: We made it up, saying in part:

“The truth is:  God was nowhere to be found when we made up the Trinity and turned it into a tool to isolate, annoy, and explain God’s expansive love in terms of dysfunctional family.”

His brethren men and women of the cloth hastened to correct him. Especially did one Dr. Hunter, who says: “Several of my students sent me the article, knowing the central place the doctrine of the Trinity holds in the courses I teach at United Theological Seminary.” Dr. Hunter responds with a twelve-paragraph reproof to his fellow minister.

Two things can be observed about his reply.

1. It will barely be comprehensible to the person of common sense, and

2. No appeal is made to scripture for support, a tacit admission that none is to be found there. After all, the New Testament is the origin, if not the blueprint, of Christianity. Is it not telling that he does not go there?

He goes there only a little, to cite John 16 and Jesus’ statement therein that the helper will come along later and reveal all things. He appears to have in mind, per a previous paragraph, the decree of the Council of Nicaea, which took place 300 years after Christ, and in which the Doctor expresses confidence that it was directed by Holy Spirit. But as to the scriptures themselves teaching a triune God—zip. He doesn’t touch it.

The Bible verses can be tortured for that meaning, of course, but tortured is what they must be. They involve taking literally numerous passages which, in any other context, would instantly be recognized as figure of speech. However, it does serve to complicate the obvious and thus serves to supply Dr. Hunter with a teaching career.

Not that Dr. Hunter is a bad man. No, he possibly is a very good man. But he is likely a product of what Jesus spoke of long ago to religious leaders of his day: “Woe to you who are versed in the Law, because you took away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not go in, and you hinder those going in!”

Since they took the key away, later generations don’t necessarily know that there is a key.


No Scrapping on My Watch

I don't do the following often, for it is a little mean. I wouldn't do it just on account of a differing point of view. I reserve it for someone obnoxious and condescending from the fundamentalist religious world, someone trying to denigrate the work Witnesses do, someone saying dismissively: "No thanks. I'm Christian." As though they own the word.
 
I reply that only a Christian would do the work I am doing, adding "frankly, I'm a little surprised you're not doing it yourself." Always it vanquishes the smug smile.
 
However, one does not stop there, upon seeing that the blow has landed. Immediately you move on to soften it somehow, perhaps by returning to whatever you were discussing in the first place.
 
I am not thrilled speaking with these ones. If they try to start a fight - and it is always over the Trinity - I deflect. Hopefully I share my verse and leave it at that.
 
When I offered a verse to one of these fellows, he immediately wanted to know my religion. Anyone else I would tell immediately, but to him I acted as though - well, it's rather a personal question, don't you think? I mean, this is the Bible. What is more Christian than to talk about it?
 
Too many of these folks have their scholarship defined by their beliefs, and not the other way around. Too many have had a religious awakening of some sort. How do you tell them that their experience is not theirs? I don't try. If they find what they learned by revelation confirmed in Scripture, they are happy, but they are not unduly put out when they find it is not.
 
Reliably, being saved by faith and not by works will come up. 'Of course,' I reply. 'Everyone knows that. But the works don't hurt, to they? They certainly give us some street cred.'
 
What about "there has been a child born to us...his name will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, prince of peace," he challenges. What about it? I reply. Does he think I should have a problem with it? Why should I?
 
He will have to get a little more specific than that if he wants to get into a shoving match. No scrapping on my watch. Wrestler

Scholars, Experts, and the Transfiguration

The question was: how were Jesus words at Luke 9:27 fulfilled?

“But I tell you truthfully, There are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the kingdom of God.”

It was multiple choice! The options were (with hints from the blogmaster):

 A.  The Transfiguration (already widely refuted by Christian scholars)
 B.  Jesus' Resurrection (has nothing to do with seeing Jesus come in His Kingdom)
 C.  Jesus' Ascension into Heaven (has Jesus going somewhere else, not coming in His Kingdom)
 D.  Pentecost (has nothing to do with seeing Jesus or His Kingdom*)
 E.  When the Gospel message was preached to the world (has nothing to do with seeing Jesus come in His Kingdom with power*)
 F.  When the Roman legions, under the command of Titus, crushed the Jewish rebellion and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE (has nothing to do with seeing Jesus come in His Kingdom)
 G.  When Jesus established His "mediatorial" Kingdom (which nobody can actually see)


Of course, I can't resist multiple choice, especially on the internet! I jumped in both feet and said: “A! It's A!" What clinches it is that “A” is "already widely refuted by Christian scholars. If these guys refute it, it must be so.”

The blogmaster caught my drift: “Always the contrarian, huh tom? Do you run a hedge fund, by any chance?”

I don't. But it is a fact that when all the experts are screaming “sell,” that's the time you buy. And so with choice “A.” All the 'experts' are selling it. I'll buy.

Alright, alright, so it's a little more involved than that. We must look at why the experts refute the transfiguration, which Luke goes on to describe (Luke 9:28-37)

“In actual fact, about eight days after these words, he took Peter and John and James along and climbed up into the mountain to pray. And as he was praying the appearance of his face became different and his apparel became glitteringly white. Also, look! two men were conversing with him, who were Moses and Elijah. These appeared with glory and began talking about his departure that he was destined to fulfill at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those with him were weighed down with sleep; but when they got fully awake they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. And as these were being separated from him, Peter said to Jesus: “Instructor, it is fine for us to be here, so let us erect three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” he not realizing what he was saying. But as he was saying these things a cloud formed and began to overshadow them. As they entered into the cloud, they became fearful. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.” And as the voice occurred Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet and did not report to anyone in those days any of the things they saw. On the succeeding day, when they got down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.”

Frankly, how could anyone not take this as the fulfillment of Jesus words. It's the very next event to follow! Luke even throws in a transitional phrase: "in actual fact." ("And it came to pass that"....KJV)  Talk about connecting the dots! How could anyone miss it?!
 
The answer to how anyone could miss it is that “we don't see things like this happening today.” Thus, if the “scholars” and “experts” give “A” as their answer, they will be laughed off  the stage by those intellectuals whom they so desperately want to be counted among. This is but an NT manisfestation of the OT “we are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What's next, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?” syndrome. Far better to choose from answers “B” through “G,” options which can all be presented as “inspiring” or at least “open to many interpretations” (both the province of intellectuals) rather than “miraculous” (the province of dunces).

These guys are spineless. And faithless. They ought not label themselves Christian experts, but something more along the lines of “deistic-flavored philosophers.” Why wouldn't Jesus' words just prior to Luke 9:27 apply to them?

“For whoever becomes ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of this one when he arrives in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels”   Luke 9:26

The laugh is that these Christian experts ignore the scripturally obvious answer to Luke 9:27, to suggest less miraculous and thereby more respectable interpretations, only to find that these choices also are ridiculed by today's intellectuals, who lean increasing atheistic. They sell out faith, and gain nothing in return! I'll side with Paul any day, who was “not ashamed” of the good news. (Rom 1:16)

This sucking up to the world is by no means a modern development. Rather, it's a recurrent NT theme, expressed here, for example: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled.”   2 Tim 4:3

To be sure, not “putting up with healthful teaching” was to happen for a variety of reasons. Not all could be chalked up to currying favor with intellectuals, but a lot of it could.

For example, the New Encyclopedia Britannica (remember encyclopedias?) writes: “Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for the own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” The Trinity teaching wormed in this way. It's not to be found in scripture, unless you take rather obvious metaphors literally. At various church councils, according to scholar Charles Freeman, those who came to believe Jesus was God “found it difficult to refute the many sayings of Jesus that suggested he was subordinate to God the Father.” So they began to elevate intellectual opinion (the sayings of Church Fathers) over the scriptures themselves!

Now, everyone knows that Christianity began as a working-class religion, not an educated intellectual religion. From the former come folk who can call a spade a spade. From the latter come folk who can lift scripture to a loftier plane, make it respectable, and monetize it. Get a load of this snooty comment from theologian Gregory of Nyssa, mocking the 'lowlife' that were dumb enough to take scripture at face value:

“Clothes dealers, money changers, and grocers are all theologians. If you inquire about the value of your money, some philosopher explains wherein the Son differs from the Father. If you ask the price of bread, your answer is the Father is greater than the Son. If you should want to know whether the bath is ready, you get the pronouncement that the Son was created out of nothing.”

The above three paragraphs incorporates much that was presented in the Jan 15, 2012 Watchtower, including the quote from Gregory. JW detractors apparently accused the Watchtower of making up this quote out of thin air, since they couldn't find it themselves on the internet, and figured if it's not such low-hanging fruit, it must not exist! But Weedhacker [!] would have none of it and tracked down Gregory's words in Greek, Latin, and obscure places. So there.

Back to my “Transfiguration” answer, the one "already widely refuted by Christian scholars."......this is a beaut: the blogmaster summarizes their attitudes thus (with apparent agreement): they “dismiss it by mentioning it in passing, as if it was not worth their effort to rebut because it is already known to be false.” Of course! There's my mistake! I'd overlooked how substantial  their talents and valuable their time must be that they cannot deign to waste them analyzing the verses that immediately follow Jesus' words with regard to coming into his kingdom.

The important thing is for scholars to intellectualize the subject. Armchairify it. Steer far away from any interpretations that give credence to miracles, and especially any that might suggest commitment or action is required. Analyze the words....make a living off analyzing them, in fact. But don't be dumb enough to trap yourself into having to do any of them. Just like at Ezek 33:32: “you are to them like a song of sensuous loves, like one with a pretty voice and playing a stringed instrument well. And they will certainly hear your words, but there are none doing them.” They love to hear them. They love to debate them. They love to discuss them. But they don't love to do them. Not the experts. That's not their gig.

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Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle in the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s give them some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!

 

 


Michael

Whitepebble's son asked me to go with him on a return visit, so we took a few minutes to get our ducks lined up. You want to do that before a call.  You don't script every word, of course, but you want to get some general idea of where discussion may lead, and how you will respond if it goes here and how you will respond if it goes there. This particular fellow, Whitepebble Jr told me, had some questions about Michael in the Bible. Who is he? Is he really the same as Jesus?

Now, I don't especially like return visits where the main topic is 'who is Michael.' Nineteen times out of twenty, they are simply back door entries into a Trinity discussion, and I don't really like Trinity discussions. Unless handled with care, they can easily run on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on with neither side budging an inch. I bring them to an end fairly promptly if the other side doesn't respond to what strikes me as common sense. If both sides are dug in, it's just a time-waster. Let God sort it out. He knows if he's a trinity or not. But some of those evangelicals are quite happy to blow through acres of time in such debate. Truth be known, some of our own people, as well. But I'm not one of them.

Still, not every call goes by formula. You do have to probe around some to be sure you have a rigid trinitarian dogmatist on your hands...not everyone is. It may be different in your neck of the woods, but here, such a 'Michael' call is usually, not always, an invitation to spend forever locked in fruitless discussion. 'Who is Michael' is just a sneaky way to get into it. See, if Jesus is the same as Michael, then he is NOT God, since nobody anywhere (to my knowledge) claims that Michael is God. That's what riles Trinitarians, the implication that Jesus is not God. Were it not for trinitarian considerations, they'd have no issue with Jesus a/k/a Michael, just as they have no issue with Jesus a/k/a 'the Word', or Jesus a/k/a 'King of kings and Lord of Lords.'

The Witness understanding of this is fairly straightforward. Both Jesus and Michael are described as having the same role. They both carry the same title. So why not conclude they are the same individual, referred to, at different times, by different names? Makes sense to me.

Michael, for instance, leads God's army to battle Satan's forces:

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.    Rev 12:7-10   NIV

That's the same role Jesus has, here described as the Word of God and KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (all-caps a device of the NIV):

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.    Rev 19:11-19

So two generals, Michael and the 'Word of God', have the same role. Why not conclude they are the same person?

Of another occasion, 1 Thes 4:16 says:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

The “Lord himself” uses a voice lesser than his own? No. If he has “the voice of the archangel,” it's because he is the archangel. (a word, by the way, which never occurs as plural, but only singular. There are not archangels, but only one)

And 'the archangel' is? Michael.

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses.....        Jude 9

It always steams me to come across evangelical sites and read there that "Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus was only an angel." No. He is, as one of his titles, the archangel; there's only one. (Not to mention how it steams me even more if they claim JWs say Jesus was "only a man." No, again. His life-force was transferred from long heavenly existance, as God's first-born son, to be born on earth as a perfect man; there have only been two. And by his faithful course, he undid, for those who put faith in the arrangement, the damage done by the first perfect man. Upon his resurrection, he's granted even greater authority than before, as king of God's Kingdom.)

So the Lord himself is the archangel Michael. Is that so hard to comprehend?

Dan 12:1 foretells:

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

Right! That's just what Jesus role is in the heavens. He is the 'great prince' [prince of peace] who protects God's people. He is Michael.

Nonetheless, I'm willing to yield on this point in the ministry. It's not central. If you “win,” you've won very little, much like winning on a flood discussion. Moreover, you will not win if speaking with a firm Trinitarian. They have it rock-solid in their head (like concrete, Lee Chugg used to say...all mixed up and firmly set) that Jesus is God, and if he is God, he certainly is NOT the archangel. Don't spend a lot of time on this. Instead, discern that the underlying issue is the Trinity, and deal with that if it seems fruitful. Look, I'm not crazy about Trinity discussions; I've already said that. But I'd rather have an open Trinity discussion than a masked one. In an open one, you can appeal to texts to show that Trinity for what it is. And the texts you'll use are not ones about Michael the archangel.

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No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 


 


So There was this Lutheran Evangelical, and he Approaches this Rabbi

so as to SAVE him. Only, he doesn't know he's wearing a big "kick me" sign on his behind. No sooner does he finish his pitch and the rabbi does kick him. Hard! HA!!

[Okay, okay, Tom Sheepandgoats, don't gloat. Stop it!. The rabbi doesn't like you any more than him, most likely. Maybe he'll try to kick you, too. Well....maybe, but at least I have one saving grace. I'm using a decent Bible translation.]

Dear Rabbi [Tovia Singer, who runs Outreach Judaism, and responds to issues raised by "missionaries, cults, and Jew for Jesus."]:

".......I admire your commitment to your faith." [Roll eyes. Does he also admire the Pope's committment to his faith. Sheesh! When you're writing a someone like the rabbi, you don't lead off with patronizing twaddle about admiration. If you truly admire him, the tone of your letter will show it.]

Brackets mine, by the way.

yet I am perplexed as to why you so assuredly reject Jesus Christ as your messiah. [Not the Messiah, but your Messiah. What, is he trying to get this fellow mad? Not that I disagree with the "your," necessarily, but you have to know your audience. Even Jesus' disciples referred to him as the Messiah. (John 1:41) Do these modern day evangelicals simply love him more than the original twelve?]

He came not only for the gentiles, but for the Jews as well. He was born to a Jewish mother and came to the Jewish people. [Perhaps the rabbi has never heard this.]

[Wait a minute....haven't church Christians treated Jews abominably through the centuries? Better defuse that one. Shouldn't be a problem:]

"I know that the Jews have been maligned and persecuted by so-called Christians. This has certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of the Jewish people against Christ; but certainly you must know, rabbi, that these were not real Christians, for a believer in Christ must love the Jew, for his Savior is a Jew....The true Christian loves the Jewish people." [There! Done! Easy as Pie! Hundreds of years of persecution out of the way! Now, on to business:]

"You surely have read the 22nd Psalm which most clearly speaks of our Lord’s crucifixion. Read verse 16. [Do it, rabbi. NOW!] It states, “Dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked has enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.” Of whom does the prophet speak other than our Lord? This Old Testament prophecy could only be foretelling Jesus’ unique death on the cross. What greater proof is needed that Jesus died for the sins of mankind than this chapter which was written a thousand years before Jesus walked this earth?"

I'll concede I'm being somewhat hard on this Lutheran fellow. He's certainly sincere enough But these guys come after us all the time, too, set to save us. Positively cooing love, until you refute them, and then you're likely to catch a hellfire backhand. Well....if you're going to pull stuff like this on the rabbi (and us), you'd better have your ducks lined up. As it turns out, this fellow's ducks are waddling all over the place, and the rabbi calls him on it.

His verse is fraudulent translating, the rabbi replies. It does not read in Hebrew "they pierced my hands and my feet." It reads "like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet." The Hebrew word is kaari. It means "like a lion." It does not mean "pierced." Furthermore, this is no accident of translating, the rabbi goes on to assert. It is deliberate. Other places in the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 38:13, the Hebrew work kaari is translated "like a lion," as it should be. Only at Psalm 22:16 (some translations have it vs 17) is it "pierced." a word that, in this setting, just sounds so much better for religionist church translators! Never mind that there actually are Hebrew words that mean pierced - words that are not used in the verse. No, we'll just change the word kaari so as to support an image we like!

Well.....honest mistake, reply some churchy types that know of the switch. You see, they explain, those early church translators mistook kaari for kaaru.....it's only one letter off, and kaaru means "pierced." They probably suppose Jesus maneuvered matters this way. The only trouble, says the rabbi.....is that there is no kaaru. No such word. Or, at least, not until those religionists coined it to justify their mistranslation.

Now, I didn't know any of this. I checked various translations, some in my own library and some on the internet. The website BibleGateway.com has a feature by which one may compare different translations. I refer to it a lot. Out of the 18 English translations listed, none have "like a lion" at vs 16. They all say "pierced" or (in two cases) phrases that mean pierced.

StudyLight.org makes 37 complete English translations (there is some overlap with BibleGateway) available for comparison. Only four say "like a lion." The Easy to Read Version, trying to please everybody, I guess, uses both: Like a lion, {they have pierced} my hands and my feet." [are lions known to pierce hands and feet?]

Four translations out of fifty! So I look up the verse in the New World Translation, the one used by Jehovah's Witnesses:

For dogs have surrounded me; The assembly of evildoers themselves have enclosed me. Like a lion [they are at] my hands and my feet.

The NWT gets it right, one of only a handful of translations to do so! Since the other accurate translations are all somewhat obscure - not well known - for all practical purposes, the NWT is the only accurate one available. Moreover, in translating the word kaari accurately, the NWT works "against" its translators own interests, since we also believe the Christ is foretold in various psalms, including the 22nd. We'd love it to say "pierced," too. but it doesn't. No fair stacking the deck. Accuracy in translating comes first. The Foreword of the New World Translation says, in part: The translators of this work, who fear and love the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures, feel toward Him a special responsibility to transmit his thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible. They ought to cite Ps 22:16 as a case in point, for here they ignore a rendering they must instinctively agree with doctrinally, because the original Hebrew word does not allow it!

I've seen how born-again Bibles alter the New Testament, trying to sneak their Trinity doctrine in, but I've not seen it before with the Old Testament. Moreover, I am so sick and tired of these know-nothings, buttressed only by the opinions of ones who think like them, shouting that the NWT is a shoddy translation. And maligning it's authors, making much of the fact they haven't gone to their seminaries, in striking similarity to how religious leaders of Jesus' day sneered at the first century Christians (and even Jesus himself):

Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus.  (Acts 4:13)

Therefore the Jews fell to wondering, saying: “How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?  (John 7:15)

There was some trial somewhere, decades ago...you see it all over the internet.... in which Fred Franz is asked to translate an English phrase into Hebrew and he replies "I won't attempt to do that." This means, say his detractors, that he doesn't know Hebrew at all, and yet he chaired the NWT translating committee! Does he even know Pig Latin? But all sneering aside, the New World Translation got Ps 22:16 right, when virtually nobody else did. Everyone else repeats uncritically (they surely by now have had opportunity to correct matters) the faulty King James rendering! Rather, they vigorously defend it. Possibly, one might (gingerly) allow that the verse, in Hebrew, is homonymic. Alas, such wordplay, along with poetic devices as alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia, and so forth, is not translatable. Even if you were to attempt it, you still need a good dose of "translator privilege" to derive pierced. Not to be lost sight of is the fact that this verse is not cited as messianic in the New Testament although several other Ps 22 verses are. In the end, responsible translating demands you translate only what is actually there. (in a footnote, the NWT Large Print with References includes two alternate readings: Biting like a lion my hand and my feet (Targum) and They bored (dug through) my hands and my feet. (Septuagint, Vulgate))

.............................................

By the way, the rabbi's not buying into this "love the Jews" slogan, either [his word]. Doesn't this Lutheran character know of Luther's reputation? "Among all the church fathers and reformers, there was no mouth more vile, no lips that uttered more vulgar curses against the children of Israel than this founder of the Reformation whom you apparently revere. Even the anti-Semitism of the New Testament and the church fathers pales in comparison to the invectives launched by Luther’s impious tongue during his lifetime.....Have you not read his odious volume entitled 'Of the Jews and Their Lies'?"

"Although evangelicals repeatedly declare that true believing Christians love the Jewish people, the annals of history clearly do not support this slogan. With few exceptions, the tormentors of the Jewish people emerged out of the fundamentalist genre of Christianity. Remarkably, denominations that evangelical Christians regard as heretical, such as Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not have a strong history of anti-Semitism."

[It's true. Didn't I go to bat for Dov Hikind when everyone else wanted his head on a platter?]

..........................................

And while we're at it, the rabbi also takes a swipe at Trinitarianism, which he wrongly equates with Christianity. Psalm 22 opens with "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" If these words are to be attributed to a Trinitarian Jesus on the cross, asks the rabbi, (Matt 27:46) can it really be that God has forsaken himself? This is the sort of nonsense you have to buy into repeatedly when you accept the Trinity doctrine. It's nonsense that clears up instantly once you appreciate that Jesus and his Father are two separate beings, just like any other son and father we can imagine. Indeed, that's why the Bible uses that bit of personification - in order to highlight the intense closeness and absolute harmony existing between them, while all the time making clear they are separate beings.


Translators, Qualifications, and the New World Translation

In the midst of discussing Coptic translations of the 3rd century - practically the earliest of all translations yet discovered - did you know they translate John 1:1 exactly as the New World Translation – “the Word was a god”? - one grouser has had enough. He wants to know who translated the NWT. What qualifications did they have? 

 

Grouser:  Just b/c I understand what you mean when you say this, doesn’t
mean I’m qualified to translate from Coptic or Greek into English.

What were the qualifications of the men who translated the NWT into English?


Sheepandgoats:

What in the world does that statement have to do with anything? No one’s asking you to translate from Coptic or Greek into English.

The point is that, in a language closer in time to the actual usage of Koine Greek, the translators rendered John 1:1 exactly as does the NWT today. Viewed in this light, the NWT is not "changing" John 1:1. Rather, manuscripts well after John penned his letter changed the verse, and NWT has restored it to as it should be.


But he’s done with Coptic. He wants a new topic.

What he is hoping is that I will admit we didn’t really use translators at all, but hired trained orangutans for the job. It’s a common taunt from those who can’t stand Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just who are these translators, anyway? Do they have letters trailing their name? Do they really know any language besides Pig Latin?

It’s not easy to satisfy on this point since the NWT translating committee has ever remained anonymous. Not just the NWT - everything Watchtower published is anonymous. One consequence is that people must focus on the work itself and not just who wrote it. But it’s a lot easier to do the reverse: find out who wrote it, and then figure on that basis if it’s any good or not. It's the tactic of a lazy lout. After all, examining a work takes time. Examining credentials of the author can be done in 2 seconds.


Is the New World Translation any good or not? One ought to be able to determine that without knowing the “qualifications of the translators.” Instead, qualifications become apparent through examination of the work itself. That holds true in any other aspect of life. Why should it not hold true here as well? When Mrs Sheepandgoats and I moved into our present house, we looked it over for quality. We even hired an inspector. Satisfied, we purchased it. But we don’t know who built the house, and we’ve not lost any sleep on that account. The qualifications of the builders are evident from what is built.

Shortly after the New World Translation’s release, back in 1963, the Andover Newton Quarterly wrote: “The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation.” How do they know the “scholars” are “qualified”? They examined the work itself. Does it bother them that the translators are anonymous? It doesn’t seem to. “The New Testament translation was made by a committee whose membership has never been revealed — a committee that possessed an unusual competence in Greek,” the journal wrote in 1966. They could tell the work was well done without knowing the authors, just as you can tell the earth is beautiful without knowing its Creator. But stupid and lazy persons insist they have to know the authors first. Rubbish. To insist that credentials determine a work’s value is to insist that Microsoft is a nickel-and-dime third rate outfit because Bill Gates is “unqualified” – he holds no degrees in computer science, and never completed college.

Or what about Marilee Jones, the MIT Dean of Admissions who was carted out like yesterday's trash when it was found she was “unqualified” for her job. She’d forged her credentials! Those letters and degrees she carried - all made up! Yet before she was found out, they'd sung her praises to the heavens! She was a leading expert in her field! On the other hand, the most qualified financial people in the world darn near destroyed the entire world economy. Evolutionists positively reek with qualifications, and they’ve determined there is no God at all! Not to berate qualifications, of course – God forbid! - but they are frequently used merely to screen persons, as any job-seeker knows. And to pad the education industry.

 

Opponants sneered at the apostles for lack of qualifications: "Now when they [qualified religious leaders of the day] beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering,” Acts 4:13 tells us. Jesus fared no better: “Therefore the Jews fell to wondering, saying: “How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?" (John 7:15) Got it? Christianity’s a flop because its founder was not “qualified.”


Frankly, Watchtower, through its program, structure and dedication, is a "school" in its own right. Can one learn languages only through the world's universities? Sheesh! A two-year-old raised in a bilingual homes picks up both tongues without effort. Put him in a tri-lingual home, and he picks up three. Okay, ancient language adds a degree of complication, I admit, but still, language is just a means of communication and surely there are many avenues through which one may learn it. Besides, what do they do most there in Bethel? What are they known for? TRANSLATING! The Watchtower magazine is presently translated into 174 languages. Try to find any material of any sort so widely translated!

So, IF it turns out that NWT translators bypassed the advanced degrees of prestigious universities, that's not the big deal detractors make it out to be. Yet, even THAT can't be determined for sure. Detractors claim to know who the translators were, and have a field day with their supposed "lack of qualifications." But how you positively identify a group which has never identified itself is beyond me. And even if those guessed-at persons chaired a committee, that by no means says they personally did all the work, just as a builder might farm out various areas of expertise on the home he's building.

"Maybe there were many others," admits another sorehead. "But again, in a matter like this, what or why would they hide? Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl? Honestly, provide one reasonable excuse why these men should be anonymous."

What’s wrong with modesty? By remaining anonymous, they direct attention to the work (and its real author), and not themselves. “Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl,” my rear end! They’ve not put the work under a bowl. They’ve put themselves under it. Now, having accomplished a great work, people today are given to strutting around and basking in the praise of their peers. To forsake that shows unusual modesty. We live in a culture in which people are obsessed with personalities, and in which they focus, not so much on words said, but on who said the words. Anonymity thwarts such laziness.


Most criticism of the New World Translation arises because it does not translate certain verses in the precise words necessary to uphold the Trinity doctrine. This is extremely important to Trinity people, because the Trinity teaching derives almost all of its authority from such 'formula' verses. Many translations have rendered such verses similar to the NWT over the years, but such translations all tank because they depend on the world's commercial marketplace for distribution - and Trinitarians won't touch them with a ten foot pole. The NWT would also tank if distributed that way, no doubt, but it's distributed in an entirely unique way by dedicated Christians, outstripping anything the world’s commercial system could accomplish, and at a very nominal cost.

If you believe in the Trinity, you'll loathe the NWT and do everything possible to discredit it. But if you don't carry that baggage, and you're permitted to look at it without preconceived ideas, it speaks well for itself. In fact, Jason Beduhn, who has theological qualifications coming out of his ears, compared 9 popular translations and concluded the New World Translation is the most accurate, containing the least bias, of all of them. His 2003 book is entitled Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. He's not hung up at all about anonymous translators. He has enough ability to look at the work itself, and not just who produced it.

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Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’    30% free preview

Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle in the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s give them some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!

 

 

 


Scholars, Bias, and the New World Translation

If reviews of a film all rot, that tells me the movie's a stinker. If reviews gush with praise, that tells me the film's great. But if some reviewers savage a film and others praise it - the same film - what that tells me is not so much about the movie. That tells me  about the reviewers.

So it is with the New World Translation, a Bible used primarily by Jehovah's Witnesses. Scholars give mixed reviews, with extremes at both ends.

Here's a nasty one:

Finally, a word should be said about the New World Translation by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Due to the sectarian bias of the group, as well as to the lack of genuine biblical scholarship, I believe that the New World Translation is by far the worst translation in English dress. It purports to be word-for-word, and in most cases is slavishly literal to the point of being terrible English. But, ironically, whenever a sacred cow is demolished by the biblical writers themselves, the Jehovah's Witnesses twist the text and resort to an interpretive type of translation. In short, it combines the cons of both worlds, with none of the pros.                      

On the other hand:

Original renderings of the Hebrew Scriptures into the English are extremely few. It therefore gives us much pleasure to welcome the publication of the first part of the New World Translation [of the Hebrew Scriptures], Genesis to Ruth. This version has evidently made a special effort to be thoroughly readable. No one could say it is deficient in its freshness and originality. Its terminology is by no means based on that of the previous versions.

Another sorehead:

Once it is perceived that Jehovah's Witnesses are only interested in what they can make the scriptures say, and not in what the Holy Spirit has already perfectly revealed, then the careful student will reject entirely Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower translation.                      

Then, again:

Edgar J. Goodspeed, translator of the Greek New Testament in An American Translation. (in a letter dated Dec. 8, 1950): "I am interested in the mission work of your people, and in its world wide scope, and much pleased with the free, frank, and vigorous translation. It exhibits a vast array of sound serious learning, as I can testify."

And:

"The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation."                    

What we learn here has little to do with the New World Translation and everything to do with scholars. They are not gods. They are humans, with the same mix of opinion, bias and pig-headedness suffered by all the rest of us. They put their pants on as we do. They are like psychiatrists in a murder trial, where both prosecution and defense searches for one compliant to their respective side. They are like Supreme Court nominees, where the liberal President appoints one with like-minded views, and a few years later the conservative President appoints his polar opposite. You don't tremble with fear when the other side produces a scholar who doesn't agree with you. You expect that to happen. Even sheer numbers of opposing scholars don't mean much. The view currently in vogue will always produce the greater number of scholars. Humans are like that. They run in herd mentality.

Line up all scholars with similar views and their writings indeed seem impressive. Line up the scholars with opposing views, and their writing also seems formidable. But combine the two, and one is sorely tempted to equate scholarship with so many rolls of toilet paper. They squabble no less than we lesser mortals. No one's saying to ignore them, but too many people employ them the way lawyers employ psychiatrists: they decide up front what they want to believe, then they search for scholars to buttress their case.

The other thing we learn about scholars is that the ones who can't stand the New World Translation are, with very few exceptions, Trinitarians. Believe that Jesus and God are synonymous and you will loathe the New World Translation. Believe otherwise, and you will be okay with it. You may critique it on this or that point, as with any translation. But you will rank it as a legitimate and intelligent translation, with both strengths and weaknesses.

There are few redder flags one can wave before the Trinitarian bull than John 1:1. It's easy to see why. The King James Version and most popular Bibles today render the verse:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Other than the insertion at 1 John 5:7, an insertion long recognized as spurious, John 1:1 most directly states the Trinity, or at least two of the three parties to it. But the New World Translation - unforgivably in Trinitarian eyes - renders that verse:

In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

It's not the only translation to do so, but there aren't many. However, there are any number of translations that straddle between the two poles - that is, while not translating the Word as "a god," they render it in terms of an adjective or quality. Such as:

"and the Word was divine" - The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed, Chicago.

"so the Word was divine" - The Authentic New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield, Aberdeen.
"the Logos was divine - A New Testament: A New Translation (James Moffatt)
"was face to face with God" - The Centenary Translation (Helen Barrett Mongomery)
 "and godlike sort was the Logos" - Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider, Berlin.

Trinitarians grumble about these, but have evidently decided they can live with them. Not so with "a god" of the New World Translation.

Turning the tables on those who would charge the New World Translation of bias is a recent (2003) book by Jason Beduhn entitled Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. Dr Beduhn teaches at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Illinois, an M.T.S. in New Testament and Christian Origins form Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Study of Religions form Indiana University, Bloomington. He has a lot of letters trailing his name, I can tell you.

His book compares 9 popular English translations, viewing selected verses, and concludes that the New World Translation is the most accurate, the most free of bias! John 1:1 is among the verses he examines. He writes:

"Surprisingly, only one, the NW, adheres to the literal meaning of the Greek, and translates "a god." "Translators of the KJV, NRSV, NIV, NAB, NASB, AB, TEV and LB all approached the text at John 1:1 already believing certain things about the Word... and made sure that the translations came out in accordance with their beliefs." He also responds to those who charge the NWT translators with doctrinal bias: "It may very well be that the NW translators came to the task of translating John 1:1 with as much bias as the other translators did. It just so happens that their bias corresponds in this case to a more accurate translation of the Greek"

Search the internet and you will find furious discussion of Dr Beduhn, his book, John 1:1 and the other verses examined. Indeed, though I'm told he's active in the blogosphere, I can't find him anywhere. He is absolutely buried amidst attacks from Trinitarians, in near panic mode, desperate to undermine his credentials. Isn't his real language of expertise Pig Latin? Didn't he buy his degrees online? Doesn't he pick his nose a lot?

There is even some report that Jeopardy, the TV show, featured his book in asking what was the most accurate translation. The answer, of course, was the New World Translation. I'd be delighted to say the report's true, but I can't verify it. The mean Watchtower organization makes me go to meetings and knock on doors and read all their books and magazines, so I don't have enough time to sit at home and watch all the Jeopardy shows like I want. But frankly, I don't believe the report. Sounds too much like internet rumor to me.

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Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’    30% free preview

Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle in the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s give them some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!

 


Salvation by Grace, Trinity, Hell, and so forth...

When I first began blogging about two years ago, I imagined that from whatever posts I wrote with a spiritual theme, about half would be directed toward the skeptic crowd and half aimed at the religionists. Like our Lord impaled between two thieves, Jehovah’s Witnesses are caught between two unsavory types. On the one side are the atheists who don’t like us because we are theists (an annoying word…..would you call a married man a wifeist?). On the other hand are the churches who also don’t like us because we fail to line up with their favorite doctrines.

In spite of my noble 50/50 intentions, I find myself writing 90/10 in response to a powerful Carolina force who’s name I will not mention but whose initials are Moristotle. A prolific commenter with boundless energy, he not only writes his blog but he also writes mine in that he plants ideas in my head - they swirl around, and gel into some post geared to something he’s brought up.

Now, this is not disagreeable to me, for I tire very quickly of fisticuffs with the religionists. Squabbling with someone over the trinity, for example, brings to mind that Monty Python scene with the Black Knight. You take off one arm; they keep charging you. You take off another; they don’t notice it. Take off a leg and it doesn’t faze them. Another leg and they keep on arguing, confident they’ve trapped you. You take your leave in disgust and they taunt you for being a coward. Look…almost all scriptures proving the Trinity are wordings that would instantly be recognized as metaphor or illustrative device in any other context, and you have to painstakingly go through every blasted one of them with the Trinitarian and then start at the first and do it all over again since nothing you said in the first place registered. Some people enjoy the exercise. More power to them. The field is theirs. As for me, if for some reason I’ve kept a car group waiting, upon my return I may say “I don’t believe I couldn’t get that person to see that Jesus and God are not the same.” You can see veins standing out on the necks of those waiting. “You kept us waiting all that time for the Trinity!?” they seem to be fuming.

Still, in an effort to respect my original Mission, here’s a few tidbits either from my blog or from exchanges I’ve had on other blogs. They've accumulated. They're too good for the dumpster yet too meager to merit a post of their own. So I'll present several together as a casserole. Perhaps I'll expand on some later.

One religious blogger takes issue with our stand on holidays. Most  holidays Jehovah’s Witness refrain from. Does that not border on child abuse? she suggests, recalling how eagerly she anticipated Santa. Yet in the next breath she worries that, deviating from Truth in this or that doctrinal way, surely I and mine are all apt to go to hell. There is not some incongruity here? Refraining from holidays is intolerable cruelty, but she has no problem with an all-powerful God who would hand someone over to be tortured forever and ever!

With a single exception, all instances of "hell" in English Bibles stem from one of three original language words (sheol, hades, gehenna) Find the meaning of those three words and you've found the meaning of hell. None of them refer to a place of eternal torment. A well known early Witness, Charles Russell was known in his lifetime as the man who "turned the hose on hell and put out the fire."

 

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Salvation is by Grace, sir...that's the point. Religion cannot save, only Jesus does.

Well, of course, everyone knows that.

If "everyone knows" that salvation is by Grace, why does JW preach that you earn salvation by good works?

They don't. I think this accusation originates with people who do little or nothing in appreciation for Christ's free gift of life, yet want to feel morally superior to those who do. "Works" that Jehovah's Witnesses perform are in appreciation for that gift, and in obedience to Christ's command to "go and make disciples." (Matt 28:19) They do not imagine for one minute that they are "earning" everlasting life. The importance of Christian activity is supported by James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” KJV

Only 144,000 are going to heaven, huh? No wonder you knock on so many doors! There are 7 million of you! That’s a lot of people to beat out so as to grab one of the heavenly spots.

Well....the premise is wrong here.

Jehovah's Witnesses are unique among Christian groups in that they entertain no hope of future heavenly life. Instead, they look forward to everlasting life on this earth when it is ruled over by God's Kingdom, the same Kingdom people familiarly know from the Lord's Prayer. Should we die before that Kingdom comes, our hope is to be resurrected to that paradise earth. God first put humans on earth. He didn't put them there because he wanted them somewhere else. Life on earth is not "second class." to us. It is God's original purpose for humans.

Kingdom rule over earth is not too far away, in our view, and Revelation 7:9-17 is now taking place. This passage tells of a great crowd of persons gathered from all "nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues" who would survive the "great tribulation" and live on into the "new order," life under Kingdom rule. Almost all of Jehovah's Witnesses claim to belong to this group. I do.

The Bible also speaks of a "sacred secret," (Colossians 1:26) a "secret" first made known to the early Christian congregation, that there would be some from humankind, a comparatively tiny number, who would share in this heavenly government. Their ultimate destiny would be in heaven, not on earth. Since this "secret" was made known shortly after Christ's resurrection, and there are only 144,000 of these who will serve as "kings and priests," very few of them are on earth today. Most, we maintain, have long since lived their lives and been resurrected to heavenly life.

I'd like to know where in the Bible it says to keep files on your members, or how about where it says that child abuse should only be reported to elders not the police, and while on that note, where does it say again that you should not support your country? I'm also certain the Bible doesn't tell us there is no hell or that Jesus should not be worshiped. And where exactly does it say that God is not a trinity? I'm really curious where the scripture is that backs up these rules.

 

I'd like to know where in the Bible it says to keep files on your members  [I’m not exactly sure what “files” this writer was referring to, but I took a stab, in view of the point she brought up next]

The policy of Jehovah's Witnesses is that a known child molester may never be appointed to any position of oversight. Plainly for such a policy to succeed, someone has to keep track, otherwise simply changing congregations would be enough to thwart it. Jehovah's Witnesses should not be criticized for this. Rather, you should criticize churches who do not care enough about protecting children to have done the same. A simple police background check is not enough. Many known molesters have never been convicted. Nor are police records necessarily reliable. A report from Toronto last week laments that, due to loopholes, only half of the province's convicted sex offenders appear on the national list.

or how about where it says that child abuse should only be reported to elders not the police

There is nothing to say congregation members can't call the police in cases of child abuse. Where do you get this from? If they choose to contact the elders first, or instead of, then the elders contact the police as required by law in New York, and I think all of the United States.

and while on that note, where does it say again that you should not support your country?

I'm not sure what the author means by that remark. Jehovah's Witnesses scrupulously obey laws, they diligently pay taxes, they stand for family values. Do those things not count as supporting your country? Or is he speaking of attitudes toward military ventures? At present this country is sharply divided over military policy. Does he feel one side or the other is not supporting the country? If so, which side?

I'm also certain the Bible doesn't tell us there is no hell

I've already answered this in my comment about the three original language words from which the English word hell is translated. None of them refer to a place of fiery torment. When you translate a word, you have to translate it according to its meaning, not according to what simply fits into your belief structure.

or that Jesus should not be worshiped. And where exactly does it say that God is not a trinity?

Since the Trinity goes against common sense, one would not expect the Bible to expressly deny it, any more than one would expect it to deny that the ground is really green cheese. Exactly the opposite. If the Trinity is true, one would expect the Bible to explicitly and unambiguously state it. It doesn't. The only verse that directly states the Trinity is found at 1 Jn 5:7 in the King James Bible. Virtually all modern Bibles have either removed or footnoted the verse, since it appears in no ancient manuscripts prior to the 6th century. In other words, it was inserted into the text, [!] most likely by someone intent on proving what the Bible otherwise does not say.

I'm really curious where the scripture is that backs up these rules.

There’s quite a few grousers who like to portray Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization of rules “enslaving” people. Two thoughts on this. First, there’s no question that we do adhere to standards as close as we can approximate to that of the first century Christians. No apology for this.   

But where someone presents a list of JW rules, and some of them seem too petty to believe, in general, they should not be believed. They are usually the result of some discussion in the Watchtower or Awake, sometimes decades old, sometimes mentioned only once, with no intention of proposing rules, but only food for thought. To be sure, we have some folks who take every suggestion found anywhere as a rule, as acknowedged in the July 1 1994 Watchtower:

An elder could think that in order to be theocratic, the brothers should obey all sorts of rules. Some elders have made rules out of suggestions given from time to time by “the faithful and discreet slave.”

Don’t such folk exist anywhere? From time to time, these ones are readjusted.

For example, from the Aug 1 1994 Watchtower:

Responsible brothers today are equally interested in reaching hearts. Thus, they avoid laying down arbitrary, inflexible rules or turning their personal viewpoints and opinions into law. (Compare Daniel 6:7-16.) From time to time, kindly reminders on such matters as dress and grooming may be appropriate and timely, but an elder may jeopardize his reputation as a reasonable man if he harps on such matters or tries to impose what are primarily reflections of his personal taste. Really, all in the congregation should avoid trying to control others.—Compare 2 Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 2:12.   (page 18)

Or from the Sept 1, 1996 Watchtower (page 23):

We can have faith that Jehovah God by means of his holy spirit will influence the hearts of true worshipers. Thus, mature Christians appeal to the hearts of their brothers, entreating them, as did the apostle Paul. (2 Corinthians 8:8; 10:1; Philemon 8, 9) Paul knew that it is mainly the unrighteous, not the righteous, who need detailed laws to keep them in line. (1 Timothy 1:9) He expressed, not suspicion or distrust, but faith in his brothers. To one congregation he wrote: “We have confidence in the Lord regarding you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:4) Paul’s faith, trust, and confidence surely did much to motivate those Christians. Elders and traveling overseers today have similar aims. How refreshing these faithful men are, as they lovingly shepherd the flock of God!

There! Now back to those pesky atheists.

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Common Sense and the Trinity

Every Witness has, in his ministry, run across the person who will speak of only one thing: the Trinity, and whose capacity to speak of it is inexhaustible. Think we're tenacious? We can't hold a candle to these guys, at least not on their favorite topic.

Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity; that is, they don't believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all actually the same person. A mere doctrinal difference? Hardly. The really fundamentalist churches refuse Jehovah's Witnesses Christian status on that account! When Isaac Newton, a staunch believer in God, began to refute the Trinity, he risked absolute ruin of his career and even his physical freedom. Prison was a real possibility. So he learned to be discreet in his comments.

Yet the Trinity defies the power of reason God gave us. If you have three persons described in different terms, who speak with each other, who are contrasted with each other, who occupy different places at the same time, common sense dictates that they are different persons, not the same. (One of them, in fact, turns out not even to be a person) God speaks to Jesus. Jesus prays to God, for example, when being put to death. "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." And we're to believe they are the same person? Has common sense absolutely died?

Does this "common sense" argument prove that the Trinity is untrue? No. Sometimes unintuitive things turn out to be true. However, it does show that the burden of proof lies, not with me to prove what reason would indicate is obvious, but with you to prove that the seemingly absurd is, in fact, the way matters really are.

And reasonable people will require solid proof. They won't accept things that, in any other context, would instantly be recognized as a metaphor, figure of speech, or personification, since any good book makes liberal use of all these devices. No. They will want solid proof, otherwise, they are simply being gullible.

Since Jesus and his Father speak with one another, occupy different places at the same time, and are said to have different abilities, will anyone not instantly recognize their "being one" as a literary device to convey their close harmony? And if, say, you run across a scripture which says they are "equal," what does that prove? Aren't there myriad situations today in which different persons are said to be "equals"? Does anyone for one second take that to mean they are physically the same person? No! People immediately realize the expression refers to equality of stature, rank, responsibility, and so forth. With regard to the Father and Son, there are hundreds of such literary expressions. You don't plow through each one individually because the same argument applies to them all: a figure of speech in any other context is not enough to override common sense.

What do you do with a person who, when you say "don't beat around the bush," insists on looking for the bush, who will not acknowledge that the "bush" is not literal, since he "reasons" that you say what you mean and mean what you say? What do you do with such a person? I wish I knew.

Jesus has the key role in fulfilling God's purpose toward His creation. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ." (2 Cor 1:20   NIV)

They've always worked very closely together, even before the Son came to earth. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.   Col 1: 15, 16 [A good analogy. When you see your image in the mirror, you see something which looks just like you. Nobody, however, supposes that it actually is you in the mirror.]

Following Christ's death and resurrection, the closeness with his Father continues and his authority grows: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me," he told his disciples upon his resurrection."  (Matt 28:18)

These scriptures are more than enough to account for the many places in which the Son and Father are shown to fulfill the same role/do the same things. There is no reason to think they would override the obvious: that persons who speak with each other are actually different persons.

Of course, you can always say, and Trinity people do, that the reason you can't figure it out is that "God's ways are higher than your ways." (Isa 55:9) Well, maybe. But can't you use the God's higher ways argument to sell any bill of goods that otherwise makes no sense at all? What's wrong with Galileo's point of view? "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

Galileo, of course, is the fellow who dropped two masses of different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which leaned less at the time) and took note that they landed simultaneously. Thus, he demonstrated acceleration was independent of mass. He also got into a scrap with the Church for announcing that the earth revolved around the sun, contradicting the latter's decree that just the opposite happened. But Galileo was not an anti-God heretic. Like all scientists of his time, he viewed his work as uncovering God's modus operandi, thus glorifying Him as Creator.

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More here


Spurious Words at 1 John 5:7,8

It’s intuitive that the older the Bible translation, the greater the accuracy. After all, it’s closer to the events. It's intuitive, but incorrect.

Thus, a fellow I met in the ministry was peeved because the modern New International Version deletes words from his favorite scripture: 1 John 5:7, a verse that, in the King James Version, clearly states the Trinity.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

The reason he misses these words so much is that it is the Bible's only direct statement of the Trinity. All other Trinity texts require various degrees of wishful thinking. Often they are merely figures of speech taken literally.

But since the Bible is inspired and the King James Version was the only version in use for a few hundred years, surely there must be mischief in removing words. Our householder did note some explanation about the deleted words not appearing in any manuscript before the sixth century CE, but he still smelled a rat. If it was good enough for the Pilgrims, it should be good enough for us.

But the way it works is this:

The Bible writers were inspired. The Bible copyists were not. The Bible translators were not. The latter two groups were devout people doing the best they could with what they had. But they were not inspired.

The goal, then, is to get as close as one can to what the Bible writers wrote, not just what the copyists and translators produced.

Because paper and parchment is perishable, scribes had to copy and recopy and recopy to keep the message from disintegrating. Also, because early Christians were evangelizers, they had to copy and recopy to keep them supplied with the texts they would use in their ministry. Each copy is an opportunity to make a mistake. Thus, the older the copy, (manuscript) the more accurate it probably is, since there have been fewer opportunities to mess it up.

So it is a big deal when, in 1 John 5:7, the words the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one appear only in manuscripts dated after 600 CE. It means that those words were not written by John, but were inserted by a copyist around 600 CE, probably because he wanted the Bible to support the Trinity more than it actually did. It’s also unique in that it’s hard to think of it as an honest mistake. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to change Scripture, without any justification other than the Bible nowhere says what the copyist wanted it to say!

Note his cleverness. The spurious words immediately precede a legitimate group of three.

First, the 400 year old King James Version: (spurious words in bold)

7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Next, the New International Version, published in 1973: (note the adjustment of verses)

7  For there are three that testify:
8.  the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

   

Translators of the 400 year old KJV did not have access to the most ancient manuscripts; modern archeologists have since discovered ever older source material. So the newer Bible versions are usually more accurate than the older ones, not to mention being easier to read….no thee’s, thou’s or ye’s.

There are many dozens, probably hundreds, of English translations of the Bible that have appeared since the KJV. Few of them contain those inserted words at 1 John 5:7. Of those that do, almost all include a footnote to inform that the words only appear in later manuscripts. NIV is one of these. Here is their explanatory footnote:

Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century)

Very few modern Bibles include those added words without explanation, and, it seems apparent, those that do are not being honest. They give the impression that those words were originally part of the John’s letter, when they certainly were not. Do you want to guess where those authors stand with regard to the Trinity doctrine?