Friday, 25 April 2008

Reachout Trust Style Guide

James tells us that, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tonugue". I have particular cause for thinking of these words this week because I just can't get my tongue out of my cheek. You see, inspired by the astonishingly convincing efforts of the Mormon Church to control even the way people talk about them behind their backs by publishing a style guide, we at Reachout Trust have produce one of our own. The original Mormon style guide can be found here http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/style-guide

Here is our very own:.

Reachout Trust Style Guide

The official name of Reachout Trust is” Reachout Trust”, or “The Reachout Trust”. This name was devised to reflect the aim of the trust, which is to “Reach Out” with the Good News of Jesus Christ to people in the cults. The clue is right there in the name.

While the Trust is sometimes referred to as “anti” something or other, e.g. “anti-Mormon”; anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses”; “anti-this-and-that” it is not an authorized title or description, we get pretty ticked off when people use it, and discourage its use for that reason.

The official description of Reachout Trust is “a Christian Ministry”, reflecting the rather obvious fact that we “minister” the Christian Gospel.

When writing about “The Reachout Trust”, please follow these guidelines:

  • In the first reference, the full name of “The Reachout Trust” is preferred; “The Reachout Trust”.


  • Please avoid the use of “Those anti-(put your preferred cult in here),” “The scoundrels in Reachout,” “Those dreadful Reachout people,” and other such sobriquets. It kind of hurts our feelings and gives our day a bad start.


  • When a shortened reference is needed, the term “Reachout” is encouraged.


  • When referring to Reachout personnel, the term “Someone from Reachout Trust” is preferred, although that person’s name, provided you know it, used in conjunction with the name “Reachout Trust” is acceptable, e.g. “Bill from Reachout Trust”. You may also, of course, call them “Christians” because that is what we are.


  • The term “Cult Ministry” is acceptable when used to describe the full range of ministry work we do, although we prefer “Christian Ministry to the Cults”.


  • When referring to people who practice in an aggressive, dishonest, violent and offensive way to the cults the term “Reachout Trust” should only be used in the sense of, “not like those nice people at Reachout Trust”. The Reachout Trust Style Book says of such things, “Don’t do it. It’s bad enough that there are people out there who are dumb enough to believe that criticism amounts to persecution and persecution ‘proves’ they have the truth. Don’t affirm them in this crazy thinking by actually persecuting them.”

Of course, the Mormon Church explains the necessity for a style guide by saying that Mormonism is misunderstood, misrepresented in the press and by its critics and needs to clarify these things for people. As we have observed elsewhere and on many occassions, on the face of it this seems a healthy exercise in informing and enlightening the public in the face of a general lack of understanding. Such exercises in explaining are so accepted a part of Mormonism however that we perhaps fail to reflect on how very peculiar they are for a church that calls itself Christian.

Of course, every organisation produces publicity these days, even local Evangelical churches having their own web sites, blogs etc. but, where other churches tell the gospel and advertise church programmes, the Mormon Church seems to be constantly fighting a rearguard action against misunderstandings and misconceptions. This is all the more puzzling for a church that has a professional Public Affairs Committee, local, regional and global publicity initiatives and a relentless programme of self-promotion. If Mormonism is "restored" Christianity one might expect a great deal more familiarity among the general populace as well as other Christians. Why does the Mormon Church continually have to “explain” itself? Who is causing the apparent confusion? It might be said that no other church has to go to such lengths to disabuse people of apparent "misconceptions" regarding what they believe or to explain what they claim to believe.

A Christian Church with a clear message doesn't need a style guide and a barrow load of explanations and corrections. The message of a Christian Church is clear, biblical and accessible to all.

So what's with the Reachout Trust style guide? Well, you have to laugh sometimes or you'll go crazy dealing with this stuff.

Friday, 18 April 2008

JUST WAIT A MINUTE!

The Watchtower Society make a number of damming statements concerning Christendom and the error of their ways as well as some strong statements about their own beliefs. However, they don't always apply the same standards to all their teachings of the Society. We just want to take a minute of your time to look at some very important issues.

For instance the Society makes a lot of fuss over the pagan roots of Christmas and Easter but according to the following quote shouldn't’t they make the same fuss over baptism?

The practice of baptism, however, predates the Christian faith. It was employed in Babylonia and in ancient Egypt, where the cold waters of the Nile were thought to bestow immortality. The Greeks also believed that baptism could bring regeneration or could procure immortality for the initiate. - The Watchtower, 1 April 1993, p.4.
In mid 1990 the Society wrote the following:

Jesus warned his disciples not to speculate . . . Thus, the Bible is no supporter of any growing number of doomsday prophets and movements that point to the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999, as the end of the world. - The Watchtower, 1 June 1990, p.7.
This is very interesting in the light of what they said in January 1989.


The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity: He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century. - The Watchtower, 1 January 1989, p.12. [emphasis added].

Maybe this new position is why when the full 1989 bound copy of the Watchtower was produced there was a slight change to the above quote,


The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity: He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our day. - The Watchtower, 1 January 1989, p.12, bound year edition. [emphasis added].
The fact that they did were teaching the original position, and it was not just some printining error, can be seen in the ollowing,

With confidence in the vision’s complete fulfillment, during the decades of this 20th century. - The Jehovah’s Witness Yearbook 1989, p.3 [emphasis added].
How about the way they looked at the war - or shouldn't we mention that!
While World War II was escalating in all its fury, the president of the Watch Tower Society, on September 20, 1942, delivered . . . the speech . . . Therein, he showed from Revelation chapter 17 that, contrary to the expectation of many, World War II would not culminate in Armageddon. - The Watchtower, 1 October 1985, p.15 footnote.

Meantime the German people are awakening to their horrible predicament. They no longer laugh as decent men and women were made to laugh, but their faces are white, pinched and filled with forebodings of what the near future will bring and is already hastening to bring to them - Armageddon the battle of that great day of God Almighty. - Consolation, 29 October, 1941, p.11.


It is not so much what is said in the future about past events but what was said at the time? Clearly at the time the Society was suggesting that World War II was either Armageddon or
certainly leading to it. At the same time they don't mind editing their past!

Was that during the campaign “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”? . . . Yes, it was, and it was first sent out in 1918 even before Jehovah had come to his temple to judge his anointed. - Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, 1959, p.110.
In 1918, the final year of World War I, the astounding lecture “Millions Now Living May Never Die” was publicly delivered by J.F.Rutherford. - The Watchtower, 15 October 1985, p.19.

One little word can certainly mean a lot!

The Watchtower’s are full of Biblical references placed in brackets after a particular statement. They are there to show the reader that what is being said is Scriptural. It is worth looking these up, as on many occasions we find that the Bible denies the statement that the Watchtower has just made. Here are a couple of examples.:

Just as even hardened criminals need rehabilitation before being able to settle into the community without creating problems, so under God’s Kingdom, an extensive programme will help the subjects to be law-abiding. (Revelation 20:12,13) - The Watchtower 15 August 1989, p.7.

The problem comes when you read Revelation 20,12 & 13 and discover that when these people are resurrected they are judged according to their past deed,s those already written within the books. There is no opportunity given here for future rehabilitation.

Who will likely be the first ones to be resurrected . . . It would reasonably be the ‘other sheep’ who died during the last days preceding the end . . . They would probably have the least difficulty in adjusting themselves to the new world. - Cmp. Matt. 25:34; John 6:53,54. The Watchtower 15 August 1989, p.17.

Problems come again when you read John 6:53,54. The ‘other sheep’ do not partake of the Memorial Meal and therefore do not qualify to be resurrected according to these verses. Interestingly none of those supposed to be resurrected on earth fit these verses so who can be resurrected? According to the Watchtower’s interpretation of Scripture - nobody!

This checking of Scripture also needs to take place in their interpretation of the parable of the workers inn the vineyard in Matthew 20.

... the clergy of Christendom in this 20th century have, by reason of their positions and responsibilities, been ‘first’ to be hired for the work in God’s symbolic vineyard. They considered dedicated preachers as-sociated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to be ‘the last’ ones to have any valid assignment in God’s ser-vice. But it is, in fact, these very ones who the clergy despised who received the denarius - the honor of serving as anointed ambassadors of God’s heavenly Kingdom. - The Watchtower, 15 August 1989, pp.8/9.

What theSociety has forgotten is that although the first group murmured they received the ame reward as the last ones. What a shock this must be to the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They should have checked the Scripture before they interpreted it in this way.

The Jehovah’s Witness will also delight in telling you that although they worship Jehovah they only give obeisance to Jesus thus showing that Jesus is lesser than Jehovah. The following quote gives the lie to that:

When the Gentile Cornelius bowed reverently to the apostle Peter, note what happened: ‘As Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet and did obeisance to him. But Peter lifted him up, saying: “Rise; I myself am also a man.”’(Acts 10:25,26) Bowing worshipfully to a human was improper, and Peter would not accept it. - The Watchtower 1 May, 1989, p.22 [emphasis added].

When we give obeisance to Jesus we are bowing worshipfully and if He were not God he should also tell us not to do it.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A Different Gospel

The Sixteenth president of the Mormon Church, Thomas S Monson, has been sustained as prophet, seer and revelator and now heads the, nominally 13 million strong church. He has issued the traditional invitation to “the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor” to come back and “feast at the table of the Lord and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints.” In a series of emotional addresses to world-wide Mormonism other church leaders, in the 178th General Conference of the Mormon Church, have given their thoughts and endorsements, explaining again how everyone can know “in their hearts” the truth of the work in which they are engaged.

It is rather like a meeting of the Old Russian politburo in which every member of the leadership, no matter how he feels about the present incumbent, is anxious to endorse the system which has elevated him and may elevate him further – provided he lives long enough. And, by endorsing the system that has seen Monson become president, they affirm in the minds of Mormons that their leaders from apostles down to local bishops and quorum presidents are legitimate in their authority and unassailable in their pronouncements. Understandable since at times like this it is important to reinforce the message of “business as usual”.

“As with the priest, so with the people” is the old saying and, as though to prove the truth of the proverb, in meeting houses and homes dewy-eyed Mormons all over the world stood and raised their right hands to the square to declare their undying support for the new prophet. And, no doubt, many will bless their luck that they have been asked to speak at church or been given the opportunity to share a testimony on fast and testimony Sunday so they can be among the first to publicly and vocally declare, “I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S Monson is a prophet today.” It is important not only to be onside but to be seen to be onside and familiar with the form and the people involved in forging your eternal destiny; those who have gone before and “plan for their brethren” as well as those whose patronage is so important today because they will sign temple recommends and otherwise declare a Mormon worthy to have that all-important calling in the church.

Mormons have always done it this way and, to many, this may sound like a thoroughgoing and cynical side-swipe at a group of honourable people going through the ritual of choosing a leader, but there’s the rub. Each generation has sustained one or more of these prophets, swearing to follow them in the sure knowledge that this man alone speaks for God and teaches God’s only truth. “Follow the prophet”, the expression goes; “Watch the prophet”, is another version of the same idea. “We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet, to guide us in these latter days”, sing the Mormons as they give their heartfelt support to another of God’s servants (or should that be gods’ servants?) who they trust will lead them unerringly as have all previous incumbents.

The ‘rub’ is that, not only has each generation followed a different prophet, but each prophet has led each generation by way of ‘a different gospel’. By that I don’t mean ‘a different gospel’ in the way Paul meant it when he wrote to the Galatians (Gal.1:8/9). That much is obvious and more than thoroughly attested to elsewhere. I mean ‘a different gospel’ in comparison with the message of previous prophets, especially of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and that 19c crowd of trailblazing, world-defying, Christendom-condemning, megalomaniacal polygamists. Numerous examples can be found on the Mormon section of the Reachout Trust web site.

Gordon B Hinckley, the previous prophet, certainly seemed to disown and otherwise distance himself from the pronouncements of earlier leaders and I suppose it will be interesting to watch and see how this latest man stands up. Of course, True Believing Mormons will simply watch the prophet and stand in wonder that such a spiritual giant should walk among them. “Isn’t he homely?” isn’t he wise?” isn’t he folksy?” “Doesn’t he look like Nicholas Cage’s dad?” They will wave of their hankies at Conferences he visits, purchase photos of him from the ever growing industry that produces Mormon kitsch, believe with all their hearts that he receives revelation for the church even though they will see not one and sigh with relief or leave the church in protest by turns as he fiddles with the doctrines, changes the emphasise and blurs the issues further. Because actually everything Mormons are taught and have been taught for years has been produced by a faceless correlation committee that takes prudence over prophecy, correlation over revelation and produces what will work for the church in the current climate rather than what God told the prophet on a Thursday evening in the Salt Lake temple.

Others, however, will watch with discernment, un-phased by the call to return to the fold, concerned only that the truth about Mormonism continue to be exposed and the truth of Jesus Christ increasingly be proclaimed so that those who seek freedom should know the only truth that sets us free (Romans 3:21-26).

Friday, 4 April 2008

The Generation Game
Even a dcade later, I still think that Proverbs 13:12 must have come to the mind of a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses as they studied The Watchtower’s from 15 October to 15 November 1995. It says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick"; and as ‘the generation’ had changed again the long time Witness must have been feeling at least a little off colour."

The generation we are referring to is the one in Matthew 24 that would see the end of this world, as we know it or in Watchtower language, ‘this system of things.’ Over the years the generation that would be alive when God set up His Kingdom on earth has changed as follows:

“Jesus was obviously speaking about those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the ‘last days’ began.” - Awake!, 8 October 1968, p.13.

“Thus, when it comes to the application in our time, the ‘generation’ logically would not apply to babies born during World War I. It applies to Christ’s followers and others who were able to observe that war…” - The Watchtower, 1 October 1978, p.31.

“If Jesus used ‘generation’ in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80’s or 90’s, a few even having reached a hundred.” - The Watchtower, 15 May 1984, p.5.
However, the end was still in sight and those that were alive in 1914 would not pass away until this glorious event happened. There was hope. From November 1995, this all changed and now there is no apparent end in sight. What the Society is now saying is that although in Matthew 24:3 Jehovah gave the sign of the wars, earthquakes etc., He did not give the exact date that He would execute judgement. This is borne out by the first fulfilment of this prophecy with the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem.

“From Daniel’s prophecy, the Jews could have calculated the timing of Jesus’ appearing as the Messiah... Yet they were given no date for the ‘great tribulation’ that finally destroyed the apostate Jewish system of things. It was only after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple that they realized that the date was 70 C.E.” - The Watchtower, 1 November 1995, p.11.
No longer can they say that it will be in 1975, 1999, 2010 or any date because no one knows that hour and we will not know until after the event. This is a remarkable turn around when you consider some of the articles they have written in the past. For instance The Watchtower of 1 April 1984 led with the article ‘1914 A Marked Year - Why?’ Much of the reasoning behind it being a marked year centred on the ‘signs of the times’. Now they mean nothing.

Surely, we can still say that it is soon because the generation will soon die out and it must happen before then. No, even that has changed.

“...the masses of unrepentant Jews of that time obviously made up ‘this adulterous and sinful generation’... What, then, is the ‘generation’ so frequently referred to by Jesus in the presence of his disciples? What did they understand by his words... Surely, Jesus was not departing from his established use of the term... which he constantly applied to the contemporary masses with their ‘blind guides’ who together made up the Jewish nation.” - Ibid, pp.13,14.
The generation is no longer the one that saw 1914 but it is ‘today’s generation’. Moreover, as long as this world exists it will be ‘today’s generation’. With this change comes another difference. Witnesses have always been taught that chronology and dating are a vital part of the proof that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. This key to the ‘truth’ is apparently now not so important; in fact, it is not necessary for salvation at all.

“Those Jews who had paid attention to Jesus’ prophetic words realized that their salvation depended, not on trying to calculate the length of a ‘generation’ or of some dated ‘times and seasons,’ but on keeping separate from the evil contemporary generation and zealously doing God’s will.” Ibid, p.15.
They indeed clearly state,
“We do not need to know the exact timing of events. Rather, our focus must be on being watchful, cultivating strong faith, and keeping busy in Jehovah’s service - not on calculating a date.” Ibid, p.17.
On some things they never change, we must still be busy in Jehovah’s service but I wonder how can you have strong faith in an organisation that makes such far-reaching changes that alter the whole foundation they are built on. But haven’t the Watchtower Society been guilty of date calculation? Yes, they admit that at least Jehovah’s people have been guilty of this, if not the Governing Body!

“Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the ‘great tribulation’ would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we ‘bring a heart of wisdom in,’ not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we ‘count our days’ in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah.” Ibid, p.17.
Having so completely devastated Witnesses they must try to give them some hope. They must also try to give them some motivation to be on the doors. To do this we read,

“Does our more precise viewpoint on ‘this generation’ mean that Armageddon is further away that we had thought? Not at all! Though we at no time have known
the ‘day and hour,’ Jehovah God has always known it, and he does not change.” Ibid, p.20.
The Society will of course try to show that this is ‘new light’ or that they are tacking in a sailboat. In The Watchtower 1 December 1981, p.27 we read,

“At times explanations given by Jehovah’s visible organization have shown adjustments, seemingly to, previous points of view. But this has not actually been the case. This might be compared to what is known in navigational circles as ‘tacking.’ By maneuvering the sails the sailors can cause a ship to go from right to left, back and forth, but all the time making progress toward their destination in spite of contrary winds."

Both explanations that are now well worn with the Society. We can show them that neither of these explanations fit this scenario because there has not been a change to an idea of man but the change has been to a promise of Jehovah. Note the two quotations below the first is taken from the Awake! 22 October 1995 and the second from Awake! 8 November 1995 [emphasis added] .

“Awake! Is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about people in many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.”

“Awake! Is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about people in many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.”

For thinking Witnesses this must still give problems. First, how can a promise of Jehovah fail? Finding they cannot answer that question they would ask, was it a promise of Jehovah in the first place? Concluding that it wasn’t would lead them to see that the Society that claims to be God’s mouthpiece is actually putting words into His mouth that He never said.

This change is also remarkable when you consider that just one year before in the Awake! 8 November 1994, referring to the reason for printing Awake!, as printed above, they said,

“The fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that we have been living in the time of the end since 1914... This time of the end is, however, to be a relatively short period - stretching over one generation (Luke 21:31,32) The fact that we are now 80 years beyond 1914 indicates that we can soon expect the deliverance that God’s Kingdom will bring. “- Awake!, 8 November 1994, p.10.

Whatever other things disturb the Witnesses today they certainly no longer have any hope that the end is just round the corner. No one will ever know when the system will end until after the events.