Friday, 27 June 2008

When is a Cult not a Cult?

The Watchtower, 15 February 1994 shows the Society reacting to being called a cult. We must realise that this article was very poignant set as it was in the wake of the tragedy of Waco. We read,


“Occasionally, anticult organizations and the media have referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a cult. A number of recent newspaper articles lump the Witnesses with religious groups known for their questionable practices. But would it be accurate to refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a small fringe religious group? Cult members often isolate themselves from friends, family, and even society in general. Is that the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are the Witnesses using deceptive and unethical techniques to recruit members?” - The Watchtower, 15 February 1994, p.4.

A ruthless attorney could have a field day with that statement and as so often with the Watchtower Society they shoot themselves in the foot. They do isolate themselves and the do use deceptive practices as is shown in this and other Reachout publications. However, the article that follows on pages 5-7 with the catchy title, Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?, puts their defence in more detail. We will look at each major point made.

A WELL-KNOWN RELIGION

This is their defence against being a small fringe religious group. Here is a classic case of setting up a ‘straw man’ simply so they can knock it down. In the first article, they define a cult as a small fringe religious group and now they can say they are not one. This argument is easily turned on its head by asking the Witness if the Mormons are a cult. No question that they are to the Watchtower Society but their numbers are at least the same as the Witnesses. A cult does not necessarily need to be small. It is not the size that makes it a cult but the beliefs and the lifestyle.

ABSORBED IN HUMANITY

In response to the fact that cult members often isolate themselves from friends and even society they quote from a Czech newsman, “They are people who are absorbed in humanity.” Not having any access to the original article there is no way of knowing what the man actually said, but is the phrase true of Jehovah’s Witnesses in general. To answer this we quote the next paragraph of the article with comments added [in bold italics].

“And they do not live in communes, isolating themselves from relatives and others. [They might as well live in communes the way the Society tells them to treat their relatives. We are receiving more and more phone calls from relatives of Witnesses who are not Christians, many describing themselves as indifferent to religion, but they are still shunned. The evidence of the way they treat relatives is seen in the Watchtower articles on disfellowshipping and disassociation, as well as the letters in our files] Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize that it is their Scriptural responsibility to love and care for their families. [Again many cases can be brought to show that this is not the advice that some elders give when talking about close relatives who do not want to be Jehovah’s Witnesses] ... How many other religions have an organized system to pay personal visits to every individual in their community? [I am afraid that they do not visit me and many others that I could list. When they do call at a door, it is only to say that they are right and not directly to care for the community]

STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE BIBLE

Having placed this as a bold title, the WB&TS goes on to admit hat there are many things that they teach that are different to recognised churches. We have shown in many of our publications that according to evangelical Christians the teaching of the Society is not based on the Word of God. The Bible that they use has been changed as can be seen from page 16 of this booklet.

WHO IS THEIR LEADER?

A claim is made here that,

“… the veneration and idolization of human leaders so characteristic of cults today is not to be found among Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Yet, they do not question the Governing Body; they must never indulge in independent thinking but accept every word from their leaders without question. The leaders of the Societyare in a position unique in the earth; to them alone God makes His will known.

In the strictest sense of the words, maybe they are not venerated or idolised but the way they are treated they seen to be given a position that places them at least on a par with Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that He was God and that the way to the Father was through a close relationship with Him. We are told that we should be in Him and He in us. The Society says that He is not God and that the way to the Father is through the organisation. Leave the organisation and you no longer have a relationship with God. We are informed that we can only be in union with Christ and He in union with us. Who is the leader? Not Jesus Christ but the men who are at the top of the Watchtower Society.

CONCLUSION

It is sad to say but when we examine the defence of the Watchtower Society, we discover that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult and most of those on the doorstep will need help to see that. Take them through the information in this booklet and build bridges to them so that they have the opportunity to see another side of the story.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Mormon Coffee » Christian Evangelists Banned from Using the Bathroom at Mormon Public Event (updated, video added)

How petty can you get? As petty as Mormons.

Mormon Coffee » Christian Evangelists Banned from Using the Bathroom at Mormon Public Event (updated, video added)

Friday, 20 June 2008

Shaken Faith Syndrome

The Mormon apologetics site FAIR has released a book by Michael R Ash designed to help Mormons deal with the "Anti-Mormon material" they encounter. It is enitled Shaken Faith Syndrome and the following is the blurb that accompanies the book:

"Description In today's Internet world, an increasing number of Latter-day Saints are encountering anti-Mormon material. In the absence of ready answers, LDS-critical claims can be unsettling or create doubt. Some arguments have caused a few members—even active members with strong testimonies—to lose their faith. Shaken Faith Syndrome explores how we can be both critical thinkers and devout believers. Misconceptions that can make us vulnerable to shaken faith are dispelled, and some of the most frequent anti-LDS claims are refuted. Shaken Faith Syndrome invites us to strengthen our testimonies and intellectual foundations as we develop a more mature appreciation for prophets and revelation as well as a greater understanding of the inherent limitations of science, history, and even the scriptures."

Note the words I highlighted, i.e. "In the absence of ready answers" and the reference to "the inherent limitations of science, history, and even the scriptures". The author's purpose is purportedly to "strengthen our testimonies and intellectual foundations" but it seems an impossible task given that he considers every source, inspired and profane, inadequate to the task. And what are you left with? How you think about how you feel? The clever part, though, is that, in the absence of ready answers he has invented a syndrome.

Now syndrome is from the Greek syn, 'together with' and dramein, 'to run'. A syndrome is a set of symptoms running together indicating a physical or mental disorder. So, the author's message appears to be, "I know anti-Mormons ask difficult questions and I understand that there are no ready answers but if you think they might have a point there is something wrong with you."

Tragically, there will be those Mormons who will convince themselves that they, or an apostate loved one, might be suffering from a syndrome. I understand that psychiatry is a popular profession in Utah so I suppose that's some professional therapist's pension plan drawn up and guaranteed. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland 'revival'

Every day I am being asked about the current ‘revival’ in Florida and there is every sign that these enquiries will continue to increase as ‘it’ has now been imparted, as it is ‘transferable’, and has reached a number of places in Britain; because it is now on our doorstep it is very important that each one of us make up our minds before the Lord, especially as Todd Bentley is planning to come to England this summer, and he says that he wants to hire the largest stadium available.

We have read many words already written on these events and do not simply want to add to them, but we do want to encourage Christians to test this out for themselves and not simply accept one side or the other without really knowing why. We can so easily right ‘the other side’ off but there is only one God and I believe there is only one way to test what is happening. That is not by feelings; it is not be how many apparent signs there are; it is not by whether we like Todd Bentley or not but it is according to the Word of God. We move away from this basis at our peril.

I want to make it clear that we are not against supernatural manifestations, nor are we against true revival. Our desire is that what is happening will be tested and only embraced if it is found to be of the Holy Spirit.

First we will look at 1 Thessalonians 5 that gives the Biblical basis for testing out what is happening and then we will look at several areas that need testing. We will seek to be objective but it will become clear that our own testing has brought us to a clear conclusion. Please follow the Scriptural path and see if you agree. Please do not simply take my word for it but please do as Scripture encourages us and test it out.

1 Thessalonians 5

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” – I Thessalonians 5:19-21

These verses are put within the context of the work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. We are not to quench - put out - the Spirit, which of course means that we must test out what is happening to see whether it is of the Spirit. We are then told not to despise - set aside - give no weight to, prophetic utterances; and again that means we must test the words to see if they are true prophetic utterances.

This is exactly what Paul tells us to do next, “But examine everything carefully”. Examine what? Examine if what is happening is the work of the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. And whether the words given are a prophetic utterance that we should listen to or something we should ignore. We are never just to accept every word someone says because they add on, “Thus saith the Lord.” We do so at our peril.

We are to examine these things, including what is happening in Lakeland, very carefully. It is not, “touching the Lord’s anointed” – please look at those verses carefully in context – it is doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture and come to a conclusion over its validity. How do we examine these things carefully?

The word for examine is the same one found in 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

This is the instruction, that every spirit is to be tested and the test is if they are from God. I would say then according to this definition we should ask the following questions:

1. Is it according to His Word?

2. Is it according to His Character – love, truth, etc?

3. Does it lead to glory and honour for the Lord?

We ask these questions and examine every aspect. Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, comments on this:

“Subject everything submitted to you to be believed to the proper test. The word here used (dokimazete), is one that is properly applicable to metals, referring to the art of the assayer, by which the true nature and value of the metal is tested... This trial was usually made by fire. The meaning here is, that they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject. Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead people everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain; compare Acts
17:11-12; 1Peter 3:15.”
We do not accept something as being from God just because something is shouted and much fuss is made of it. We need to know the reasoning behind it. Please also note then we are to “hold fast that which is good”, which clearly means we have rejected what is bad. The process of checking everything has highlighted things that are not according to the Lord’s Word and character and that do not lead to His glory and so we let go of them and do not bring them into our experience. Barnes again comments:

“Which is in accordance with reason and the word of God; which is adapted to promote the salvation of the soul and the welfare of society. This is just as much a duty as it is to “prove all things.” A man who has applied the proper tests, and has found out what is truth, is bound to embrace it and to hold it fast. He is not at liberty to throw it away, as if it were valueless; or to treat truth and falsehood alike. It is a duty which he owes to himself and to God to adhere to it firmly, and to suffer the loss of all things rather than to abandon it. There are few more important rules in the New Testament than the one in this passage. It shows what is the true nature of Christianity, and it is a rule whose practical value cannot but be felt constantly in our lives. Other religions require their votaries to receive everything upon trust; Christianity asks us to examine everything. Error, superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism attempt to repress free discussion, by saying that there are certain things which are too sacred in their nature, or which have been too long held, or which are sanctioned by too many great and holy names, to permit their being subjected to the scrutiny of common eyes, or to be handled by common hands. In opposition to all this, Christianity requires us to examine everything - no matter by whom held; by what councils ordained; by what venerableness of antiquity sustained; or by what sacredness it may be invested. We are to receive no opinion until we are convinced that it is true; we are to be subjected to no pains or penalties for not believing what we do not perceive to be true; we are to be prohibited from examining no opinion which our fellow-men regard as true, and which they seek to make others believe. No popular current in favor of any doctrine; no influence which name and rank and learning can give it, is to commend it to us as certainly worthy of our belief. By whomsoever held, we are to examine it freely before we embrace it; but when we are convinced that it is true, it is to be held, no matter what current of popular opinion or prejudice maybe against it.”
With this clear teaching in mind and our means of testing defined, let us examine our 5 areas.

Read the full article at: http://www.reachouttrust.org/articles/deception/ToddB.htm

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

More on Negroes and the Mormon Priesthood

The Mormon Church 'celebrates' thirty years since Black men were granted priesthood blessings. Despite the fact that official Mormon publications still contain passages that denounce the Negro as a representative of Satan on the earth and unworthy, Black people, especially in Africa, have been joining in great numbers. The way the Mormon Church 'explains' its murky past is by telling people that old attitudes to Negroes were the product of folk lore and never official teachings of the church. This is a blatant and shameful lie from the pit of hell and protestors in temple square, including Bill McKeever of Mormonism Research Ministry, were determined to remind Mormons of their racist past. See them on you tube here

The tragedy is that Black people are falling for this lie in droves and are made to look foolish when they stand in front of cameras to defend a church that has always considered them as almost subhuman. You can read about the 'scripture' source for the original doctrine on the Reachout Web Site here and there is a very good commentary at the Mormon Coffee Blog

Monday, 9 June 2008

This Bread Always: Remembering June 8 - another day the revelation changed again for Mormons forever

Mormons are "celebrating" - perhaps that should be "marking" - 30 years since Negroes were admitted into the Mormon priesthood. Think of it; at a stroke men who bore the Mark of Cain, were for almost 150 years considered low, mean and lazy, not positively proselytised, and unworthy until the end of time were told that it was all a terrible mistake and now no one can understand or remember why they were barred for so many years. It must be great having a prophet.

This blog entry from "This Bread Always" is a succinct, piercing and thoroughly biblical response to this infamous anniversary.

This Bread Always: Remembering June 8 - another day the revelation changed again for Mormons forever

Friday, 6 June 2008

Unorthodox Mormon Behaviour

Anyone who knows Mormons will know how very image conscious they are. The Mormon Church goes to a great deal of trouble to present itself as politically neutral, theologically Christian and reasonably irenic in its dealings with other churches and faiths. Anyone who really knows Mormons will know that this is all a facade, a sophisticated public relations exercise, and that behind it is a faith that rejects and denounces historical Christianity in all its forms, views the existence of different expressions of Christianity as a depressing proof of total apostasy and sees its mission as being to preach to and convert everyone in the world who isn’t a Mormon. Far from ‘respecting’ other Christian churches Mormonism considers us all woefully inadequate and wilfully in error, if not individually then generically.

Mormon missionaries, of course, are very conscious of their role as ambassadors for the church and know instinctively, almost from the cradle, the image they are meant to project. They have little difficulty, most of the time, with the contradiction between what they are taught within the church about the worthless nature of apostate Christendom and their role as ambassadors for the church in the world. Sometimes, however, the inevitable cognitive dissonance created by their faith simply gets the better of them and they have a brain storm. This was demonstrated when, in March, we carried the story of missionaries who had desecrated the Sangre de Cristo's altar at the Catholic Church in Colorado. In a similar development the Sofia Echo and other Bulgarian news agencies published the following story:

Christian Orthodox priests want Mormons out of Bulgaria - report
16:00 Fri 06 Jun 2008 - Petar Kostadinov

Bulgarian Orthodox Church priests from the town of Bourgas on the Black Sea have asked the authorities to extradite a number of Mormon ministers, all of whom are foreign citizens.
According to local-based website bourgasinfo.com, the Orthodox priests from SS Cyril and Methodius church in Bourgas wanted the state to ban the preaching of the Mormon religion in Bulgaria.


These requests follow the June 5 2008 incident that happened at the church. During the service for Spassov Den (the day of the Ascension of Christ the Saviour, celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter), the Mormons entered the church and interrupted the service by talking to people, according to the priests.

“This is inadmissible. They started walking around the church talking to people. They have crossed all boundaries because that way they infringed our religious freedom as Orthodox Christians. It was an act of religious hostility,” father Zahari Dachev told Bourgasinfo.com.

“We have sent a letter to the state institutions and to the US embassy asking them if this is how their citizens live in our country by breaking our rights and freedoms,” he said. “Bulgarians' tolerance is being taking advantage of.”


Dachev entered into an argument with the Mormons, who were physically removed out of the church in the end, reports in Bulgarian media said. Dachev has filed a complaint with the police.

According to him, this was not the first time that the Mormons have come to the church. At Tsvetnitsa (Palm Sunday), they were handing out flyers about Mormon religion to9 people waiting to enter the church.


Now let me first say that this is unusual conduct for Mormon missionaries and discussion boards and opinion pages have been deluged with Mormon saying as much. However, given the inconsistency between what Mormons really think about other churches and official public dissembling by the Mormon Church itself, is it really surprising that these young people might become confused and sometimes express themselves “inappropriately”?

They are taught from birth (or from conversion) to otherwise respect churches that they are also taught are damnable in their apostasy. They publicly declare, “We are Christians like you”, while privately they are proud of the fact that they are fundamentally and altogether unlike any Christians you will come across. When you consider what Mormon leaders have had to say about other churches in the short history of Mormonism; when you know the way Christians are dismissed behind closed doors; in classes and conferences, in leadership meetings, in private conversations at church and around Mormon dinner tables, you begin to see the root cause of this disrespect.

The problem is magnified, however, when you realise the sensitive nature of religious affairs in Bulgaria. After 45 years of communist rule, under which religious freedoms were severely restricted, Bulgaria became a target for every missionary organisation imaginable and in January 1992 Christianity Today magazine declared Eastern Europe a “New Kingdom for the Cults”. It specifically singled out Bulgaria as a “Fertile Ground for False Teaching.” At that time, Bulgarians were being proselytized to by the Hare Krishnas; the religious community of the “White Brethren”; the “Children of God”; the Unitarian Church; the Scientologists; the “Word of Life” Church; Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church, along with many other nondenominational Protestants from the United States.

In an effort to stem this flow the Orthodox Church was declared the official state religion and other churches were required to register with the government and obtain permission to proselytise. The biggest concern for the government, and their rationale for interfering in spiritual matters, was that the integrity of the state should remain inviolate in the face of growing Islamic activity and the fear of radicalisation.

To its credit, the Bulgarian Constitution is one of the few constitutions in Europe that explicitly protects the rights of non-believers, declaring that: “the freedom of conscience, the freedom of thought and the choice of religion and of religious or atheistic views shall be inviolable.”

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, and Bulgaria has been called to account in Europe over its ‘restrictive’ laws, the test is whether Mormonism is true to its declared intent to “be subject to kings, presidents, rulers, obeying, honouring, and sustaining the law” (Twelfth Article of Faith). Further, whether Mormons truly respect other people’s faiths, as they claim they do, or whether this is an example of their true colours coming out. Certainly, Mormons need to be much more sensitive to the political and religious sensibilities of the countries in which they operate and realise that there are parts of the world where their conduct might issue in a great deal more than a door shut in their faces. And perhaps that sensitising should begin back home, at church and in what Mormons say to each other about other churches and cultures.