Friday, 25 July 2008

The Angel of the Lord

The Watchtower May 15, 1988, sort to tackle one of the thorny problems that Jehovah's Witnesses have, namely, the appearances in the Old Testament of “the Angel of the Lord,” or as they say, “Jehovah’s angel.”

They cannot say that the angel was Jehovah because “no man has seen God at any time.” However, they also cannot say that the angel was a manifestation of Jesus - because according to their belief He had no eternal pre-existence as Jesus. Therefore they maintain that these were Jehovah’s angelic representatives; but this is where the problems start because of the way they were treated.

The article [pp.21-23] first deals with Moses in Exodus 33:17-23 and rightly points out that God says, “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” However, Moses was able to see the ‘back’ of God. The Society tells us that this is just the “afterglow of the divine presence.” We can probably accept that but an important point has been made - no man can see the face of God the Father and live - this needs to be applied to some of the other passages the article mentions.

For instance Exodus 3:2-6 where the Society says that this is just God’s angel but read the Scriptures carefully. In v.5, Moses is told to take off his shoes, as this is holy ground. And in v.6 he hears the words, “I am the God of your...” No angel would dare say that, he would have to say, the God who sent me...

Again, look at Judges 6:11ff where Jehovah’s angel appeared to Gideon but v.14 tells us Jehovah faced him. In v.15 Gideon addresses the angel as Jehovah and offers a sacrifice to Him. Both acts that an angel would refuse to accept

The Society concludes the article by saying that now we can

“Understand why Abraham addressed the materialized angelic spokesman of God as if he were talking to Jehovah God himself [Genesis 18:1.]"
However, God is God and an angel is an angel and you cannot confuse them. Abraham, bowed down before them - v.2; this one is a life giver - v10; this one is able to read the heart - v.13; this one has the power to do what he wants - v17; Abraham intercedes to this one - v.23 etc; the ‘angel’ answered immediately what He would be willing to do - v.26. There is no way that we can intelligently read these verses without realising that Abraham was speaking to God - it was not possible for him to be speaking with an angel.

The Society claims that the angelic spokesman was like a radio or telephone transmitting God’s messages to men. But the radio or the telephone never claim to be the person who is speaking! We need to reconcile this matter satisfactorily from Scripture to show the falseness of the Society’s teaching. If no man has ever seen the face of God and yet this “Angel of the Lord” is God, don't we have an impossible situation? No, we do not but the Watchotwer Society does.

There is a very simple answer which means we do not have to stand Scripture on its head. No man has ever seen the face of God the Father but God has revealed Himself as God the Son. This “Angel of the Lord” was treated as God because He is God - here we have Jesus appearing on the earth before His birth at Bethlehem. The eternal Jesus, second part of the glorious Godhead manifesting Himself. No problems - just a willingness to read the Bible as it is written and not put our own man-made doctrines into it.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Mormon Coffee » The Duty to Expose a Shameful Ceremony is Infinitely More Sacred Than a Shameful Ceremony

Some seasoned and timely advice on discussing the Mormon "sacred" (secret) temple ceremony with Mormons and a very interesting discussion to follow. I don't generally tackle the subject because  Mormons refuse to discuss it and it is just plain frustrating, but the author is right in pointing out that it can be appropriate and helpful to bite the bullet, can be seen as a biblical duty, and the advice offered is sensitive while still challenging. I wish as much could be said of some of the Mormon responses.

Mormon Coffee » The Duty to Expose a Shameful Ceremony is Infinitely More Sacred Than a Shameful Ceremony

Friday, 11 July 2008

QUOTE...MISQUOTE

If there is one aspect of the Watchtower Society that clearly shows their deception it is the way they quote or rather misquote many authorities. They make quotations that deny the very things they believe, support them through judicial editing. This is despite there own advice to others.

“Be very careful to be accurate in all statements you make. Use evidence
honestly. In quotations do not twist the meaning of a writer or speaker or use
only partial quotations to give a different thought than the person intended…” - Qualified to be Ministers, WB&TS, 1967, p.199.

We have published a number of examples before in books such as Awake! to the Watchtower but we provide a new selection here.

The first quotations come from the Society's publication Reasoning from the Scriptures and are found under the heading of ‘Neutrality’, pp.272-275. It will be noticed from the first quotation that the Watchtower are so determined to prove the point of neutrality they even use a quote from someone who believes that parts of the Acts of the Apostles is fantasy. The parts that the Society have omitted are in BOLD CAPITALS.

“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that until the time of Marcus Aurelis, no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier after becoming a Christian, remained in military service. AGAINST THIS CONCLUSION IT CAN BE ARGUED THAT, ACCORDING TO ACTS (X 1-48), CORNELIUS, A CENTURION OF THE ITALIAN BAND, WAS BAPTISED, TOGETHER WITH OTHERS... THAT ACCORDING TO ACTS (XII 12), SERGIUS PAULUS, THE PROCONSUL OF CYPRUS, ‘BELIEVED’... AND FINALLY THAT THE JAILER AT PHILIPPI (ACTS XVI 23-34) WAS BAPTISED... STORIES IN WHICH SUCH MIRACULOUS EMBELLISHMENTS OCCUR CANNOT BE REGARDED AS SOBER HISTORY: WE HAVE IN FACT, SEEN REASON TO HOLD THAT, IN THE FIRST PART OF ACTS, FACT AND FANTASY ARE BLENDED SO AS TO MAKE A RECORD WHICH IS SOMETIMES ALLEGORY AND SOMETIMES LITERAL TRUTH.” - The Rise of Christianity, E.W.Barnes, 1947, p.333.
“The Christians stood aloof and distinct from the state, as a priestly and spiritual race, and Christianity seemed able to influence civil life only in that manner which, it must be confessed, is the purest, by practically endeavouring to instil more and more feeling into the citizens of the state... THOSE ON THE CONTRARY, WHO DETERMINED THAT IT WAS ALLOWABLE FOR A CHRISTIAN TO ACCEPT CIVIL AND MILITARY OFFICES... WHEN THEY APPEALED TO THE CASE OF THE CENTURION, WHOSE FAITH CHRIST HIMSELF HAD PRAISED (LUKE VII) AND OF THE BELIEVING CORNELIUS... EVEN TERTULLIAN HIMSELF, THE WARM OPPONENT OF ARMS AMONG CHRISTIANS, DID NOT FEEL HIMSELF AUTHORISED ALTOGETHER TO CONDEMN THOSE WHO, HAVING BECOME CHRISTIANS WHILE THEY WERE SOLDIERS, CONTINUED IN THEIR OLD PROFESSION, PROVIDED IT WAS UNATTENDED WITH ANY THING WHICH CAUSED THEM TO VIOLATE THEIR FIDELITY AS CHRISTIANS.” - History of the Christian Religion and Church During the First Three Centuries, Augustus Neander, 1848, p.168.
BANNERS, STANDARDS AND ENSIGNS ARE FREQUENTLY MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE. ‘EVERY MAN OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SHALL PITCH BY HIS STANDARD, WITH THE ENSIGN OF THEIR FATHER’S HOUSE.’ (NUM 2:2)... Early flags were almost purely of a religious character... The national banner of England for centuries - the red cross of St George - was a religious one; in fact the aid of religion seems ever to have been sought to give sanctity to national flags, and the origin can be traced to a sacred banner.” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1949, Vol.9, p.343.

The following quotes are taken from Reasoning from the Scriptures, pages 69-70 and 179-182 dealing with various festivals.

“The later Hebrews looked on the celebration of birthdays as part of idolatrous worship, a view which would be abundantly confirmed by what they saw of the common observances associated with those days. YET THE LANGUAGE OF JEREMIAH, TAKEN IN CONNECTION WITH THAT OF JOB, DOES FURNISH SOME GROUND FOR THINKING THAT BIRTHDAYS IN GENERAL WERE JOYFULLY REMEMBERED, JOB 3:3 &C; JER 20:14 &C.” - The Imperial Bible Dictionary, P.Fairburn, 1874, Vo1. 1, p.225.

“The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days began to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun’... The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun) also took place at this time, and some Christian customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient pagan celebration... IT IS HELD BY SOME SCHOLARS THAT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST AS ‘LIGHT OF THE WORLD’ WAS MADE ANALOGOUS TO THE REBIRTH OF THE SUN IN ORDER TO MAKE CHRISTIANITY MEANINGFUL TO PAGAN CONVERTS... BUT ALMOST FROM THE FIRST, CHRISTIANS HAVE GENERALLY REGARDED CHRISTMAS AS BOTH A HOLY DAY AND A HOLIDAY. FOR CHRIST’S BIRTH BROUGHT A NEW SPIRIT OF JOY INTO THE WORLD…” - Encyclopaedia Americana, 1977, Vol. VI, p.666.

“There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers. The sanctity of special times was an idea absent from the minds of the first Christians... THE FIRST CHRISTIANS CONTINUED TO OBSERVE THE JEWISH FESTIVALS, THOUGH IN A NEW SPIRIT, AS COMMEMORATION OF EVENTS WHICH THOSE FESTIVALS HAD FORESHADOWED. THUS THE PASSOVER WITH A NEW CONCEPTION ADDED TO IT OF CHRIST AS THE TRUE PASCHAL LAMB AND THE FIRST FRUITS FROM THE DEAD, CONTINUED TO BE OBSERVED, AND BECAME THE CHRISTIAN EASTER. ALTHOUGH THE OBSERVANCE OF EASTER WAS AT A VERY EARLY PERIOD THE PRACTICE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH…” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910, Vol. 8, p.828.

Friday, 4 July 2008

A Challenge to Mormons

In a 19th June news statement the Mormon Church explained its purpose, structure and place in the world. In the Organisation section they state the following:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized the same way that Christ organized His church in New Testament times. It is led by a prophet who serves as president of the Church. He has two counselors, and these three leaders constitute the First Presidency. The First Presidency is assisted by twelve apostles, who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world. Leaders called seventies assist the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and serve in various areas throughout the world. Local congregations are led by bishops. The main organization for women in the Church is the Relief Society, which was founded in 1842."

To claim that the Mormon Church is organised the same way that the Lord organised his church in New Testament times Mormons would have to find a clear biblical model of church and demonstrate that a faithful "latter-day" copy of that model had been "restored".
I challenge any Mormon to show me where in the Bible I can find a church president and two counsellors, three extra leadership roles above apostles, a woman's organisation of any kind, a description of the function of seventies as assistants to the twelve apostles as described in Mormonism, local congregations headed exclusively by bishops (in the NT they are led by bishops, elders, pastors etc.), twelve-year-old deacons, fourteen-year-old teachers, sixteen-year-old priests and eighteen-year-old elders, patriarchs, Area Representatives, High Counsellors, temples (plural), temple presidents, stake presidents, mission presidents.

New Statesman - Working to educate the youth

An excellent article by Doug Harris on the work of Reachout Trust. How did it start? Why do we do it? What are the challenges? How do we plan to meet them? Let's talk about it.

New Statesman - Working to educate the youth