Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Witnessing to Jehovahs Witnesses.

I had travelled to Cardiff, I was due to meet someone a bit later and as I was strolling by the old market I saw three Jehovah's witnesses, two ladies and an older man  with a book display.

It was a nice day, I was feeling relaxed, do I REALLY want to start a conversation? Inevitably  I walked over and started a conversation. I asked them what they believe about the days of creation now. They used to believe that each day was 7000 years old. One JW had previously and recently told me they don't believe that but I pointed out they used to..... he was embarrassed.
These ones basically fluffed it and did the 'vague' on me, 'its a long time ' they said. I wasn't trying to trick them I was just trying to find out the current position. I explained I knew what the organisation had previously said. They acted as if there hadn't been a change of belief, they admitted nothing and tbh I could see in their eyes that they were obviously being a bit secretive about it all. A bit frustrated and disappointed I then properly introduced myself still not wanting to  get into a debate, I was in a relaxed mood. I said I'm an evangelical Christian  a born again person so obviously we differ on things but its been nice to talk. The youngest woman leapt in, 'so you believe the Trinity, we all used to be in other Churches we have now found the truth'.  I couldn't let that one pass now could I!!

During the course of our 45 minute convo, they introduced a number of distractions.... joining the army, Christmas, the contradictory beliefs of Christians and others stuff. Any time I put the slightest bit of pressure on them they introduced one of these.

The opener on the Trinity was a gift. She said' how can you believe that three can be one person. We couldn't believe that so we now believe the Bible'. My reply was obvious and simple,  'you obviously never ever understood the biblical teaching on the subject or what Christians have believed since that time'.I pointed out that their claim of previously being Christians like me had no credibility. They obviously were nominal one a 'welsh chapel' background the other a Catholic.

I tried really hard to draw a distinction as I always do between the organisation and them. They vociferously said their faith is in Jehovah God and I'm sure I heard them say 'not the organisation'!! I asked them
1. Do you believe you will see the Kingdom  (they said yes we will see its effects)
2. Are you born again as part of the 144,000 (they said no)
3. Show me John 3v3 'unless a person is born again they cannot see the Kingdom of God'. The organisation is contradicting Jesus....PLEASE I said believe Jesus.

My next approach was to point out that I can do something they cant do ...I can say to Jesus' my Lord and my God'......they cant, because the organisation wont let them. They had no reply unusually, apart from to say that he was not saying what was right!!!! Throughout the convo I was mentioning '4jehovah' look it up. They became more and more opposed to looking up anything after our time together. (4jehovah is a very usefull website). The conversation went on for 45 minutes. Eventually they tired as I challenged them to check things out, to re examine the claims of the WT. I began to list the failed prophesies, talked of the defection of Ray Franz.  They jumped in to say that only a few JWs went beyond organisational teaching about 1975. I told them about the woman who promised me I would have my eyes pecked out in Armageddon before October also about the many others at that time (I was 18 that year). I looked the older ones in the eye and said 'you KNOW what happened', they averted their gaze.

We talked for a while about humanitarian and 'good works', they seemed to think that the JWs were the first to any crisis in the world ( I had to stifle my incredulous laughter at that point!) In Zambia where I go I said it has the highest number of JWs in the world, the country is packed full of orphanages, schools, clinics, children's villages built and supported by mainstream Christians  and NONE by the Watchtower, after I  made the point, they were silent.

What became apparent is that their faith was utterly in the organisation who the older one said 'had never got anything wrong'. If our message was wrong they said ...what is yours? (how often do you get a chance like that?). I explained and then said your hope is that you MAY survive Armageddon into Gods new world, mine is to know now I have eternal life with the sure and certain hope of resurrection. I don't think there is any comparison, one of them just shook her head, no reply ensued.

I reminded them of '4jehovah', they indicated they would not look it up. So I went to my appointment once again saddened by the grip that this pernicious organisation has on the minds of its adherents. Pray for them, I did present the gospel and drew the contrast between my faith in Jesus and theirs in the organisation (they did try and say my faith must be through an organisation).   I can only hope my words are a link in a long chain or path to freedom. Did I waste my time?  No, did I accomplish anything..only God knows at this time. I suppose I can put it on my report slip and hand it in to the service Overseer!!

Monday, 28 July 2014

The 'New' New World translation reviewed .

The 'new' New world  translation. A review.

Known as the silver sword because of its colour, this is not an update it is a new translation. With a new translation philosophy and approach. We will look at various features of this edition and make comments from more than one perspective.

The bare facts.
Sturdy but soft grey cover, with the wording inset into the binding and not printed on it. A new WT invented font and crisp layout with even presentation. This is different to the old NWT which originally had uneven and untidy typesetting. Launched with an 'app'  (JW app )which also includes other bibles from the Watchtower, this NWT is not just a revision it is effectively a new translation.
Features of the bible
Full bible with centre references, summary (outline of contents) of each book in advance. At the front is a section of 20 questions  that people ask with colour drawings and short answers. At the rear is a concordance and a glossary of terms. Following this the usual various charts and maps with two important (for the JWs) chapters on the divine name in the Hebrew and. Greek scriptures.
Differences to the 'old' NWT.
The most significant difference is that the translation has moved on the scale from  being like youngs literal translation to something that approximates to  the NIV or perhaps the HCSB. The old 'one word in Greek/Hebrew  is translated as one word in English'. Has gone, although it never existed anyway (when proskuneo refers to Jehovah it was always translated as worship but when referring to Jesus was translated as 'do obeisance '), the old distinction for plural second person pronouns like YOU and YOURS has also gone. Many  words have been modernised , the use of 'kidneys' to translate literally the Hebrew word has now been sensibly changed to expressions like ' innermost feelings', make no mistake, this is no Good news bible or NLT, it is still not flowing but is an improvement on the past. Wherever  there is some textual uncertainty they have not been put in smaller print or footnotes or  included in any way.....they have been omitted entirely!!  That includes the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and the endings of mark.  It is apparent that absolute certainty is what the WT requires. It is notable that there are no textual notes at all .... 'Most early mss say...'  Or ' a few late mss include...', none of that at all. If the NWT wants to be taken seriously outside of its own circles they really should include some notes reflecting the reality underneath the text. It is apparent that the organisation has spoken and that is the way it is.  All the brackets have been removed in Coll 1 Around (other). This is a retrograde step but suits the WT purpose in reinforcing its view of the deity of Christ.
If I was a JW......
I would think that this new NWT is a big improvement on previous editions. Great helps and references and the extra colour pages are a plus. However I think many JWs will struggle getting used to the non literal approach which is a massive change to previously. The new JW app is easy to use and would disturb many JWs though as the translations included are the Old study edition of the NWT plus the ASV, Byingtons, Kingdom Interlinear, KJV and the new NWT. If a JW checks any contentious passages (Coll 1, Php 2, John 1v1, the use of Jehovah in the NT etc) with the app, the ASV , KJV and byingtons will inevitably disagree with the NWT, so will the Interlinear part of the KIT as well (see John 14v14 as an example).

Mistake?
Eagle  eyed reviewers will notice a typesetting or layout mistake as well.In numbers 32v14-16. On page 266. Compare the header with the reference on p277. It would be easy to think I am being picky. But for a loyal JW this small error can be unsettling and it has caused a bit of a stir in some JW circles.
Same old,same old?

All the usual errors are included in this translation. Notably the insertion of Jehovah into the pages of the NT is utterly unfounded. The article at the back of the translation shows pictures of OT passages in Hebrew and some editions of the LXX (the Greek OT). This is misleading and is a bit of a smokescreen, it also shows a page from the emphatic diaglott and an Hawaiian translation! These of course are simply no evidence at all that 'JEHOVAH' should be in the text of the NT. Let me repeat this.... There is not a single manuscript of the NT that has Jehovah or Yahweh (a more correct translation) or YHWH in it......zero, zip, zilch! The NWT stands utterly alone in this respect and even Jason Beduhn who in the past has made a few favourable comments about the NWT severely criticised the NWT for falsely inserting Jehovah.

Well, that is my brief review of the 'new' NWT,  parts of it will be translated into perhaps 300 languages by the WT, what they don't realise is that mainstream Christians have translated the bible into 2000 languages with greater volume and distribution than the NWT. JWs will consider the NWT to be the most accurate of all translations , the evidence shows otherwise.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Taking Cults Seriously

Have you noticed that folk involved in cult ministry tend to learn on the job? Not many “qualified” Christians turn their minds too much to the world of the cults, although there are some notable exceptions. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, for instance. In the main, people in this ministry might be termed by the world, “enthusiasts,” although they would see themselves as faithfully answering the call of God to a difficult ministry that has captured their hearts. We do what we can.

We are all familiar with the appalling argument that insists, “don’t touch, don’t engage,” based on an erroneous reading of 2 John 10; “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

Of course, the fact is that anyone who isn’t a born-again believer doesn’t bring correct teaching, and then there are those inside the church whose teaching is questionable. So are these people insisting we separate ourselves entirely from the very ones to whom Jesus sent us to declare the good news? I don’t see that.

The text is simply telling us not to entertain false teaching in our homes, where early Christians routinely met. The modern equivalent would be allowing false teachers to enter the pulpit, to teach and preach in your church gatherings, home groups, prayer meetings. Nevertheless, it is trotted out regularly to excuse this lack of engagement with the world of discernment and apologetics on the part of more “respectable” Christians.

One of the reasons, indeed the main reason, I think, for this coolness is the fiction that it is too hard, too dangerous, too challenging, which becomes, not required. The truth is that the churches are too ready to adopt a siege mentality when it comes to the cults, too disinclined to disciple Christians, preparing them properly to face whatever is ‘out there.’

But if we are not engaged daily in the fight for truth then we are being unfaithful to the Lord who saved us and in danger of accommodating ourselves to the world. If we are not preparing Christian believers for engagement with “hollow and deceptive philosoph[ies],” (Col.2:8) then we are sending them into the world as lambs among wolves and nothing to help them other than keeping the door to the world firmly shut, and we all remember what Doug Harris thought about that.

One pastor I knew insisted that ministries such as ours needn’t exist if the church did its job properly. Amen to that! Sadly, and ironically, until churches like his wake up to the need, and step up to the challenge, its left to us to press on with the work. So we continue to send out the message; the error must be met, the truth is worth defending, the lost our purpose and reward, the cults to be taken seriously.

There is another side to this question of taking the cults seriously. Increasingly, we find some churches and church leaders ready to meet the cults on the cults’ own terms, to take them seriously in terms of treating them as worthy of equal consideration. When the cults insist they have something to say and are as deserving of a hearing as other churches some in the Christian Church accept this argument and think it reasonable to give them a platform. This is the familiar philosophy of the liberal world, in which, “you have your truth, and I have mine.” To this the same answer comes back; you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own truth.

Some applaud the cult’s missionary endeavours, comparing unfavourably the apparent lack of determined outreach in their own Christian community. They might admire the clean-living image of the cult, its youth programme, or some such thing. I am reminded of the words of John above, “Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” This is what John had in mind, the approving, on any level, of a false work.Book of Mormon

New World TranslationIn demanding to be taken seriously the cults are insisting on us approaching the issues under discussion on their terms. But their terms are, de facto, incapable of being understood as legitimate. When the JW presents his, or her translation of the Bible, how can we possibly take it seriously when it contrives to deny the divinity of Jesus by adding to Scripture? When the Mormon comes along with his, or her Book of Mormon, how can we take Mormon claims seriously when this pale imitation adds to the living Word of God?

We cannot, as Christians, risk lending credence to the cult by conceding terms, even as we might respect individual cult members, and even though we surely must engage with the hollow and deceptive philosophies that surround us, striving to save some as though snatching them from the fire (Jude 23)