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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Did the Early Christians Refuse to Engage in War?

The Encyclopedia of Religion and War states: “The earliest followers of Jesus rejected war and military service,” recognizing these practices as “incompatible with the love ethic of Jesus and the injunction to love one’s enemies.”

The Encyclopedia of Religion and War says: “Christian writers prior to Constantine [Roman emperor 306-337 C.E.] unanimously condemned killing in war.”

And according to religion writer Jonathan Dymond, the early Christians “refused to engage in [war]; whatever were the consequences, whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death.” Dymond added: “These facts are indisputable.” Only when “Christianity became corrupted,” said another writer, did Christians become soldiers.

The book The Early Christian Attitude to War says: “Inasmuch as they [Jesus’ teachings] ruled out as illicit all use of violence and injury against others, clearly implied [was] the illegitimacy of participation in war . . . The early Christians took Jesus at his word, and understood his inculcations of gentleness and non-resistance in their literal sense. They closely identified their religion with peace; they strongly condemned war for the bloodshed which it involved.”

“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius [Roman emperor from 161 to 180 C.E.], no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.”—The Rise of Christianity (London, 1947), E. W. Barnes, p. 333.

“They refused to take any active part in the civil administration or the military defence of the empire. . . . it was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.”—History of Christianity (New York, 1891), Edward Gibbon, pp. 162, 163.

Noting an interesting parallel, lecturer in church history Geoffrey F. Nuttall commented: “The early Christian attitude to war was more like that of the people who call themselves JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES than it is comfortable for us to suppose.”

For more, see:

WAR (Early Christians) (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Go to War? (JW.ORG)

War - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is Acts 5:3, 4 - Lied to the Holy Spirit...lied to God?

Another bit of eclectic "evidence" some trinitarians resort to for the "personality" and "Godhood" of the spirit is found at Acts 5:3, 4. Here we find a baptized Christian, one who has, therefore, received holy spirit, selling his property and giving some of the money from that sale to the Apostles. Now this man was under no obligation to sell his land or give any of that money to the Apostles. That he did so would have been a fine thing. But this man, Ananias, wanted honor more than he wanted to give charity. So he gave only part of the money from his property to the Apostles. This, too, would have been a fine thing. but he lied to the Apostles, because he wanted even more recognition, and told them he had given them all the money from the sale of his property!

So Peter said,

"Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to [or 'cheat' - Mo (or 'to deceive' or 'to play false' - Thayer, #5574; cf. #5574, Strong's and Thayer, in Heb. 6:18 as rendered in RSV, NEB, CBW, and The Amplified Bible)] the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? .... How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to ['played false to' ('defrauded' - Mo)] men but to God." - RSV.

The "evidence" here is supposed to be that Peter first says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Then he turns around and says that Ananias lied to God. The supposition being, evidently, that the one lie [or deception] could only be directed to one person. Therefore the Holy Spirit "must" be God!

This type of reasoning is painfully ridiculous at best! Ananias actually lied directly to the Apostles! So this type of "reasoning" applies even more strongly to the Apostles than it does to the Holy Spirit! By using this "evidence" we could say with equal credibility that Peter is saying the Apostles are God when he says "you have not lied to men but to God"!

We can see a similar idea at Mark 9:37 -

"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me [so trinitarian-type 'evidence' proves this child is Jesus!]; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." - RSV.

So receiving the child is actually receiving the Son and the Father! The child, then, "must" be God Himself (by trinitarian standards of evidence)!

I'm sure the truth of this matter must be apparent to all objective persons. But, for good measure, you might examine such scriptures as Matt. 25:40 and Luke 10:16 and compare them with Acts 5:4. We can also see a similar usage in the rest of Acts 5:3, 4. In 5:3 we see that Satan filled Ananias' heart to lie. But in 5:4 we find that Ananias himself conceived this thing in his heart. So this trinitarian-type evidence "reveals" another essential "mystery": Satan is Ananias! (Also analyze 1 Thess. 4:2, 6, 8; 1 Cor. 8:12; and James 4:11.)

One of Christendom's favorite trinitarians (and one of the humblest men found in history), St. Francis of Assisi, made an interesting statement that should be compared with Peter's statement at Acts 5:3, 4. St. Francis said after receiving some clothing from a friend:

"Nothing could be better for me than these. I take them thankfully as your alms. You have given them to God." - p. 66, Richest of the Poor - The Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Theodore Maynard, 1949.

Isn't it obvious that, by willfully rebelling against the holy spirit (the motivating force sent by God) by lying to the Apostles, Ananias was also lying to God?

(Another similar statement of this concept is admitted even in the footnote for Acts 5:3 in a highly trinitarian publication of the RSV, the ecumenical study Bible, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977, Oxford University Press: "The apostles, or perhaps the church, represent the Holy Spirit."
Obviously, the Apostles receive their authority to represent God on earth through the power of the holy spirit ("in the name of the holy spirit"), so they "represent" not only that authorizing power but also God Himself.

Therefore, the attempted deception of the Apostles by Ananias also equals an attempted deception of the Holy Spirit and an attempted deception of God.)
So, since the holy spirit (this impersonal power/force/direction) comes directly (and perfectly) from God himself, then, no matter what one does against that holy spirit, it is always equivalent to doing that very thing against God himself. For example, if I spit in disgust on the letter (the impersonal thing providing direction to me) from the king, it will always be understood as equivalent to my spitting on the king himself. If, on the other hand, I spit on a messenger from the king, it might not be considered such a serious offense if I were merely expressing a dislike for the person of the messenger himself, not his message from the king.

Also see:

Acts 5:3 "play false" (In Defense of the NWT)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Are NOT a Cult

Calling Jehovah's Witnesses a "cult" in the common pejorative sense is just a biased ad hominem attack. It is
just a simple minded method of prejudicing others so that they will not use their reasoning and look at the real facts.

In actuality, Jehovah's Witnesses can PROVE that all their beliefs are from God's Word. And their only leader is Christ Jesus and they do not follow any human. On the other hand, other religions have proven that they have rejected Biblical teachings and they do not imitate Christ. Instead they follow human teachers. So these "mainstream" religions are more accurately described as "cults."

The true Church would not be in the majority (Mt.7:13,14), but would be condemned as a "sect" and a "cult" (Ac.24:14; 28:22).

A primary sign of a cult is that they want to isolate their members from outside information. Yet, to be a Witness you are REQUIRED TO talk to people of all religions, including ministers and scholars, who will challenge your beliefs and force you to continue to research your own beliefs and support them from the Bible. No Witness can escape being confronted by opposing arguments, anti-Witness accusations etc. Outside of the admonition to avoid hate literature, Jehovah's Witnesses are never asked to avoid talking to those who don't agree with them.

However, other religions constantly discourage and outright tell their members not to talk to Jehovah's Witnesses. So who really deserve the "cult" description?!!

On the other hand, how do other religions rate on the "mind control" issue? We are constantly faced with people of other religions who cannot explain their own beliefs, and know nothing about arguments against their doctrine.

Cults cannot support their belief from the Bible and so the majority of their members always lack the ability to give evidence from the Scriptures. This is a good description of Christendom, but virtually EVERY Witness can give a Scriptural reason for what they believe.

Another tool of cults is misrepresentation and avoidance of facts. Even when people of other religions are told to talk to us they are often encouraged to use emotive accusations rather then a discussion of Scriptural themes--such as dismissing others as a "cult." So Jehovah's Witnesses are not the ones using "mind control."

And when it comes to "controlling" people both Catholics and Protestants tortured, burnt people. Today their main tactic is to keep their flock ignorant and use social pressures and prejudice.

Therefore Jehovah's Witnesses are not a cult!

Through extensive study individual Jehovah's Witnesses have come to trust the accuracy of the information the Watchtower presents. Through experience they have proven that all True Christians are associated with Jehovah's Witnesses and this organization is the only one which gives solid evidence of being God's congregation. So, we do not blindly follow any organization but we also recognize those who give evidence of accurate Biblical teaching and are obedient to them (Heb.13:17,24; 1 Thes. 5:12; 1Cor.16:16)

When we see how weak, unreasonable, illogical, and downright false these other opposing arguments and beliefs are then we are even more convinced that we have the Truth and are part of the Christ's True "Church" today (Dan.12:3; Mat.13:39-43).

David Hume said: "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence." And this is what we should do when someone calls another religion a "cult" or "false prophets."

All we have to do is quickly point out that other religions are willing to go shoot members of their own church in war, allow fornication, disagree on doctrine and even remove the Divine Name from God's Word & etc. All of these things result in God's curse upon anyone who makes common cause with such imitation Christians (Mat.15:7,8; 23:27; 1Cor.6:9,?10; Rm.1:24-32; Rev. 22:18,19).

All Jehovah's Witnesses do is to invite others to do the same, critically examine your beliefs in light of the plain and explicit teaching of Scripture and the evidence in the actions of your religion and its members, then choose to follow Christ closely (Rom.10:1-3; Eph.1:17).

SOURCE: This is an answer provided by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

Also see:

Jehovah's Witnesses are NOT a Cult - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Are Jehovah's Witnesses Really a Cult? - Showing How This Label is Incorrect (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Believe That the Number 144,000 in Revelation is a Literal Number Instead of Symbolic One?

The argument is that since Revelation contains highly symbolic language, all numbers found in it, including the number 144,000, must be symbolic. However, that is not so. It is true that Revelation does contain numerous symbolic numbers, but it also includes literal numbers. Whether a number in Revelation is to be taken literally or symbolically depends on its background and setting. For instance, John speaks of "the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:14) Clearly, the number 12 mentioned in this verse is literal, not symbolic. Also, the apostle John writes about "the thousand years" of Christ's reign which has also been taken literally. (Revelation 20:3, 5-7)

The number 144,000 refers to a limited number of individuals...a relatively small group when compared with the "great crowd". For instance, the 144,000 are described as those who "were bought from among mankind as firstfruits." (Revelation 14:1, 4) The expression "firstfruits" refers to a small representative selection. Also, Jesus spoke of those who will rule with him in heaven as a "little flock." (Luke 12:32; 22:29) The scriptures indicate that those "who have been bought from the earth" are few in comparison with those of mankind who will inhabit the coming Paradise earth.

Besides Jehovah's Witnesses, various Bible scholars have reached the same conclusion that the number 144,000 is literal. When commenting on Revelation 7:4, 9, British lexicographer Dr. Ethelbert W. Bullinger observed over 100 years ago: "It is the simple statement of fact: a definite number in contrast with the indefinite number in this very chapter." -The Apocalypse or "The Day of the Lord," page 282

Also, more recently, Robert L. Thomas, Jr., professor of New Testament at The Master's Seminary in the United States, wrote: "The case for symbolism is exegetically weak." He added: "It is a definite number [at 7:4] in contrast with the indefinite number of 7:9. If it is taken symbolically, no number in the book can be taken literally." -Revelation: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 1, page 474.

For much more, see:

144,000 - Links to Information (Watchtower Online Library)

144,000 - Links to Information (Search For Bibile Truths Category)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Does Elohim really mean a "plural oneness" or a "plurality of persons"?

Elohim does not mean a "plural oneness" or a "plurality of persons".

That the Hebrew plural is often used for a singular noun to denote "a `plural' of majesty or excellence" is well-known by all Biblical Hebrew language experts and has been known from at least the time of Gesenius (1786-1842), who is still regarded as one of the best authorities for Biblical Hebrew.

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament ("long regarded as a standard work for students"), p. 49, shows that elohim, is sometimes used in a numerically plural sense for angels, judges, and false gods.  But it also says,

"The plural of majesty [for elohim], occurs, on the other hand, more than two thousand times."  And that elohim when used in that sense "occurs in a [numerically] singular sense" and is "constr[ued] with a verb ...  and adjective in the singular."

Gesenius - Kautzsch's Hebrew Grammar, 1949 ed., pp. 398, 399, says: 

"The pluralis excellentiae or maiestatis ... is properly a variety of the abstract plural, since it sums up the several characteristics belonging to the idea, besides possessing the secondary sense of an intensification of the original idea.  It is thus closely related to the plurals of amplification .... So, especially Elohim ... `God' (to be distinguished from the plural `gods', Ex. 12:12, etc.) .... That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in Elohim (whenever it denotes one God) is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute."

More modern publications (trinitarian Protestant and Catholic) also make similar acknowledgments of the intended plural of majesty or excellence meaning for elohim.  (See the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. v., p. 287.)

Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, describes elohim

"The common plural form `elohim,' a plural of majesty." - Unger and White, 1980, p. 159

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says: 

"It is characteristic of Heb[rew] that extension, magnitude, and dignity, as well as actual multiplicity, are expressed by the pl[ural]."  - Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984 ed., Vol. II, p. 1265.

Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publishers, written by trinitarian scholars, says of elohim:
"Applied to the one true God, it is the result in the Hebrew idiom of a plural magnitude or majesty.  When applied to the heathen gods, angels, or judges ..., Elohim is plural in sense as well as form." - p. 208.

The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. xxi, July 1905 (Aaron Ember) tells us:  "several phenomena in the universe were designated in Hebrew by plural expressions because they inspired the Hebrew mind with the idea of greatness, majesty, grandeur, and holiness."

Ember also says: 

"Various theories have been advanced to explain the use of the plural elohim as a designation of the God of Israel.  least plausible is the view of the Old Theologians, beginning with Peter Lombard (12th century A. D.), that we have in the plural form a reference to the Trinity .... that the language of the OT has entirely given up the idea of plurality [in number] in elohim (as applied to the God of Israel) is especially shown by the fact that it is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate, and takes a singular attribute.

"...elohim must rather be explained as an intensive plural denoting greatness and majesty, being equal to the Great God.  It ranks with the plurals adonim [`master'] and baalim [`owner', `lord'] employed with reference to [individual] human beings."

The famous trinitarian scholar, Robert Young, (Young's Analytical Concordance and Young's Literal Translation of the Bible) wrote in his Young's  Concise Critical Commentary, p. 1,

"Heb. elohim, a plural noun ... it seems to point out a superabundance of qualities in the Divine Being rather than a plurality of persons ....  It is found almost invariably accompanied by a verb in the singular number."

Both Exodus 4:16 and 7:1 show God calling Moses "a god" (elohim).  This alone shows the error of some that the plural elohim must mean a "plural oneness" unless we want to believe Moses was a multiple-person Moses.

And The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan Publishing, 1986, tells us: 

"Elohim, though plural in form, is seldom used in the OT as such (i.e. `gods').  Even a single heathen god can be designated with the plural elohim (e.g. Jdg. 11:24; 1 Ki. 11:5; 2 Ki. 1:2).  In Israel the plural is understood as the plural of fullness; God is the God who really, and in the fullest sense of the word, is God." - p. 67, Vol. 2.

The NIV Study Bible says about elohim in its footnote for Gen. 1:1:

"This use of the plural expresses intensification rather than number and has been called the plural of majesty, or of potentiality." – p. 6, Zondervan Publ., 1985.

And the New American Bible (St. Joseph ed.) tells us in its "Bible Dictionary" in the appendix:

"ELOHIM.  Ordinary Hebrew word for God.  It is the plural of majesty." – Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1970.

A Dictionary of the Bible by William Smith (Smith's Bible Dictionary, p. 220, Hendrickson Publ.) declares:

"The fanciful idea that [elohim] referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars.  It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God."

And the prestigious work edited by Hastings says about this:

"It is exegesis of a mischievous if pious sort that would find the doctrine of the Trinity in the plural form elohim [God]" ("God," Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics).

To show how ancient Jewish scholars themselves understood this we can look at the work of the seventy Hebrew scholars who translated the ancient Hebrew Scriptures (OT) into Greek several centuries before the time of Christ.  The Greek language did not use the "plural of excellence" that the Hebrew did.  So, if we see a plural used in the Greek Septuagint, it was really intended to represent more than one individual.

So how is elohim rendered in the Greek Septuagint by those ancient Hebrew scholars?  Whenever it clearly refers to Jehovah God, it is always found to be singular in number (just as in New Testament Greek): theos .   Whenever elohim clearly refers to a plural (in number) noun, it is always found to be plural in number in Greek (just as in the New Testament Greek): "gods" theoi (nominative) or theois (accusative).

For example:  "I am the Lord thy God [elohim - plural of excellence in Hebrew becomes theos - singular in the Greek Septuagint]" - Ex. 20:2.  And "know that the Lord he is God [as always, the plural elohim, as applied to the God of Israel, becomes the singular, theos in the Septuagint] he made us..." - Ps. 100:3.

But when elohim really does mean plural in number, we see it rendered into the Greek plural for "gods" in the Septuagint:  "Thou shalt not worship their gods [elohim in Hebrew becomes theois - plural in the Greek Septuagint], nor serve them .... And thou shalt serve the Lord thy God [singular - Greek]." - Ex. 23:24-25.

And elohim at Ps. 82:6 is translated in the Septuagint as the plural theoi.  This scripture is also quoted in the NT at John 10:34 where Jesus is shown also using the plural theoi

The plural elohim argument is no more proper than the plural "faces" argument:  When the Hebrew scriptures speak of the face of God, they invariably use the plural Hebrew word which is literally "faces" (e.g. Ex. 33:20, Num. 6:25, Ps. 10:11).  Obviously, according to this type of trinitarian reasoning, to have "faces" God must be more than one person!

It is apparent to any competent OT Bible scholar that "faces" is used in a similar manner to the plural "elohim."  That is, the plural "faces" is used in a  singular sense in the ancient Hebrew idiom.

We only have to look at other uses in the Bible.  King David, for example, is described with the plural "faces" usage: 2 Sam. 14:24 uses the plural "faces" twice for King David!  This scripture, when translated into the ancient Greek Septuagint hundreds of years before Christ, used the singular "face" in Greek.  The same thing has happened in many scriptures, e.g. 2 Ki. 3:14 (Jehoshaphat) and 2 Ki. 18:24 (an official).

Clearly, the Hebrew translators of that time did not understand a "multiple-person God" (any more than a "multiple-person David [or Jehoshaphat]") or they certainly would have translated the plural Hebrew "faces" of God with the plural Greek word for "faces."  But they never did!

Likewise, as with the plural elohim, the New Testament writers never followed the Hebrew plural usage for "face," but always used the singular "face" for God (e.g., Heb. 9:24).  How extremely strange if they really believed God was more than one person.

We see exactly the same thing happening for translations of the plural elohim in the ancient Septuagint and in the Christian NT.

Yes, all the NT Bible writers, whether quoting from the OT or writing their own God-inspired NT scriptures, always used the singular "God" (theos) in NT Greek when speaking of the only true God of the Bible.  (If the plural form had been used for the only true God, we would even discover a new "trinity" at John 10:34.)

It is absolutely incredible that John, Paul, and the other inspired NT writers would not have used the plural Greek form to translate the plural Hebrew form of "God" if they had intended in any degree to imply that God was in any way more than one person!

For more, see:

Elohim - Links to Information (Watchtower Online Library)

ELOHIM - Plural 'God'  and "Let Us Make Man in Our Image" (Examining the Trinity)

HUMPTY - (DEFINITIONS OF “GOD”) (Examining the Trinity)

Examining Trinity 'Proof Texts' (Examining the Trinity)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Does Job 1:4 indicate that Job’s children celebrated their birthdays?

Job 1:4 does not apply to birthdays.

Job 1:4 reads: “And [Job’s] sons went and held a banquet at the house of each one on his own day; and they sent and invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them.”

“Day” in Job 1:4 translates the Hebrew word yohm and refers to a period of time from sunrise to sunset. On the other hand, “birthday” is a compound of the two Hebrew words yohm (day) and hul·le´dheth. The distinction between “day” and one’s birthday may be noted in Genesis 40:20, where both expressions appear: “Now on the third day [yohm] it turned out to be Pharaoh’s birthday [literally, “the day (yohm) of the birth (hul·le´dheth) of Pharaoh”].”

At Job 1:4, hullédeth does not appear; only yowm is used in the Hebrew text. So it speaks of Job’s sons’ doing something “each one on his own day,” not ‘each one on his own birthday.’

So it is certain that Job 1:4 does not refer to a birthday, as is unquestionably the case at Genesis 40:20. It would seem that Job’s seven sons held a family gathering (possibly a spring or harvest festival) and as the feasting made the week-long circuit, each son hosted the banquet in his own house “on his own day.”

The Bible makes direct reference to only two birthday celebrations, those of Pharaoh of Egypt (18th century B.C.E.) and Herod Antipas (1st century C.E.). These accounts were not depicted in the Bible in a favorable light. These birthdays were celebrated by people who clearly did not worship God and both accounts were marked with great feasting and granting of favors and both are remembered for executions: the hanging of Pharaoh’s chief baker in the first instance, the beheading of John the Baptizer in the latter.

So it would be good to consider that even if the account at Job 1:4 were talking about his son's birthdays, the Scripture does not mention Job attending. In fact, Job prayed for them and said that they had "sinned and have cursed God in their hearts." (Job 1:5) In addition, they all died on one of the occasions, so even if it was a birthday celebration, we would then have three birthday accounts of which were marked by people dying. Hardly a stellar record.

For more, see:

Birthdays (Search For Bible Truths