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Monday, June 16, 2014

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Gregorian Calendar

Some have suggested that because the Watchtower Society has adopted the use of the Gregorian calendar which uses the names of pagan Roman gods, that they are not totally untouched by the influence of paganism.

However, this is purely specious reasoning used as an excuse to participate in customs which are truly pagan celebrations with all the trimmings.

The calendar currently used by the Watchtower Society is the Gregorian calendar. This calendar is named in honour of Pope Gregory XIII. Its months are named in honour of the pagan Roman kings/gods Augustus (August), and Julius (July) as well as having months named in honour of Roman and Greek gods and goddesses such as Janus (January), Mars (March), Maia (May), Juno (June), and a pagan ritual- "febura" (February).

And some of the days of the week are named for Norse gods (and others): Woden's Day; Thor's Day; Freya's Day - but it is obtuse to think that, although these names are involved, that we are honoring these pagan gods by using the common day and month designations for our society. We have no practical option but to use them.

But as for customs which are devoted to honoring these gods, we do have a choice and, according to Scripture, we should take advantage of that choice.

There are many things which originated, necessarily, under paganism. Pharmacies, Doctors, and who knows what all, but that doesn't make these necessary things a celebration of pagan gods. What is being spoken to by Jehovah's Witnesses is the participation of Christendom in paganistic customs and celebrations which were deliberately borrowed by the Church from pagan celebrations and ceremonies honoring their gods.

There simply is no honest comparison between using necessary information such as the universal use of pagan names for days, months, cities, personal names, etc. with the personal CHOICE to celebrate completely nonessential pagan celebrations.

The early Christians didn't see the need to use their own alternate names for (nor to avoid going to) cities and places which had pagan-related names, nor using the paganistic personal names of individuals. (See Luke and Paul's examples below.) There is a place for reasonable avoidance of actual customs and celebrations devoted to pagan gods and the everyday use of common words.

It is the use of pagan things associated with pagan worship that is at the heart of the issue. It would be wrong to incorporate anything used for pagan worship, into our worship or related activities. Holidays, for example, are "Holy Days" and are a part of "worship", by their very name. The mere reference to a day or month on a calendar is not.

Biblical Examples

The mere reference to a day or month on a calendar cannot possibly be equated to the making of unusual efforts to participate in customs with known pagan origins (like celebrating holidays).

For biblical examples, when Luke wrote in Acts mentioning the Areopagus ('Ares Hill' - Ares is the Greek god of war; 'Mars' is the Latin god of war), he didn't feel the need to change its already established name to something no one would recognize. Furthermore, Paul actually went to this place devoted to a pagan god and preached.

And Paul accepted the Areopagite, Dionysius (Greek name for 'god of wine') and had him join him - Acts 17:19-34. Luke and Paul certainly did not become participants in something associated with pagan origins.

The following article is taken from the 5/15/67 Watchtower, Questions from Readers:

"Why did the Jews use the name of the pagan god Tammuz as the name for one of their months?

"Tammuz was the name of a Babylonian deity. (Ezek. 8:14) And though the Bible does not apply the name in this way, postexilic works, such as the Jewish Talmud, use the name for the fourth Jewish lunar month of the sacred calendar, the tenth of the secular calendar. (Ezek. 1:1) So it would correspond to the latter part of June and the first part of July.

"The use of the pagan name Tammuz as applying to the fourth month of the sacred calendar may have been only a matter of convenience among the Jews. We should remember that they were then a subjugated people, obliged to deal with and report to the foreign powers dominating them. So it is understandable that they might utilize the names of the months employed by these foreign powers. Similarly, the Gregorian calendar used today has months named after the gods Janus, Mars and Juno, as well as for Julius and Augustus Caesar. Yet it continues to be used by Christians who are subject to the "superior authorities." - Rom. 13:1." (Emphasis mine.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Celebrate Father's Day?

Jehovah's Witnesses treat Father's Day as any other, and will love their Fathers just as much that day as any other day.

Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible. Yes, the Bible does command children to honor, obey and respect their parents. (Eph. 6:1, 2) But nowhere does it advocate the commemoration of a special "Father’s Day".

True Christians follow Jesus Christ as their Exemplar and realize that to Jesus, every day was Father's Day. He did not set aside only one particular day out of the year to bring praise to his Father. He did so every day.

It is also worthy to note that the main purpose for the creation of Father's Day was to complement Mother's Day. Jehovah's Witnesses do not formally celebrate Mother's Day - mostly for the same reasons as stated for Father's Day above. But they also do not celebrate it because Jehovah's Witnesses avoid participating in any celebrations with non-Christian religious origins. Some may counter that by saying that Mother's Day does not have roots in ancient paganism and that it is presently considered a largely secular event. But the earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. The Bible makes it clear that if a holiday or custom is being deliberately participated in by a Christian, it must have absolutely no known pagan religion associations. (Exodus 20:3; Luke 4:8; 2 Cor. 6:17)  (See: Why Don't Jehovah's Witnesses Formally Celebrate Mother's Day?)

Also see:

Jehovah's Witnesses and Holidays - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
(To those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), please remember that if you are looking for the authoritative information about the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's (WTBTS) Bible-based beliefs and practices, you should look to our OFFICIAL WEBSITE at Numerous publications as well as the New World Translation Bible (NWT) and the very useful Watchtower Online Library can be found there.)



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trinity And Pagan Influence

1. "The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians .... Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology." Egyptian Religion.

2. "The Egyptians believed in a resurrection and future life, as well as in a state of rewards and punishments dependent on our conduct in this world. The judge of the dead was Osiris, who had been slain by Set, the representative of evil, and afterwards restored to life. His death was avenged by his son Horus, whom the Egyptians invoked as their "Redeemer." Osiris and Horus, along with Isis, formed a trinity, who were regarded as representing the sun-God under different forms." - Trinitarian scholar Dr. M.G. Easton; Easton's Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publ.

3. "This triad of Abydos [Horus, Isis, and Osiris] is apparently much older than even the earliest records .... These 3 main gods were skillfully incorporated into the Great Ennead or State religion of Egypt .... particularly during the first 5 [3110-2342 B.C.] or 6 dynasties when the worship of this triad was prominent." The Ancient Myths, A Mentor Book, Goodrich, p. 25, 1960.

4. Alexandria, Egypt, had even developed a trinity doctrine of its very own long before Christian times. It appears to have been a blend (not surprisingly) of Egyptian, Hindu, and Greek philosophy/mystery religions. 

"This fusing of one god with another is called theocrasia, and nowhere was it more vigorously going on than in Alexandria. Only two peoples resisted it in this period: The Jews, who already had their faith in the one God of heaven and earth, Jehovahand the Persians, who had a monotheistic sun worship [Mithras]. It was Ptolemy I [who died in 283 B. C.] who set up not only the Museum in Alexandria, but the Serapeum, devoted to the worship of a trinity of gods which represented the result of a process of theocrasia applied more particularly to the gods of Greece and Egypt [with a distinct Hindu flavor].

"This trinity consisted of the god Serapis (= Osiris + Apis), the goddess Isis (= Hathor, the cow-moon goddess), and the child-god Horus. In one way or another almost every god was identified with one or other of these three aspects of the one god, even the sun god Mithras of the Persians. and they were each otherTHEY WERE THREE, BUT THEY WERE ALSO ONE." - The Outline of History, Wells, vol. 1, p. 307, 1956 ed.

5. The book The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals admits, regarding the ancient Hindu trinity that was taught centuries before the first Christians:
"Siva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction. The other two gods are Brahma, the god of creation and Vishnu, the god of maintenance.... To indicate that these three processes are one and the same the three gods are combined in one form." - Published by A. Parthasarathy, Bombay. (As quoted in ti-E, p. 12.)

6. The Encyclopedia Americana tells of the fully developed "Hindu Trinity" existing "from about 300 B. C.," p. 197, v. 14, 1957. Brahmana writings, probably from 800 B. C. or before, frequently include the Vedic triad concept. Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., v. 3, pp. 1014-1016, and 34, also see The Portable World Bible, The Viking Press, pp. 23, 25.

7. "Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva together form the trinity of the Hindu Religion. At one time these were distinct Hindu deities. Their rival claims for recognition were finally met by making them three forms of the one supreme god. This was, however, a creation of the priests and ecclesiastical students." Encyclopedia Americana, 1957 ed., v. 28, p. 134.
8. "There is a tendency in [pagan] religious history for the gods to be grouped in threes .... Even in Christianity, the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost reflects the underlying tendency. In India, the great Triad included Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. These represent the cycle of existence, just as the Babylonian triad of Anu, Enlil and Ea represent the materials of existence: air, water, earth." An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm, p. 794, 1945.

9. Not only did the ancient Babylonians have the major trinity of Anu, Enlil, and Ea, but they worshiped more than one trinity of gods. - Babylonian Life and History, Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, 1925 ed., pp. 146, 147.

10. "On the basis of  Pythagorean and gnostic theories, each number [in the Medieval Number Method] was assigned a root meaning and diversified representations.  Some root meanings were: 1 = UNITY OF GOD, ... 3 = TRINITY, extension of Godhead, ... 10 = extension of Unity, Perfect Completeness." - An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm, 1945, p. 755.

11. "... the doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; that it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian scriptures; that it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers."– p. 34, The Church of the First Three Centuries, Alvan Lamson, D.D. (see WT 15 Oct. 1978, p. 32.)

"All things are three, and thrice is all:  and let us use this number in the worship of the gods. For as the Pythagoreans say, everything and all things are bound by threes, for the end, the middle, and the beginning have this number in everything, and these compose the number of the trinity." - Aristotle, as quoted in Paganism in our Christianity, Arthur Weigall, p. 198, Putnam, NY.  (Weigall is quoting from On the Heavens, Bk I, ch. i., by Aristotle who died  322 B.C.)

So it appears that this "holy" number three used to "worship the gods" in unity came down from the extremely influential Pythagoras to the ancient Greek philosophy/mystery religions and even to Plato himself.

"NEO-PYTHAGOREANISM...appeared during the first century B. C. [the faithful Jews were still clinging to their faith in a single one-person God, Jehovah the Father] in Rome, whence it traveled to Alexandria (the sect's chief center) where it flourished until Neo-Platonism absorbed it in the 3rd century A. D."  - Encyclopedia Americana, p. 98, v. 20, 1982 ed.

12. Weigall relates many instances of the trinity concept in pre-Christian pagan religions and then states: "The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the idea to their own faith." And, "Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word `trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan." - The Paganism in our Christianity, pp. 197,198, Arthur Weigall.
13. "If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians (who differed from their fellow Jews only in the belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah) was changed by the Church at Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief." The History of Christianity, (Preface by Eckler).

14. "Christianity did not destroy Paganism; it adopted it .... From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity, …. the adoration of the Mother and Child…." – p. 595, The Story of Civilization: vol. 3, Simon & Schuster Inc., by noted author and historian Will Durant.

15. The Trinity "is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith." - A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge

16. "When Newton was made a fellow of the College, along with an agreement to embrace the Anglican faith, the Trinity fellowship also required ordination within 8 years. During his studies Newton had come to believe that the central doctrine of the church, the Holy and Undivided Trinity was a pagan corruption imposed on Christianity in the fourth century by Athanasius." -Sir Isaac Newton And The Ocean of Truth; "Theology and the word of God"