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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"New Light" - Should Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses Really be Taken Seriously When They Can't Even Use the Correct Phrase?

Everything that opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses believe to be so important really is comparatively inconsequential. While Jehovah's Witnesses still adjust minor understandings of prophecy and periphery beliefs, major doctrines will not be changed because the doctrinal knowledge has increased so much that any recent changes have not been to doctrine but simple refinements in knowledge.

Still, many opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses repeatedly use the term "New Light" when attempting to ridicule them for any progressive understanding of Scripture despite the fact that "New Light" is not even the correct phrase:

Solomon declared: “But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Proverbs 4:18)

The truth gradually becomes clearer to us as we persist in studying the Scriptures patiently and diligently. The meaning or significance of Bible prophecies also unfolds progressively. Daniel's prophecy clearly said that true knowledge would "increase" during the time of the end (Dan. 12:4). Only at "the conclusion of the system of things" would "the righteous ones would then shine as brightly as the sun" (Mt.13:24- 30, 36-43; 24:45-47; Acts 3:20- 21).

Most other religions have proved that they will not change doctrines such as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and hell fire even though their own scholars admit these beliefs are not taught in Scripture. In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses have always been willing to change any belief in order to harmonize better with increased knowledge of Scriptural teaching.

So rather than rejecting Jehovah's Witnesses understandings of Scripture simply because they progress in their understanding of it, this should be recognized as a comendable effort! It is stupid to avoid accepting current knowledge which is solidly based on known facts just because we know there most likely will be changes or adjustments with increased knowledge. Every belief that is based on knowledge changes or is subject to change.

Do we refuse to believe our Doctor's life saving direction because of all the medical mistakes in the past? Such reasoning is clearly logically fallacious.

Additionally, Jehovah's Witnesses' application of Prov. 4:18 is not new nor unique and in fact, criticism of Witnesses in this matter is hypocritical.

Both Protestant and Catholic commentators have applied the "expanding light" idea to an increase in Bible understanding regarding doctrine:

In his attempt to explain why the Trinity was not taught until the fourth century, Gregory Nazianzen in his 32nd Oration states that God used gradually increasing light to introduce the change to a belief in a Triune God.
Gill's Expositor says: "that shineth more and more...the light of the knowledge of Christ the increased by means of the ministry of the word,.. Light into the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, increases yet more and more...when the light of knowledge will be clear and perfect."

Clarkes' Commentary Dan.11:1: "Bp. Newton, who is ever judicious and instructing, remarks: It is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former; and thus revelation "is a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

Barnes' Notes: "And it need not be said, to anyone acquainted with the history of those times, that the Reformation was preceded and accompanied with a great increase of light."

This very same principle are found in Arthur Pink's principles of Bible interpretation: He lists the "law of progress" and says: "The path of Truth is like that of the just: it "shineth more and more." And he specifically mentions increasing light regarding prophecy.--A W Pink Interpretation of the Scriptures, p., 33-53, 56-62

We can also find this exact use of Proverbs 4:18 in many other reference works such as "The Pulpit Commentary," The Lutheran "Kretzmann Commentary," "Vincent's Word Pictures” 1Jo 1:7, "Girdlestone's Synonyms of the OT," Milton S. Terry's "Biblical Dogmatics," "Barnes' Notes on Rev. and Dan 12:4," R. Haldane's “Exposition on Romans,” Keil and Delitzsch’s commentary on the OT: and many others.

Below is a quote from the 19th century revivalist and theologian, Charles G.Finney. It is taken from the introduction to his 1878 edition of Systematic Theology:

Theologian Charles G. Finney said: "I have not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so. The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions. Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True Christian consistency does not consist in...refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast, as we can obtain further information...because this course alone accords with a Christian profession...It must follow, that Christian consistency implies continued investigation and change of views and practice corresponding with increasing knowledge. No Christian, therefore, and no theologian should be afraid to change his views, his language, or his practices in conformity with INCREASING LIGHT."

"The living truths of God can never be fully expounded. The Scriptures are a source of religious teaching so inexhaustible that each new generation of biblical scholars discovers therein treasures of knowledge unnoticed by previous that we are not infrequently called upon to revise some of our former opinions and adjust them to the newly discovered facts. No old and permanent truth can ever suffer loss by the incoming of new light, but the weakness and unprofitableness of aged errors become thereby apparent...It is generally conceded that many subjects, which involve biblical exegesis and doctrine, call for revision and restatement."--Milton S. Terry; Biblical Dogmatics