Answering the Witnesses: The True Religion

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In an Awake! magazine edition (6/2008), a letter in the From Our Readers section reads:

Much of what you say [in the February 2007 edition] is true … there are however, two issues in your magazine that makes me uncomfortable. One is how you put the Christian churches down, and the other is the way you seem to lift yourselves up above the rest. It would be wonderful if we all agreed and were of one faith … I don’t consider any one church or denomination better than the other.”

Though this writer was able to detect the anti-Christian militant spirit that permeates Watchtower writings, he doesn’t seem to be informed about the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He thinks JWs and the Christian churches should “agree” and be “of one faith” since JWs are supposedly another “denomination.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses actually believe they alone are worshipping God on earth while all others are part of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion serving Satan which will be destroyed at Armageddon.

That February edition of Awake! referred to in the above letter was titled “Is Religion Losing its Influence?” Its cover had a picture of a church about to sink in a sea.

In it they state (like in most of their materials), that all churches produce the fruits of “counterfeit Christianity which the Devil planted” but “True Christians [i.e Jehovah’s Witnesses] are separated out from the ‘weeds’ of Christendom. Jehovah’s Witnesses are ‘shinning as brightly as the sun’ helping others to know the true God, Jehovah” (p. 9).

In What Does God Require of Us? they state: “Jesus started one true Christian religion. So today there must be just one body, or group, of true worshipers of Jehovah God” (p. 26)

Witnesses claim they are true Christians because they alone are perfectly united in the same mind and beliefs, unlike the “conflicting religions of Christendom.” One of the Bible verses they quote is 1 Cor. 1:10 “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought” (NWT).

The context of 1 Corinthians was an admonition to the Corinthian Christians who were divided into four factions – Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ. Each faction was acting antagonistic to the other three. This can be seen reading 1st Corinthians 1:12-12 and 3:3-7.

Paul emphasized that “But of him are ye in Christ” (1 Cor. 1:30) “ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (3:23), meaning that all believers are to be united in Christ – not in a human teacher or “a one true religion.” It’s important to note that in spite of these divisions, Paul the Apostle still believed the Corinthians were true Christians.

1 Corinthians 1:2-3 “to the congregation of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones, together with all those everywhere who are calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A lack of unity didn’t mean that the Corinthian Christians were “bags of weeds” to be destroyed by God. Rather, such divisions implied they were “babes in Christ” and “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1, 3)

The Watchtower argument that Christian churches are of the Devil because they are not perfectly united is out of touch with Biblical teaching. Nowhere in these passages or elsewhere in Scripture are we commanded to render an unquestionable obedience to an organization. Nowhere does the Bible teaches that unity is attained by submitting to a religious group.

JWs have a list of criteria we should use to identify the true religion. According to them:

Those who worship the true God base their teachings on the Bible … worship only Jehovah and make his name known… show genuine love for one another … accept Jesus as God’s means of salvation…are no part of the world … They take no part in [the world’s] conflicts … preach God’s Kingdom as man’s only hope. Of all the religious groups on earth, which one meets all these requirements?” (What Does the Bible Really Teach? 2005, 146-151)

These criteria are self-serving and circular. Any religion can make up its own criteria of a true religion, add some Bible verses to them and declare itself as the only religion meeting up with its own standards! Besides, JWs are not the only ones who meet the above. There are other religious sects that believe the same things they believe. For example:

1. Christadelphians

[They] reject the Trinity. They believe in one supreme God … in eternal punishment of the wicked, but not in eternal torment; in hell, not as a place of torment, but as the grave; in resurrection of the just and unjust; in the utter annihilation of the wicked … Christadelphians take no part in politics, voting or military service” (The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 1997, 216).

2. Assemblies of the Called Out Ones of Yahweh.

[They] follow the main ideas of the Sacred Name Movement and are very clear in their rejection of both the Trinitarian position and the ‘Oneness’ or ‘Jesus Only’ position of some Pentecostals … Members of the assemblies refrain from military duty … [they believe] the Called Out Ones of Yah consists of the great multitude (which no one can number) from all nations being called out by Yah from all Babylonish religions to serve with Yeshua in the coming kingdom” (Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th edition, 1996, 528).

3. Assemblies of Yahweh

“The Assemblies also publishes its own version of the Sacred Scriptures … [they teach] the necessity of believers’ affirming the divine names Yahweh and Yahshua … A non-Trinitarian position is maintained … Nonviolence and conscientious objection to war are stressed … Affiliated assemblies are located in 50 countries around the world. The missionary thrust, both foreign and domestic is concentrated through the Sacred Name Broadcast…” (Encyclopedia of American Religions, 529).

4. Assembly of YHWHHOSHUA

[These believe] the true revealed Name of the Almighty is YHWH. [They also claim] the King James (KJV) and other versions of the bible; translators have mistranslated the Divine Name, YHWH into the word ‘LORD’; and ‘GOD’ instead of ‘ELOHIM’ the Hebrew title for the Supreme Being…The members of the assembly of YHWHHOSHUA are to be separate from institutions, customs, traditions, styles and carnal pleasures of the United States as well as the world. A member in no way should participate into the affairs and practices of the world…nor should he be allowed to be a government official, to be a juror, or to serve in the Armed Forces … Christmas … and any other heathen holiday are not celebrated…” (Ency. of American Religions, Vol. 2 pp. 394-400).

If one thing is clear from these few examples, it’s that several other religious groups also adhere to the doctrines/practices that JWs think are unique to them. Therefore, the idea that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the “only true” religion on earth is false. The same criteria that make them true also make others true as well. To suggest otherwise is dishonesty, incoherence and intellectual suicide.

Some JWs may respond that these sects teach additional doctrines that are not part of Watchtower teaching. But The Watchtower (February 15, 2006) says: “Jehovah is … progressively illuminating the path of his people doctrinally … As Jehovah continues to shed light on his people, the gap between them and those of the world keeps on widening” (p. 27).

So we must also hope that Jehovah will also illuminate the paths of these other religious groups as he did for JWs. As they too “walk in the path of increasing light” they too will arrive at the exact doctrines JWs embrace.

This is the claptrap logic that JWs use to excuse their own past false prophesies and doctrinal flip-flops, but what applies to them must also apply to others as well. It’s called consistency. In their Awake! magazine they state:

A sect is a dissenting group within a religious community or one that breaks away to form a new religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not broken away from any church. They are not a sect” (August 2010, page 6)

Any religious group can maintain its unity by excommunicating those who deviate from its beliefs. The outcome is that only those who agree with the established dogma would remain. That would be institutional unity, which is superficial. In fact, the Watchtower Society has been plagued with divisions right from its inception.

Charles Russell broke away from the Adventists to become the leader of the “Bible Students.” If Jehovah’s organization was already in existence before then, why didn’t Russell join it, instead of starting one?

The current JWs splintered from the Bible Student Movement in 1918 when Rutherford ousted the 4 Governing Board members. These men and their supporters continued as ‘Bible Students’ and held to Russell’s teachings, while Jehovah Witnesses who got their name later on, held to Rutherford’s teachings. JWs are in fact, a sect within a sect.

The Watchtower (November 1, 2009) says: “…unlike the Protestant movement, which has splintered into hundreds of denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintained a united global brotherhood” (p. 19).

This is a shameless denial of their own history. The Bible Fellowship Union splintered from the JWs in 1945. In 1981, the Watchtower Society was shaken by a series of schism that led to a large number of people exiting the organization. This mass exodus was led by professor James Penton (one of Russell’s early converts) who insisted on justification by faith.

The True Faith Jehovah’s Witness Association in Romania broke away from the JWs in 1992. The Lord’s Witnesses was founded in Britain by Gordon Ritchie an ex-JW. The Christian Witnesses of Jah broke away from the JWs in 2007 when Greg Stafford, a JW apologist, disagreed with their stance on blood transfusion.

The God’s Kingdom Society (founded by Gideon Urhobo, a Nigerian) also broke away from the JWs. Therefore, if churches lack God’s approval because of divisions, the same must be said about the Watchtower Society.

One point missing in the criteria JWs throw around is: what it means to be a Christian. The real question isn’t supposed to be whether you have a “true religion” or not but whether you are in Christ and He is in you. Romans 3:22 says “Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ.” This is the only way to have God’s approval. It’s not by joining “a true religion.”

The Relics of Rome

Relics
Photo source: Catholic Answers

You don’t need to study the teachings of Roman Catholicism too deeply to be repelled by the stench of death and deception that permeate its practices. There is nothing more creepy and absurd than entering an old style traditional Roman Catholic church filled with skeletons and bones of “saints” and the like.

I once watched a documentary in which a monk took a researcher to the basement of a Catholic monastery, explaining to her the significance of relics to the Catholic faith.

The basement was literally filled with human skulls from the ceiling to the floor.

According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, a relic is “the material remains of a saint or holy person after his death, as well as objects sanctified by contact with his body.”

In utter desperation, modern Catholic apologists try to find a Biblical basis for this practice by citing some Bible passages which actually violate the Catholic definition of relics.

A scholar pointed out that the few Bible texts that Catholic apologists have cobbled together “have to be so grossly isolated, so completely removed from any meaningful context, so as to provide automatic refutation upon the most basic contemplation.”

For example, they cite 2 Kings 13:21

Once while the Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

This passage shows that the people didn’t believe the bones of Elisha had any power whatsoever; they dumped the man’s body on the bones because they sighted their Moabite enemies approaching. It was a one-time miracle by the power of God.

God sovereignly used Elisha’s bones as a vehicle of raising the dead, just as He used ravens to feed Elijah (1Kings 17:6) and a fish to swallow Jonah (Jon. 1:17). There was nothing “magical” about the ravens or fishes.

Notably, this was the only instance where Elisha’s bones worked a miracle, and the Israelites didn’t venerate his bones – even in their days of apostasy.

Let Catholics today throw their corpses on the bones of Padre Pio or Fr. Michael Tansi and let’s watch their dead rise.

Other passages cited are the instances where people touched the cloak of Jesus (Mt. 14:35-36); Peter’s shadow healing the sick and handkerchiefs or aprons from Paul which healed people (Acts 5:15, 19:12).

These aren’t relics since Jesus and the apostles were not dead before these miracles occurred and nowhere in Scripture did Christians venerate these materials.

This is where the “Christian” mask of Catholicism falls off to reveal a sinister side. It’s hard to spin the pictures of people bowing in front of corpses and skulls, blood or hearts of “saints,” lighting candles and fingering rosaries.

Even if you know little of the Bible, such scenarios (especially in Catholic dominated countries) are enough for you to start questioning this religious system.

Some relics, like the Shroud of Turin, the alleged crib of Jesus exhibited on Christmas day or the cup allegedly used at the last supper (“the Holy Grail”) come with sensational thrills; others are just plain outrageous.

For example, several Catholic churches have claimed to have Mary’s hair (some red, some brown, some blonde, some black!); the bottle of milk on which Jesus was suckled; Mary’s skirts; Joseph’s carpenter tools; Jesus’ crown of thorns; the water pots from which water turned to wine, and even Jesus’ foreskin allegedly discovered by the monks of Charroux who claimed it yielded drops of blood.

Interestingly, Catholic churches in Coulombs (France) and St. John’s in Rome have also claimed to have Jesus’ foreskin in their possession! (John Wilder, The Other Side of Rome, 1959, Grand Rapids, p. 54).

Some relics seem to be for people far removed from the world of reality e.g a relic of a piece of broiled fish Peter offered Jesus at the Last Supper which John Calvin (1509-64) sarcastically referenced, that such a fish “must have been wondrously well salted, if it has been kept for such a long series of ages.”

The shrine of the Holy House of Loretto in Italy is a case in point. This building is alleged to be the very house the virgin Mary lived in Jerusalem. So how did it get to Italy? The Catholic Encyclopedia (13:454) explains:

Angels conveyed this House from Palestine to the town Tersato in Illyria in the year of salvation 1291 … Three years later, at the beginning of the pontificate of Boniface VIII, it was carried again by the ministry of angels and placed in a wood … where, having changed its station thrice in the course of a year, at length, by the will of God it took up its permanent position on this spot…”

Perhaps in the next five decades, these “angels” would also transport this shrine to Mexico.

The relics of the cross on which Jesus was crucified were so scattered all over Europe at a time that Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) wrote that one could build an entire ship out of all of the “genuine fragments of the cross.”

Yet, the cross of Christ was carried by a single individual. Are we to believe that single cross multiplied into millions?

St. Paulinus actually admitted that the cross “never grew smaller in size, no matter how many pieces were detached from it” (Cath. Ency. 4:524). You see, once you veer out of truth, there is no limit to your delusion.

The Israelites fell into this same trap. God had earlier instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent as a vehicle of healing those bitten by venomous serpents (Num. 21:9).

This foreshadowed the work of Christ on the cross to undo the deed of the serpent (Jn. 3:14-15). But many years after the bronze serpent has fulfilled its purpose, the apostate Jews still kept it with them for veneration. This made it an abominable object before God and it was finally destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).

The origins of relics can be traced to ancient paganism. The Catholic Encyclopedia rightly admits that the use of “some objects notably part of the body or clothes, remaining as a memorial of a departed saint” was in existence “before the propagation of Christianity” and “the veneration of relics, in fact, is to some extent a primitive instinct associated with many other religious systems besides that of Christianity” (12: 734).

This use or veneration of relics dates back to the same false worship that God denounced all through His Word. Many of these pagan cults have certain sites regarded as “holy” because a portion of their god is said to be buried there.

In Hindu myths, Shiva was said to have carried the corpse of his wife, Sati “around the world on his shoulder until the other gods, to put an end to his mourning, dismembered the corpse. The spot where each pieces of her body fell to the ground became sacred places of pilgrimage called pithas.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Vol. VIII, 913).

Ancient Egypt “was covered with sepulchres of its martyred god: and many a leg and arm and skull, all vouched to be genuine, were exhibited in the rival burying places for the adoration of the Egyptian faithful.” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers, 1959, 179).

It must have been due to this exposure to Egyptian paganism that God didn’t disclose to the Israelites where He buried Moses. If apostate Israel could worship an object Moses had made, how much more his bones if they had them!

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (XII, 234-5) says:

It is thus in vain to seek a justification for the cult of relics in the Old Testament; nor is there much attention paid to relics in the New Testament … [The church “father”] Origen seems to have regarded the practice as a pagan sign of respect.

Apart from the pagan roots of relics, there is also a business side to it. The Catholic church generates much money from relics and pilgrimages. For centuries, bone business was big business.

In 750 A.D., it was recorded that long lines of wagons constantly came to Rome bringing immense quantities of skulls and skeletons which were sorted, labelled, and sold by the popes.

A marble slab at the Church of St. Prassade states that in 817, Pope Pascal had the bodies of 2,300 martyrs transferred from the cemeteries to this church (H. B. Cotterhill, Medieval Italy, 1915, 71, 391).

Just as in the occult, bone relics are also used to “consecrate” Catholic altars or church buildings. The castle church of Wittenberg where Luther nailed his 95 theses had 19,000 saintly relics!

The Council of Trent declares that venerating the bodies of dead “martyrs” is compulsory for Catholics because through them, “many benefits are bestowed by God on men.”

In Bible Christianity, however, there is no place for blessings funnelled through dead bones and rotten flesh because Jesus has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The Gospel offers life to all who accept it by faith.

True worship is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). We don’t need a physical object in order to relate with God. The inconsistencies, idolatry and deceptions that relics are based on evince neither godliness nor truth.

Wars Within Islam

Reading Islamic dawah Websites is quite thrilling. One of them says: “There are many aspects of unity in Islam, such as One Lord, one Book, one Prophet, one religion, one qiblah, one ummah.”
I’m convinced that the folks who write these stuffs are so removed from reality that they live in their own world. They write from that fantasy world.

One of the realities unfolding in different parts of the world is Muslim-on-Muslim violence. For example, the Sunni and Shi’ites Muslims both believe in Allah, Muhammad and the Quran, yet, all through the centuries down to the present day, they have hated, fought and slaughtered each another even while praying to the same Allah. Here in Nigeria, the Boko Haram Islamic group has repeatedly declared war key Muslims opposing their agenda. Consequently, mosques have been bombed and many Muslims killed.

Two Islamic nations – Iraq and Iran – warred for 8 years with Muslims dying on both sides until “infidel” America intervened to restore peace among “peaceful” Muslims. Thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan were killed by the Talibans who insisted on a stricter form of Islam. While delusional Muslim apologists blame the West for these, it’s becoming clear that Islam carries the seed of self-destruction that may snuff it out of existence.

Islamic scholar, Abdul A’La Maududi informs us that “clear demarcation has been drawn between the hypocritical ‘Muslims’ and the true Muslims, and instructions have been given regarding the treatment that should be meted out to the hypocrites.” (The Meaning of the Quran, 2:229) Thus, in Islam all Muslims are not equal; some are more equal than others.

From Muhammad’s examples, there are certain situations in which Muslims are to war against their fellows:

1. When Muhammad had problems with Muslim tribes who refuse to participate in jihad, he called them hypocrites and declared war on them.
“O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers AND THE HYPOCRITES! Be harsh with them…” (Q 9:73).

2. When some Muslims still wanted to get interests from those who owed them money, contrary to Muhammad’s teachings, he said: “give up what remains (due to you) from usury (interest)…And if you do not, then be warned of WAR (AGAINST YOU) FROM ALLAH and His messenger.” (Q2:278-9)
That is, Allah and Muhammad can wage war on Muslims the same way they do on “infidels.”

3. Muslims who deviate from Islam are to be fought until they return to Allah’s ordinances.
“And if two parties of believers fall to fighting then make peace within them. And if one party of them doeth wrong to the other, FIGHT YE THAT WHICH DOETH WRONG till it return unto the ordinance of Allah; then if it return, make peace between them justly and act equitable.” (Q 49:9)

4. Like Muhammad, Muslims are to fight the “HYPOCRITES and those WHOSE HEART IS A DISEASE, and the alarmist” – these are those who criticise Islamic jihad. The Quran says Muslims are “accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.” (Q 33:60-61)

5. Muslims who don’t perform salat are also hypocrites who deserve to be killed. Muhammad said:
“No prayer is harder for the hypocrite than the morning and night prayers…Certainly I decided to order…a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses.” (Bukhari 29:5:52)

This gives us a glimpse into Muhammad’s mindset. He couldn’t stand being disobeyed. With this legacy, he has established a sick society that licenses killing people on the ground of disagreement with the established dogma.

6. Muhammad said: “My ummah [Muslim community] will split into seventy-three sects, all of whom will be in Hell except one group” When his hearers asked which sect is the true one he said ‘[Those who follow] that which I and my companions follow’ (Sahih Tirmidhi, 2641).

Today, Islam has splintered into hundreds of sects and sub-sects, but since Muhammad didn’t specifically mention which sect is the true one, Muslim sects have cursed, fought, persecuted and denounced one another heretics and “firewood for hell” for centuries. Islamic writings also call for the death of Muslims who take alcohol; introduce innovations (bid’a) into Islam and war against mosques that deviate into shirk (polytheism).

On such grounds, a Muslim faction can spring up and declare their own version of islam as the only true path and call for war against heretics. This is why islamic militant groups also kill Muslims who oppose their agenda.

One of the greatest gifts God has given to mankind is the gift of freedom but Islam makes people abdicate it, turning them into hateful lots or mindless killing machines. This must lead to a fundamental question: can a religion so marred by hate and intolerance within its fold exhibit love and tolerance towards others? The answer is “No.”