Tested and Found Wanting!

Every industry has a quality control section. There, the shelf-life, microbial load, purity and safety levels of the product are assessed. There is usually a standard chart against which the product’s qualities are compared. If there is a breach in this process, it poses a great danger to the consumers and the integrity of the organization will plummet.

In the field of religion, the testing of truth claims is essential. The more gnomic the claims religious leaders make, the more they should be held up to scrutiny. The Watchtower Society is one organization headed by a Governing Body with such exclusive claims:

“[W]hen the Master arrived, he found his faithful slave conscientiously feeding the domestics as well as preaching the good news. Greater responsibility now awaited that slave. Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matthew 24:4) Jesus did this in 1919, after the slave had passed through a period of testing” (The Watchtower, March 1, 2004, 12).

“While all anointed Christians collectively form God’s household, there is abundant evidence that Christ chose a small number of men out of the slave class to serve as a visible governing body. The early history of the congregation shows that the 12 apostles, including Matthias, were the foundation of the first-century governing body” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, 11).

“Naturally, all elders must submit to Christ’s right hand of control, guidance, and direction, which he exercises by means of the spirit and the spirit-begotten members of the Governing Body” (The Watchtower August 1, 1987, 19).

It’s on the bases of their claims as God “faithful and discreet slave,” “Christ’s right hand of control” and “spirit begotten” successors of the 12 apostles that the Watchtower leadership demands blind loyalty and absolute obedience from millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. JWs are forbidden to pit their reasoning, opinions, personal feelings or harbour private understanding of the Bible against this Society.

They are not allowed to test this authoritarian leadership; they have no quality standard to asses whether they are being led by true or false leaders but are made to believe that everyone outside “Jehovah’s organization” is a false teacher:

No matter what false teachers may say, we must not follow them! Why go to such dried up wells, only to be deceived and disappointed? Instead, let us be determined to remain loyal to Jehovah and to the organization…” (The Watchtower, July 2011, 17).

By using pronouns “we” and “us” the Watchtower subtly conditions JWs into a groupthink. Since the Witness has already taken the epistemological leap of embracing the Society as Jehovah’s organization, he/she is precluded from asking the real questions: What really makes our leaders true teachers and the outsiders false? Where are the “abundant evidence” underpinning the Watchtower leadership’s special claims?

In a study edition of The Watchtower, they are told:

How can we protect ourselves against false teachers? The Bible’s counsel regarding how to deal with them is clear. (Read Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11) “Avoid them,” says God’s Word. Other translations render the phrase “turn away from them,” “keep away from them,” and “stay away from them.” There is nothing ambiguous about that inspired counsel” (July 15, 2011, 16).

Notice that the real question has been moved back one step: how to detect false teachers. If we are directly warned to avoid them, then there must be ways to identify them before we turn away from them. The Watchtower magazine was curiously silent about this crucial aspect. That’s not a coincidence; it’s a tactic of institutional self-preservation.

It further says: “When we learn that Jehovah disapproves of something that we enjoy, for example, our initial reaction might be to rebel. That indicates that we need to make progress in the realm of being “ready to obey.” (James 3:17) In this article, we will review a few areas in which our willingness to fit in with God’s purpose to be obedient from the heart – would be put to test” (p. 28).

Nothing is still said about how false teachers can be discerned, instead, the moral responsibility of being “put to the test” is shifted back on the individual JW to “keep pace with Jehovah’s organization” (p. 29). The words “put to test” comes from Revelation 2:2 which says:

“I know your deeds and your labor and endurance and that you put those to the test who say they are apostles; but they are not and you found them liars” (NWT).

This verse unequivocally stresses the necessity of Christians to test those who claim to be apostles, yet the magazine doesn’t quote it. The term apostle means “a sent one” and it’s technically identical to the claims made by Watchtower leaders – of being Jehovah’s mouthpiece and “the faithful slave” sent by Christ to feed the people. If they were truly appointed by Christ since 1919 then they must be tested just as the early Christians tested those claiming to be apostles. And if found to be liars, they should be rejected.

Until a Jehovah’s Witness does this, he/she has no yardstick of determining whether he has been feeding on pure lies or a mixture of truth and lies. But Watchtower leaders don’t want to tested and found wanting, so they de-emphasize Revelation 2:2 in their materials such that JWs will seldom encounter it let alone apply it – unless they directly read the Bible. The Watchtower 2006 library CD shows that Revelation 2:2 has been quoted a total of only six times in Watchtower literature from 1950-2006.

In almost every instance, the text is so remotely interpreted that its real meaning is somewhat muddled. Below are 3 examples of their explanations after quoting the verse:

(I) “We can see that the apostles, during the ‘last hour’ of apostolic care on earth, stood in the way, preventing the organizing of the ‘mystery of this lawlessness’ into a corporate body, the ‘man of lawlessness’ (The Watchtower April 15, 1957, 253).

In the verse Jesus was commending the Ephesian believers for testing those claiming to be false apostles. But The Watchtower avoids talking about this but applies it to a singular figure: “the man of lawlessness.”

(II) “Faithful ones soon find that the speech and conduct of these deceivers do not ring true. Like the Ephesians, Christians today “cannot bear bad men” so they disfellowship them from their congregations” (Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand! 1988, 34).

They deflected the verse to apply to individuals who didn’t claim to be Christ’s right hand of control or Spirit anointed leaders instead of the Governing Body of the Society.

(III) “Today, congregations of Jesus’ true followers have a similar record of good deeds, hard work and endurance. They do not put up with false brothers who want to be viewed as apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:13, 26) Like the Ephesians, loyal Christians today “cannot bear bad men.” To maintain the purity of Jehovah’s worship and to protect the congregation, therefore, they do not extend the hand of fellowship to unrepentant apostates” – Galatians 2:4, 5; 2 John 8-11 (The Watchtower May 15, 2003, 12)

Again, the text is flipped around and placed on ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses (“apostates”). But these individuals have not claimed to be apostles or their successors. For some people to have claimed to be apostles in the 1st century implied they were in leadership positions so what we see here is a classic shell game to hide the truth.

People who make special claims must be tested and critically assessed before being accepted as true teachers/leaders. The Bible is clear on this testing:

a) Deut. 18:22 says “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.” Leaders who truly speaking for God give accurate prophecies, but the Watchtower leadership have given many false prophecies.

b) Gal. 1:8 says “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” The Gospel revolves around the death and resurrection of Christ but Watchtower leadership preaches a false gospel and a false Christ.

c) Isa. 8:20 says “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” True teachers teach in harmony with the Bible, whereas Watchtower leadership teach doctrines that conflict with plain Bible teachings.

d) Matt. 7:15-16 say “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them….” True teachers bear godly fruit but Watchtower leadership has historically and presently borne the fruitage of falsehood, hypocrisy, cruelty, sexual depravity and hate.

e) 1 Pet. 5:3 says to church leaders: “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” Godly leaders lead by example, personal growth and gentleness, but the Watchtower leadership lords it over JWs, binding heavy burdens on them, forbidding them from independent thinking and holding their leaders accountable.

An outgrowth of all man-centred, authoritarian leaderships is exemplified by the Society’s desperate efforts at mentally and spiritually subjugating JWs, demanding they have “complete confidence” in whatever the organization reveals. This is like consuming food and drinks that haven’t passed through quality control on the leverage of blind faith and sentiment. The spiritual consequences of such stupor is perilous.

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Guided by Deceiving Spirits

The strongest evidence for Roman Catholicism summed up in one sentence is : the Catholic Church is the only true Church on earth because it was founded by Jesus Christ and is trustworthy because its offices are so divinely guided by the Holy Spirit that they can never go astray. This narrative is drawn from the catechism:

“The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: in the Scriptures he inspired; in the Traditions, to which the Fahers are always timely witnesses; in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists…” (8:2:688)

“Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church (892).

This is simply an instantiation of the circular argument of Rome: “We are infallible because we say so!” Catholics assert that Protestantism lacks the guidance of the Holy Spirit, hence is not divinely protected from errors unlike the holy Catholic church. History and current realities, however, present a starkly different picture.

For centuries, popes, bishops, church fathers, doctors and priests of Rome ostensibly adhered to the historicity of Biblical narratives, the inspiration and traditional authorship of Scripture. But right from the mid 20th century, a paradigm shift began to emerge in Rome’s hierarchy. Modern Catholic scholars have embraced modernist and liberal positions that deny the historicity of the Bible, the reality of Bible prophecy, the inspiration and traditional authorship of Scripture. Robert Sungenis, a Catholic apologist, captures how terrible the state of affairs is amongst Rome’s scholars and higher-up clergies:

I could not recommend any of them to you. To a man (and woman) these teachers believe the Bible is riddled with historical and “religious” errors … For them, the Bible is mainly the work of man, and only a few parts were actually inspired by the Holy Spirit. They do not believe most of the historical narratives in Scripture ever took place (e.g, Adam and Eve, Noah) and they believe much of the Gospels were made up by either the evangelists or the generations that came after them. They question the resurrection of Christ, the immaculate conception of Mary, the infallibility of the pope, the existence of the devil or hell, and many other cardinal doctrines of the historic Catholic faith.

In brief, these lectures are indicative of the sad state of affairs in Catholic academia and scholarship today. Today’s Catholic scholars took over where the Protestant liberals left off at the turn of the 20th century, and they are much worse than the Protestant liberals ever were. They simply do not have the traditional faith of our Fathers and medievals any longer

This is the true state of Catholicism, and it poses a dilemma for its apologists. On one hand, they defend Rome’s dogmas but at the same time Rome’s hierarchy has relinquished much of its theology. An average Catholic in the pew is made happy by being told his/her Church has the deposit of truth from the apostles, but the higher ups know better, that those deposits have long been emptied onto the sidewalk and the treasury is filled with husks.

Right from the time of Augustine down to the Middle Ages, Rome’s position was that “outside the church there is no salvation.” The Council of Florence (1442) officially declared that “no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

But at the turn of the 20th century, a significant shift took place in Catholic theology from exclusivism to inclusivism:

In other words, Catholic belief moved from holding “outside the church no salvation” to “without the church no salvation.” During the first half of the twentieth century, Catholic theologians came up with ingenious concepts to include within the church any trace of salvation outside it: saved non-Christians belonged to the “soul” of the church; they were “attached,” “linked,” “related” to the church; they were members “imperfectly,” “tangentially”, “potentially” (Paul Knitter, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 1984, 8:50).

This is at 180 degrees of separation from what the Bible says about the unsaved (Jn. 3:18, 36; Eph. 2:1-2 etc). To maintain their apple cart, popular Catholic apologists are frozen up at different eras. Some in the Victorian period; some in pre-Vatican II whilst others follow wherever the current pope blows. Their own theologians and scholars are their own enemies and this should make a truth-seeking Catholic ask some pertinent questions.

In the final week of April 2017, the tweets from Pope Francis @pontifex reads:

April 26: Let’s promote friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions in order to build a world of peace

April 27: Please pray for my journey tomorrow as a pilgrim of peace to Egypt

April 28: We are called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures.

These tweets set the tone for the ecumenical visit of pope Francis’ visit to a Coptic church and Al-Azhar mosque in Egypt. On April 9, two suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches, St. George and St. Mark, killing 45 people. During his visit, Francis embraced the Grand Imam of the Al Azhar mosque, Ahmad al-Tayeb who urged the West (read: Christians) not to hold Islam accountable for the crimes of any small group of followers. If Islamic terrorism is executed by just “a small group” of Muslims why has it persisted in Egypt for centuries?

In his inclusive message, the pope called on Muslims to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, and expose every form of hatred in the name of religion and to condemn these idolatrous caricatures of God. But such these vices are enshrined in Islam and no amount of pussyfooting with alter them. You see, Pope Francis is toeing the same politically correct lines as the godless liberal world.

Barely a month after his visit to Egypt, on May 26 2017, at least 28 Coptic Christians were killed and dozens more wounded by Muslim jihadists. Nothing changed. The armies of Allah are completely deaf to jaded ecumenical tropes. After a French Catholic priest was murdered by ISIS members while celebrating Mass, Pope Francis, instead of denouncing Islamic violence, deliberately gave a carefully worded talk that avoided using the terms “Islam” and “terrorism.” When a journalist questioned him on his politically correctness , Pope Francis replied:

“There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must also speak of Catholic violence … and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent … I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists … We have them. When Fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language – the Apostle James says this, not me – and even with a knife, no? I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence” (Catholic Online 8/3/2016).

There are a number of howlers in this response, and the most obvious (and annoying) one is: using an absurd moral equivalence argument to justify Islamic violence. This is simply reprehensible. Interestingly, after this interview, ISIS replied Pope Francis and others who argue that Islam is a peaceful religion as liars delivering a false narrative. They term Christianity “a religion of polytheism” and warn that there will be no let up in their terror attacks.

When one considers the moral and spiritual background of Islam and how the popes have sweetly flattered it for decades, one thing stands out: they are spiritual blind bats influenced by lying and deceiving spirits. The Magisterium is supposed to be a quality control divinely guided to safeguard truth – not to corrupt or deny it. But when it’s found blighted with apostasy, theological detours, moral depravity and outright deception, then it is evidence that it’s not guided by the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit will never lead a person to deny the cardinal truths of Scripture or pray to a strange god. He “convicts the world of guilt, in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement” (Jn. 16:8). But a counterfeit spirit makes people bludgeon truth, support sin and avoid calling evil by its name. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, he “guides into all truth” (16:13) not lead people to embrace false religions like Islam or Buddhism.

The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit “because it neither sees Him nor knows Him” thus, He doesn’t make one seek worldly approval as Rome’s hierarchy does (Jn. 14:17). You cannot be a friend of God and of the debased system of the world at the same time. Like other pseudo-Christian organizations, Roman Catholicism is very much of the world and under its spirit. Those who truly want to serve the Lord should come out of it.