护教神学:为什么说耶和华见证人是异端

这里与大家分享的博文,是我为神学院秋季教牧神学系列课程预备的最后一篇文论。这个系列课程主要涉及三个方面的内容。第一是基要真理;第二是传道学——主要是如何面对后现代社会;第三就是面对各种异端的护教神学。在当今流毒甚广而最为危险的异端思潮中,“耶和华见证人”可谓首屈一指。与摩门教的胡言乱语不同,尽管二者都表现出“传道”的极端狂热和不择手段,但“耶和华见证人”对基督教会的核心信仰的攻击,特别是对我们的信仰基石“基督论”的攻击,是最为疯狂和系统的;而其手段也极为狡猾,从不休息。在我短暂的教牧侍奉中,也常常遇到一些慕道友被田野里最狡猾的异端掳掠,至少“耶和华见证人的精神”让他们疑窦丛生。所以我愿意与各位分享我这篇“作业”,求神让我们看见,最危险的异端总是具有以下三个特点:虚构话语前提撒谎成性;一知半解却表演为真理争辩;真假参半却显得一派率真。这是魔鬼及其使者的三大基本策略。旋为疯狗,即或蝇蚊,假作先知,忙成寡妇,秀若惊龙,秽如蛇虫。连撒旦也冒充光明的天使,大抵如是。不过由于时间和身体关系,未能将这篇短文转译成中文,请各位见谅。愿基督的启示常常证明在我们心里。阿门。(任不寐,2011年11月17日)

The Kingdom of Jehovah’s Witnesses

A cult is a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses are followers of the interpretations of Charles T. Russell and J. F. Rutherford. Behind the cult standing the Satan: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? (Genesis 3:1). Since the cult systems vigorously oppose the Christian church, particularly in the realm of Christology and soteriology, the authority of the Scriptures and the revelation of Jesus Christ is the only criterion for measuring either the truth or falsity of cultic claims. First of all, We have to dissent from the liberal scholars who have adopted the statement of Gamaliel as their creed (Acts5:38-39), for it is our Lord who teach, “If you believe not that am He, you shall die in your sins” (John8:24); “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (John14:6). We must dissent yhe view that “all roads that lead to God”. Finally, we are to have compassion and love for those who are enmeshed in the teaching of the false prophets, but are to oppose the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In addition, let it never be forgotten that cultists are experts at lifting texts out of their repective contexts without proper concern for the laws of language or the established principles of biblical interpretation.

  1. Historical Review

Charles Taze Russell (February 16, 1852 – October 31, 1916) was the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At an early age he rejected the doctrine of eternal torment. Russell founded The Herald of the Morning in 1879, which developed into today’s The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. In 1884, he incorporated “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1886 to 1917, Russell’s “Studies in the Scripture” were published. Russell was also known because of his marriage litigation, financial fraud and the suit against the Reverend J. J. Ross who denounced his theology, perjuring and personal life. Russell denied many of the cardinal doctrines of the Bible—the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection and return of Christ, eternal punishment, the reality of hell, the eternal existence of the soul , and the validity of the infinite atonement. The honest fact is that Russell had no training or education to justify his interpretation of Scripture. “Although he styled himself a ‘pastor’ and was so addressed by thousand of followers all over the world, he had never been ordained” (the Nov.1 1916, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

The Seventh volume of Studies in the Scripture, the Finished Mystery, caused a spilt. Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford (8 November 1869 – 8 January 1942) founded the larger group’s international office in Brooklyn, New York, 1927. The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was taken at Columbus, Ohio, in 1931, to differentiate between the Watchtower organization run by Judge Rutherford and the “true followers of Russell” as represented by The Dawn Bible Students and the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement. Judge Rutherford challenged all of Christendom enjoyed playing the role of persecuted saint. Rutherford was a more prolific writer, He wrote over 100 books and pamphlets, and his works as of 1941 had been translated in 80 languages. Russell and Rutherford are the two key figures in the Society’s history, and without them it is doubtful that the organization would ever come into existence.

The next president of the combined was Nathan Homer Knorr (April 23, 1905 – June 8, 1977). He followed diligently in the footsteps of Russell and Rutherford, and under his tutelage Christianity saw much opposition. Hnorr died in June 1977, and Frederick W. Franz was elected president and piloted the Watchtower in the pattern of his predecessors. With each succeeding president, the control of the Society grows stronger. They condemn all religious opponents as “enemies of God” and perpetrators of what they term “a racket”. Upon the death of Franz in 1992, Milton G. Henschel was elevated to the position of president; Henschel stepped down in 2000, and Don Adams became the six president of the Watchtower Society. The Governing Body has encouraged a strong evangelistic outreach overseas and continues the unbroken autocracy of the Society. T

The Watchtower publishes a variety of Bible translations, as well as its own translation in English, the New World translation of the Holy Scriptures (1950-1984). One of their most important booklets is Reasoning From the Scripture (1985, 1989). The two signature magazines of the Society are The Watchtower and Awake.

  1. Watchtower Theology

Below is the core doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1) The Holy Trinity

“The doctrine, in brief, is that, there are three gods in one”; There is a only one True God; therefore, “Satan is the originator of the Trinity” (Let God Be True, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1946 ed., 100); “So the Trinity teaching confuses the meaning of John1:1-2; it dose not simplify it or make it clear or easily understanding” (“The Word”, Who is He? According to John, 7) Jesus is His firstborn Son, and he is subject to God (1Cor.11:3); The Father is greater than the Son (John14:28). The Holy Spirit is not a person; it is God’s active force (Gen.1:2; Act2:18) (What does God Require of Us: Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1997, electronic version). “Jesus was ‘the Son of God’, Not God himself! ” (“The Word”, Who is He? According to John, 20); “……The Word, as a god. He is a ‘mighty god’, but not the Almighty God”(The Truth Shall Make You Free, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1943,47) The Son is “the creation by God” (From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1958,164).

2) The Incarnation, Resurrection and Return of Christ

Jesus’ birth on earth was not an incarnation…He emptied himself of all things heavenly and spiritual, and God’s almighty spirit transferred he Son’s life down to the womb of the jewish virgin of David’s descent…He was not a spirit-human hybrid, a man and at the same time a spirit person. He was flesh (What Has Religion Done for Mankind, 231). “While on earth, Jesus was a human, although a perfect one because it was God who transferred the life-force of Jesus to the womb of Mary” (Should You Believe in the Trinity?). Accordingly, “Immortality is a reward for faithfulness” (Let God Be True, 74).  “The firstborn from the dead was raised from the grave, not a human creature, but a spirit” (Let God Be True, 276). “Christ Jesus returns, not again as a human, but as a glorious spirit person” (Let God Be True, 196).

3) The Hell and Heaven

“It is plain that the Bible hell is mankind’s common grave”; “The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) Because it is wholly unscriptural; (2) it is unreasonable”; (3) it is contrary to God’s love; and (4) it is repugnant to justice (Let God Be True, 98, 99). “…the human soul is mortal…The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Let God Be True, 69-70). Only a little flock of 144,000 go to heaven and rule with Christ…The 144,000 are born again as spiritual sons of God (Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Twentieth Century, electronic version); “The undefeatable purpose of Jehovah God to establish a righteous kingdom in these days was fulfilled in A.D. 1914” (Let God Be True, 143). “And on the earth the faithful children of the kin Christ Jesus, including faithful forefathers of his then resurrected, will be ‘princes in all the earth’” (Let God Be True, 318-319).

  1. Apologetic contrast

Our Lord Jesus talks about the hypocrites like this: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John8:44). Jehovah’s Witnesses is doing the same thing as teachers of the law and Pharisees when they interpret the Bible and attack the catholic doctrines. Therefore our refutation should lead them and the hearers back to the Bible to show that either they are lying or unenlightened; and point out that their theology statements are self-contradictory both in logic and the empirical method.

1) The Holy Trinity

First of all, Christian do not believe that there are “three gods in one”; but do believe that there “three persons in one”. Jehovah’s Witnesses is a liar, and Jehovah’s Witnesses could no explain these messages from the Bible. “Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis1:26-27); “The LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel–because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis11:6-9); “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah6:8). Second, death never means annihilation, and Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot bring in one word in context in the original language in the Bible to prove it dose. Third, Christians do not believe that the Trinity was incarnate in Christ and that they were “three-in-one” as such during Christ’s ministry. Christ voluntarily limited himself in His earthly body, but heaven was always open to Him and He never ceased being God, Second person of the Trinity (Matthew3:16-17; 28:19; Luke1:35l; John14:16, 15:26). When Jesus said,  “My Father is greater than I,” He spoke the truth, for in the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and as a man. He showed forth His deity in Matthew28:18. Forth, The Watchtower denies the Holi Spirit’s personality and deity, but Scripture refutes them completely (Genesis1:2; Act5:3-4; 13:2-4, 21:10-11; John14:16-17,26; 16:7-14, etc.). Finally, every major cult seeks to attacks the doctrine of the Trinity, Jehovah’s Witnesses is the most vehement and dangerous; but their criterion is “(human) reason”. For the great liar of today, man’s understanding of God’s character lies not in God’s revelation but in man’s reason. More than that, is the “reason” of Jehovah’s Witnesses a real “reason”, not at all, It is either biblical nor logical.

2) The Christology

The deity of Jesus Christ is one of the cornerstones of Christianity, and as such has been attacked more vigorously throughout the ages from old Arian to today than any other single doctrine of the Christian faith. Throughout the entire content of inspired Scripture, the fact of Christ’s identity is clearly taught. He is revealed as Jehovah God in human form (Exodus3:14; Isaiah7:14; 9:6; Micah5:2; John1:1, 1:14; 8:58; 17:5, Matthew 1:23; Luke1:32-33, etc.). For example, what Isaiah7:14 really say? “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”. What dose Immanuel mean? God with us! The key to Isaiah7:14 is the divine “Immanuel”, which can only be rightly rendered “God with us”; and since there is no other God and Jehovah by His own declaration (Isaiah43:10-11), therefore Jesus Christ and Jehovah God are of the same substance in power and eternity, hence equal. This prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew1:22-23. Isaiah9:6 is the most powerful in The OT in proving the deity of Christ: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. Now let’s talk about John1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Jehovah’s Witnesses have there own Bible: The New World Translation of the Bible (NWT, 1951, 1961, 1984). NWT is full of fraud and deceit. “John1:1” is one of the examples. “καὶ θεὸςἦν ὁ λόγος”(and the Word was God). NWT  translates “θεὸς” into “a god”, because θεὸς dose not take an article (NWT, pp.773-777). But in fact, a definite precedes nominative never takes an article when it precedes the verb (ἦν, cf. Matthew3:9; 6:24; Luke1:35; 78; 2:40; John1:6, 12-13, 18; 3:2,21; 9:16, 33; Romana1:7, 17-18; 1Corinthians1:30; 15:10; Philippians2:11-13; Titus1:1, etc,). To be consistent in this rendering of “a god”, Jehovah’s Witnesses would have to translate every instance where the article absent as “a god”, but they do not.

Secondly, the liar deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the Bible tell a completely different story (1 Timothy2:5; John2:19-21; 20:24-28; luke24:25; 24:39-44). Jehovah’s Witnesses distorts 1 Peter3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit”. They translate “τῷ πνεύματι” into “(in) the spirit”; but “τῷ πνεύματι” clearly means “by the Spirit (of God)”(cf.Romans8:11). Third, Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that the Atonement is not wholly of God, despite 2 Corinthians5:15, 19, but rather half of God and half of man; and that, Jesus removed the effects of Adam’s sin by his sacrifice on Calvary, but the work will not be fully completed until the survivors of Armageddon return to God through free will and become subject to the Theocratic rule of Jehovah. Finally, Jehovah’s Witnesses declare that Christ returned to the temple in 1914 and cleansed it by 1918. They affirm that since He did not rise physically, neither will He return physically. Now they distorts John14:19 and Matthew24:26-28 in using half-truths to lead people astray. Christ return physically, this is clearly states in the Bible (Titus2:13; Matthew24:30; Revelation1:7; 1Timothy6:14; 1Thessalonians4:16-17; Zechariah12:10; 14:4).

3) The Hell and Heaven

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, hell (שְׁאוֹל) is literally “the grave”. There chief argument is that a Greek or Hebrew word means one thing and has no contextual connotation. But it is not true. In the second place, Jehovah’s Witnesses have conceived of death as being unconsciousness or extinction, which definition cannot be found in the Bible. Thirdly, Jehovah’s Witnesses says that hell is translated from the Greek word γέεννα it means everlasting destruction (LGBT, 96), However, there is no evidence that γέεννα ever means “annihilation”(Matthew5:22, 29, 30; 10:28, 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark9:43, 45, 47; Luke12:5; James3:6). Finally, It is fruitless to pursue this analysis of the Greek any further, for it must be clear from the contexts that more than the grave or extinction in portrayed in שְׁאוֹל. γέεννα or ᾍδης( Matthew8:6, 8:11-12, 29; 13:42,50; 22:13; Mark5:7; Luke8:28, 13:24-28; 2 Peter2:17; Jude13; Revelation14:9-11; 19:20; 20:10). The Scriptures clearly teach eternal conscious punishment and torment for the unbelievers. God is Love, but He is also Justice (Matthew12:37, Romans2:8-9 Revelation14:10; Luke16:19-31). On the other hand, The Scriptures reveal that the kingdom of heaven will be visible and observable at Christ’s return (Isaiah11-12; Ezekiel37:20-28; Zechariah14:4; Amoe9:8-15; Matthew13, 24:26-31; Luke17:20-26, etc.). So far no one knows how 1914 or 1918 the arbitrary date comes out, and no body can clearly tell that 144,000 has to be Jehovah’s Witnesses according to the Scriptures.

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