RELIGION AND BIBLE ‘TRUTHS’
I was handed a brochure by a class member that she received from the Jehovah Witnesses. It is designed as a Bible study course and was a 1996© Watch Tower publication. It begins: How is it to be used? We suggest the following program: At the beginning of each lesson, there are questions. In parentheses after each question, you will find the numbers of the paragraphs in which the answers are found. Read the questions through first. Think about them. Then read each paragraph, and look up the scriptures in your Bible. When you have finished a lesson, go back to the questions and try to recall the Bible’s answer to each question. When you have finished the whole brochure, go back and review all the questions.
Then followed a table of contents, and a couple of them immediately jumped out: ‘Practices That God Hates’ and ‘Beliefs and Customs that Displease God’. Hm! So I decided to do this exercise and see where these oft repeated ‘rules’ come from.
I did not do this with the intention to prove anyone ‘wrong’, nor do I ‘knock’ any religions; I think we ALL have a place in the scheme of things.
For ease of reading, the quotes from the leaflet are in bold print.
As I read through the 16 Lessons (which took me a whole weekend and a further evening) there were many things that I agreed on, for instance:
The Bible is a precious gift from God. It is like a letter from a loving father to his children. It tells us the truth about God – who he is and what he stands for. It explains how to cope with problems and how to find true happiness. The Bible alone tells us what we must do to please God. – Psalm 1:1-3. Isaiah 48:17,18.
Yes, the Bible is literally our handbook for our journey on Earth – but it is for each man to find his own interpretation and not be influenced by the interpretations of others.
In our learning we were told by Spirit once that only one third of the Bible was true! At the time we were aghast, “Look how it has been distorted by misinterpretation! How are we supposed to learn from it when so many have altered it?” They let us think that way for a while, until we began to grow and discover that Spirit do NOT hand it to us ‘on a plate’; it is up to us to use the gift of discernment that God has given us. THEN we discovered the wider Truth: that the Bible vibrates on three levels, and you can only ever access each level when YOU have reached the same vibration as that level, so yes, literally speaking ‘only one third of the Bible is true’ – at any one time, depending on the level YOU are at.
It was explained that the three levels are:
1. The human level.
2. The Spiritual level
3. The Divine level.
With the first level if a person is troubled and needs guidance, they can open the Bible at random, and there will be the very answer you need! The human level is the literal level.
The second level is when you have a broader understanding now, you open the Bible for guidance and there lies the answer – not in the literal sense, but in the Spiritual sense and you recognise the symbolism that has been used.
The third level then allows you to see things that you never recognized before – and as plain as the nose on your face! It is quite astonishing at first, and you wonder how on earth you could have missed it – but of course, you weren’t ready for it then.
It is quoted in the Second Lesson: People worship many things. But the Bible tells that there is only one TRUE God. He created everything in heaven and on earth. Because he gave us life, he is the only One we should worship - 1 Corinthians 8:5,6 – ‘For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him’.
The JW’s make the statement; God has many titles but has only one name. That name is Jehovah. In most Bibles, God’s name has been removed and has been replaced with the titles Lord or God. But when the Bible was written, the name Jehovah appeared in it some 7,000 times. – Exodus 3.15 which reads ‘And God said unto Moses I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you’. (I wondered how that proved that God’s name is Jehovah??)
They also gave Psalm 83:18 as proof – ‘That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah art the most high over all the earth’. In the first lesson the statement is made:
The Bible was written by some 40 different men over a period of 1,600 years, beginning in 1513 B.C.E. It is made up of 66 little books. Those who wrote the Bible were inspired by God. They wrote his thoughts, not their own. So ‘God in heaven, not any human on earth, is the Author of the Bible – yet Psalm 83:18 was written by Asaph - asking Jehovah to destroy his enemies!
This God, the J.W’s claim, has outstanding qualities of love, justice, wisdom and power. ‘He is also merciful, kind, forgiving, generous, and patient.’ (I wondered if they only had the New Testament in their Bible! But no, I found as I went along, that they often refer to the Old Testament). It is asked in Lesson 2, Should we bow down or pray to images, pictures, or symbols in our worship? – Exodus 20: 4,5 – ‘Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: For I the Lord thy God am a jealous god, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me’. Are those the actions of mercy and forgiveness, generosity and patience? Can this really be the One God? The New Testament goes away from ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a
tooth’ and we are taught to turn the other cheek, to accept all people, to forgive. Surely the God of all should be the shining example for all to follow! What if the Lord God of Genesis chapter 2 is a different being from the God of chapter 1? It would certainly seem so!
It was from that point that I realized I could not take JUST the Bible verses quoted as the ‘proof’ of the statement’; taken out of context that can be very misleading, and very often these quotes were – which makes a very flimsy foundation out of the message the writer is trying to put across! For example, the title of Lesson 3 is Who is Jesus Christ? ‘Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. He was God’s first creation, and so he is called the ‘firstborn’ Son of God’ – Colossians 1.15 – Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.
Verse 16 goes on to say ‘For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or power: all things were created by him, and for him. 17 – And he is before all things, and by him all things consist’. In the Good News Bible v 15 states Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God – neither Bible actually states the name Jesus. So what about the statement in Genesis 1:26,27 – ‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he
him: male and female created he them’.
Jesus was not God’s firstborn creation – the Christ of him was! And v15 clearly states that the Christ is in every creature – therefore we also hold the Christ energy within us – and it is up to us to RELEASE it to the world by right living and right thinking. Jesus came as the way-shower for us all, setting the perfect example of HOW to live.
Lesson 4 is titled Who Is the Devil? In paragraph 3 it is stated, Satan is the God of this world – 2 Corinthians 4:4 – nowhere in that verse does it specifically say that Satan is the god of this world! I was once challenged that if I acknowledged that there WERE negative forces – but I would not personify them in the name of Satan – how could I explain that Jesus refers to either Satan or devils six times in the Bible?
It was a good question, and it made me ‘go and find out’.
Yes, Jesus does refer to Satan and devils – but in different form each time; as in Matt 4:10 when the role of Satan is as the tempter – so that Jesus would demonstrate to us that we ‘not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’. Also that we must not test God, and that we should serve only God.
Matt 12:26 where the blind and dumb man was healed by Jesus casting out ‘a devil’ from him – but in doing that Jesus was then accused by the people of cohorting with Beelzebub, the Lord of the devils. Jesus turned that into the parable of a house not being divided against itself – so this scene teaches us the necessity for UNITY.
Matt16:23 Satan now takes, first, the form of Peter rebuking Jesus because Jesus had prophesised his own death and resurrection, then Jesus rebuking Satan-in-Peter for his ‘man thoughts instead of God thoughts.’ So now Satan represents DISBELIEF and LACK OF FAITH.
Luke10:18 where Jesus quotes Satan as a lesson for us to beware of VANITY in our healing abilities.
Luke 13:16 the woman who Satan had bound for 18 years – in this context Satan represents ILLNESS.
Luke 22:31 – the role of Satan with Simon is as a TESTER OF STRENGTH – a very positive role.
John13:27 Satan in Judas was the necessary tool for the Son of man to be glorified, and God to be glorified in him.
In these ways Jesus clearly shows us that Satan is not a person as such – yet the strong belief in Satan tends to personify. Rather, Satan represents all the above qualities of temptation, wrong judgement, doubt, vanity and sickness.
Yet Satan, the collective energy force, plays the POSITIVE role of strengthening us as we overcome all these negativities.
One interpretation I read about St. Luke 22 says, ‘What a discipline it is, this sifting that we receive from the hands of the enemy! How good for us! We find out whether our faith will stand attack, whether our lives will bear inspection at close quarters. We cannot be too thankful for the enemy. He makes it impossible for us to live in a fool’s paradise.’
Those words, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” reminded me of a verse from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran which we quote in our second level lessons:
Speak to us of Love
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you, believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
As the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that
quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s Heart.
I asked for clear understanding of these lines and the answer came:
This verse describes what happens when you put your life into the Hands of God to be shown your true worth whilst on this Earth.
The shattering of dreams is letting go of what you thought you needed to make way for your ultimate happiness, and a life with no lack and no needs.
Yes the way is steep, but what do you get as you make that steady climb? STRENGTH.
And what do you see as you attain the heights? Far more than you did when you dallied at the bottom of the mountain.
Yes Love crowns you as King or Queen of a new domain, for crucifixion heralds the end of a miserable existence.
If growth is left unchecked
(as in the garden)
there is no control, no shaping to a more beautiful form which is made by intention, not by accident.
Yes, Love shakes your roots from the soil, for to cling to the earth is to stand still, is to be fixed and limited. Yes, you are sheaves of corn; with care and the help of the elements corn grows rapidly and can become many things – when the husks have been removed: your doubts, fears, and negativities; when you have been ground to whiteness, and in so doing have achieved purity of mind and body.
Yes you are kneaded that you may become pliant so that it is easier to go with the flow of life and to be yielding and free.
And when all of this has taken place the temple of life unlocks its secret doors and allows My cleansing flame to pour upon you. First you filled yourselves with White Light; as the higher mysteries are understood the bodies fill with Gold.
Jesus indicates that we NEED this negativity in order to grow. As in all His teachings He shows us both sides of the coin and helps us to understand the role of the negative force named Satan – which, as he points out in Matt 16:23 is of man’s thoughts, not God’s.
Another interesting statement was the one on Spiritism quoting Deuteronomy 18:10-12, which comes from the Lord God again: There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his sons and daughters to pass through the fire (for that uses MIND power!) or that useth divination (for that uses the ENERGIES!) or as an observer of times. Or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
I know a lot of, what I would call, Spiritual people – and they do none of those things! I consider myself to be Spiritual and certainly none of those appeals to me either – and I found out the hard way! I joined a psychic development group, then a table-tapping group to communicate with Spirit, but right from the start we were told to ask for the Highest and the Best – and we never had any frightening experiences. However, once contact was made with Guides and Teachers we often encountered amongst the truths many half-truths, and sometimes, downright lies. That proved to be very frustrating, but rather than turn away in fear we used our commonsense and worked it out eventually; our own limited beliefs, fears and superstitions often influenced the answers we got – they were being laid bare for us to recognize – and that was very painful at times! It took a lot of
personal work over many years to finally realize that only when you communicate with God will you get the Whole Truth.
Distractions are put on our path for us to exercise our discernment skills – but all has purpose, and there are MANY paths to God, not just through religion; I believe that ALL paths eventually lead to God. The experiences we went through as a group in this seeking has helped hundreds of people to find the Path a lot quicker than we did!
God is ALL there is – and everything is contained WITHIN God. The negative experiences are just as much a part of God as are the positive ones, and let’s face it, we never forget those hard-earned lessons that involved a deal of heartache. You come out a much stronger person, with a total trust and belief in God – recognizing Him everywhere you look. Whatever WE do, God will always turn it into a plus – and I believe that there is great compassion in the struggles that He sees man going through as he tries to connect again with his source. God is no judge – only man!
I agreed with the main content of Lesson 5, What Is God’s Purpose for the Earth? Except for the statement, Also, millions of dead ones will be resurrected to human life on the earth – Acts 24:15 – And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust - which are actually Luke’s words – and he hopes they are right! Could it be that ‘the resurrection of the dead’ may not be in the literal sense, but the awakening in consciousness of all those unaware ones - of the Christ within themselves? I believe that all the turmoil the world is going through right now (2001) is leading in the direction of making this world a better place to live in. That we ARE coming into a time of peace and harmony – but that also involves a deal of personal work. We have to ATTRACT our
heaven down to Earth by the way we live and interact with others, by becoming more open minded and willing to listen to the beliefs of each person, and selecting from them what feels right for you to enhance YOUR awareness. In this way each man helps his brother.
Lesson 6 is titled What is the Kingdom of God? And in the fifth paragraph the statement: Soon Jesus will judge people, separating them as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The ‘sheep’ are those who will have proved themselves his loyal subjects. They will receive everlasting life on earth. The ‘goats’ are those who will have rejected God’s Kingdom. - Matthew 25: 31-34, 46 In the near future, Jesus will destroy all goatlike ones - 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. Actually that verse quotes the words of Paul – and are in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus – who never practiced punishment or revenge as such; occasional bursts of righteous anger, yes, but not those violent qualities - and he very much preached that WE should not either!
In Lesson 8 Family Life That Pleases God paragraph 6 states, When marriage mates have problems getting along together, they should try to apply Bible counsel. The Bible urges us to show love and to be forgiving - Colossians 3:12-14. God’s Word does not encourage separation as a way to solve minor problems. But a wife might choose to leave her husband if (1) he stubbornly refuses to support his family, (2) he is so violent that her health and life are in danger, or (3) his extreme opposition makes it impossible for her to worship Jehovah – 1 Corinthians 7:12,13 - This piece was written by Paul it says, To the others I say (I, myself, not the Lord) if a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she agrees to go on living with him, he must not divorce her. And if a Christian woman is married to
a man who is an unbeliever, and he agrees to go on living with her SHE MUST NOT DIVORCE HIM. That doesn’t back up the J.W. statement at all!
When you read on, v15 says, ‘But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart’. That is not the same as someone leaving their partner because they have opposing belief systems! People often come to our classes, start to practice the Spiritual life and find that it makes a great difference. There is then a great need to make their partner follow the same path, but our advice is – “Don’t preach or try to convert them. Simply live the life YOURSELF, and they, seeing the eventual difference in you, will WANT to come to it of their own accord.” And Paul says in v14, ‘For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife’ and later in v 16, ‘For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?’
God is not about splitting families – in fact He wants us to become one BIG family. Instead we should work around our differences and respect each other’s beliefs – a marriage that is not united in that way gives fertile ground for such work and could end up being very much strengthened by the experience.
Lesson 10 is Practices That God Hates and begins with the statement,
1. Servants of God love what is good. But they must also learn to hate what is bad (Psalms 97:10). A MAN writes that psalm, and it is he who tells us to hate, not God!
2. Fornication: sex before marriage, adultery, bestiality, incest and homosexuality are all serious sins against God. The various quotes from the Bible reveal the following:
Leviticus 18:6 Do not show your nakedness to your kin.
Romans 1:26,27 – is all about LUST – not every homosexual or single person or lesbian is LUSTFUL – love is also a factor.
1 Corinthians 6:9,10 – which talks about all DEVIATES.
Then the J.W. statement, If a couple are not married but living together, they should separate or else get legally married - Hebrews 13:4 – which does NOT quote a couple specifically living together – only whore mongers (a man who has intercourse with a prostitute and pays for it) and adulterers (which is an affair with a married person). The average couple that lives together, I’m sure, are not included in those categories!
3. Lying, gambling, stealing: Every form of gambling is tainted by greed. So Christians do not take part in any kind of gambling, such as lotteries, horse racing, bingo – Ephesians 5:3-5 I was really looking forward to finding the words lottery and bingo in that quote! But no, it doesn’t say ANYTHING about gambling, it talks about being covetous – which the Church has judged to be behind the loose phrase ‘gambling’. Yes, I agree that many a family has been ruined by an addiction to gambling, but Bingo is mainly looked forward to as a social event for most people, and the average person, when they buy their Lotto ticket, doesn’t really believe that they will actually win one day. However, the concept of Lotto is very beneficial for many charities and the earnings have helped thousands. As for the few who do have the big wins, they have it within their power to
share it out and help many others through their good fortune – or to squander it – or to hoard it and ruin their lives in the process. The choice is ours – and it should always be so, and whichever way we choose to go will involve many valuable lessons that we might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience. I believe there is no such thing as ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’ – merely situations that we draw to ourselves, and which we have EARNED as a result of our innermost feelings (which God knows intimately!). Nothing happens ‘by chance’ and there is PURPOSE in EVERYTHING.
4. Fits of anger, violence: Uncontrolled anger can lead to acts of violence (Gen 4:5-8 – which is the story of Cain and Abel). A violent person cannot be God’s friend (Psalm 11:5. Proverbs 22:24,25). It is wrong to take revenge or to return evil for the bad things that others might do to us – Proverbs 24:29. Romans 12:17-21. What about the angry, wrathful God in Exodus 20:5 who is a JEALOUS God visiting the iniquities of the fathers on their children for the next four generations because ‘God is OFFENDED and ANGRY’? How clearly that shows us that the Lord God CANNOT be one and the same being as the loving God of the New Testament.
Lesson 11 is about Beliefs and Customs That Displease God and the statement is made in paragraph 5 (to prove that the dead cannot do anything or feel anything. We cannot help them and they cannot hurt us) that The soul dies: it does not live on after death - Ezekial 18:4 – All souls are mine – the soul that sinneth, it shall die. However, READ ON – 18:9 says, ‘He that walked in my statutes and hath kept my judgements, to deal truly; he is just, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE.
It is then quoted, But sometimes wicked angels, called demons, pretend to be the spirits of the dead. Any customs that have to do with fear of or worship of the dead are wrong. – Isaiah 8:19 – this quote says NOTHING about wicked spirits, only to beware of going to mediums for knowledge of these things; rather to ask God about them – and that’s good advice!
Lesson 12 is about Showing Respect for Life and Blood – it begins with a quote to ‘prove’ that there should be no abortion: Jehovah is the Source of life. All living things owe their life to God (Psalm 36:9) Life is sacred to God. Even the life of an unborn child inside its mother is precious to Jehovah. To kill such a developing baby on purpose is wrong in God’s eyes – Exodus 21:22.23 – which is all about ‘If men strive and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief shall follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.’ THERE IS NO MENTION OF ABORTION THERE – and if this is what modern day abortion issues are based upon what a lot of guilt and heartache that
very un-relevant statement has caused! There is no mention of a woman’s CHOICE to abort her own baby – if she sees fit – and each individual case can only be decided by merit. To tar every woman with the same brush based on the actions of a few irresponsible beings is ludicrous – and tragic. There have been DEATHS over this issue, and not just the babies!
Paragraph 6 asks Is it wrong to accept a blood transfusion? Remember, Jehovah requires that we abstain from blood. This means that we must not take it into our bodies in any way at all other people’s blood or even our own blood that has been stored – Acts 21:25 – This book is about converting those who had been indulging in heathen practices: As touching the Gentiles that believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Which simply means DON’T DRINK BLOOD that has been offered to idols!
(J.W.) So true Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They will accept other kinds of medical treatment such as transfusion of non-blood products (like toxic chemicals!) They want to live but they will not try to save their life by breaking God’s Laws – Matt 16:25 – For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. That is a statement by Jesus when he was talking in parables to his disciples, and begins in v24 with ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ The second statement simply means that once you have dedicated to do that your HUMAN life, with all it’s fears, superstitions and dogmas HAS to go if you are to be a true follower. To try and hang on to your old ways is to stay in the same place, if you can have the courage to let go of
all that then yes, your life will be made new and you will live the TRUE life. I would not take that as a basis for refusing a blood transfusion!
Lesson 13 is titled How Can You Find the True Religion? Paragraph 4 quotes: Another mark of true religion is that its members have a
deep respect for the Bible.
They accept it as the Word of God and believe what it says – John 17:17 – This is Jesus speaking to God saying of his followers, Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. That says NOTHING about the Bible. The Bible as we know it today had not even been put together then. I believe that the Word of God and all Truth is within each and every one of us, and that as we try to ‘live the life’ all of that will be revealed to us as we read the scriptures for ourselves, without the influence of human interpretation – which, as I have tried to portray, can distort and send us off down the wrong path for a while! Maybe the explanations that I have given do not sit right for you – that’s fine, but I hope they have made you THINK, and maybe prompted you to go off and do your OWN investigations.
In Love and Light,