Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Jehovah’s Witnesses theology centers on the Deity referred to in the Old Testament by the name of Jehovah, Jesus Christ being one of the main players (perhaps even the main player) in that elaborately constructed theology. It hinges on the assumption that Jehovah and Jesus are two different beings. That assumption is so central to JW theology that if it can be proved conclusively from the Bible that Jesus Christ is in fact the same as Jehovah, it has the effect of destroying their elaborately constructed theology from the foundation up. It brings the whole structure crashing down. The biblical proof that Jesus Christ of the New Testament is the same as Jehovah of the Old Testament, however, is indisputable. Here are some references:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple … (John 8:58-59.)
The expression “I am” is the standard trademark of Jehovah in the Old Testament, with which the Jews were familiar; hence their taking offence at His remark, and trying to stone Him, implying that He had committed blasphemy by identifying Himself with Jehovah. Here Jesus informs us that He is in fact Jehovah.
And [the Israelites who came out of Egypt] did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4.)
The “Rock” referred to by Paul in the Old Testament signified Jehovah, thus implying that Jesus of the New Testament was in fact Jehovah. In the following scriptures “LORD” is a direct translation of the Hebrew “Jehovah”:
For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour … (Isaiah 43:3.)
This verse becomes more meaningful in the light of the quotations from Zechariah given below.
And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD [Jehovah] said unto me, cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was priced at of them … (Zechariah 11:12-13.)
According to Matthew 27:9, this verse is a prophecy of the betrayal of Jesus Christ; yet it is Jehovah who is speaking, thus identifying Jesus with Jehovah.
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I [LORD, Jehovah] will seek to destroy all nations that shall come against Jerusalem. And I [LORD, Jehovah] will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me [Jehovah] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him … (Zechariah 12:8-10.)
By all accounts, this is an indisputable prophecy of the Second Coming of the Savior (see Revelation 1:7); and the identification of Jesus with Jehovah is undeniable. Jesus [Jehovah] is returning as the “Savior” of the Jews at His Second Coming in the last days, and they shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his [LORD, Jehovah’s] feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in twain in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west … (Zechariah 14:3-4.)
Again, this is an indisputable prophecy of the Second Coming of the Savior, identifying Jesus with Jehovah.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:5-6.)
This is another obvious and well-known prophecy of the coming of the Savior, who is named here THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS! “LORD” is a translation of Jehovah. In other words, this future king, the Savior, Jesus Christ, who will be born of the house of David, and will reign over Israel, shall be called JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS! I think that these references are pretty conclusive that Jesus of the New Testament is the same as Jehovah of the Old Testament. It presents a serious challenge to JW theology which I don’t think they have an answer for.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I am sure many Latter-day Saints who like to debate Mormonism on the Internet think that they are smart enough to take care of themselves, and don’t need any advice from me—and they are probably right. This is intended for those who may find it useful.
An important lesson to learn from debating Mormonism on the Internet is knowing when not to reply to someone. It often happens that the best reply to give to someone is not to reply to them at all! In those situations, any other answer given will be the wrong answer, and will put one at a disadvantage. It is difficult to lay down hard and fast rules when exactly to do that. It is like “teaching by the Spirit” (D&C 42:12). If you have the Spirit, you will know.
There are some people who as a general rule one should not reply to at all, except on rare occasions, and under the “constraint of the Spirit”:
D&C 63:64 “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the Spirit through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation.”
There are people out there who are in denial of the Holy Ghost; and it is actually a sin to engage them in debate:
1 John 5:16 “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”
2 John 1:10–11 “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
So if we are not supposed to pray for them, and even say hello and good bye to them, then it stands to reason that we should not debate with them either. There are such folks around; and they tend to congregate on Christian message boards on the Internet. We recognize them by the Holy Ghost. (Apostates from the Church sometimes fall into this category.) This does not mean that one should never reply to them. On rare occasions it might be necessary to do so. But there is a difference between giving them an occasional appropriate response, and engaging them in lengthy and protracted debate. Jesus gave appropriate responses to the devil when He was being tempted by him (Matthew 4:1–11); but He did not sit down and argue with him!
We also need to decide whether we want to inform people or argue with them. There is a difference between somebody who has a genuine disagreement with us and is willing to engage in a genuine discussion about those differences, and somebody who has no interest in the answers you give and just wants to argue. Again, we recognize them by the Holy Spirit.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Some questions arose during my discussions on Christian message boards regarding the doctrine of the Fall of Adam and the Original Sin, which may be summarized as follows:
- Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden?
- Why did He command them not to partake of it? What was wrong with having a knowledge of good and evil?
- Why did He allow Satan to tempt them to partake of the fruit?
- Why was the penalty of death assigned to partaking of the fruit?
My answers to these questions are given below:
Q1. Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden?
The purpose of man coming to earth was so that he could be tested and tried to see if he would be obedient to the will of God, and choose good over evil; and ultimately be rewarded accordingly:
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.
This is also attested by many passages in the Bible, where man is enjoined to always do good and avoid evil:
12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God
1 Peter 3:
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And God has appointed a day of judgment in which mankind will be judged according to their works, and each will receive a reward according to how their works have been:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
None of these would have been possible without the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil; for without it man could have chosen neither good nor evil. The acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil was a necessary prerequisite so he could be placed in a situation so that the above testing could take place. God placed the tree in the garden so that man by partaking of it might acquire a knowledge of good and evil.
Q2. Why did God command them not to partake of the fruit? What was wrong with having a knowledge of good and evil?
There is nothing wrong with the knowledge of good and evil per se. Indeed, as shown above, it was even necessary so that man could be made accountable for his actions and tested. But there was also a problem with it. Partaking of the fruit did not just give them a theoretical knowledge of good and evil; it placed them in a condition in which they would have to choose between good and evil—and suffer the consequences. It put them in a position where they would have to learn by experience the difference between good and evil. But God knew that if He placed mankind in that situation, that most (if not all) men, through the weakness of human nature and the force of circumstance, as well as the temptations of the devil, would choose evil rather than good, and fall into sin, and could not be saved. Therefore a plan was devised from “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18–20; Revelation 13:8) that would rescue man from his fallen state, should he partake of the fruit; and that plan was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But in order for that plan to be put into effect, another condition had to be fulfilled; and that was death.
When Adam and Eve were first created, they were immortal and eternal beings. There was no death. If they sinned in that state, and remained in that state, their sin would have eternally remained with them, and there would have been no opportunity for repentance. That is why after the resurrection there is no possibility of repentance (Alma 34:33–35). Death was required so that this period of mortality would become a state of probation, a “preparatory state” (Alma 12:26; 42:10, 13) in which man could “repent and prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24). Then, through the Atonement, a resurrection would take place which would “restore” mankind to that immortal and eternal state that they were in before the Fall (Alma 11:42–44; 40:22–24); and a final judgment would decide everyone’s fait. (Death was also necessary to fulfill the Atonement; if the sentence of death had not been passed on Adam, Christ could not have died to atone for the sins of the world.) So there were two trees placed in the Garden: one the tree of life, which enabled them to live forever; and the other the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which (necessarily) led to death. Thus the tree of good and evil was put in the Garden of Eden, and the penalty of death was affixed to partaking of it; and man was given the opportunity to eat from it and suffer the consequences if he chose to. But a plan was put in place to rescue him from the consequences of his actions should he partake of the fruit. The punishment of death for eating of the fruit was not exactly a “punishment” as such; but a necessary requirement to bring about the eventual salvation of man. Without it mankind could not have repented after sinning, and without repentance the plan of salvation could not have been put into effect. And without it also Christ could not have died to atone for the sins of mankind.
Partaking of the fruit was a sin because God had commanded them not to do it; not because it was something inherently wrong or immoral. The explanation that God gave to Adam and Eve for not partaking of the fruit was that if they did so, they would “surely die”:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
It is like being warned not to eat a certain poisonous substance because if we did, we would certainly die! Eating the poisonous substance is not immoral. It is just not a good idea if you intend to stay alive! The only thing that made it a sin was the commandment of God to them not to do it; but the reason why God had commanded them not to do so was the penalty of death that was (necessarily) affixed to it, not because it was something inherently wrong or immoral. Thus the tree was planted in the Garden of Eden, and man was given the opportunity to partake of it if he chose to; and the commandment was issued not eat of the fruit, the penalty of death having been assigned to breaking commandment in order to fulfill the “merciful plan of the great creator” (2 Nephi 9:6). This doctrine is explained in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 9:6–7; Alma 12:23–35; 34:33–35; 42:3–24.
Q3. Why did God allow Satan to tempt them to partake of it?
This is explained in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2:11–27.
Q4. Why was the penalty of death assigned to partaking of the tree?
This has already been explained earlier; but to summarize: the penalty of death was not so much a punishment for partaking of the forbidden fruit, as a necessary consequence of it in order to put into effect the plan of salvation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But it became a kind of punishment for it because of the commandment that God had given them not to partake of the fruit.