Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review of the February 15, 2011 Watchtower Study Edition

You can download the full issue HERE.

Since my REVIEW of the September 2010 Watchtower Study Edition, I haven't found any of the subsequent magazines to contain noteworthy information.  Perhaps the Governing Body is giving JW's a break from their self-promoting statements made in that issue?  Its difficult to know for sure.  But whatever the case, recent releases have had little to do with doctrine and more to do with morality and JW living.  However, I found a few quotes in this newly released magazine worth mentioning:

Acting in harmony with his Father’s will, Jesus Christ gave “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Soon the full benefits of that ransom payment will accrue to those who gain God’s approval. -p. 14 par. 6

While it is true that no Christian is living within the full benefits of the atonement (Creation is still "groaning." Rom. 8:22), this quote has it backwards.  It is unbiblical to suggest that the ransom is applied to those who gain God's approval.  Instead, the Bible teaches that the atonement itself results in God's approval to those whom it is applied:

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18–21) 
Does this passage make any suggestion similar to the WT's appeal?  That is, is the atonement applied to those who have previously gained God's approval?  Or does the atonement result in our being approved by God?  Notice further that it is not our actions that reconcile us to God; it is Christ's atoning work.  This is yet another instance where the WT has missed the sufficiency of Christ's death apart from human actions.

8 Gaining God’s approval involves the proper exercise of our free will. This is because Jehovah does not coerce anyone into serving him. In Isaiah’s time, He asked: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” By recognizing the prophet’s right to decide, Jehovah dignified him. Imagine Isaiah’s satisfaction in responding: “Here I am! Send me.”—Isa. 6:8. -p. 14 par. 8
Its all about us isn't it?  The focus is so completely man-centered that it neglects the very basis by which someone like Isaiah could obey God at all.  Why is it that Scripture declares, "there is none who seeks after God?" (Rom. 3:11)  Could it be that God desires all the glory, even when it pertains to man's ability to love and obey Him?  While it is true that God does not coerce men in the way that the WT describes here, it is not true that men gain God's approval by "proper exercise of our free will."  Scripture has something else in mind:


“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27)
God is the primary cause when it comes to offering approval to those who were previously hostile towards Him (Rom. 8:7).  Do we see coercion here?  No.  We see God causing the ungodly to obey Him by removing their hostile, flesh-focused nature and making them, "alive together with Christ." (Eph. 2:5)  Where can man take such credit in this scenario?  Where is "free will" mentioned?

 Gaining God’s approval requires that a person keep his body acceptable to God. If he were to defile himself with tobacco, betel nut, illicit drugs, or alcohol abuse, that offering would have no value. (2 Cor. 7:1) -p. 15 par. 12
In no way am I endorsing any of the mentioned "defilements."  However, I do find it interesting that the WT mentions these disfellowshipping-resulting actions to the exclusion of others.  Why is eating at McDonald's not mentioned?  Is the Watchtower prepared to defend the idea that smoking a cigarette is more harmful than a few meals at McDonald's?  Or how about prescription drugs?  Are JW's threatened with disfellowshipping by taking drugs that lead a high risk of side effects?  Of course not.  These are the legalistic "pet sins" that the WT has come up with that have no cut-and-dry prohibition in the Bible (specifically, tobacco use).

By preaching with zeal, we give evidence of our love for Jehovah and our desire for his approval. -p. 16 par. 14
While it is true that we must demonstrate the true nature of our faith by good works (James 2:18), this is different from saying that our works gain approval from God.  A more biblical approach to such an issue would be to say, "by preaching with zeal, we give evidence of our love for Jehovah and our desire to do what is pleasing to Him."  The reason this qualification is so important is because true Christians have already been fully approved.  That is, there is no further approval to be made.  After all, we have the righteousness of Christ imputed or reckoned to our account (Rom. 4:5).  How much more approval would one need?

Instead, we should be seeking to do what is pleasing to God because we have already been approved.  And no amount of zeal or hours on your time cards can change that.

Andre ́ , who had served Jehovah for years, had the bitter experience of being led astray by apostate thinking. He felt that having a quick look at an apostate Web site would not be dangerous. He recalls: “Initially, I was attracted to the so-called truths that the apostates spoke of. The more I examined what they said, the more I came to think that I was justified in leaving Jehovah’s organization. But later, as I did some research on the apostates’ arguments against Jehovah’s Witnesses, I became aware of how crafty the false teachers were. Information taken out of context was their ‘strong evidence’ against us. Thus, I decided to start reading our publications again and to attend the meetings. Soon I realized how much I had missed.” Happily, Andre ́ returned to the congregation. -p. 19
This is very interesting.  Remember what the WT has previously said about so-called "apostate literature":

*** w86 3/15 p. 13 pars. 10-12 ‘Do Not Be Quickly Shaken From Your Reason’ ***
When a fellow human tells us, ‘Do not read this’ or, ‘Do not listen to that,’ we may be tempted to ignore his advice. But remember, in this case Jehovah is the One who tells us in his Word what to do. And what does he say about apostates? “Avoid them” (Romans 16:17, 18); “quit mixing in company with” them (1 Corinthians 5:11); and “never receive [them] into your homes or say a greeting to [them]” (2 John 9, 10). These are emphatic words, clear directions. If, out of curiosity, we were to read the literature of a known apostate, would that not be the same as inviting this enemy of true worship right into our home to sit down with us and relate his apostate ideas?
11 Let us illustrate matters in this way: Suppose your teenage son received some pornographic material in the mail. What would you do? If he was inclined to read it out of curiosity, would you say: ‘Yes, son, go ahead and read it. It won’t hurt you. From infancy we’ve taught you that immorality is bad. Besides, you need to know what’s going on in the world in order to see that it’s truly bad’? Would you reason that way? Absolutely not! Rather, you would surely point out the dangers of reading pornographic literature and would require that it be destroyed. Why? Because no matter how strong a person may be in the truth, if he feeds his mind on the perverted ideas found in such literature, his mind and heart will be affected. A lingering wrong desire planted in the recesses of the heart can eventually create a perverted sexual appetite. The result? James says that when wrong desire becomes fertile, it gives birth to sin, and sin leads to death. (James 1:15) So why start the chain reaction?
12 Well, if we would act so decisively to protect our children from exposure to pornography, should we not expect that our loving heavenly Father would similarly warn us and protect us from spiritual fornication, including apostasy? He says, Keep away from it!
As can be observed, "apostate literature" is equated with pornography.  Let's see how Andre's story would read with such an equation inserted:

 Andre ́ , who had served Jehovah for years, had the bitter experience of being led astray by [pornography]. He felt that having a quick look at [pornography] would not be dangerous. He recalls: “Initially, I was attracted to the so-called truths that the [porn industry] spoke of. The more I examined what they said, the more I came to think that I was justified in leaving Jehovah’s organization. But later, as I did some research on [pornography], I became aware of how crafty the false teachers were. Information taken out of context was their ‘strong evidence’ against us. Thus, I decided to start reading our publications again and to attend the meetings. Soon I realized how much I had missed.” Happily, Andre ́ returned to the congregation. -p. 19 
Most should be able to see how silly such an equation really is.  But if apostate literature is as bad as pornography, then why even "do the research?"  No one has to research pornography to know that is is grossly unbiblical.  Moreover, many secularists are aware of the harmful effects of pornography as well.  However, if apostate literature is what the Society claims, then there is no need to investigate.  It should be dismissed out of hand without a single glance.

What I can't seem to figure out is why the Society continues to suppress any attempt to deal with this so-called "apostate literature."  Here, it seems as though the WT is commending Andre for checking the facts.  Are they seriously suggesting that by researching WT literature, such an honest investigation will lead to finding answers to apostate claims?  It would seem so.  But one will be hard-pressed to find answers to the claims made by former Governing Body member Ray Franz in his book, CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE or that of Carl O. Jonsson's in his book, THE GENTILE TIMES RECONSIDERED by researching WT literature.

One of the reasons why so many JW's leave the organization is because of books like these; books that the WT has failed to make mention of or dealt with the arguments therein.  Instead, they have told JW's to avoid these books as if they were pornography, yet they are to examine its claims on their own when they find themselves trapped in "apostate thinking."  Yes, please do your own research, like Andre, and examine the claims made by Franz and Jonsson.
  

30 comments:

StandFirm said...

"What I can't seem to figure out is why the Society continues to suppress any attempt to deal with this so-called "apostate literature." Here, it seems as though the WT is commending Andre for checking the facts. Are they seriously suggesting that by researching WT literature, such an honest investigation will lead to finding answers to apostate claims? It would seem so."

You would be correct. I noticed the quote in question also and found it very interesting. Although The Watchtower as before recommends not viewing apostate claims at all, to my knowledge this is the first time it says what to do if one views those claims anyway.

I think this is one suggestion from the Witness organization that we all can agree on wholeheartedly!

Mike Felker said...

StandFirm, I suppose another step in the right direction would be for the WT to commend JW's to not treat people like me as if we had leprosy :-)

FredTorres said...

Hi Mike:

Hey man, hope you are well.

You said:
It is unbiblical to suggest that the ransom is applied to those who gain God's approval.

Correct. The article refers to time in the New World when the "benefits" of the atonement "accrue", not the time of acceptance of the atonement itself proper. death and sickness will be no more.

You said:
"..it is not true that men gain God's approval by "proper exercise of our free will..."

You are misrepresenting what the article said.
"8 Gaining God’s approval involves the proper exercise of our free will. This is because Jehovah does not coerce anyone into serving him"

Your objection to the involvement of the role of "free will" in the article is remarkable, but I think it is a question of semantics. True obedience is generated from within, from a desire to please God out of love that is already there and man can reject God's grace by choice. It is not saying that man causes salvation unto himself. Likewise, Isiah chose to have the proper attitude towards the invitation of Who will I send...

Regarding Big Macs, medicinal marijuana and smoking, is it your contention that these are moral equivalents?

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Fred, good to hear from you!

My main problem with the article is the suggestion that gaining God's approval happens in addition to Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness. That is, our good works can merit some kind of additional approval. It is difficult to read such an article and come to the conclusion that the WT is teaching the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work apart from human actions. If I have somehow missed something and the WT has affirmed this, then i'm open to correction.

As far as free will, there is nothing biblical about the statement, "Gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will." True obedience is not something that is "generated from within." True obedience is generated from God Himself. And I don't find anything biblical in that God can provide this work in a man's heart, only for him to later on reject it.

And yes, I would view big macs and smoking as the same moral category (not medicinal marijuana because of its mind-altering effects). To my knowledge, no JW has ever been disfellowshipped for eating too many Big Macs. But they have been for smoking cigarettes.

StandFirm said...

"My main problem with the article is the suggestion that gaining God's approval happens in addition to Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness. That is, our good works can merit some kind of additional approval. It is difficult to read such an article and come to the conclusion that the WT is teaching the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work apart from human actions. If I have somehow missed something and the WT has affirmed this, then i'm open to correction."

What the article is saying on page 14 paragraph 6 is that the "full benefits", that is, human perfection, are yet future for those who gain God's approval. Like this:

Atonement -> Faith proved by works -> God's approval -> Full benefits of ransom.

Faith validated by works is the same as love validated by works. If a husband loved his wife, he would show it, would he not? So the same with love for God and faith.

The organization has affirmed that God's approval is only through true faith:

"Saved, Not by Works Alone, But by Undeserved Kindness
...
Anyone who is eventually given the gift of eternal life will have gained it, not by personal accomplishments, but through faith and by God’s undeserved kindness."-The Watchtower, June 1, 2005, p. 14

"As far as free will, there is nothing biblical about the statement, "Gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will." True obedience is not something that is "generated from within." True obedience is generated from God Himself. And I don't find anything biblical in that God can provide this work in a man's heart, only for him to later on reject it."

To have God's approval, we must demonstrate faith. Faith must have works to be proved true. And from where do those works come? We perform the works out of love for God, out of our own free will. It's not saying that gaining God's approval comes from the proper exercise of our free will.

"And yes, I would view big macs and smoking as the same moral category (not medicinal marijuana because of its mind-altering effects). To my knowledge, no JW has ever been disfellowshipped for eating too many Big Macs. But they have been for smoking cigarettes."

Smoking does affect the mind.

A Big Mac and smoking are not comparable. Even an unhealthy hamburger provides my body with nutrition and protein. A cigarette does nothing good for the body. Tobacco kills millions, alters the power of reason, and is unloving to one's neighbor. It is not Christian.

StandFirm said...

The Apologetic Front
"My main problem with the article is the suggestion that gaining God's approval happens in addition to Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness. That is, our good works can merit some kind of additional approval. It is difficult to read such an article and come to the conclusion that the WT is teaching the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work apart from human actions. If I have somehow missed something and the WT has affirmed this, then i'm open to correction."

It says that the full benefits will accrue to those who gain God's approval. The 'full benefits' is bodily perfection in the new earth. God's approval comes from Christ's ransom, not in addition to. However, bodily perfection is not yet here. That is what is still future.

"Saved, Not by Works Alone, But by Undeserved Kindness...Anyone who is eventually given the gift of eternal life will have gained it, not by personal accomplishments, but through faith and by God’s undeserved kindness.—Luke 17:10; John 3:16."-The Watchtower, June 1, 2005, p. 14.

Faith proved by works is comparable to a man's love for his wife. If a man loves his wife he will show it by works. Likewise, if a human truly has faith in God they will show it by their actions.

"As far as free will, there is nothing biblical about the statement, "Gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will." True obedience is not something that is "generated from within." True obedience is generated from God Himself. And I don't find anything biblical in that God can provide this work in a man's heart, only for him to later on reject it."

To get God's approval, we must have faith. Faith is validated by works. (James 2:26) From where do works come? From our own free will. Thus, the article said 'gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will' not 'gaining God's approval comes from the proper exercise of our free will.'

"And yes, I would view big macs and smoking as the same moral category (not medicinal marijuana because of its mind-altering effects). To my knowledge, no JW has ever been disfellowshipped for eating too many Big Macs. But they have been for smoking cigarettes."

Cigarettes do have a mind-altering effect.

Comparing Big Macs and cigarettes is comparing apples and oranges. Even an unhealthy hamburger provides nutrition and protein for the body. A cigarette has absolutely no positive effect. Cigarette smoking has killed millions, affects the mind, ruins the body, and harms one's neighbor.

StandFirm said...

The Apologetic Front
"My main problem with the article is the suggestion that gaining God's approval happens in addition to Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness. That is, our good works can merit some kind of additional approval. It is difficult to read such an article and come to the conclusion that the WT is teaching the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work apart from human actions. If I have somehow missed something and the WT has affirmed this, then i'm open to correction."

It says that the full benefits will accrue to those who gain God's approval. The 'full benefits' is bodily perfection in the new earth. God's approval comes from Christ's ransom, not in addition to. However, bodily perfection is not yet here. That is what is still future.

"Saved, Not by Works Alone, But by Undeserved Kindness...Anyone who is eventually given the gift of eternal life will have gained it, not by personal accomplishments, but through faith and by God’s undeserved kindness.—Luke 17:10; John 3:16."-The Watchtower, June 1, 2005, p. 14.

Faith proved by works is comparable to a man's love for his wife. If a man loves his wife he will show it by works. Likewise, if a human truly has faith in God they will show it by their actions.

StandFirm said...

"As far as free will, there is nothing biblical about the statement, "Gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will." True obedience is not something that is "generated from within." True obedience is generated from God Himself. And I don't find anything biblical in that God can provide this work in a man's heart, only for him to later on reject it."

To get God's approval, we must have faith. Faith is validated by works. (James 2:26) From where do works come? From our own free will. Thus, the article said 'gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will' not 'gaining God's approval comes from the proper exercise of our free will.'

"And yes, I would view big macs and smoking as the same moral category (not medicinal marijuana because of its mind-altering effects). To my knowledge, no JW has ever been disfellowshipped for eating too many Big Macs. But they have been for smoking cigarettes."

Cigarettes do have a mind-altering effect.

Comparing Big Macs and cigarettes is comparing apples and oranges. Even an unhealthy hamburger provides nutrition and protein for the body. A cigarette has absolutely no positive effect. Cigarette smoking has killed millions, affects the mind, ruins the body, and harms one's neighbor.

Fred said...

Hey Mike, it is good to hear from you too, partner.

I think you are misreading the article and its intent. It is directed at believers. The points you bring up are a given, generally speaking. Of course, we do not concur on some details or points of emphasis. That is also a given. But, likewise, some who profess to share in your spiritual experience find nothing extra-biblical in similar articles.
For brevity, I will give you one more example.
WT article says..
By preaching with zeal, we give evidence of our love for Jehovah and our desire for his approval. -p. 16 par. 14

You say it means....

"While it is true that we must demonstrate the true nature of our faith by good works (James 2:18), this is different from saying that our works gain approval from God.'

See, you misunderstand what is meant by "desiring" God's approval. To illustrate, consider that you receive let’s say, a finely crafted and finely tuned musical instrument from someone you love, someone special. By using it, maybe even in the company of others, and deriving joy from it continuously, you demonstrate to the giver that you wanted and continue to want that gift. If you left that beautiful instrument to collect dust in a basement, it would not give evidence of such.
So, from your vantage point, only certain kinds of prescription drugs draw a moral equivalent to fast food. This was not what you said on your review. So on what basis does your moral compass make this distinction? Medicinal cannibus has demonstrated clinical efficacy at controlled doses under MD supervision. Amphetamines are mind altering drugs are used to treat ADD/ADHD, especially children.
Nicotine is a mind altering, addictive drug used for recreational purposes with similar addictive mechanisms found in cocaine. It also injures the entire respiratory apparatus, among other things. To suggest that it does not defile our flesh is to deny reality. To suggest a moral equivalency to a steady diet of unhealthy choice of foods is for any one individual to decide, thus I do not reject the notion on that basis, and neither do JWs.

Certainly it was God Himself who expressly allows humans to partake of meat, and it is understood that eating it carried its own risks.
But to call tobacco smoke a ”pet sin” is unwarranted.

In all, I simply think you are being unnecessarily hyper-critical of the article, by focusing on one facet of a multi-dimensional concept. Additionally, I think you are reading it with bifurcated lenses and drawing unwarranted conclusions.

The Apologetic Front said...

Guys, I really do appreciate your seeking to correct me on this. If it turns out that I am convinced by your corrections, then I will gladly adjust or take the blog article down. But i'm not convinced of that yet. Let me share a few reasons why and perhaps you can clarify further if need be.

StandFirm said,

"It says that the full benefits will accrue to those who gain God's approval. The 'full benefits' is bodily perfection in the new earth. God's approval comes from Christ's ransom, not in addition to. However, bodily perfection is not yet here. That is what is still future."

I pretty much agree with this. But i'm still questioning the "gain God's approval" part. You see, the thrust of the article is gaining God's approval by our continued faithfulness through good works, preaching with zeal, etc. I read the article again just to see if I was mistaken, but I couldn't read it any other way. "Gaining" something means you don't have it, or you get more of what you already have.

If Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness is completely sufficient apart from human actions, then what could "gaining approval" possibly mean apart from such?

And yes, I agree that one must show their faith by their works, but this has nothing to do with gaining approval by God, as if you hadn't been fully approved through justification.

"To get God's approval, we must have faith. Faith is validated by works. (James 2:26) From where do works come? From our own free will. Thus, the article said 'gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will' not 'gaining God's approval comes from the proper exercise of our free will.'"

Either way, I would see such as unbiblical. There is no, "God has done his part, now its time to do yours" in the Bible. This may seem like a minute point, and I understand that. But Christ and the apostles spent a lot of time writing on the fact that salvation, including our "choice" to accept it, comes solely from God. And there is a good reason for this: God desires all the glory.

And this is why I raised Ezekiel 36:25-27, to show how our very obedience comes not from "exercise of free will," but from God's regenerating power to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

"Comparing Big Macs and cigarettes is comparing apples and oranges. Even an unhealthy hamburger provides nutrition and protein for the body. A cigarette has absolutely no positive effect. Cigarette smoking has killed millions, affects the mind, ruins the body, and harms one's neighbor."

So if it has a "positive effect," then this somehow changes the issue? Fast food has killed millions and ruined peoples lives. How is that not a valid comparison to smoking? Have you watched the documentary "Super Size Me?" One month of McDonalds almost killed a man. When is the last time one month of smoking killed someone?

The Apologetic Front said...

Guys, I really do appreciate your seeking to correct me on this. If it turns out that I am convinced by your corrections, then I will gladly adjust or take the blog article down. But i'm not convinced of that yet. Let me share a few reasons why and perhaps you can clarify further if need be.

StandFirm said,

"It says that the full benefits will accrue to those who gain God's approval. The 'full benefits' is bodily perfection in the new earth. God's approval comes from Christ's ransom, not in addition to. However, bodily perfection is not yet here. That is what is still future."

I pretty much agree with this. But i'm still questioning the "gain God's approval" part. You see, the thrust of the article is gaining God's approval by our continued faithfulness through good works, preaching with zeal, etc. I read the article again just to see if I was mistaken, but I couldn't read it any other way. "Gaining" something means you don't have it, or you get more of what you already have.

If Christ's atoning work and imputed righteousness is completely sufficient apart from human actions, then what could "gaining approval" possibly mean apart from such?

And yes, I agree that one must show their faith by their works, but this has nothing to do with gaining approval by God, as if you hadn't been fully approved through justification.

The Apologetic Front said...

"To get God's approval, we must have faith. Faith is validated by works. (James 2:26) From where do works come? From our own free will. Thus, the article said 'gaining God's approval involves the proper exercise of our free will' not 'gaining God's approval comes from the proper exercise of our free will.'"

Either way, I would see such as unbiblical. There is no, "God has done his part, now its time to do yours" in the Bible. This may seem like a minute point, and I understand that. But Christ and the apostles spent a lot of time writing on the fact that salvation, including our "choice" to accept it, comes solely from God. And there is a good reason for this: God desires all the glory.

And this is why I raised Ezekiel 36:25-27, to show how our very obedience comes not from "exercise of free will," but from God's regenerating power to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

"Comparing Big Macs and cigarettes is comparing apples and oranges. Even an unhealthy hamburger provides nutrition and protein for the body. A cigarette has absolutely no positive effect. Cigarette smoking has killed millions, affects the mind, ruins the body, and harms one's neighbor."

So if it has a "positive effect," then this somehow changes the issue? Fast food has killed millions and ruined peoples lives. How is that not a valid comparison to smoking? Have you watched the documentary "Super Size Me?" One month of McDonalds almost killed a man. When is the last time one month of smoking killed someone?

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

"See, you misunderstand what is meant by "desiring" God's approval."

I understand what you're saying. And please refer back to the blog to see what I wrote. My intention was to show how such a statement by the WT was misleading, not necessarily dead wrong. It gave the impression that one "desires God's approval" as if he or she did not fully have it already. Even if this was not the intent of the WT, it was misleading. And this is why I offered a different way of putting it.

As to smoking, prescription drugs, etc. I think you missed my point. I wasn't talking about controlled doses of drugs; I was speaking of the harmful and deadly side effects of taking many prescription drugs, period.

Of course, most Americans take prescription drugs in complete ignorance, as if the FDA's stamp of approval actually means anything. But many have held such ignorance with regards to fast food and smoking. The fact of the matter is, all three have resulted in death and harmful effects on the body. Yet only one will cause one to be disfellowshipped and ultimately destroyed at armageddon. Why?

And please don't misunderstand. I am not advocating smoking, fast food, or drugs. In fact, I very much oppose all three, and for good reasons. But somehow a JW smoking is a big "no-no" while another JW stuffing his face with KFC and McDonalds every day is a matter of conscience.

It may very well be that i'm "hyper-critical," as I have been guilty of in the past. And as I said in an earlier comment; if I can be shown this, then I will take this blog down.

FredTorres said...

"Gaining" something means you don't have it, or you get more of what you already have.
Not necessarily. Gaining salvation for those that are saved is possible in this sense...

Matthew 24:13 But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.

You confuse the progressive nature of exercising faith with doing work to be saved.

It is your contention that we do not choose to obey God, thus we do not choose to reject God. Is that correct?

So you put cooked meat,lettuce tomatoes, and bread, all things expressly allowed in the Bible on par with smoking. This is not a strong scriptural position. It is a personal one.

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

I'm not sure I see the parallel though. One who is already saved will continue to be saved all the way to the end. Similarly, one who has already been fully approved by God will remain in that approved state to the end. Thus, I would not say that one gains salvation in the end, because he has had it the whole time. This is why I see Matt. 24:13 as descriptive rather than prescriptive.

No, I believe that we do choose God, but only because he has caused us to do so, as Ezekiel 36:25-27 describes. This could hardly be described as "free will."

I agree that what you described isn't a scriptural position, which is why I believe the WT's disfellowshipping policies on smoking is unscriptural and inconsistent.

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike!

You said regarding Matthew 24:13 :

One who is already saved will continue to be saved all the way to the end.

So, is it true that He who does NOT endure to the end is NOT saved?

Having said that, your comment is another example of inferring a meaning into a text opposite of what is expressly stated.

If a man is already saved untill the end ,there is no need for endurance, from your vantage point. But this is contrary to explicit scripture recorded at Heb 10:36 For YOU have need of endurance, in order that, after YOU have done the will of God, YOU may receive the [fulfillment of the] promise.
This is descriptive of what is "needed", just like Mt 24:13.
So, if a man is saved today he is victorious today, but he can tire out, and not endure. Christians are counseled:
(1 Corinthians 9:24) . . .Do YOU not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that YOU may attain it.



Whether you choose to accept our view of this is one thing, but your blog does not represent our position.
......
2 Questions for you on free will..
If God causes you do to something, do you use your free will to choose God? If God causes someone to obey , does God cause someone to disobey?

......

You said:
I agree that what you described isn't a scriptural position, which is why I believe the WT's disfellowshipping policies on smoking is unscriptural and inconsistent.


Here, either you are being argumentative or you have again missed the point. I am describing your position, not the one presented in the article. You are the one drawing inconsistent moral equivalents between foods allowed by God, and a recreational "mind altering drug" (a class of drugs you reject on moral grounds,mind you.)If in fact I accept as true your statement that you reject medicinal cannibus on the grounds that it is "mind altering drug ", then you have no moral ground to reject the JW belief that Nicotine is immoral, and thus an immoral practice. And why do you argue this point? You do not appear to be a man of "Law" but rather of principle. Please, don't ask me to show you a scripture that says "Mickey D's special sauce" is forbidden by God. ;)

Anyway, I hope this helps. Hey, and while I can't speak for standfirm, I'm not asking that you do anything or remove something or what not. It's your world, boss. :)

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike:

So you must disagree with the notion that he that does NOT endure till the end is NOT saved. Would that be an accurate statement?

As in our prior discussion, you infer a meaning into a text opposite of what is expressly stated. Textually, nothing in Matthew 24:13 says what you say it means.

On the contrary, it means what it says, which is articulated here..(Hebrews 10:36) . . .For YOU have need of endurance, in order that, after YOU have done the will of God, YOU may receive the [fulfillment of the] promise.
From your viewpoint there is no "need" to endure. The text indicates the contrary: that one is saved today and victorious in such, but he must still act as described at (1 Corinthians 9:24) . . .Do YOU not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that YOU may attain it.

Again, you may not agree with us, but I don't think our views are presented in its full context in your review.

.......
2 Questions for you on free will:
If God causes a man to choose to obey, does He cause a man to choose to disobey?
If God causes a man to choose God, did the man use free will choose God?
............
You said.I agree that what you described isn't a scriptural position, which is why I believe the WT's disfellowshipping policies on smoking is unscriptural and inconsistent."

Either you are being argumentative or you have once again missed the point. What I had stated was your position, not the JW position. You are the one drawing moral equivancies between what God has expressly allowed in food for nourishment and a "mind altering drug" for recreational purposes(a class of substance that you reject on moral grounds, mind you). If I accept as true what you previously wrote, you should have no problem with our view of tobacco smoking as an immoral/ and unhealthy practice. So,why do you argue this point? You do not strike me as a man of "law",but rather, one of "principle." I will know for sure, if you ask me to cite you a scripture that says that it is a sin to eat Mickey D's special sauce. :)

Anyways, you get my point. Hope this helps. Oh, and while I can't speak for StandFirm, I'm not asking you to do anything or remove something from your blog.

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Fred,

I agree that one must endure to the end to be saved, but that is because it is within the new nature of a born again individual to do so. The following makes clear that one is already saved before one endures to the end:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
(John 5:24)

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
(Romans 5:1)

These verses coupled with Matt. 24:13 show that one is justified/forgiven/saved and will continue to remain in that state till the very end. And of course, if one does not endure, this would question whether one was ever saved to begin with.

As far as "free will," though there is no Scripture where God explicitly causes some to disbelieve, Romans 9:17-23 and John 12:40 speak of something very similar.

I'm still not understanding your point with regards to smoking. Yes, God has provisioned the eating of meat. But he has also warned us against defiling our bodies. And as you well know, one can abuse what God has provisioned. Fast food could very well be an abuse of such.

The point is simple:

1. Tobacco defiles ones body

2. Fast food defiles ones body

According to the WT, only one of these results in disfellowshipping and ultimately destruction at armageddon. Why?

StandFirm suggests that its "recreation" that prohibits smoking for Christians. And since our bodies need food, its not a parallel. But this is not always the case. Sometimes I go to the movies and eat a full box of candy. This is purely recreational, and i'm sure plenty of JW's eat recreationally as well. But I don't see any JW's getting disfellowshipped for poor recreational eating habits.

So, as far as I can honestly discern, the parallel still stands.

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Fred,

I agree that one must endure to the end to be saved, but that is because it is within the new nature of a born again individual to do so. The following makes clear that one is already saved before one endures to the end:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
(John 5:24)

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
(Romans 5:1)

These verses coupled with Matt. 24:13 show that one is justified/forgiven/saved and will continue to remain in that state till the very end. And of course, if one does not endure, this would question whether one was ever saved to begin with.

As far as "free will," though there is no Scripture where God explicitly causes some to disbelieve, Romans 9:17-23 and John 12:40 speak of something very similar.

The Apologetic Front said...

'm still not understanding your point with regards to smoking. Yes, God has provisioned the eating of meat. But he has also warned us against defiling our bodies. And as you well know, one can abuse what God has provisioned. Fast food could very well be an abuse of such.

The point is simple:

1. Tobacco defiles ones body

2. Fast food defiles ones body

According to the WT, only one of these results in disfellowshipping and ultimately destruction at armageddon. Why?

StandFirm suggests that its "recreation" that prohibits smoking for Christians. And since our bodies need food, its not a parallel. But this is not always the case. Sometimes I go to the movies and eat a full box of candy. This is purely recreational, and i'm sure plenty of JW's eat recreationally as well. But I don't see any JW's getting disfellowshipped for poor recreational eating habits.

So, as far as I can honestly discern, the parallel still stands.

StandFirm said...

FredTorres:
"Oh, and while I can't speak for StandFirm, I'm not asking you to do anything or remove something from your blog."

I agree, that is up to him.

The Apologetic Front:
"1. Tobacco defiles ones body
2. Fast food defiles ones body"


Fast food may not be the healthiest, but it does not 'defile the body' anywhere the amount that smoking does. See below.

"StandFirm suggests that its "recreation" that prohibits smoking for Christians. And since our bodies need food, its not a parallel. But this is not always the case. Sometimes I go to the movies and eat a full box of candy. This is purely recreational, and i'm sure plenty of JW's eat recreationally as well. But I don't see any JW's getting disfellowshipped for poor recreational eating habits."

Actually, my position is that cigarettes and abused drugs:

1. Greatly harm the body and kill and have no positive effect.

2. Affect one's power of reason.

3. Are unloving to one's neighbor.

Fast food and candy do have positive effects, do not have negative effects anywhere near the amount cigarettes do, do not affect the mind, and don't pollute the air our fellow man breathes.

The Apologetic Front said...

StandFirm, if you want to see how naive your view is about fast food, namely that it "does not defile the body anywhere the amount that smoking does," then watch the documentaries "super size me" and "Food inc." One man eats fast food for a month and almost dies. Please show me where anyone has smoked for a month and almost died, or a year for that matter.

And to say that fast food doesn't affect one's power of reason is extremely naive as well. Fast food is littered with harmful chemicals to lead people to addiction. This is why you can eat a super-sized combo at McDonalds and still be hungry for ice cream.

Yet, you still think that smoking cigarettes warrants disfellowshipping and all the consequences that result from?

FredTorres said...

Hey Mike:

(Romans 5:1)and (John 5:24) are texts which teach what they say. That he who believes and hears has eternal life. That is all they say,so I believe that. But you say it means once I believe I will always believe. Again, you infer a meaning that is textually unwarranted. Please interact with the concept articulated in Heb 10:36 and 1 Cor 9:24.
.........
If God causes a man to disbelieve,then
God is responsible and the man should not be credited with the disbelief, just as you believe that a man has no role in belief.
Do you accept this proposition?
............

On your review, you said..
"Why is eating at McDonald's not mentioned? Is the Watchtower prepared to defend the idea that smoking a cigarette is more harmful than a few meals at McDonald's?"
So you moved the bar.

Even so, abusing things God sanctions is immoral. Sexual behavior is sanctioned by God, within confines of heterosexual marriage. In the case of abuse of consumption of any food, it would be called gluttony, where in each case it could indeed lead to some type of congregational "counsel" and or sanction.
Also, your current parallel does not work on various levels because you are comparing Something that God expressly allows to a known poison.
God allows meat,therefore it does not defile the body. God does not allow nicotine, because it defiles the body.
If you follow your own logic, eating fast food once a week equals having illicit sexual relations once a week, because both are abuses of something God allows.
You need to think about what you are implying argumentation wise.

BTW, if you get busy this weekend we can always catch up next week. Have a great evening

Anonymous said...

Standfirm:

Hi there my brother.

Hope you are well, and greetings from the great state of Texas, Longhorn country.

Have a great day in the ministry tomorrow. :)

FredTorres said...

Standfirm:

Sorry, the messasge above is from me, Fred.

BTW, the Documentary "Supersize Me" is really good. You will swear off Mcnuggets for good before you are through watching it. It is not relevant to our discussion, IMHO, but it is worth checking out if you havent already.

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Fred, I think i'm gonna just let you have the last word on this one due to the fact that i'm trying to balance how far I take my online discussions.

I do hope that you'll stick around and interact with my future posts as I really enjoy conversing with you. Hope you have a great rest of your week! If you don't hear from me again, its because I got stampeded on Friday (I work retail)

Fred said...

Hey there Mike:

Black Friday....
Lord have mercy on you. I gone with my wife several times when she cant get her friends out there. It's krazy.

Absolutely understand partner. We live in the real world, not behind a keyboard.

take care,
Fred

StandFirm said...

Hello Brother Torres! Greetings from the soon-to-be-frozen North. It's only about 35 degrees here.

L said...

My brothers, here are the key issues:

Salvation - the work of salvation is God's Work. No one can come to Christ unless the 'Father draws Him'. In turn, coming to Christ allows reconciliation with the Father. A proud person will resist the 'drawing' of the Spirit, and thus resist the Good News about Jesus.

Endurance - of course endurance is key. It does not relate to our reconciliation with God, but it is a key requirement for saved Christians. Paul himself knew that he must endure. Phil 3:11-14. But even still, true endurance will only be possible with God's assistance by Christ Jesus.

Works - works never save us (as in reconcile us with God). If they did, Christ died for nothing. They are simply part of how we show our appreciation to our Father.

Smoking - if Scripture is not dogmatic about something, neither should we be. Matt 15:11. Romans 14:1-6. Each Christian's conscience should be able to make a judgement on this issue, as they both study and pray. Coffee and Coca Cola contain caffeine, which is mind altering, addictive, and unnecessary for life. Do you feel someone should be shunned for drinking coffee?

Let us all grow up into Him who is the Head, and be unified as one Body.

Mike Felker said...

Everyone, my apologies for some of the comments not going through. I just noticed that blogger flagged some of them as spam without notifying me. They should all have shown up now. Thanks for understanding.

-The Apologetic Front