15 "Commands of Men"
Posted by Mike on July 30, 1999 at 23:44:49
1. Two hopes
Their teaching that there are two hopes for Christians. The apostles taught that there was only "one hope" for all Christians. (Eph. 4:4-6) The apostles also forbid anyone to teach differently than they taught. Since Jehovah's Witnesses teach differently than the apostles on the issue of how many hopes there are for Christians, their two hopes/two classes of Christians teaching is contrary to the scriptures and must be regarded as a "command of men."
2. Forbidding to accept blood
Their forbidding their members to accept blood transfusions. It is widely understood by all Christian groups except Jehovah's Witnesses that the instructions recorded in Acts 15:29, "Keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication," were written as strong advise to new Gentile Christians as a way they could avoid offending Jewish Christians. We know this by reading the context. Acts 15:19, 20 says, "My decision is not to trouble those of the NATIONS who are turning to God, but to write THEM to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood." It is plain that these words were not written as a binding decree imposed upon Christians. We know this because Paul later said that early Christians were in fact free to eat things sacrificed to idols so long as doing so did not stumble their brothers. (1 Cor. 8:4,7-9) We also know this because Paul said that for Christians, "All things are lawful but all things are not beneficial." (1 Cor. 6:12) Thus, Jehovah's Witnesses ban on blood is not scriptural. It must therefore be regarded as a "command of men."
3. Signs of the end
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that crime, wars, contagious disease, earthquakes, famine and the like are signs of Christ's second coming and have been much worse since the year 1914 than in past generations. They teach that this proves that Christ returned in that year. The facts show that this is a misunderstanding of scripture. Read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 carefully and you will find that what Jesus was really saying is that such conditions would exist all the way up to the time of his return and would not be signs of his return at all. He warned his disciples that they should not be worried by such things. He said, "These things must take place but the end will not come right away." (Luke 21:9) He compared the difficult times to come to "birth pains." (Mt. 24:8) For just as a woman must often undergo a long painful period of time before she finally gives birth, so Jesus indicated that our world had much pain to endure before Christ would finally return. To support their "composite sign of Christ's invisible presence" interpretation of scripture the Watchtower Society has shamelessly played with crime, war, disease and earthquake statistics ever since it first began in an attempt to prove their contentions. The truth is, however, since 1914 none of these problems has gotten worse and most have gotten much better compared to past generations. An objective study of scripture and history clearly shows that the Society's "composite sign" interpretation is not a teaching of scripture but a tradition of men.
4. The name "Jehovah's Witnesses"
The name "Jehovah's Witnesses" was taken from God's words to Israel recorded in Isaiah 43:10. Giving a Christian group such a name runs contrary to the teachings of scripture in several ways. First, as mentioned, those were God's words to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. The Bible tells us that Christians are to be witnesses of Jesus just as the Jews were witnesses of Jehovah. Jesus said, "You will be witnesses of me." (Acts 1:8) And the Bible itself tells us that it was "by divine providence," by God's own direction, that His people in the post-Jewish age would be known by the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 11:26) Using the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" is a command of men which is contrary to scripture.
5. The date 1914
Teaching that Christ returned in 1914 is clearly a tradition of men, and insisting that all Jehovah's Witnesses accept this traditional teaching is certainly a command of men. This is too long of a subject to go into here. But as all Bible students who study this teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses in an unbiased way have discovered, this teaching is not supported by either history or scripture.
6. Resurrection in 1918
The same can be said about the teaching that the Christian resurrection occurred in 1918. Paul said that those who teach that "the resurrection has already occurred" have "deviated from the truth" and "are subverting the faith." (2 Tim. 2:18) Jehovah's Witnesses teach that "the resurrection has already occurred." Thus, the teaching that the resurrection occurred in 1918 is a tradition of men is clearly unscriptural, and the Watchtower Society's demand that all Jehovah's Witnesses accept this teaching must then be regarded as a "command of men."
7. Appointment of "faithful slave" in 1919
The teaching that Jesus appointed the men who run the Watchtower Society as his "faithful slave" "over all his belongings" in 1919 is not clearly taught in scripture. Thus, it too must be regarded as a teaching of men, not of God. Without any clear statements in scripture that Christ ever made such an appointment, such claims by the Watchtower Society are extremely presumptuous. And the Bible tells us that God hates presumptuousness. (Isaiah 13:11)
8. Use of name "Jehovah"
The Watchtower Society's use of the name "Jehovah" is not scriptural. They have added the name "Jehovah" many times to the text of the New Testament even though they admit that, "... no early surviving Greek manuscript of the 'New Testament' contains the personal name of God." (The Watchtower March 1, 1991 p. 28) The Watchtower Society has said that they believe that the apostles used the divine name in their original writings but that their original writings were corrupted. However this contradicts what the Society itself has said. The Society tells us that, "Jehovah God has seen to it that his Word has been protected not only from mistakes copyists made but also from attempts of others to make additions to it. The Bible itself contains God's promise that his Word would be kept in a pure form for us today." (You Can Live For Ever in Paradise on Earth, 1982 p. 53) So, the fact is that Jehovah's Witnesses had no business inserting the name Jehovah into the New Testament portions of their New World Translations when that name is not found in any early surviving Greek manuscript of the New Testament. Historians tell us that the personal name of God, as used in the Old Testament, was not used in either its written or spoken form for many years before the time of Christ. Because the Jews were afraid overuse of the divine name might amount to "taking the name of the Lord in vain" they actually forbid its use altogether. Historians tell us that by the time of Christ the divine name was no longer used. The Watchtower Society admits the divine name is not found in any ancient New Testament manuscript. And they tell us that God saw to it that his word was not corrupted by copyists. The Bible tells us that for Christians the name of Jesus should be promoted above every name. (Phil. 2:9) Jehovah's Witnesses do not do this. Their putting the name Jehovah into their New World Translations and promoting that name above every name, rather than the name of Jesus, as the Bible says Christians should be doing, is clearly a tradition of men. The Watchtower Society's insistence that all Jehovah's Witnesses do the same is clearly a "command of men."
9. Preaching door-to-door
Jehovah's Witnesses insist that all their members must regularly engage in their work of preaching and disciple making. However, the Bible says that God gave only "some as evangelists" and only "some as teachers." (Eph. 4:11) Though all true Christians will certainly be moved to share their faith with others when the opportunity arises, the teaching that all Christians are required by God to regularly serve as door-to-door preachers contradicts the scriptures and so must also be regarded as a command of men.
10. Reporting of time
On this same line of thought, demanding that all who do share their faith with others keep track of their time doing so, and then report the number of hours they do so each month to their congregations is also contrary to the teachings of scripture. Jesus taught that when we give we should not let others know what we give. And he said that those who let others know what good works they are doing already have their reward in full. But he said those who give in secret will be rewarded by their father in heaven. (Mt. 6:1-4) Jehovah's Witnesses who are "regular publishers" let their elders know exactly how much time they spend preaching. Jehovah's Witnesses who are "Pioneers" let everyone in their congregations know how many hours they preach just by the act of "Pioneering." The Watchtower Society encourages this kind of "trumpet blowing," contrary to the teachings of Christ. Because they do, the Watchtower Society's telling all Jehovah's Witnesses to report the time they spend preaching is not scriptural and must then be regarded as a command of men.
11. Legalistic prohibitions
Jehovah's Witnesses are not even allowed to decide for themselves if they will give their mother a card on Mother's Day or celebrate their child's first Birthday. This is not Christianity. It is legalistic Phariseeism. Jehovah's Witnesses deprive their members of their Christian freedom through many legalistic teachings of men such as these. The Bible says that "Where the Spirit of God is there is freedom." (2 Cor. 3:17) With this verse in mind, since freedom of action, thought and speech to disagree with the Watchtower Society even in minor matters such as these, does not exist among Jehovah's Witnesses, we can only view the many legalistic prohibitions, which the Watchtower Society imposes on Jehovah's Witnesses, as commands of men, not commands of God.
12. More prohibitions
Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to let any member of the military or police join their religion even though the first Gentile accepted into the Christian congregation was a Roman army officer. Peter baptized Cornelius without ever demanding that he first resign from the military. (Acts 10) The fact that Jehovah's Witnesses treat baptismal candidates differently than Peter did shows that, in this area also, they teach commands of men as doctrine. (Matt. 15:9)
13. Disfellowshipping policies
Jehovah's Witnesses "disfellowship" people for things never mentioned in the Bible. Jehovah's Witnesses have been disfellowshipped for using tobacco, for celebrating Christmas, for working for a Christian charitable organization and, more and more often today, simply admitting that they doubt the Watchtower Society's claim that it is God's exclusive channel for truth on the earth. Disfellowshipping and then shunning people for such unbiblical reasons clearly shows that the Watchtower Society's disfellowshipping policies are also commands of men, not commands of God.
14. Only JWs survive
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that only they are considered by God to be Christians and that only they have any hope of surviving Armageddon. Some of Jehovah's Witnesses actually deny the Society teaches this. However, as any well informed member of Jehovah's Witnesses knows, they do. As the Sept. 1, 1989 issue of the Watchtower tells us on page 19, "Only Jehovah's Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the 'great crowd,' as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil." Jehovah's Witnesses have consistently taught that all members of Christendom's Churches, who are still its members when Armageddon strikes, will be destroyed by God. This amounts to judging and condemning others in the worst way. Who God accepts as Christians and who he will execute at Armageddon is a judgment that is God's to make, not ours. Jesus commanded his followers to "Stop judging and you will not be judged," and "stop condemning and you will not be condemned." (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37) Jehovah's Witnesses' teaching that God only accepts the worship of Jehovah's Witnesses, only considers them to be Christians and that only they "have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system," is not a teaching of Scripture and, in fact, is totally contrary to the teachings of Christ. Thus, this too must be considered to be a teaching of men and not of God.
15. Attend five meetings every week
Jehovah's Witnesses insist that all of its members attend five one hour long meetings every week, as well as various assemblies and conventions throughout the year. If they do not they are considered to be spiritually weak or spiritually sick. Though the Bible encourages Christians to not forsake gathering together, nowhere in the Bible are Christians told that they must attend five meetings a week. The Watchtower Society's insistence that all Jehovah's Witnesses do so must then also be regarded as a "command of men."
And, as Jesus said, "It is in vain that they keep worshipping" God "because they teach commands of men as doctrines." (Mt.15:9) Feel free to add to this list.