Bible Alone and JW’s

Do the advocates for bible alone, or sola scripture in any form, truly not see how this philosophy sets up the trajectory that is inevitably going to end up looking JW-ish?

JW’s are staunch bible alone advocates, albeit distorted bibles, but bible alone none the less. Remember, they began using the KJV.

Most people report the founder of the JW’s to be Charles Russell and while this is correct to some degree, the distortion really begins slightly before him with a man named Henry Grew. If you research Grew you will see, and JW documentation concurs, that Grew began as a Baptist preacher around 1804. It was Grew, as JW’s report, in 1811 learned through self-study of scripture that the teaching of the Trinity was false.

I have tried to show this correlation in the past and failed miserably but with all due respect to my brothers and sisters in Christ, What am I missing?

Peace to all!!!

I think your premise could work, but you might want to tailor it more to a group who is actually Christian. What I mean is that you should show how even though one group says they are Bible Alone and pull all their traditions straight from the Bible, another group could say the complete opposite and pull their traditions from the Bible as well.

Infant Baptism vs. Adult Baptism is a good place to start, and not the theological merits of either, but just how you can have two groups say two completely different things about the topic using the same source material. Then ask them if they believe there can be only one Truth, and if there is, who has it, if one is right, then one has to be wrong, and how to they determine the difference? We have the Magisterium, but they have Pastor Joe Bob who may or may not be right because when HE reads scripture it says to baptize infants, but Pastor Jimmy Ray reads scripture to say that infant baptism is of Da Debil!

In my mind, the need for a central, authoritative interpreter of scripture is absolutely necessary when you look at it in these terms, and is also why one can’t be simply Bible Alone.

I see JW’s as a part of the fundamentalist movement that splintered off. Charles Russel Taze was involved with the Seven Day Adventist movement before he began his bible study society. Garbage in, garbage out.

I’m not sure if I agree with you. My view of the JW’s is less sola scripture more a form of ‘magisterium’ which resides in their ‘watchtower organisation’, many JW’s will say that they are bible alone, that may even be an official teaching of the watchtower;), I don’t know, but the fact is that when push comes to shove they have an interpretative body who have the final say. To my mind most non-dom sola scriptura protestant types wouldn’t accept the role the watchtower organisation plays in the life of practicing JW’s

Your point, adf, is a trenchant one.

JWs love to state, “If I were raised on a desert island, and a Bible fell into my lap, I would never conclude from reading its pages that Jesus is part of a Trinity.”

They are absolutely correct.

And non-Catholic Christians who espouse Sola Scriptura cannot argue coherently with a JW on this point.

It is only through reading the Scriptures through the lens of the Catholic Church that one can distill the dogma of the Trinity from its pages.

I am asking this of any Christian who considers “bible alone” a viable argument. I already know what the JW would say.

While I would certainly agree, I would like to sincerely hear from the “bible alone” advocates refuting this premise or at least show the trajectory described could not have originated from Protestant theology. I know - there is no such thing as Protestant theology, so whatever you want to call the commonality that ALL of Protestantism share that makes them non-Catholic.

I say all of this with the deepest of charity and respect. Please forgive me if my terms or wording seems otherwise.

Peace!!!

To be fair a viewpoint of ecclesiology being equal with scripture has never stopped schisms or different churches forming. But it certaintly has prevented the massive amount of schism and disassociation in denominations we see between virtually all major protestant groups since the reformation.

But if scripture is to be the final authority, by which no man’s opinion or exposition of the bible is to be trusted, no matter how learned, no matter how ancient this understanding is, no matter how well he argues then you allow for the Jehovah’s witnesses to exist as a neccessary consequence of people reading the bible by themselves and coming to this understanding. I will be fair however and say you also allow for people to read the bible by themselves without any sort of outside help and come to a correct understanding as well.

I don’t think sola scriptura has any inevitable trajectory toward anti-Trinitarianism, but anti-Trinitarianism reliably crops up every time there’s a new movement among Protestants.

From the beginning, Protestantism has tended to go through a cycle:

  1. Radical critique of the status quo based on Scripture and/or the need for a more direct relationship with Jesus;

  2. Irreconcilable conflicts, not only between the critics and the status quo but among the critics about the precise form renewed Christianity should take;

  3. The emergence of at least one (usually more) new “establishment” with its own institutions and traditions, which then serves as the status quo against which a future movement will revolt in the name of Scripture.

Every time this happens, the Trinity is one of the things that gets questioned. In fact, that’s pretty reliably one of the reasons why the new movement becomes disunified itself.

I’m not sure that this is exactly the same thing you’re saying. If you’re saying something else, maybe you could explain a bit more.

I would certainly have to agree with this statement from the original intended purpose of SS, but as we see what has now become inevitable, the divisions within Protestantism that also was not originally intended either.

My extreme view of the anti-Trinitarian trajectory is simply a parallel view of the progression (or digression if you wish) of Protestantism.

Catholicism to Lutheranism - papal supremacy
Lutheranism to Calvinism - Eucharistic differences
Calvinism to Anabaptist - effects of baptism
…and so on to JW’s - the deity of Christ

Does this explain better?

Peace!!!

Yes, but that’s only one trajectory. It’s not as if all Protestants are JWs.

What I’m uncomfortable with is the implication that somehow JWs are more “truly” following sola scriptura than Trinitarian Protestants are. I don’t think there is a “true” implementation of sola scriptura. (You may not be saying this.)

Edwin

JW do not believe in sola sriptura. Charles Taze (their founder) had this to say about his writings as opposed to the Bible alone:

“Not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years - if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”

The Watchtower again in 1981 had this to say about the danger of reading the Bible alone:

“From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah’s people those who, like the original Satan, have adopted an independent, faultfinding attitude…They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such ‘Bible reading,’ they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom’s clergy were teaching 100 years ago…”

Sadly, their leaders have no authority to interpret the Bible yet they have convinced millions of people that they do. They could make good Catholics one day, seeing that they have obedience to a higher authority.

Edit, the thing about them and the Bible is that they do not like it when people introduce an idea that cannot be shown in the Bible. They think that Pagan infuence is rampant in “Christendom”.

Theophorus had it right:

My view of the JW’s is less sola scripture more a form of ‘magisterium’ which resides in their ‘watchtower organisation’

the fact is that when push comes to shove they have an interpretative body who have the final say.

adf417, your question is premised on an imperfect understanding of JW authority structures. If it worries you that people can unquestioning believe an absolute authority which gives it self the power to define dogma, then worry about Roman Catholicism.

JWs love to state, “If I were raised on a desert island, and a Bible fell into my lap, I would never conclude from reading its pages that Jesus is part of a Trinity.”

They are absolutely correct.

PRmerger is absolutely incorrect. John 1:1-2,14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

That clearly says Jesus was with God, and that Jesus was God.

That’s why it’s important to ask “which” bible fell into the desert man’s lap.

Was it the one with extra words such as yours and “All [other] things were created through Him”? Or would it be one that stays true to the Greek?

That’s why it’s important to ask “which” bible fell into the desert man’s lap.

Was it the one with extra words such as yours and “All [other] things were created through Him”? Or would it be one that stays true to the Greek?

:slight_smile: Heart Foam likes this. +1

I’m not familiar with JW Bibles, but that’s Colossians 1:16-17. Do you know if they change John 1 too?

Sadly, their leaders have no authority to interpret the Bible yet they have convinced millions of people that they do.

I’m sure they say the same thing about the Catholic magisterium.

The subject of this discussion raises one of the typical problems of mainstream protestantism: insisting on belief in the Trinity as true Christianity while maintaining a policy of ‘sola scriptura’. Some would argue that the Trinity is implied by Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…]” I don’t think this verse alone gives us enough data to formulate the Trinity from scratch. If that was the case then the ecumenical councils of Nicea and Constantinople of the fourth century wouldn’t have been necessary.

Of course Heart Foam the difference is the Catholic Church was given founded by Christ Himself, he also gave it the Magisterium. Charles Taze Russell founded his JW church and gave it the power it has.

the difference is the Catholic Church was given founded by Christ Himself, he also gave it the Magisterium.

But that’s not an argument, it’s assertion. The JWs would say that Rome got it wrong, and Catholicism is unrecognizable from the first century church (if nothing else, I agree with them on that), which JWs are restoring. They believe that only their religion represents true Christianity which is guided by God. The Society is to be trusted as “God’s organization” - you make the same claim for the infallible magisterium. So far you are equal.

JW adherents are told to have “complete confidence” in the leadership, and avoid skepticism about what is taught in the Watch Tower Society’s literature. And Catholics must submit intellect and will to Rome - obsequium religiosum. Again, equal.

Sure JWs has been criticized for being totalitarian, and that it suppresses free thought (but then again, Rome is nothing if not totalitarian), and Watch Tower Society publications state that “consensus of faith” - a euphemism for unquestioning obedience - aids unity. Unity is front and center in Catholic minds too.

Pacloc said they’d make good Catholics. The reverse must also be true.

God bless,
Stephen

I agree all Protestants are not JWs. I hope I have not implied that in the least.

Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, quite the opposite! The trajectory implies a start point and a path followed. Start point being Luther’s rendition of SS, path followed being subsequent divisions using same theology.

For those reporting that JWs do not follow “bible alone” but follow their rendition of a magisterium, I say this. A magisterium just does not begin all of a sudden. There is a formation to this, something similar to the magisterium in the CC less the HS. As stated in the OP Russell, though a key figure within the organizational and magisterial aspect, feed off of Henry Grew’s finding of “there is no Trinity” after he single handedly studied the bible and “learned this”. In years to come their version of magisterium would develop off this finding and subsequently report what pacloc has reported above.

Peace!!!

Then, Stephen, you ought to be trembling at the dogma which the CC defined called the 27 book canon of the NT.

If you cannot trust that the CC did not err in this, then you cannot know a single thing about Christ and His Revelation.

Also, could you please learn how to post without removing the original poster’s name? Each person’s responses ought to be easily attributable to its source. Authorship of said posts is of great import.

Thanks.

And yet there are a multitude of denominations which read this and come to a personal and “private judgment” that this is not a Trinitiarian God that is being referenced in this verse.

To wit:

answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090601100200AAJHbNJ

And you, of course, as a great proponent of “private judgment” (see here) cannot argue with their right to read this verse and come to a decision that this is NOT a reference to the Trinity.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.