Resources for dealing with JWs


#22

Well, the Cross and Christmas origins are things you will have to research. There is certainly a lot of debate on the subjects!

The Greek word used for the instrument of Jesus execution was Stauros and it usually meant just a pole - while others argue exceptions. As I say - some debate on that.
The main reason we don’t promote it in worship however, is we consider that idolatry.
One thing is for certain - the cross was a religious symbol long before Jesus and didn’t become commonly associated with Christianity until hundreds of years after Jesus death. Sort of the time when Emperor Constantine started promoting Christianity to unify his empire.

Christmas popped up at that time too. It adopted lots of the customs of the Roman festival of Saturnalia which concluded on December 25. That’s where the date came from.
While the Bible is very specific about remembering Jesus death and the exact date of it (Nisan 14) - there is no mention of the date of Jesus birth or any Christians celebrating it.

Constantine was no fool. He knew if he was going to unify his empire under one religion he would have to keep Christians and pagans happy. He was a Sun worshiper himself. That’s related to him making Sun-day the special day of worship.
But don’t take my word on it. Check it out in Encyclopedias.

It’s all quite fascinating when you start digging into it!

Here is the official JW explanation on their website if you like:

I will address your other good questions about “the end of the world” later if you like. Thanks for your thoughts. :grinning:


#23

Hello.

As far as the cross goes it is NOT idolatry and to say that it is idolatry is a blasphemy. We acknowledge that the cross has no “magic powers” or is God, rather it is just a reminder of Jesus and His holy presence. We bow to the cross to show respect to the Christ, however this is not idolatry because we are not worshiping the cross, we are worshiping God. It is like how a little boy misses his mother and kisses a picture of her. The boy knows fully that the picture is not his mother, but he knows it is an image of his mother.

Concerning Christmas being pagan, I ask you this question: After centuries of the Church’s persecution for not observing pagan holidays, where is the proof of influence?

I will try to get back with you tomorrow on this subject, for it is way passed my bed time. If you want to talk to a priest about your objections there are a few on the site.


#24

I’m not aware of any dissent from the 2000-year old tradition that Jesus died on a cross until the Watchtower Society decided it was a stake. As for Christmas, we know Christ was born. We celebrate His birth. It doesn’t matter which or what pre-Christian festival was observed on that particular day thousands of years ago. It only matter what it is now. Now, December 25 is for Christ. It’s not pagan, and there is nothing wrong with celebrating it.


#25

It’s fascinating to now know that this is a common practice within jw evangelizing. I had two come to my door and I clearly was more knowledgeable than them in theology.

Eventually they stated criticizeing me for not preaching the gospel. I told them that I do, but I encouraged them to understand that unless they believe that Jesus is the “I am He” that he claimed to be then they will die in their sins.

They stayed stuck on this idea that I should go to their house if I wanna teach them the Gospel. It was quite odd. I was there right then at that time. Why couldn’t they answer my questions? Why were they so afraid to even open their Bibles to look at the passages that I was trying to tell them about?

Anyways, your comment seems to confirm that this is a common rebuttal. It doesn’t really make much sense though.


#28

I’m sorry, I’m no Catholic, and I find aspects of Canon not to my taste, but this is just a bizarre claim. I wish Catholic teaching would change in some regards, but it doesn’t, and has remained pretty stable for a very long time (for better and for worse).


#29

While the Greek words used for the cross in the New Testament are not specific about its shape (“stauros” = stake / pole and “xulon” = timber / tree), there are several evidential clues offered in the scripture to help us understand the true shape of Jesus’ cross.

Before we look at the evidence related to the cross, we need to examine the many ways Roman executed criminals on wooden structures of one kind or another throughout history. Josephus, when writing about the siege of Jerusalem ion 70AD, acknowledged the fact Roman soldiers used a variety of methods and stake shapes to execute their prisoners:

“(The Jews caught outside the walls of Jerusalem) were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city … the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5.11.1).

In addition, the first-century Roman philosopher, Seneca the Younger, described crucifixions in a variety of ways:
“I see before me crosses not all alike, but differently made by different peoples: some hang a man head downwards, some force a stick upwards through his groin, some stretch out his arms on a forked gibbet” (Seneca the Younger, “To Marcia on Consolation”, in Moral Essays, 6.20).

The Romans typically employed one of four shapes:

I – Crux Simplex
Sometimes they used a single upright stake or post and either nailed or tied their victim (in some cases this may have simply been to the trunk of a tree). With this shape of wood, the victim’s hands could be tied or nailed quite simply with a single piece of rope or a single nail, as many Jehovah’s Witnesses suggest.

T – Crux Commissa
Sometimes the Roman soldiers used a Crux Commissa (“connected cross”). This is also referred to as “St. Anthony’s Cross” or the “Tau Cross” (after the Greek letter “Tau” it resembles). This structure was constructed from a horizontal beam connected at the top of the vertical stake, forming a “T” shape. Victims were nailed to the T with arms outstretched on either side of the horizontal beam. Their feet were either nailed together or separately to the bottom of the vertical post.

  • – Crux Immissa
    Similar to the Crux Commissa, this third shape is the traditional form Christians observe for the cross (“Immissa” means “inserted”). This cross was constructed from a vertical stake with a horizontal cross beam (called a “patibulum”) inserted across the upper portion, leaving a “tip” extending above the patibulum. Sometimes this tip was little more than a small extension, resulting in a structure still resembling a “T” more than a “+”. Victims were nailed to the structure with arms outstretched on either side of the patibulum. Their feet were either nailed together or separately to the bottom of the vertical post.

#30

X – Crux Decussata
This “X” shaped cross (also known as “St. Andrew’s Cross”) borrowed its name from the Roman numeral ten (“decussis”). Two wooden planks were fastened together in an X configuration and the victim’s were nailed to the cross with arms outstretched on top ends of the X. Their feet were either nailed or tied separately to the bottom ends of the X.

So, which of these shapes were used for Jesus’ cross? While the data is limited, I do think the traditional shape (the “Crux Immissa”) is the best inference from evidence for the following reasons:

The Limits of Linguistic Evidence:
The Greek words used in the New Testament place no restrictions on which shape we must infer. Like other languages, the original meaning of the terms “stauros” and “xulon” changed over time. Homer, for example, lived sometime between the 12th and 9th Centuries BC. In his day, the term “stauros” simply meant “pole”. But by the time of Christ, the Romans were still using the Greek language even though they modified many of the words to give them broader meaning. The Greeks did not use crucifixion as a form of execution. When the Romans used this method of punishment, they had to modify the existing Greek terminology to suit their purposes. As New Testament Greek scholar, Dr. David Black says:

“(The original meaning of a word) used alone, cannot adequately account for the meaning of a word since meaning is continuously subject to change.… It is therefore mandatory for the New Testament student to know whether the original meaning of a word still exists at a later stage.… Hence it is not legitimate to say that the ‘original’ meaning of a word is its ‘real’ meaning” (David Alan Black Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1988, 1995, p.122).

For this reason, Kittel’s Theological Dictionary defines “stauros” in the following way:

“In shape we find three basic forms. The cross was a vertical, pointed stake… or it consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it… or it consisted of two intersecting beams of equal length…” (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Volume 7, 1971, p. 572).

In order to know precisely which shape of wood was used to crucify Jesus, we need to look at the cumulative case from other evidences.


#31

The Descriptions of Ancient Non-Biblical Sources:
A number of ancient non-Biblical sources eliminate at least one form of the cross (“Crux Simplex”) and make another form (“Crux Decussata”) unlikely. Let’s take a look at them in order of antiquity:

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (60BC to sometime after 7BC)
A Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric who lived at the time of the birth of Jesus, offers the following description of how the condemned were led to execution on what appears to be a “Crux Commissa,” or “Crux Immissa”:

“A Roman citizen of no obscure station, having ordered one of his slaves to be put to death, delivered him to his fellow-slaves to be led away, and in order that his punishment might be witnessed by all, directed them to drag him through the Forum and every other conspicuous part of the city as they whipped him, and that he should go ahead of the procession which the Romans were at that time conducting in honour of the god. The men ordered to lead the slave to his punishment, having stretched out both his arms and fastened them to a piece of wood which extended across his breast and shoulders as far as his wrists, followed him, tearing his naked body with whips.” (Roman Antiquities, VII, 69:1-2)
Dionysius used the word “xulon” for the horizontal “patibulum”.

The Epistle of Barnabas (90-135AD)
This pseudepigraphic letter, used by many Christians in the early Church, described the shape of the cross as it was understood very early in history:

“For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hundred In the eighteen ‘I’ stands for ten, ‘H’ for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). And because the cross in the ‘T’ was to have grace, He saith also three hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross.” (Barnabas 9:7)

The author, referring to the story of Abraham in the Old Testament, analogized the cross of Jesus to the letter “T” (which had the numeric value of 300). For this writer, the cross of Jesus had a cross beam like the “Crux Commissa,” or “Crux Immissa”. In addition, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas referenced Exodus 17:11-12 and wrote:

“And He saith again in Moses, when war was waged against Israel by men of another nation, and that He might remind them when the war was waged against them that for their sins they were delivered unto death; the Spirit saith to the heart of Moses, *that he should make a type of the cross and of Him that was to suffer, that unless, saith He, they shall set their hope on Him, war shall be waged against them for ever. Moses therefore pileth arms one upon another in the midst of the encounter, and standing on higher ground than any he stretched out his hands, and so Israel was again victorious. Then, whenever he lowered them, they were slain with the sword.” (Barnabas 12:2)


#32

In this passage, the author again analogized the cross of Jesus with a passage from the Old Testament (this time from the life of Moses), interpreting the shape of Jesus’ cross as requiring “he stretched out his hands”. This would be the case in either the “Crux Commissa,” “Crux Immissa,” or “Crux Decussata”.


#33

Wow! Thanks dallas_r.
You have done some pretty thorough research there!

The common denominator: All were pretty awful ways to die! :frowning_face:
With that in mind, I don’t quite get why people want to be reminded of the way Jesus died instead of what his death meant. If he had been shot with a gun would we venerate a picture of a gun?

As for the shape, My research contribution is from “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words” (the Italics are mine)

"Cross, Crucify

[ A-1,Noun,G4716, stauros ]
denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake." On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, “to fasten to a stake or pale,” are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed “cross.” The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the “cross” of Christ.

As for the Chi, or X, which Constantine declared he had seen in a vision leading him to champion the Christian faith, that letter was the initial of the word “Christ” and had nothing to do with “the Cross” (for xulon, “a timber beam, a tree,” as used for the stauros, See under TREE). "

So yeah - as I said, there are a lot of different opinions on the subject.
The stuff on ‘symbols of pagan gods’ rings alarm bells with me. :grimacing:


#34

I have worked out how to quote! Rejoice with me! :grin:
For my next trick I will have to work out how to add cool pictures like BoomerangToo.

Anyway,
So Tarsier. Serious question regarding your analogy;

Is that the reason you would engage one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Not because you are favouring a specific alternative, but because you feel the religion we are in is dangerous and we should get out?

Is that correct? :slightly_smiling_face:


#35

Hi again. I promised to address your question.
I don’t know about the changes in blood transfusions, but I can comment on the “end of the world predictions” if you like. I researched that once.

In the early days, when Charles Taze Russel was the main mover in our organisation there were a lot of attempts to understand the Bible prophesies about the end of the system. (“End of the world” according to KJV) After all, didn’t Jesus apostles ask him about that? (Matthew 24:14)
Notice that Jesus didn’t scold them for that. He did tell them “no one would knows the
day or hour” (Matt 24:36) But Jesus urged them repeatedly to “Keep on the watch!” (Matt 24:42, 25:13)
Russel and his companions pulled apart the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation trying to understand what Jehovah had inspired his prophets to write.
so in the early decades of the Watchtower mag, there was alot of speculation or attempts to explain the Bible prophesies. Some were quite wrong. (As you showed in your picture a few posts back - Russel also mixed in a bit of pyramid stuff at times! :roll_eyes:)

Critics call us False Prophets for that. But the JW’s didn’t make the prophesy. They are in God’s word the Bible! There is a difference between making a false prophesy and unsuccessfully trying to understand one sent by God himself!

One prophesy that stood out to them involved the year 1914. Daniel’s prophesy he interpreted for the King of Babylon (Daniel 4) seemed to point to that year and was related to God’s Kingdom beginning to rule.
We stick to that year. Sure, the early JW’s didn’t know exactly what was going to happen - many thought Armageddon would come then.
But it wan’t the end of the last days - it was the beginning. 1914 marked the beginning of the most destructive century in history.
Read Matthew 24 or Luke 21 and tell me what Jesus foretold isn’t happening!

There was something about 1975 that got some people excited too. I once looked up all the mentions of 1975 in the Watchtower and asked ones who were JW’s at the time. There was never an official JW teaching saying 1975 was going to be the end - but that year is often picked up by critics and broadcast.

Don’t forget what Jesus told us though: "Keep on the watch!"
In Matthew 24 he compared the world to the time of Noah where people would totally ignore the signs until it was too late. :grimacing:
Daniel 2:44 tells us what God’s Kingdom is going to do! That’s one of the main themes of our preaching work. It seems to me the traditional churches never mention the subject.
Is that true?


#36

But the Watchtower Society does claim to be a prophet that makes predictions about what is to come:

So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? . . . This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses . . . Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a “prophet” of God. It is another thing to prove it. (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1972, p. 197).

So, this group, this “prophet” (known today as the Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, predicted very specific things. I’ll bold the parts demonstrate that this group was declaring these with certainty:

1917 “Scriptures . . . prove that the Lord’s Second Advent occurred in the fall of 1874” (Studies, Vol. 7, 68).
1918 “Therefore, we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the faithful prophets of old” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 89).
1922 “The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the scriptures than 1914” (WT, 9-1-1922, 262).
1923 “1925 is definitely settled by the scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge” (WT, 4-1-1923, 106).
1939 “The disaster of Armageddon is just ahead” (Salvation, 361).
1941 “Armageddon is surely near . . . soon . . . within a few years” (Children, 10).
1966 “Six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E” (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 29).
1968 "The end of the six thousand years of man’s history in the fall of 1975 is not tentative, but is accepted as a certain date" (WT, 1-1-1968, 271).

Look back through my list. Notice how many of these (which are but a few that could be cited) occur after the “early days” of the magazine?

You are right that there is a difference between making a prophesy and trying to understand one, but WT both claims prophetic status for the JWs, and also makes statements with certainty.


#37

Wow. Tarsier…“Here’s a list I prepared earlier!” eh? :grin:

I’ve seen this exact cut and paste before.
The word “prophet” is in speech marks for a reason. That particular article needs to be read in context.

The 1917-1925 quotes are what I said in my last post. Unsuccessful attempts to interpret the prophesies God has given us.

And as you can see the 1975 quotes don’t mention the end of the world or Armageddon. They are just a history milestone that some readers got excited about.
“The end of 6000 years of human history” - (big deal! What has that got to do with anything?)

Anyway, why I logged on again was to point out that even Jesus apostles had wrong ideas about when and how the Kingdom was going to come. At Acts 1:6 they said to the resurected Jesus: "Lord, are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel at this time?"
They still thought it was an earthly Kingdom and was going to rule in their day.
But did that make them false prophets to be dismissed? No - humans trying to get their heads around what they were being told. :slightly_smiling_face:

Imagine if we used the misunderstandings of the apostles to disregard everything they ever said.


#38

Two answers.

First, my analogy was meant to show the flaw in your argument that one shouldn’t just tear down another’s belief system, but should provide alternatives. I was using the analogy to demonstrate that false.

That said, yes I believe the religion you are in is dangerous specifically because it is false. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel the same way about mine.

After all, it is not a matter of “favouring” another alternative, but recognizing that God is truth, and we are bound to follow truth and help others who are not following truth. Christianity and the belief system of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is diametrically opposed, so either A) JW belief systems are true, B) Christian (and, in my case, Catholic) belief systems are true, or C) neither is completely true.

We owe it to ourselves to discover that truth because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), so it is a very dangerous path to reject Jesus or (if the Jehovah’s Witnesses belief system is wrong) to believe in a distorted version of who Christ is and what he taught.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the WatchTower website says about your question of whether false religions are dangerous:

  1. What should be our position regarding false religion?
    10 What position should true worshippers take regarding Babylon the Great? In no uncertain terms, the Bible commands: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) Those who want to be spared must get out of false religion before it is too late. When on earth, Jesus Christ foretold that in the last days, many would merely claim to follow him. (Matthew 24:3-5) To such ones, he says: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23) The now enthroned King, Jesus Christ, has nothing to do with false religion.

That sounds like a pretty stark warning to me. I’d rather be on the dilapidated bridge than walking in falsehood, no?

Note that none of this accounts for invincible ignorance. But, since I can’t judge another’s personal culpability for error (only God can), I have to meet others on the assumption that they are responsible for their own acceptance of truth or falsehood.

As for an anecdotal evidence for your question, refer to my previous post about false prophesies from WT. Back in the early 70s, my family had a young (early 20s?) missionary visit with an older member. During casual conversation, the young missionary remarked that he was not going to college because the world was going to end within the next couple of years ('75 was the predicted year). I would certainly call life-impacting decisions based on authoritative declarations from WT to be dangerous to that individual’s well-being.


#39

Thank you Tarsier. Another very nice post.

Another question:
“Do you personally believe we are now in the last days Jesus described at Matthew 24?”


#40

Logically, I didn’t misquote you, so I’d appreciate if you didn’t misquote me.

You put this in quote marks. Looking through my post, I can’t see where I ever wrote “Here’s a list I prepared earlier!”

Can you explain to me why you misrepresented what I said?

You also had to change one of the quotes I cited. The WT didn’t say “the end of 6000 years of human history”, but (look at my quote) “the end of the 6000 years of human history.” Big difference. The word “the” indicates we aren’t just talking about some random period of 6,000 years, but “the” history of mankind, which happens to be 6,000 years long.

Why did you have to remove that word when you quoted it?

Finally, the apostles didn’t state anything with certainty, as TW claims to do. Rather, they asked “are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel at this time?” In other words, they asked Christ to make the proclamation. WT just comes out and makes claims with certainty.

No comparison here.


#41

First, I’ll compliment you on your diplomacy. Seriously, you’ve demonstrated a couple places in this thread your willingness to acknowledge good points from others. I need to be better about that myself.

Second, I’m happy to discuss that, but let’s leave for another thread (invite me to participate) since it would be off topic here.


#42

I was being cheeky.

“here’s one I prepared earlier” is something people say in cooking shows when they appear with a fully cooked meal a moment after they put it in the oven.
It looks like you had the list ready and waiting.

My apologies if I was too facetious. :wink:


#43

Well that is a shame.

I think it has a bearing on this discussion - because if JW’s are preaching “God’s Kingdom is almost here!” - and it actually is almost here… then picking at their false alarms is unfair.

Jesus said "keep on the watch."
If you hired a security guard and told him to “keep on the watch” and he went out to check a suspicious noise or light that turned out to be a false alarm - would you fire him?

You don’t have to be a JW these days to think the world is ending. :wink:


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