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Jehovah's Witnesses - The Kingdom Of God


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:11 PM

The first step to discussing this topic with the JWs is to understand what they believe about it.

The following is taken directly from their 'official' website, and is therefore an accurate representation of the current JW understanding of the Kingdom of God:

Lesson 6 - What Is the Kingdom of God?

Where is the Kingdom of God located? (1) Who is its King? (2)

Do others share in ruling with the King? If so, how many? (3)

What shows that we are living in the last days? (4)

What will God's Kingdom do for mankind in the future? (5-7)

1. When he was on earth, Jesus taught his followers to pray for God's Kingdom. A kingdom is a government that is headed by a king. God's Kingdom is a special government.

It is set up in heaven and will rule over this earth. It will sanctify, or make holy, God's name. It will cause God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.—Matthew 6:9, 10.

2. God promised that Jesus would become the King of His Kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he would be a kind, just, and perfect Ruler.

When he returned to heaven, he was not enthroned as King of God's Kingdom right away. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. Since then, Jesus has ruled in heaven as Jehovah's appointed King.—Daniel 7:13, 14.

3. Jehovah has also selected some faithful men and women from the earth to go to heaven. They will rule with Jesus as kings, judges, and priests over mankind. (Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:9, 10) Jesus called these corulers in his Kingdom a "little flock." They number 144,000.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 14:1-3.

4. As soon as Jesus became King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth since 1914. (Revelation 12:9, 12)

Wars, famines, pestilences, increasing lawlessness—all these are part of a "sign" indicating that Jesus is ruling and that this system is in its last days.—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8, 12; Luke 21:10, 11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

5. Soon Jesus will judge people, separating them as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The "sheep" are those who will have proved themselves his loyal subjects. They will receive everlasting life on earth.

The "goats" are those who will have rejected God's Kingdom. (Matthew 25:31-34, 46) In the near future, Jesus will destroy all goatlike ones. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) If you want to be one of Jesus' "sheep," you must listen to the Kingdom message and act on what you learn.—Matthew 24:14.

6. Now the earth is divided up into many countries. Each has its own government. These nations often fight one another. But God's Kingdom will replace all human governments.

It will rule as the only government over the entire earth. (Daniel 2:44) Then there will be no more war, crime, and violence. All people will live together in peace and unity.—Micah 4:3, 4.

7. During Jesus' Thousand Year Reign, faithful humans will become perfect, and the whole earth will become a paradise. By the end of the thousand years, Jesus will have done everything God asked him to do. Then he will hand the Kingdom back to his Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24) Why not tell your friends and loved ones about what God's Kingdom will do?


Source.

The key points for discussion are highlighted in bold.

Edited by Fortigurn, 10 August 2003 - 02:41 PM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:18 PM

As you can see, a number of doctrines which are unique to the JWs are derived inevitably from their understanding of the Kingdom of God.

This makes it an excellent subject for discussion, for the following reasons:

1) It exposes the vulnerability of several of their doctrines - if their understanding of the Kingdom of God is flawed, then so is their understanding of 1914, the 144,000, and the fall of Satan to the earth.

2) There is an absolute wealth of passages in Scripture on which to draw when discussing the truth of the Kingdom of God. ;)

Not only does this provide us with plenty of material with which to understand what the Kingdom of God is, it also means that there are dozens of passages which the JW has to wrestle and struggle with in order to get them to fit their theology. :cobblers:

3) There are no passages in Scritpure which provide any evidence for the JW understanding of the Kingdom of God. Their unique position on this matter is derived from a handful of proof texts, none of which state explicitly what the JWs state explicitly. :gagged:

How is it that the Bible could spend pages of explicit exposition on the Kingdom of God, and somehow avoid revealing explicitly the unique understanding of the JWs? :huh:
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:23 PM

The JWs believe that Christ returned 'invisibly' in 1914, in order to set up his Kingdom. Nowadays they don't seem to place as much stress on this 'invisible' thing as they used to, but it is still a mainstay of their belief.

The relevant passage from Wrested Scriptures (found here), is very useful in this regard:

Jesus will return literally and visibly to the earth. This is proven by the following evidence:

"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst . . . " {2} (Zech. 14:4). This passage in itself is conclusive. Christ will be the name-bearer of Yahweh (vs. 3, LORD=Heb. Yahweh) as was the angel of the LORD. (Exod. 23:20,21 ). Christ will literally return to the mountain from which he left. (Acts 1:10,11).

This event will fulfill the promise of the two men which said, "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." {3} (Acts 1:11). He ascended literally and visibly until a cloud received him out of sight from the disciples. This is the "like manner" in which he will return.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem and the house of David will look upon "me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zech. 12:10; cf. 13:6).

How is this to take place unless Christ returns personally to the earth? (cf. Rev. 1:7 - "and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.")

{2}  J.W.'s attempt to spiritualize the mountain. It only requires one to ask the spiritual intent of the mountain cleaving in two and the formation of the plain from Geba to Rimmon (Zech. 14:10) to indicate that this passage is not figurative.

{3}  J.W.'s sometimes reply by stating that the "like manner" refers to the fact that only a few saw him ascend, hence only few would witness his return. It needs to be stressed that the manner of the ascension is indicated in the passage - a cloud received him out of their sight.


Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:33 PM

It is helpful to point out the extent to which the JW belief of the Kingdom of God has changed over the years - 1914 was not the original date considered to be the time of Christ's return, for example.

The following information is of relevance here:

Regarding the Watch Tower's core doctrine of Christ's second coming ("presence," Gr. parousia) in the year 1914, there is a prevailing popular notion among Jehovah's Witnesses that their founder, C.T. Russell, predicted and evangelized this glorious event for the better part of 40 years in advance of its fulfillment, as they believe it to be.

It is a general concept that Russell's Bible Students heralded a warning, pointing to the Advent in 1914, and that its fulfillment was made evident by the outbreak of World War I in that year, thus proving Jehovah's favor on the Bible Students' movement.

The 1914 parousia being the nucleus of Jehovah's Witnesses' present "good news of the Kingdom" message, the Watch Tower has served to nurture that misconception about their predecessors' early teaching with misleading inferences in their publications over the past half century.

For example, as recently as the September 15, 1998 Watchtower, an article titled "Waiting in 'Eager Expectation' carries this statement:

". . . a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the "seven times" of Daniel 4:25 with "the times of the Gentiles," they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914."

Such misleading statements belie their known history and the fact that Russell's Bible Students hailed 1874 as the year when Christ had returned, invisibly, and was presumed already ruling from heaven in their time. That was Russell's belief until his death in 1916.

The 1874 parousia teaching remained with his successor, J.F. (Judge) Rutherford, for years to come

Ignoring their well-document history, Watch Tower literature in later years has alluded countless times to Russell and his followers looking ahead to 1914 for Christ's invisible return to heaven, to support their present belief. 

This is not to overlook the fact that Russell did predict an awesome event for 1914. Based on a Biblical interpretation that a 40-year generation must transpire from Christ's parousia until the "end of the world," he predicted that the "times of the gentiles" (world rule by the nations under Satan) would end in the prophetic "battle of Armageddon" in that year (1914 being 40 years thence from 1874).

When the war broke out in Europe, Russell actually believed it was the beginning of Armageddon. These things are thoroughly documented in Watch Tower publications prior to 1914. Obviously, Armageddon did not occur as anticipated. Nevertheless, Russell maintained that the "gentile times" had indeed ended in 1914. He died two years later.

And to this day, Jehovah's Witnesses stand on the belief that Russell correctly identified 1914 for fulfillment of the "end of the gentile times."

It was well over a decade thereafter that the doctrine of Christ's return was changed, moving that event foreword to coincide with Russell's "end of the gentile times." And that premise remains the Watch Tower's official doctrinal position of the matter at this writing (1999).


Source. This site has been laid out in an absolutely woeful font, with eyewatering colour. :huh:
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#5 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:36 PM

From the same source:

But the 1874 parousia of Christ doctrine continued to be preached in the Watch Tower, as seen here:

The date of the close of that 'battle' is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914.

It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874

Zion's Watch Tower, 15 January 1892, page 1355 

We see no reason for changing the figures--nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.

Zion's Watch Tower, 15 July 1894, page 1677 

The Scriptures show that the second presence {of the Lord} was due in 1874 . . . . This proof shows that the Lord has been present since 1874.

The Watch Tower, 1 March 1923, page 67

Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874.

The Watch Tower, 1 January 1924, page 5


While this point is glossed over in Jehovah's Witnesses-Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, the astute reader will note at the top of page 47 that:

"Barbour succeeded in convincing Russell that Christ's invisible presence had begun in 1874."

And again, in the last paragraph on page 133 that:

". . . Russell also came to be persuaded that Christ's invisible presence had begun in 1874."

This last statement contains a footnote reference which reads:

*. . . A clearer understanding of Biblical chronology was published in 1943, in the book The Truth Shall Make you Free, and it was then refined the following year in the book The Kingdom Is at Hand, as well as in later publications. 

On pages 138-139 (Proclaimers book), the March 1, 1925 Watch Tower's feature article is quoted:

"A real milestone was reached, therefore, in 1925, when The Watch Tower of March 1 featured the article "Birth of the Nation."

It presented an eye-opening study of Revelation chapter 12. The article set forth evidence that the Messianic Kingdom had been born--established--in 1914, that Christ had then begun to rule on his heavenly throne, and that thereafter Satan had been hurled from heaven down to the vicinity of the earth.

This was the good news that was to be proclaimed, the news that God's Kingdom was already in operation. How this enlightened understanding stimulated these Kingdom proclaimers to preach to the ends of the earth!"


So according to Jehovah's Witnesses own documentary, the 1914 Advent was not their teaching until the year 1925, eleven years after 1914.

But even then, it was evidently not a firm position, for in the book Prophecy (published in 1929) on pages 65 and 66 it clearly states:

The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D. This proof is specifically {spelled} out in the booklet entitled Our Lord's Return.

Thus, in 1929 appeared the last mention, in the Watch Tower Society's publications, of 1874 as the year of Christ's parousia.

The doctrinal change clearly had not yet been established to teach the 1914 "invisible return" of Christ until sometime after 1929.


All emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#6 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:38 PM

From the same source:

The shift from 1874 to 1914 for the parousia surfaced most notably in the mid-1930s.

And one might even get an impression for a later time from what Frederick Franz wrote in 1973, in the Society's book, God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years."

On page 209, paragraph 55, he says: In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book The Truth Shall Make You Free.

In its chapter 11, entitled "The Count of the Time," it did away with the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges and went according to the oldest and most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and accepted the spelled-out numbers of the Hebrew Scriptures. T

his moved forward the end of six thousand years of man's existence to the decade of the 1970's. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia.

So we must ask, with all this history, what is the point of misleading statements about their 1914 teaching in later Watchtower literature?

For example, the following quote is from a 1954 Watchtower which states:

Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ's return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah's witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.

The Watchtower, 15 June 1954, page 370, para.4


How could The Watchtower make such an untrue claim knowing full well that both prior to World War I and for at least 15 years thereafter they preached that "this great event" had occurred in 1874.

Again in a 1965 Watchtower:

As we look back over the years, we can clearly see how God's organization in modern times has progressed in understanding. For example, it learned that Christ's second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh as many professed Christians believe. His rule would be from the heavens.

This was a new revelation of great importance to God's people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century.

The Watchtower, 15 July 1965, page 428, "Jehovah's Advancing Organization"


Russell's followers were not "anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century"; they believed and preached that it had already occurred years past in 1874.


All emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#7 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:41 PM

From the same source:

In the May 1, 1988 Watchtower, on page 22, a Witness, Matsue Ishii, recalls her first encounter with the Bible Students in 1928:

At the back of our house in Tojo-cho, Osaka, there was a house with a sign:

"Osaka Branch of the International Bible Students Association." Assuming it to be a Christian group, I visited the house.

"Do you believe in the second advent of the Lord?" I asked the young man who came to the door. "Christ's second advent was realized in 1914," he answered. In astonishment, I told him that was impossible. "You should read this book," he said, handing me The Harp of God. Yet, what does it say about this in The Harp of God?

Beginning on page 235:

This date, therefore, when understood, would certainly fix the time when the Lord is due at this second appearing. Applying the same rule, then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A.D. brings us to 1874 A.D., at which time
according to Biblical chronology, the Lord's second presence is due
. . . .

The searcher for truth can find an extensive treatment of this question in Volumes 2 and 3 of Studies in the Scriptures.

Another long-time faithful Witness, Jack H. Nathan, recalls his first meeting with the Bible Students:

After the war ended in 1918, there was no work available in England, so I rejoined the army and went off to India as part of the peacetime garrison. In May 1920 the malaria flared up again, and I was sent up into the hills to recuperate.

There I read all the books I could get my hands on, including the Bible. Reading the Scriptures intensified my interest in the Lord's return. Months later, down in Kanpur, I started a Bible study group, hoping to learn more about the Lord's return.

It was there that I met Fredrick James, a former British soldier who was now a zealous Bible Student. He explained to me that Jesus had been present since 1914, invisible to man. This was the most thrilling news I had ever heard."

The Watchtower, 1 September 1990, page 11


All emphasis mine.

Edited by Fortigurn, 10 August 2003 - 01:42 PM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 01:42 PM

From the same source:

This fellow's recollection is also not supported by the Society's doctrinal history. His own account placed his experience in or about the year 1920, more than a decade before the Society switched their official doctrine of Christ's second coming from 1874 to 1914.

It is not to question the integrity of the people who recall such personal experiences. Surely it was not their intention to confuse the details of their own story. Rather it illustrates the power of repetitious indoctrination over time to distort a person's recollection.

But the real question here is how do such discrepancies could get past the editors of the Watchtower. Are their writers and editors so unfamiliar with their own history, as published in their own literature?

Or do even those who write the supposed spiritual nourishment from Jehovah, themselves, become subject to the mind altering effects of their own indoctrination? Otherwise, how can such blatant misrepresentation be defined as anything less than dishonest?

Yet does an organization, which claims to speak for the Almighty Sovereign of the Universe, not bear a heavy responsibility to speak the truth? In conclusion, perhaps they have answered the question as well as anyone:

A religion that teaches lies cannot be true." --The Watchtower, 1 December 1991, page 7


All emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#9 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 02:14 PM

It is useful to identify the key weak points in the JW case:

1. When he was on earth, Jesus taught his followers to pray for God's Kingdom. A kingdom is a government that is headed by a king. God's Kingdom is a special government.

It is set up in heaven and will rule over this earth. It will sanctify, or make holy, God's name. It will cause God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.—Matthew 6:9, 10.


Firstly, the JW needs to demonstrate from Scripture that the Kingdom of God is already in heaven. No Scriptural passages are here cited to substantiate this claim, and the passage which has been cited says the opposite about the Kingdom of God.

Secondly, we must note that the JW attempts to deal with all the passages in Scripture which clearly state that the Kingdom of God will be on the earth, by claiming that this Kingdom of God is yet to come, and will be during the 1,000 year reign of Christ.

For this reason, merely quoting all the passages which speak of the Kingdom of God being set up on earth will not end the discussion - the JW will agree with them, and refer them to a future time. This does not settle the issue of whether or not Christ is reigning now in heaven, with a 'heavenly class' of saints.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#10 Fortigurn

Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 02:29 PM

What the JW needs to do is provide from Scripture proof that God's Kingdom would be set up in this 'two stage' process. Scripture is silent on this matter.

Edited by Fortigurn, 10 August 2003 - 02:32 PM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#11 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 02:31 PM

2. God promised that Jesus would become the King of His Kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he would be a kind, just, and perfect Ruler.

When he returned to heaven, he was not enthroned as King of God's Kingdom right away. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. Since then, Jesus has ruled in heaven as Jehovah's appointed King.—Daniel 7:13, 14.

Whilst the JWs are correct in saying that Christ was not enthroned immediately on his ascension, they need to provide evidence from Scripture that his enthronement would be:

1) In heaven first, then on the earth.

2) In 1914.

They also need to prove that the date of 1914 was revealed by Scripture as the year in which Christ would be given authority by God to rule from the heavens with his 144, 000.

The last point is absolutely critical to the entire JW doctrine of the Kingdom of God. If that date fails, their understanding of the Kingdom of God fails with it.

It is very useful to have some background information on that date, and how the JWs have struggled with it. More on this later.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#12 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 02:35 PM

3. Jehovah has also selected some faithful men and women from the earth to go to heaven.

They will rule with Jesus as kings, judges, and priests over mankind. (Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:9, 10) Jesus called these corulers in his Kingdom a "little flock." They number 144,000.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 14:1-3.

The passages of Scripture which are quoted here do indeed state that there will be those who are made rulers with Christ over his Kingdom.

However, these passages say nothing of:

1) The idea that they start ruling in 1914.

2) The idea that they rule the earth from heaven.

3) The idea that they join Christ gradually, as they die (it is noteworthy that the JW statement here is not explicit on this point). On the contrary, Scripture insists that they receive their rulership at the same time as Christ does.

4) The idea that there are merely 144, 000 of them, and that they are called by Christ his 'little flock'. When examined, the two passages of Scripture appealed to in order to support these statements, say no such thing.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#13 Fortigurn

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 02:40 PM

4. As soon as Jesus became King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth since 1914. (Revelation 12:9, 12)

It is noteworthy that only two verses of Scripture are provided to support this argument. When Revelation 12 is examined, no mention of 1914 is found.

Question the JWs on the passage, and ask them to explain where else this doctrine can be found. Ask them also about the flight of the woman into the wilderness, and the 1,260 days here mentioned.

Since Revelation 12 also says that the dragon (being cast down to the earth), has only 'a short time' left, you might also ask the JWs what this 'short time' is - apparently the dragon (Satan), has been on the earth since 1914, and you have to wonder how long is 'short'.

We might also ask - perfectly legitimately - what the point of casting Satan out of heaven was, if he was already causing trouble from heaven, and continues to cause trouble on earth unabated.

Indeed, since the JWs believe that the world has become worse since Satan was cast out of heaven, we might question the wisdom of removing him from heaven in the first place. Why did God do this? :huh:

Wars, famines, pestilences, increasing lawlessness—all these are part of a "sign" indicating that Jesus is ruling and that this system is in its last days.—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8, 12; Luke 21:10, 11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.


Scripture uses these signs to indicate that we are still in 'the times of the Gentiles', not the Kingdom of God.

Nowhere in Scripture are we told that these are signs that 'Jesus is ruling' - quite the opposite, in fact.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#14 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:25 PM

Time to revive this thread...

Let's return to the points which the JWs were making about their idea of the Kingdom of God:

4. As soon as Jesus became King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth since 1914. (Revelation 12:9, 12)

Wars, famines, pestilences, increasing lawlessness—all these are part of a "sign" indicating that Jesus is ruling and that this system is in its last days.—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8, 12; Luke 21:10, 11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.


I've highlighted the interesting part. What do you make of it? Can you see the contradiction here? :clap2:

Passages in Scripture which speak of Christ ruling, do not speak of lawlessness, war, and famine:

Psalm 72:
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
9  They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
10  The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
11  Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

16  There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.


Isaiah 9:
6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.


Micah 4:
2  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3  And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


Zechariah 9:
10  And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.


Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#15 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:30 PM

Perhaps JWs would agree with us that these passages speak of the Kingdom of God which Christ will set up at his return.

But perhaps they would argue that this does not invalidate their argument that Christ is presently reigning, and that:

Wars, famines, pestilences, increasing lawlessness—all these are part of a "sign" indicating that Jesus is ruling...


In this case, we return to the challenge we offered previously - Scripture uses these signs to indicate that we are still in 'the times of the Gentiles', not the Kingdom of God:

Luke 21:
But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.


This tells us very clearly that such signs are not an indication of Christ's near return. It also says nothing of them being a sign that he is presently ruling.

Luke 21:
10  Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
11  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
12  But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.


These are all things which Christ said would take place between his ascension and the destruction of AD 70. Nowhere does Christ say that they are a sign that he is ruling from heaven, nor are they said to be a sign of his return.

The JW must provide passages of Scripture to support their argument. The responsibility is on them to do so.

Edited by Fortigurn, 15 September 2003 - 12:30 PM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#16 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:34 PM

The next few points from the JW article are straightforward enough:

5. Soon Jesus will judge people, separating them as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The "sheep" are those who will have proved themselves his loyal subjects. They will receive everlasting life on earth.

The "goats" are those who will have rejected God's Kingdom. (Matthew 25:31-34, 46) In the near future, Jesus will destroy all goatlike ones. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) If you want to be one of Jesus' "sheep," you must listen to the Kingdom message and act on what you learn.—Matthew 24:14.

6. Now the earth is divided up into many countries. Each has its own government. These nations often fight one another. But God's Kingdom will replace all human governments.

It will rule as the only government over the entire earth. (Daniel 2:44) Then there will be no more war, crime, and violence. All people will live together in peace and unity.—Micah 4:3, 4.

7. During Jesus' Thousand Year Reign, faithful humans will become perfect, and the whole earth will become a paradise. By the end of the thousand years, Jesus will have done everything God asked him to do. Then he will hand the Kingdom back to his Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24) Why not tell your friends and loved ones about what God's Kingdom will do?


There isn't anything here which contradicts Scripture. This is a fair summary of the Kingdom of God on earth.

But the problem of the 'two stage' Kingdom of God still remains. Time now to investigate more thoroughly the all important '1914' date...
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#17 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:38 PM

Modern Skeptics have not been slow to identify the flaws in JW eschatology:

Giving the Jehovah's Witnesses a Broadside (1994)
by Mark I. Vuletic



[Note: The following document was written in 1994, at which time its criticisms of Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine was valid. However, the Jehovah's Witnesses have since abandoned the end-times prophecy dealt with in this article. On the plus side, this means they have abandoned a doctrine based upon spurious interpretation of Scripture.

On the other hand, this being the fourth major revision in the end-times doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses, it perhaps demonstrates even more forcefully the fickleness of the group. What the new doctrine is, and whether or not it is any better than the last one, I do not know at this point.]


One of the main elements of the doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses is a specific interpretation of Daniel 4 which is very easy to argue against. The Witnesses interpretation, as set forth in pages 136-141 of their You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, extracts a prophecy which sets 1914 as the year in which Christ begins to rule as king of the "heavenly government."

Daniel 4:1-17 sees Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, describing a dream he has just had to his servant Belteshazzar (otherwise known as Daniel). Daniel 4:18-27 has Daniel interpreting the dream for his king, and Daniel 4:28-37 shows the fulfillment of the dream.

In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar first sees a great, strong, and abundantly stocked tree. Then he sees an angel descend from heaven and declare that the tree should be hewn down, but the stump and roots left in the ground and bound with a band of iron. The angel finishes by declaring:

"...let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.
Let his heart be changed
from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of
a beast,
And let seven times pass
over him"
and letting it be known that the whole thing is a demonstration of the dominion of God over man.

What Daniel says about this dream is that

(1) the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar;

(2) Nebuchadnezzar will be deposed for "seven times" until he realizes that God, and not he himself, is responsible for the greatness of the Babylonian kingdom; and that

(3) Babylon will still be waiting for Nebuchadnezzar when the "seven times" are finished, and he will rule again.

The Jehovah's Witnesses have a unique way of interpreting all of this: they claim that:

(1) the tree represents the supreme rulership of God because "Nebuchadnezzar was forced to know that someone higher was ruling"(p.138);

(2) the cutting down of the tree represents the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in 607 B.C.;

(3) the "seven times" constitute 2,520 years because in Revelation, 1,260 days are equal to 3 and 1/2 times, and because each day counts for a year "according to a Biblical rule"(p.141);

(4) adding 2,520 days to 607 B.C. yields 1914 as the year when Christ returns to rule God's heavenly government.

Now, this is apparently not exactly what the Jehovah's Witnesses have always said.

According to a publication by the Worldwide Church of God: "Charles Taze Russel, whose public Bible studies formed the foundation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, said Christ had returned to earth in 1847 and would begin his visible reign in 1914.

Jehovah's Witness literature now speaks of 'the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.'"("Will Christ Return?", p.10).

As the WWCG states, the Witnesses used to believe that 1914 would signal the beginning of God's visible kingdom on earth, but now (since 1914 came and went with no sign of Christ descending from the clouds) talk about how Christ began to rule the heavenly kingdom in 1914, and will begin his visible reign on earth before the last person who lived in 1914 dies.

This addition is based upon shoddy interpretation of some of the statements of Jesus - when Jesus said "But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God"(Luke 9:27) and "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place"(Mark 13:30), he was actually talking to - and referring to - that generation way back in the time frame in which he lived, not by any means to the generation of 1914.

This convenient change of doctrine, even if it did not have such glaring flaws, offers reason enough to suspect the Jehovah's Witnesses of shoddy interpretation, but there is more: as said earlier, Daniel 4:28-37 describes the fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar's dream: Nebuchadnezzar is deposed, the seven times pass (certainly not 2,520 years), and the king humbles himself before God and is returned to power.

As far as I can tell, the whole business with the dream is closed. There is no reference anywhere to the dream having a wider significance than Daniel's own interpretation.

There is no reason to equate the "times" in Daniel 4 with the "times" in Revelation, nor is there any reason to use the day-year principle. All of the clever handiwork of the Witnesses is a perversion of the clear intent of Daniel 4.

Naturally, none of this will convince a good Jehovah's Witness of anything except perhaps that you are not much of a prospect for conversion and not worth a return visit. But what more could anyone possibly want?


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright © 2002, Mark I. Vuletic. All rights reserved.


All emphasis mine. Source.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#18 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:43 PM

The importance of chronology in JW theology is impossible to overstate.

Quite aside from the fact that their understanding of the Kingdom of God is completely astray from the Biblical description (as we have seen), the JW interpretation is absolutely predicated on a chronology which is completely unsupportable.

Like the early SDAs, the early JWs nailed their colours to the mast of a particular date, which became a unique doctrine to them, and which became a way of separating them as a 'chosen class' amongst other Christians, the only true followers of Jesus.

And like the modern SDAs, the modern JWs are now struggling to find ways of defending the overenthusiastic interpretation of their forefathers.

Let's see what the problem is, and then investigate it in depth.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#19 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:47 PM

Here is the problem for the JWs:

2. God promised that Jesus would become the King of His Kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he would be a kind, just, and perfect Ruler.

When he returned to heaven, he was not enthroned as King of God's Kingdom right away. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. Since then, Jesus has ruled in heaven as Jehovah's appointed King.—Daniel 7:13, 14.


Even in this highly abbreviated form, it is apparent that the 1914 date is of immense significance to them. If that date has been arrived at incorrectly, then everything which has been built on it is immediately incorrect.

How did they arrive at this date? Let's see, and then let's examine the reasoning behind it.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#20 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:52 PM

The following article will help:

The Watch Tower Society claims to be God's "sole channel" and "mouthpiece" on earth.

In short, its message implies that the kingdom of God was established in heaven in 1914, that the "time of the end" began that year, that Christ returned invisibly at that time to "inspect" the Christian denominations, and that he finally rejected all of them except for the Watch Tower Society and its associates, which he—in 1919 appointed as his sole "instrument" on earth.

The Society teaches that the generation of 1914 will not pass away until the final end comes at the "battle of Armageddon," when all who have not joined the Watch Tower organization at that time will be destroyed forever. Jehovah's Witnesses expect to survive this doomsday to live forever in paradise on earth.

The year 1914, then, plays a crucial role in the teaching of the Watch Tower Society. The date is a product of a chronological calculation, according to which the so-called "times of the Gentiles " referred to by Jesus at Luke 21:24 is a period of 2,520 years, that began in 607 B.C. and ended in 1914.

This calculation is the real basis of the message of the movement.

Even the Christian gospel, the "good news" of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14), is claimed to be closely associated with this chronology. The gospel preached by other professed Christians, therefore, has never been the true gospel.

Said The Watchtower of May 1, 1981, on page 17:

"Let the honest-hearted person compare the kind of preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom done by the religious systems of Christendom during all the centuries with that done by Jehovah's Witnesses since the end of World War I in 1918.

They are not one and the same kind. That of Jehovah's Witnesses is really gospel, or good news, as of God's heavenly kingdom that was established by the enthronement of his Son Jesus Christ at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. "


[Italics mine]

In agreement with this The Watchtower of May 1, 1982 stated that, "of all religions on earth, Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones today that are telling the people of earth this 'good news'." (Page 10)

A Jehovah's Witness who attempts to tone down the role of chronology in the Society's teaching does not realize that he or she thereby undermines the message of the movement. Such a "toning down" is not something that the Watch Tower leadership approves.

On the contrary, The Watchtower of January 1, 1983, emphasized that "the ending of the Gentile Times in the latter half of 1914 still stands on a historical basis as one of the fundamental Kingdom truths to which we must hold today ." (Page 12; emphasis added.) [1]

[1] The Society's former president, Frederick W. Franz, in the morning Bible discussion for the headquarters family on November 17, 1979, stressed even stronger the importance of the 1914 date by saying:

"The sole purpose of our existence as a Society is to announce the Kingdom established in 1914 and to sound the warning of the fall of Babylon the Great. We have a special message to deliver."

(Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, Atlanta: Commentary Press, 1991, pp. 32, 33)


Italics in original article, bold emphasis mine. Source.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#21 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:56 PM

Indeed, the article goes on to demonstrate just how critical this date is to the entire organisation and one's membership:

The truth is that the Watch Tower Society regards it a deadly sin to reject the chronology pointing to 1914.

That God's kingdom was established at the end of the "Gentile times" in 1914 is stated to be "the most important event of our time," beside which "all other things pale into insignificance." [2]

Those who reject the calculation are said to incur the wrath of God. Among them are "the clergy of Christendom" and its members, who thus are said to have rejected the kingdom of God and therefore will be "destroyed in the 'great tribulation' just ahead." [3]

Members of Jehovah's Witnesses who openly discard the calculation run the risk of being punished very severely. If they do not repent and change their minds, they will be disfellowshiped and classified as evil "apostates," who will "go, at death, ... to Gehenna," with no hope of a future resurrection. [4]

It makes no difference if they still believe in God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. When one of the readers of The Watchtower wrote and asked, "Why have Jehovah's Witnesses disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for apostasy some who still profess belief in God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ?" the Society answered, among other things:

"Approved association with Jehovah's Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah's Witnesses. What do such beliefs include? ... That 1914 marked the end of the Gentile times and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the heavens, as well as the time for Christ's foretold presence."

[Italics mine] [5]

[2] The Watchtower, January 1, 1988, pp. 10, 11.

[3] The Watchtower, September 1, 1985, p. 25.

[4] The Watchtower, April 1, 1982, p. 27. In The Watchtower of July 15, 1992, the Witnesses are even urged to "hate" such "apostates ... with a complete hatred." (Page 12) This was not just an accidental "slip of the pen".

The exhortation was repeated in The Watchtower of October 1, 1993. Former members, who have broken the ties with the Watch Tower organization because they can no longer endorse all its claims and teachings, are not only classified as evil "apostates" but also as "enemies of God", who are "intensely hating Jehovah". They are stated to be so "rooted in evil" that "wickedness has become an inseparable part of their nature". Christians, therefore, "must hate" them and ask God to kill them. (Page 19)

As such rancorous attacks on former members of the movement reflect an attitude that is exactly the reverse to that recommended by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:43-48), it may be asked why the Watch Tower Society finds it necessary to resort to such malignant language. The answer is obvious to every informed and attentive observer.

The leaders of the movement know very well that if the facts about their "Bible chronology", for instance, that have caused thousands of members to turn their back on the Watch Tower organization in recent years, find their way to the Witnesses in general, great numbers would lose confidence in the organization and its leadership. In order to safe-guard the elevated position they claim for themselves, the leaders of the organization are forced to prevent the Witnesses from learning these facts.

The method resorted to is an old and well-tried one in authoritarian organizations throughout the centuries. Dissident members are excommunicated ("disfellowshiped") as heretics ("apostates"), slandered, defamed and isolated. The Witnesses are taught that it is a "deadly sin" to talk to them and read their books and that hatred is the true Christian attitude toward them.

In this way it is hoped that embarrasing information can be withheld from the Witnesses. Thus truth has become a dangerous threat to the Watch Tower Society these days. Although this organization uses the word "Truth" more often than most other organizations on earth, truth has, in fact, become the worst enemy of the movement.

[5] The Watchtower, April 1, 1986, pp. 30, 31.


Bold emphasis mine, italics in original.

Edited by Fortigurn, 15 September 2003 - 12:56 PM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#22 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:58 PM

The article goes on to discuss the issue of Biblical dates very reasonably:

Most Jehovah's Witnesses, however, realize that the Watch Tower Society's calculation of the Gentile times is an indispensible element in the present doctrinal structure of the organization.

On being confronted with the enormous burden of evidence against the 607 B.C. date for the desolation of Jerusalem many Jehovah's Witnesses therefore just whisk away the evidence, claiming that they rely only on the Bible for this date, while those who date the desolation of Jerusalem to 587 or 586 B.C. are said to rely on secular, historical, sources rather than the Bible.

This presentation of the issue is not only unfair. It is completely false. It reveals that such Witnesses have not really understood the true nature of Biblical chronology.

There are no absolute dates in the Bible. It is nowhere stated, for instance, that Jesus was baptized in 29 A.D., that Cyrus captured Babylon in 539 B.C., or that Jerusalem was desolated in 607 B.C. as the Witnesses claim. The Bible gives relative datings only.


Emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#23 Fortigurn

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 12:59 PM

Continued:

Thus, when we read about the desolation of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 25:1-12, we find only the information that this event took place in the "eleventh year of King Zedekiah" (verse 2), which corresponded to the "nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon" (verse 8).


But when was that? How far from our own time was it? How many years before the Christian Era did it happen? The fact is that the Bible itself gives no information whatsoever that links up this dating with our Christian era.

The books of Kings and Chronicles tell about the kings who ruled in Israel and Judah from Saul, the first king, to Zedekiah, the last one. We are told who succeeded whom and for how many years they ruled.

By summing up the lengths of reign from Saul to Zedekiah we can measure the approximate space of time (there are many uncertain points) between these two kings. In this way we find that the period of the Hebrew monarchies covered roughly about 500 years.

But still we have found no answer to the question, When on the stream of time did this period start and end?

If the Bible had gone on to give a continous and unbroken series of regnal years from Zedekiah all the way up to the beginning of the Christian Era, the question would have been answered. But Zedekiah was the last king. Nor does the Bible give any other information that helps us calculate the length of the period from Zedekiah's "eleventh year" to the beginning of the Christian Era.

Thus we have a period of roughly 500 years, the period of the Hebrew monarchies, but we are not told how far from our time this period was and how it can be fixed to our Christian Era.

If the Bible had preserved dated and detailed descriptions of astronomical events, such as solar and lunar eclipses, or the positions of the planets in relation to different stars and constellations, this would have helped us. Modern astronomers, with their knowledge of the regular movements of the moon and the planets, are able to calculate the positions these heavenly bodies held on the starry sky thousands of years ago. But unfortunately, the Bible provides no information of this kind.

The Bible itself, then, does not show how its chronological datings may be connected with our own era. A chronology that in this manner is "hanging in the air" is only a relative chronology.

Only if the Bible had given us the exact distance from the time of Zedekiah up to our own era, either by the aid of a complete and coherent line of lengths of reign, or by detailed and dated astronomical observations, we would have had an absolute chronology, that is, a chronology that gives us the exact distance from the last year of Zedekiah to our own time.


Emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#24 Fortigurn

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 11:46 AM

Continued:

The relative nature of the Biblical dates does not make it impossible to date events mentioned in the Bible. If it were possible to synchronize the chronology of the Bible with the chronology of another country, which in turn can be fixed to our Christian era, then it would be possible to change the relative chronology of the Bible into an absolute chronology.

This means, however, that we would have to rely on extra Biblical, that is, secular historical sources, in order to date events in the Bible.

And we have no other choice. If we want to know when an event mentioned in the Bible took place, be it the date for the fall of Babylon, the date for the desolation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the date for the rebuilding of the temple in the reign of Darius I, or any other date whatever, then we have to go to the secular historical sources.

This is the grim fact every Bible believer has to accept, whether he or she likes it or not. The simple truth is that without secular sources there is no Bible chronology, no datings of Biblical events.


Emphasis mine.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#25 Fortigurn

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 11:47 AM

Continued:

This also means, of course, that it is impossible to use the "chronology of the Bible" as an impartial, independent timemeasurer, by which the correctness of a certain date can be appraised.

When, for instance, some Witnesses point to the fact that modern historians date the fall of Babylon to 539 B.C. and then claim that "the chronology of the Bible is in agreement with this date", they have not made it clear to themselves what the relative nature of the Biblical chronology really implies.

As the Bible does not give the calendar year for the fall of Babylon (or for any other event), the statement that the Bible agrees with the secular dating of this event to 539 B.C. is completely meaningless.

And it is just as meaningless and misleading to state that the secular date for the desolation of Jerusalem, 587 B.C., disagrees with the chronology of the Bible, as the calendar year for that event is not given in the Bible, either.

Now these Witnesses, quite naturally, hold to the Watch Tower Society's claim that the 70 years of Jeremiah 25:11,12 and 29:10 refer to the period of the desolation of Jerusalem from the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar to the return of the Jewish exiles in the 1st year of Cyrus.

As a result of this view, the time interval between the dates historians have established for these two events (587/86 and 538/37 B.C.) appears too short. The Witnesses, therefore, reject one of the two dates, i. e. 587/86 B.C.. For what reason do they reject this date and not the other?

There is no Biblical reason for this choice. As was pointed out above, the Bible does not agree or disagree with any of these two dates. The Bible, therefore, cannot decide which of the two dates is the better one. On what grounds, then, should the choice be made, provided that the Society's interpretation of the 70 years is correct?

The most logical, scholarly and sound method would be to accept the date that is best established by the extra, Biblical, historical sources. And these sources show very definitely that the chronology of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is much better established by astronomical and other documents than the chronology of Cyrus' reign.

The natural choice for a Bible believing Christian, then, should be to retain the 587/86 B.C. date and reject the 538/37 BC date if there really were a choice between them.


Emphasis mine.

Yet the Witnesses have made the opposite choice. As the reason for this is neither the Bible, nor the historical evidence, what is the real reason for their choice?
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#26 Fortigurn

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 11:49 AM

Continued:

If the Witnesses insist that the 70 year period began in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar and ended in the 1st year of Cyrus, they should have started by accepting 587/86 B.C. as the most reliable of the two dates. Counting 70 years forward from that date would bring them to 518/17 B.C. as the first year of Cyrus instead of 538/37.

This would be as Biblical and more scholarly than to retain 538/37 B.C. and reject 587/86.

Some Witnesses might perhaps protest that the moving of Cyrus' 1st year forward to 518/17 B.C. is prevented by the 70 "weeks of years" of Daniel 9:24-27, which bridge over most of the remaining time period up to the time of Christ. According to the Watch Tower Society these 70 "weeks of years", interpreted as 490 years, began in the 20th year of the Persian king Artaxerxes, which is dated to 455 B.C.

The Witnesses, therefore, might argue that the interval between the end of the reign of Cyrus and the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes was so brief (embracing only the reigns of Cambyses, Darius I, and Xerxes I), that they can trust the secular dates for this period.

It should be noted, however, that the Society's date for the 20th year of Artaxerxes is in conflict with all historical sources.

The whole reign of Artaxerxes I (464/63-424/23 B.C.) is absolutely fixed by numerous astronomical observations preserved on cuneiform tablets, such as astronomical "diaries", lunar eclipse texts and texts with planetary observations! All these sources agree in showing Artaxerxes' 20th year to have been 445/44 B.C., not 455/54.

As the date preferred by the Watch Tower Socety implies a prolongation of Artaxerxes' reign from 41 to 51 years, the reign of his predecessor, Xerxes I, has had to be abbreviated, from 21 to 11 years, again in direct conflict with all historical sources!

Otherwise the reigns of all the preceding kings would have had to be moved backwards 10 years. Cyrus' 1st year, for example, would have had to be moved from 538/37 B.C. back to 548/47.

Such a change, of course, would make complete havoc of the Watch Tower Society's "Bible chronology".

Thus the 70 weeks of Daniel are of no help to the Witnesses. Those who are able to add 10 years to the reign of Artaxerxes I, subtract 10 years from the reign of Xerxes I, and add 20 years to the Neo-Babylonian era, all the time with supreme contempt for all historical sources, should have no difficulty in moving the 1st year of Cyrus from 538/37 B.C. to 518/17, or the fall of Babylon from 539 B.C. to 519! 6

Why, then, do the Watch Tower Society and its defenders reject 587/86 B.C. instead of 538/37? As has been pointed out, the reason is neither Biblical nor historical.

The answer is quite obvious. The 587/86 B.C. date is in direct conflict with the Watch Tower Society's chronology of the "times of the Gentiles". In this chronology the 607 B.C. date for the desolation of Jerusalem is the indispensible starting point.

Without the year 607 B.C. the Society would not arrive at 1914 A.D. And as this date is the very cornerstone of the prophetic claims and message of the Watch Tower organization, nothing is allowed to upset it, neither the Bible nor historical facts.

At heart, therefore, it is neither a question of loyalty to the Bible nor loyalty to historical facts. The choice of date has quite another motive: Loyalty to a chronological speculation that has become a vital condition for the divine claims of the Watch Tower organization.

NOTE: For a full discussion of the Watch Tower Society's Gentile Times chronology, see my book, The Gentile Times Reconsidered, originally published in 1983. A new, completely revised and expanded edition will be published in 1997 by Commentary Press.


Emphasis mine. End article.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#27 EXjw

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 09:02 PM

2. God promised that Jesus would become the King of His Kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he would be a kind, just, and perfect Ruler.

When he returned to heaven, he was not enthroned as King of God's Kingdom right away. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. Since then, Jesus has ruled in heaven as Jehovah's appointed King.—Daniel 7:13, 14.

Whilst the JWs are correct in saying that Christ was not enthroned immediately on his ascension, they need to provide evidence from Scripture that his enthronement would be:

1) In heaven first, then on the earth.

2) In 1914.

They also need to prove that the date of 1914 was revealed by Scripture as the year in which Christ would be given authority by God to rule from the heavens with his 144, 000.

The last point is absolutely critical to the entire JW doctrine of the Kingdom of God. If that date fails, their understanding of the Kingdom of God fails with it.

It is very useful to have some background information on that date, and how the JWs have struggled with it. More on this later.

:thumbsup: As a former Jehovah's Witness I can tell you that the average JW does not comprehend how this date is computed because the arithmetic is goofy. :yuk:
Where it is completely, entirely and wholly vulnerable to disproof is the root date of 607 B.C. as the starting date.
They simply cannot defend that date. They pulled it out of their collective...um..uh..they made it up! :eek:
Every JW I've confronted with this has had to back down.
They automatically do one of two things.
1.Evasion of the issue.
2.Resort to the "I have faith" speech.
We all know that speech, don't we?
Translated it means: I don't really know why--I just insist it is true.
Cop out. :surf:

#28 Kesaph

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 09:39 PM

Fort -I'm assuming this is posted in response to my comment in the discussion with Interpretum - I haven't tackled this yet as I'm trying to finish an exhort and lecture for the weekend.

I will be looking into it though once that is done. Thanks for this info.
Prov 25:2
" It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."


Prov 27:17
" Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."


#29 Flappie

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 09:50 PM

Check the dates, it's been here for half a year.
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#30 Kesaph

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 10:05 PM

big fat :thumbsup: !
see my mind is clearly on other things!!!!
Prov 25:2
" It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."


Prov 27:17
" Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."





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