Various Religious Beliefs
Written by: www.GotQuestions.orgQuestion: “What is the proper way to pray?”
Answer: Is it best to pray standing up, sitting down, on your knees, or bowing down? Should my hands be open, closed, or lifted up to God? Do my eyes need to be closed when I pray? Is it better to pray in a church building, or out in nature? Should I pray in the morning when I get up, or at night before I go to bed? Are there certain words that I need to say in my prayer? How do I begin my prayer?
Far too often, prayer is viewed as some form of “magic formula.” If you do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer your prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of Him.” Similarly, John 14:13-14 declares, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” According to these, and many other, Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the Name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).
Please read the following two articles:
So, what is the proper way to pray? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The proper way to pray is to pour out your heart to God. Be honest and open with God, as He already knows you better than you know yourself. Present your requests to God, but keep in mind that God knows what is best, and will not grant a request that is not His will for you. Express your love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer – but do not worry about having just the right words to say. God is more interested with the content of your heart than the quality of your words.The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Please understand, though, the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. It is an example of the things that should go into a prayer – worship, trust in God, requests, confession, protection, etc. Pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, but use your own words and “customize” it to your own journey with God. The proper way to pray is by expressing your heart to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; at morning or at night – those are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction and appropriateness. God’s desire is that prayer be a personal and real connection between us and Him.
Recommended Resource: Prayer, The Great Adventure by David Jeremiah.
Written by: www.GotQuestions.org
Question: “What is the church?”
Answer: Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not the Biblical understanding of the church. The word church comes from the Greek word “Ecclesia” which is defined as “an assembly,” or “called out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend they usually say Baptist, Methodist, or another denomination.
Many times they are referring to a denomination or a building. Read Romans 16:5: “…also greet the church that is in their house…” Paul refers to the church in their house, not a church building, but a body of believers.
The church is the Body of Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The Body of Christ is made up of all believers from the time of Pentecost until the Rapture. The Body of Christ is comprised of two aspects:
(1) The universal church is the church that consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” We see that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ. The true church of God is not any particular church building or denomination. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
(2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2, “Paul, an apostle…and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches – what we call a local church. A Baptist church, Lutheran church, Catholic church, etc. is not THE church, as in the universal church – but rather is a local church. The universal church is comprised of those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.
In summary, the church is not a building, or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the Body of Christ – all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). There are members of the universal church (the Body of Christ) in local churches.
Recommended Resource: Why Church Matters: Worship, Ministry, and Mission in Practice by Jonathan R. Wilson.
© Copyright 2002-2008 Got Questions Ministries.
For more information on this and other subjects go to: www.GotQuestions.org
For more about the Christian Church:
The Uniqueness of the Bible…
(Josh McDowell’s, A Ready Defense. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993)
Unique in its continuity:
Here is a book…
1. written over a 1,500 year span
2. written over 40 generations
3. written by more than 40 authors, from every walk of life, including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesman, scholars, etc.
-Moses-political leader, trained @ universities in Egypt
-Peter, a fisherman -Daniel, a prime minister
-Amos, a herdsman -Luke, a doctor
-Joshua, a military general -Solomon, a king
-Nehemiah, a cupbearer -Matthew, a tax collector
-Paul, a rabbi -David, a murderer*
4. written in different places
-Moses in the wilderness -Paul inside prison walls
-Jeremiah in a dungeon -Luke while traveling
-Daniel on a hillside and in a palace
-John on the isle of Patmos
5. written at different times
-David in times of war
-Solomon in times of peace
6. written during different moods
-some writings at the height of joy and others from the depths of sorrow and despair
7. written on three continents:
-Asia, Africa, Europe
8. written in three languages
-Hebrew, the language of the OT
-Aramaic, the common language of the Near East until the 6th century A.D.
-Greek, the N.T. language, international language during the time of Christ.
9. Finally, its subject matter includes hundreds of controversial topics. Yet, the biblical authors spoke with harmony and continuity from Genesis to revelation. There is one unfolding story: “God’s redemption of man.”
Unique in its circulation
-The bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book in history.
-More copies of its entirety and more portions and selections have been produced than any other book.
-No other book even begins to compare with that of the scriptures
-The critic is right: “This doesn’t prove the bible to be the Word of God!” It does show factually, though, that the bible is unique.
Unique in its survival
1. Survival through time. Being written on material that perishes and having been copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press did not diminish the style, correctness, or existence of the Bible. Compared with other ancient writings, it has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined.
2. Survival through persecution. The bible has withstood vicious attacks of its enemies as no other book has. Many have tried to burn it, ban it, and outlaw it, from the days of the Roman emperors to present day communist-dominated countries.
3. Survival through criticism. “Infidels for eighteen hundred years have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet it stands today solid as a rock. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before. …When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians in his dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, ‘Sire, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.’ So the hammers of the infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If the book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives.” H.L Hastings
Unique in its Influence on Surrounding Literature
“If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. These are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them.”Clevland B. McAfee,The Greatest English Classic
“From the Apostolic Fathers dating from A.D. 95 to modern times is one great literary river inspired by the Bible –Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, Bible lexicons, Bible atlases, and Bible geographies. These may be taken as a starter. Then at random, we may mention the case bibliographies around theology, religious education, hymnology, missions, the biblical languages, church history, religious biography, devotional works, commentaries, philosophy of religion, evidences, apologetics, and on and on. There seems to be an endless number.” Bernard Ramm
The Obvious Conclusion
The above does not prove that the bible is the Word of God, but to me it proves that it is unique (different from all others, having no like or equal). Anyone seeking truth ought to consider a book that has the above qualifications.
A professor said to me, “If you are an intelligent person, you will read the one book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth.”
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matt. 5:18
For a more detailed study
The Bible Stands Alone
In 1889 a schoolteacher told a ten-year-old boy, “You will never amount to very much.” That boy was Albert Einstein. In 1954 a music manager told a young singer, “You ought to go back to driving a truck.” That singer was Elvis Presley. In 1962 a record company told a group of singers, “We don’t like your sound.
Groups with guitars are definitely on their way out.” They said that to the Beatles. Man is prone to make mistakes. Those who reject the Bible should take the time to look at the evidence before they come to a verdict.
1. It is unique in its continuity. If just 10 people today were picked who were from the same place, born around the same time, spoke the same language, and made about the same amount of money, and were asked to write
on just one controversial subject, they would have trouble agreeing with each other. But the Bible stands alone. It was written over a period of 1,600 years by more than 40 writers from all walks of life. Some were fishermen; some were politicians. Others were generals or kings, shepherds or historians. They were
from three different continents, and wrote in three different languages. They wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects yet they wrote with agreement and harmony. They wrote in dungeons, in temples, on beaches, and on hillsides, during peacetime and during war. Yet their words sound like they came from the
same source. So even though 10 people today couldn’t write on one controversial subject and agree, God picked 40 different people to write the Bible—and it stands the test of time.
2. It is unique in its circulation. The invention of the printing press in 1450 made it possible to print books in large quantities. The first book printed was the Bible. Since then, the Bible has been read by more people and printed more times than any other book in history. By 1930, over one billion Bibles had
been distributed by Bible societies around the world. By 1977, Bible societies alone were printing over 200 million Bibles each year, and this doesn’t include the rest of the Bible publishing companies. No one who is interested in knowing the truth can ignore such an important book.
3. It is unique in its translation. The Bible has been translated into over 1,400 languages. No other book even comes close.
4. It is unique in its survival. In ancient times, books were copied by hand onto manuscripts which were made from parchment and would decay over time. Ancient books are available today only because someone made copies of the originals to preserve them. For example, the original writings of Julius Caesar
are no longer around. We know what he wrote only by the copies we have. Only 10 copies still exist, and they were made 1,000 years after he died. Only 600 copies of Homer’s The Iliad exist, made 1,300 years after the originals were written. No other book has as many copies of the ancient manuscripts as the Bible. In fact, there are over 24,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts, some written within 35 years of the writer’s death.
5. It is unique in withstanding attack. No other book has been so attacked throughout history as the Bible. In A.D. 300 the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered every Bible burned because he thought that by destroying the Scriptures he could destroy Christianity. Anyone caught with a Bible would be executed. But just 25 years later, the Roman emperor Constantine ordered that 50 perfect copies of the Bible be made at government expense. The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic who destroyed the faith of many people, boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but the Bible lives on.
The irony of history is that 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society moved into his former house and used his printing presses to print thousands of Bibles. The Bible has also survived criticism. No book has been more attacked for its accuracy. And yet archeologists are proving every year that the Bible’s detailed descriptions of historic events are correct.
The Bible and All It Contains
A young man once received a letter from a lawyer stating that his grandmother had left him an inheritance. To his astonishment, it was $50,000 plus “my Bible and all it contains.” The youth was delighted to receive the money. However, he knew what the Bible contained, and because he wasn’t into religion he didn’t bother to open it. Instead, he put it on a high shelf.
He gambled the $50,000, and over the next fifty years he lived as a pauper, scraping for every meal. Finally he became so destitute, he had to move in with his relatives.
When he cleaned out his room, he reached up to get the dusty old Bible from the shelf. As he took it down, his trembling hands dropped it onto the floor, flinging it open to reveal a $100 bill between every page.
The man had lived as a pauper, simply because of his prejudice. He thought he knew what the Bible “contained.”
Archaeology and History Attest to the Reliability of the Bible
By Richard M. Fales, Ph.D.
No other ancient book is questioned or maligned like the Bible. Critics looking for the flyspeck in the masterpiece allege that there was a long span between the time the events in the New Testament occurred and when they were recorded. They claim another gap exists archaeologically between the earliest copies made and the autographs of the New Testament. In reality, the alleged spaces and so called gaps exist only in the minds of the critics.
Manuscript Evidence. Aristotle’s Ode to Poetics was written between 384 and 322 B.C. The earliest copy of this work dates A.D. 1100, and there are only forty-nine extant manuscripts. The gap between the original writing and the earliest copy is 1,400 years. There are only seven extant manuscripts of Plato’s Tetralogies, written 427–347 B.C. The earliest copy is A.D. 900—a gap of over 1,200 years. What about the New Testament? Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30. The New Testament was written between A.D. 48 and 95. The oldest manuscripts date to the last quarter of the first century, and the second oldest A.D. 125. This gives us a narrow gap of thirty-five to forty years from the originals written by the apostles.
From the early centuries, we have some 5,300 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Altogether, including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic, we have a whopping 24,633 texts of the ancient New Testament to confirm the wording of the Scriptures. So the bottom line is, there was no great period between the events of the New Testament and the New Testament writings. Nor is there a great time lapse between the original writings and the oldest copies. With the great body of manuscript evidence, it can be proved, beyond a doubt, that the New Testament says exactly the same things today as it originally did nearly 2,000 years ago.
Corroborating Writings. Critics also charge that there are no ancient writings about Jesus outside the New Testament. This is another ridiculous claim. Writings confirming His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection include Flavius Josephus (A.D. 93), the Babylonian Talmud (A.D. 70–200), Pliny the Younger’s letter to the Emperor Trajan (approx. A.D. 100), the Annals of Tacitus (A.D. 115–117), Mara Bar Serapion (sometime after A.D. 73), and Suetonius’ Life of Claudius and Life of Nero (A.D. 120). Another point of contention arises when Bible critics have knowingly or unknowingly misled people by implying that Old and New Testament books were either excluded from or added into the canon of Scripture at the great ecumenical councils of A.D. 336, 382, 397, and 419. In fact, one result of these gatherings was to confirm the Church’s belief that the books already in the Bible were divinely inspired. Therefore, the Church, at these meetings, neither added to nor took away from the books of the Bible. At that time, the thirty-nine Old Testament books had already been accepted, and the New Testament, as it was written, simply grew up with the ancient Church. Each document, being accepted as it was penned in the first century, was then passed on to Christians of the next century. So, this foolishness about the Roman Emperor Constantine dropping books from the Bible is simply uneducated rumor.
Fulfilled Prophecies. Prophecies from the Old and New Testaments that have been fulfilled also add credibility to the Bible. The Scriptures predicted the rise and fall of great empires like Greece and Rome (Daniel 2:39, 40), and foretold the destruction of cities like Tyre and Sidon (Isaiah 23). Tyre’s demise is recorded by ancient historians, who tell how Alexander the Great lay siege to the city for seven months. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had failed in a 13-year attempt to capture the seacoast city and completely destroy its inhabitants. During the siege of 573 B.C., much
of the population of Tyre moved to its new island home approximately half a mile from the land city. Here it remained surrounded by walls as high as 150 feet until judgment fell in 332 B.C. with the arrival of Alexander the Great. In the seven-month siege, he fulfilled the remainder of the prophecies (Zechariah 9:4; Ezekiel 26:12) concerning the city at sea by completely destroying Tyre, killing 8,000 of its inhabitants and selling 30,000 of its population into slavery. To reach the island, he
scraped up the dust and rubble of the old land city of Tyre, just like the Bible predicted, and cast them into the sea, building a 200-footwide causeway out to the island.
Alexander’s death and the murder of his two sons was also foretold in the Scripture.
Another startling prophecy was Jesus’ detailed prediction of Jerusalem’s destruction, and the further spreading of the Jewish diaspora throughout the world, which is recorded in Luke 21. In A.D. 70, not only was Jerusalem destroyed by Titus, the future emperor of Rome, but another prediction of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:1,2 came to pass—the complete destruction of the temple of God.
Messianic Prophecies. In the Book of Daniel, the Bible prophesied the coming of the one and only Jewish Messiah prior to the temple’s demise. The Old Testament prophets declared He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12,13), die by crucifixion (Psalm 22), and be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). There was only one person who fits all of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament who lived before A.D. 70:Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary.
Yes, the Bible is an amazing book.
As we consider the teachings of the historical Roman Catholic church as compared to the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, it doesn’t take long for the open minded observer to notice that there are fundamental differences. Though we wish these differences didn’t exist, our intention is certainly not to smear any individual person. We simply want to distinguish these differences so that you the reader can make an informed decision for yourself. We invite you to read through the following articles and see Roman Catholic Doctrine compared, side by side, with the scriptures.
We believe both doctrines will clearly speak for themselves.
On judgment day, we won’t have our parents, our priest or pastor, our “church” or our friends to stand up for us. No matter who it is or what group is proclaiming “truth,” we know that the Bible is the Word of God and that no truth from God will contradict it. Since the Catholic Church holds the Bible to be the word of God, let’s compare the Catholic doctrine to the teachings of the Bible.
Click on the articles below to understand the difference in teachings:
These articles used with permission from:
Webster, William. Salvation, The Bible, And Roman Catholicism, The Banner of Truth Trust: Pennsylvania, 1990.
The author expressed his thanks to the following publishers for permission to quote from their material (the documents below carry the official authorization of the Vatican):
I. The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, in Philip Shaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Baker Book House (1919 ed.).
II. The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott S.J., General Editor, Association Press, Follett Publishing Company, 1966.
III. The Code of the Canon Law, Prepared by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland in Association with The Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Canadian Canon Law Society, William Collins and William B. Eedmans Publishing Company, 1983.
John Paul II makes the following comments concerning The Code of The Canon Law:
“It is hoped that this English Version of the Code will be a fitting resource for an attentive and fruitful study for the law of the Church…”
“We order that henceforth it is to have the force of law for the whole latin Church, and we commit its observance to the care and vigilance of all who are responsible.”
IV. The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, John A. Hardon S.J., Image Books, Doubleday and Company, 1981
What do Mormons believe?
Written by: www.GotQuestions.org
Question: “Is Mormonism a cult? What do Mormons believe?”
Answer: The Mormon religion was founded less than two hundred years ago by a man named Joseph Smith. He claimed to have received a personal visit from God the Father and Jesus Christ and told that all churches and their creeds were an abomination. Joseph set out to impose a brand-new religion that claims to be the “only true church on earth.” The problem with Mormonism is that it contradicts, modifies, and expands on the Bible. Christians have no reason to believe that the Bible is not true and adequate. To truly believe in and trust God means to believe in His Word. And all Scripture is inspired by God, which means it comes from Him (2 Timothy 3:16).
Mormons believe that there are in fact four sources of divinely inspired words, instead of just one. 1) The Bible “as far as it is translated correctly.” Which verses are incorrectly translated are not always made clear 2) The Book of Mormon was “translated” by Smith and published in 1830. Smith claimed it is the “most correct book” on earth, and that a person could get closer to God by following its precepts, “than by any other book.” 3) The Doctrine and Covenants is considered scripture by Mormons, containing a collection of modern revelations regarding the “Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored.” 4) The Pearl of the Great Price is considered by Mormons to “clarify” doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and adds its own information about the earth’s creation.
Mormons believe these things about God: that He has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe, but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort. They believe God the Father has a “body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.” Though abandoned by modern Mormon leaders, Brigham Young taught that Adam actually was God and the father of Jesus Christ. Christians know this about God: there is only One true God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10, 44:6-8), that He always has and always will exist (Deuteronomy 33:27, Psalm 90:2, 1 Timothy 1:17), and that He was not created, but is the Creator (Genesis chapter1, Psalm 24:1, Isaiah 37:16). He is perfect and no one else is equal to Him (Psalm 86:8, Isaiah 40:25). God the Father is not a man, nor was He ever (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9). He is Spirit (John 4:24), and Spirit is not made of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).
Mormons believe that there are different levels or kingdoms in the afterlife: The Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, the Telestial Kingdom and outer darkness. Where mankind will end up depends on what they believe and do in this mortal life. The Bible tells us that after death, we go to Heaven or Hell based on whether we had faith in Jesus or not. To be absent from our bodies as believers means we are with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Unbelievers are sent to Hell, or the place of the dead (Luke 16:22-23). When Jesus comes for the second time, we will receive new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). There will be a New Heaven and New Earth for believers (Revelation 21:1), and unbelievers will be thrown into an everlasting lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). There is no second chance for redemption after death (Hebrews 9:27).
Mormon leaders have taught that Jesus’ incarnation was the result of a physical relationship between God the Father and Mary. They believe Jesus is a God, but that any human can also become a god. Christians historically have taught that God is Triune and that He exists eternally as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). No one can achieve the status of God, only He is holy (1 Samuel 2:2). We can only be made holy in God’s sight through faith in Him (1 Corinthians 1:2). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16) and is the only one ever to have lived a sinless, blameless life, who now has the highest place of honor in Heaven (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus and God are one in essence, Jesus being the only One existing before physical birth (John 1:1-8, 8:56). Jesus gave Himself to us as a sacrifice, and God raised Him from the dead, and one day everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus tells us it is impossible to get to Heaven by our own works, only with faith in Him is it possible (Matthew 19:26). And many will not choose Him. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way” (Matthew 7:13). We all deserve eternal punishment for our sins, but God’s infinite love and grace has allowed us a way out. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Clearly there is only one way to receive salvation; to know God and His Son, Jesus (John 17:3). It is not done by works, but by faith (Romans 1:17, 3:28). When we have this faith, we will automatically be obedient to God’s laws and become baptized out of love for Him, but not because it is a requirement for salvation. We can receive this gift no matter who we are or what we have done (Romans 3:22). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Although Mormons are usually friendly, loving, and kind people – they are involved in a false religion that distorts the nature of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the means of salvation.
Recommended Resource: Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormons by Ron Rhodes.
© Copyright 2002-2008 Got Questions Ministries.
For more information on this and other subjects go to: www.GotQuestions.org
Written by: www.GotQuestions.org
Question: “Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and what are their beliefs?”
Answer: The sect known today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses started out in Pennsylvania in 1870, as a Bible class started by Charles Taze Russell. Russell named his group the “Millennial Dawn Bible Study.” Charles T. Russell began writing a series of books he called “The Millennial Dawn,” which stretched to six volumes before his death and contained much of the theology Jehovah’s Witnesses now hold. After Russell’s death in 1916, Judge J. F. Rutherford, Russell’s friend and successor, wrote the seventh and final volume of the “Millennial Dawn” series, “The Finished Mystery,” in 1917. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was founded in 1886 and quickly became the vehicle through which the “Millennial Dawn” movement began distributing their views to others. The group was known as the “Russellites” until 1931 when, due to a split in the organization, it was renamed the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The group from which it split became known as the “Bible students.
”What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their doctrinal position on such subjects as the Deity of Jesus, Salvation, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Atonement, etc., shows beyond a doubt that they do not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14; 8:58; 10:30). Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless Scriptures which declare salvation to be received by faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to a ransom theory of the atonement, in which Jesus’ death paid only for what mankind lost when Adam sinned – namely, the right to perfect life on earth. Thus, they believe in a faith + works arrangement, where sin and death are freely atoned for by Christ, but physical perfection is attained through personal effort, coupled with faith in Christ.
How do the Jehovah’s Witnesses justify these unbiblical doctrines? (1) They claim that the church has, over the centuries, corrupted the Bible, and (2) They have re-translated the Bible in what they call the New World Translation. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society altered the text of the Bible to make it fit their false doctrine – rather than basing their doctrine on what the Bible teaches. The New World Translation has gone through numerous editions, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses discover more and more Scriptures that contradict their doctrines.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are readily shown to be a cult that is only loosely based upon Scripture. The Watchtower bases its beliefs and doctrines on the original and expanded teachings of Charles Taze Russell, Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and their successors. The Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the only body in the cult that claims authority to interpret Scripture. In other words, what the Governing Body says concerning any Scriptural passage is viewed as the last word, and independent thinking is strongly discouraged. This is in direct opposition of Paul’s admonition to Timothy (and to us as well) to study to show yourself approved of God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God. This admonition, found in 2 Timothy 2:15, is a clear instruction from God to each of His individual children in the Body of Christ to be like the Berean Christians and search the Scriptures daily to see if the things they are being taught line up with what His Word has to say on the subject.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses should be commended for their “evangelistic efforts.” There is probably no religious group that is more faithful than the Jehovah’s Witnesses at getting their message out. Unfortunately, the message is full of distortions, deceptions, and false doctrine. May God open the eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the truth of the Gospel and the true teaching of God’s Word.
© Copyright 2002-2008 Got Questions Ministries.
For more information on this and other subjects go to: www.GotQuestions.org
Written by: www.GotQuestions.org
Question: “What is Islam, and why do Muslims believe?”
Answer: Let’s briefly examine the history of Islam and the beliefs of Muslims.
The history of Islam The religion of Islam was begun early in the 7th century by a man named Muhammad. He claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel. During these angelic visitations, which continued for about 23 years until Muhammad’s death, the angel purportedly revealed to Muhammad the words of God (called “Allah” in Arabic and by Muslims). These dictated revelations comprise the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.
The beliefs of Muslims Muslims, the followers of Islam, believe the Qur’an to be the preexistent and perfect word of Allah. Further, many Muslims reject an English, or any other language, version of the Qur’an. These are translations of the meaning of the Qur’an, which only exists in Arabic.
Although the Qur’an is the main holy book, the sunnah is considered the second source of religious instruction. The sunnah was written by Muhammad’s companions about what Muhammad said, did, or approved.
The key beliefs of Islam are that Allah is the only true God and that Muhammad was Allah’s prophet. By simply stating these beliefs, a person can convert to Islam. The word Muslim means “one who submits to Allah.” Islam purports to be the one true religion of which all other religions have derived themselves from or been created in a mockery of (including Judaism and Christianity).Muslims base their lives on the Five Pillars:
1. The testimony of faith: “There is no true god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the
Messenger (Prophet) of God.”
2. Prayer: five prayers must be performed every day.
3. Giving: one must give to the needy, as all comes from Allah.
4. Fasting: besides occasional fasting, all Muslims must fast during the celebration of
Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar).
5. Hajj: the pilgrimage to Makkah should be performed at least once (in the twelfth month of
the Islamic calendar).
These five tenets, the framework of obedience for Muslims, are taken seriously and literally. A Muslim’s entrance into paradise hinges on obedience to these Five Pillars.
Islam compared to Christianity In relation to Christianity, Islam has several similarities but significant differences. Like Christianity, Islam is monotheistic, but it rejects the concept of the Trinity. Islam accepts certain portions of the Bible, such as the Law and the Gospels, but rejects the majority of it as slanderous and uninspired.
Islam claims that Jesus was a mere prophet – not God’s Son (only Allah is God, Muslims believe, and how could He have a Son?). Rather, Islam asserts that Jesus, though born of a virgin, was created just as Adam – from the dust of the earth. Muslims believe Jesus did not die on the cross. Although denied by Islam, the Trinity and Christ’s redemption on the cross are central to Christianity.
Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the final authority and the last revelation of Allah. The Bible, however, was completed in the 1st century with the Book of Revelation. The Lord warned against anyone adding to His finished Word (Revelation 22:18). The Qur’an, as a claimed addition to God’s Word, directly disobeys God’s command.
Finally, Islam teaches that paradise is gained through good works and obedience to the Qur’an. The Bible, in contrast, reveals that man cannot measure up to the holy God. Only because of His mercy and love can sinners be saved through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Truth Therefore, Islam and Christianity cannot both be true. One is God’s Word and one is not. The truth has eternal consequences.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-4).
Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norm Geisler.
What is the new age movement?
Written by: www.GotQuestions.org
Question: “What is the new age movement?”
Answer: The expression “New Age” came into existence in the 1970s and 1980s. It was encouraged along by the circulation of the New Age Journal, and a book by Mark Satin called New Age Politics. Marilyn Ferguson’s best selling Aquarian Conspiracy, was a presentation of the social agenda and philosophical vision of the New Age. Ferguson’s writing attained status as the unofficial scripture of the movement.
As Russell Chandler, one time religious writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote in his small booklet, Understanding The New Age, “But if Ferguson wrote the New Age ‘Bible,‘ Shirley MacLaine is its high priestess. (Pages 6-1)
Shirley MacLaine’s book, Out On A Limb, chronicled her reluctant conversion to New Age belief. This book included her travels and studies, which included science fiction — like dimensions out-of-body travel, contact with extraterrestrial beings, and “trance channeling” (séances) — a “guided tour” of the unseen world. MacLaine’s second book, Dancing In The Light, told about her reach into the world of yoga, reincarnation, crystal power, Hindu mantras, and past-life recall experiences mediated through acupuncture. Her spirit guides informed her that each individual is God, and she pass along the wisdom to a friend that the person was unlimited. One only had to realize it. (Chandler, Page 6-2).
New Age thinking has its roots, then, in Eastern mysticism which likes to by pass the mind. There is a new organ of perception, the third eye, which gives spiritual light. One needs to get to the “psychic self” by training one’s self to ignore the messages from the mind. Really it is throwing the mind in neutral.
The Western mind, of course, is trained differently. We are people who use our reason, hopefully. The New Age thinkers came along and said that the mind is not by-passed, but it is actually the mind that is achieving “cosmic consciousness” They tell us that the mind can create reality.
Neil Anderson in his timely book, Walking Through The Darkness, writes this about the New Age Movement, “The New Age movement is not seen a s a religion but a new way to think and understand reality. It’s very attractive to the natural man who has become disillusioned with organized religion and Western rationalism. He desires spiritual reality but doesn’t want to give up materialism, deal with his moral problems or come under authority.” (Page 22). Then Anderson goes on and summarizes the New Age thinking (pages 22-24).
(1) It is monism. The belief that all is one and one is all. History is not the story of humanity’s fall into sin and its restoration by God’s saving grace. Rather, it is humanity’s fall into ignorance and the gradual ascent into enlightenment.
(2) All is God. If one is one, including God, then one must conclude that all is God. It is pantheism – trees, snails, books, and people are all of one divine essence. A personal God who has revealed Himself in the Bible and in Jesus Christ is completely abandoned. Since God is impersonal, the New Ager doesn’t have to be served. He is an “it,” not an “He.”
(3) There is a change in consciousness. If we are God, we need to know we are God. We must become cosmically conscious, also called “at-one-ment (a counterfeit of atonement) self-realization, god-realization, enlightenment nor attune-ment. Some who reach this enlightened status will claim to be “born again.” This is counterfeit biblical conversion. The real essential is not whether or not we be believe or meditate, but who we believe in and what we meditate upon. Christ is true personal objective reality as He said that He was the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
(4) A cosmic evolutionary optimism is taught. There is a New Age coming. There will be a new world order, a new world government. The New Age thinkers believe that there will eventually be a progressive unification of world consciousness. This, of course, according to the Bible is a counterfeit kingdom led by Satan himself. Christ has the true kingdom which will one day rule on earth with peace for all who accept Him as Savior and King.
(5) New Agers create their own reality. They believe that they can create reality by what they believe, so by changing what they believe, they can change reality. All moral boundaries have been erased by the metaphysical influence of Taoism’s yin and yang, the ebb and flow of competing and complementary forces. There are no absolutes because there is no distinction between good and evil. Nothing has reality until one says that it is reality or says that it is truth. If finite man can create truth, we are in desperate trouble in our society. Unless there are eternal absolutes from the eternal God, man will eventually be his own destruction.
(6) New Agers make contact with the kingdom of darkness. Calling a medium a “channeler,” and a demon a “spirit guide” has not changed the reality of what they are. This is the kingdom of darkness of which Satan is the head, who asked Eve, “Has God said?” Those involved in this kind of activity are in contact with the world that is totally opposed to the biblical God revealed to us in Jesus Christ who defeated Satan in His life (Matthew 4:1-11), and then through His death and bodily resurrection, Christ defeated Satan (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-18).
The New Age movement is a counterfeit movement that appeals to the minds of individuals leading them to think that that they are God and can enhance their lives through their own person. If this is thought through, it becomes quickly apparent that this is impossible. We are born, grow up, live awhile on planet earth and die. Humans are finite. We can never be God. We need someone greater than us yet like us who can come and provide us forgiveness and life eternal. Only One has filled this description, the God-man, Jesus Christ. Through His death and bodily resurrection for us, He has won for us what we desperately need, forgiveness before God and life that guarantees us purpose and meaning in this life with life beyond the grave. Don’t miss out on who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for you. Read John 3 in the Bible. Ask Christ to be your Savior if you have never made that decision for Him. Your life will be transformed and you will know who you are, why you are here, and where you are going.
Recommended Resource: Jesus Among Other gods by Ravi Zacharias.