Reformers of the Reformation: Jehovah's Witnessesby Lawrence Fox
|Author Lawrence Fox's copy of "The Way to Paradise"|
"The Way to Paradise" was copyrighted in 1924 and published by the International Bible Students Association, Brooklyn, New York in 1925. The purpose of the book was to narrate for bustling members of the Watchtower Society, “A brief history of the 7,000 years of sin from the time when sin was unknown to the time when again there will be no sin along with Scriptural biographies of Michael who became the Christ and of Lucifer who became the Devil.” What follows is a brief summary of the doctrines, themes, and notions describe in the delicate book along with a few personal observations. It is not my intention to answer every belief of the Jehovah's Witnesses in this piece.
Way to Paradise in SummaryJehovah's Witnesses taught that God is a monistic (solitary) being who dwells in a specific place where flesh and blood cannot enter. This is one of the arguments made in the book against the Christian Doctrine of Jesus’ Resurrection from the Dead and Ascension into Heaven. Jesus’ physical Resurrection is also rejected by Atheists, Modernists, Materialists and Muslims.
Contrast the tender image of St. Thomas, the doubter, touching the wounds of Jesus in the upper room after the bodily Resurrection of
|The Apostle Thomas touching the wounds|
of Christ after His Bodily Resurrection
Jehovah's Witness deny Jesus’s Resurrection due to an imagination which dictates that God is a solitary being who lives in a place that flesh and blood cannot inhabit; therefore Jesus Christ Incarnate cannot enter heaven with a Resurrected Body.
So what's wrong with that? God is not locked in a place that flesh and blood cannot enter. He is transcendent, outside time and place. God's inner life is not solitary like man's. He is one divine nature in a Communion of Three
According to the Watchtower, Michael the Archangel was Jehovah’s first creation and all things were created with the assistance of this creature also identified as God’s Word. This Michael was not divine and immortal until he first proved his worthiness to receive such honors.
|Christ is not -- according to the Watchtower Society --|
the Good Shepherd. He is a just a sheep.
The dog ceases to exist and is made into a sheep. As a sheep, it dies and no longer exists. Then it wakes up recreated as a human without an abiding spirit or soul. The farmer knew the dog when it was a dog, as a sheep when it was a sheep, and now knows the sheep as a human like himself. This is not Christian incarnation, it's not even Hindu re-incarnation since with each transitional state nothing of the previous state existed except the farmer's memory of each transitional state. The analogy given by the author is completely rooted in his imagination. It is not rooted in Divine Revelation (oral and written) nor is it rooted in reason.
The Watchtower Society professes that
|Jesus once was St. Michael,|
according to the Watchtower
They argue that humans have a physical mind capable of imagining spiritual thoughts, concepts, and abstractions without owning a soul or spirit. In this sense, they share the same faith as an atheist and materialist. Strange bedfellows.
|The Materialist's view of how Jesus reads|
others' thoughts using electro-magnetic waves!
Jesus of Nazareth was a man without a soul, who performed miracles by the will of Jehovah. Jesus was put to death and utterly died on the cross. Jehovah’s recorded memory of Jesus is what was committed back into the hands of Jehovah at the cross. Note that without a soul, there is no self-awareness in God's creatures.
According to the Witnesses, Jesus’ body was taken from the tomb by Jehovah and hidden so that Christians would not worship his body. This is the same reason Witnesses argue Jehovah took and hid Moses’ body, which was never found by the people of Israel. It is unclear -- in the Witness theology -- what Jesus and his Apostles saw when they saw and heard Moses and Elijah on the Mountain of Transfiguration. One can only assume that both Moses and Elijah were spirit creatures at that point in time. Jesus’ Transfiguration is a mystery in the Jehovah Witness theology since Jesus was a man without spirit or soul and bodies generally do not become brilliant on their own. I speak sarcastically.
Heaven is a place in the Witnesses's theology where a flesh and blood resurrected body could not enter. Therefore, after his death, Michael/Jesus was re-created as a divine spirit. In other words, what Jehovah's Witnesses do not understand is that Jesus had a glorified body after His Resurrection, therefore He was able to enter into heaven.
In the "Way to Paradise," Jesus death on the cross was only meant to substitute Adam’s human nature as a means of avoiding punishment. Jesus’s death really had nothing to do with justification and sanctification (nor could it). Men cannot save men; only God can save men and since Jesus was not God Incarnate, nothing was really reconciled, justified or sanctified by Jesus through the Cross. In a material sense, amnesty was awarded to Adam’s sinful humanity by the actions of another man. So in a strange manner, Jesus provided an excuse for Adam's sin.
Divine Revelation demonstrates, however, that as a result of the very real Incarnation of Jesus Christ, humanity now participates in God's divine nature. Men and women are now adopted sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus. This is because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) No detours, no Michael, no sheep nor dogs.
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1John 3:2) This means that we cannot see God face to face until we have received the Spirit of Christ.
The "Wrong" Way to Paradise teaches that familiar anit-Catholic diatribe that after the death of Jesus, the true followers of the bible were persecuted by the Catholic Church and the world entered into Dark Ages. Yes, the Bible, which was formed and canonized by the Catholic Church, was hidden and burned by the same Catholic Church. It is again an abysmal reading of Church History. These Dark Ages remained in place, the JWs say, until the 19th century when bibles (by the Watchtower Society) were made available to peoples everywhere. The author noted that in 1924 a great Spiritual Enlightenment is growing in the world as a result of so many bibles being printed and distributed. A bible here and a bible there all translated and read and interpreted by everyone to mean just about anything one wants paradoxically devolves into a spiritual deadening, not an awakening.
According to the author, Van Amburgh, Satan managed to convince Emperor Constantine of Rome to form a council of Bishops in 325 AD for the purpose of identifying Jesus as God, the Holy Spirit as God and the Father as God; all three Persons as "one Person," the Witnesses explain. Constantine apparently did this so that Christians would become heathens and fight for the Roman Empire. I am not sure what the abysmal interpretation of the Council has to do with Christians becoming soldiers. Anyway, it is argued in the most sophomoric sense by JWs, that 1 + 1+ 1 = 3, and 3 is not equal to 1 and that the son cannot be as old as the father. And therefore, Constantine created the doctrine of the Trinity so that the empire would have more soldiers.
I guess the plethora of epitaphs, homilies, sermons, apologetics, epistles, and tessera sent between dioceses which identified the various martyrs as Catholic Christians is simply fiction. So sad.
Now, according to the Watchtower, the various epochs of the world can be interpreted from various tunnels and caverns located in the Pyramids.
|Watchtower Pyramid Memorial at Gravesite of JW Founder Charles Russell|
According to the Watchtower, Christ returned invisibly in 1914. He had to come invisibly because it was foretold in the Bible in Stone (the Pyramids) that he would come, and then he failed to show up.
Yes, the bible and Bible in Stone tell us that 1914 AD is the beginning of Jehovah’s Invisible Kingdom on Earth. Yes, the Bible and Bible in Stone together confirm that by 1925-1926 there will be a great ouster of Satan’s Kingdoms from the Earth, ushering in a new era. The tragedy is this is a literal written prophesy within the Watchtower Society. But instead of what they expected, what emerged were the atheist materialist movements of Nazism, Communism, Liberalism and Socialism. It seemed like the Bible in Stone predicted the return of Satan, not Jesus.
According to the Watchtower, there are two separate contracts with mankind. In one, some humans will live in heaven as spirit creatures. And in the other, the remainder of men will live as a perfect Adam on earth. Those living in heaven will number about 144,000.
Humanity will one day live on earth under the protection of Jesus (the spirit creature). In this state, man will learn not to lie, not to steal, not to murder, and begin to live longer because they will be living purer lives. Mankind will eventually be restored to Adam’s original human perfection before the fall. Though how this will happen is a mystery as it's a materialistic religion, and people do not experience conversion of their hearts.
All those who died in previous ages will then be resurrected. They will be surprised, of course, to see airplanes, cars, telephones, lights and they will wonder what has transpired, “One moment we were sick and dying and the next moment we see such wonderful technology.” Since they do not have souls they have no memory of death or being placed in the grave. The Way to Paradise then states, “We who are alive prior to their resurrection must prepare our homes and places to welcome all our loved ones who will come back to life.”
Just like Atheism, Islam, and Mormonism, in the Watchtower Paradise, humans were not created to know, love, serve and be happy with God forever in Heaven. In other words, God is not the final end of His creatures. Like the 72 virgins in Islam, JWs look forward to a carnal blessedness.
That is because Jehovah is locked in a specific place and is not omnipresent, nor transcendent and man does not possess an eternal soul, nor any self-awareness (except in a mechanical sense). And everything in the Bible is not really clear unless first interpreted by the Watchtower Society.
This ends the "Wrong" Way to Paradise.
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