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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Faith - Once Saved, Always Saved?

Faith, Believe, "Exercising Faith"

w90 12/1 p. 30 Questions From Readers:

Why does the New World Translation at times render the Greek word pi·steu'o as "believe" (like most translations) and at other times as "exercise [or put] faith in"?

This is done to reflect different shades of meaning that are expressed by the Greek word pi·steu'o.

For example, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, by James Moulton, notes that early Christians clearly recognized "the importance of the difference between mere belief . . . and personal trust." Both these thoughts can be expressed using the Greek word pi·steu'o.

Often, the different shades of meaning of pi·steu'o must be discerned from the context. At times, though, different grammatical constructions help us to see what the writer had in mind. For example, if pi·steu'o is followed merely by a noun in the dative case, the New World Translation usually renders it simply as "believe" - unless the context indicates something different. (Matthew 21:25, 32; but see Romans 4:3.) If pi·steu'o is followed by the word e·pi', "on," it is generally rendered "believe on." (Matthew 27:42; Acts 16:31) If it is followed by eis, "to" [or "into" - RDB], it is usually translated "exercise faith in." - John 12:36; 14:1.

This latter rendering (which reminds us that pi·steu'o is related to the Greek word pi'stis, "faith") is in harmony with a comment in An Introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek, by Paul Kaufman. This work says: "Another construction which is common in the New Testament (especially in John's Gospel) is pisteuw [pi·steu'o] with eij [eis] and the accusative case [as found at John 3:16] . . . The whole construction of eij plus the accusative must be translated rather than attempting to translate the preposition eij as an isolated word. Faith is thought of as an activity, as something men do, i.e. putting faith into someone."

* * * * *

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
("Indispensable for advanced theological students and scholars as well as for ordinary Bible Students." - Christianity Today):

"pistij (pistis), faith; pisteuo (pisteuo), believe .... CL 1. (a) In classical Gk literature .... With reference to people, pisteuo means to obey." ....
"(b) Originally the word-group denoted conduct that honoured an agreement or bond. .... [p. 594]

"[NT] 2. Paul and the Pauline Tradition. .... `Faith' means receiving the message of salvation and conduct based on the gospel. .... [p. 601]

"4. The Understanding of Faith in the Rest of the NT. .... [James] demands renunciation of all conduct that conflicts with living faith and confession (1:6ff.). For him, faith and obedient conduct are indissolubly linked. Faith understood merely as trust and confession is not able to save. Only through obedience ... and conduct which fulfills the commandments of God does faith come to completion (James 2:22). .... For the thesis which Jas. wishes to argue is that `faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead' (2:17)." [pp. 603-605] - Vol. 1, Zondervan Publ., 1986.

* * * * *

The New Bible Dictionary (which Christianity Today describes as "true to the Bible as God's word" and "destined to become a standard that will be turned to often by students and ministers alike") says about pisteuo:

"The man who really believes God will, of course, act on that belief. In other words, a genuine belief that what God has revealed as true will issue in a true faith. .... [p. 367]

"Faith implies complete reliance on God and full obedience to God." [p. 368] - Tyndale House Publ., 1984.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament tells us about pisteuo:

* * * * *

"C. Faith in Judaism. 1. The OT Legacy .... The OT [Septuagint] term, however, carries a stronger element [than in even the classical Greek] of acknowledgment and obedience. [pp. 852, 853]
"D. The pistis Group in the NT. .... 1. Continuation of the OT and Jewish Tradition..... b. pisteuo as `to obey.' Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13." [pp. 853, 854] - Kittel & Friedrich, Eerdmans Publ., 1992 reprint.

* * * * *
The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament ("a standard in the field") also tells us:

"4100.... a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messish ... conjoined with obedience to Christ." - p. 511, Joseph H. Thayer, Baker Book House, 1977.

* * * * *
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics
says concerning pisteuo specifically as found at John 3:16: 

"John 3:16 paj o[ pisteuwn [eij]
everyone who believes [into]
The idea seems to be both gnomic and continual: `everyone who continually believes.' 

This is not due to the present tense only, but to the use of the present participle 
[pisteuwn] of pisteuw." - p. 620, Daniel B. Wallace, Zondervan Publ., 1996.

* * * * *

Dr. William Barclay discusses pisteuo as used at John 3:15 (also in present participle form, pisteuwn, as defined above by Wallace):

"So then belief [pisteuw] in Jesus has these three elements - [1] belief that God is our loving Father, [2] belief that Jesus is the son of God and therefore tells us the truth about God and life, and [3] unswerving and unquestioning obedience to Jesus." - p. 136, Vol. 2, The Gospel of John, Rev. ed., The Daily Study Bible Series, The Westminster Press, 1975.

* * * * *

Even Martin Luther tells us, 

"It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire." And, "In chapter 12 [of Romans], Paul speaks of the true way of serving God. He shows that all Christians are priests,.... He then describes the outward conduct of Christians under the discipline of the spirit; how they must teach, preach ... and act towards friend, foe, and fellow-man. These are the works which a Christian does, for, as I have said, faith is not an inert thing." - from the Preface of the Epistle to the Romans as quoted in Martin Luther, selections from his writings, Doubleday Publishing, 1961, pp. 24 & 33.

* * * * *

So, much more is involved in real Faith than just passively believing something.
Notice this contrasting parallel in John 3:36:

"He who believes [pisteuwn] in [eij] the Son has eternal life; But he who does not obey the Son shall not see life" - NASB.

We find pisteuwn used in a parallel sense to `obey' here. There has to be, at least, a strong element of obedience understood to be in the word pisteuwn, or the contrasting parallel used by John would be senseless.

* * * * *
Luther also said, 

"Furthermore, every man is responsible for his own faith, and he must see to it for himself that he believes rightly." - Martin Luther, p. 385.

From "Christian Discussions" an on-line discussion group:
"Faith" – A Word of Action

One of the most absurd statements that we ever read was from a denominationalist who declared: "Faith is the only thing that one can do without doing anything." The affirmation is a textbook case of contradiction. 

The following examples will clearly reveal that genuine faith is not a mere attitude; rather, it is a word of action.

1. Jesus was teaching in the city of Capernaum. The crowds so pressed around Him that some who sought His presence could not gain access to the Lord. Four enterprising men brought a lame friend, climbed to the rooftop of the house wherein Christ was teaching, and lowered their impotent companion through the ceiling. Significantly, the inspired writer comments: "And Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). 

What did Christ see? He literally saw the action of these men (including the sick man who obviously endorsed the activity). But the action is called faith. In a similar vein, James challenged: "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith" (Jas. 2:18).

2. John 3:16 is perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, but it is one of the most misunderstood. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." 

Does the "belief" of this passage include obedience, or exclude it? A comparison of this verse with Hebrews 5:9 reveals that the former is the case. In John 3:16 believing results in eternal life. In Hebrews 5:9, eternal salvation is said to issue from obedience to Christ. It thus should be quite clear that the belief that saves is one that manifests itself in obeying the Son of God. True faith is not just a mental process. 

3. Note this declaration from the Lord: "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36 ASV). 

We have cited the ASV here because it is more accurate in its rendition of the original language than is the KJV. The term in the latter portion of the verse is apeitheo, which, according to Balz & Schneider, literally means "to disobey" (118). In this passage "believing" is set in vivid contrast to disobedience.

Is not Christ suggesting that the one who obeys the Son is promised life, but the person who disobeys will not receive such? 

Observe a similar usage in Acts 14:1, 2 ". . . a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren." 

In the book of Hebrews we are informed that God was displeased with many rebellious Israelites who died in the wilderness. They were condemned because they were "disobedient" – yes, they were not allowed to enter the promised land due to their "unbelief" (Heb. 3:18, 19). Continuing that analogy, it will be those who have "believed" who will enter the final rest (4:3), but those who are "disobedient" will not (4:6). 

The Bible knows nothing of true "faith" that is divorced from obedience. 

4. When a jailor in the city of Philippi feared for his life during an earthquake that rocked the prison, he pled with Paul and Silas: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" God's messengers proclaimed to him the gospel. Evincing repentance (for having beaten his prisoners), the jailor washed their stripes. Subsequently, he and his family were immersed (Acts 16:31-33). 

Significantly, this entire process is summed up in this fashion: "And he . . . rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God" (34). It is clear that the participle, "having believed," includes the jailor's repentance and his baptism. 

5. The book of Romans demonstrates that faith is an action term. For example, Paul commends the "faith" of these saints, which, says he, is "proclaimed throughout the whole world" (1:8). As he concludes the epistle he again congratulates them: "For your obedience is come abroad unto all men" (16:19). Faith and obedience are parallel in these verses. In fact, at the beginning and end of the book, the expression "obedience of faith" stands like guardian sentinels, defining the character of biblical faith (1:5; 16:26). In Romans 10:16, those who refused to "obey the gospel" fulfilled Isaiah's prediction that some would not "believe" the divine report. 

6. That the "faith" system of the New Testament is not merely a mental phenomenon is evidenced by Galatians 3:26, 27. There Paul declares: "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For [a conjunction of explanation] as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." 
Immersion was an integral part of the faith process. Later, to the same people, the apostle affirmed that the faith that avails is that which is "working through love" (Gal. 5:6). The fact of the matter is, believing itself is a work (cf. John 6:27-29; cf. 1 Thes. 1:3). 

7. James shows the connection between faith and obedience when he writes: "Was not Abraham our father justified by works [obedience], in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? You see that faith operated with his works [obedience], and by works [his obedience] was [his] faith made complete; and the scripture was fulfilled which says, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God" (Jas. 2:21-23). 

If faith plus obedience constitutes one as a "friend of God," how would one be characterized who has faith minus obedience? 

8. Those who possessed genuine intellectual-emotional faith were granted the "right to become" children of God (John 1:12), but they were not, by that faith, automatically constituted sons of God. 

9. That "faith alone" is invalid as a means of redemption is revealed by a number of biblical examples. 
There were many Jews who "believed on" Christ (John 8:30,31), but their faith was not operative, hence, the Lord appropriately described them as children of the devil (8:44). 

(a) There were those among the Hebrew rulers who "believed on him [Christ]," but because of Pharisaic pressure they would not confess their faith; they loved the glory of men more than that of God (John 12:42). 

(b) Will anyone contend that these proud egotists were saved simply because they "believed" (cf. Matt. 12:32)? What was the flaw in their theology? 

Luke records that when Christ was preached, "a great number that believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:21). The construction of the original language indicates that the "believing" was prior to the "turning," hence, turning to the Lord involved something in addition to their faith. 

(c) The Language Authorities

It is this type of biblical evidence that has compelled leading New Testament language authorities to acknowledge that "faith" is more than a mere philosophy of belief. Genuine faith cannot be separated from submission to the Lord. 
Liddell & Scott show that the verb pisteuo (believe) can mean "to comply" (1273). 

H. Cremmer stated that the noun pistis (faith), both in the Old and New Testaments "is a bearing towards God and His revelation which recognizes and confides in Him and in it, which not only acknowledges and holds to His word as true, but practically applies and appropriates it." (482). 
W.E. Vine noted that pistis involves "a personal surrender" to Christ (71). 

Lexicographer J.H. Thayer commented that pisteuo includes "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah" – the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ." (511). 

O. Michael has stated: "Faith understood merely as trust and confession is not able to save. Only through obedience . . . and conduct which fulfills the commandments of God does faith come to completion (Jas. 2:22)" (604). 

Bultmann contended that "`to believe' is `to obey'" (205). He stressed that this is particularly emphasized in Hebrews 11:7. He further made this interesting comment: "According to Paul, the event of salvation history is actualized for the individual, not in pious experience, but in his baptism (Gl. 3:27-29). Faith makes it his. Hence faith is not at the end of the way to God, as in Philo. It is at the beginning" (217). 

Alan Richardson declared that faith "is confident reliance on God. It is the act by which he lays hold on God's proffered resources, becomes obedient to what God prescribes, and, abandoning all self-interest and self-reliance, trusts God completely. . . . Obedience, conformity to what God prescribes, is the inevitable concomitant of believing" (75, 76). 


The doctrine of salvation by "faith alone" does not have the support of Scripture. It has resulted from a sincere – but misguided – reaction to Roman Catholicism. Those who have embraced this philosophy should carefully restudy the question of salvation.


"Once Saved, Always Saved" (?)

1 Tim. 4:16 – After listing some of the things that Timothy must [NRSV] insist on and teach (4:11-4:15), Paul writes to him: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers." – NRSV. [Emphasis added]. Although Paul believed Timothy was in a saved state at the moment, he did not consider it as something assured!

The Awake! Magazine covered this in a brief article:

The Bible's View
"Once Saved, Always Saved"—How Certain?

`THE "Son of Sam" killer terrorized New York city residents for more than a year, killing six random victims and wounding several others. Yet the person accused of the crime reportedly had been "saved" at a church meeting about four years before his reign of terror began.

`A former army friend of the suspect who had invited him to the church meeting relates that the new convert "came up to me grinning and laughing and saying, `Man, I'm saved.' Then we came back that same day for the evening service and he went forward again at the invitation [to accept Christ]. He told me afterward that he just wanted to make sure it [being "saved"] took."

Upon hearing the charges against this former member of her church, another member told the Associated Press: "I'm just thankful he was saved." Why? She declared: "The Bible says, once saved, always saved."—New York Post, August 25, 1977, p. 2.

`Does the Bible actually say, "Once saved, always saved"? No, it does not use those words in any specific text, but many sincere people believe that this is what the Bible teaches. And it is true that a number of Bible texts indicate that the basis for salvation is not one's works, but, rather, faith in Jesus Christ, together with God's "grace" and mercy. (Eph. 2:8, 9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:4, 5) Additionally, Jesus himself said that "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."—John 3:36, Authorized Version (AV); 1 John 5:13.

`From such references it is often reasoned that if one `has everlasting life,' he actually possesses it permanently; it cannot be lost, or, as many would have it: "Once saved, always saved." However, does this understanding fully express the Scriptural view of gaining everlasting life?

`Well, Christians concerned about their salvation may also wish to consider Jesus' declaration that "he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10:22; 24:12, 13; Mark 13:13, AV) And the apostle Paul comments similarly: "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."—Heb. 3:14, AV.

`How are we to reconcile these seeming disparities? Surely these servants of God were not contradicting themselves. Rather, were they not merely expressing the same understanding from different viewpoints? The apostle Paul provides the key to harmonizing these viewpoints.

`Time and again Paul likens the Christian's course to a "race" that must be run to the finish. "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us," he urged the Hebrews. (12:1, AV) To enter the race, sinners must take the steps necessary for salvation: hearing and accepting the Word of God, believing in Jesus Christ and his ransom sacrifice, repenting of their sins and being baptized. In this way, they get saved "from this crooked generation," as Peter exhorted those gathered at Pentecost. Unbelievers are outside the race, having failed to enter by getting "saved."—Acts 2:37-40, Revised Standard Version (RSV); 16:31-33; Rom. 10:13, 14.

`Once entered in the race by being "saved," a Christian takes "hold of the life which is life indeed." But is it possible to lose that grip on life? Paul answers with this question: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?" In the Christian race, Paul indicates the "one" who receives the prize is anyone who finishes the race. Therefore, Paul urges, "So run that you may obtain it." Then, using himself as an example to make the point of his illustration, he continues: "I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."—1 Tim. 6:19; 1 Cor. 9:24-27, RSV.

`Evidently the apostle, who surely was a "saved" Christian, believed that even he could be "disqualified" from the race. Yet as long as he continued to `run that he might obtain' the prize, thus remaining in the race, salvation was assured. This is why Christians who remain in the race can be said to `have everlasting life.' But if they should ever quit the race, they are "disqualified," losing their hold on everlasting life.

`Hence, Paul follows up his remarks on the Christian's race by cautioning about the danger of overconfidence. Using the example of the Israelites who were saved through the Red Sea, yet fell to wrongdoing in the wilderness, he warned: "We ["saved" Christians] must not put the Lord to the test." Then, driving his point home, he declared: "Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." Yes, it could happen, even to "saved" ones!—1 Cor. 10:1-12, RSV.

`This is why, throughout his writings, Paul consistently emphasized his own need to stay in the race. For example, of his hoped-for reward of the resurrection, he said: "I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." It was only after Paul neared the end of his life that he wrote: "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." At this point in his life, he could finally say with confidence: "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day."—Phil. 3:11-14; 2 Tim. 4:6-8, RSV.

`Paul's view of his own salvation, then, is consistent with Jesus' comments mentioned earlier about `enduring to the end' to be saved.—See also Revelation 2:10; 3:11, 12, AV.

`The foregoing helps us to see why Paul repeatedly entreated "saved" Christians to be on guard. Their everlasting salvation was still at stake. Addressing the obviously "saved" Hebrew Christians who had been "illuminated" and who had "endured a great fight of afflictions," he warns: "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." The sacrificial benefits that "saved" such persons, then, can be lost. Why? Because such a person "hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto [outraged, RSV] the Spirit of grace."—Heb. 10:26-32, AV.

`Yes, Christians who truly appreciate the salvation provided through Christ and God's grace will not be overconfident. They will strive to remain in the race like Paul and the other early Christians, whom he encouraged to "work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling."'—Phil. 2:12, AV. 
Quoted from Awake! - pp. 27-28.


Paul's "race for life" brings to mind Jesus' "narrow road." He said that only a few will even find the gate that leads onto the narrow, difficult path which leads to eternal life. He gave no guarantee even that once the path was found, the finder would actually stay on that difficult path that eventually leads to eternal life. – Matt. 7:13-14.

In fact, he indicated that many who evidently believed they were saved, were not even in consideration for everlasting life – Matt. 7:21-23.


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Friday, August 30, 2013

Did Charles Taze Russell Really Profit From 'Miracle Wheat'?

As usual any accusations of wrongdoing on the part of Russell and the early Witnesses [concerning this] are
completely false & deliberately dishonest.

The fact is that the name “Miracle Wheat” and its promotion was originated by a non-Witness; K.B. Stoner. So if this type of criticism should be against other religions since it was one of their members who promoted the idea of Miracle Wheat!!

Other non-Witnesses experimented with this wheat and found it produced extraordinary yields. Miracle Wheat won prizes at several fairs. Then in 1907, H. A. Miller, Assistant Agriculturalist of the US Government, filed in the Department of Agriculture a report commending this wheat grown by Mr. Stoner. This was documented countrywide by the press.

Years later, in 1911, a couple of WT readers contributed about thirty bushels of this wheat, proposing that it be sold as a means of donating to the work. The wheat was actually sold by the WTS for LESS THAN it was being sold normally! The Society itself made no claim for the wheat on its own and the money was used for the Christian missionary work.

The only critics were those religious enemies of the Bible Students who had no real knowledge of the matter. There was no difference in what the WTS did than what other religions do with their raising donations with church cake sales.

Despite this, all who had contributed were informed that if they were dissatisfied their money would be returned. But not one person asked for a refund.

Russell's enemies later charged that he realized an enormous personal profit. However, these charges are absolutely false and the gross receipts from it only amounted to about $1,800. Further, the facts of history and all evidence show that Russell did not profit from ANY religious contributions. He actually spent his own fortune in publishing Bible based information.After his death it was recorded: "He devoted his private fortune entirely to the cause to which he gave his life. He received the nominal sum of $11.00 per month for his personal expenses. He died, leaving no estate whatsoever."

No financial profit is made by any members of the Governing Body, officers of its legal agencies, or other prominent persons associated with the organization as a result of the work of JWs.

I think the "compensation" now is room and board and a little over $100 a month. This is what both the corporate president and the janitors get. And this is provable in legal papers and court cases. This means "a room" too, not a house or a mansion!!

I challenge any other religious organization to make the same claim as to their corporate presidents, or their local preachers!!

SOURCE: This is an answer by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

For more, see:

Russell (Charles T.) ("Pyramid Chronology"; Miracle Wheat) - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Miracle Wheat (Pastor Russell)
(Quotes From the 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 70-1, and The Watch Tower, February, 15, 1913, page 62)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Does Astrology Really Work? Do the Stars Affect Your Life?

There are many ways of proving that astrology does not work at all. We will examine some of them in this article.

There is a simple, easy way of proving that, for those of us who believe the Bible is the word of God, we should avoid astrology like a deadly disease (whether it works or not). We will examine that, too.

Of course, astrology has been shot down by proper scientific testing before and since. A good example may be found in the March 1986 issue of Science 86, p. 8. Here is what the article in this respected science magazine says:

"BERKELEY, CAL. - Astrology just flunked one of its toughest tests ever. Shawn Carlson, a graduate student in physics at the University of California, has shown that astrologers cannot divine someone's personality from knowledge of planetary positions.

"In his study, 116 adults returned a standard personality test that assesses traits such as sociability and dominance. Carlson sent personality profiles of three subjects, plus a natal chart for one of them, to each of two dozen astrologers recommended by members of the San Francisco chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research, a group specializing in astrology.

"The test was for the astrologers to choose the personality profile that best matched the natal chart, or horoscope. Carlson and the astrologers had agreed that picking the right profile half the time would mean that the astrologers had some ability to accurately describe a person's character.

"But the astrologers were able to match the natal chart with the personality profile in just one out of three cases—no better than chance [the law of averages]."


"'Astrology was given every reasonable chance to succeed,' Carlson wrote in the journal Nature. `It failed.'"

Another revealing article in this respected science magazine may be found on pp. 80, 82 of the June 1984 issue of Science 84.

"Over the last decade or so, scientists have tested the predictions of astrology in a variety of ways, with results that are best summed up in the title of a 1977 book by Anthony Standen, Forget Your Sun Sign. The book is just one shot in a barrage of scientific tests and critiques recently summarized and published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

"To begin with, according to the society's report, the sun's path through the zodiac, the belt of astrological constellations, is not quite what popular horoscopes would have us believe. It turns out that the spinning Earth is like a child's toy top: It wobbles. Being huge, it wobbles in immense, 25,000-year sweeps. This makes the sun's position along the zodiac drift farther and farther from its astrological schedule every year. After more than 2,000 years of astrology, the discrepancy is almost one full constellation.

"In late June, for example, when the sun is supposed to be in the constellation of Cancer according to traditional astrology, it is actually one constellation over, in Gemini. Gemini is really Taurus, Taurus is Aries, and so on. Thus most horoscopes that you read in the newspaper or get from astrologers apply to a completely different sign from the one assigned to your birthday.

"None of this fazes the professional astrologers, however. They maintain that these simple, one dimensional tests of sun signs or planetary influences will always yield random results, because each individual's horoscope in fact depends upon a whole complex range of factors. [1]

"Fair enough. But consider the results of French statistician Michel Gauquelin, a man who has been putting astrology to the test for more than 20 years.

"Gauquelin once put out a newspaper ad offering free personalized horoscopes. To the 150 people who answered, he sent the same information, and asked how well the interpretation fit. Some 94 percent said they recognized themselves.

"It was the horoscope of mass murderer Dr. Marcel Petiot."

"And yet, for all that, people still take a great deal of comfort in their horoscopes. They find an eerie accuracy in the charts, an uncanny insight into their lives. Astrology works, they say, and how can this be unless it is true?

"Indeed it does work - but only because believers want to believe and because we are all very human and complex people, outgoing in one situation and shy in another, selfish at one moment and generous at the next. Given a description of almost anyone, we can usually see something of ourselves.

Astronomy Disproves Astrology

James Randi has been well known for exposing fraud and trickery for many years. Being a professional magician himself, 'The Amazing Randi', he is aware of the many forms of trickery used in convincing others that the impossible is true. In his book, Flim-Flam, he discusses some of his experiences with astrology:

"By far, the oldest of the claptrap philosophies of mankind is astrology. In the United States alone there are more than twenty thousand practicing astrologers casting horoscopes and taking the money of literally millions of credulous believers. But there is probably no other major delusion that is more easily examined and shown to be totally without any logical basis. 


"It is one thing to argue that astrology is not a rational belief, and another to show that it does not work. The former is fairly easy to demonstrate.

"For example, in the unlikely and long-sought event that the sun, moon and all the planets lined up in a straight line to combine their gravitational pulls, the effect on the human body would be nullified if the person merely sat down from a standing position! Lowering the body a distance of twenty-five inches would bring it closer to the gravitational center of the earth and neutralize all effects of the other heavenly bodies that we are told have such influence! [2]"If we consider the scale of the universe, we begin to see just how ridiculous belief in astrology can be. Astronomers measure distances in their business in terms of the speed of light. The basic unit is the light-year, or the distance light travels in one year. Since light travels some 186,000 miles in a second, a light-year's equivalent in miles is rather unwieldy. To say that the star Sirius is 51,000,000,000,000 miles away is a bit awkward; its astronomical distance of 8.7 light-years is much easier.

"Similarly, light-speed units provide some idea of the distance involved within the solar system. Look up at the moon. What do you see? You see the moon as it was about 1.3 seconds ago. In other words, it is 1.3 light-seconds away; that's how long it took the moonlight you see to reach the earth. The sun is about 8.3 light-minutes away from Earth, and Pluto 5.6 light-hours. Some stars that we see in the night sky aren't really `there' at all; we see the light they emitted anywhere from a few years to several thousand years ago. Astrology would have us believe that if, at the moment of birth, the sun is aligned with a set of stars that aren't even `there' as we see them, one's future or character will be different from what it would be if the sun were aligned with another set of not-there stars. Is this not irrational?

"With some 250,000,000,000 stars in our own particular galaxy that surrounds us, and about 100,000,000,000 other galaxies available to influence us, it seems that a possible 25,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000 stars enter into our fortunes. For a bit of flavor, throw in a few hundred asteroids (minor planets) that are part of our solar system but not part of astrology. The possibilities are endless.

"Using wishful thinking and a set of invented zodiacal signs as guides, early theorists came up with astrology - or more correctly, astrologies, for the various races developed not only their own mythical figures but also their own rules. At this point, as in the case of so many other bogus theories, a bit of simple logic applies: If the basic idea is the same, yet more than one system arises, each giving different results in accordance with different, mutually incompatible rules, then either all the systems are false or only one is correct. [3] The former is more likely, since astrology simply does not work, despite the believers' constant acceptance and verification of its efficiency. Ben Franklin said it well: `Quacks are the greatest liars in the world, except their patients.'

"We are told that the most important general astrological influence is the position of the sun in the zodiac (the set of twelve constellations girdling the sky) at the moment of birth. Thus, an examination of this claim alone should teach us something about the degree of rationality and the general quality of astrological theory.

"One of the obvious questions that comes to mind concerning the influence of this `birth sign' on the character and future of each person arises when we consider those born on exactly the same day, at the same hour, and (another important consideration in astrology) in the same geographical location. Would not these persons have very similar horoscopes - indeed, identical horoscopes - and therefore the same future and personality? Not necessarily, say the astrologers. We are told that the exact time of birth (meaning within several minutes) can make a great difference, because the `ascendant sign' (the one rising on the horizon at the moment of birth), as well as the position of the moon in the zodiac band of twelve astrological signs, can be very important. But, we counter, what of twins, who are certainly born at nearly the same time and assuredly in the same location? There is a handy explanation for any discrepancy here, too. It is said that in such cases there is a shift in the heavenly bodies during the short period of time separating the two births.

"But when astrology `experts' seek to explain away any dissimilar characteristics of twins with this `change of ascendant and/or moon position' malarkey, is this not merely fitting the facts to the theory? I maintain that it is. Similarities in character and fortune are ascribed to similarities in horoscope details, and dissimilarities are attributed to even the most minor discrepancies among the charts. It is a procedure that satisfies uncritical observers but not skeptics." - pp. 55-63, Flim-Flam, 1982 (Seventh printing, 1987).

Study by the Association for Scientific Research

Then we have the reports of a German study in 1991 and again in 1992:

"Early in 1991 the Association for Scientific Research into the Parasciences in Germany gathered 152 predictions by 27 astrologers. They then evaluated them at the year's end. Wetterauer Zeitung reported that 103 of the predictions `were completely wrong.' For instance, astrologers predicted an atomic disaster and a cure for AIDS during 1991. The 14 prognoses that came true were simply general statements. Others were too vague to be judged for accuracy, while some even contradicted one another. On the other hand, all astrologers had said nothing about several momentous events of 1991. `If just one of the astrologers had known what he was doing,' commented the manager of the association, `he would, for instance, have seen Gorbachev's resignation in advance or the decline of the Soviet Union.'" - Awake!, 8 June 1992, p. 29.

Early in 1992 the same scientific association conducted the study again, this time for 50 predictions from astrologers all over the world:

"`Whereas in 1991 vague prognoses were able to record at least partial successes,' reports the Suddeutsche Zeitung, `this time the predictions do not contain even one bulls-eye.' Predictions for 1992 included the re-election of George Bush and the destruction of the White House by fire." - Awake!, 8 July 1993.

They did not include the disastrous fire at Buckingham Palace, the much publicized break-up of royal families (Prince Charles and Diana; Prince Andrew and "Fergie"), nor any other notable event of 1992!

Again, in 1996, the German newspaper Die Zeit reported that 44 astrologers in the Netherlands recently submitted voluntarily to a test prepared by the Dutch Society of Skeptics. The astrologers were given two lists. One contained the place and date of birth of seven persons. The second provided abundant personal information about each of the seven individuals. The astrologers were asked to match each person on the first list with his respective description on the second list by using their alleged skills with astrology. The results: Half the astrologers did not even get one correct answer, and no one was able to match more than three correctly. Previous experiments had yielded similar results, but the astrologers claimed that they had been supplied with the wrong information. In this case, however, the terms of the test were set by the astrologers themselves. - see Awake! 8 May, 1996, p. 29.

Those Who "Want to Believe"

So, in spite of absolute proof that astrology cannot and does not work, we find a huge number of people who continue to believe in it. This overpowering compulsion to look for anything that will give a reason to believe in (or continue to believe in) a "magical" system that has been conclusively proven wrong may be illustrated by 2 examples concerning events of such earth-shattering importance that all "competent" astrologers should have easily predicted (and forcefully proclaimed) them if there is even the slightest degree of astrological influence by the stars!

The first example concerns the beginning of the most destructive, tragic war to ever involve this planet—World War II.

"A group of leading English astrologers in 1939 [the very year WWII broke out in Europe] ... assured their followers that, according to astrological signs, no war was imminent."

In spite of this slight oversight (England was devastated by the worst destruction ever poured out upon her) these leading astrologers were quickly forgiven and astrology prospered more than ever in England.

The second example of people so desperately wanting to believe in this easy, magical method for decision-making that they will overlook and forgive anything was reported in the 8 August 1981 AWAKE! magazine, p. 16:

"The infatuation many have with horoscopy [astrology], as with gambling, can blind followers to its failures. In this regard, Eric Russell, in Astrology and Prediction, discusses an `appalling flood' that had been predicted by most European astrologers and contemporaries of Nostradamus. They agreed that all the planets would be in conjunction in the watery sign of Pisces - an infallible indication that the known world must be destroyed by water.... Some few fundamentalists [Christians - not astrologers] argued that this could not possibly be true for had not God set the rainbow in the sky as promise that never again would the floodgates of heaven be opened?... Ship builders made immense profits as those who could afford it chartered every available craft in the ports.' The world waited, but nothing happened.

"Russell continues: `The quicker-thinking astrologers congratulated Christianity for the strength of its prayers in turning aside the calamity while others perhaps looked for another profession. [There were simply no events that could even be `interpreted' as a `flood' overwhelming the earth in that year; so even the vaguest, most symbolism-finding of astrologists were in trouble.] But while there were a few weeks of embarrassment for the astrologers of Europe, the whole incident had been forgotten within a month or so and astrologers were again accepting invitations to cast the horoscope of this infant prince or that republic.'"

Probably nothing can reach such people who believe what they want to believe in spite of any and all actual proof to the contrary. The same, of course, applies to religious belief. You would think, if a person claims to believe strongly that the Bible is the word of God, that clearly stated principles found in the word of God would be all that is needed to change a contrary belief in his mind. But this is rarely so.

Astrology is Condemned in the Bible

For example, astrology is clearly condemned in the Bible. But you can point out these scriptures to die-hard astrology "worshipers" who also claim to believe the Bible, and they will most often ignore it or rationalize it away.

"[Astrology] is essentially the same as astromancy, divination by stars." - Universal Standard Encyclopedia, 1955, Vol. 2, p. 471.

"as·trol·o·gy .... divination that treats of the supposed influences of the stars upon human affairs and of foretelling terrestial events by their positions and aspects" - Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1962, Merriam-Webster.

"There shall not be found among you any one who...practices divination.... For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD [Jehovah]" - Deut. 18:10-12, RSV. Cf. Is. 47:10-13.

"Only one nation in all the ancient world stood resolutely against the ubiquitous practice of astrology --- the fiercely independent Hebrews. .... Logically, astrology and Christianity were totally irreconcilable, as are Judaism and astrology, but an accommodation of sorts was finally worked out. For a while, when astrological influence sank in Europe it thrived among the Arabs who reintroduced it after the fervor of the early Christian purists was tempered." - p. 19, Myths of the Space Age, Cohen, 1965.

And who were among these "early Christian purists" who strongly and successfully resisted astrology and other forms of divination? Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Christian Fathers of the first two centuries (at least)

"My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered." - The Didache, Chapter 3.

Why even "Saint" Constantine in the 4th century and "Saint" Augustine in the early 5th century would not tolerate it:

"`Saint' Augustine ... rejected the `false and noxious opinions' of astrologers." - from Augustine's The City of God, Book V, Chapters 7-9, (as quoted on p. 3 in The Watchtower of 1 September, 1996).

"After the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity, he had all the astrologers in Constantinople whipped and run out of town". - p. 19, Cohen.

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

1. But this is exactly what the vast majority of "horoscopes" throughout the world do - especially all those found in daily newspapers. They base their descriptions and predictions on the single (and by far most powerful and important) factor of birthdate. If this cannot be relied on for a reasonably accurate description, then nothing in astrology can!

2. The slightest variations in altitude of birthplace, then, would cause a great influence on individuals by this most influential planet of all. This factor alone (if there is any real influence by heavenly bodies) should completely overshadow the infinitesimal influence of other planets and stars. And yet it is not even considered by astrologers!

3. Each one of these different systems of astrology will give very different descriptions and predictions for the very same birth moment. Since they contradict each other, only one could possibly be true (and most likely none of them). But the vast throngs who believe in each system are equally loyal to their own system. Therefore, absolute faith, loyalty, and numbers of adherents mean absolutely nothing in determining truth in the area of astrology (as in religion itself). Those who want to believe will believe in spite of any proof to the contrary - no matter how conclusive and absolute.

For much more, see:

Astrology (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses Category)


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Articles, Websites and Videos Concerning Bloodless Surgery and Medicine

Click on any of the following to view:


Medical Alternatives to Blood Transfusions (

Quality Alternatives to Transfusion (

You Have the Right to Choose (

Witness Patients Often Do Better (

'Bloodless' surgery avoids risks of transfusion - Techniques first used for Jehovah's Witnesses gaining popularity (MSNBC)

Blood Transfusions Harmful When Guidelines Ignored (Epoch Times article)

Evidence in favor of bloodless surgery mounts (Dijital Journal)

Jehovah's Witnesses leading education drive as hospitals adjust to No Blood requests (Collections Canada)

Meeting Life's Challenges Head On - Krystie's Operation Without a Blood Transfusion (BBC News)

The Problem With Transfusions (Time Magazine Online)

Treating patients like Jehovah's Witnesses could save lives: expert (The


No Blood (

Bloodless Medicine and Sugery Hospitals Directory (

Network for the Advancement of Transfusion Alternatives (The Nation Online)

Transfusion-Free Cardiothoracic Surgery - University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine

Swedish Services Bloodless Programs




Bloodless Surgery Options - Englewood Hospital and Medical Center; FOX NEWS REPORT:

Bloodless Surgery on PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:


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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Creative 'Days' - How Long Was Each 'Day' and Were All 'Days' Uniform in Length?

First, [Jehovah's] Witnesses know that the heavens and earth are many millions (or billions) of years old.

Many "young earth" creationist have mistakenly included the creation of the "heavens and the earth" as part of the six creative days of Genesis. But, in actuality Genesis 1:1 refers to a time *before* the six creative days. The six creative days only refer to the transforming of the earth to make it fit it as a habitation of animals and humans. Millions or billions of years could have transpired between the creation of the earth and the beginning of the creative days.

So, the Genesis account of creation allows for the earth to be billions of years old. (The evidence from our seeing star light which has traveled millions of years is a valid use of proven science and confirms the separation of Genesis 1:1 from the six creative days.)

Witnesses are also united in the belief that the scriptural evidence shows that the “creative days” were not a literal 24 hours. (See: Are Jehovah's Witnesses Creationists?; Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Now, regarding the length of time from the first creative day till now, Jehovah's Witnesses' official position is that all the Scriptural evidence logically points to a period of seven thousand years for the length of each creative day. This is not *doctrine* in regard to the length of the first six days, for at the same time our literature has always stated that the length of the first six days are simply an "indication" resulting from logically reasoning on the scant scriptural evidence- -specifically the determinable length of the seventh day.

For instance notice the following Watchtower comments. w73: "...*evidently* seven thousand years long." w70: "[Scripture] gives us a clue...reasonable to conclude...appears to be." w67: "Bible indicates." w61: "was logical." w1912: "a reasonable deduction."

The comment in the 1904 Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 6 is significant: "...the length of these epoch-days is not indicated, we will be justified in assuming that they were uniform periods..."

Unofficially many, like myself, may like the idea that each day could be many millions of years in length, or even of varying lengths. However, the *only* reason for this is because it makes it easier to deal with the chronological dating of modern scientists. If we stick to *only* the evidence from the Scriptures, we only see evidence for the each day to be 7,000 years.

One fact that might argue against a variable length for the creative days is that the "days" are said to be part of a creative "week." The description of a week seems to indicate that each "day"--whatever they may be–would logically be the same length. Thus, Scripturally the most logical and most probable exegetical conclusion would be that each "day" must be equal. Since it is an inferred conclusion the possibility that the days could have been variable in length, perhaps millions of years remain as a possible theory. But, there is no evidence for this in Scripture and so is not taught by Witnesses.

The only piece of evidence we have is that the seventh day is 7,000 years. While meager, the Scriptural evidence is clear: we have a series of "days." They are numbered in relation to each other, 1-7. We know the last one is 7,000 years long. Logic induces us to conclude that the other six are of equal lengths. But, if this conclusion is incorrect, it will only be in the New System that we will gain the knowledge to say for sure.

Until then, we must content ourselves with pointing out that though the length of the first six creative days are not specifically addressed by the Scriptures, the available indication is that they are each 7000 years. If someone wants to favor varying lengths or millions of years for each “day” it is without solid Scriptural support.

Fortunately, our logical conclusions concerning the length of the creative days is not life threatening or necessary to our salvation. (Emphasis mine. -E)

Evidence from sound exegesis clearly proves that the creative days cannot be 24 hours. On the other hand, there is not one shred of solid contextual evidence supporting the view that the creative "days" were 24 hours long.

As "A Religious Encyclopaedia" (vol. I, p. 613) observes: "The days of creation were creative days, stages in the process, but not days of twenty-four hours each."—Edited by P. Schaff, 1894.

"Like Young, this writer believes the days of Gen I to be intentionally patterned, chronological, of indeterminable length."–Theological Wordbook of the O.T.

SOURCE: This is an answer by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

For more, see:

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Believe in Creationism? (JW.ORG)

Did God create the earth in just six 24-hour days, as some creationists claim? (AWAKE! JANUARY 2014; JW.ORG)

Does Science Contradict the Genesis Account? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

The Creative 'Days' - How Long Was Each 'Day' and Were All 'Days' Uniform in Length? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

How Does the Bible Show That the Creative Days Were Longer Than 24 Hours Each? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Genesis - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Day - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)


Defend Jehovah's Witnesses