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#61 of 93 Old 12-05-2008, 09:39 PM
 
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The Apocrypha (meaning hidden) wasn't canonized by the Catholic Church until the council of Trent (the mid 1500's), after the reformation began.

Not all books of the Apocrypha are included in the Catholic Bible though.

The apocrypha was found to be not consistent with the rest of the old & New testament, so it is not included in non-catholic Bibles. Also worth mentioning is that these books are not mentioned or quoted in the Old testament or New testament.

Catholics believe it is part of the word of God. In general, Christians don't believe it is His word. Interesting reading about the history between the Old & New Testamnet, but not in harmony,theologically speaking, with all of the other books of the Bible.

I could say a lot more about it, but I don't feel like writing an essay right now on the canonization of scripture, lol.
If I remember right, though, the apocrypha was part of the Bible in the 1500's, then removed from the King James Bible in the mid 1800's). So, for non Catholics, was the apocrypha inspired scripture for the 350 years between the inclusion and the removal of these books from the Bible? I haven't seen one, but I'm wondering if a KJV bible from before 1850 or so had some kind of a disclaimer with those books, or if they were treated the same as all the other books of the Bible.

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#62 of 93 Old 12-05-2008, 10:25 PM
 
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So, according to them, how *is* one saved? I know that for Catholics, they believe that salvation occurs through faith and works, and most protestants and evangelicals believe that salvation occurs when on receives Jesus, or calls upon His name (some refer to being "born again"-I share this belief). So for Jehovah's witnesses, is there a prayer you must pray to be "saved"? Or, does simply joining their organization guarantee salvation? Also, what happens once someone is disfellowshipped? Have they lost their salvation? If so, that pretty much answers my question about whether or not Jehovah's Witnesses believe in eternal salvation. No snark involved, I'm honestly curious and would like to learn.
The concept of "saved" is a bit of a sketchy one for me because that term really wasn't used in the sense that I understand other Christian religions use it. (Not to say it isn't Christian.) There isn't a particular prayer, though all prayers close with "In Jesus' name," and joining the organization doesn't guarantee that you'll survive Armageddon.

You must go out in the ministry. If you have a disability, then you could write letters to people. (When really pinched for getting my time in, I'd pick out obituaries in the newspaper and write letters to the survivors telling them all about how they could see their loved ones in Paradise earth after Armageddon.) But you MUST proseltyze, and that is measured (by man) because you turn in time reports each month detailing how many hours you spent in the ministry, how many magazines or books you placed, etc. Children were somewhat exempted, but were expected to preach by around 8-10 years old.

I agree that you pretty much had to own up to major sins with the elders in the congregation. You could bring smaller stuff forth (I covet, or whatever), but if you were drinking to excess, fornicating or adultering, swearing, or having social association with non-believers, you'd better fess it up because you certainly didn't want to get dragged in to a private meeting with the elders afterwards.

Also, you pretty much had to stay faithful through Armageddon. It was presented as the ultimate test of our faith, where Satan would be so angry at being locked up that he'd do anything to turn Witnesses away from the path. It kind of came across to me that Armageddon would happen when the United Nations "finally" declared religion illegal, and the Witnesses would be pretty much the only ones who would stand against that. We would be pursued, thrown into concentration camps, tortured, etc. by the governments of the world. Throughout all that, our faith must stay intact.

I don't know if I'm really explaining salvation, but like I say, there isn't a parallel doctrine that I can call to mind.
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#63 of 93 Old 12-05-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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If I remember right, though, the apocrypha was part of the Bible in the 1500's, then removed from the King James Bible in the mid 1800's). So, for non Catholics, was the apocrypha inspired scripture for the 350 years between the inclusion and the removal of these books from the Bible? I haven't seen one, but I'm wondering if a KJV bible from before 1850 or so had some kind of a disclaimer with those books, or if they were treated the same as all the other books of the Bible.

Awesome question! From what I understand, there was a lot of doubt about these books that were put in place after the 4th century. It was in the 1600's when people started to really put their foot down with including them with their Bibles, because, they just didn't mesh with the rest of scripture. King James wanted to omit them for years before the KJV came out from what I've read.

I just did some googling on the subject....& there's a lot out their on this. One thing I found interesting was there seemed to be caveats before that particular part of the Bible (??).

Very interesting, for sure, & something I would like to dig into more. It doesn't change my thoughts if the apocrypha is the word of God though. All one need to do is read it, & compare it with the rest of scripture. It just doesn't flow. We are talking about the dark ages here....many people relied on superstition & the church (Catholicism)....& didn't read the word for themselves....not a lot of educated people to stand up, & say, "Hey, that's not what the rest of scripture says!"

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#64 of 93 Old 12-05-2008, 11:30 PM
 
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But you MUST proseltyze, and that is measured (by man) because you turn in time reports each month detailing how many hours you spent in the ministry, how many magazines or books you placed, etc.
That sounds so stressful....yikes, I would be a basket case!! LOL!

I'm wondering where in the Bible says we have to report to our elders on how much we shared the faith?

I don't recall reading anything where we have to report to our "leaders".

Please understand that a typed message can come across cold & sarcastic....that's not my intent at all....I'm just questioning.

 

  

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#65 of 93 Old 12-05-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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That sounds so stressful....yikes, I would be a basket case!! LOL!

I'm wondering where in the Bible says we have to report to our elders on how much we shared the faith?

I don't recall reading anything where we have to report to our "leaders".

Please understand that a typed message can come across cold & sarcastic....that's not my intent at all....I'm just questioning.
I don't think it does, but Jehovah's Witnesses and some others recognize the authority of writings that Protestants don't. Ex.- Catholics recognize the Apocrypha, Gnostics recognize the Gnostic writings, LDS recognize the Book of Mormon, etc. Some Protestants therefore say that those groups, including the JWs, are not Christians. However, they all revere Jesus and recognize him as "Christ" in one way or another. It is possible to revere Jesus and even to be fully Trinitarian (such as Roman Catholic) without limiting the recognized Scripture to the books that are included in the Protestant Bible. So if your definition of "Christian" is "only recognizing the books of the Protestant Bible," then only Protestants are Christians. If your definition is "revering Jesus as the Son of God in some way," then all the groups I listed are Christians.

However, it is disingenuous to challenge people of those denominations/ religions by saying "well, that isn't in the Bible so it isn't necessary." If they recognize other books that make it necessary, then it's necessary to their religion.

I am so NOT JW. I have absolutely no interest in ever being involved with that religion, I avoid religious discussion with DH's JW relatives, I have all kinds of problems with it. But I really want to make sure this discussion is intellectually honest.
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#66 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:15 AM
 
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This has been a lively discussion. So, I'd like to ask another question, if I could. We've established what Jehovah's Witnesses believe concerning the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. A couple of posts back, however, someone mentioned that Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in salvation by faith/grace alone. So, according to them, how *is* one saved? I know that for Catholics, they believe that salvation occurs through faith and works, and most protestants and evangelicals believe that salvation occurs when on receives Jesus, or calls upon His name (some refer to being "born again"-I share this belief). So for Jehovah's witnesses, is there a prayer you must pray to be "saved"? Or, does simply joining their organization guarantee salvation? Also, what happens once someone is disfellowshipped? Have they lost their salvation? If so, that pretty much answers my question about whether or not Jehovah's Witnesses believe in eternal salvation. No snark involved, I'm honestly curious and would like to learn.
I would say that a Jehovah's Witness is never saved. They emphasize "works", not "faith", and often quote the scripture that says "faith without works is dead". There is a lot of emphasis on doing the works, and then "perhaps" you will be saved at Armageddon. There is never any guarantee of salvation. There was constant pressure to keep doing more "works". Regular preaching was the most important of the "works". One had to get at least one hour in a month to be regular, and they are encouraged to get about 10 hours a month. Also, regular meeting attendance (three meetings a week, total of five hours - back when I was going, but this is currently being parred down), commenting at meetings, and giving "talks" which for men are 5 minute speeches to the congregation and for women are 5 minute role playing skits in front of the congregation. The more works you do, the greater your chances of survival, but your survival is never guaranteed. Like I said, there is just constant pressure to do more and to do all you can.
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#67 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:18 AM
 
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Grace was completely foreign to me when I left the JW org. Yes, we were taught about grace but more like "by grace you have the chance to be saved" not " you are saved ".\
Exactly.
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#68 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:20 AM
 
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I don't know if I'm really explaining salvation, but like I say, there isn't a parallel doctrine that I can call to mind.
I don't recall salvation every even being talked about. If I had Windows I'd look it up on the CD Rom, but Dh can only access that at work on where he has Windows. Maybe I'll give him a homework assignment on Monday
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#69 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:24 AM
 
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That sounds so stressful....yikes, I would be a basket case!! LOL!

I'm wondering where in the Bible says we have to report to our elders on how much we shared the faith?

I don't recall reading anything where we have to report to our "leaders".

Please understand that a typed message can come across cold & sarcastic....that's not my intent at all....I'm just questioning.
It was stressful for me, and I was a basket case

The bible does talk about going and confessing your sins, doesn't it? Isn't that why Catholics do confession? This is the same sort of thing, only punishments are actually handed down..
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#70 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:37 AM
 
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I don't think it does, but Jehovah's Witnesses and some others recognize the authority of writings that Protestants don't. Ex.- Catholics recognize the Apocrypha, Gnostics recognize the Gnostic writings, LDS recognize the Book of Mormon, etc. Some Protestants therefore say that those groups, including the JWs, are not Christians. However, they all revere Jesus and recognize him as "Christ" in one way or another. It is possible to revere Jesus and even to be fully Trinitarian (such as Roman Catholic) without limiting the recognized Scripture to the books that are included in the Protestant Bible. So if your definition of "Christian" is "only recognizing the books of the Protestant Bible," then only Protestants are Christians. If your definition is "revering Jesus as the Son of God in some way," then all the groups I listed are Christians.

However, it is disingenuous to challenge people of those denominations/ religions by saying "well, that isn't in the Bible so it isn't necessary." If they recognize other books that make it necessary, then it's necessary to their religion.

I am so NOT JW. I have absolutely no interest in ever being involved with that religion, I avoid religious discussion with DH's JW relatives, I have all kinds of problems with it. But I really want to make sure this discussion is intellectually honest.
The JW's don't have anything equivalent to the book of Mormon. I mean, they don't have any other book that is considered holy and on par with the bible. They believe that there is a group of men who are god's spokesmen or mouthpiece, and these men write books and provide direction for the rest of the group. These men claim that they are being directed by god to write this literature. The literature contains "new light" which is the current understanding and the direction given for the JW's. However, the literature is not without error, and they readily admit this. Since the men who write it are imperfect, they are not always going to get it correct. This is what "new light" is for, because the light changes over time. "New Light" is the current understanding, and the old literature with vastly different views is considered "old light" and JW's are discouraged from even reading it. They are strongly cautioned to be careful looking at old literature because it could stumble them due to it being the "old understanding" (and I'm talking about 40 or 50+ year old stuff). So, it isn't that JW's have another book besides the bible that they refer to, it is more that they have a group of men who are their leaders whom they follow the direction from as if this direction is coming directly from god. One way in which this direction is provided is through literature, but also through meetings and conventions.
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#71 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:45 AM
 
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So, it isn't that JW's have another book besides the bible that they refer to, it is more that they have a group of men who are their leaders whom they follow the direction from as if this direction is coming directly from god. One way in which this direction is provided is through literature, but also through meetings and conventions.
Fair enough-- so that would be more analogous to LDS bishops?
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#72 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 02:07 PM
 
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I don't think it does, but Jehovah's Witnesses and some others recognize the authority of writings that Protestants don't. Ex.- Catholics recognize the Apocrypha, Gnostics recognize the Gnostic writings, LDS recognize the Book of Mormon, etc. Some Protestants therefore say that those groups, including the JWs, are not Christians. However, they all revere Jesus and recognize him as "Christ" in one way or another. It is possible to revere Jesus and even to be fully Trinitarian (such as Roman Catholic) without limiting the recognized Scripture to the books that are included in the Protestant Bible. So if your definition of "Christian" is "only recognizing the books of the Protestant Bible," then only Protestants are Christians. If your definition is "revering Jesus as the Son of God in some way," then all the groups I listed are Christians.

However, it is disingenuous to challenge people of those denominations/ religions by saying "well, that isn't in the Bible so it isn't necessary." If they recognize other books that make it necessary, then it's necessary to their religion.

I am so NOT JW. I have absolutely no interest in ever being involved with that religion, I avoid religious discussion with DH's JW relatives, I have all kinds of problems with it. But I really want to make sure this discussion is intellectually honest.
I see your point. That leaves a lot of info out there though, & not all can be true....since they all see to clash. You get a God that was once a man, you get a Jesus that was created, you get a Jesus that is more of an illuminator, & if you tap into your inner wisdom, you too have that Christ illumination/divineness in you....

How do you know what is really true? How do you know what to believe? Cherry-pick from different sources, & if it gives you peace & makes you feel good, that's your "religion"?

God has given us free will, & we are free to believe what we want. For me, personally, I need to know WHAT I'm believing in, & WHY. I need more concrete answers....although I started off in my faith with just faith, I really needed to know for myself if the Bible was trustworthy, & indeed divine in origin, not just man-made. I needed to know the basics....who is God, Jesus, etc.

I'm sure I said this before, but, I don't go around calling people "non-Christians". I question if their belief system is Christian. Now, the term being a Christian & what it implies has many, many meanings. Is it just believing in Jesus? Or is it believing what he taught & what the Bible says?

I guess, it really doesn't matter in the long run anyway what we think a true Christian is. It's about a relationship with Him & putting our trust in Him to guide us through our biggest questions. If we have that relationship with Him, we can be sure of our salvation, know peace, & He will not lead us astray.

To me, it's wonderful I have the Bible as my final authority on matters, that I can trust what it says. Otherwise, I really have no guidance for my faith, & I would be lost.

 

  

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#73 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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Fair enough-- so that would be more analogous to LDS bishops?
From what I understand of the LDS, I would say that yes, they are analogous. The JWs don't have a Prophet though, per se. I believe the Watchtower Society (which consists of the big decision makers, plus the "corporation" of the JWs) has a president, but he isn't given a particular religious weight. I wouldn't know who the president of the WTS has been at any given point in time, but I did actually know the name of the former Prophet of the LDS (Gordon Hinckley) until he died recently. So it's a little more anonymous.
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#74 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 04:59 PM
 
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I guess, it really doesn't matter in the long run anyway what we think a true Christian is.
Just trying to relate things to the thread title!
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#75 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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From what I understand of the LDS, I would say that yes, they are analogous. The JWs don't have a Prophet though, per se. I believe the Watchtower Society (which consists of the big decision makers, plus the "corporation" of the JWs) has a president, but he isn't given a particular religious weight. I wouldn't know who the president of the WTS has been at any given point in time, but I did actually know the name of the former Prophet of the LDS (Gordon Hinckley) until he died recently. So it's a little more anonymous.
It's not as simple as that. Bishops are the leaders of local congregations or "Wards." Bishops can receive revelation from God but only as it pertains to leading that local congregation (so they can't receive a revelation that an individual should do for a profession, or whom they should marry - those are matters between the individual and the Lord). And they cannot give direction that contradicts the official doctrines of the Church.

The current Prophet is Thomas S. Monson.

And while yes, we believe the Prophet receives revelation, just like prophets in the Bible. We are expected to pray about and receive our own confirmations of what they teach us.

This explains really well how the Church is organized and run.
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#76 of 93 Old 12-06-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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It's not as simple as that. Bishops are the leaders of local congregations or "Wards." Bishops can receive revelation from God but only as it pertains to leading that local congregation (so they can't receive a revelation that an individual should do for a profession, or whom they should marry - those are matters between the individual and the Lord). And they cannot give direction that contradicts the official doctrines of the Church.
Monson, that's right. Beg your pardon about the rest of it--JW elders do not (at least, never to my knowledge) receive revelations.
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#77 of 93 Old 12-15-2008, 10:45 PM
 
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Hi ladies,

I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses and I've enjoyed reading your forum. I wanted to answer some questions that have gone unanswered; I hope people are still reading.

I first want to assure you that Jehovah's Witnesses DO NOT recognize other writings as inspired than the Protestants do. We do not accept the gnostic writings or the apocraphyl books. We believe in the exact same canon as Protestants. Like someone said at the very beginning of the discussion, be sure someone is actually a JW before trusting anything they say about JWs!

As far as salvation goes, Jackie75, the truth is, I have no idea whether or not you will be saved, although I certainly hope you will be. Being part of the JW organization does not guarantee individual salvation. There could very well be sick, evil people who are JWs and wonderful, faithful people who are not. Only Jehovah and Jesus know who will be saved. Anyone who tells you any different doesn't know what JWs really believe.

If we do our utmost to follow the Bible and live according to God's commandments, we show love for him and can have confidence in our salvation. But no one knows anyone well enough to say "you'll be saved." "You won't." It's playing judge, and God's word doesn't give us that right.

Jehovah's Witnesses accept everything the Bible says about salvation, including Jesus' words at Matthew 24:13: "But the one who endures to the end will be saved." (ESV, Protestant approved translation). Simply professing a belief in Christ does not guarantee salvation, as Jesus clearly explains at Matthew 7:21-23. Furthermore, as James states, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Therefore, eventhough it's only through faith in Jesus sacrifice that we can be saved, that faith must be accompanied by works and must encompass a person's whole mind, spirit, heart, and strength (Mark 12:29).

We also believe in what Paul describes as the "resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous" (Acts 24:15) which means we believe individuals who never got to know Christ might be given the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, most Protestants believe that anyone who doesn't personally know Jesus is damned to hell...which I think is not only unscriptural, but it paints God in a very unjust light. How could he eternally punish a farmer who lived in China in 200 B.C. who never knew anything about Jesus?

Oh yeah, and you don't HAVE to preach. To be considered an "active" Witness, you do, (much like you can't be divorced to be considered an "active" Catholic) but you are certainly not disfellowshipped for not preaching. Sharing God's word must be motivated by love for him and others, not fear of man. We report our time and efforts in the ministry to encourage one another and to follow the example set by Jesus and his disciples in the first century.

I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings you may have about us. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, anytime!

My email is savina37@hotmail.com and I live in the Pittsburgh area.

Take care and I love that you ask questions. I will never think you're rude. Trust me, compared to most people I meet in the ministry, you're quite the opposite. Plus, I haven't always been a JW, so I get how offensive we all can seem!
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#78 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 12:39 AM
 
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Hi ladies,

I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses and I've enjoyed reading your forum. I wanted to answer some questions that have gone unanswered; I hope people are still reading.

I first want to assure you that Jehovah's Witnesses DO NOT recognize other writings as inspired than the Protestants do. We do not accept the gnostic writings or the apocraphyl books. We believe in the exact same canon as Protestants. Like someone said at the very beginning of the discussion, be sure someone is actually a JW before trusting anything they say about JWs!

As far as salvation goes, Jackie75, the truth is, I have no idea whether or not you will be saved, although I certainly hope you will be. Being part of the JW organization does not guarantee individual salvation. There could very well be sick, evil people who are JWs and wonderful, faithful people who are not. Only Jehovah and Jesus know who will be saved. Anyone who tells you any different doesn't know what JWs really believe.

If we do our utmost to follow the Bible and live according to God's commandments, we show love for him and can have confidence in our salvation. But no one knows anyone well enough to say "you'll be saved." "You won't." It's playing judge, and God's word doesn't give us that right.

Jehovah's Witnesses accept everything the Bible says about salvation, including Jesus' words at Matthew 24:13: "But the one who endures to the end will be saved." (ESV, Protestant approved translation). Simply professing a belief in Christ does not guarantee salvation, as Jesus clearly explains at Matthew 7:21-23. Furthermore, as James states, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Therefore, eventhough it's only through faith in Jesus sacrifice that we can be saved, that faith must be accompanied by works and must encompass a person's whole mind, spirit, heart, and strength (Mark 12:29).

We also believe in what Paul describes as the "resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous" (Acts 24:15) which means we believe individuals who never got to know Christ might be given the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, most Protestants believe that anyone who doesn't personally know Jesus is damned to hell...which I think is not only unscriptural, but it paints God in a very unjust light. How could he eternally punish a farmer who lived in China in 200 B.C. who never knew anything about Jesus?

Oh yeah, and you don't HAVE to preach. To be considered an "active" Witness, you do, (much like you can't be divorced to be considered an "active" Catholic) but you are certainly not disfellowshipped for not preaching. Sharing God's word must be motivated by love for him and others, not fear of man. We report our time and efforts in the ministry to encourage one another and to follow the example set by Jesus and his disciples in the first century.

I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings you may have about us. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, anytime!

My email is savina37@hotmail.com and I live in the Pittsburgh area.

Take care and I love that you ask questions. I will never think you're rude. Trust me, compared to most people I meet in the ministry, you're quite the opposite. Plus, I haven't always been a JW, so I get how offensive we all can seem!
This begs the question though. Do you believe in the Bible, or the NWT...the Bible that JW's has made? There are very distinct differences between the two.

As for salvation, is it not a process for JW's? As Christians, we are assured of our salvation. From the beginning. It is our faith, not works. Abraham believed in God, & it was counted unto him as righteousness. Before he even circumcised the baby!!

What if your are disfellow shipped from the organization? Can you be saved outside of it, now?....

You know what though...to truly answer that question we have to dig deep into JW's eschatology. It gives me a headache.

According to your beliefs...the perfect earth will still have questioning individuals, & you have a lot of time to educate them with the JW doctrine.

Cripe. Isn't that what the Bible is for? To educate us? Those in Christendom may have differing views of the exact timeline of when Christ comes back, but the point is...we DON"T GET A SECOND CHANCE LIKE THE JW"S PREACH.

Lets face it. This group, like many others, is isolationists, thinking they have the only truth.

With basic Christianity....we all agree with the important things. This group is the only that has the truth. Just like the Mormons. Or United Pentecostals, or pick your denomination that makes such claims.

I'm a born again Christian. I hold to no group. Some denominations are a bit out their on their teaching....but we all hold the same basics. Little things don't matter...it's the biggies...who God is, who Jesus is (yes, he is GOD according to the Bible, if I have to I will post a reply on that whole subject) & the Holy spirit is a PERSON, not a FORCE.

We have to step outside of that & ask why? Why does my church, group, whatever teach this? SEARCH. Don't blindly follow....I mean search outside the box.

Personally, I love my NIV study Bible. It is so straight to the point it hurts!! The notes are from Christians from ALL denominations who differ on certain views. But, it makes me search more.....I used to be in the majority, a premillennialist dispensationalist, but I am more of a partial preterist now.....really searching what history has taught us, & the correlation with Matthew 24. It's awesome to be challenged!! Our God is AWESOME! The Bible is alive!!

I'm probably misquoting here, but I love this saying...."The biggest theological heresy begins with the misconception of the nature of God".

As I had said so many times....the Bible says who He is, who Jesus is, & who the Holy spirit is. If we trust the Bible....again, not a Bible that is written for a certain group...then shouldn't we trust what it says who God is? Who he saves?

I'm saved. I have that peace. God shows me everyday. Not with condemnation, but with love, & freedom.

My Christmas tree looks beautiful too......but I'm not worshipping it.

 

  

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#79 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 04:01 AM
 
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We believe in the exact same canon as Protestants.
Not the exact same one, the NWT, which has some significant differences.

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As far as salvation goes, Jackie75, the truth is, I have no idea whether or not you will be saved, although I certainly hope you will be. Being part of the JW organization does not guarantee individual salvation. There could very well be sick, evil people who are JWs and wonderful, faithful people who are not. Only Jehovah and Jesus know who will be saved. Anyone who tells you any different doesn't know what JWs really believe.
Your saying you hope Jackie75 will be saved, but be specific, how can she be saved? Is what you're "hoping" for that she will find the "truth" and be baptized as a JW, and then be saved? Or are you saying that some non-JW's who have been preached to and reject the religion still have the possibility of being saved, as you understand the JW beliefs? You also say that being a JW doesn't guarantee salvation, but I think that was already pointed out. Not all JW's will survive according to them, only the good ones.

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If we do our utmost to follow the Bible and live according to God's commandments, we show love for him and can have confidence in our salvation. But no one knows anyone well enough to say "you'll be saved." "You won't." It's playing judge, and God's word doesn't give us that right.
JW's believe that one has to follow the bible as interpreted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In addition to biblical commandments, members must also follow the Watchtower's rules to obtain salvation. These rules are often inconsistent and not biblically based. As one example, the Watchtower forbids celebrating birthdays since at the two birthdays in the bible something bad happened, yet it doesn't forbid it's members from owning dogs even though they are mentioned over 40 times in the bible and are always mentioned in a bad light.

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Therefore, eventhough it's only through faith in Jesus sacrifice that we can be saved, that faith must be accompanied by works and must encompass a person's whole mind, spirit, heart, and strength (Mark 12:29).
And this is another example of why only JW's can obtain salvation. The "works", as interpreted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract society, are: preaching, personal study, attending meetings, giving talks, and commenting at meetings. They are all JW specific tasks.

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On the other hand, most Protestants believe that anyone who doesn't personally know Jesus is damned to hell...which I think is not only unscriptural, but it paints God in a very unjust light. How could he eternally punish a farmer who lived in China in 200 B.C. who never knew anything about Jesus?
How could he kill the innocent children of non-believers in Armageddon? This is a belief that the JW's hold. Are you telling me you don't find that unjust? It's not unjust that god will soon kill billions of people and not even allow a proper burial for all the corpses? And they are condemned to death simply because they did not choose to follow the JW teachings? Do you consider that just?

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Oh yeah, and you don't HAVE to preach. To be considered an "active" Witness, you do, (much like you can't be divorced to be considered an "active" Catholic) but you are certainly not disfellowshipped for not preaching. Sharing God's word must be motivated by love for him and others, not fear of man. We report our time and efforts in the ministry to encourage one another and to follow the example set by Jesus and his disciples in the first century.
But, the numbers reported in the JW yearbook are that of active (preaching) members only. Members who do not preach are not counted or reported as being a member of the religion. To be counted and reported to the public as being a Jehovah's Witness by it's leaders, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, you must actively preach. Being disfellowshipped does not erase you from any roles or membership, being inactive does that. Being disfellowshipped is simply an instruction to the congregation to shun that member.

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I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings you may have about us. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, anytime!

My email is savina37@hotmail.com and I live in the Pittsburgh area.

Take care and I love that you ask questions. I will never think you're rude. Trust me, compared to most people I meet in the ministry, you're quite the opposite. Plus, I haven't always been a JW, so I get how offensive we all can seem!
Thanks for adding to our discussion. I just wonder if anyone contacts you, will you be counting your time for that?
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#80 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 09:44 AM
 
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Thanks for adding to our discussion. I just wonder if anyone contacts you, will you be counting your time for that?
Why wouldn't she?
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#81 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 12:53 PM
 
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Why wouldn't she?
I guess I just find it odd that she somehow got onto this board with one post, and a join date of Dec '08, and then solicits people that she can count her time with off this discussion board. Preaching online is an act strictly forbidden by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, so I found it curious that she appeared to doing this.
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#82 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 01:46 PM
 
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I don't think she was preaching, I think she was simply trying to answer some questions. Let's not be too harsh with her; she's a newcomer, let's welcome her as we would anyone else. She may have differing beliefs than a lot of us (I'm a born again Christian, so definitely different than me as well) but I think she has a lot to contribute to the discussion. Also, it's nice to hear from an active JW.

Bethany, crunchy Christian mom to Destiny (11) Deanna (9), and Ethan (2)

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#83 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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As far as salvation goes, Jackie75, the truth is, I have no idea whether or not you will be saved, although I certainly hope you will be. Being part of the JW organization does not guarantee individual salvation. There could very well be sick, evil people who are JWs and wonderful, faithful people who are not. Only Jehovah and Jesus know who will be saved. Anyone who tells you any different doesn't know what JWs really believe.

If we do our utmost to follow the Bible and live according to God's commandments, we show love for him and can have confidence in our salvation. But no one knows anyone well enough to say "you'll be saved." "You won't." It's playing judge, and God's word doesn't give us that right.
Well, I was a Witness for 21 years and I believe this explanation is rather disingenuous. As a former Witness who speaks out about the parts of the religion that I find inaccurate or that I am unable to believe, I am labeled an apostate. However, I am a very, very good person. But as far as the religion believes, I have positively no hope of salvation because of my apostasy. So you really can't say that you believe only Jehovah and Jesus know who will be saved, because you would know that I will not be.

And if God doesn't give you the right to judge, then why can't my family members who remain Witnesses speak to me? Why are they required to treat me as though I were dead--a ghost to them? That's judging.
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#84 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 06:37 PM
 
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I don't think she was preaching, I think she was simply trying to answer some questions. Let's not be too harsh with her; she's a newcomer, let's welcome her as we would anyone else. She may have differing beliefs than a lot of us (I'm a born again Christian, so definitely different than me as well) but I think she has a lot to contribute to the discussion. Also, it's nice to hear from an active JW.
Her presence here is very welcomed I really love it when JW's engage in conversations like this so that we can all learn from each other. When I said she was "preaching" I meant she was "counting her time" or "Witnessing", and was just trying to avoid talking JW speak. I really don't think her original post was doing this, but I was wondering if the invitation to speak over email was an attempt to set up a "preaching" relationship where she could count her time. I just found that curious in light of the rules of religion, that's all. I wasn't meaning to be hard on her or unwelcoming. I did think this forum was locked until 50 posts and 60 days of membership though, so I was confused about that, but maybe those rules changed without me noticing.
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#85 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 07:10 PM
 
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Preaching online is an act strictly forbidden by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
That's more what I meant by my question. So email witnessing is OK but not message boards?
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#86 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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That's more what I meant by my question. So email witnessing is OK but not message boards?
I don't think email witnessing is specifically ever mentioned, it is more of an "internet" witnessing taboo. Email is part of the internet, yet a bit more private, so some may think it would be okay. However, soliciting people to preach to off of the internet is certainly not okay, according to their leaders.
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#87 of 93 Old 12-16-2008, 08:49 PM
 
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Do you know the reasons for this? Ostensible and/ or real and/ or otherwise? I'm just curious.
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#88 of 93 Old 12-17-2008, 05:09 AM
 
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Do you know the reasons for this? Ostensible and/ or real and/ or otherwise? I'm just curious.
The internet is a dangerous place where "apostates" lurk. They are not supposed to be reading material by, or engaging in discussion with apostates. An apostate is a person who used to be a JW but who no longer believes. I am considered an apostate for example, so engaging me in conversation (once they know I am an apostate), even when they do not personally know me, is wrong and they could get into serious trouble for it if anyone ever found out. When they talk about not preaching on the internet, it is because they wont know who they are talking to. For example, I am very upfront about who I am and that I was a JW for 30 years. Others are not, and will pose as an interested person, asking questions that lead into subjects that are sure to upset the JW being questioned. Of course, the internet is a major information highway, and former JW's are an extremely large number of people (JW's have one of the largest turnover rates of any religion). The JW's organization do not use the internet to their advantage to preach only maintaining one small "official" website. They do not seem to be interested in doing so, and stick to knocking on doors of people who are no longer home during the day. This is quite confusing, as the internet would be a better place to preach, since that is where people are these days. Since they do not have an internet presence, and their are a massive number of "apostates" out there, if they wander onto, oh say a discussion board, they are sure to encounter them. The religion's leaders do not want them to encounter apostates, so they tell them to avoid the internet altogether. They are allowed to use it slightly, but are forbidden to go to chat rooms or porn sites, and are strongly cautioned about wandering around aimlessly or trying to preach to people there.
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#89 of 93 Old 12-17-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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The 'who are the real Christians?' question is always a fun one. I think there are two different ways of defining it--the phenomenological one, and the theological one. The first is more or less 'people who say they're Christian', with perhaps a couple of exceptions; the latter, according to my theological view in any case, is 'the elect'--the invisible church, those who are saved, no matter in what denomination.

But while I don't believe one is saved or unsaved simply according to what 'brand' one holds, there are certainly some 'brands' more likely to contain saved individuals, and some 'brands' which by their very nature are not likely to, as their doctrines are contradictory to Christianity. It's all very well to say 'we worship the same God', but frankly, we don't. The God of JWs is unary, the God of most Christians is Trinitarian. An Arminian view of God is vastly different to a Calvinist view of God. Nor do we worship the same Jesus, if the conception of one Jesus is a person who offers salvation to all, to be rejected or accepted due to free will, and another Jesus is a person who irresistably thrusts His grace upon the elect. Even more obviously, a Jesus who is divine is not the same as a Jesus who isn't!

This thread has already discussed how 'we all believe the same Bible' is problematic--the Apocrypha? KJV only? Douay-Rheims only? The Bible-as-interpreted-by-a-particular-teaching-authority, or sola (or solo) Scriptura? 'We all have faith' is equally so--DH is currently debating online with a Catholic girl who believes 'faith' is an emotional rather than intellectual faculty, and which can be used to smooth over logical contradictions (ie., she feels it is possible to accept mutually contradictory statements due to faith); this is a completely different definition of faith from the Reformed one.

In other words, our common ground isn't as common as we might like to think for the sake of appearing peaceable. We're using the same words to mean vastly different things. Now, obviously not all denominational differences are 'deal-breakers', as it were. The Bible is pretty clear that the elect aren't determined on the grounds of whether or not they baptise babies. Other issues are bigger--free will vs predestination, for instance--but as ardent a Calvinist as I am, I don't think Arminians are damned just because of what I see as a faulty understanding of the mechanics of salvation. So where does one draw the line--what is the absolute essential of the Gospel, without which one cannot be saved?

I tend to agree with my husband on this one, who feels that the core of the Gospel is salvation by grace through faith alone, and that (as per Galatians 1:9) anyone who preaches a different Gospel will be accursed, no matter what their apparent authority. But obviously, opinions will differ! And unless people are wanting to join our local church, whereupon I think it is our duty to ascertain where they stand spiritually (insofar as that's possible), I don't think it is the job of Christians to spend too much time worrying about who is One of Us. Working out our own salvation in fear and trembling is commanded.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

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#90 of 93 Old 01-03-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner, mommas. I disappeared for a week and then the forums were closed. I see that there are numerous comments, questions, and criticisms regarding Witnesses, and I’ll do my best to address some of those.

1. NEW WORLD TRANSLATION– I could spend time defending the NWT, but I don’t mind just using another translation. I own 10 different ones, NIV included, and I think you can get God’s truth from any translation. When one seems to contradict the other, I like to use a concordance or interlinear (I have the Zondervan RSV Greek Interlinear, Protestant-approved) to verify the meanings of the original words, phrases, or grammatical structures in question. Thus, out of respect for your concerns, I’ll be sure the scriptures I use in discussion are NOT from the NWT.

2. SALVATION - Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that as Christians we’re assured of salvation. We also believe that it is by God’s grace alone that we’re saved. No matter how hard we work, we can’t bring about our own salvation. That’s why we need Jesus' sacrifice. Faith in it is the only thing that makes salvation possible. We can do works to show our love, but they don't save us.

However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t ever lose God’s favor. Even devoted Christians need to be careful not to be overconfident, and as Smokering says, “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” The Bible teaches that even a strong Christian can lose favor with God. I challenge anyone who disagrees to share their own interpretation of these scriptures:

Hebrews 6:4-8 - “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (NIV)

Hebrews 10:26-27 – “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (NIV)

2 Peter 2:20 – “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (NIV)


Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t teach “once saved, always saved.” We have to maintain a relationship with God, taking care to preserve our good standing:

Hebrews 3:12-13 – “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (NIV)


3. DISFELLOWSHIPPING AND SALVATION - Those who are disfellowshipped are those who have unrepentantly and deliberately committed one or more of the very serious sins listed in the Bible as offenses deserving of expulsion (1Corinthians 5:11,12; Titus 3:10, 11; 1Timothy 1:19, 20; Hebrews 12:15, 16). I emphasize “unrepentantly” because you don’t get disfellowshipped if you’re truly sorry. We all commit many sins; we’re human.

It is reasonable, therefore, to consider that according to these scriptural precedents (Hebrews 6:4-8, 10:27-28 and 2Peter 2:20), a disfellowshipped one may have lost God’s favor and his promise of salvation. HOWEVER, Jehovah’s Witnesses don't even make that claim with any certainty. Why?

1) An error in judgment on the part of the judicial committee could have contributed to one’s being wrongfully disfellowshipped. This happened in the first century (3 John 9,10)

2) There is a loving provision to reinstate a disfellowshipped person into the congregation (2 Corinthians 2:7, 8) whereby, presumably, he has mended his relationship with God.

3) God is the ultimate judge and he could know things about a person that we don’t.

Interestingly enough, one main purpose of disfellowshipping is to help a person regain the promise of salvation they may have lost. Disfellowshipping forces people to strengthen their relationship with God alone, not relying on their family members or organization for their faith. This is a big problem for some Witnesses; they focus on obeying and fearing man and not God…which is wrong, according to the Bible and the organization. Then, they resent the congregation for their own mistaken approach to the faith. Disfellowshipping is meant to help individuals whose willful sinning and brazen attitude reflect a loss of love for the truth. All hope they will mend their relationship with God.

4. INTERNET “WITNESSING” - Although I’m not in any way forbidden by the Bible or the Watchtower Society to engage in message boards, I do prefer email for practical reasons. Forums are all over the place – people often attack each other, change the subject, and talk about too many things in too little depth. I’m in my first trimester, I work full time, and I have a 15 month-old, husband, and home to care for. I’m sure you are all quite busy, too! Spending hours trying to responsibly read and respond to a hundred random claims, questions, and criticisms from numerous individuals at once is time consuming, and let’s be honest, most people don’t even read the extremely long post required to cover all the points brought up. Most only respond to what they want, nitpicking and using each others posts as a way to air their opinions before an audience. I’m not trying to be critical; I’m guilty of this myself. Though I would have had a ball with this medium in college, my current circumstances don’t allow me to use it effectively or responsibly. I’d love to talk via email with anyone who would like to have a focused conversation based on mutual respect. I'm open to "thinking outside the box" and even changing my religion. I'm interested in the Bible, in the truth, not any given organization.

Write to me at any time at savina37@hotmail.com. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend, ladies! My name is Savina.
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