More Doctrinal Romping
Last week we covered a few of the doctrines taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They really don’t like the word “doctrine” as they know their interpretation of the Bible is the absolute truth, not a casserole of beliefs based at least partly on tradition. They hate the word “dogma” even more, although they are among the most dogmatic people on the planet.
Let’s have a heaping helping of doctrine casserole, and please pass the ketchup.
This is JWs at their most nitpicky. The Greek words used to describe the instrument of Jesus’ death are “stauros” and “xylon” which they claim did not mean “cross” until well after the event. However, archeology proves that assertion is not true. Well before the first century those terms were used to describe a cross.
Instead, the JWs say those two Greek words meant “stake” or “pole.” In the JW Bible instead of cross they use the term “torture stake.” In their artwork, Jesus is depicted as being nailed to a stake instead of a cross.
Historical accounts as well as archeology show that the Romans were using the cross as their torture instrument of choice as it lengthened the suffering of the victim to hours or even days, whereas death on a stake would take only about an hour.
Their other objection to the cross is that it is a pagan symbol that was used by pre-Christian peoples in their worship of false gods. Interestingly, the symbol of a watchtower was also used by pre-Christian pagan peoples in their worship of false gods.
Houston, I think we have a problem. Actually, it’s not a problem if the Watchtower Society keeps that last fact to themselves. For an exhaustive discussion of this subject, please see JW Facts.
With the emphasis on sin in JW theology, it’s a wonder they don’t advocate self-flagellation.
Of course, sin originated in the Garden of Eden when Eve had a “blonde” moment, wandered into the “Staff Only” area and helped herself to some off-limits fruit at the behest of a fast-talking snake. But that wasn’t the worst part, according to JWs. It was when Adam, who was not deceived, ate the fruit and sold all of his descendants down the river. See, Adam could have ratted Eve out, trusting that God would give him another mate and he’d be happy. But no, in the first act of codependence, instead of confronting Eve, he joined her.
At that time, God drove them from the Garden out into the wilderness and, being sinful creatures, Adam and Eve began to die.
In my opinion, the whole incident smacks of entrapment. Why place a tree in the Garden and then tell them not to eat from it? I don’t think the charges would stand up in court. Especially if Eve got Gloria Allred to take her case.
So, sin became the inescapable inheritance of all of Adam and Eve’s children, with death as the consequence.
Now, JWs will tell you that, because of our sinful nature, none of us deserves life. We must continually apologize to God for our sins and ask forgiveness, even if we haven’t done anything wrong. Making a mistake – for example, a tpyo – is sin because it is evidence of our imperfection. Every time you park crooked, spill soup on your shirt, miss a spot while cleaning a window, lose the remote, or step in dog poop you’re sinning. As a result, being a JW is practically synonymous with low self-esteem.
The law given to Moses and recorded in the Old Testament provides for the atonement of sin by the use of animal sacrifices. It impressed upon the sinner the “exceeding sinfulness of sin” in that the sinner had to lay his hand upon the head of the animal and then watch it get slaughtered. A life was lost in order to pay for an Israelite’s sin.
Of course, the Mosaic Law also goes on for paragraphs detailing how inanimate objects like cloth and stones can contract leprosy. Seriously?
JWs believe the Law foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a perfect human, to pay for the perfect human life that Adam lost for all of us. They call it the “ransom sacrifice,” in that Christ paid the ransom price to release all mankind from sin. This ransom was paid to God when Jesus was resurrected and ascended to the heavens.
JWs believe that one of Jehovah’s primary attributes is justice, which is why He went to such lengths to atone for mankind’s sin. To me, however, this whole arrangement sounds more like it was devised by a bureaucracy. You know – the kind that requires forms in triplicate, and you’d better present the pink copy, not the goldenrod, to the clerk or you won’t get the permit for your new garden hose.
Wouldn’t it have been equally as just to smite Adam and Eve and start over again? They’re the criminals in this case. The rest of us are victims who have to keep apologizing for something over which we have no control. This must have been the start of the “blame the victim” paradigm.
While we have the subject of sin fresh in mind let’s talk about heaven and hell.
JWs believe that heaven is the spirit realm, the abode of Jehovah and his angels, Jesus Christ (the Archangel Michael) being one of them, and is strictly off limits to humans. Well, most of them. As I mentioned before, there are 144,000 benighted individuals who, upon death, will be instantly transformed into spirit beings and will be whisked away to heaven to rule with Christ. Everyone else goes to hell.
Now, the “hell” that JWs believe in is far, far different from what most religions teach. To a JW, “hell” is the common grave of all mankind, meaning a hole in the dirt. No fire, no Devil with a pitchfork, no torture. Just the cold, cold ground. This understanding arises from an overly assiduous examination of the meaning of the Greek word “ha’des” and the Hebrew word “she’ol.” JWs claim that both words mean “the common grave of mankind.” Period.
They believe that the dead in this common grave will be resurrected after Armageddon and then judged based on their behavior during that time period. I would imagine that if I had been resurrected to find that after my death my husband had married my best friend I might not behave too well. Not to mention the fact that I’d been promised heaven and instead got dragged back to earth to work my patootie off doing gardening for all eternity.
Especially since I don’t like bugs.
Next week – Even more doctrinal romping.