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Charles Taze Russell and what he started

We would like to present some older articles published by us on the website of Bijbelvorsers Webs, the Association of Bible Scholars or Researchers an Association for Bible-study, and Biblestudents on March 4, 2011 at 5:41 am:

Charles Taze Russell and what he started.

C. T.Russell was born in 1852 (the second of five children) in Allegheny,Pennsylvania in the US. He grew up in faith with his father, got to know the Presbyterian and the Congregational Church. He investigated the philosophies of the Far East – Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism but soon concluded that these philosophies were empty, and his quest for spiritual satisfaction and peace remained unfulfilled.

Christians worldwide were for the first time ever considering the prophetic chronology of the Bible, concluding that Christ was going to return on dates calculated anywhere from 1862 through 1881 (with greater focus on the year 1868). From 1868 to 1875 a lot of Christians all over the world had come in great expectation for the return of Christ, believing that the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete, and the seventh and final millennium began. Lots of preachers,determined to find the truth, went around the world to proclaim the end times.

George Storrs (1796–1879) one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement and affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. He began publication of his magazine The Bible Examiner in 1843 and continued it until 1879 with a few breaks - George Storrs (1796-1879) een van de leiders van de Tweede Advent beweging en aangesloten bij William Miller en Joshua V. Himes. Hij begon met de publicatie van zijn tijdschrift The Bible Examiner in 1843 en bleef het tot 1879 met een paar pauzes publiceren

George Storrs (1796–1879) one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement and affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. He began publication of his magazine The Bible Examiner in 1843 and continued it until 1879 with a few breaks – George Storrs (1796-1879) een van de leiders van de Tweede Advent beweging en aangesloten bij William Miller en Joshua V. Himes. Hij begon met de publicatie van zijn tijdschrift The Bible Examiner in 1843 en bleef het tot 1879 met een paar pauzes publiceren

George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite who also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World's Crisis - George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite die ook schreef voor George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life en the Coming Kingdom, en voor andere bijbelstudenten tijdschriften zoals The World's Crisis

George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite who also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World’s Crisis – George Stetson (1814–1879) Millerite die ook schreef voor George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life en the Coming Kingdom, en voor andere bijbelstudenten tijdschriften zoals The World’s Crisis

Soon C.T. Russell began also to see that he was living somewhere near the close of the Gospel age, “and near the time when the Lord had declared that the wise,watching ones of his children should come to a clear knowledge of his plan.” From the years 1870 through 1875 Charles, his father Joseph, his sister Margaret, along with several other interested friends and associates, and a few other truth-seekers in Pittsburgh and Allegheny formed a class for Bible study with the well studied Millerite pastors George Storrs, and George Stetson. These studies were purposely detailed and analytical with the goal of examining every ‘jot and tittle’ of Christian doctrine, creeds and traditions in order to determine their accuracy, or to see if they were nothing but “the traditions of men”. Slowly, and step by step, they were able to separate which doctrines were Bible-based from those that were error, or mere tradition. Such detailed studies and questions of faith were common to numerous Protestant groups in the United States at this time in American history.

Charles had a time of constant growth in grace and knowledge and love of God and his Word. During this time of his Bible study, the Russells were also influenced by Adventists such as Jonas Wendell, Nelson Barbour, the Christadelphians and the Lutheran minister Joseph Seiss. In the history of Bible Students we cannot escape to see several names coming up in different denominations of today. In the nineteenth century there was a big cross-pollination. Some of Russell’s beliefs can be traced back to the very beginning of the Second Advent movement started by William Miller.

William Miller (1782-1849), American clergyman, founded a movement which involved thousands in eagerly awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. - William Miller (1782-1849), Amerikaanse dominee, stichtte een beweging die duizenden reikhalzend deden uitkijken naar de wederkomst van Christus.

William Miller (1782-1849), American clergyman, founded a movement which involved thousands in eagerly awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. – William Miller (1782-1849), Amerikaanse dominee, stichtte een beweging die duizenden reikhalzend deden uitkijken naar de wederkomst van Christus.

Because of their intensive study of the Bible, the Russell family (Charles, Margaret, and Joseph) concluded that they had finally gained a new and clearer understanding of what a Christian is called to do in laying down their earthly life in sacrifice and service to God. All three renewed their consecration (vow of dedication) and decided to be re-baptized in 1874.

In 1876 Russell sold his father’s men’s clothing tailoring store named “The Old QuakerShop” located on Federal Street in downtown Pittsburgh and used this money to use it for preaching and publication purposes.

Russell was impressed with Nelson Barbour’s “invisible presence” views on Christ’s coming and he accepted much of his chronological views. Barbour and Russell soon became partners in publishing Herald of the Morning, Pastor Russell becoming an assistant editor of the Adventist magazine.

C.T.Russell became also the co-publisher of the book, Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (Also called, Three Worlds: Or Plan of Redemption) (1877). A doctrinal dispute between Russell and Barbour over the atonement, and that the Rapture of the saints would occur in April 1878, resulted in Russell ending his partnership with Barbour and publishing his own magazine the Zion’s Watch Tower magazine, starting in 1879. When Russell left, he took many of Barbour’s readers with him, including J.H. Paton, the Herald magazine’s other assistant editor. He continued with Barbour’s chronology of 1874 being the date of Christ’s invisible return, 1799 as the start of the time of the end and 1914 as the “end of the Gentile Times”.

In 1908 the name of their magazine was changed to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Russell married Maria (pronounced ‘moriah’) Frances Ackley (1850-1938 ) on March 13,1879, after merely a few months’ acquaintance. The marriage was based on a mutually agreed celibate partnership established for preaching the gospel. In 1897 they separated following disagreements over the propriety of her role in the management of Zion’s Watch Tower magazine.

In 1881 “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” was founded with the purpose of disseminating tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and Bibles, and was officially chartered in 1884.

Charles devoted nearly a tenth of his fortune in publishing and distributing his first major publication, entitled “Food for Thinking Christians” in 1881. In that same year he also wrote and distributed, “Tabernacle and its Teachings”, and “Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices”. In “Food for Thinking Christians”, Russell’s zeal to throw light upon the creedal errors motivated him to tear into the error without first showing that the Bible was indeed true, and that there was truth to be found therein. This approach shivered many men well and did the rear.

Russell wanted to outline the entire Bible and God’s plan for humanity, completely free of the Roman creeds and “traditions of men” in a seven-volume set. The first volume was originally entitled “The Plan of the Ages”, later renamed “The Divine Plan of the Ages”.

The”Divine Plan of the Ages” took the opposite approach of “Food for Thinking Christians” and first showed the beauty and harmony of the Bible before attacking the creedal errors. This approach was accepted as a refreshing answer to people’s search for truth so evident from the end of the 19th century onward.

The remaining volumes of the series, originally named “Millennial Dawn” but renamed in 1904 to “Studies in the Scriptures”, are:

 

The Time is at Hand (1889)

Thy Kingdom Come (1891)

The Day of Vengeance/The Battle of Armageddon (1897)

The Atonement Between God and Men (1899)

The New Creation (1904)

 

The delayed publishing of the seventh volume eventually became a source of great anticipation and mystery among Bible Students. Following Russell’s death in 1916, a seventh volume entitled The Finished Mystery, was published in 1917 and advertised as his “posthumous work”. True to Russell’s plan, this seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Revelation, but had included interpretations of Ezekiel, and the Song of Solomon. Immediate controversy surrounded both its publishing, and contents. In a short time it was established that it was actually written and compiled by two of Russell’s former associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Joseph Franklin Rutherford. [i]

By 1903, newspapers began printing sermons written by Pastor Russell. The success of this got perhaps in his head. Though a lot of criticism came up he became more in the picture and got more followers.

While on the one hand claiming no special “authority,” Russell clearly desired to be the “servant” in the estimation of the “household of faith.” The danger became that he started claiming to be the “mouthpiece” of God. While others before him paved the way in giving the “midnight cry,” such as Miller and Barbour, Russell believed he was finally chosen as the one in restoring true Biblical teaching. While saying everyone needed to decide for himself, etc., Russell clearly wanted everyone to”study” the Bible solely from his writings.

Frederick William Franz (1893–1992) member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and served as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. - Frederick William Franz (1893-1992) lid van het Regerend Lichaam van Jehovah's Getuigen en diende als president van het Wachttorengenootschap the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, de juridische entiteit gebruikt om het werk van Jehovah's Getuigen te leiden.

Frederick William Franz (1893–1992) member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and served as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. – Frederick William Franz (1893-1992) lid van het Regerend Lichaam van Jehovah’s Getuigen en diende als president van het Wachttorengenootschap the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, de juridische entiteit gebruikt om het werk van Jehovah’s Getuigen te leiden.

After Russell’s dead it became even worse. A leadership crisis arose surrounding the new president of the Society, Joseph Rutherford, resulting in a movement-wide schism. As many as three-quarters of the approximately 50,000 Bible Students who had been associating in 1917 had left by 1931, resulting in the formation of several groups that retained variations on the name Bible Students. The idea of the truthful slave was interpolated to the Watchtower Tract Society. Rutherford and Fred Franz (Frederick William Franz) their followers who maintained fellowship with the Watch Tower Society adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931. They accept that the Society is provided with the only truthful slave and is the only one which has received the light from God and can show the light and right way to enter the Kingdom of God. JW‘s believe the Bible Students are still stuck on the “old light” of “Pastor” Russell and thus haven’t kept up with the latest “light” or “present truth.” Thus JW’s are no longer “Russellites” or followers of Russell as detractors have called them and they used to proudly call themselves. [ii] Russell is no longer viewed by the Watchtower Society as the “faithful and wise servant” alone serving the “meat in due season” or proper explanation of the Scriptures as they taught until 1927. [iii] They have gone back to the original view that the “servant” is a class of people, the 144,000, of which Russell was only one. The truth is still being progressively revealed to the modern “remnant” of the 144,000 who are currently leading the corporation Russell founded according the Jehovah Witnesses. Russell is viewed by JW’s today as the founder of their movement who helped revive the truth and separated them from Babylon the Great, but who taught many things that are no longer the “truth’ as the “light has grown brighter” since his day. JW’s therefore do not and are not encouraged to read Russell’s material at all, except the brief quotations provided by the Society’s writers in their current publications.

The Society of the Watchtower stopped publishing Russell his Studies in the Scriptures in 1928. Many Bible Students believe for the most part that the Society has become apostate as it no longer believes in many of Russell’s teachings as exposed in his Studies. As Russell warned about those who would do such a thing, the Society has gone into spiritual darkness, according to those other Bible Students. JW’s are viewed by many Bible Students as part of the Whore of Babylon and tell JW’s to “get out of her my people.”

Although the JW testify to be bible the only real research workers of truth, we fortunately can determine that there are, though be it in comparison with the traditional religions, not so many, still several people who were faithful to study the Book of books wanting to examine the Holy Scriptures and to investigate how they can be most faithful to this Word of God.

Those who severed ties with the Society formed their own groups including the Pastoral Bible Institute in 1918 (publishing The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom), the Layman’s Home Missionary Movement in 1919, and the Dawn Bible Students Association in 1929.

Moreover the former not associated Bible researchers remain still active in their Bible study and the proclamation of the Word of God.

*

Notes:

[i] http://www.pastor-russell.com/misc/bio.html

[ii] Walter Martin and Norman Klan, Jehovahof the Watchtower (Minneapolis, MN.: Bethany House Publishers), 1953, 1974,p. 41; The Golden Age, March 17, 1920, pp. 409-414.

[iii] J. F. Rutherford, The Harp ofGod (Brooklyn, NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society), 1921, pp. 237,239.

Dutch speaking readers at that time could find this text in Dutch on the Space of the Belgian bible Students but by the disappearance of Windows Live Spaces the article also disappeared

Nederlandstaligelezerskonden dit artikel in het Nederlands vinden op de Space van Bijbelstudenten uit België maar door het wegvallen van Windows Live Spaces hebben wij dat artikel verloren : Charles Taze Russell, een bal die veel aan het rollen bracht.

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Find also:

  1. Different approach in organisation of services #1
  2. Different approach in organisation of services #2
  3. Different approach in organisation of services #3
  4. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  5. Commitment to Christian unity
  6. Parts of the body of Christ
  7. Dissolution of Bijbelvorsers (Bible scholars), Association for Bible study

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  • The Mustard Seed by The Church of Christ, Sangotedo (slideshare.net)
    In the Bible, the mustard seed is used by Jesus in the parable of the Mustard Seed as a model for the kingdom of God which initially starts small but grows to be the biggest of all garden plants…
  • Bible Verse of the Day – Colossians 3:16 (worldeventsandthebible.com)
    Let the Word of Christ dwell in your heart. Think about that for a moment. When Christ’s Word truly dwells in our heart it makes us a better person. It allows us to see the love Christ has for us and this enables and encourages us to share His Letter with the world. This my friends is our mission in this life. To follow after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and share His most precious Word with those who will give an ear.
  • November 17, 2014 – agreement (cohdailyprayer2014.wordpress.com)
    The leader relies on the mutual agreement we all have with God. He or she does not create faith or supply spiritual motivation. Christians live together in love and truth by their mutual agreement as people who are gifted with the Spirit of God. Our agreement holds us together. Agreement is a description of an action, not just a name for a document. Our ongoing, mutual dialogue in Christ forms and shapes our mutual understanding and direction. That agreement is a key factor in how much difference we make.
  • Bride of Christ (zestwriter.wordpress.com)
    John saw her / Descending from heaven / Her latter glory / Called her New Jerusalem / Such a beautiful story / What a beautiful bride / The bride of Christ
  • No separation! Romans 8:38-39 (wordsnmotion.wordpress.com)
    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Moving Through Time: Timeline of Religion (pcr.wpengine.com)
  • In 1845-1870 AD, E.G. White established the 7th Day Adventists, a Protestant Christian denomination that believes in observing Saturday as the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week. In addition, 7th Day Adventists believe in the imminent second coming of the Jesus Christ. This movement was influenced and grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the 19th century.
  • In 1848 AD, Kate and Margaret Fox founded Spiritualism, a belief system that postulates the belief in spirits of the dead who have an inclination in communicating with the living through a divination system known as mediumship.
  • In 1870 AD, Charles Taze Russel founded the Jehovah Witnesses, a Christian denomination distinct from mainstream Christianity. The Jehovah’s Witnesses base their beliefs on their own biblical interpretations and even transcribed their own version of the Holy Bible. They believe that Armageddon and the establishment of New Jerusalem is imminent.
  • In 1875 AD, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Olcott founded the Theosophical Society, a research and publishing institute dedicated to sharing esoteric doctrine of many spiritual traditions around the world. H.P. Blavatsky’s extensive research led to the publishing of the “magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine,” a comprehensive synthesis of ancient knowledge. The Theosophical Society aimed to form a brotherhood that did not discriminate against race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
  • In 1879 AD, Mary Baker Eddy formed a cult sect known as Christian Science (PDF), a religious practice derived from revelations given to Mary Baker Eddy and from the Bible itself. Its core texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, also known as the “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures.” Christian Science asserts that humanity and the universe coincide together as a whole in their truest essence, whereas evil and fallacies are illusory aspects of the material plane.
  • Between 1889 to 1924 AD, Myrtle Fillmore founded the Unity School of Christianity, a religious group that believes that all people are created with sacred worth. The Unity School of Christianity shares a universal love for all people, regardless of race, sex, color, ethnicity, creed, gender, political ideology, or disability.
  • In 1902 AD, Rudolf Steiner founded the Anthroposophical Society, a religious organization that postulates that an individual can comprehend an objective spiritual world through direct experience and inner development.
  • In 1906 AD, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World is one of the longest, and oldest Oneness Pentecostal organizations in operation today. It currently has a membership of one and a half million members in the United States alone. Pentecostal doctrine believes in the trinity; however, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. In addition, Pentecostal attendees manifest the gifts of the spirit, especially the laying of hands and speaking in tongues.

All things written aforetime for our instruction

For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction,+ so that through our endurance+ and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.+ (NWT) .— Romans 15:4.

For all the things that were written aforetime were written+ for our instruction,+ that through our endurance+ and through the comfort+ from the Scriptures we might have hope.*+ (Ref.B)

~~~~

Excerpt from the book The image of God, or lai...

Excerpt from the book The image of God, or laie mans boke in which the right knowledge of God is disclosed, and diuerse doubtes besides the principal matter written by Roger Hutchinson at 1550 (available in John Bruce’s The works of Roger Hutchinson (1842, pp. 183, 183) at archive.org), using God’s Biblical name Jehovah (Jehova/Iehova/Iehoua).

were written:  (#Ro 4:23): 23 That “it was counted+ to him” was written, however, not for his sake only,+

(#1Co 10:11): 11 Now these things went on befalling them as examples,* and they were written for a warning+ to us upon whom the ends* of the systems of things*+ have arrived.

for our instruction:  (#2Ti 3:16): 16 All Scripture is inspired of God*+ and beneficial for teaching,+ for reproving,+ for setting things straight,*+ for disciplining+ in righteousness,

(#2Pe 1:19): 19 Consequently we have the prophetic word+ [made] more sure;+ and YOU are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp+ shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar*+ rises, in YOUR hearts.

(#Pr 3:11-12): 11 The discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject;+ and do not abhor his reproof,+ 12 because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves,+ even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.+

(#Joh 16:8): 8 And when that one arrives he will give the world convincing evidence* concerning sin and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment:+

(#Tit 1:9): 9 holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his [art of] teaching,+ that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful+ and to reprove+ those who contradict.

(#1Co 11:32): 32 However, when we are judged,+ we are disciplined by Jehovah,*+ that we may not become condemned+ with the world.+

(#He 12:6): 6 for whom Jehovah* loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.”+

(#Re 3:19): 19 “‘All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline.+ Therefore be zealous and repent.+

(#He 12:5): 5 but YOU have entirely forgotten the exhortation which addresses YOU as sons:+ “My son, do not belittle [the] discipline from Jehovah,* neither give out when you are corrected* by him;+

(#Ps 94:12): 12 Happy is the able-bodied man* whom you correct,+ O Jah, And whom you teach out of your own law,+

(#Ps 119:71):  71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted,+ In order that I may learn your regulations.+

(#1Ti 4:16): 16 Pay constant attention to yourself+ and to your teaching.+ Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.+

(#1Ti 6:3): 3 If any man teaches other doctrine+ and does not assent to healthful+ words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion,*+

(#Jas 3:1): 3 Not many of YOU should become teachers,+ my brothers, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.+

througour endurance:  (#Ro 5:4): 4 endurance, in turn, an approved condition;+ the approved condition, in turn, hope,+

(#Php 1:20): 20 in harmony with my eager expectation+ and hope+ that I shall not be ashamed+ in any respect, but that in all freeness of speech+ Christ will, as always before, so now be magnified by means of my body,+ whether through life or through death.+

(#2Ti 2:15): 15 Do your utmost to present yourself approved+ to God, a workman+ with nothing to be ashamed of,+ handling the word of the truth aright.+

(#Jas 1:12): 12 Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial,+ because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life,+ which Jehovah* promised to those who continue loving him.+

through the comfort:  (#Ps 119:50):  50 This is my comfort in my affliction,+ For your own saying has preserved me alive.+

(#Ps 94:19): 19 When my disquieting thoughts became many inside of me,+ Your own consolations began to fondle my soul.+

(#Ps 71:21): 21 May you enlarge my greatness,+ And may you surround [and] comfort me.+

(#Ps 86:17): 17 Work out with me a sign meaning goodness, That those hating me may see [it] and be ashamed.+ For you yourself, O Jehovah, have helped me and comforted me.+

(#2Co 1:3-4):  3 Blessed be the God and Father+ of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies+ and the God of all comfort,+ 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation,+ that we may be able to comfort+ those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.+

(#Ps 23:4):  4 Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow,*+ I fear nothing bad,+ For you are with me;+ Your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me.+

(#2Co 7:6): 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts+ those laid low, comforted us by the presence* of Titus;

~~~

Those written things include many good examples, men and women of outstanding faith. (Hebrews 11:32-34) We can and should benefit from the good examples found in the Scriptures, following or imitating what is presented in those fine Biblical accounts. Certain~~ Bible accounts, however, include warning examples. We can find some of those in the lives of men and women whom Jehovah at one point accepted and used as his servants. As we read the Bible, we can note where and how some of God’s people went astray and thus became warning examples. We can discern that some gradually developed wrong attitudes or tendencies, which eventually produced sad consequences.
How can we draw lessons from such accounts? We may want to ask ourselves such questions as: ‘How did that develop? Might such a trend develop in my case? What can I do to avoid that and instead to benefit from this warning example?’ w11 12/15 1:19, 20

+

Absalom, a son of King David, was an exceptionally good-looking man. In time, however, like Satan, he let greedy ambition fill his heart, for he began to covet his father’s throne, to which he was not entitled. In a sly attempt to seize the kingship, Absalom feigned deep concern for his fellow Israelites while cleverly insinuating that the king’s court lacked regard for them. Yes, just like the Devil in the garden of Eden, Absalom presented himself as a benefactor, at the same time cruelly maligning his own father. (2 Samuel 15:1-5)
Did Absalom’s clever scheme succeed? To some extent, yes, for the Bible account states: “Absalom kept stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.” (2 Samuel 15:6) In the end, though, Absalom’s arrogance led to his own downfall, his death, and the death of the thousands who were overreached by him.—2 Samuel 18:7, 14-17. w12 7/15 2:4-6

+

Dutch version: Nederlandstalige versie: Alle dingen die eertijds geschreven tot ons onderricht

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Additional reading:

  1. Aim High: Examples of Godly Characters to follow
  2. No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation
  3. Missional hermeneutics 5/5
  4. A Bible Falling Apart Belongs to Someone who isn’t
  5. Youth has difficulty Bible Reading
  6. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up

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  • Chapter 37- Sanctification (reformedontheweb.wordpress.com)
    The usage of Scripture is as clear in this case as in that. The word “holy” in Scripture has, however, various meanings. It is sometimes applied to things, and not to persons only. (1.) It is used in the sense of that which is set apart or dedicated to an especial use. Thus, God threatens that instruments of vengeance will be “prepared” (sanctified) against “the king’s house of Judah,” Jer. 22:7. But the dedication is most frequently for some holy use.
    +
    The difficulty of the work to be done consists in its not being a mere reformation of a bad life and habits, which is measurably within the power of man, and is sometimes accomplished so far as the mere outward life among men demands; but in its including the destruction and removal of man’s sinful condition, and habits, and action, which he by nature ardently loves, and the substitution for them of their very opposites in every respect.
  • Step 8 Remember God Disciplines Those He Loves (shareaverse.wordpress.com)
    God is vigilant in maintaining and guarding His children.  He is intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry and possessive and watchful in the protection of His chosen ones.  He demands exclusive loyalty and is ardently active, devoted, diligent and filled with intense enthusiasm, fervor and passion to the point of intense, burning heat when it comes to ensuring our knowledge of His love, grace, and plan for us.
  • Michael Brown Writes Open Letter to Joel and Victoria Osteen Out of Love for God, Love for Them, and Love for the Church and the World (blackchristiannews.com)
    A true physician tells his patients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. As one preacher of old, JeanDaille, once said, “Ministers are not cooks, but physicians andtherefore should not study to delight the palate, but to recover the patient.”Have you been more of a junk-food cook than a physician? Have you been afraid to tell people their true condition? Have you been so concerned with making them feel good about themselves and giving them a sense of hope that you failed to diagnose their terminal sin disease?
  • Default To Righteousness (dayandnightpost.com)
    The church is fast approaching a default to abundance and a default to righteousness; although most – in the church – are not aware of it. Neither were the Children of Israel aware of the hour of their deliverance from Egypt.
  • Discernment (endtimesprophecyreport.wordpress.com)
    The state of the “church” was made abundantly clear to me this week while I made a strong effort to defend the Word of God from the attack of a false believer.
    +
    The lack of discernment is listed as a sin that accompanies rebellious sinners in Romans chapter one.  I want to quote from both the KJV and NKJV to give a good rendering of the word used and to show that God indeed does call lack of discernment sin.
  • Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #18 Fulfilment (christadelphians.wordpress.com)
    Fulfilment As we showed in the previous chapters several men of God knew their position very well and where convinced they needed the Most High Creator of all things. Even the son of God never claimed to be able to do something without the Force of his Father.
  • Rose Resource Review: 10 Questions and Answers on Jehovah’s Witnesses (allthyngs.wordpress.com)
    There are also books with stories of how JW’s came to truly know Christ and had their eyes opened to the truth of the Biblical Gospel through the grace and patience of real Jesus followers.
  • Christian Statements of Faith (linsec.ca)
    To begin to understand the origin of Christianity, you need to understand the orthodoxy of Christianity (the theories, doctrines, and practices that defined Christianity in the early church and are the pillars of Christian theology today). These statements or creeds are inviolate — they are the foundations of Christianity and without them you may have something that resembles Christianity, but really isn’t Christianity. There are two statements of faith that define Christianity: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
  • Pictures: They came, saw and made Zim richer (newsday.co.zw)
    The bumper crowd that converged at the NSS in Harare for all the three days was historic and about 1 568 candidates out of at least 74 000 in attendance, that Saturday, were baptized symbolizing their dedication to serving their Heavenly Father –Jehovah God. Attendance on the first day, on Friday was over 68 000 while the last day, on Sunday attendance totaled 82 409 people.

The blot not to be seen

In a discussion, which was not to be intended to bring the name up of an ex member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses from 20 October 1971 until 22 May 1980, we notice that the Organisation of the Jehovah Witnesses likes to do if nothing happened way back in the seventies.

For Raymond Victor Franz (May 8, 1922 – June 2, 2010) the seventies became exuberant very promising but also very disappointing. Being the son of a Bible Student he found an other way and joined the group in 1938 which was to become known as the Jehovah Witnesses. , He became a baptized member in 1939 after which he took more time to study the Bible and to grow in to the believes of the Jehovah Witnesses. To get more insight he went to the missionary school of Jehovah’s Witnesses, typically referred to simply as Gilead or Gilead School, founded in 1942by Nathan H. Knorr. After five months he graduated in 1944. Temporarily he served the organization as a traveling representative in the continental U.S. until receiving a missionary assignment to Puerto Rico in 1946. In 1959 he married his wife with whom he continued his missionary work in the Caribbean, traveling to the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, to evangelize for four more years before taking up work at Watch Tower headquarters inBrooklyn,the most populous of New York City‘s five boroughs.

Encouraged by his uncle Frederick W. Franz he put all his efforts to spread the news of the coming Kingdom and to help his brothers and sisters grow in the faith. Both Frederick and Ray joined forces to make a think-tank. Franz was encouraged to put his ideas in writing and got the opportunity to work in the organization’s writing department. He was assigned to collaboratively write Aid to Bible Understanding, the first religious encyclopedia published by Jehovah’s Witnesses in which he put a lot of energy.

English: crop of older photo ca 1981 of previo...

Ray Franz, early 1980s – English: crop of older photo ca 1981 of previous Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body members (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For him the climax of his career, if you may call it that, came on 20 October 1971 when he was appointed as a member of the Governing Body. But those 9 final years became a crucial period for the Bible Student. He had had so many dreams and wanted to do so much for the faith, but bit by bit his dreams felt into pieces. Illusions there met up with reality. He always had looked, like his father, for the truth. He thought he had found it in a very well structured organisation, while other members of his family had studied the Bible as individuals and not with such tight connections as he had. The freedom other family members had not being so organised, made him see that the organisation he was with used its structure to tighten rules and regulations and to be more a chain to the Bible Students.  He could see more and more limitations to brethren in the congregation. His eyes were surprised to find that at the top they were not afraid to be quite about certain things are to have no objections for a “little lie for the good”. He found deliberate, contrived and dishonest sayings and actions of which he could not agree with. Looking at all the going ons he began to realize how large a measure of what he had based his entire adult life. To him it came as a certain shock and first he wanted to disbelief.  Though there was no way around, he had to face the trap in which he was fallen and saw the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

At first in unbelief, then doubts, he contacted more brothers and sisters to talk about his findings. This got him in the first problems, having people who he thought were his friends, taking distance or ignoring him. Other reacted strongly at him, trying to get him back on track at all costs. It became more difficult to talk about differences of opinion  with the Governing Body or with others in the community. More and more Ray and Cynthia seemed to become isolated and became very frustrated on their isolated island. The Governing Body’s dogmatism and overemphasis on traditional views rather than reliance on the Bible in reaching doctrinal decisions was a thorn in his flesh. He knew life is not a bed of roses, but the way of thinking and the direction the Watchtower Society took could not be liked any more by Ray and his wife. Ray Franz started also going back to the sources of his father and got back into contact with several Bible Students, not associated with the Jehovah Witnesses.  As such the association of Free Christians (Vrije Christenen) in Belgium also got in contact with his family. Out of those contacts Ray his writings and letters to the Board of Governors where also published, in English and Dutch, in Belgium. But all the letters he wrote to other members of the Governing Body seemed to no avail. He also understood now why previously there had been some very good forces gone away from the organisation. But he also understood the organisation had wrongly put out some very sincere Bible Students.

Utterly disappointed and frustrated he decided, late 1979, to leave the international headquarters. Being depressed, health reasons seemed logic and acceptable to give leave of absence. They moved to Alabama, where he took up laboring work on a property owned by a fellow Witness.

Diagram Representing Organisational Structure ...

Diagram Representing Organisational Structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A committee of the Governing Body raised concerns over the spreading of “wrong teachings” emanating from headquarters staff and began questioning headquarters staff on their beliefs. The previous discussions and correspondence between brethren about faith-matters, beliefs and worship, came under fire. Because they could find that Ray Franz had contradicted certain Watch Tower doctrines they considered it necessary to tell Ray that he had been implicated as an apostate. His claims that he was not the only one who questioned certain teachings of the Watch Tower Society that may have constituted apostasy, was taken ill.

After a questioning for three hours about his Bible viewpoints and commitment to Watch Tower doctrines, Franz agreed to a request to resign from the Governing Body and headquarters staff, on 21 May 1980. The Governing Body investigation resulted in the disfellowshipping of several other headquarters staff.

When Franz continued to socialize and eat with his employer in Alabama, he was summoned to a judicial hearing on 25 November and disfellowshipped for disobeying the edict.

Treated very badly by the Watchtower power structure, he took on writing about the case, after a number of Watchtower articles criticised the motives, character and conduct of former Witnesses who conscientiously disagreed with the organization. Ray claimed that many Jehovah’s Witnesses who choose to leave because they cannot “honestly agree with all the organization’s teachings or policies” are subsequently disfellowshipped, or formally expelled, and shunned as “apostates”. He wrote that he hoped his book might prompt Witnesses to consider the conscientious stand of defectors with a more open mind. He hoped that a discussion of deliberations and decisions of the Governing Body during his term would illustrate fundamental problems and serious issues within the organization: “They demonstrate the extremes to which ‘loyalty to an organization’ can lead, how it is that basically kind, well-intentioned persons can be led to make decisions and take actions that are both unkind and unjust, even cruel.” {Franz, Raymond (2004). Crisis of Conscience. Atlanta, Georgia: Commentary Press. pp. 37–40. ISBN 0-914675-23-0.}

File:Franzcrisis.jpg

Illustration of book cover Crisis of Conscience (1983) American edition

His Crisis of Conscience (1983) got a sequel by In Search of Christian Freedom (1991).

Former Witness James Penton, who included the book in the bibliography of his 1985 history of the Witness movement, described the book as “remarkably informative” and “thoroughly documented” and noted it was “written more in a tone of sadness than of anger”. {Penton, M. James (1985). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 149, 401. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3.}

Frederick W. Franz was in 1992 found a fine example of faithfulness (Watchtower 1/1/92, Love for Jehovah Stimulates True Worship), “He served faithfully as a member of the Governing Body down till his death, on December 22, 1992, at the age of 99.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom; Jehovah’s Word Keeps Moving Speedily)

Upon the death of then president Nathan H. Knorr in 1977, he became the president of the Watch Tower Society. He served in that capacity until his death. In his lifetime, Brother Franz saw the number of Witnesses of Jehovah increase from a few thousand to some four and a half million. He enjoyed many privileges of service, including speaking at international conventions and visiting branches and missionary homes in many parts of the world. His life story appeared in the May 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower. (Watchtower 3/15/93, Rewarded With “the Crown of Life)

When research was being done under the supervision of the Governing Body in preparation of the reference work Aid to Bible Understanding, attention was once more directed to the way in which the first-century Christian congregation was organized. A careful study was made of such Biblical terms as “older man,” “overseer,” and “minister.” Could the modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses conform more fully to the pattern that had been preserved in the Scriptures as a guide? (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom; Development of the Organization Structure)

Insight on the Scriptures includes much of what was formerly in the book Aid to Bible Understanding and a great deal more. In what respects is it different? Scores of sections have been revised and updated. There are also many new articles as well as added features in Insight on the Scriptures. (Watchtower 3/15/89, “Insight on the Scriptures”—A New Bible Encyclopedia)

Material from Aid to Bible Understanding seems to have found its way into Insight on the Scriptures, but no where anything is mentioned about one of the main inspiration persons behind the book: Ray Franz or Raymond Victor Franz. When we do mention the family Franz to Jehovah Witnesses they do not want to hear any bad word about the family Franz.

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Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

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    In Christianity, Jesus dies and rises again, whereas it is not said in the myth of Osiris that Osiris was resurrected, but Osiris after his death goes to the realm of the dead to rule, while his son takes charge of this world.
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    there were bound to have been some parallels of Christian truth among pre-Christian beliefs and rituals. The early Christians were well aware of this and sometimes used it to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. In fact, St. Paul does this very thing in the Acts of the Apostles. I think of Paul as the father of the interpolation tactic described there. Unlike the Twelve, he was well educated in Hellenistic as well as Jewish law and religion, which is why I believe Christ chose him with a special purpose as “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was a huckleberry who knew his stuff and how to use it to reach them.
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Minimaliseren van Gods Kracht de Heilige Geest

De vroege dagen van het Christendom

1.2.       Aanzien als een gevaar

1.2.2.              Minimaliseren van Gods Kracht de Heilige Geest

Het “uitverkoren geslacht, een koninklijk priesterschap, een heilige natie, een volk tot een speciaal bezit” ( 1 Petrus 2:9 ) trachtte zich recht te houden en hun leerstellingen zuiver te bewaren. Zij verrichtten hun christelijke bediening onder heel moeilijke omstandigheden. Paulus bracht het als volgt onder woorden: „Wij worden in elk opzicht bestookt, maar toch niet zo in het nauw gedreven dat wij ons niet meer kunnen bewegen; wij zijn ten einde raad, maar niet totaal zonder uitweg; wij worden vervolgd, maar niet in de steek gelaten; wij worden neergeworpen, maar niet vernietigd.” (2 Korintiërs 4:8, 9).

Men hoeft slechts de eerste hoofdstukken van het boek Handelingen der Apostelen te lezen om te zien hoeveel enthousiasme en vreugde ervan uitging, zelfs ondanks vervolging (Handelingen 2:44-47; 4:32-34; 5:41; 6:7). Maar in de loop van tientallen jaren veranderde de situatie, en veel joodse christenen gingen het in de wedloop om het leven kennelijk wat langzamer aan doen. Een toestand van matheid en vermoeidheid, van onvervulde verwachtingen, uitgestelde hoop, bewust tekortschieten en feitelijk ongeloof kwam over de gelovigen. Zij waren christenen, maar hadden weinig waardering voor de heerlijkheid van hun roeping. Voor sommigen van hen leken Gods beloften onwerkelijk en een brug te ver.

Speyer---Cathedral---South-View---(Gentry)

4° Eeuwse bijeenkomstruimte. - Zuidzijde van de Kaiser- und Mariendoms zu Speyer. - Foto Alfred Hutter

Tijdens de eerste eeuw zag de toekomst voor de georganiseerde christelijke gemeente er donker uit. Jezus had voorzegd dat het zou zijn alsof een pas bezaaid tarweveld met onkruid bezaaid werd waardoor de tarwe vrijwel niet van het onkruid te onderscheiden was. Voor vrees dat men toevallig terwijl men de valse leraren zou verwijderen ook de normale gelovigen met hen zouden kwijt spelen. (Mattheüs 13:24-30). En zo geschiedde het ook. Tegen het einde van de eerste eeuw, toen de bejaarde apostel Johannes als de laatste belemmering tegen verdorvenheid fungeerde, bloeide de afval reeds (2 Thessalonicenzen 2:6; 1 Johannes 2:18). Niet lang na de dood van de apostelen ontstond er een afzonderlijke klasse van geestelijken, die de kudde onderdrukte en onderscheidende kledij droeg. De afval verbreidde zich als gangreen.

Van de dagen van de apostelen tot nu vindt men de wortel van de gehele opzet en heerschappij van klerikalisme. De filosofie en heterodoxie, zonder twijfel, deed er veel aan om de kerk te bederven en haar ertoe te brengen om zich bij de wereld aan te sluiten: maar de orde van de geestelijkheid en alles dat er bij behoorde moest op de godsdienst van de Joden worden gebaseerd. Het is meer dan waarschijnlijk, echter, dat velen dan kunnen overreed zijn om het christendom als een voortzetting van Judaïsme te nemen, in plaats van haar perfecte contrast te zijn. De Judaïzerende leraren bevestigden dapper dat het christendom slechts een enting op Judaïsme was. Maar door de epistels leren wij overal dat er zijn die tot het oude behoren en andere aan de nieuwe verwezenlijking behoren; dat de wet door Mozes werd gegeven, maar de gunst en de waarheid kwamen door Jezus Christus.

Ook al had Paulus de Hebreeën gewaarschuwd om op te letten dat er zich in niemand van hen ooit een goddeloos, ongelovig hart zou ontwikkelen, doordat hij zich zou terugtrekken van de levende God. Alsook bleken de andere waarschuwingen van de mede apostelen soms een maat voor niets. Sommigen die in de gemeente kwamen, begonnen hun geloofsovertuigingen in de termen van de Griekse filosofie tot uitdrukking te brengen, om datgene wat zij predikten aanvaardbaarder te maken voor de mensen van de wereld. Geleidelijk gingen heidense leerstellingen, zoals de Drie-eenheid en de inherente onsterfelijkheid van de ziel, deel uitmaken van een bezoedelde vorm van het christendom. Dit leidde tot het prijsgeven van de hoop op het Millennium.

Early-Christians-Worship-in-the-Catacombs-of-Saint-Calixtus

19° Eeuws beeld van de 1° eeuwse catacomben bijeenkomst - Catacomben van de heilige Calixtus - eind 19° eeuw

Het gevaar dat er dreigde werd meer en meer werkelijkheid en zonde en afval kwamen meer voor. Om die reden had Paulus de gemeenten er aan herinnerd steeds waakzaam te blijven en elkaar te vermanen.[1] Vanuit de gemeenschappen zelf kwamen mensen die er de voorkeur aan gaven verkeerde leerstellingen te prediken om zo volgelingen voor henzelf te verkrijgen. Op subtiele wijze schreven zij aan hun eigen meningen en leringen een zelfde of zelfs nog hogere waarde toe dan aan de Schrift. Toen de gelegenheid hiertoe zich voordeed, stelde deze afvallige kerk zich zelfs beschikbaar om de belangen van de politieke staat te dienen. (Handelingen 20:30; 2 Petrus 2:1, 3).[2] Om de gemeenschap te beschermen was het belangrijk om het gevoelen van eenheid hoog te houden, zoals dat ook vandaag nog steeds belangrijk is. Paulus’ uitdrukking „past op” beklemtoont de noodzaak om waakzaam te zijn (Hebreeën 3:12, 13). De vroege Christenen kregen de waarschuwing die ook vandaag nog steeds op gaat om geen gebrek aan geloof en Bijbelstudie te hebben, zodat wij in ons hart niets verkeerds zouden kunnen ontwikkelen, en wij ons zouden kunnen terugtrekken van Godin plaats van hem te naderen (Jakobus 4:8).

Toen en nu komt het er op aan dat de leden van de gemeenschap elkaar durven vertrouwen, steunen maar ook durven vermanen. Wij hebben de warmte van broederlijke omgang nodig. „Wie zich afzondert, zal zijn eigen zelfzuchtige verlangen zoeken; tegen alle praktische wijsheid zal hij losbarsten” (Spreuken 18:1). De noodzaak van een dergelijke omgang beweegt Christenen in deze tijd ertoe geregeld gemeentevergaderingen, grotere bijeenkomsten en congressen te bezoeken.

Men moest belangstelling aan kweken voor „de breedte en lengte en hoogte en diepte” van de waarheid, en aldus tot rijpheid voort gaan. (Efeziërs 3:18, Hebreeën 6:1, 2 Timotheüs 4:7)

Sommige Joden en heidenen die naar het christendom waren over gestapt bleken in gebreke te blijven hun waarnemingsvermogen te vergroten. Zij waren traag geworden in het aanvaarden van het toegenomen licht met betrekking tot de Wet en de besnijdenis (Handelingen 15:27-29; Galaten 2:11-14; 6:12, 13). Sommigen hechtten misschien nog steeds grote waarde aan traditionele praktijken zoals de wekelijkse sabbat en de plechtige jaarlijkse Yom Kippur of Verzoendag. (Kolossenzen 2:16, 17; Hebreeën 9:1-14).

In de eerste eeuw had de apostel Paulus reeds Timotheüs gewaarschuwd dat „goddeloze mensen en bedriegers” de christelijke gemeente zouden binnensluipen en velen zouden misleiden (2 Timotheüs 3:13)[3]. Deze grote afval begon na de dood van de apostelen (Handelingen 20:29, 30).

Epicurus-PergamonMuseum

Buste van Epicurus, in het Pergamon Museum, Berlijn.

Sommige christenen onderhielden misschien nauwe banden met personen die onder invloed stonden van de Griekse filosofieën, met inbegrip van die van de epicuristen. De epicuristen waren volgelingen van de Griekse filosoof Epicurus, die van 341 tot 270 v. G.T. leefde. Hij onderwees dat genot het enige of hoogste goed in het leven was. Hij onderwees daarentegen dat genot het beste te bereiken is door zich in het leven met beleid, moed, zelfbeheersing en gerechtigheid te gedragen. Hij bepleitte niet het najagen van onmiddellijk en kortstondig genot, maar van genot dat het hele leven duurt. Hierdoor kunnen de epicuristen, vergeleken met mensen die grove zonde beoefenden, deugdzaam hebben geschenen.(Vergelijk Titus 1:12). De epicuristen betrachtten bijvoorbeeld matiging in hun najagen van genot. Zij hechtten meer waarde aan lustgevoelensvan de geest dan aan lichamelijk genot.

De apostolische Vaders, zoals zij werden genoemd, zoals Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, en Barnabas, waren oorspronkelijk de directe aanhangers van geïnspireerde. Apostelen. Zij hadden naar hun instructies geluisterd, met hen in het evangelie gewerkt en waren waarschijnlijk informeel op de hoogte van hen. Maar niettegenstaande de hoge voorrechten die zij als volgelingen van de apostelen genoten, vertrokken zij zeer spoedig van de doctrines die aan hen, vooral in verband met kerkoverheid overgebracht waren geweest. Zij schijnen volledig de grote Nieuwe waarheid van het Testament van de aanwezigheid van de Heilige Geest in de bijeenroeping vergeten te hebben – oordelend naar de Epistels die hun namen dragen. Hun ijdelheid om te beweren dat het slechts aan een bepaalde elite gegeven is om het Woord van God te kunnen begrijpen en te verklaren negeert gewoon de Kracht van God in Zijn zending van de Heilige Geest over alle mensen die wensen God te naderen.

De nieuwe leraren van de kerk schijnen ook de mooie eenvoud van de goddelijke orde in de kerk vergeten te hebben. Er waren slechts twee orden van ambtsbekleders – oudsten en diakens. De ene benoemd voor tijdelijke, de andere voor de geestelijke behoefte van de bijeengebrachte heiligen. Ouder, of bisschop, betekent eenvoudig opzichter, wie een geestelijke oplettendheid op zich neemt. Hij kan geschikt geweest zijn om te onderwijzen, maar ook niet; hij was geen verordende leraar, maar een verordend toezichter. En zoals voor de instellingen van goddelijke benoeming, vinden wij in het Nieuwe Testament slechts, doopsel en het Avondmaal van de Heer of het “Breken van het Brood”. Niets zou, in verband met alle aangevingen eenvoudiger, duidelijker, of makkelijker te begrijpen kunnen zijn dan die voor geloof en praktijk worden gegeven, maar er was geen ruimte gelaten voor de verheffing en de glorie van de mens in de kerk van God. De Heilige Geest was neer gekomen om de leiding in de vereniging of bijeenkomst te nemen, volgens het Woord van de heer, en de belofte van de Vader; en geen enkele Christen, hoe begaafd ook, dit gelovend, kon de plaats van leider nemen, en zo praktisch de Heilige Geest verplaatsen. Maar van het ogenblik dat deze waarheid uit het oog was verloren, begonnen de mensen voor plaats en macht te vechten, en natuurlijk had de Heilige Geest Zijn juiste plaats niet meer in de gemeente of congregatie.

Nauwelijks was de stem van inspiratie in de kerk stil geworden, of wij hoorden de stem van de nieuwe leraren die luid en ernstig voor de hoogste eer schreeuwden die aan de bisschop zou moeten worden betaald, en een opperste plaats die aan hem hoorde te worden gegeven. Niet een woord over de plaats van de Geest als soevereine heerser in de kerk van God. Dit is duidelijk van de Brieven of epistels van de bovengenoemde Ignatius, geschreven in 107 G.T.. Wij zijn bewust dat vele grote namen, hun authenticiteit hebben bevraagd; en dat vele grote namen naar genoegen vochten om hun echtheid bewezen te zien. Het echte geestelijk ambt is van de Heer en alleen van Hem. Dit is van wat wij zouden moeten opmerken in het licht van wat er plaats greep op de eigenlijke drempel van christendom. Enkel Christus is het ware Hoofd van de kerk. Het is een ernstig en plechtig ding voor om het even wie om zich in de eisen van Christus op de dienst van Zijn bediende te mengen. Dit te raken is de verantwoordelijkheid terzijde leggen aan Christus, en het fundamentele principe van Christelijke bediening omverwerpen.

St James' church - rood screen - geograph.org.uk - 868346

Vroegere geestelijken: Gregorius, Ambrosius, Jeromius en Augustinus - 15° eeuwse rood screen panels St James' church - Foto Evelyn Simak

Priesterschap was het onderscheidende kenmerk van de Joodse dispensatie; bediening, volgens God, is kenmerkend voor de Christelijke periode. Vandaar de uiterste mislukking van de bewerende kerk, toen het tot doel had om Judaïsme op zo vele manieren, zowel in zijn priesterschap als zijn ritualisme te imiteren. Als een priesterlijke orde, met riten en ceremonies, nog noodzakelijk is, wordt de doeltreffendheid van het werk van Christus in vraag gesteld. In feite, doch niet in woorden, slaat het bij de wortel van christendom. Maar alles wordt geregeld door het woord van God. [4]  „Maar deze mens, nadat hij één enkel offer voor zonden had aangeboden, voor altijd is gaan zitten bij de rechterhand van God; nog slechts wachtend op het ogenblik dat zijn vijanden worden gemaakt tot een voetbank voor zijn voeten. Want door een offer heeft Hij voor altijd hen die zich laten heiligen tot volmaaktheid gebracht. Dit getuigt ons ook de heilige geest. Waar de zonden vergeven en vergeten zijn, is geen zoenoffermeer nodig. We hebben nu ‘die grote priester die over het huis van God is aangesteld.’” (zie Heb. 10: 1-25)

Het geestelijk ambt is dus een onderwerp van de hoogste waardigheid en van het hoogste belang. Het getuigt aan het werk, de overwinning, en de glorie van Jezus, dat verlorenen kunnen worden gered. Het is de activiteit van de uitgaande liefde van de God aan een vreemde en geruïneerde wereld, en aan ernstig smekende zielen om met hem te worden verzoend. [5]  „God was in Christus, de wereld verzoenend in overeenstemming brengend tot zichzelf. Hij telde de fouten van de mensen niet en ons gaf Hij de boodschap van de verzoening mee. Zo zijn wij dan gezanten van Christus alsof God u door ons zou oproepen. (2 Korinthiërs 5:19-21)

Helaas vond de kerk spoedig dat om bediening te belemmeren, zoals het vóór ons in het woord van God wordt geplaatst, en een nieuwe orde van dingen te introduceren, dit geen belemmering gaf om afdelingen, afwijkingen en dwaalleren, en valse leraren deed ontstaan. Van die tijd – het begin van de tweede eeuw, en er vóór – werd de kerk zeer gestoord door dwaalleren; en aangezien de tijd verderging, groeiden de dingen nooit beter, maar altijd slechter. [6]


[1] “ Zorgt ervoor, broeders, dat onder u niemand zo’n slechte en trouweloze gezindheid heeft, die leidt tot afval van de levende God.  Spreekt elkaar moed in, elke dag, zolang dat ‘heden’ duurt, zodat niemand zich door de zonde tot zulk een halsstarrigheid laat verleiden.” (Hebreeën 3:12-13 WV78)

[2] “ Toch zijn er onder het volk ook valse profeten geweest. En zo zullen er onder u valse leraars komen, die heimelijk verderfelijke ketterijen invoeren. Zij zullen zich niet ontzien tot hun eigen schielijke ondergang de Heerser te verloochenen die hen heeft vrijgekocht.” (2 Petrus 2:1 WV78)

“ In hun hebzucht zullen zij u met verzonnen verhalen geld uit de zak kloppen. Maar hun vonnis is al lang geveld, hun ondergang zal niet op zich laten wachten.” (2 Petrus 2:3 WV78)

[3] “ Trouwens, allen die godvruchtig willen leven in de Messias Christus Jezus Yashua, zullen lijden onder vervolging, terwijl mensen met het kwaad in zich, deugnieten, charlatans en verleiders van kwaad tot erger zullen komen, anderen misleidend en zichzelf.” (2 Timotheüs 3:12-13)

[4] Miller’s Church History

[5] Miller’s Church History

[6] Miller’s Church History

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Engelse versie: Please do find an English version in: Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

++

Aansluitende artikelen:

  1. De Bijbel onze Gids #1 Fundament in de Schrift
  2. Judaisme & Katholicisme Universele ‘kerken’
  3. Over de stelling van Luther en de Heilige Geest: 95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #2:6-1395 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #3:14-2595 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #6:42-5295 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #8:64-75 +   95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #9:76-7995 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #12 Om te herinneren #1 God de Vader95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #12 Om te herinneren #3 Betreft Jezus C95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #10: 80-85 + 95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #12 Om te herinneren #1 God de Vader + 95 stellingen Wittenberg Maarten Luther #12 Om te herinneren #2 De Geest
  4. Over de Godheid Hashem השם, Hebreeuws voor “de Naam” + God of een god + God is geen mens + God versus goden
  5. Over de positie van Jezus Christus en zijn goddelijkheid: Bedenkingen Verwarring tussen Jezus en God + Wie zijt Gij, Here?Niet goddelijkheid van Christus toch + Met wie kan je hem vergelijken + Hoe kijken trinitariërs op tegen het gelijk christus worden + Jezus van Nazareth #5 Zijn Unieke persoonlijkheid + Hij die zit aan de Rechterhand van Zijn Vader
  6. Doctrine van de Drievuldigheid
  7. Heidense invloeden op het trinitarisme
  8. Calvijn worstelde ook met de drie-eenheidsleer
  9. Christenen
  10. In elkaar zijn
  11. De Bijbel onze Gids #9God, Jezus Christus en de Heilige Geest
  12. De Bijbel onze Gids #13 Het Christelijk Leven
  13. Joodse interpretatie van Zoon van God
  14. Hij heeft de Pneuma, de Kracht van Hem gegeven
  15. Christus verwekt door de Kracht van de Heilige Geest
  16. De uitstraling van God en zijn pleitbezorger
  17. Verlichting door Gods Geest
  18. Bedenkingen Denominaties
  19. Doctrine, gedrag, oorzaak en gevolg
  20. Bedenkingen Leegloop der kerken
  21. Kerkgroei en samengaan
  22. Openbare Samenkomsten
  23. Volharden in het Avondmaal regelmatig vieren
  24. Breken van het brood
  25. Eucharistie
  26. Communie en dag des Heren
  27. On-Bijbelse instituut van de kerk
  28. Intenties van de ecclesia
  29. Een samenkomst of meeting
  30. Maken van een kerk
  31. Al of niet toegeven aan de wereld
  32. Wedergeboorte en lidmaatschap tot een kerk
  33. Parochie
  34. Keerpunt in de Kerk
  35. De voordelen van een kleine gemeenschap of een huiskerk
  36. Zichtbaar houden van oudste kerken
  37. Het niet goed gaan in de Kerk
  38. Kerk geen afhaal Chinees
  39. Een kerk verlaten om lid te worden van een ander
  40. Helft Amerikanen verandert wel van geloofstraditie
  41. Ontkerkten terug naar de Kerk brengen
  42. Tijdperk van het christendom voorbij volgens Mike Love
  43. Dementia in de Kerk
  44. Vlaamse kerk met uitsterven bedreigd
  45. Waarom kerken soms doodgaan
  46. Christenen in België
  47. Voorgangers Engeland debet aan secularisatie
  48. De Kerk als realiteitsspel
  49. Focussen op Christus
  50. Verenigen
  51. Kerk dak boven evangelie
  52. Waarom lopen kerken leeg?
  53. Verlangen naar vernieuwing in de kerk
  54. Christen worden iets anders dan lid worden van een kerk.
  55. 1Korinthiërs 3:6-7 God die Wasdom geeft #2 Paulus en andere dienaars.

+

Engelstalige artikelen: English realted articles:

Please do find more on Judaism and Christianity:

  1. Seeing the world through the lens of his own experience
  2. Judaism & Catholicism Universal ‘churches’

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Please do find articles on Jesus as the Cornerstone of the community:

  1. Video: Who was Jesus?
  2. Who is Jesus #2 Jesus Christ, man who died
  3. Who is Jesus #4 Clear statements that our heavenly Father is his “God”
  4. Who is Jesus #6 Jesus prays to God
  5. Who is Jesus #8 Father greater than Jesus
  6. Who is Jesus #9 100% or not
  7. Who is Jesus #12 Conclusion
  8. Da Vinci Code: Was Jesus Human or Divine?
  9. Jesus son of God
  10. Christian thought: acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God
  11. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever
  12. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  13. The Victor
  14. How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
  15. The builder of the Kingdom
  16. Can we not do what Jesus did?
  17. The increasing rejection of the teaching of Christ
  18. For those who have not the rudiments of an historical sense

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Other articles of interest:

  1. How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop
  2. Historical Development of Trinity
  3. How the Doctrine of the Trinity came to the Church
  4. Trinity function
  5. Trinity versus Tritheism
  6. Why the trinity was accepted in Europe
  7. The Pagan Influence of The catholic church ……The Pagan Trinity, and Saint B
  8. Summary on trinity
  9. Holy Sabbath
  10. A man with an outstanding personality
  11. Misleading Pictures
  12. A small company of Jesus’ footstep follower
  13. Quit griping about your church
  14. Rebirth and belonging to a church
  15. An ecclesia in your neighborhood
  16. Making church
  17. Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
  18. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  19. He has given us the Pneuma, the force, from Him
  20. The radiance of God’s glory and the counsellor
  21. Millions of Christians leaving conventional churches to meet in homes
  22. Working for God
  23. Efeziërs 2:21-22 Church no longer holds a central place in many Christian lives
  24. Prefering to be a Christian

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