A letter to JW friend

From Pastor Jermin

In 2014, I set out on a journey. A journey that turned out to be life changing, and unforgettable. I set out to teach through The Revelation. It ended up taking 21 months from start to finish.

As I was preparing, I mentioned my intention to a colleague who happened to be a Jehovah’s Witness. She asked if was going to include the Watchtower’s point of view.

During the subsequent conversation, I asked a question, she responded by giving me a link to an article to read. Here was my response:

Hi Xxxx:

Thank you for the article

I did read it thoroughly the first day, I then went on line and read the Obeisance article that it referenced. I appreciate both you taking the time, and the facts detailed in the article, however it does not answer my question.

My question was: How is it that the word  proskunevw, (the word “proskuneo”) occurs 55 times in the Watchtower Kingdom Interlinear Greek Translation (The Greek translation used to translate the New World Translation). Of those 55 occurrences, 15 are in reference to Jesus with 40 used of others, in other words, 27% of the usage of this word is in reference to Jesus, and yet not a single reference to Jesus is translated as “worship”, even though in reference to the devil, demons, idols, etc., it is translated it as worship?

How can this be, if not as a result of intentional bias on the part of the translators to make a point, and support a doctrinal position? It is, at best illogical to come to a conclusion that a word means one thing when applied to a set of individuals, but another when applied to one in particular, does it not?

This is troubling, to say the least, and brings the scholarship of the translators into question in my opinion.

In the article, it says that Jesus was tempted to make obeisance to the devil and Matthew 4:9 is referenced. I found this interesting in that the verse, as it is found in the New World Translation translates proskunevw, ‘proskuneo’ as worship. So is the article trying to make a subtle claim as to the fact that the words worship and obeisance are interchangeable? Was that a mistake on the writer’s part?

Also, you asked me about a couple of things:

1- What other Bible questions did I have? I would like to give you the next one.  For this, you will need the Kingdom Interlinear Greek Translation, (1969). In it, please look up John 1:1, John 8:24, John 8:58, John 10:30 and tell me what they say in the Watch Tower’s own interlinear translation. Please explain what the verses actually say in the Greek as opposed to how they have been translated. Here’s a link to an online copy (a literal copy which has been photographed and posted) :(The URL on the link is  https://archive.org/details/KingdomInterlinearGreekScriptures)

2- Was I going to include the Eschatological views of the Organization in my teach-through of ‘The Revelation’. I said that I was not.  What I did not tell you was specifically why. It is a simple answer, really:

a) The Society’s viewpoint is along the lines of the traditional Dispensationalist interpretations. As I am covering Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology and the variants in general terms, there is no need to point out the specifics of any particular organization.

b) The Organization has, throughout its history repeatedly prophesied the rapture and return, incorrectly. Particularly in, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, & 1975. (Please know that I am aware of the fact that it is now claimed that the Organization never ‘officially’ claimed 1975, and even went so far as to blame the rank and file for the ‘misunderstanding’. But I was here in Brooklyn then, and I know firsthand that this is patently false. Ironically, this was the very same gambit used in 1925 to cover that false prophecy…)

As such, to present the Organization’s views on this subject would be akin to presenting Harold Camping’s, or Grant Jeffrey’s or Hal Lindsay’s, or John Hagee’s or any of the others who have, based on Dispensationalist Theology, incorrectly dated, and then revised (sometimes numerous times) the return of Christ, and then when forced to confront the initial error, added extra-Biblical doctrine and eisegetical interpretation to cover themselves. There have been hundreds over the years. Hundreds at least… The Organization was not the first; they are not the last, though they have been the most steadfast at maintaining their position.

Looking forward to your responses.

CTJ

To date (some 4 years later) I have received no response…

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A reminder to Pastors…

Those of us who are called to Pastor must understand that this is our gift, not our rank. This must never leave our minds. Our gift from God to be used, as Ephesians 4 says:

For the training of the saints as servants in the church, for the building up of the body of Christ: Till we all come to the harmony of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to full growth, to the full measure of Christ: So that we may be no longer children, sent this way and that, turned about by every wind of teaching, by the twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error; But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ; Through whom all the body, being rightly formed and united together, by the full working of every part, is increased to the building up of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:12-16

 We (Pastors) as John MacArthur so aptly puts it, are ‘the stewards of the house of God’. Too often however, we believe however, that we are Kings, and that they whom we are called to serve should instead serve us.  As such we allow the people to elevate us far above our station, and allow our gifts to be what people place their faith in, and not the Lord of Creation. We forget that it is Jesus who is building HIS church, we are merely stewards (servants) in the House.

But because many of us walk around with our golden cups, and armor bearers, instead of pails of fresh water and food for the sheep, they wander about in confusion. I see it every day, and if you care to think about it honestly, so do you. Many, though they have ‘walked with the Lord’ for many years, have never eaten solid food, instead are so accustomed to milk, that anything solid is ‘hard’, anything honest is ‘unloving’ and any time sin is confronted it is considered ‘judging’. This is proof to me that we Pastors are failing the sheep. Badly.

If you are a Pastor, I earnestly plead with you to take a minute (or 60) to think about the way that you shepherd the flock. Are you standing in the way of Christ in the lives of your congregants, even inadvertently? Do they come to your church because of your personality? The way that you turn a phrase? Your charisma? Your facility? The choir? Please know that these are not things that will sustain them, and ultimately, any time that which is supposed to reflect the sun, blocks it, and eclipse happens, and looking at an eclipse will blind you.

Let us not ever be responsible for blinded sheep, brethren…

 

Pastor J

Thinking about the significance of 4/4/18

Pastor J says:

A question that I asked 7 years ago, I’ll ask again, on the 50th Anniversary of the death of MLK…
Your thoughts, please.
Is the “Black Church” now more hindrance than help?
Has the organization which strengthened and by the power of God sustained the community of the disenfranchised through great difficulty, now lost its way? Has the purpose ended?
Is the “Black Church”, like the sickle cell gene, a necessary mutation that saved the people from an immediate threat, but is now itself a threat?

The only way to pick up a snake by the tail is if it’s going the other way… Pastor Carter Conlon

Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross? (Questions and answers: Question #4)

From The Fellowship’s ‘Question and Answer’ series: The Question: Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross?

Q: Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross?  He is God but He was also subject to the will of the Father.  If He wanted to, could He have opted not to be crucified?

A: Well, the cross as the means of death? The answer is yes and no.

No, because they (The Godhead) could have chosen any means/method that they wished, Yes, because that is the means that they chose, and had the Prophets foretell it as such. There is a Much longer list of prophecies that pertain to the Messiah, but here is a short list:

Isaiah: I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;  I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).

Matthew records that when the soldiers were humiliating the blindfolded Jesus, ‘they spat in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”‘ (Matthew 26:67-68).

Isaiah: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth  (Isaiah 53:7).

Pilate tried to browbeat Jesus into convicting himself. ‘But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed’ (Matthew 27:14).

Isaiah also prophesies of the Messiah that he was to be ‘numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12). Matthew records of Jesus that ‘two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left’ (Matthew 27:38).

In one of his psalms, David has the Messiah crying: All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:  ‘He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’ – (Psalm 22:7-8, NIV).

Matthew records the Jewish religious rulers mocking Jesus as he hung on the cross and crying, ‘Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him’ (Matthew 27:42-43).

In another psalm, David prophesies, ‘He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken’ (Psalm 34:20). After the three men had been crucified, soldiers came to ensure that they were dead by breaking their legs. ‘But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs’ (John 19:33).

Zechariah sees the Messiah crying, ‘They look on me, on him whom they have pierced’ (Zechariah 12:10). John tells us that to make sure Jesus was dead, a soldier ‘pierced his side with a spear’ (John 19:34).

And of course, here is the song that Jesus sang on the Cross: Psalm 22:1 (HCSB) My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? 

Q: Could he have exercised the “free will” man has? Or did He have to die because the Father told Him to?

A: Let’s look at the scriptures: Psalm 8:4-9 (HCSB) 

what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.
Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!

Hebrews 2:5-9 (HCSB) For He has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about. But one has somewhere testified: What is man that You remember him, or the son of man that You care for him? You made him lower than the angels for a short time; You crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet. For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him.
But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

The cross was an act of the will. It was an act of obedience and Love, from Jesus to His Father

Luke 22:39-44 (HCSB) 
39 He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him.
40 When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray,
42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
44 Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.

It was an act of obedience and a mindset that we are to emulate/follow

Philippians 2:5-11 (HCSB) 

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, his vicarious death on the Cross, was an act of Love From the son to the Father, as well as a Bride-Price paid, to purchase His Bride (the Church)

For more about that , please check this link. It is excellent:

http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/marriage.htm

Should Christians Celebrate Kwanzaa?

A 2017 update to Pastor Jermin’s original 2008 blogpost …

So, what exactly is this ‘Holiday’ known as Kwanzaa? This post seeks to uncover/reveal that, and take a look  at it in light of the scriptures?

Why?

1) Because there are Christian churches, that display the symbols of this celebration within their walls, and knowing full well what The Lord has proclaimed as it pertains to idols and other gods, we must be careful, and be clear.

2) I have become over the years, increasingly alarmed by our seeming need, as African Americans, to ‘culturalize’ everything, even bringing that need to, and imposing it upon, ‘The Faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.’ As Jude admonishes, A Faith that MUST be contended for earnestly. It is in this spirit that I write this piece…

Who is its founder? Who invented it?

Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941) is the creator of Kwanzaa.

In the late 1960’s he started and led an organization (a black nationalist cult) known as the ‘United Slaves’. Interestingly, as Kwanzaa caught on, Mr. Karenga was sitting in a California prison for torturing two black women who were members of the United Slaves.

Originally known as Ron N. Everett, he went by (and eventually legally took on)  the name Karenga, meaning “keeper of tradition”, and in the 60’s took upon himself the title “maulana,” which means “master teacher” in Swahili. He was born on a poultry farm in Maryland, the fourteenth child of a Baptist minister.

Mr. Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment. He was sentenced on Sept. 17, 1971 to serve one to ten years in prison. After being released from prison in 1975, he remade himself as Maulana Ron Karenga, went into academics, and by 1979 was running the Black Studies Department at California State University in Long Beach and converted to Marxism.

The Crime:

On May 9, 1970 he initiated the torture session that led to his imprisonment. The torture session was described in the L.A. Times on May 14, 1971.

“The victims said they were living at Karenga’s home when Karenga accused them of trying to kill him by placing crystals in his food and water and in various areas of his house. When they denied it, allegedly they were beaten with an electrical cord and a hot soldering iron was put in Miss Davis’ mouth and against her face.

Police were told that one of Miss Jones’ toes was placed in a small vise, which then was tightened by the men and one woman. The following day Karenga told the women that ‘Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know.” Miss Tamao put detergent in their mouths; Smith turned a water hose full force on their faces, and Karenga, holding a gun, threatened to shoot both of them. The victims Deborah Jones and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothing.”

Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment.

More information can be found here:http://www.nathanielturner.com/karenga2.htm 

At Karenga’s trial, the question of his sanity arose. A psychiatrist’s report stated the following: “This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and illusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment.” The psychiatrist reportedly observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons, and believed he’d been attacked by dive-bombers.

Jones and Brenda Karenga testified that Karenga believed the women were conspiring to poison him, which Davis has attributed to a combination of ongoing police pressure and his own drug abuse.

Karenga denied any involvement in the torture, and argued that the prosecution was political in nature. He was imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony, where he studied and wrote on feminism, Pan-Africanism and other subjects. The US organization fell into disarray during his absence and was disbanded in 1974. After he petitioned several black state officials to support his parole on fair sentencing grounds, it was granted in 1975.

Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials.[17] During a 2007 appearance at Wabash College he again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner. The convictions nonetheless continue to generate controversy during Kwanzaa celebrations.  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maulana_Karenga

Origins of Kwanzaa:

What is it, how and why did he put it together?

On December 25th 1965, three months after the founding of the Us (United slaves) organization, Samuel Carr-Damu, one of the original members visited Karenga’s home to present his daughter with a black doll for Christmas. Karenga rejected the gift, stating that Us members should not celebrate Christmas. Since the entire rank-and-file recognized some form of Christianity and were life-long celebrants of Christmas, the potential elimination of the holiday posed a serious problem for the organization, especially those with young children….. Karenga spent much of the following year researching African cultural practices, trying to find a suitable alternative for Christmas 1966….. Excerpted From:

The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era by Peniel E. Joseph (2006) Pages 342-343 You can read it in more detail here: http://books.google.com/

Note that “ Karenga spent much of the following year researching African cultural practices, trying to find a suitable alternative for Christmas…’

The word “Kwanzaa”

The word “Kwanzaa” itself is man made. It is derived from the swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means first fruits. Karenga’s history has it that the extra “a” was added to represent the seven children that were a part of his organization, (US Organization) as each child wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa.

From: ‘Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture’ pg. 108.

The Nguzo Saba or ‘Seven Principles’

The Kwanzaa celebration consists of seven days to celebrate seven principles (the Nguzo Saba), with emphasis on one principle a day. The seventh day culminates in a feast, patterned much like the first-fruits celebrations of ancient Africa. There are activities such as the pouring the libation for ancestors, lighting of candles, raising names of ancestors (also referred to by many as “ancestor worship” – discussed more in detail later), and gift-giving.

http://www.believersweb.org

Not coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA’s revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani — the same seven “principles” of Kwanzaa. For those of you who do not know or remember the SLA or its history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbionese_Liberation_Army

This is interesting in light of the claim that the seven principles were ‘Developed by Dr. Karenga’ (http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/7principles.shtml)

 The Kinara

 Kinara

The Kinara is a candle stand used in the celebration of Kwanzaa. There are seven candles in the Kinara one black candle, three red and three green candles. These are the mshumaa saba (the seven candles) and they represent the seven principles. The black candle represents the first principle Umoja (unity) and is placed in the center of the kinara. Looking at the picture it is clear to see that the kinara looks much like another religious symbol, namely The Menorah

The Menorah

temple menorah

YHWH gave instructions to His people when constructing the implements of Worship, among them, the Menorah…

Exodus 25:31 . . . “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece” . . .

Exodus 25:32 . . . “And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.”

 The Menorah with its seven branches is a perfect picture of the Seven Spirits of YHWH, as shown in the following scripture:

Isaiah 11:2-3: “The Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Chochmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding), the Spirit of Atzah (Counsel) and Gevurah (Might), the Spirit of Da’at (Knowledge) and of the Yirah (Fear) of YHWH.”

 

What is the purpose of Kwanzaa?

Dr. Karenga, 1977: “… it was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.  

Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice – Karenga (Maulana.) 1977 Kawaida Publications, – pg. 21,

Why is this a problem for Christians?

Because Kwanzaa is a RELIGION! Hence it is the Worship of another god…

 “Kwanzaa has definite principles, practices and symbols which are geared to the social and spiritual needs of Afro-America.” – Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice – Karenga (Maulana.) 1977 Kawaida Publications, – pg. 14.

The Nguzo Saba are seven principles clearly set apart for the Black American and not for others. It is also an attempt by Dr. Karenga to introduce humanistic principles for improving life without God. Kwanzaa is not just a cultural celebration, but an attempt to establish a way of life with man as the center of worship and reverence.

If anything, many are accepting these principles as SPIRITUAL principles and a guide for their lives. A disturbing fact for the Christian who believes that all spiritual principles begin with the Bible and not with man.

Frequently, spirituality is mentioned and the Nguzo Saba is said to be a standard by which to live for moral guidance and instruction within the community. The Nguzo Saba (seven principles) is given so much emphasis in character development that it is also said in Dr. Karenga’s book, to make one a “new man, woman and child.” (The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa, p44.) Very similar to what is said in the Bible regarding the newness of man:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  – 2 Cor 5:17 (NIV)

So here we have a celebration that emphasizes a code of ethics (the Nguzo Saba) for moral instruction to bring about a spiritually developed character. Thus far, Kwanzaa has a few things in common with Christianity and other religions. Moral instruction, spirituality and a purpose — becoming a new person!

Karenga Lists The Nguzo Saba as a Religion

Dr. Karenga even recognizes the “religion” of Kwanzaa when in his book, Kawaida Theory, p. 25, he says of the seven principles (The Nguzo Saba) as coming “from African religion” and lists it among other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism in his section on positive functions of religion. In light of that writing, it then becomes difficult to explain his statement that “Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday,” especially when the Nguzo Saba is considered the centerpiece of Kwanzaa.

“The primary conflict that the Christian should have with Kwanzaa is that it is a way of life. It is even being encouraged by many to celebrate it not just during the holiday season, but all year round! Why is that so? Because it is promised to be build character, to change one’s life spiritually. This can be seen on the Melanet’s Kwanzaa Information Center web site under the Goals of Kwanzaa topic. It says: “To develop self and facilitate a positive Black self-esteem by exposing individuals to ‘Kwanzaa’, a culturally desirable pattern of principles, to help them live their lives and to encourage the highest level of positive Black self-esteem and spiritual development. — To establish a culturally oriented ‘WAY OF LIFE.”

There are several dangers that present themselves when the Christian attempts to combine their “religion” of Christianity with that of the “religion” of Kwanzaa. 1) They take upon the assumption that the Bible is not enough to spiritually feed us a a people… 2) That we MUST define ourselves in the context of culture 3) Unity is possible without Christ, by simply uniting with those of the same color, i.e. culture. Our self-worth only comes from knowing Christ as Lord and Savior, so we can’t really do both.”

– Carlotta Murrow, a San Diego computer technician who runs the website – http://christocentric.com/Kwanzaa/ – which is a fantastic and comprehensive website dealing with the history, contradictions, ancestral worship and other problematic issues inherent in this ‘holiday’

A little more background from the Dartmouth Review:

Initially, Kwanzaa proceeded from Karenga’s hostility toward Western religion, which, he wrote in his 1980 book, Kawaida Theory, ‘denies and diminishes human worth, capacity, potential and achievement. In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who’ve sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation’s head.’ He similarly opposed belief in God and other ‘spooks who threaten us if we don’t worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives.’

Thus, Karenga explained in his 1977 Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice, ‘Kwanzaa is not an imitation, but an alternative, in fact, an oppositional alternative to the spookism, mysticism and non-earth based practices which plague us as a people and encourage our withdrawal from social life rather than our bold confrontation with it.’ The holiday ‘was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.’

Since then, the holiday has gained mainstream adherents, and Karenga has altered its justification so as not to alienate practicing Christians: ‘Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday,’ he writes in Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, published in 1997. –J. Lawrence Scholar from the Dartmouth review

So dear reader,

Having significant information at your disposal now, you must ask yourself: Can the celebration, even the acknowledgment of Kwanzaa in the house of God, or by the people of God be justified, except to condemn it?

I daresay not.

God is possessive of the worship and service that belong to Him. It is a sin (as God points out in Exodus 20:4-5) to worship or serve anything other than Him. God is jealous for what belongs to Him; worship and service belong to Him alone, and are to be given to Him alone. As 1 Samuel 5 clearly examples, YHWH does not ‘play well’ with other ‘gods’…

That said, clearly, at its root, Kwanzaa was designed and presented as an alternative to Christianity. This is of course, a violation of the first commandment.

 

Please note that I am anxious to hear/share/discuss your thoughts/opinions, etc, as they relate to this issue, and look forward to hearing from you

Blessings to all,

Pastor CTJ