Which Religion Is Approved by God?
UNFORTUNATELY, the religious hatreds of 16th-century France did not die. In the following century, deep prejudices tore Europe apart, as Catholics and Protestants again took to battlefields during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). In the name of God, professed Christians renewed their vicious slaughtering of one another.
Religious hatred and killing has not ceased. Catholics and Protestants have recently slaughtered one another in Ireland, and members of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic religions have done the same in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. And unbelievable as it may seem, during World Wars I and II, both Catholics and Protestants killed hundreds of thousands of members of their own religions on battlefields. Is there justification for this killing? What is God’s view?
Efforts at Justification
The 1995 Britannica Book of the Year states: “Theological justifications for violence were attempted on several fronts in 1994.” Over 1,500 years ago, a similar attempt to justify killing was made by the Catholic philosopher “Saint” Augustine. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, he “was the originator of the just war theory,” and the encyclopedia notes that his thinking ‘exerts an influence even in modern times.’
The Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches have condoned, and even promoted, killing in the name of God. Although the record of these religions is a bloody one, that of many other major religions throughout the world is no better. How, then, can you identify the people who practice true worship?
Not simply by listening to what they profess to believe. Regarding this matter, Jesus Christ warned: “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits. . . . A sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. . . . Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.” (Italics ours.)—Matthew 7:15-20, The New Jerusalem Bible.
Known by Their Fruits
Millions of honest people are recognizing that the world’s religions are ‘rotten trees’ that have produced “bad fruit,” in particular, by promoting bloody wars. In the Bible the world empire of false religion is described as a spiritual harlot called “Babylon the Great.” The Bible says that “in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”—Revelation 17:3-6; 18:24.
Thus, far from approving the wars that have been blessed by religious leaders, God will shortly execute judgment upon those religions that have murdered in his name. He will do this in fulfillment of the Bible prophecy that says: “With a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again.” When that gladsome event takes place, God will have “executed judgment upon the great harlot” and “avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.”—Revelation 18:21; 19:2.
People who are disgusted with all the killing that has gone on in the name of God may wonder if there are Christians who actually live in harmony with the Bible prophecy: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) Do you know a truly God-fearing people who have renounced war?
The Religion Approved by God
A sociological study entitled “More About Justifying Violence,” published by the University of Michigan, stated: “Since the turn of the century, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently maintained their stand of nonviolent ‘Christian Neutrality’ through two major world wars and the subsequent military clashes of the ‘Cold War’ period.” Identifying the reason the Witnesses remain neutral, the study said: “The teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses stem from their conviction that the Bible is the inspired word of God.”
Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses live by the Bible, which teaches: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. . . . We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who . . . slaughtered his brother.”—1 John 3:10-12.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have often drawn the attention of people to the bloodguilt of the world’s religions. They have also echoed the urgent Bible plea: “Get out of her [Babylon the Great], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”—Revelation 18:4, 5.
Many sincere people are heeding the call to quit the world empire of false religion. If you are deeply shocked by all the killing done in the name of religion, we invite you to contact the person who gave you this magazine or write to one of the addresses supplied on page 5. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to help you learn about the Bible promise of a new world of righteousness, in which war will be no more.—Psalm 46:8, 9; 2 Peter 3:13.
[Picture on page 10]
“They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.” Titus 1:16