Are the World’s Religions Giving the Right Lead?
1. What important questions regarding the world’s religions are here raised?
“RELIGION has been one of the most powerful forces in history,”28 stated The World Book Encyclopedia. But have the world’s religions been a genuine force for peace and security? Have they taught their followers that brotherly love should surmount national boundaries and racial differences? Also, have the churches of Christendom, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, proved true to their claim to follow Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace”? Or have they actually contributed to the hatreds that imperil man’s future? A look at the record will give the surprising answer.
2. What do various sources tell us about the historical record?
2 In this regard, Parade Magazine said: “History teaches lessons to those who are willing to learn. One of the most primary lessons is that conflicts based on religious and sectarian differences are almost always the most vicious, most enduring and most difficult to solve.”29 And as the Chicago Tribune stated: “Every major religion preaches peace and brotherhood and mercy, yet some of the cruellest and most intolerant repressions in history have been committed in the name of God.”30 With such historical facts in mind, newspaper editor C. L. Sulzberger appropriately asks: “Disagreeable as the subject may be, should it not be realized that in addition to other causes—imperialism, racism, militarism—religion has developed into a persistently greater threat to human life?”31
3. What shameful practice of religion does the history of our 20th century reveal?
3 Yes, history is stained with the blood of religiously backed strife. Just in our century, during the two world wars and after, we have witnessed the shameful practice of fellow religionists slaughtering each other—Catholic killing Catholic, Protestant killing Protestant, Muslim killing Muslim, and others. And the clergy on opposing sides, though of the same religion, blessed the troops that would soon be killing their religious brothers.
4. (a) Why are the churches of Christendom the most reprehensible? (b) What does one editorial comment about war?
4 Among the most reprehensible in this matter are the churches of Christendom. Why? Because they claim to represent the God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ, who said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Yet the worst slaughters of all have occurred right in the heart of Christendom. As an editorial in the Waterloo Courier of Iowa declared: “Nor have Christians ever been squeamish about waging wars on other Christians. If they had been, most of the liveliest wars in Europe would never have occurred. . . . World Wars I and II, which set the all-time records for Christians killing Christians, could never have occurred.”32
5. (a) What does the Bible clearly tell those who truly serve God? (b) What question must church members face as to their own church?
5 On this matter, the Bible is clear: Those who truly serve God are told to “seek peace and pursue it,” to “beat their swords into plowshares,” and not to “learn war anymore.” (1 Peter 3:11; Isaiah 2:2-4) “We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one [Satan the Devil] and slaughtered his brother.” (1 John 3:10-12) But followers of this world’s religions continue to slaughter their brothers, as did Cain, and their clergy have supported those pursuing that course. Thus, if you belong to a religion, ask yourself: ‘If everybody on earth belonged to my religion, would wars have stopped and would this earth now be a place of genuine peace?’
6. What does the divided and warring state of the world’s religions prove?
6 The divided and warring state of the world’s religions prove that God is not their backer. This may come as a surprise to those who think that all religion must be good since it claims to represent God. Yet the Bible clearly shows that “God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) It also shows that there is both true religion and false religion. And it states that only worship founded on truth, free from hypocrisy, has God’s backing.—Matthew 15:7-9; John 4:23, 24; Titus 1:16.
7. (a) What expression does the Bible use to describe the world’s religions? (b) What guilt is charged against them?
7 Because the world’s religions have, in effect, prostituted themselves for political, commercial, and social gain, the Bible pictures them as being like a harlot. Describing this “harlot,” it says: “In her was found the blood of . . . all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:24) Yes, this world’s religions bear a heavy bloodguilt in relation to all the slaughter of world history! For this they will be called to account.
8. How do the words of Jesus regarding “blind guides” apply today?
8 Clearly, any religion whose practices are contrary to the Bible could never succeed in leading mankind to true peace and security. That is why Jesus said of the false religious leaders in his day: “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14) Similarly, the world’s religions today are “blind guides” in the matter of war and in other vital aspects of life as well.
Do the World’s Religions Promote Morality?
9, 10. (a) Why is holding to true standards of morality important to peace and security? (b) As taught in the Bible, what promotes such morality?
9 Can anyone enjoy true peace with his neighbors or real security if true standards of morality are not maintained? Where there are no such standards, lying, stealing, adultery, and similar practices are commonplace. On the other hand, genuine love of neighbor should promote morality.
10 The Bible expresses God’s view on morality in this way: “He that loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. For the law code, ‘You must not commit adultery, You must not murder, You must not steal, You must not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this word, namely, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor.”—Romans 13:8-10.
11, 12. (a) Can a person who does not hold to moral standards expect to enjoy peace with God? (b) Who rightly sets those standards?
11 More important than this, however, do you believe that a person can be at peace with God, having the assurance of His favor and protection, if he does not practice God’s standards of morality? Could you even respect a God who did not require such morality from those who profess to serve him?
12 For God to require adherence to his standards, he would have to make clear what those standards are. That he has done in his Word, the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) To say that each person should make up his own moral standards and go by them is no more reasonable than to say that each person should make up his own traffic laws and go by them. You know what the result would be. The Bible logically shows that there is only one way that brings God’s approval. As Jesus said, all other roads lead only to destruction.—Matthew 7:13, 14; Luke 13:24.
13-15. (a) What questions about morality need to be asked concerning the members of one’s own church? (b) What does the Bible say should be done about a congregation member who persists in breaking God’s laws? (c) Is this done in the churches?
13 Do Christendom’s churches, especially, uphold God’s standards of morality and so set a lead for the rest of the world? What do the lives of many who belong to those churches reveal? Do you belong to a church? Then ask yourself: ‘If everyone on earth lived like the members of my religion do, would that put an end to crime, dishonest business practices, strife, and sexual immorality?’
14 The Bible warns that “a little leaven ferments the whole lump” and that “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33) For this reason it also commands Christians to “quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. . . . ‘Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.’”—1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
15 True, a person may make a misstep and then recover. But what of those who make a practice of such things? If these persons claim to be serving God, they are hypocrites. Surely you detest hypocrisy, and the Bible shows that God also hates it and those who practice it. (Matthew 23:27, 28; Romans 12:9) What, then, of your religion? Does it follow the Bible’s command to “remove” those who persist in breaking God’s laws and who show no genuine repentance? Or does it allow such ones to remain in good standing, thus endangering others? Does it render mere lip service to morality while actually winking at wrongdoing, or even condoning it?—Matthew 15:7, 8.
16. (a) What are many clergymen now saying about sexual conduct? (b) What does the Bible say about such conduct?
16 More and more clergymen say that fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are not necessarily wrong. But they are not in harmony with God’s thinking. His Word clearly states: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
The Results of Rejecting God’s Word
17-19. (a) How did the apostle Paul view the Bible? (b) How do many clergymen today view the Bible?
17 The basic reason why this world’s religions are in such a divided, chaotic state is that they ignore God’s laws as found in his Word, the Bible. Indeed, many clergymen reject the Bible as being the inspired Word of God. Yet, the inspired apostle Paul declared: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Paul also urged us to accept the Bible “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Surely Jehovah God, the Almighty Creator of the awesome universe, could author a book and see to it that it maintained its integrity over the centuries!
18 Yet, the New Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Many Biblical statements are simply not true when judged according to modern knowledge of science and history.”39 Writing in U.S. Catholic, a priest stated that earth’s creation could not have happened the way it is described in Genesis. And of its account of the human creation, he stated: “The human race did not start that way.”40 An Episcopal bishop said: “The Bible contains mistakes, inaccuracies and contradictions. It is therefore understandable why the major Christian churches do not view the Bible as infallible.”41 In England, an Anglican bishop referred to Christ’s resurrection as a “conjuring trick with bones.”42
19 Thus, many of the clergy either belittle the Bible or do not teach their followers to respect it and follow God’s laws contained in it. That is a principal reason for the appalling ignorance of God’s Word throughout Christendom. Religious commentator M. J. McManus wrote this about church attenders: “Few trends in religion so threaten to undermine organized religion in the 1980s as does the sorry state of Biblical knowledge.” He noted that “the Bible remains an unread, foreign document” for most churchgoers.43
20, 21. What have been the results of rejecting the teachings of the Bible?
20 What have been the results of all of this? Have the world’s religions demonstrated that they can downgrade Bible teachings and still produce peace or good morals among their adherents? On the contrary, conditions worsen earth wide. The nations with non-Christian religions have become increasingly the scene of unrest, division, political corruption, and deteriorating morals. But Christendom especially has long been the hardest hit as to crime, immorality, drug addiction, racial strife, and war. It has come to pass just as God’s reliable Word foretold: “They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?”—Jeremiah 8:9.
21 The evidence is undeniable. It shows that this world’s religions are not a true force for peace and security. And they have left their followers ignorant of the true hope—God’s Kingdom. What, then, does all of this signify?
End of World’s Religions Nears
22, 23. What does the Bible say will come upon this world’s false religions?
22 Jesus Christ stated: “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted.” (Matthew 15:13) The bad fruitage produced by this world’s religions proves that they are not of God’s planting. Thus, the Bible foretells the coming destruction of all false systems of worship.
23 Speaking of these religious systems under the symbol of the harlotlike “Babylon the Great,” God says the following regarding the worldwide empire of false religion: “Her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind . . . in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Revelation 18:2, 5-8.
24. How will such destruction come, and from what source?
24 Note that this destruction is to come with surprising suddenness, as “in one day.” To the surprise and dismay of many persons, false religion will be brought to ruin, destroyed, by the very political nations with whom she has long played the harlot.—Revelation 18:10-17, 21; 17:12, 16.
25. (a) At Revelation 18:4, what are persons who desire God’s approval urged to do? (b) What should move one to take such action?
25 Therefore the divine call is: “Get out of her, 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.” (Revelation 18:4) Taking such action means that one sees false religion as God sees it. It means that one detests it for its rotten fruits, its hypocrisy, and its superstition. Disgust should be felt for the way false religion has misrepresented God before mankind and for the way it has contributed toward the suffering and oppression of the people. (Romans 2:24; Jeremiah 23:21, 22) If you recognize this, you will withdraw all support from such religions, thus demonstrating your full support of God’s judgment on them.
26. (a) Additionally, what must a person find if he is to enjoy God’s peace and protection? (b) What kind of persons should one look for when seeking to find those who practice true worship?
26 However, it is not enough simply to withdraw. You must search out and find the true, unhypocritical worship that will bring you God’s peace and protection when the foretold destruction comes. Those engaging in such true worship must be persons who have already ‘beaten their swords into plowshares, not learning war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:4) They must be persons who believe God’s Word and live it, letting it be the guiding force in their lives. (Psalm 119:105) They must show genuine, unhypocritical love for their fellowman. (John 13:35; Romans 13:8) Does any such worship exist today? Millions have found it among Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are known the world over for their adherence to God’s laws as found in the Bible. And the peace and security they enjoy even now vindicate the truthfulness and power of God’s Word.
27. What will you be able to observe firsthand by attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses at their Kingdom Hall?
27 Jehovah’s Witnesses are deeply concerned about the dangerous situation into which false religion has brought people. They are sincerely endeavoring to give God’s Word first place in their lives. You are invited to observe their meetings in their local Kingdom Hall and investigate for yourself the extent to which they reflect God’s spirit and enjoy the peace and security it brings. You will also see how they are learning and applying what God requires of those who are to survive the coming destruction and live in his righteous New Order under the rule of his heavenly Kingdom.
[Box on page 29]
More and more clergymen accept what the Bible condemns as sexual immorality, as these sample headlines and news items show:
“When What’s Bad Becomes Good the Clergy Will Tell Us.” “[The Church of England] is now shedding its old-fashioned authoritarian image. Sex before marriage, with one or more partners, . . . will henceforth be considered morally acceptable.”—Alberta Report.33
“Pastors Silent on Premarital Sex.” “The pastors of America have been sinfully silent in preaching on premarital sex . . . They are afraid they will lose some of their parishioners. Isaiah knew of such priests. In Chapter 1 of his book, he quotes the Lord as saying about them, ‘I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.’”—Telegraph, North Platte, Nebraska.34
“Adultery in Softer Light.” “The English cleric . . . raised eyebrows when he aired the Church’s tempered view towards the Seventh Commandment. . . . ‘Our attitude is to be caring rather than judgmental,’ he said.”—The Sunday Times, Perth, Australia.35
“Unitarians Endorse Homosexual Marriages.”—The New York Times.36
“A task force of the United Church of Canada has supported the ordination of active homosexuals as ministers.”—The Toronto Star.37
“Legalize Prostitution—It’s the Saintly Solution.”—Editorial by a Catholic monsignor in the Philadelphia Daily News.38
[Pictures on page 25]
The clergy have bloodied their hands in support of dictators