Christendom’s Spiritual Famine
Is there any evidence of a spiritual famine in Christendom?
You have probably heard of the widespread Bible ignorance in Christendom. You have read about the gross immorality and an alarming crime rate among people who profess Christianity. Likely you have read what educators and clergymen have said about this famine. The president of Harvard University has warned of “a very widespread religious illiteracy.” In the New York Times of January 21, 1957, one may read a statement by cleric David Reed of Manhattan’s Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. He declared that the world is faced with a “religious vacuum on a scale never seen before.”
Since Christendom has God’s Word the Bible, why is there a spiritual famine?
God tells us why: “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13, AS) Christendom’s religions have strayed from God’s Word. They have hewed out for themselves man-made cisterns, cisterns that can hold no real spiritual refreshment. This is admitted by the clergy. Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette of November 5, 1953, preacher Earl L. Douglass asks: “Why have we so often failed in our efforts as ministers?” His answer: “They come seeking for the bread of life, and we frequently offer philosophy, sociology, psychology, politics, and a résumé of current events.” These are broken cisterns that hold no living waters of spiritual truth.
May Christendom’s clergy Scripturally use tradition and philosophy as the ingredients of spiritual food?
Christendom’s fundamentalist clergy have filled their creeds with many traditions, such as the doctrines of trinity, immortality of the soul, eternal torment and purgatory. These make void the Word of God, just as the traditions of the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. When the Pharisees condemned Christ for ignoring tradition, Jesus countered: “Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition? . . . you have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition.”—Matt. 15:1-9, NW.
Christendom’s modernist clergy, together with the higher critics and evolutionists, have built up countless theories of worldly philosophy. As spiritual food this has no nourishment. Warning us against it, Christ’s apostle declared: “Look out: perhaps there may be some man that will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Col. 2:8, NW.
Is it Scriptural for Christendom’s religions to raise money by tithing, the passing of collection plates and the use of gambling devices?
Tithing or the giving of one tenth of one’s income applied only to the Jews. It was one of the decrees in the Law of Moses. By his death Christ abolished that Law so that not even Jewish Christians are obliged to keep the decrees such as tithing. Says the Bible: “By means of his flesh he abolished the hatred, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees.”—Eph. 2:15, NW.
Nor is the passing of a collection plate the Christian way. We remember how Jesus once observed a widow dropping two small coins into the treasury chest in the temple. But this chest was not passed around; it was fixed.
The use of bingo, raffles and other gambling methods is contrary to the Bible rule for Christians: “We have renounced the underhanded things of which to be ashamed.” When the Israelites began sacrificing to some of the pagan deities of gambling, God told them: “Ye that forsake Jehovah, . . . that prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny; I will destine you to the sword.”—2 Cor. 4:2, NW; Isa. 65:11, 12, AS.
By stressing money raising and neglecting spiritual food, the clergy have brought about a situation that is similar to the time in Israel when God’s prophet said: “The priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet they lean upon Jehovah, and say, Is not Jehovah in the midst of us?” Jesus’ words to those who used God’s temple for commercial purposes are apt today: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a cave of robbers.”—Mic. 3:11, AS; Matt. 21:13, NW.
When clergymen take honorary titles such as “Father” and “Reverend,” are they following the Bible’s example?
The use of honorary titles shows how the clergy have turned away from using the Bible as their guidebook, for nowhere in the Bible does a Christian call himself “reverend.” Only once in the King James Bible does the word “reverend” occur. Then it is applied to God alone: “Holy and reverend is his name.”—Ps. 111:9.
The use of the honorary title “Father” came up in Jesus’ day. As found in the Knox Catholic translation of the Bible, at Matthew 23:8, 9, Christ laid down the rule for all true Christians to follow: “You are not to claim the title of Rabbi; you have but one Master, and you are all brethren alike. Nor are you to call any man on earth your father; you have but one Father, and he is in heaven.”
Should Christendom’s clergy participate in political affairs and controversies of the nations?
By dispensing political fodder and mixing in politics the clergy have exposed their flocks to a spiritual famine. Christ never served politics as spiritual food; he even refused a popular draft to make him political leader: “Jesus, realizing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.” Christ’s reason was clear: “I am no part of the world.” “My kingdom is no part of this world.” So true worship is, as the Bible says, “to keep oneself without spot from the world.” The clergy mix in politics and even ask God’s blessing on armies and navies. But God’s Word declares: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—John 6:15; 17:16; 18:36; Jas. 1:27; 4:4, NW.
When clergymen and parishioners pray for this world, are they following Christ’s example?
Even in prayer the clergy are not serving spiritual food. The clergy pray for this world. But Christ prayed: “I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me.” Why did Jesus not pray for this world? Because he knew that the Devil, not Jehovah God, is the god of this world, as the Bible clearly shows: “The god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Spiritually famished persons pray for this world, but Bible-fed Christians obey the Bible command: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—John 17:9; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19; 2:15, NW.
Is it Christian to criticize other religions, or should all join the interfaith movement?
If Christendom’s religionists were well fed spiritually, they would not mind criticism. For truth can always stand up to error and overcome it. Because they were serving false spiritual food the clergy of Judaism did not like Jesus’ criticism. Jesus used spiritual truths to expose them as false religionists. He called the clergy “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “fools and blind ones” and “serpents, offspring of vipers.” Jesus even told many religious objectors: “You are from your father the Devil.” And Christ’s apostle told a false prophet who was serving up false spiritual food: “You son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?”—Matt. 23:13, 16, 17, 33; John 8:44; Acts 13:10, NW.
Christ rejected interfaith. He did not join with false religious leaders just to gain physical unity, and thus have to give up some spiritual truths. That is what Christendom’s clergy do. But Christ said to his followers: “Let them be. Blind guides is what they are.” Instead of joining interfaith movements, true Christians heed God’s command: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”—Matt. 15:14, NW; Eph. 5:11, Catholic Biblical Assn.
The refusal to expose false spiritual food is the thing that is unchristian.
Is it Scripturally proper for Christians to use images and statues as an aid to worship?
The touchstone for determining the genuineness of spiritual food is the principle laid down by Christ himself: “God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Christ’s apostles also show this to be true. Following are some of their statements as they appear in Catholic translations of the Bible: “We walk by faith and not by sight.” “If only we will fix our eyes on what is unseen, not on what we can see.” “If we are the children of God, we must not imagine that the divine nature can be represented in gold, or silver, or stone, carved by man’s art and thought.”—John 4:24, Knox; 2 Cor. 5:7, Dy; 2 Cor. 4:18; Acts 17:29, Knox.
Images and idols do not contribute to the spiritual growth of a Christian; instead they lead to spiritual malnutrition and death, as the Catholic translation of Psalm 113:13-16 Psalm 115:5-8 NWT by Monsignor Knox shows: “They have mouths, and yet are silent; eyes they have, and yet are sightless; ears they have, and want all hearing; noses, and yet no smell can reach them; hands unfeeling, feet unstirring; never a sound their throats may utter. Such be the end of all who make them, such the reward of all who trust them.”
Little wonder the apostle John warned Christians: “Dear children, guard yourselves from the idols.”—1 John 5:21, Catholic Biblical Assn.
Does the Bible foretell Christendom’s spiritual famine?
Yes, God through his prophet foretold: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.”—Amos 8:11, AS.
Will Christendom’s religions recover from the spiritual famine?
After 1,600 years of professed Christianity, Christendom’s spiritual famine has only grown more severe. The famine is, as the clergy admit, “on a scale never seen before.” That is not the way to recovery.
Moreover, Bible prophecy shows that when God’s war of Armageddon breaks out Christendom will be destroyed: “For, lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; . . . I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith Jehovah of hosts.” Though Christendom will never recover, individuals from among Christendom’s famished religions may, and many are doing so today.—Jer. 25:29, AS.
How can you avoid suffering the fate of Christendom?
Abandon the famished religions of Christendom. Go where you can obtain true spiritual food, food free from philosophy and tradition. Partake of the rich spiritual banquet foretold for these days: “A time is coming when the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts will prepare a banquet on this mountain of ours; no meat so tender, no wine so mellow, meat that drips with fat, wine well strained.”—Isa. 25:6, Knox.
Where is this spiritual banquet? You are partaking of a small part of it by reading this issue of The Watchtower. But there is much more. To partake of it, associate with the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses, through whom this magazine has been brought to you. Learn the nourishing truths of God’s kingdom. Learn how you may survive Armageddon into God’s new world. Allow Jehovah’s witnesses to bring you spiritual food free of cost. Examine it. Compare it with the Bible. See for yourself—this is the spiritual food foretold by God’s prophet: “Ho! everyone that is thirsty, come to the waters, and he that has no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy grain without money, and wine and milk without price! Why should you spend money for what is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? If you but listen to me, you shall eat what is good, and shall delight yourselves with rich nourishment.”—Isa. 55:1, 2, AT.
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