Are the Churches Leading the Nations into Collision with God?
MAINLY, what the people believe about God they have learned from the churches, or from what church leaders have said or done. But have they really learned the truth about God? Or have they received a distorted picture? If one reads about God purely from the Bible, does its portrayal of God collide with what the churches teach and do?
The majority of Christendom’s churches say that there are three persons in one God, that he is, as it were, a ‘three-headed’ God. They teach that when Jesus died, God died. According to this teaching, God is not really the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, the Father and Source of all life. Rather, he shares these positions with the Son and with the so-called “holy ghost,” considered to be the third person of the trinity.
But the Bible says (Moses speaking): “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is ONE Jehovah.” (Deut. 6:4) And the Christian apostle Paul writes: “There is actually to us ONE God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.” (1 Cor. 8:6) Jesus said: “The Father is greater than I am,” and spoke of Jehovah as “my God.” (John 14:28; 20:17) And the Bible throughout does not portray the holy spirit as a person, but as an unintelligent force, the active force of God.—Acts 2:17, 33.
ATTEMPTS TO HIDE OR OBSCURE GOD’S NAME
In still other ways the churches distort matters. The Bible says that God will make known to the nations that his name is Jehovah, and that he alone is Most High over all the earth. (Ps. 83:18; Ezek. 38:23) God’s personal name in the form of the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter Hebrew word transliterated as JHVH or YHWH in English and translated as Jehovah or Yahweh, appears nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus Christ, when on earth, said that he ‘made God’s name known’ to his disciples, and Jehovah has commanded that his name, with all the righteous principles that it stands for, be proclaimed and “sanctified” earth wide. This is in order that people may learn of his ways and walk in his paths.—Matt. 6:9; John 17:6, 26; Rev. 14:6, 7; 19:6.
But the religious clergy hide the name. In their Bible translations they substitute the titles LORD and GOD where the name of God, Jehovah, appears. Moreover, they misrepresent him, actually besmirching his name by such doctrines as hellfire, portraying God as a fiend more vicious than the torture experts of the Nazi Gestapo and the concentration camps.
However, God’s own Word says that Jehovah is a God of justice and mercy. (Ex. 34:6, 7) His law says, “the wages sin pays is death,” not torment. (Rom. 6:23) Though the wicked must die, God takes no delight in their death. (Ezek. 33:11) His disposition toward the torment of humans was shown when he condemned the people of Israel for offering up their children by fire to the pagan god Baal. He sent his prophet Jeremiah to tell them: “And they built the high places of the Baal in order to burn their sons in the fire as whole burnt offerings to the Baal, something that I had not commanded or spoken of, and that had not come up into my heart.”—Jer. 19:5.
If the reader will look into the Bible at Revelation 20:14, he will see that the “lake of fire,” which clergymen have long called a place of eternal torment, is actually symbolic, meaning the “second death,” not torment. In fact, hell or Hades (which is actually the common grave of mankind) is itself destroyed in this symbolic “lake of fire.”
Many of the clergy have increased God’s displeasure with them by calling him a liar. These say that his Word is not inspired, that the accounts of Adam and Eve and the fall of man, the Flood, the miracles and the virgin birth of Christ are mere myths and unreliable fables. And they even say, “God is dead,” that is, he has nothing to do with man and his problems.
IMMORALITY WINKED AT
Furthermore, the church leaders have in many instances condoned immorality in their congregations, not expelling persons practicing fornication, lying and stealing. Some have spoken in favor of premarital and even of extramarital sex, and homosexual “weddings” have been performed by clergymen.
Those in the churches who practice such things will doubtless condone such clergy action, saying that it is in harmony with the “new morality” and the modernizing of religious ideas. But are the clergy representing God in doing or approving these things? Just the opposite, for the Bible says: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Heb. 13:4) Moreover, God’s anger is especially aroused against men who teach lies about him, at the same time receiving money and material support under guise of being God’s representatives to the people.
The sad fact is that the religions, particularly those of Christendom, have actually been the ones primarily responsible for the collision course the nations are taking. How?
ORIGIN OF APOSTATE CHRISTIANITY
Well, the apostle Paul, not long before his death, foretold an apostasy from true Christianity. During their lifetime the apostles were able to hold back promoters of false doctrine in the congregation, but Paul said:
“However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron.”—1 Tim. 4:1, 2.
Paul also warned certain ones in leading positions in the Christian congregation:
“I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”—Acts 20:29, 30.
The apostle Peter likewise voiced a similar strong warning:
“However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit word as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.”—2 Pet. 2:1-3.
This apostasy from true worship and doctrine took place and, particularly from the fourth century, false, apostate Christianity flourished and became united with the State, becoming a state religion. The area in which it predominated came to be called “Christendom” (meaning “Christian dominion”). This was directly contrary to Christ’s words: “My kingdom is no part of this world,” and “they [Jesus’ disciples] are no part of the world.”—John 18:36; 17:14.
History records that from that time on religious leaders have been the counselors, yes, often the directors, of national rulers. Where they could not exercise power they were willing to provoke revolution or warfare against those rulers resisting them. Today, where they cannot be in favored, powerful positions among national rulers, they are often prominent among groups rebellious against the established government.
RESPONSIBLE FOR BLOODSHED
For this reason all false religion, of which apostate Christianity is the dominant part, is described in the Bible as a “city,” “Babylon the Great,” a symbolic empire, for it has “a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” Also, it is personified as a “harlot,” of whom it is said: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”—Rev. 17:1, 2, 5, 18; 18:24.
According to verses 3, 12-14 of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation, the “harlot” rides a symbolic “wild beast” whose horns represent “kings” or rulers of the earth. Due to the “harlot” rider’s influence, these kings “battle with the Lamb,” Jesus Christ. Here, then, is further evidence that the false religions of the earth actually take the lead, being principally responsible for the nations’ collision course.
Is it surprising, then, that God is displeased with the world’s religions? Really, it would be more surprising if he did not act to clear his name and to help persons who also hate the immorality and corruption in the churches, and the lies taught about God.
‘Yes,’ someone may say, ‘God has plenty of provocation to act. But is it not unloving for him to destroy the people on account of conditions in which false religion and politics bear such a large responsibility? Could he not merely bring about a change in government and spare the lives of the people?’ The article to follow will consider this question.