Insight on the News
● The Middle East came back into sharp focus in late 1973 with the fourth in the series of fierce Arab-Israeli conflicts. Some feel that the increased prominence of Israel in world affairs fits Bible prophecy. They believe that a vital element in the establishing of God’s kingdom is the rise of Israel to the place of earth’s leading nation, with Jerusalem as “the capital of the United States of the World”—ruled by Christ. Does Bible prophecy really focus on Israel in this way?
No, it plainly does not. For one thing, the Israeli leaders themselves have consistently disclaimed any interest in seeing the young republic become a “theocracy.” More importantly, the Bible shows that it is spiritual—not fleshly—Israel on which prophecies of restoration would find later fulfillment. That is why the apostle Paul, himself a Jew, found need to point out that “he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit, and not by a written code.”—Rom. 2:28, 29.
As a political, rather than a theocratic, state, the modern Republic of Israel finds itself enmeshed in the political power struggles of today. It is true that strong religious differences separate Jew and Arab. But the fuses igniting their wars have all been political and economic issues, not issues related to the Bible.
Shaping Church Morals
● Figures from the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago indicate that three fifths of American church members endorse some form of premarital sex. Why? Often because their clergymen place greater value on the opinions of influential theologians, such as the late Paul Tillich, than on God’s Word.
Tillich was a professor at Union Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School. The Protestant “Christian Century” magazine called him one of the “giants” among modern theologians. What did Tillich do if a student came to him faced with a difficult moral decision? He wrote: “I don’t quote the Ten Commandments, or the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, or any other law.” Why this aversion for specific moral laws?
Perhaps it was to excuse what the New York “Post” calls Tillich’s “free-and-easy sex life.” His widow recently revealed that their marriage “was a break with the whole concept of monogamy,” and that Tillich expected her to take “him into loving arms whenever he emerged from the darkness of his indiscriminating sexuality.”
The apostle Peter warns Christians that “there will also be false teachers” who “will disown even the owner that bought them,” that is, teach and lead a life entirely contrary to what Jesus taught. What would be one result of their false teaching? Peter says: “Many will follow their acts of loose conduct.”—2 Pet. 2:1, 2; Jude 4.
Is it any wonder, then, that many church members carry on in the same unprincipled manner?
Only Way to Stop VD
● The age-old problem of venereal disease keeps plaguing mankind.
The World Health Organization says that VD is assuming epidemic proportions internationally.
What is the solution?
“The big answer is education,” many authorities say. Ads all over Sweden warn, “Last night, 128 Swedes got gonorrhea,” and then urge the use of contraceptive devices as protection. Elsewhere checkups are encouraged, particularly in women. Eighty-five percent of the cases involving women show no outward signs of disease.
But despite partial success, these campaigns have not stopped the international onslaught of VD. Why?
Because the problem is not straightforwardly recognized for what it is—a moral one. The one way to be sure of keeping VD out of your life is to follow the simple, clear instruction found in the Bible: “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Those choosing to do otherwise can expect to pay the consequences, in one form or another.
● Worldwide inflation is causing hurt—and the pinch is greatest on food, exactly where Bible prophecy pointed centuries ago. The symbolic “black horse” of Revelation is riding, with food scarcity and high prices marking his trail.—Rev. 6:5, 6.
True, in many industrial lands salaries have never been higher. But living standards in some places are now rolling back. A U.S. wage earner would have had to get a salary increase of 6 or 7 percent each year for the past four years just to stay even with the spiraling cost of living. Where does the problem lie?
It is a combination of many things. Once inflation starts, money starts losing value. Rather than hold their money, people prefer to spend—often on nonessentials, even luxuries. Spending creates a demand for goods and this, in turn, forces up the price. Savings, insurance policies and similar investments steadily weaken as the national currency loses buying power. Governments contribute by their wars and by deficit spending. Taxes grow. Money’s instability creates distrust. That is why wage earners demand large salary boosts, fearing that a moderate raise will not match future living costs. Manufacturers hike prices sharply for the same reason, fearing that moderate price rises will not cover growing manufacturing costs.
All of this points up the inability of imperfect men to govern the earth effectively. It also proves the truth of the apostle’s warning that “those who are determined to be rich” eventually wind up ‘stabbing themselves all over with many pains.’—1 Tim. 6:9, 10.
“Modern English” Bibles
● Many new translations of the Bible in “modern English” have come out in recent years. Yet most of these still use archaic English “for language addressed to God.” Even the “Revised Standard Version” of 1952 and “The New English Bible” of 1971 at Job 42:2 read: “I know that thou canst do all things.” But now, says a late issue of “Theology Today,” translators are finally changing.
An editorial in the journal refers to “the liturgical drift that has now reached flood proportions that assumes to address Deity in the second person plural (‘You’—‘Your’—‘Yours’ rather than ‘Thee’—‘Thou’—‘Thine’).” Reserving the older forms of language for “Deity” has posed no few headaches for trinitarian translators. They erroneously believe that Jesus is God. Well, when Jesus was on the earth, should translators have him addressed as ‘Thou art the Christ,’ implying he is God? Or, as ‘You are the Christ,’ indicating that he is a man?—Matt. 16:16.
Really, why should archaic language be used in addressing God? Some translators are beginning to realize what others appreciated long ago, namely, that the Bible was originally written in the living language of the people of the day. And so Bible characters spoke and prayed to God in the same everyday language that they employed when speaking to their fellow creatures on earth. They did not have one special language to use when speaking to God and another to use when speaking to their neighbor.
● A recent survey shows that churchgoing in the United States continued to decline in 1973. According to a report in the “National Catholic Reporter,” the number of Catholics attending church weekly or almost weekly dropped from 61 percent to 48 percent between 1972 and 1973. And in the past ten years the number of priests quitting amounted to nearly 10 percent of the worldwide total.
In general, Protestant churches in the United States also report a drop in churchgoing, though somewhat more gradual. The number of weekly churchgoers dropped to 36 percent in 1973. Among Jews only about 19 percent attend religious services on a weekly basis.
Is interest in spiritual things dying?
A refreshing contrast pointing in a different direction appears in the “1974 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Its report shows that those presenting themselves for baptism by Jehovah’s witnesses rose from somewhat over 160,000 in their 1972 “service year” to 193,990 in the 1973 period. With meeting attendance running around 100 percent world wide, the “Yearbook” report focuses more particularly on active witnessing done. It shows that the Witnesses in 208 lands and islands of the sea spent over 300 million hours during the past year in carrying the good news of God’s kingdom to their neighbors. The number sharing rose about 100,000 in one year, and a high of 1,810,000 took part in September of 1973.