Insight on the News
Masters of Deception
● There are an estimated six million compulsive gamblers in the United States today, according to a report in the New York “Sunday News Magazine.” This compares to an estimated 1.1 million just four years ago. More and more states are turning to some form of gambling as a source of revenue.
“It begins innocently enough,” says the report. “It might be a dollar chance on a lottery ticket, a casual day at the racetrack, or a curious look at an Off-Track Betting parlor. It might even be a quarter in a slot machine.” The article also notes that compulsive gamblers “began gambling probably in adolescence,” and had “a history of gambling in the family.”
By the time these gamblers look for help, they “might have 20 or more years’ experience at lying and deception,” says the magazine. “They can be masters at [deceiving] psychiatrists.” As a result, “many psychiatrists won’t take pathological gamblers on as clients.” Certainly, there is good reason for caution if a Christian is tempted to experiment with a practice that can produce such bad traits.—Matt. 7:17, 18.
Most Christians ‘Heretics’?
● “Christianity Today” magazine recently sponsored a Gallup Poll of religious beliefs. The poll revealed that beliefs of most American Catholics and Protestants are “heretical” when it comes to the Trinity. Those polled were given a choice among statements about Christ, including: “1. Jesus Christ was a man, but was divine in the sense that God worked through him; he was the Son of God. 2. Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.”
“Well-instructed Christians, Catholic or Protestant, would recognize that the first statement is inadequate and, indeed, heretical,” says “Christianity Today.” “Yet this is the statement chosen by 63 percent of the Protestants and 55 percent of the Catholics.” In fact, says the magazine, “only 26 percent have a correct doctrinal understanding of Jesus as fully God and fully man.”
The president of the Lutheran Concordia Theological Seminary, Robert Preus, complained: “My personal reaction is one of shock and grave disappointment, especially in what seems to be a gross ignorance on the part of all professed Christian groups concerning the very fundamentals of Christianity.”
But are the people heretics who do not understand the complex “mystery” of the Trinity and choose instead to believe the simple statement of Christ that he is the “Son of God”? Rather, is it not those who have tried to burden the people by teaching pagan philosophy instead of the Word of God who are the true heretics?—John 10:36, “AV.”
Experts at Exaggeration
● Mesopotamia, the home of the ancient Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations, has yielded inscriptions by the hundreds of thousands. A project is under way to publish editions of these royal records and reliefs carved in stone. But how reliable are they? In a report published in the Toronto “Star,” journalist Bruce Ward comments: “The ancient Assyrians were masters of ‘hype’—the adman’s art of puffery and exaggeration—and some of their truth-stretchers were shameless.”
According to the “Star,” Kirk Grayson, who is a professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Toronto, says: “You can’t trust the Assyrian inscriptions because of the hyperbole.” Citing one example of inscribed untruth, he tells of a 100-line account about a certain alleged military victory by Assyrian King Sennacherib. But the newspaper adds: “Grayson says that other more reliable sources point out that Sennach[e]rib received a sound thrashing in the fight.”
Ancient inscriptions may relate to historical incidents and may thus be of interest to many people, including Bible students. For instance, King Sennacherib is mentioned in the Scriptures. (2 Chron. 32:1-23) But when confronted with a question of reliability, will you accept the words of these inscriptions or the Bible record? Before answering, remember that Jesus Christ said in prayer to God: “Your word is truth.”—John 17:17.