Insight on the News
If you could, what three questions would you ask God? That was the query posed in a recent Gallup poll of men and women throughout 300 cities and towns. As reported in New York’s Daily News, evangelist Pat Robertson decided to find out, by means of the poll, whether others in the United States agreed with the question he would like to ask God if given the chance: “When will the world end?” The results surprised him. “People are more concerned about what happens now rather than about what happens sometime in the future,” Robertson said.
“Will there ever be a lasting world peace?” turned out to be the question people would most like to ask. Next, in order, were: (2) “How can I be a better person?” (3) “What does the future hold for me and my family?” (4) “Will there ever be a cure for all diseases?” (5) “Why is there suffering in the world?” and (6) “Is there life after death?”
Yet, God has not kept man in ignorance on any of these questions. Lovingly, through the pages of his Word, the Bible, he has clearly set out the answers. Indeed, a number of them are answered in but one verse—part of the apostle John’s inspired vision of “the things that must shortly take place.” John wrote: “He [God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 1:1; 21:4) Complete, Bible-based answers to all the foregoing questions can be found in issues of this magazine.
Pagan Beliefs “Christianized”
“In A.D. 601, Pope Gregory the First, known as Gregory the Great, issued an edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert,” states a recent issue of Natural History magazine. “Instead of trying to obliterate peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope’s instructions were, use them. If a group of people worship a tree, rather than cut it down, consecrate it to Christ and allow them to continue their worship.” Calling this a “brilliant concept” and the “basic principle in Catholic missionary work,” the article continues: “Catholic holy days were purposely set at the time of native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25 because it corresponded to the midwinter celebration of many peoples. For the same reason, Saint John’s day was set at the summer solstice.”
However “brilliant” the idea was toward the spreading of so-called Christianity, it certainly is not God’s way of doing things. When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, they were instructed by God to destroy thoroughly all pagan worship there. (Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5, 6) And for true Christians, “clean and undefiled” worship requires that they keep themselves “without spot from the world.”—James 1:27.
“If ways cannot be found to insulate politics and statecraft from religion, consideration [should] be given to abolishing religion itself.” So suggests author John Bartlow Martin, a former ambassador, writing in USA Today. Mentioning religion’s dominance in such past events as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, its divisive force today and the bloodshed and unrest caused by modern “apostles of zealotry,” Mr. Martin says: “If one watches the evening television news, one cannot but be struck by how much of the world’s trouble is rooted in religion. And few secular political rivalries ever generate the bloodthirsty fervor of religious war.”
Jehovah God, too, has taken note of the “bloodthirsty” ways of false religion. Calling it Babylon the Great, his Word foretells the annihilation of false religion at the hands of the political powers—this as the harbinger of the complete destruction of the present wicked system of things. While Mr. Martin states that the realization of his suggestion to abolish religion is ‘probably impossible,’ God assures us that His just decision against false religion will be carried out.—Revelation 17:1-6, 15-17; 18:4, 5.