Christendom Exposed as the Promoter of False Worship
“This is the nation whose people have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah its God, and have not taken discipline.”—JEREMIAH 7:28.
1, 2. How did Jeremiah react to his God-given assignment?
“THE fire of true conviction burned within him; there was a compelling force to speak the truth, to chide but also to sustain.” With those words two Hebrew scholars describe the role of Jeremiah. Even though his assignment from God was awesome, he knew that he had to fulfill his responsibility toward the nation of Judah. As he himself expressed it: “For the word of Jehovah became for me a cause for reproach and for jeering all day long. And I said: ‘I am not going to make mention of him, and I shall speak no more in his name.’” Yes, the pressure and the persecution almost became too much for him. But did he give up?—Jeremiah 20:8, 9a.
2 Jeremiah continued: “And in my heart it proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.” (Jeremiah 20:9b) Jeremiah did not sidestep his commission to announce God’s judgments to Judah.—Jeremiah 6:10, 11.
The Modern Jeremiah
3. What attitude did Jesus and the disciples show toward their assignment?
3 Like Jeremiah, Christ Jesus and the early Christian disciples fearlessly proclaimed the unpopular message of God’s Kingdom to the Jews and the nations. Although previously jailed for preaching, Peter and the other apostles courageously answered their religious accusers: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” On the order of the religious authorities, they were flogged for their boldness. How did the apostles react? “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.”—Acts 5:29, 40-42; Matthew 23:13-33.
4. Who have followed Jeremiah’s example in the 20th century, and how have they done this?
4 Thus the early anointed Christians acted like Jeremiah. Although faced with overwhelming odds and stubborn religious enemies, they announced God’s judgments. Now, who in this 20th century have followed that same example? Who have announced publicly and from house to house God’s judgments on this system of things and especially on Jerusalem’s counterpart, Christendom? The historical evidence has been piling up for more than 68 years to show that the modern Jeremiah class has been the small but courageous group of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses. These have been augmented and aided since 1935 by the growing “great crowd” of millions of willing companions, also known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. With a united voice, they have fulfilled their Jeremiah role by denouncing false religion as a snare and a racket.—Revelation 7:9, 10; 14:1-5.
Christendom—Why Jerusalem’s Modern Parallel?
5. In what ways is Christendom like ancient Jerusalem?
5 ‘But,’ one might ask, ‘wherein do we find a parallel between ancient Jerusalem and Christendom?’ By reason of the similar attitudes and conditions that exist in proud Christendom today. They put their trust in their ‘holy cities’ and shrines, such as Rome, Jerusalem, Canterbury, Fatima, Guadalupe, and Zaragoza, to mention but a few. They love to exalt their cathedrals, basilicas, temples, and churches, boasting about their antiquity and their architecture, as if these gave them some special standing with God. They even say that their religious edifices were built ‘to the glory of God.’ Yet, how many of these buildings actually bear the name of Jehovah God? On the contrary, one is constantly reminded of the architects who designed them, the artists and sculptors who decorated them, the wealthy patrons who paid for them, or the “saints” to whom they are dedicated. Christendom’s trust in antiquity and tradition is just as fallacious as was Judah’s trust in its holy temple.—Jeremiah 7:4.
6. How does Jesus’ denunciation of the Jewish clergy apply to Christendom’s clergy?
6 In accordance with Jeremiah’s denunciation of the Jewish priests and prophets, what can be said of Christendom’s religious leaders today? With Jeremiahlike frankness, Jesus gave a description of the Jewish clergy that fits the clergy of Christendom to this day: “They do not practise what they preach . . . Everything they do is done to attract attention . . . like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues.” (Matthew 23:3-7, The Jerusalem Bible) How often we see prominent clergymen and preachers blessing political and nationalistic meetings and rallies with their presence—and sharing the media limelight with the politicians!
7. (a) How are some preachers misleading the masses? (b) What challenge have the clergy avoided?
7 Now, in the age of television, we have TV preachers exploiting that medium with every kind of theatrical trick and psychological device to beguile the masses and empty the pockets of the flock. How appropriate is Jeremiah’s denunciation even now, some 2,600 years later! “For from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them, every one is making for himself unjust gain; and from the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely.” At the same time, none of them want to accept the challenge of the true Christian ministry, face-to-face with the people, from house to house. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses—the anointed Jeremiah class and the “great crowd”—have accepted that responsibility.—Jeremiah 6:13; Acts 20:20, 21.
Is Christendom Saved?
8. Why does Christendom believe that it is beyond Armageddon’s reach?
8 These same TV preachers lull the public into a false sense of security with their indiscriminate use of “born again” and “once saved, always saved” slogans and theology. Millions of people from nearly every religion and sect of Christendom have been led to believe that they are “born again” and “saved.” Unblushing politicians blithely make the same claim. Yes, their favorite preachers tell them that they are at peace with God because they are “saved”—and this in spite of their religious, political, and nationalistic divisions! And the people love it, even as they did in Jeremiah’s day! (Jeremiah 5:31; 14:14) They think they are beyond the reach of God’s Armageddon judgment.—Jeremiah 6:14; 23:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Revelation 16:14, 16.
9. (a) To whom does being “born again” really apply? (b) What does the Bible say about the soul? (For both questions, supply further support from Reasoning From the Scriptures.)
9 However, a careful study of God’s Word and Christ’s teachings shows that only a limited number share the privilege of being born again, born ‘from water and from spirit,’ thus to share heavenly rulership with Christ. (John 3:3-5; Romans 8:16, 17; Revelation 14:1-3) The “great crowd” of true Christians today do not need to be born again, since their hope of everlasting life is earthly, not heavenly. (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4) Furthermore, Christendom’s teaching is based on a false premise—that man has an immortal soul in need of salvation. Nowhere in the Bible is there support for such a doctrine, which is in fact derived from ancient Greek philosophy.*
No Delight in His Word or Name
10. How do many of the clergy view the Bible?
10 There are other points of similarity between ancient Jerusalem and modern Christendom. Jeremiah stated: “Look! The very word of Jehovah has become to them a reproach, in which word they can take no delight.” (Jeremiah 6:10) The clergy prefer to quote philosophers and scientists, rather than the Word of Jehovah. Many are ashamed of the Bible; they even ridicule it by means of their “higher criticism.” They claim that it is myths and legends presented as good literature. (Jeremiah 7:28) And as for its Author’s name, they disdain it. What proof do we have for this assertion?
11. What contrast exists between Christendom and Jeremiah in their use of God’s name?
11 Although the Hebrew tetragrammaton (יהוה) appears nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, the name “Jehovah,” or “Yahweh,” has been replaced in many English Bibles by the anonymous “LORD.” For example, the name is totally omitted from current translations of the Bible in the Afrikaans language. The Spanish Franquesa-Solé translation used the name in its original edition. When the revised version was published, the divine name had disappeared, replaced by Señor (Lord). And even when Christendom’s translations do include God’s name, the clergy seldom use it. Yet, Jeremiah used God’s distinctive name 726 times in his prophetic message!*
The “Queen of Heaven” and Idolatry
12-14. (a) In what zealous activity were Jewish families involved? (b) How did Jehovah view their worship?
12 We find another parallel as we examine Jeremiah’s message to Jerusalem. When Jehovah told his prophet not to pray on behalf of the people, he pointed out why. “Are you not seeing what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The sons are picking up sticks of wood, and the fathers are lighting the fire, and the wives are kneading flour dough.” And in what zealous enterprise was the whole family involved? “To make sacrificial cakes to the ‘queen of the heavens’”!—Jeremiah 7:16-18; 44:15, 19.
13 One Jewish commentary states: “The cult of the ‘queen of heaven’ was eagerly and openly pursued.” Incredibly, the nation of Judah was practicing idolatry, worshiping a pagan goddess, possibly the Babylonian fertility goddess, Ishtar, the third divinity of the Babylonian astral triad. Or this “queen” could have been the corresponding Canaanite goddess, Ashtoreth.—1 Kings 11:5, 33.
14 In addition to this goddess worship, they were indulging in other idolatry. Jehovah condemned them for this, saying: “Why is it that they have offended me with their graven images, with their vain foreign gods?” The indictment continued: “They have not obeyed my voice and have not walked in it, but they kept on walking after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baal images, about which their fathers had taught them.” (Jeremiah 8:19; 9:13, 14) Has Christendom fallen into the same trap?
15. (a) What situation regarding idolatry do we find in Christendom today? Cite local examples. (b) What position on Mary do true Christians take? (See also Reasoning From the Scriptures, pages 254-61.)
15 Visit virtually any church or cathedral—Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox—and you will at least find images of the cross. But in the Catholic and Orthodox realms, there are images of “the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God” in an endless variety of settings and postures.* Every superlative title is heaped upon her, including “Queen of heaven” and “Queen of the universe”!* On the other hand, the Jeremiah class, while respecting Mary as Jesus’ mother and an anointed believer, has carefully followed the apostolic counsel: “Guard yourselves from idols.”—1 John 5:21; Jeremiah 10:14.
Trinity Replaces the One Sovereign Lord Jehovah
16. What teaching made way for the veneration of Mary, and how?
16 ‘But,’ you might ask, ‘how has this worship and veneration of Mary come about?’ By reason of another move by the early apostate church to absorb pagan worshipers. The three-gods-in-one concept was widely held in the pagan world. The ancient Romans had temples with groups of three cells “dedicated to a triad of divinities associated in beliefs and worship. Such was the case of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in the Capitol, consecrated to the Capitoline triad Jupiter-Juno-Minerva.”*
17, 18. (a) What has been suppressed, thus allowing the Trinity teaching to prosper? (b) Give additional arguments from Reasoning From the Scriptures.
17 In order to promote the emerging doctrine of the “Most Holy Trinity” in the third and fourth centuries, it was necessary for the Catholic Church to suppress the Hebrew concept expressed so clearly in Jeremiah’s words: “In no way is there anyone like you, O Jehovah. You are great, and your name is great in mightiness. But Jehovah is in truth God. He is the living God and the King to time indefinite.” Jesus confirmed that understanding when he quoted from the words of Moses: “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.”—Jeremiah 10:6, 10; Mark 12:29; Deuteronomy 6:4.
18 Aided by the Jewish superstition of not pronouncing “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah,” the use of God’s name was dropped by apostate Christendom. This permitted a theological vacuum that the ‘Holy Trinity’ could fill.*
19. (a) What has been the result of Christendom’s acceptance of the Trinity? (b) What fraud was resorted to in order to bolster the Trinity argument?
19 Thus, Christendom has chosen to ‘walk after another god,’ the trinitarian god, that was totally unknown to the Jews and to Christ and true Christians. And to bolster this three-in-one mystery, Christendom’s copyists even resorted to fraud by tampering with the Greek manuscripts.* Furthermore, as a logical consequence of the Trinity teaching, a large section of Christendom has also fallen into the worship or veneration of its “Queen of Heaven.”—Jeremiah 7:17, 18, New International Version.
Clergy Promote Persecution
20, 21. What course have Christendom’s clergy followed, and what questions are now appropriate?
20 In view of the foregoing, Jeremiah’s question is appropriate for Christendom’s clergy: “How can you men say: ‘We are wise, and the law of Jehovah is with us’? Surely, now, the false stylus of the secretaries has worked in sheer falsehood. . . . Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:8, 9) They have rejected Jehovah and his representatives, his witnesses. Just as the priests and prophets persecuted Jeremiah, so the clergy of Christendom have been behind most of the atrocious persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout this century.
21 But why have they promoted this persecution? What have the Witnesses done to provoke their ire and draw their fire? The final article in this series will examine those and related questions.
For further information on suppression of the divine name, see the 32-page brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
The Image of Guadalupe—Myth or Miracle, by Jody Brant Smith, page 6.
The Glories of Mary, by Alphonsus de Liguori, page 424.
Las Grandes Religiones Ilustradas (The Great Religions Illustrated), page 408.
For a study of the Trinity teaching, see Reasoning From the Scriptures, pages 405-26.
1 John 5:7 includes a spurious addition, and Matthew 24:36, which lacks “nor the Son,” is a fraudulent omission. See The Emphatic Diaglott, footnote, page 803, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., and The Codex Sinaiticus and The Codex Alexandrinus, page 27, published by the Trustees of the British Museum.
Do You Recall?
□ How has the modern Jeremiah class been identified?
□ What are some of the parallels between ancient Jerusalem and Christendom?
□ How have the clergy lulled the people into believing that they are at peace with God?
□ What neglect and idolatry have been typical of Christendom?
[Picture on page 16]
In 1938 the Witnesses were denouncing false religion
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Christendom trusts in its time-honored shrines just as the Jews trusted in the temple
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Christendom’s TV preachers lull millions into believing that they are “saved” or “born again”