Quick Comment Superbowl 2013

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I am a College Football Fan. I really don’t pay too much attention to the NFL. Both the teams I wanted to win today did. I was impressed by the solemn attitude of the Raven’s locker room at the end of the game.
Don’t forget to Honor the Lord on what our Nation calls Superbowl Sunday. Sunday is God’s day and He is more majestic than the NFL and he invites you into a more eternally significant time with him. I am not throwing rocks at anyone who loves the game of football. I have been there and will always enjoy a good game.
At the same time Ray Lewis’ quoting scripture out of context just bothers me.
Isa 54:17  No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
I am not against Ray Lewis and don’t know anything about him but I would caution against what RL is doing. I know others who have done what he is doing with the same passage and fell to a blindness and disillusionment because of scripture twisting.

A good friend of mine posted this to me in light of the above..

  • You might read this SI piece. A big theme is that Ray Lewis was raised without a father, a big wound for him.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1108943/1/index.htm
    Thanks for the read Gary. Parents are the greatest hindrances and motivators in a child’s life. Kid’s with great parents make horrendous decisions and some kids with terrible parents go on to become some of the greatest inspirations. The truth sets us free. I would personally warn others that the way Mr. Lewis uses scripture might not be truth the way he is using it.  It seem that his use of Isaiah 54:17 might just be some mode for self motivation. Kind of like a name it claim it cult would do to hype themselves up. I hope that isn’t true but the scripture and context seem to indicate that.
    • I hope I am not being ungracious. Sunday Football bothers me as much as NASCAR. And I like them both. Our Nation has fallen sequentially and in parallel with how we regard the significance of the Lord’s day. Mr. Lewis’ and Sunday recreational sports just might be a tool used by the Devil to keep people away from what God has commanded. And Mr. Lewis is making his proclamation of scripture declaring there is a blessing upon him as he is violating the Lord’s day. This seems to be in conflict. I wonder if Ray Lewis remembers Psalm 66:18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:  There was a time when our Nation was concerned about profaning the Lord’s day.  There are still Blue Laws on record in some states.
    • Psalm 66:18 and Isaiah 58 goads my conscience often. It appears we are ever growing less conscientious of God’s will concerning His desire for a Day he has set apart for us to worship and fellowship sacramentally for our benefit.   
    • There was a time when the Lord’s Day was recognized as a Holy Day appointed and desired by God for our good. The Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath as Jesus noted.  We are losing our goodness because we are seeing recreation as Holy instead of participating in His Holy calling. Does any of that make sense my friends?
       We as a nation are searing our conscious’ from knowing and doing the things that please God and keep us set in the Covenantal conditions God set up for us to behave so that we might receive his blessings. We have neglected the lesser things and now we are dealing with a Nation with No conscience that is killing its own children in the womb and forcing the Church to pay for it under persecution. We have fallen far. We are reaping what we have sown. We are the frogs in the pot of boiling water slowly allowing ourselves to be killed.  
      We can seek for repentance but we will have to seek for a heart to be  willing to sacrifice for the good of life.  This will not be an easy repentance since the Leadership of this land has turned its back defiantly toward God.  

      1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
      1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
      1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
      1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
      1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

      This repentance will have to come through Christ our Mediatorial King over all things.

      .

Did Jason really know the Gospel and Presbyterian Covenant Theology?

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Pastor Gordon,

To avoid blog wars with the discussion Forum I moderate I need to separate myself from it and express that these are my musings separate of that Confessional Discussion Forum.

This is in response to your post here.

http://christopherjgordon.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-problem-of-theological-narcissism.html

You wrote…

 “Jason did understand the gospel and decided it was not the answer for him. I repeat, it was not that he misunderstood it, and has departed in ignorance. Jason grasped it, confessed it, was ordained to it, promised to defend it, and then defected consciously from the system of doctrine he promised to uphold. “

Note to a Pastor,

In all due respect I have a few problems with your blog concerning Jason Stellman and his turning to the Roman Papist Church.  Yes, you may know Jason.  I have been acquainted with him for years also.  If you mean he knew the Gospel the way that Horton and his Clan know the Gospel then I would have to say that Jason knew a Truncated Gospel.  Especially in light of how Dr. Michael Horton defines it in his three minute clip on YouTube and the Westminster California site.  I have listened to him and the White Horse Inn Panel for hours discussing the Great Commission and the Gospel.  I believe that poor Jason had a Truncated view of the Gospel and Covenant Theology.

Your attention drawing to Jason’s Narcissism is quite commendable if you are spot on.  If it is a man trying to strive to know what he believes then you might be incorrect.   I have seen this departure happen with other Presbyterians also.  I actually address some of this situation and issues on a theological discussion forum that brought your blog to my attention.   Gotta love Dr. Clark..

Dr. Scott Clark states…

The ISSUES should be engaged. I’ve been doing that on the HB. Responsible representatives of the Roman church should be engaged but not everyone speaking up just now meets that test.

I responded with this…

Jason might not be considered one who meets that test. But he is one who is being noted. He is worthy to be dealt with just as the Papists that Calvin dealt with in his time.

Having watched Jason do what he did I have to say that I can understand why some people get mixed up sometimes. At least Jason has the integrity to voice his understanding. Is he cocky? Maybe. I know many of our kind who have been accused of being ungracious and know-it-alls also. Okay, my hand can be raised on that also.

I have had a few friends cross from the Presbyterian side to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and the New Paul Perspective due to a struggle with trying to understand Covenant Theology in relation to law and gospel (or grace). Some of you might not remember or know but I use to moderate another theological forum that was a split off from the PB.  I use to Moderate the Reformation Super Highway and the PB at the same time. The RSH was a home of things departing from what it means to be Reformed. I didn’t understand why they were doing it. It was hard for me since I was a Reformed Baptist. Law and Gospel were opposed but then I wasn’t as sure how it all worked out. I understand it a bit more now I think……. Well, maybe….. I can honestly say they all abandoned a form of Lutheranism or various dichotomous views of Law and Gospel which have been formulated based upon an interpretation (hermeneutic) concerning the Mosaic Covenant. I believe it is a view that the Westminster Divines rejected as it was a Minority view when they were constructing the Biblical Confession. I also believe that some of this wayward confusion could have been prevented if these persons learned the Westminster Confession’s position on Chapter 7.5,6 a bit more. I could be wrong. (BTW, I don’t sense that all Papists or deceived people are going to Hell. That is just my estimation) I also don’t feel it is right to give a free pass to those who deny the Westminster on this point. Especially when they are by name attached to Westminsterian theology and Institution. Some people are doing that in my estimation. It is confusing a lot of people. I also believe it is part of the problem. I am patiently waiting to see how this issue is going to turn out as it is being brought to the forefront more and more daily. I do know men who have Doctorates, are Professors, Teachers of History and Systematic Theology, whom I have conferred with and with whom I agree that this issue has a root problem. I believe it stems from a poor understanding of the Mosaic Covenant and dichotomizing Law and Gospel too much.

I was recently reminded that the Law / Gospel dichotomy issue was what helped me see this issue initially. So maybe…. Just maybe… It will do the same for others.  This issue is like watching a pendulum of a Grandfather clock to me.  The pendulum has swung one way (Federal Vision, NPP, etc.). It swung hard away from it (Klineanism).  Now it is going back the other way again. It saddens me. The Divines at the Westminster Assembly got it right and rejected the minority view, Roman Catholicism, and Antinomiansm. This swinging of the pendulum just needs to stop and we need to listen to the Westminster Divines in my estimation. They had to deal with it also. Oh yeah, and Bavinck also does a good job when he discusses the Reformed doctrine in comparison to the Lutheran doctrine (not necessarily Luther’s doctrine) of soteriology.

I am positive that I don’t meet the test to discuss issues in some people’s eyes. I fully understand why. I do know good men who are, have, and will meet the test. Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy There are many good laymen and Trained men who are capable.

As a side note. I am not fearful of Jason’s departure. I am saddened for him, His physical family, and His Church family members. As for addressing those who are competent on Roman Dogma….. Didn’t Calvin take on Roman Dogma by using the Church Fathers that the Papists claimed? The Papists back then were refuted by Calvin. Why not use Jason the same way? His distortions can be reproved and shown for what they are. Just like the Papists were refuted when Calvin confronted them by quoting their Church Fathers back to them in context.

A turning to Idolatry is never a good thing. Anyone who wants to be deceived by love for icons, Popish Ceremonies, or carnality are going to be. We have idolatry growing all around us. My advice is read Gillespies’ book Popish Ceremonies, try to discuss it calmly with them, then hand them a copy hoping that they will read it. Love them as your friends. That will go farther than getting upset with them and claiming they are brain dead and unfit for discussing it.

Randy

My opinion of your blog post is that you might have some things put down correctly but I believe you are missing the mark on a few major issues.  It is my opinion.  And I have been saying for the past 25 years that opinions are like armpits.  We all have a few and they usually end up stinking.  LOL.

JMHO….

Be Encouraged Pastor and everyone who suffered through this.,

P.S. I want one of those Icons (bobble heads) of Jason!  That is Rockin Cool!

I am so saddened for my Children at this time.

In light of the 2012 political elections in the United (not really in heart) States of America…

I miss my Commander and Chief who recognized evil, Ronald Reagan. Atheism, Communism, and Socialism are creeping into our country. My President Ronald Reagan believed in the Ten Commandments and saw the Blessing and common grace God pours upon those who seek to keep His Law.

At the same time I have not put my hope in man. It is solidly upon the Lord. He is the Mediatorial King over all and He has all authority.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,… (1 Timothy 2:1-5)

I appreciated this counsel from Pastor Steve Bradley who posted this quote from Charles Spurgeon.
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“Do not watch the clouds or consult the wind; in season and out of season witness for the Savior, and if it transpires that for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s you must endure suffering in any shape, do not shrink, but rejoice in the honor conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord. And find joy also in this—that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform from which with more vigor and with greater power you will witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great example, and be filled with His Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory.”- Charles Spurgeon

(1Ti 4:13-16) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

We have sinned as a Nation. Including Me. We have become like sinful Israel. Now we will reap what we have sown. We are becoming forsaken by God and going down the path of Romans Chapter 1:18-32 and we will be cut off from Grace and Mercy if we don’t repent and call Evil what it is.
‎”They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off” (Hos. 8:4).

(Gal 6:7-10) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

(Pro 14:34) Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

(2Ch 7:13-14) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

I am in tears over the condition of our people and how we are voting for murdering unborn children, recreational marijuana usage, and sexual sin to be accepted norms. We are so fallen from grace and mercy.  The thing that bothers me most is that my Children are going to reap what we have sown and our Grandchildren are going to pay a really big price of debt for our sin.  We have forsaken God who is our lover.  How can we keep forsaking TRUE LOVE and not reap what we sow?  Christ paid a big price to bring us to Himself.  Why are we forsaking Him and His Law?

Please hear me. Repent. There is no goodness in man when he forsakes God. He is cutting himself off from the very image he was created in.

Dr. Gamble on Two Kingdom Theology.

I am posting a link to the Puritanboard here so that instructions are included for listening to the Video Webinar.  It might have an echo and I already posted on that.  This is a very important subject now days in my estimation.  Please enjoy this discussion by Dr. Richard Gamble from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  Also remember that this is a general synopsis. It will not hit everyone who holds to Two Kingdoms. The terminology of Two Kingdom is also used in different ways by others.  Calvin mentioned a Two fold Government. Calvin used those terms interchangeably if I am not mistaken. Anyways, enjoy this.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/critique-two-kingdom-theology-dr-richard-gamble-lecture-76540/#post973728

I will still post the direct link.  But….

If you get an echo just click on the pause button in the middle of the video panel. Go to the bottom right of the page and mute the sound on the bottom sound icon. Then click play again. It will eliminate the double voicing. I was getting an Echo with my Google browser.

https://www.fuzemeeting.com/replay_meeting/bffa2e59/2761243

BTW, There are a few hiccups with the feed about 30 minutes in. They pass after a minute or two.

Truth, Intolerance, and Motive. Is Doctrinal Truth more Important than Motive?

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Certainly with regard to Paul himself there should be no debate; Paul certainly was not indifferent to doctrine; on the contrary, doctrine was the very basis of his life. His devotion to doctrine did not, it is true, make him incapable of a magnificent tolerance. One notable example of such tolerance is to be found during his imprisonment at Rome, as attested by the Epistle to the Philippians. Apparently certain Christian teachers at Rome had been jealous of Paul’s greatness. As long as he had been at liberty they had been obliged to take a secondary place; but now that he was in prison, they seized the supremacy. They sought to raise up affliction for Paul in his bonds; they preached Christ even of envy and strife. In short, the rival preachers made of the preaching of the gospel a means to the gratification of low personal ambition; it seems to have been about as mean a piece of business as could well be conceived. But Paul was not disturbed. “Whether in presence, or in truth,” he said, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1. 18). The way in which the preaching was being carried on was wrong, but the message itself was true; and Paul was far more interested in the content of the message than in the manner of its presentation. It is impossible to conceive a finer piece of broadminded tolerance.

But the tolerance of Paul was not indiscriminate. He displayed no tolerance, for example, in Galatia. There, too, there were rival preachers.  But Paul had no tolerance for them. “But though we,” he said, “or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1. 8). What is the reason for the difference in the apostle’s attitude in the two cases? What is the reason for the broad tolerance in Rome, and the fierce anathemas in Galatia? The answer is perfectly plain. In Rome, Paul was tolerant, because there the content of the message that was being proclaimed by the rival teachers was true; in Galatia he was intolerant, because there the content of the rival message was false. In neither case did personalities have anything to do with Paul’s attitude. No doubt the motives of the Judaizers in Galatia were far from pure, and in an incidental way Paul does point out their impurity. But that was not the ground of his opposition. The Judaizers no doubt were morally far from perfect, but Paul’s opposition to them would have been exactly the same if they had all been angels from heaven. His opposition was based altogether upon the falsity of their teaching; they were substituting for the one true gospel a false gospel which was no gospel at all. It never occurred to Paul that a gospel might be true for one man and not for another; the blight of pragmatism had never fallen upon his soul. Paul was convinced of the objective truth of the gospel message, and devotion to that truth was the great passion of his life. Christianity for Paul was not only a life, but also a doctrine, and logically the doctrine came first.

But what was the difference between the teaching of Paul and the teaching of the Judaizers? What was it that gave rise to the stupendous polemic of the Epistle to the Galatians? To the modern Church the difference would have seemed to be a mere theological subtlety. About many things the Judaizers were in perfect agreement with Paul. The Judaizers believed that Jesus was the Messiah; there is not a shadow of evidence that they objected to Paul’s lofty view of the person of Christ. Without the slightest doubt, they believed that Jesus had really risen from the dead. They believed, moreover, that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation. But the trouble was, they believed that something else was also necessary; they believed that what Christ had done needed to be pieced out by the believer’s own effort to keep the Law. From the modern point of view the difference would have seemed to be very slight. Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith. The difference concerned only the logical—not even, perhaps, the temporal—order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God the best he can, and then (3) is justified. The difference would seem to modern “practical” Christians to be a highly subtle and intangible matter, hardly worthy of consideration at all in view of the large measure of agreement in the practical realm. What a splendid cleaning up of the Gentile cities it would have been if the Judaizers had succeeded in extending to those cities the observance of the Mosaic law, even including the unfortunate ceremonial observances! Surely Paul ought to have made common cause with teachers who were so nearly in agreement with him; surely he ought to have applied to them the great principle of Christian unity.

As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist today. Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.

Paul certainly was right. The differences which divided him from the Judaizers was no mere theological subtlety, but concerned the very heart and core of the religion of Christ.

“Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me”

—that was what Paul was contending for in Galatia; that hymn would never have been written if the Judaizers had won. And without the thing which that hymn expresses there is no Christianity at all.

J. Gresham Machen.
Christianaity and Liberalsim.
pp. 16-18

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The Teachings of Christian Science by Dr. John H. Gerstner

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From retired Pastor Joe Gwynn,

A project of mine this summer has been to type four out-of-print works by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner. They are critiques of four prominent cults that ensnare thousands of unwary people. They (the booklets) are carefully footnoted and therefore can be defended with confidence. In them you will learn things (especially about their founders and history) that many of their proponents who come knocking at your door either do not know or will not admit. My purpose was to make these booklets (25-30 pages each) available for free downloading and distribution.

They are:
· The Teachings of Mormonism
· The Teachings of Seventh-day Adventism
· The Teachings of Christian Science
· The Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, the favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent historian and Reformed theologian, Dr. Gerstner also wrote several excellent books, including my favorite “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”, an excellent critique of Dispensationalism.

In the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ,
Joe Gwynn 

If you want this in Word format email me.
RMS

The Teachings of

Christian Science

John H. Gerstner

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, a favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent Reformed theologian, scholar, and historian, Dr. Gerstner wrote many good books.

Contents
Introduction …………………………….……………………..….…………. Page 2
1. Description and History of Christian Science …………….…. Page 3
2. Doctrines of Christian Science .………………..….………..…….. Page 15
3. Terms Frequently Used by the Christian Scientists ……….. Page 19
4. For Further Reading ……………………………………………………. Page 20
5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines …….………….. Page 21
6. Brief Definitions of the Sects …………….………………………… Page 24

Introduction

The abundance of literature on various “sects” shows that there is great interest in the subject. But what is a sect? We must make our definition clear, for there is wide difference of opinion on its meaning.

Evangelicals generally use sect when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles … especially the deity of Christ and His atonement. This booklet is written from the evangelical perspective.

The teachings of Christian Science is designed as a ready reference booklet. It is meant to be a quick guide to the wealth of literature on this subject, and it includes a valuable table and glossary.

The general exposition in the first chapter gives an easily-grasped overview of the sect. The following chapter, “Doctrines of Christian Science” provides the reference material which summarizes the first chapter and adds some more technical data. Chapter two contains the basic theological structure of Christian Science stated objectively and concisely. The text itself gives a fuller exposition of some of the cardinal points outlined in the first chapter.

Chapter three. “Terms Frequently Used by Christian Scientists,” gives some of the most common terms in the vocabulary of this sect. Sects often have their own precise definitions for common religious words, and the glossary makes this immediately evident.

Chapter four, “For Further Reading,” lists both primary and secondary sources for further study of the theology and practice of the sect.

A summary of the essential teachings of traditional Christianity appears in chapter five. This summary is included to provide a basis for comparison with the doctrines of Christian Science. This chapter is designed to be used as a frame of reference.

To make the theologies of different sects clearer, their teachings have been summarized in the “Chart of Comparative Doctrines” at the end of chapter six. This tabular outline classifies the doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventists, and continuing with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Scientists, this chart allows the reader to see at a glance the position of each group on various Christian doctrines.

1. Description and History of Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy

A devout sharp-tempered Calvinist, surer of hell fire than of his crops and seasons, he believed in its extreme form the awful doctrine that the majority of the human race were destined to eternal damnation. From this dark and forbidding view of human destiny a serene and cultivated wife and six healthy children, three of either sex, failed to detach him. Then a seventh child was born, She was a girl and received the name of Mary.[1]

H. A. L. Fisher hints at what the evidence itself shouts. The ideas of Mary Baker Eddy (Eddy) were a reaction against the Reformed faith of her father.

Indeed, the whole history of the sect could have as its golden text the word of the apostle Paul: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”[2]

Mary Baker Eddy was not the only one to rebel against the Reformed faith; the same was also true of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons. His parents had not been as attached to it as Mary Baker’s, but it was the same basic tradition of the churches with which he was familiar. Seventh-day Adventist William Miller was actually a Calvinist, but was unwilling to be bound by its eschatological restraints. We know that Charles Taze Russell (of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) was reared as a Covenanter. The “chaos of the cults” is a somber study in rebellion.

At twelve years of age, Mary was denying predestination and other truths while being admitted to the Congregational Church at Tilton, New Hampshire. The next years were largely spent nursing ills, having unpleasant stays with relatives and friends, and acquiring two husbands. In 1843 she married George Washington Glover, who died in 1844. In 1845 their son was born, the only child Mary ever had. It can hardly be said that she brought him up, however, for he was sent off to school and farmed out with relatives. The saying was that Mary did not seem to care for her lamb. In 1853 she entered into an unhappy marriage with a dentist named Patterson, who apparently was not fond of her chronic sickness. When he left her, she said it was for another woman. Georgine Milmine says it was because he could stand her no longer.

Phineas P. Quimby

Before this separation took place, however, the turning point in Mary Baker Glover Patterson’s life had taken place. In 1862 the ailing woman was healed by Phineas P. Quimby at the International Hotel in Portland, Maine. Who was Quimby? According to H. A. L. Fisher, “Phineas P. Quimby was one of those adventurers, more common perhaps in the New World than the Old, who, navigating the sea of knowledge without the charts and compass of education, end always by discovering to their own intimate satisfaction results which have eluded the wisdom of the ages.”[3] On this voyage without charts one thing Quimby had discovered was that people are often healed by a little dose of psychology and a big dose of mesmerism. So, he dubbed Mrs. Patterson’s head after putting his hands in water, and then put her to sleep. When she awoke, all sickness was gone. This made her a grateful patient and faithful disciple, dedicating her life to preaching the Quimby gospel of salvation. For the next years she devoted herself to propagating Quimbyism.

What was Mrs. Patterson doing in the years 1864-1870? These were the “wander years” during which she went from home to home, creating more or less trouble in almost every one of them. She was teaching the Quimby “science” of healing, using for this purpose a manuscript which she said had been written by “Dr. P. P. Quimby” and having her students copy it, while she guarded it most jealously. There is an unbroken chain of witnesses and affidavits and other evidences to prove this important fact beyond a doubt.[4]
The manuscript she used for her teaching was a copy of Quimby. George A. Quimby of Belfast, Me., has lent the writer one of his father’s manuscripts, entitled “Questions and Answers.” This is in the handwriting of Mr. Quimby’s mother, the wife of Phineas P. Quimby, and is dated, in Mrs. Quimby’s handwriting, February, 1862 – nine months before Mrs. Eddy’s first visit to Portland.[5]

The evidence that Eddyism was really Quimbyism is substantial. First, there was the Rev. W. F. Evans, who in 1869 wrote a book entitled The Mental Cure. According to Edwin Dakin, this volume is important “in any consideration of Mrs. Eddy’s career, for it shows indubitably the wealth of inspiration which Quimby generated.” Dakin’s opinion is in line with with Milmine, Snowden, and others, who cite statements such as this from Evans: “Disease being in its root a wrong belief, change that belief and we cure the disease. By faith we are thus made whole.” Second, there was Andrew Jackson Davis, who had the same ideas which Mrs. Eddy later developed, as Snowden clearly shows. Third, we have Julius A. Dresser, an early student of Quimby and father of New Thought. His True History of Mental Science is a strong argument for Mrs. Eddy’s dependence on Quimby. Fourth, not only are the ideas Quimby’s, but
the very language seems adopted from the same source. “The key words of Mrs. Eddy’s book, ‘science,’ ‘truth,’ ‘principle,’ mind,’ ‘error,’ ‘matter,’ ‘belief,’ which she uses in a peculiar sense as a kind of jargon or lingo, are all derived from Quimby who used them in the same peculiar sense.”[6] Still, there was a glaring difference between Quimby and Mrs. Eddy: Quimby seems not to have used religion in his healing, while Mrs. Eddy was first and foremost a religious theorist.[7] This difference between Quimbyism and Eddyism is emphasized by W. F. Evans in his book, Mental Medicine, published in 1872. After giving Quimby credit for great success in healing, he continues: “But all this was only an exhibition of the force of suggestion, or the action of the law of faith, over a patient in the impressionable condition.”

The Christian Science Church

In any case, the crisis in Mrs. Patterson’s life was now past. Whatever the source of her new theology, it was now hers and it made her, and made Christian Science. In 1866, she said, Christian Science was discovered.[8] She continued to work, applying its principles and teaching others (for substantial fees) at Lynn, Massachusetts, until 1882. Meanwhile, in 1875, she had bought a house, published her first edition of Science and Health, and with eight others formed “The Christian Scientists.” In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, who was a good enough businessman to see that the second edition of Science and Health paid. In the same year the new movement’s name was changed to “Christian Science Association.” A couple of years later it was organized as the Christian Science Church. In 1882, the prophetess moved to the hub of her universe, Boston, after organizing the Metaphysical College and publishing the third edition of Science and Health. But, great healer that she was, she could not change her husband’s mind about dying. She attributed his death to MAM, malicious animal magnetism, or mental murder,[9] the same cause to which she later told her followers to attribute to her own death.

The rest of Mrs. Eddy’s life was a triumphal procession among her own ranks, while suffering constantly from enemy magnetism. Her admirers go to extremes in their description of her marvelous achievements. Others, not admirers, are prepared to grant that Mrs. Eddy’s rise in fortune, power, and influence was truly outstanding. In spite of all this, she moved from place to place to escape the relentless mental persecution. It was this persecution, apparently, which made her leave Boston in 1889, and which probably made her move to Concord to Newton in 1908, and which finally killed her in 1913. At least that is what the official verdict was, according to the dying wishes of Mrs. Eddy, as revealed in this conversation with her trusted associate Dickey: “Mr. Dickey, if I should ever leave here, will you promise me that you will say that I was mentally murdered?’ ‘Yes, Mother.’”[10]

Since Mrs. Eddy

Since Mrs. Eddy – what? Altman Swihart has written a book bearing that title, in which he discusses only two major divisions in Christian Science since Mrs. Eddy – those of Mrs. Stetson and Mrs. Bill. These are only two of many. In spite of many divisions, however, the movement which has centered in the Mother Church has continued and grown. It is difficult to prove that it has grown as much as some Scientists and others claim. Indeed, “Mrs. Eddy in a Message to her Church in 1901, answering a critic of her work, challenged him to match a record which could start thirty years ago without a Christian Scientist on earth, and in this interval number one million.”[11] Fisher quotes an American writer who, in 1912, said “there were then ten thousand Christian Science healers in the United States, and an annual supply of some six million Christian Science patients.”[12] Probably it was such figures which gave Mark Twain a scare and made him prophecy:

It is a reasonable safe guess that in America in 1920 there will be ten million Christian Scientists, and three million in Great Britain; that these figures will be trebled in 1930, that in America in 1930 politically formidable, and in 1940 the governing power of the Republic – to remain that, permanently. And I think it a reasonable guess that the Trust … will then be the most insolent and unscrupulous and tyrannical politico-religious master that has dominated a people since the palmy days of the Inquisition.[13]

Riley and Snowden noted years ago that the expansion of Christian Science was largely among “the richest pay streak of our civilization.” Christian Science has an overwhelming preponderance of its members in cities and of the female sex. Studies also reveal that although this is a “cult of American ladies,” women do not hold positions of top leadership; that although most of its converts are not poor, they do not represent many influential people of the cities; that those studying Christina Science exceed those adhering to it; and that nearly all of the converts come from the churches rather than from the world.

A Look at Mary Baker Eddy

So much for Mary Baker Eddy’s religious movement. What shall we think of Mary Baker Eddy? What did she think of herself? A recent Christian Scientist, Arthur Todd, asks if Christian Scientists worship Mrs. Eddy. “Do they consider her another Christ?” The answer, he says, is an emphatic NO!”[14] Then he appeals to Mrs. Eddy herself in support of this modest attitude:

In a letter to the New York Herald just after the original Mother Church Edifice was dedicated, she wrote: “A dispatch is given me, calling for an interview to answer for myself, “Am I the second Christ?’ Even the question shocks me. What I am is for God to declare His infinite mercy. As it is, I claim nothing more than what I am, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and the blessing it has been to mankind which eternity enfolds … There was, is, and never can be but one God, one Christ, one Jesus of Nazareth …”[15]

But let us compare this seemingly modest demurer with the following letter she wrote to her devoted Mrs. Stetson:

Darling Augusta, My Precious Child … Jesus was the man that was a prophet and the best and greatest man that ever has appeared on earth, but Jesus was not Christ, for Christ is the spiritual individual that the eye cannot see. Jesus was called Christ only in the sense that you say, a Godlike man. I am only a Godlike woman, God-anointed, and I have done a work that none other can do. As Paul was not understood and Jesus was not understood at the time they taught and demonstrated, so I am not. As following them and obeying them blessed all who did thus – so obeying me and following faithfully blesses all who do this …”[16]

This would surely support Mrs. Stetson’s own view of Mary Baker Eddy which she expresses thus: “Christ Jesus was the masculine representative of the fatherhood of God. In this age Mary Baker Eddy is the feminine representative of the motherhood of God.’ “[17]

To be fair to the Christian Scientists we must say that the present Christian Science organization disowns Mr. Stetson and her followers. Our later discussion of the Scientist doctrine of Christ will make it clear that the difference between Jesus and other Christians is a matter of degree. The above statements indicate that even that degree of difference hardly existed between Jesus and Mr. Eddy. In perfect consistency with her high opinion of herself, she could run her affairs thus: “At two day’s notice any member of three years’ standing or upwards might be ordered, on pain of excommunication, to serve in Mrs. Eddy’s household for a period of more than three years. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’ was the text quoted in support …”[18] All of these charges reveal the truth of Snowden’s observation: “The most serious allegations pertaining to Mr. Eddy are sustained by her own words found in her acknowledged writings, for in such matters she is always the most damaging witness against herself.”

So much for Mary Baker Eddy, the woman. What of Mary Baker Eddy, the author? In her own opinion she was the woman of Revelation 12,[19] the custodian of the key to the Scriptures. We have already noted her unacknowledged dependence on Quimby. And Snowden points out her more than coincidental likeness to Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers.

The Shakers always prayed to “Our Father and Mother which is in heaven,” while Mrs. Eddy’s “spirituality interpreted” version of The Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father- Mother God.” The Shakers proclaimed Ann Lee to be the woman of the Apocalypse, and Mrs. Eddy made the same suggestion with reference to herself. The Shakers called Ann Lee “Mother,” and Mrs. Eddy arrogated this name to herself and forbade her followers to bestow it upon others, although afterwards she withdrew the privilege of applying it to herself and denied that she had ever authorized such use. The Shakers called Ann Lee was inspired, and Mrs. Eddy made the same claim. Ann Lee declared that she had the gift of healing, and this was Mrs. Eddy’s chief stock in trade. The Shakers called their organization “The Church of Christ,” and Mrs. Eddy adopted this name with the addition of “Scientist.” The Shakers forbade audible prayer, and Mrs. Eddy disapproved of it and has none of it, in her services. Ann Lee enjoyed celibacy, and Mrs. Eddy, though practicing marriage liberally herself, discouraged it in others.[20]

One volume on Christian Science is entitled, Mary Baker Eddy Purloins from Hegel. That she would not hesitate to steal a sermon is clear from a comparison of her writing with a sermon on Blair. We pass over the fact that she could not make two sentences fit together, she and almost all her critics saying that there is never any reason why one sentence of hers follows rather than precedes another. And not only do they stand in hopeless relationships, but in themselves many of the sentences convey nothing but equivocation and ambiguity. And all this she seems to have intended.[21] The secret of the success of Science and Health, it seems to us, is its overpowering use of repetition. Asher friend Bronson Alcott said: “No one but a woman or a fool cold have written it.”[22]

The Theology of Christian Science

What is the basic nature of the Christian Science system? A recognized Christian Science authority answers this way: “… it is a restatement of primitive Christianity – without the creeds, rituals and dogmas which have grown up through various interpretations of those teachings.”[23] The contention is thus that Christian Science is primitive, pure, uninterpreted Christianity versus creedal, impure, interpreted Christianity. Of course, any system must be an interpretation; it may be more or less sound interpretation, but interpretation is must be. And those sects which do (and virtually all sects do) claim to be purely uninterpreted Christianity are simply claiming infallibility for their interpretation and fallibility and error for all others.

Why, then, has it had an attraction for Christians? Some Christians are attracted to it because there is an element of Christianity in Christian Science which could deceive the very elect. “A pseudoscience does not necessarily consist wholly of lies. It contains many truths and even valuable ones.”[24] Here was, to adapt the expression from Trueblood, a cut-flower mortality in part, for “though she [Mrs. Eddy] had liberated herself at an early age from the formidable terrors of the Calvinistic creed, she stood for temperance and strict living.”[25] It is this moral note which constitutes the attractiveness of Christian Science.

What is the source of authority in Christian Science? The Bible alone? Clearly not, because Mary Baker Eddy had to provide a key to the Bible. Is her Key to the Scriptures the source of authority? No, because there are different keys to the Key. Mrs. Stetson thought she had the key to the Key and Mrs. Bill was sure she had it, and a number of others have said that they had it. But the corporation founded by Mary Baker Eddy claims to have the Key – the only Key to the Key. And most Christian Scientists agree with this claim. So Christian Scientists are those who recognize the Mother Church and its hierarchy. This is their source of authority.

This keeper of the Key to the Key rejects criticism and refuses to admit error. All this is quite suavely defended by Mr. Todd:

Not unnaturally the dramatic emergence and spread of Christian Science as a major religious phenomenon of the last eighty years finds expression in a multifarious literature. Books, pamphlets, and periodical articles abound, some ignorantly hostile, some malicious, some well intentioned but inaccurate. Hence it has become necessary to set up in library cataloguing two categories, ‘authorized’ (i.e., Mrs. Eddy’s own writing or publications of The Christian Publishing Society) and ‘unauthorized’ (miscellaneous publications of varied derivation and content).[26]

As a result of this censorship policy, note what has happened to Christian Science literature, to Science and Health itself. Snowden said that he had “not been able to obtain or even to see a copy of the first edition of Science and Health, although he applied for it to the Christian Science publishers and headquarters, but Miss Milmine gives an extended quotation from it that bears the marks of its being in Mrs. Eddy’s own unaided style …”[27] ‘The first edition of Science and Health has been so far as possible suppressed.’”[28]

Then there is the matter of the life of Mrs. Eddy. Miss Wilbur wrote an “authoritative” life of Mary Baker Eddy, virtually devoid of documentary evidence. Miss Milmine wrote a scholarly life of Mrs. Eddy: “the copyright was eventually purchased by a friend of Christian Science, and the plates from which the book was printed were destroyed, according to information which appears to be authentic and accurate. The author has been informed that the original manuscript was also acquired.”[29] Julius Dresser finally published the Quimby manuscripts and showed whence came Eddyism. According to Dakin, “The first edition of this very valuable work, which contained the letters which the then Mrs. Patterson addressed to Dr. Quimby, is already exceedingly rare. Copies are available in the Library of Congress, the New York Publishing Library, and the Boston Public Library. The second edition, with the letters missing, is readily available in most public libraries and from the publishers.” Tomlinson’s Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, carry the imprimatur of the Christian Science Publishing Company. But what happened to the witness of another who knew Mrs. Eddy but wrote about her less favorably? It is said that Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy by Adam Dickey was published by his widow three years after the author’s death. Mrs. Dickey was a member of the Mother Church in good standing, and was promptly persuaded to withdraw the publication. All copies were recalled. The Dickey account of the atmosphere in Mrs. Eddy’s home and the occurrences there forms one of the most extraordinary documents in her history, for it is the work of a loyal disciple who served in Mrs. Eddy’s household for several years and died as one of the ruling officials of the church.

In any system the doctrine of God is utterly crucial; this is nowhere more apparent than in Christian Science. God is all. God is the “All-in-all.” God is good. These statements are reiterated time and time again by Mary Baker Eddy and other Scientists. This pantheistic notion obviously and explicitly rules out al individuality, all materiality, all evil, all sickness, indeed, all. For, if God is all, all is nothing but God. “Limitless personality is inconceivable,” we are taught in No and Yes.[30] One divine personality is objectionable enough; tripersonality is that much more offensive to Scientists. “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity of Tri-unity) suggests, says Marty Baker Eddy, polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I am.”[31] Another Christian Science author has written: “By the Trinity, Christian Scientists mean the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but do not accept the Trinity as three persons in one. Life, Truth, and Love are ‘the triune personality called God.’ (Science and Health).”[32]

The Christian Science view of Christ is obvious from all this, as well as from what was said earlier about the person of Mrs. Eddy. “Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea, hence the duality of Jesus the Christ.” Science and Health teaches that “the Christian believes that Christ is God … Jesus Christ is not God.”[33] “No wonder Mrs. Eddy wrote to her friend and disciple, Judge Hanna, ‘I have marveled at the press’s and pulpit’s patience with me when I have taken away their Lord.’”[34]

In all this pantheism, where does evil come in? Answer: it doesn’t. It is ruled out, that is, thought out. Albert Gilmore explains why evil cannot exist (though this is not quite true to Christian Science form): “Could God’s handiwork ever become less than perfect, we should have the impossible situation of imperfection from infinite perfection.” This is a valid statement of a real philosophical puzzle. However, pantheistic Christian Science has no doctrine of God’s “handiwork” … that is a creation notion, not an emanation doctrine. Precisely because the good God is all, and all is God, therefore all is good, and therefore there could not possibly be evil. Evil is an illusion; or, as the Scientists put it: “All sin is insanity in different degrees.”

If God, who is spiritual, is all, then nothing unscriptural can exist. Matter, therefore, cannot exist. If matter cannot exist, certainly an aberration of matter, called sickness, cannot exist. By a wave of her metaphysical wand, Mary Baker Eddy banishes sin, sickness, and suffering forever from the universe. Christ had to go to the cross to do that, but Mrs. Eddy had only to sit and ponder. Having received this command from the general, Gilmore and the other lieutenants rush in with the announcement: “Sin and disease are figments of the moral or carnal mind, to be destroyed, healed, by knowing their unreality.”[35] But which is greater to say: “Arise, take up thy bed and walk,” or, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”? Christian Science finds both of these equally easy. It heals men by assuring them that they are not sick, and it saves men by assuring them that they have never sinned. “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished as long as the belief lasts … Furthermore, since the real man has never departed from his original state of perfection, he is not in need of salvation. He is saved now, and reposing in the bosom of the Father; he has always been saved – that is, as God’s idea, the expression of Mind, man is forever held in the divine consciousness.”[36] “Not the image of God, the real man, but the mortal, the counterfeit, is in dire need of salvation from the constrictions, false beliefs, and limitations which so generally attach themselves to the material sense of man.”[37]

Practices of Christian Scientists

Now that this gospel of complete spiritual and mental health is an actual and present possession needing only to be realized, it is carried through with a certain degree of consistency. First, Christian Science promotes a calm and poised exterior, as was illustrated by the man who left Christian Science because he “ ‘got tired of being so monotonously happy.’ “[38]Second, Christian Science frowns on hospitals: “Do Christian Scientists go to hospitals? The teaching and faith of Christian Science reject medical treatment. To the extent that a man or woman relies on material methods of healing, he or she is not relying fully on Christian Science.”[39] Third, Christian Science does not approve of quarantines: “Incidentally, Christian
Scientists and their children obey all quarantine regulations because they don’t want their neighbors to become fearful of their safety because Christian Scientists refrain from material methods.” More recently Robert Peel has written that “the stubborn, irreducible facts of experience have shown that under ordinary circumstances any attempt to mix Christian Science and medicine seriously lessens the efficacy of each.”[40] “Incidentally, Christian Scientists feel that reliance on spiritual methods alone, to safeguard public health, is wise only in proportion to the spiritual understanding of health among the people of the area involved.[41] Fourth, consistent with its disbelief in suffering, it does in effect discourage sympathy.[42] Fifth, it despises poverty, which it regards as a false belief in material lack or material limitation.[43]

One of Mrs. Stetson’s early students said that when Jesus cured the demon-possessed man in the tombs, the people came out and found the man in his right mind and fully clothed. The question might be asked: Where did the wearing apparel come from? The answer is simple. Jesus understood Principle and so clothes immediately covered this man’s body … Thus, if someone who is not a Christian Scientist is poor and needs help, the best aid that a Christian Scientist can give him is to send out the impersonal love and the realization that divine Love enables all to make their demonstration of succor. Merely to give clothes to a poor non-Christian Scientist is of no special value, for he is in his present condition through his own fault, or through lack of understanding. What he needs most is Principle, not matter. But in the case of the Christian Scientist who is not becoming prosperous, it is proper to assist him in making his demonstration. To aid such a one is to contribute to his spiritual growth.[44]

But, while Christian Science is admirably consistent in the application of its principles at many points, it also shies away from such implications at other points. For example, if sickness is unreal, why should surgery and anesthesia be permitted? If the standard answer, because of the prejudices of the mortal mind, were accepted, it would wreck the entire system. By what rhyme or reason can a Christian Scientist who rejects doctors, despises hospitals, and refuses vaccination, say: “To stop utterly eating and drinking until your belief changes in regard to these things were error’ ”?[45] If sin is unreal, why should not the libertine exonerate himself even while he indulges? And what can the Christian Scientist reply to Van Baalen’s question: “Can you blame critics of ‘Divine Science’ that they point out the suspicious truth that Mrs. Eddy asserted that in the present stage of our understanding Science, we can only demonstrate against sickness, and not against hunger and money?”[46] But, most fundamental of all, why deny the existence of all evil and then posit a “Mortal Mind” which is the source of all evil including death, yea, even the death of the founder?

Christian Science stood theoretically demolished before it ever arose; but what of its practical refutation? Take the testimonials, for example, which fill the last pages of Science and Health. What of the eighty-four there listed? Well, what of the thousands which could not be mentioned? As to notorious cases of failure and disaster and death, they have been recorded in such numbers and with such proofs as must stagger the faith of even the most devoted and credulous Christian Scientists.”[47] The eminent French Scientist, Paget, after a careful study of Christian Science healing gave the following testimony:

They bully dying women, and let babies die in pain; let cases of paralysis tumble about and hurt themselves; rob the epileptic of their bromide, the syphilitic of their iodide, the angina cases of their amyl nitrate, the heart cases of their digitalis; let appendicitis go to uraemic peritonitis, gastric ulcer to perforation of the stomach, nephritis to uraemic convulsions, and strangulated hernia to the miserere mei of gangrene; watch, day after day, while a man or woman bleeds to death; compel them who should be kept still to take exercise; and withhold from all cases of cancer all hope of cure.[48]

Fisher adds: “To be ill in itself is bad enough; to attribute that illness to a moral and intellectual disability is worse still; to hold, as did the Founder, that illness or false beliefs may often be caused by the malevolence of an enemy, is worst of all.”[49] One writer remarked that a highway robber asks for your money or your life; Christian Science asks for both.

What of the moral fruits of Christian Science? The Bible is one thing; Mrs. Eddy’s key to it is another. They are two radically different systems of thought and, like the White Nile and Blue Nile when they merge at Omdurman, they are still clearly distinguishable from each other. All this has its ethical consequence. Christian Science is a special language which only those who use it understand and which can be very misleading to the uninitiated.

In Christian Science all actions may be considered either from a spiritual or a human standpoint. In the metaphysical realm these is no sin, sickness, death, or error. Testifying on this basis, Mrs. Stetson’s students could admit a fact from one standpoint and then deny it from the other. By employing these tactics the witnesses were able to evade the issues, so that the Board had great difficulty in deciding which of these statements to credit. When Anna Holden, for example, was asked if she were testifying in the absolute or fourth dimension, she replied: “Certainly – I try to stay where Mrs. Eddy tries to take us. There is no human plane. I recognize only one.” Then she was asked if she ate cereal for breakfast. She replied, “I did not have any this morning – only milk and a roll. Divine Love feeds me, and from this standpoint I take my material food.” The amazing discovery was then made that several students had testified in the civil courts during the Brush Will Case, etc., from a purely spiritual plane, and that the lawyers and the judge had not detected the significance of this method. The witnesses believed that they had acted in perfect accord with the true Christian Science.[50]

Let us take a glance at Christian Science’s idea of the church. Of course, she considers herself the only true church; she alone has the Key to the Scriptures, and, as already discussed, the Key to the Key. Mrs. Eddy’s regarding herself as a Protestant was apparently designed to prevent anyone from thinking that she was a Roman Catholic. Mrs. Stetson was emphatically anti-Roman. Channing was asked, “Do Christian Scientists consider themselves Protestants?” His jejune answer indicates that they are Protestant in name only: “Yes, Christian Science is a truly Protestant religion, although it embodies several distinguishing characteristics. Protestantism, it should be remembered, began as a protest against certain organizations or forms of worship. Christian Science also protests against mortal sense.”[51] Mr. Todd quite modestly states what he regards to be the true picture of the situation: “Current practice in radio circles and elsewhere is to set up four major religious classifications in the United States, namely, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Christian Science.”[52]

We have already indicated how strategically important the organization of Christian Science is to the perpetuation of its censored dogmatism. Mary Baker Eddy’s Church Manual is the official directory of the church. However, the real power is in the hands of the Board of Directors (self-perpetuating), who elect all officers of the church, including the Readers. Fisher gives us an interesting description of the directors who were active in Mrs. Eddy’s day. The general characterization apparently still holds:

The powers nominally invested in the Reverend Mother had long, in effect, been exercised by a Board of Directors. Five well-dressed, level-headed, substantial North Americans, such as would grace any club window in Beacon Street, continued to carry on the old firm in the old way and under the old prospectus. No heroic memories are associated with the names of Archibald McLellan, Allison V. Stewart, John V. Dittimore, Adam H. Dickey, and James A. Neal, the five directors appointed in 1904, upon whose shoulders was now imposed the sole responsibility for the director of the growing Church.[53]

Christian Science worship consists largely of reading from the Bible and from Science and Health as a commentary on the Scripture readings, singing Christian Science hymns, and occasionally (and immaterially) observing the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.[54]

Nor is Christian Science lacking in eschatology. It has a doctrine of the second coming of Christ. “ ‘Some modern exegesis on the prophetic Scriptures cites 1875 as the year of the second coming of Christ. In that year the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, was first published.’ “[55]

2. Doctrines of Christian Science

Doctrine of the Bible

The Bible is the inspired Word of God (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 126 f., 269 f.). However the Bible is sometimes criticized (AH, pp. 521 f.) and literal interpretations scored (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 169). There is but one Word of God and Mary Baker Eddy is its interpreter. Her book, Science and Health (SH), is the “Key to the Scriptures.” Mrs. Eddy was not only infallible in her interpretation of the Bible, but apparently equally authoritative in her commands to followers. Members of her church could be commanded, on penalty of excommunication, to serve in her household (Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 137). She was also believed to be impeccable, as a letter of Mr. Wiggin reveals in in which he affirmed that one of Mrs. Eddy’s followers had said she would not trust her sight if she saw Mrs. Eddy committing a crime (Snowden, The Truth About Christian Science, p. 94). In order to protect the truth of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching, the Christian Science Church labels publications “authorized” or “unauthorized” (Todd, “Christian Science” in Ferm, RTC, p. 377). This denomination is equally zealous in labeling and censoring the writings of her critics. It has been observed that this group has attempted a censorship of speech and press that even the vast and confident Roman Catholic Church has not attempted (Binder, Modern Religious Cults and Society, p. 99). A Roman Catholic apologist insists on this very point (Hangston, “Literature on Christian Science” in The Catholic Mind Through Fifty Years, ed. By Masse, pp. 50 ff.).

Doctrine of God

“God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle …” (SH, pp. 465 f. passim). God’s being is infinite and therefore impersonal. “Limitless personality is inconceivable” (Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 20; Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 91; SH, pp. 265, 331). Certainly God is not tri-personal. “Life, Truth, and Love are ‘the triune Principle called God’ “ (Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” in Look, Nov. 18, 1952, p. 57; SH). God is frequently identified with all and this doctrine is buttressed by appeal to verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God is “all in all”; cf. Scheurlen, Die Sekten der Gegenwart, p. 114). The pantheistic strain is of far-reaching significance. Though Christian Science reads like philosophical idealism and has drawn some features from the German idealist Hegel (Haushalter, Mary Baker Eddy Purloins from Hegel, it is quite different. Idealism “does not at all deny the reality of matter or resolve it into a subjective illusion or delusion, but only discovers and demonstrates, as it believes, the true nature of matter as a mode of the divine life” (Snowden, TCS, p. 14). According to Mrs. Eddy, God is all and all is God, and there is nothing else beside. Thus angels “are pure thoughts from God” (SH, p. 298) and the devil has “neither corporeality nor mind” (SH, pp. 256, 331, 584, 917). The doctrine of Christ is set forth below. The Holy Spirit is Christian Science. “This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science” (SH, p. 55).

Doctrine of Man

Since God is all, and man, the true or spiritual man, is part of God, man possesses the attributes of God. “He is co-existent with God. As far back as the being of God is the being of man. ‘Searching for the origin of man is like enquiring into the origin of God himself, the self-existent or eternal’ ” (Haldeman, Christian Science, p. 112; SH, p. 535). “Hence,” writes Gilmore, “the real man as God’s likeness, without material accompaniments, has existed forever. When Jesus asserted, “Before Abraham was, I am,’ he undoubtedly referred to his true selfhood as the Son of God, as the Christ-man” (“Christian Science,” in Braden’s Varieties of American Religion, p. 163).

Doctrine of Sin

“There is no sin” is a refrain in SH (cf. pp. 447, 475, 481, passim). This is a consistent deduction from the fundamental principle of the system; namely, God is all and God is good. Gilmore argues: “Could God’s handiwork ever become less than perfect, we should have the impossible situation of imperfection from infinite perfection” (“CS,” pp. 158 f.). “Furthermore,” he continues, “since the real man has never departed from his original state of perfection, he is not in need of salvation. He is saved now, and reposing in the bosom of the Father; he always has been saved – that is, as God’s idea, the expression of Mind, man is forever held in the divine consciousness.”

If sin and evil have no reality, it is apparent that Christian Science regards all ideas of sin and evil as illusions. They are the product of “Mortal Mind” (though Mortal Mind itself is never explained). (SH, p. 311); that is, a soul is never lost through sin, but it is the very sense of sin which is sinful because it is the illusory product of Mortal Mind.

Doctrine of Christ

Christian Science makes a sharp distinction between Jesus and Christ. “Jesus is not the Christ” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84). Jesus is the human man and Christ is the divine idea. “The Christian believes that Christ is God … Jesus Christ is not God” (SH, p. 361). “Jesus was called Christ only in the sense that you say, a Godlike man. I am only a Godlike woman, God-anointed, and I have done a work that none other could do.” This needs to be borne in mind when Todd responds to the question: “Do they [Christian Scientists] worship her [Mrs. Eddy]?” “The answer is an emphatic NO!” (Todd, “CS,” p. 374). Mrs. Eddy is not regarded as Christ any more than Jesus is regarded as Christ – nor any less. Often Mrs. Eddy is viewed as the feminine representative of God, the motherhood of God, while Jesus is the masculine representative of God, the fatherhood of God (cf. Mrs. Stetson in Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 56).

Jesus was virgin born. “The illumination of Mary’s spiritual sense put to silence material law and its order of generation, and brought forth her child by the revelation of Truth, demonstrating God as the Father of men” (SH, p. 29). “Mary’s conception of him was spiritual” (SH, p. 332). This is sufficient to indicate that Christian Science believes the virgin, the child, and the birth to be nonmaterial, purely spiritual. “Jesus was not always wise: “Had wisdom characterized all His sayings, He would not have prophesied His own death and thereby hastened or caused it’ ” (L. D. Wetherhead, “City Temple Tidings,” Nov., 1950, p. 259, in Davies, Christian Deviations, p. 39). Jesus’ death was an illusion. “Jesus seemed to die, though flesh never had life” (SH, p. 78). His resurrection is thus interpreted: “To accommodate himself to immature ideas … Jesus called the body, which by spiritual power he raised from the grave, ‘flesh and bones’ ” (SH, p. 45).

Doctrine of Redemption

As noted above, Jesus only seemed to die (because He only seemed to live – in the flesh). The disciples mistakenly thought Jesus had died (SH, p. 44). “Paul writes: ‘For if, when were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the [seeming] death of His Son …’ ” (SH, p. 45). Christian Science necessarily rejects the evangelical doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ because there is no real death or sacrifice. Science and Health (p. 25) denies the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to atone, apparently ignoring the general doctrine that all things physical, such as blood, are not real in any case. “One sacrifice, however great is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part” (SH, p. 23; cf. p. 24). The self-immolation by which atonement comes is the casting out of the idea of sin. “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal.” (SH, p. 497). The punishment of the wrong belief seems to be the wrong belief itself. “But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts” (SH, p. 497).

The working out of this scheme of redemption in the realm of ethics is antinomian. Distinguishing between the unreal world, which men think real, and the spiritual world, which Christian Scientists regard as the only reality, has led to misrepresentations (Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 77). Similarly, Mrs. Eddy told her confidential secretary, Adam Dickey, by use of ambiguous language, that she would not die.

The most conspicuous application of Christian Science salvation principles is to sickness. Perhaps the most succinct statement of Christian Science theory of sickness is this: “Man is never sick, for Mind is not sick and matter cannot be” (SH, p. 393). “Sin and disease.” Writes Gilmore, “are figments of the mortal or carnal mind, to be destroyed, healed, by knowing their unreality” (“CS,” p. 166). Since this mortal or carnal mind by its figments creates sickness “the less mind there is manifested in matter, the better. When the unthinking lobster loses its claw, it grows again. If the science of life were understood, it would be found that the senses of mind are never lost, and that matter has no sensation. Then the human limb (supposing it were lost through sickness, disease or accident) would be replaced as readily as the lobster’s claw – not with an artificial limb, but with a genuine one” (SH).

The diseases of animals are the products of mortal minds of men. Since all sickness everywhere comes from mind, all healing comes by dispelling its figments. Medicine is unnecessary to the true believer in Christian Science. “The teaching and faith of Christian Science basically reject medical treatment. To the extent that a man or woman relies on material methods of healing, he or she is not relying on Christian Science” (Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58).

Doctrine of the Church

Christian Science regards itself as a denomination distinct from Protestant or Roman Catholic (Gilmore, “CS,” p. 157). As to organization, “the affairs of the Mother Church are administered by the Christian Science Board of Directors, which elects a representative, the first and second readers, a clerk, and a treasurer. The Board of Directors is a self-perpetuating body electing all officers of the church annually, with the exception of the readers, who are elected by the board for a term of three years” (Mead, Handbook of Denominations, p. 53).

Christian Science believes in baptism but Christian Scientists do not practice baptism in the material form; to them, baptism means purification from all material sense” (Channing, “WICS,” p. 57). The Lord’s Supper is observed according to the directions of Science and Health (pp. 32-35). The Lord’s Prayer is used with a Christian Science interpretation. Actually, prayer, in the ordinary sense of the word, seems to be precluded by the theology of Christian Science: “Shall we ask the divine Principle to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule … to work out our own salvation” (SH, p. 3). Christian Science has a marriage ceremony, for “until it is learned that generation rests on no sexual basis, let marriage continue” (SH, p. 274). “Until time matures, human growth, marriages and progeny will continue unprohibited in Christian Science” (Misc. Wr.,p. 289).

Doctrine of the Future

“If the change called death destroyed the belief in belief in sin, sickness, and death, happiness would be won at the moment of dissolution, and be forever permanent; but this is not so … The sin and error which possess us at the instant of death do not cease at that moment, but endure until the death of these errors … Universal salvation rests on progression and probation, and is unattainable without them. Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal … No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgment-day of wisdom comes hourly and continually …” (SH, pp. 290 f.).

3. Terms Frequently Used by Christian Scientists

Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions.

Animal Magnetism: Just as right thinking enables a person to experience the good which is, so wrong thinking by animal magnetism causes a person to experience (or seem to experience) the evil which is not.

At-One-Ment: The unity between the mind of man and the mind of God, which Christ did not so much effect as demonstrate. This is antithetical to the orthodox position of atonement through expiation and reconciliation.

Board of Directors: Self-perpetuating group of five men who, guided by Mrs. Eddy’s Church Manual, govern the Christian Science Church, electing all its officers.

Father-Mother God: The infinite spirit, thought to possess comprehensive virtues expressed by this dual designation.

Hell: Anything negative such as mortal belief, error, lust, remorse, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, or death.

Malicious Animal Magnetism: An evil disposition against another person (from which Mrs. Eddy complained of suffering), which may even bring sickness and death.

MAM: Common designation of Malicious Animal Magnetism.

Man: The compound idea of infinite spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind.

Mortal Mind: The source of all the illusions about sin, sickness, and evil. Its own source, according to the critics of Christian Science, is never explained.

Pantheism: The doctrine that all (pan) is God (theos); or, that God is identifiable with the totality of things. Christian Science argues that because God is good, and God is all, all is good (and evil, therefore, is illusion).

Science and Health: Short title of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, which is the foundational authority of her teaching.

4. For Further Reading

Beasley, Norman. The Continuing Spirit. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1956.
_______ The Cross and the Crown. New York: Hawthorne Books, Inc., 1952.

Braden, Charles S., Christian Science Today: Power, Policy, Practice. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1958.

Dakin, Edwin Franden. Mrs. Eddy, The Biography of a Virginal Mind. 1930. Reprint. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith Publisher, Inc., n.d.

Dresser, Horatio W., ed. The Quimby Manuscripts. 1921. Reprint. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, Inc., n.d.

Eddy, Mary Baker, The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany. Boston: Trustees of Mary Baker Eddy, 1913.
________ Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures. Boston: Trustees of Mary Baker Eddy, 1939.

Fisher, H. A. L., Our New Religion: An Examination of Christian Science. Folcraft Library Editions, 1933.

Gilmore, Albert Field. “Christian Science” in Varieties of American Religion, Charles S. Braden, ed. 1936. Reprint. Plainview, N.Y.: Books for Libraries, n.d.

Hoekema, Anthony A. Christian Science. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974.

Laird, Margaret. Christian Science Re-Explored. New York: William-Frederick Press, 1966.

Milmine, Georgine. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the history of Christian Science. 1909. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971.

Peel, Robert. Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1958.

Smith, Clifford. Historical Sketches from the Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1946.

Todd, Arthur James. “Christian Science” from Religion in the Twentieth Century. Vergilius T. Ferm, ed. 1948. Reprint. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, Inc., n.d.

Wilbur, Sibyl. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1908.

5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines.

In the following chapter we present views which are held by the church without exception (unless so indicated). There are three main branches of the catholic (universal) church: Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. These have differences among them, but there is a remarkable consensus of viewpoint on the basic structure of Christian doctrine. This fact is justification for use of the term “the catholic church.” We have chosen quotations from official creeds of these branches to illustrate the various doctrines.

Doctrine of the Bible

The catholic church believes the sixty-six books of the Old Testament and New Testament to be the plenarily inspired Word of God. The Roman Church adds to this number some of the apocrypha. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches seem to give ecclesiastical tradition virtually equal authority with Scripture. The Protestant churches, however, hold tosola scriptura. Thus, the Lutheran Formula of Concord affirms: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctors ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament.” The French Confession of Faith says of the Bible that “inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.” The American Revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England states: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Doctrine of God

The Athanasian Creed, accepted as an ecumenical creed by all branches of the church, reads: “ … we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (Essence). For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible (unlimited or infinite), the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal … so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches: “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Doctrine of Man

Again we may use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, for it expresses what all catholic churches believe about man. “God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Doctrine of Sin

The Roman Catholic statement made at the Council of Trent contains a catholic affirmation: “ … Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and … he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through the offense of prevarication, was changed , in body, and soul, for the worse … this sin of Adam … [is] transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation … “ All catholic churches say at least this much; some, such as the Reformed, make more of the consequences of the Fall.

Doctrine of Christ

We may use the historic confession of the Council of Chalcedon (A. D. 451), for this has been recognized through the ages by all branches of orthodox Christendom as a true statement concerning the person of Jesus Christ. “ … our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one. Person and Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ …”

We note that the expression, “Mary, the Mother of God,” is a genuinely catholic expression. It does not mean that Mary was the genetrix of God, but that the human nature which was begotten in her womb was united with the eternal Son of God. So Mary was the mother of the child who was God; i.e., the mother of God.

Doctrine of Redemption

The satisfaction view of the atonement is the truly classic view of the catholic church. This could be shown from Protestant, Roman, or Eastern Orthodox creeds. We will show it by a citation from “The Longer Catechism” of the Eastern Orthodox Church: “Therefore as in Adam we had all fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have the victory over sin and death.”

There is a great difference among the three divisions of Christendom concerning the appropriation of this redemption achieved by Christ. The Protestant churches teach that it is by faith alone; the other branches incline to the view that it is by faith and works, or by faith considered as the beginning of works.

All branches of the church teach that the Christian has an obligation to endeavor to keep the moral law of God and that a person who does not do so is a reprobate. There is a doctrine in the Roman Church which is inconsistent with this, but nevertheless she teaches the above explicitly.
Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a definition of the church shared by all bodies of Christendom which accept the notion of the invisibility of the church. “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”
Doctrine of the Future

While there has been less defining of the doctrine of the future by the catholic church than has been true of other doctrines, what has been stated is unanimously affirmed. All branches of Christendom are agreed that there is a place of eternal felicity, called heaven, where redeemed men and unfallen angels dwell in the gracious presence of God. It is also taught that there is a place of eternal misery, called hell, where all unredeemed men and fallen angels dwell in the wrathful presence of God. The Roman Catholic Church maintains, in addition, the existence of purgatory, the limbus patrum, and the limbus infantum. Universal salvation has been taught by various individuals, but no church recognized by catholic Christianity has affirmed it.

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects

Seventh-day Adventism teaches that salvation is attained by faith in the atonement made by Christ in 1844. This faith must be expressed in obedience to the ethical teachings of the Bible (including the Saturday Sabbath) and in acceptance of the doctrinal teachings of the Bible (including the imminent premillennial return of Christ).

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the only consistent Bible students. They find the vindication of Jehovah to be the fundamental aim of history. This vindication of Jehovah is accomplished by the atonement of the first-born creature, Jesus, and expressed by the witnessing to an impending Armageddon. At this battle Jehovah and His witnesses will be vindicated and the final consummation of things will begin.

Mormonism is built on a revelation subsequent to the Bible, called the Book of Mormon. According to this book, the church is to be recognized on the basis of a creed which teaches a plurality of created gods, repudiates justification by faith, and teaches a salvation achieved by the merit of obeying divine laws.

Christian Science is a formula for health and wealth by right thinking, but its thinking denies the reality of poverty and sickness.

Doctrines Traditional Christian Mormonism Seventh-day Adventism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Science
Bible Verbally inspired Inspired Bible and Book of Mormon Reluctant to affirm verbal inspiration; vague about status of Mrs. White Verbally inspired Bible inspired andScience and Health is its inspired interpretation
God Three Persons in one essence Polytheism Approximately traditional Christian view Uni-personal Impersonal and pantheistic
Man Body & soul created good Pre-existent soul takes body at birth in this world Body-soul creature; created neutral or with inclination to evil Body; soul not distinguishable from body Soul only; body is an illusion
Sin Result of Adam’s disobedience; corruption of nature and action It was necessary for Adam to sin. This brought mortality without guilt No clear doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin; man now polluted Adam’s sin brought liability to temporal death “There is no sin” – it is an illusion
Christ One divine person in two distinct natures (divine-human) Called creator but only pre-existent spirit who took body at incarnation Like traditional view but represents human nature as having tendency to sin First born creature; changed into man at birth in this world Christ is a divine idea; Jesus is mere human
Redemption Faith in atonement as expressed by holy life Atonement gives man chance to earn salvation Believing in atonement made in heaven plus holy living including observance of the Saturday Sabbath Christ’s ransom gives man chance to earn salvation Salvation is casting out idea of sin
Church Mystical union of all true believers; visible union of all professed believers Other churches apostate; efficient hierarchical organization Seems to regard itself as true remnant church Traditional church rejected; 144,000 witnesses make up Church A denomination like Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish
Future Eternal heaven, eternal hell, temporary purgatory (R.C.) Pre-millennial reign at Independence, MO; tends toward universal salvation Annihilation of the wicked; millennium in heaven and eternity on new earth Earthly millennium during which final probation leading to annihilation or eternal life Universal salvation in future when idea of sin gradually dies

[1] Herbert A. L. Fisher, Our New Religion, An Examination of Christian Science, pp. 61.

[2] II Timothy 4:3, 4.

[3] Our New Religion, pp. 19f.

[4] James H. Snowden, The Truth About Christian Science. The Founder and the Faith. Philadelphia, 1920, pp. 68 f.

[5] Ibid., p. 71, quoted from Milmine, The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and History of Christian Science, pp. 128 f.

[6] Ibid., p. 79.

[7] Cf. Fisher, Our New Religion, who, after reading the Quimby manuscripts felt that he (Quimby) was not a believer in religion in the healing area, p. 23.

[8] Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24.

[9] Fisher, describing Mr. Eddy’s death, says: “Then in an access of human weakness, the devoted wife invoked medical aid. Dr. Rufus K. Noyes was a distinguished Boston physician. He diagnosed the illness as heart disease, and prescribed ‘rest and tonic, digitalis and strychnine.’ To the Reverend Mother the diagnosis and remedies were alike impermissible. Mr. Eddy was suffering from a suggestion of arsenical poison emanating from the ill-will of his enemies … The way to cure Mr. Eddy was to direct a strong counter-battery of prayer for his recovery against the formidable spiritual artillery which was being deployed against him” (Our New Religion, p. 57).

[10] Altman K. Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 95.

[11] Arthur J. Todd, “Christian Science,” in Vergilius Ferm, Religion in the Twentieth Century, p. 358.

[12] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 155.

[13] Mark Twain, Christian Science, 1907, p. 72, quoted by Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 273.

[14] Todd, Christian Science, p. 374.

[15] Ibid. p. 375.

[16] Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 53.

[17] Ibid., p. 56.

[18] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 157.

[19] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 560 f.

[20] Marry Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 560 f.

[21] “The truth is, she does not care to have her paragraphs clear, and delights in so expressing herself that her words may have various readings and meanings.” Snowden, ibid., p. 94, from Wiggin’s letter.

[22] Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 101.

[23] Albert Field Gilmore, “Christian Science” in Charles S. Braden, Varieties of American Religion, p. 157.

[24] Oliver W. Holmes in Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. xiii.

[25] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 108.

[26] Todd, “Christian Science,” p. 377.

[27] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 85.

[28] Ibid., quoted from Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, p. 111.

[29] Edwin Franklin Dakin, Mrs. Eddy, the Biography of a Virginal Mind, p. 541. Christian Science headquarters tell us that the Milmine biography “could be bought freely by anyone who wanted it until 1915, when it went out of print.”

[30] Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 20.

[31] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 331.

[32] George Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” in Look Magazine, November 18, 1952, p. 57.

[33] Science and Health, p. 361.

[34] James M. Campbell, What Christian Science Means and What We Can Learn from It, p. 129, cited in Thomas McKee, Eddyism Examined, p. 10.

[35] Gilmore, Christian Science,” p. 166.

[36] Science and Health, p. 497.

[37] Gilmore, “Christian Science,” p. 159.

[38] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 265.

[39] Channing, “What is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58.

[40] Robert Peel, Christian Science, p. 162.

[41] Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58.

[42] Read moving story in McKee, Eddyism Exposed, p. 11.

[43] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 263; Wilby, What Is Christian Science? P. 163.

[44] Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, pp. 44 ff.

[45] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 91.

[46] Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 103.

[47] Milmine, Life of Mary Baker Eddy and History of Christian Science, pp. 324 ff.; Peabody, Masquerade, pp. 103-120; Stephen Paget, The Faith and Works of Christian Science, pp. 130-190.

[48] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 243, quoted from Stephen Paget, Faith and Works of Christian Science. 

[49] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 195.

[50] Ibid., p 77.

[51] Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?”, pp. 56 f.

[52] “Christian Science,” p. 360.

[53] Our New Religion, p. 138 f.

[54] Science and Health, pp. 32 ff.; cf. Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, pp. 211 ff.

[55] Message to the Mother Church for 1900, cited in Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 53.

J. I. Packer on Idolatry and Images of Christ

KnowingGod

Command_2

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https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/images-of-jesus-idolatry/

(1973) J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Chapter 4
What does the word idolatry suggest to your mind? Savages groveling before a totem pole? Cruel–faced statues in Hindu temples? The dervish dance of the priests of Baal around Elijah’s altar? These things are certainly idolatrous, in a very obvious way; but we need to realize that there are more subtle forms of idolatry as well.

Look at the second commandment. It runs as follows, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” ( Ex 20:4–5 ). What is this commandment talking about?

If it stood alone, it would be natural to suppose that it refers to the worship of images of gods other than Jehovah* the Babylonian idol worship, for instance, which Isaiah derided ( Is 44:9–20 ; 46:6–7 ), or the paganism of the Greco–Roman world of Paul’s day, of which he wrote in Romans 1:23 , 25 that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” But in its context the second commandment can hardly be referring to this sort of idolatry, for if it were it would simply be repeating the thought of the first commandment without adding anything to it.

Accordingly, we take the second commandment* as in fact it has always been taken *as pointing us to the principle that (to quote Charles Hodge) “idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images.” In its Christian application, this means that we are not to make use of visual or pictorial representations of the triune God, or of any person of the Trinity, for the purposes of Christian worship. The commandment thus deals not with the object of our worship, but with the manner of it; what it tells us is that statues and pictures of the One whom we worship are not to be used as an aid to worshiping him.

The Dangers in Images:
It may seem strange at first sight that such a prohibition should find a place among the ten basic principles of biblical religion, for at first sight it does not seem to have much point. What harm is there, we ask, in the worshiper’s surrounding himself with statues and pictures, if they help him to lift his heart to God?

We are accustomed to treating the question of whether these things should be used or not as a matter of temperament and personal taste. We know that some people have crucifixes and pictures of Christ in their rooms, and they tell us that looking at these objects helps them to focus their thoughts on Christ when they pray. We know that many claim to be able to worship more freely and easily in churches that are filled with such ornaments than they can in churches that are bare of them. Well, we say, what is wrong with that? What harm can these things do? If people really do find them helpful, what more is there to be said? What point can there be in prohibiting them? In the face of this perplexity, some would suggest that the second commandment applies only to immoral and degrading representations of God, borrowed from pagan cults, and to nothing more.

But the very wording of the commandment rules out such a limiting exposition. God says quite categorically, “Thou shalt not make any likeness of any thing” for use in worship. This categorical statement rules out not simply the use of pictures and statues which depict God as an animal, but also the use of pictures and statues which depict him as the highest created thing we know*a human. It also rules out the use of pictures and statues of Jesus Christ as a man, although Jesus himself was and remains man; for all pictures and statues are necessarily made after the “likeness” of ideal manhood as we conceive it, and therefore come under the ban which the commandment imposes.

Historically, Christians have differed as to whether the second commandment forbids the use of pictures of Jesus for purposes of teaching and instruction (in Sunday–school classes, for instance), and the question is not an easy one to settle; but there is no room for doubting that the commandment obliges us to dissociate our worship, both in public and in private, from all pictures and statues of Christ, no less than from pictures and statues of his Father.

But what, in that case, is the point of this comprehensive prohibition? From the emphasis given to the commandment itself, with the frightening sanction attached to it (the proclaiming of God’s jealousy, and his severity in punishing transgressors), one would suppose that this must really be a matter of crucial importance. But is it?

The answer is yes. The Bible shows us that the glory of God and the spiritual well–being of humans are both directly bound up with it. Two lines of thought are set before us which together amply explain why this commandment should have been stressed so emphatically. These lines of thought relate, not to the real or supposed helpfulness of images, but to the truth of them. They are as follows:

1. Images dishonor God, for they obscure his glory . The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fish, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. “A true image of God,” wrote Calvin, “is not to be found in all the world; and hence . . . His glory is defiled, and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form. . . .Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than He is.”

The point here is not just that an image represents God as having body and parts, whereas in reality he has neither. If this were the only ground of objection to images, representations of Christ would be blameless. But the point really goes much deeper. The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom they represent.

To illustrate: Aaron made a golden calf (that is, a bull–image). It was meant as a visible symbol of Jehovah, the mighty God who had brought Israel out of Egypt. No doubt the image was thought to honor him, as being a fitting symbol of his great strength. But it is not hard to see that such a symbol in fact insults him, for what idea of his moral character, his righteousness, goodness and patience could one gather from looking at a statue of him as a bull? Thus Aaron’s image hid Jehovah’s glory.

In a similar way, the pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.

Whatever we may think of religious art from a cultural standpoint, we should not look to pictures of God to show us his glory and move us to worship; for his glory is precisely what such pictures can never show us. And this is why God added to the second commandment a reference to himself as “jealous” to avenge himself on those who disobey him: for God’s “jealousy” in the Bible is his zeal to maintain his own glory, which is jeopardized when images are used in worship.

In Isaiah 40:18 , after vividly declaring God’s immeasurable greatness, the Scripture asks us: “To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?” The question does not expect an answer, only a chastened silence. Its purpose is to remind us that it is as absurd as it is impious to think that an image modeled, as images must be, upon some creature could be an acceptable likeness of the Creator.

Nor is this the only reason why we are forbidden to use images in worship.

2. Images mislead us, for they convey false ideas about God . The very inadequacy with which they represent him perverts our thoughts of him and plants in our minds errors of all sorts about his character and will.

Aaron, by making an image of God in the form of a bull–calf, led the Israelites to think of him as a Being who could be worshiped acceptably by frenzied debauchery. Hence the “festival to the Lord ” which Aaron organized ( Ex 32:5 ) became a shameful orgy. Again, it is a matter of historical fact that the use of the crucifix as an aid to prayer has encouraged people to equate devotion with brooding over Christ’s bodily sufferings; it has made them morbid about the spiritual value of physical pain, and it has kept them from knowledge of the risen Savior.

These examples show how images will falsify the truth of God in the minds of men. Psychologically, it is certain that if you habitually focus your thoughts on an image or picture of the One to whom you are going to pray, you will come to think of him, and pray to him, as the image represents him. Thus you will in this sense “bow down” and “worship” your image; and to the extent to which the image fails to tell the truth about God, to that extent you will fail to worship God in truth. That is why God forbids you and me to make use of images and pictures in our worship.

Molten Images and Mental Images:
The realization that images and pictures of God affect our thoughts of God points to a further realm in which the prohibition of the second commandment applies. Just as it forbids us to manufacture molten images of God, so it forbids us to dream up mental images of him. Imagining God in our heads can be just as real a breach of the second commandment as imagining him by the work of our hands.

How often do we hear this sort of thing: “I like to think of God as the great Architect (or Mathematician or Artist).” “I don’t think of God as a Judge; I like to think of him simply as a Father.” We know from experience how often remarks of this kind serve as the prelude to a denial of something that the Bible tells us about God. It needs to be said with the greatest possible emphasis that those who hold themselves free to think of God as they like are breaking the second commandment. At best, they can only think of God in the image of man* as an ideal man, perhaps, or a superman. But God is not any sort of man. We were made in his image, but we must not think of him as existing in ours. To think of God in such terms is to be ignorant of him, not to know him.

All speculative theology, which rests on philosophical reasoning rather than biblical revelation, is at fault here. Paul tells us where this sort of theology ends: “The world by wisdom knew not God” ( 1 Cor 1:21 KJV). To follow the imagination of one’s heart in the realm of theology is the way to remain ignorant of God, and to become an idol–worshipper *the idol in this case being a false mental image of God, made by one’s own speculation and imagination.

In this light, the positive purpose of the second commandment becomes plain. Negatively, it is a warning against ways of worship and religious practice that lead us to dishonor God and to falsify his truth. Positively, it is a summons to us to recognize that God the Creator is transcendent, mysterious and inscrutable, beyond the range of any imagining or philosophical guesswork of which we are capable* and hence a summons to us to humble ourselves, to listen and learn of him, and to let him teach us what he is like and how we should think of him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,” God tells us; “neither are your ways my ways,” for “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” ( Is 55:8–9 ). Paul speaks in the same vein: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord?” ( Rom 11:33–34 ).

God is not the sort of person that we are; his wisdom, his aims, his scale of values, his mode of procedure differ so vastly from our own that we cannot possibly guess our way to them by intuition or infer them by analogy from our notion of ideal manhood. We cannot know him unless he speaks and tells us about himself.

But in fact he has spoken. He has spoken to and through his prophets and apostles, and he has spoken in the words and deeds of his own Son. Through this revelation, which is made available to us in holy Scripture, we may form a true notion of God; without it we never can. Thus it appears that the positive force of the second commandment is that it compels us to take our thoughts of God from his own holy Word, and from no other source whatsoever.

That this is the commandment’s positive thrust seems plain from the very form in which it is stated. Having forbidden the making and worshiping of images, God declares himself jealous; he will punish not image worshipers as such but all who “hate him,” in the sense of disregarding his commandments as a whole.

The natural and expected thing in the context would be a specific threat to image–users; why, instead, is God’s threat generalized? Surely this is in order to make us realize that those who make images and use them in worship, and thus inevitably take their theology from them, will in fact tend to neglect God’s revealed will at every point. The mind that takes up with images is a mind that has not yet learned to love and attend to God’s Word. Those who look to man made images, material or mental, to lead them to God are not likely to take any part of his revelation as seriously as they should.

In Deuteronomy 4 , Moses himself expounds the prohibition of images in worship along exactly these lines, setting the making of images in opposition to the heeding of God’s word and commandments as if these two things were completely exclusive of each other. He reminds the people that at Sinai, though they saw tokens of God’s presence, they saw no visible representation of God himself, but only heard his word, and he exhorts them to continue to live, as it were, at the foot of the mount, with God’s own word ringing in their ears to direct them and no supposed image of God before their eyes to distract them.

The point is clear. God did not show them a visible symbol of himself, but spoke to them; therefore they are not now to seek visible symbols of God, but simply to obey his Word. If it be said that Moses was afraid of the Israelites borrowing designs for images from the idolatrous nations around them, our reply is that undoubtedly he was, and this is exactly the point: all manmade images of God, whether molten or mental, are really borrowings from the stock–in–trade of a sinful and ungodly world, and are bound therefore to be out of accord with God’s own holy Word. To make an image of God is to take one’s thoughts of him from a human source, rather than from God himself; and this is precisely what is wrong with image–making.

Looking to the True God:
The question which arises for us all from the line of thought which we have been pursuing is this: How far are we keeping the second commandment? Granted, there are no bull–images in the churches we attend, and probably we have not got a crucifix in the house (though we may have some pictures of Christ on our walls that we ought to think twice about); but are we sure that the God whom we seek to worship is the God of the Bible, the triune Jehovah? Do we worship the one true God in truth? Or are our ideas of God such that in reality we do not believe in the Christian God, but in some other, just as the Muslim or Jew or Jehovah’s Witness does not believe in the Christian God, but in some other?

You may say, how can I tell? Well, the test is this. The God of the Bible has spoken in his Son. The light of the knowledge of his glory is given to us in the face of Jesus Christ. Do I look habitually to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as showing me the final truth about the nature and the grace of God? Do I see all the purposes of God as centering upon him?

If I have been enabled to see this, and in mind and heart to go to Calvary and lay hold of the Calvary solution, then I can know that I truly worship the true God, and that he is my God, and that I am even now enjoying eternal life, according to our Lord’s own definition, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” ( Jn 17:3 ).

(1993) J.I. Packer – Additional Note

A steady trickle of letters over the years has urged that my dissuasive from using images of God for didactic or devotional purposes goes too far. Does it?

Three arguments are brought against it. First, the worship of God requires Christian aesthetic expression through the visual arts no less than it requires Christian moral expression through family love and neighbor love. Second, imagination is part of human nature as God made it and should be sanctified and expressed, rather than stigmatized and suppressed, in our communion with our Creator. Third, images (crucifixes, icons, statues, pictures of Jesus) do in fact trigger devotion, which would be weaker without them.

The principle of the first argument is surely right, but it needs to be rightly applied. Symbolic art can serve worship in many ways, but the second commandment still forbids anything that will be thought of as a representational image of God. If paintings, drawings and statues of Jesus, the incarnate Son, were always viewed as symbols of human perfection within the culture that produced them (white–faced Anglo–Saxon, black–faced African, yellow–faced Chinese or whatever), rather than as suggesting what Jesus actually looked like, no harm would be done. But since neither children nor unsophisticated adults view them in this way we shall in my opinion be wiser to do without them.

The principle of the second argument is also right, but the biblical way to apply it is to harness our verbal and visual imagination to the task of appreciating the drama and marvel of God’s historical doings, as is done in the Prophets and the Psalms and the book of Revelation, rather than to fly in the face of the second commandment by constructing static and seemingly representational images of him.

As for the third argument, the problem is that as soon as the images are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger. Since it is hard for us humans to avoid this pitfall, wisdom counsels once more that the better, safer way is to learn to do without them. Some risks are not worth taking. [Packer, J.I. Knowing God., Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1996, c1973.]

Marijuana allowed in the church?

Image

This post is more concerned about the Churches understanding of Marijuana.  I also made a blog post concerning the legalization and hazards of marijuana in another article.  There is a good video about the effects of it in the following blog.  So if you have concerns about some of the interpretation of this blog and you really don’t see the connections this blog makes just go to the blog post linked below and listen and discern if it is harmful or not.  Please watch the video at the link just below this.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/may-our-nation-repent-and-forsake-marijuana/

http://youtu.be/nnNPm5cG85c

We need to revisit this. Especially in light of the recent elections and the stupid information that is being taught to our kids. Marijuana is a psychotropic. It is not like alcohol. It deeply damages the soul, mind, and body.

An Aquaintence and wonderful man of God has written some significant lessons on an upcoming issue in the Church that I believe is important for our understanding.  Please give this wonderful Elder a listen.  Thanks….. He also wrote a piece and blog on the topic here. http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/jerusalem-blade/marijuana-allowed-church-763/

There are a lot of dangerous trends, doctrines, and practices encroaching upon the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in 2012, but – next to rampant worldliness – I would say the trend of approving marijuana is the most pernicious. And I would say that the push for “medicinal use” of it is the deadly worm in the heart of the poison apple.

I think it passing strange to see those who uphold a vigorous confessional Presbyterianism and affirm the word of God as their rule of life and faith at the same time condone a practice condemned by God under penalty of the severest sanctions – cut off from the people of Israel and death under Moses, excommunication and eternal damnation (if unrepented of) under Christ.

Part of the problem, I think, is the cultural ignorance that prevails – and a consequent spiritual naiveté (taking so many of our cues from the culture as we do) – with regard to what the issues really are. This was not an issue from the mid-20th century and back, the matter relegated to obscure practices which were universally condemned. But in the latter half of the 20th century things changed. More on that in a moment.

I have seen it said, “Don’t drink the koolaid”, with regard to this topic, which phrase could be variously translated as, “Don’t completely buy into an idea or system, whether good or bad . . . Blind acceptance of something is generally not advised – rather engage in some critical thinking . . . Don’t succumb to any external influence that affects a person’s opinion of something.” To which I would say, it is not Biblical to be closed to “external influence”, especially if that influence comes from Scripture soundly understood, and it is indeed wise to “engage in critical thinking” on any topic of importance! People who are closed to any views but their own do run the danger of shutting out the Lord’s instruction and reproof.

A brief primer on Greek and Hebrew terms, on Biblically-defined sorcery, and the laws of God with respect to this in the Old Testament and in the New.

We have a word in the New Testament (in Galatians and in Revelation) which is translated “sorcery” or “witchcraft”, the underlying Greek of which is farmakeiapharmakeia. The same word –pharmakeia – is used in the Greek Old Testament (sometimes called the Septuagint) and is likewise translated sorcery or sorcerer and witchcraft or witch. The word in the Hebrew OT is kesheph.

So what is pharmakeia about? It is the Greek word used in Revelation 18:23, where harlot Babylon is said to have deceived the nations by means of her “sorceries” (pharmakeia), and it is also used in Rev 9:21 of the Textus Receptus / AV (while the so-called Majority Text and the Critical Text have a variant reading in which the Greek word is pharmakon: drugs “that induce magic spells”, although it doesn’t affect the translation, per the NASB or ESV). In Rev 9:21 it is used with respect to men refusing to repent of their “sorceries” in the time of terrible judgments in the world, those that survived these lethal judgments meted upon the rebellious of the earth. When Paul uses this word in Galatians 5:20 (translated “witchcraft” AV, “sorcery” ESV NASB) it is called a work of the flesh, equal to murder and adultery.

Related words (called cognates) are used also in Rev 21:8 and 22:15 of “sorcerers”, those who use and administer the drugs, and influence others by means of them. In 21:8 it says that these people have their part in the lake of fire – “the second death” – and in 22:15 these are said to be eternally barred from the City of God. Let’s try to get a sense of what this deadly (per Scripture) pharmakeia is. Consider this item from The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2, p. 558,

. . . pharmakos, magician (Rev. 22:15); pharmakeus, mixer of potions, magician (Rev. 21:8); pharmakeia, magic, sorcery (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23). The basic word pharmakon does not occur in the NT [save in the aforementioned variant –SMR], but its meaning of medicine, magic potion, poison gives the underlying idea of the words. Potions include poisons, but there has always been a magical tradition of herbs gathered and prepared for spells, and also for encouraging the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies (cf. possibly the final sentence of Ezek. 8:17: “They put the branch to their nose”). Sorcery is classed among the works of the flesh in Gal. 5:20. [underlined and last bold and italicized emphases added – SMR]

Another example, from the old ISBE,

“The word translated in the AV ‘witchcraft’ in Gal 5:20 (pharmakeia) is the ordinary Greek one for ‘sorcery,’ and is so rendered in the RV, though it means literally the act of administering drugs and then of magical potions. It naturally comes then to stand for the magician’s art, as in the present passage and also in . . . the LXX of Isa 47:9 . . . translated ‘sorceries’.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, Ed., Vol. 5, p. 3097.)

And from, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates:

“Strong’s #5331, pharmakeia, from pharmakon, a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one. Pharmakeia means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Sept.: Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12). (pp. 1437, 1438)

The lexicons and the commentators hold that pharmakeia pertains to drugs used in the “magic arts”. In fact, Kistemaker says of pharmakon (drugs) – appearing as a variant in Rev 9:21,

farmakon [pharmakon]—“magic potion . . .” [and refers] to the concept of drugs that induce magic spells. [Emphasis in original]. (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Revelation, p. 302.)

The picture we are getting is of drugs used for sorcerous potions, which may “encourage the presence of spirits” and “induce magic spells”. Often we find in the OT the use of synecdoche (a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa) when the word pharmakeia and its cognates are used, as the use of drugs is the essential and common component in almost all of the “magic arts”. Consider, the Jews who translated the OT Hebrew into the Greek LXX always used the word signifying “drugs used as magic potions” when referring to certain magic arts and its practitioners. Why would they do that – use that particular word – were it not actually so?

But what does all this talk of drugs used for occult purposes – for “sorcery” – have to do with 21st century life, and with the recreational (and sometimes “medicinal”) drug, marijuana? Aren’t sorcery and magic potions something of the ancient past, legends, and superstition? First, let us be clear to differentiate between the entire realm of superstition with regard to the occult and its practices, and the plain Biblical definition of the term. It is granted that there is a plethora of arcane nonsense in legends, fictional stories, etc. Yet it is also certain there is a Biblical definition with regard to pharmakeia / sorcery, for to violate it was death under Moses and removal from the church under Christ – very serious punishments!

Were there things happening in the 1st century (and earlier in OT times) that no longer happen now in our day? But if that’s so, why does John in the Revelation speak of sorceries as pertaining to the end times – the very end times – which may well be in or near our own time?

And can it be that such a sin as this – ranked with murder and adultery, and warranting eternal punishment if unrepented of – is incapable of being identified by modern exegetes?

There is an answer to these questions. Since the latter half of the 20th century – from events in the 1950s through the 1980s – we have developed a term never before used in the history of the world: recreational drugs. People differ in their views of them. They began in popular use in the ‘60s, and the two staples of the counterculture that used them were marijuana and LSD, although mescaline, peyote, hashish (and hashish oil – both of these derived from the marijuana plant), STP, PCP (angel dust), and sometimes various amphetamines or cocaine were mixed / used in conjunction with these drugs. To law enforcement these drugs are sometimes a big deal (though some agencies and laws are becoming more lenient), but to the general populace they pretty much are no big deal at all. Connecting them with sorcery, given their popularity and seeming harmlessness (at least as regards grass), seems farfetched!

Oddly, the properties of these drugs – and I will single out marijuana and LSD – have the same properties as the pharmakeia / sorcery drugs Scripture strongly warns against: the capability of “encouraging the presence of spirits” and inducing spiritual / religious states of consciousness. That ought to send up red flags of warning to those who ponder these things.

At any rate, prior to the 1950s such things – recreational drugs – were unheard of, save perhaps in small subcultures (Black musicians, for example, who used marijuana). In the pre-counterculture days going all the way back to ancient Israel, Biblically defined sorcery was a verboten – forbidden – thing, connected as it was to the demonic and demonic practitioners. History is replete with instances of severe inquisition and punishment of those suspected of sorcery and witchcraft; nor were all such occult activities merely superstitious or hoaxes, seeing as the God of Israel took it very seriously, instructing His primary Lawgiver to execute the death sentence on violators, and revealing to John in His Revelation to him that eternal torment would be meted on unrepentant violators of His law given through Christ and the apostles. So we know there is real substance to such activities, for the Bible to take such a view of them!

In the pre-‘60s counterculture times such things showed their faces only in the crawling shadows of the world, rightly condemned by society. These were shrouded activities, and no wonder superstitions arose about them – they were hidden, frightening, and unknown.

But now . . . welcome to the end of the world! And to the sorceries (pharmakeia) of Babylon the great, which deceived the nations by means of them! The Bible shows one picture, which we sort of dismiss as “unknowable, undecipherable”, while we have a picture of our own – borrowed from the world, of course, from which we take so many of our cues! – of groovin’ hipster Christians, PCAers endowed with great Christian liberty, full of ourselves, disdainful of the old paths of sobriety and godly fear.

On the one hand we say, keep the Sabbath, don’t even go out to eat on it (not weighing in on that issue here), while on the other we say, it’s okay to get high using these drugs, it’s just like wine. And in so doing we actually cause Christ’s little ones to stumble and sin! Is there no fear left of doing and speaking evil? Why do we carelessly shoot our mouths off like the wicked on matters fraught with such danger and eternal consequences?


Romans 1:32
 [People], Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Exodus 23:1-2 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment

The world that reviles God and His laws is well aware of the Spiritual Use of Cannabis, why are we so ignorant of such things yet ready to shoot our mouths off?

It will not do, those of you who say that because it is illegal, that is sufficient to settle the matter, because in some countries – with Christians in them – it is legal; and it is essentially decriminalized in parts of America, and it is legal if one has a script from a doctor. So the old laws of the civil magistrate are no longer fence enough against this evil. And I daresay that in a short time it will become legal throughout the United States. No, it is up to the church to come to understanding, and to take a stand. More particularly, it is up to the pastors and elders of God’s flock, and with them the sessions and classes and boards of elders, to teach and uphold the word of God.

Nor will it do to liken it to alcohol, saying that we must be sober and clear of mind, for it is an entirely different substance with a profoundly different effect on the human body and consciousness. It is foolish naiveté to confound the two.

Yet some will say, we are only enjoying ourselves; we are not involved in spiritual or occult activity, these Biblical prohibitions do not apply to us.

To answer: It’s common knowledge that there had been an upsurge in psychedelic drug use starting in the 1950s with the Beats, and in the ‘60s with the counterculture (as well government intelligence agencies, politicians, practitioners in the therapeutic fields, artists, intellectuals, teachers, lawyers, etc, etc). Seeing as this was such an open and widespread phenomenon very few have made the connection with the topic of Biblical “sorcery”, an activity commonly thought of as taboo and arcane. To add to this, the fact that many of those who used these drugs did so “recreationally” and not for any sort of occult or spiritual purposes has given the impression that these drugs were not necessarily “sorcerous” although they could be used for those ends. This was the time when “sorcery” /pharmakeia became widely popular and supposedly both fun and enlightening. “ ‘Sorcery’?” some will say, “What, are you crazy, we’re just having fun! Just because others have used grass and acid for that, don’t lump us in with that crowd! Our culture is not a monolith, there are many different things going on.”

Others will say, “I have seen people high on marijuana, and they are not mentally impaired but rather brilliant in their thinking and their arts.” No argument with that, except to say that the devil, prince of the demons (as well his underlings), are also “brilliant”, so brilliance is no sound criterion of judgment on a state of mind.

It just goes to show how poorly thought-out and naive our views on the topic are! People smoke or ingest marijuana to attain a psychological or psychic “high” – an elevated and enhanced state of consciousness – though some would deny calling this “high” as much a pharmakeia activity as a more spiritual awareness, or some would say not even that, but only a psychological high, or simply an enhancement of the senses . To deny that pharmakeia can involve enhanced physical sensation and pleasure through this psychic “high” – without any overt occultism at all – is an attempt to dissociate their sinning from pharmakeia activity. But this is taking refuge in lies. We must recognize that to use sorcery to indulge in sensory (including psychological) pleasure is as much one of its activities as the seeking of psychic, occult, and spiritual experience.

But what about medicinal use? Isn’t that legitimate? This is a more nuanced topic than the world realizes, as it does not have spiritual discernment. But we who are Christ’s should have it.

It is understood that a person psychically “elevated” by marijuana may experience a sense of detachment from the bodily source of pain, and thus a decrease in the sensation of its intensity; still, the very action that detaches from the pain will open one to other aspects of the “high” such as consciousness in a dimension not usually entered in the normal state of mind, the dimension spirits inhabit. Even were I (speaking personally) in extreme pain I would not opt for marijuana relief, as the “cure” would be far worse than the ailment: making myself vulnerable to demonic activity – deception, depression, oppression, delusion, attack, etc. The web page linked to earlier in this article, Spiritual Use of Cannabis, showing its use for shamanistic and psychic activity in a number of pagan spiritual paths, clearly demonstrates its effectiveness and power as a means of enhancing contact with the spirit world and its occupants. Does one think that by force of will – or “good intentions” – one can hold off demons one has opened one’s consciousness and heart to? One can surely hold them off by the word and Spirit of Christ, but if in disobedience – even if done unwittingly – opening wide the door to their entrance through sorcerous drugs, they will take advantage of that and either enter or exercise their influence under cover of deception. The folks who say, “I’m only using it for simple enjoyment; but for “sorcery” – be it far from me!”, deceive themselves thinking they can avoid the consequences of entering the dimension of satanic presence, even if they do not believe it.

Let me posit a possible situation in an area where grass is legal for medicinal use. What would one think of a pastor, say in Colorado or California where medicinal grass is legal under prescription for pain, or Holland where it is simply legal, who, having smoked before the service, ministers while high? Or where a number in the church are (legally) high in the service? Would you assert that, if they’ve done it in moderation (or for pain relief), this is fully in accord with the word of God? Does using a Biblically forbidden substance for pain relief exempt one from obedience to God’s law? Did God have a good reason for forbidding pharmakeia drugs?

Or if the assistant pastor – who teaches the teenage Bible study – has pain from a sports injury, and smokes (with a prescription) beforehand, is that okay? Though surely there will be teenagers – as well as adults – who, knowing their pastors are smoking marijuana (under medical license) for pain relief, will say, “Well, if they can do it for pain – and are okay mentally, and also accepted by the church – why can’t I do it as well for fun? We can see it’s not harmful if used reasonably.”

Besides the corruption of morals of others, children included, let me say what the Scripture view of this would be. A pastor has smoked his grass (ostensibly for pain) and expanded his consciousness by opening himself to the spiritual realm – much as the Hindus do to contact their spirit entities – and he is now open to energies and influences or thoughts that come to him from he-knows-not-where. But they seem to be godly and in accord with the Bible, and he has a new depth of feeling for the subject he is speaking on, and sharp insight, and he powerfully feels what he believes to be the presence and love of God. Has this man increased his godliness and anointing through the drug? Scripture says he has taken a drug (pharmakon) . . . known to induce magic spells, and to encourage the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies. Well, one wouldn’t call a church service a “magical ceremony” someone might respond! Unfortunately, using a sorcerous drug of the pharmakeia-class would turn that church service into a magic ceremony, replete with demonic agency operating through the minister intoxicated by it.

Recently (May 16, 2012) in the NYTimes online OP/ED section, an article appeared by a sitting New York State Supreme Court Justice, Gustin L. Reichbach, titled, “A Judge’s Plea for Medical Marijuana”, and is one of the most compelling, heartwrenching cries for the allowing of medical marijuana I have heard (and I’m sure those reading can come up with like cases they know of). Read it and see. Justice Reichbach is a for-real candidate for this medical use. Which better allows me to make my point: As far as the world is concerned, allowing this man medical marijuana – and as he puts it, the “inhaled” kind, not the synthetic – is simply a human right, a humane medical treatment. But spiritually, what is the cost? Now Justice Reichbach is not – to my knowledge – a disciple of Christ, but for a disciple what would it be? It would be opening the heart and mind to demonic activity. Let me put myself in his place: without some grass – inhaled – I cannot eat (my appetite has failed), and cannot sleep, both of which I need to prolong my life. But with it, I could do both. Would it be worth it to me? To the world this dilemma is false, delusional, and cruel! To the spiritual man or woman it is vital and actual: would I allow my communion with Christ and communion with other disciples in spirit to be open to influence or infiltration by demonic beings? Just for the ability to eat something, or sleep, or to relieve pain? Put another way, would I, under torture – being starved, subjected to sleep deprivation, and inflicted with pain – betray my Lord and my friends? Why, given the same conditions of affliction, would I voluntarily sin, if I would refuse to in the other case? No, God giving me strength I will retain my integrity of being before Him and my friends. I would refuse to smoke the “medicinal” marijuana for the sake of keeping my spiritual health and integrity. Especially if I were in terrible pain with advanced, terminal cancer, I would not use marijuana for relief. Would anyone in their right mind, when on the very brink of death, open their hearts and minds to demonic influence? That would be sheer destructive madness!

There is a dangerous naiveté regarding supernatural activity among some believers – the Reformed included – but this ought not to be the case when it comes to pastors and elders. I should hasten to say that I have never yet seen a pastor or elder support the use of these drugs even if legalized.

It was prohibited in ancient Israel because partaking in a pharmakeia drug would bring an evil presence into the community. This was supposed to be a spiritually sensitive and holy community, Israel. Just one sorcerer (or witch) – pharmakos – would bring an evil state of mind or consciousness into the community, and pollute it. For this cause it was commanded, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18; cf. Deut 18:9-14). The general equity of this law is understood with regard to the NT laws pertaining to pharmakeia use: not physical death but spiritual death (cut off from the church) if indulged without repentance. For the bringing in to the community of God’s people the spiritual presence of the demonic through the channels of pharmakeia users – that is, demonic influence through the minds and consciousness of people high on marijuana – is wickedly polluting the holy people with the spirit of alien and hostile entities. It is an abomination to God and to His church.

Pastors and elders, be aware that this is a fight that is coming quickly down the road. If we can see it here, in a relatively godly confessional community, it will be even more widespread elsewhere. Though I must say, it will rarely be seen in those despised IFBs, for they believe in being separate from the world, and would rarely fall for such deception.

Steve Rafalsky
Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
Queens, New York
USA”I am set for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17)”Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious
power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness…
” (Colossians 1:11)Jerusalem Blade’s PB Blog; Collected Textual Posts and Misc.
Lightning Sword: Journal of the Apokalypse

Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses by Dr. John H. Gerstner

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From Retired Pastor Joe Gwynn,

A project of mine this summer has been to type four out-of-print works by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner. They are critiques of four prominent cults that ensnare thousands of unwary people. They (the booklets) are carefully footnoted and therefore can be defended with confidence. In them you will learn things (especially about their founders and history) that many of their proponents who come knocking at your door either do not know or will not admit. My purpose was to make these booklets (25-30 pages each) available for free downloading and distribution. 

They are: 
· The Teachings of Mormonism
· The Teachings of Seventh-day Adventism
· The Teachings of Christian Science
· The Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, the favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent historian and Reformed theologian, Dr. Gerstner also wrote several excellent books, including my favorite “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”, an excellent critique of Dispensationalism. 

In the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ,
Joe Gwynn 

If you want a copy in word format email me.
RMS

The Teachings of

Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, a favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent Reformed theologian, scholar, and historian, Dr. Gerstner wrote many good books.

Contents
Introduction ……………………………………………..…….… Page 2
1. Description and History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses …… Page 3
2. Doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses …………..….……. Page 12
3. Terms Frequently Used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses ….. Page 16
4. For Further Reading ……………………………………….. Page 18
5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines …….………. Page 21
6. Brief Definitions of the Sects …………….………….………Page 24

Introduction

The abundance of literature on various “sects” shows that there is great interest in the subject. But what is a sect? We must make our definition clear, for there is wide difference of opinion on its meaning.

Evangelicals generally use sect when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles … especially the deity of Christ and His atonement. This booklet is written from the evangelical perspective.

The teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is designed as a ready reference booklet. It is meant to be a quick guide to the wealth of literature on this subject, and it includes a valuable table and glossary.

The general exposition in the first chapter gives an easily-grasped overview of the sect. The following chapter, “Doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses” provides the reference material which summarizes the first chapter and adds some more technical data. Chapter two contains the basic theological structure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses stated objectively and concisely. The text itself gives a fuller exposition of some of the cardinal points outlined in the first chapter.

Chapter three. “Terms Frequently Used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” gives some of the most common terms in the vocabulary of this sect. Sects often have their own precise definitions for common religious words, and the glossary makes this immediately evident.

Chapter four, “For Further Reading,” lists both primary and secondary sources for further study of the theology and practice of the sect.

A summary of the essential teachings of traditional Christianity appears in chapter five. This summary is included to provide a basis for comparison with the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This chapter is designed to be used as a frame of reference.

To make the theologies of different sects clearer, their teachings have been summarized in the “Chart of Comparative Doctrines” at the end of chapter six. This tabular outline classifies the doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventists, and continuing with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Scientists, this chart allows the reader to see at a glance the position of each group on various Christian doctrines.

1. Description and History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

It is quite clear that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are an offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventists. Jan Van Baalen remarks: “One wonders why Charles Taze Russell was so unwilling to acknowledge his sources when his system of errors reveals so plainly the traces of Mrs. Ellen G. White.”[1]

Charles Taze Russell

The similarity of the Witness system to Adventism is corroborated by the conversion experience of Charles Taze Russell, the modern founder of the cult. The Allegheny, Pennsylvania boy had been reared in the Reformed faith of the Covenanters. At first he took their doctrines seriously, especially the doctrine of hell. As Charles Ferguson observes: “Evidently his youth was dominated by morbid pictures of a sizzling hell, for as a boy he used to go around the city of Pittsburgh every Saturday evening and write signs with chalk on the fences, warning people to attend Church on the following Sabbath that they might escape the ghastly torments of everlasting fire.”[2] From this fiery orthodoxy, Russell, when he found himself unable to answer certain questions of a skeptic, passed over into a frigid unbelief. It was then that he met the Seventh-day Adventists,[3] and his faith in Christianity, and especially in the Second Advent, was restored.

Before this encounter, which started Russell on his way to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, he had been a haberdasher on the North Side in Pittsburgh. This is a simple matter of fact, but for some reason, the Witnesses are defensive about it. Charles Ferguson speaks to this point: “His friends say he was sneeringly referred to as a haberdasher because in his early days he owned a chain of stores. Yet I can’t see that this damns the man; any one who calls his brother a haberdasher is either a technician or weak on epithets. The term isn’t complimentary, but I don’t see that it really crucifies one.”[4] Of course, while there is nothing dishonorable in the calling of a haberdasher, it hardly fits one for being the greatest biblical expositor since the Apostle Paul, as is claimed for “Pastor” Russell.

A few years later Russell wrote his first significant book. Russell had worked out the modifications of Adventism, based on his own assiduous study of the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they were later called, were born.

The next years were big ones in Russell’s life and work. He wrote voluminously. “It was claimed that Russell’s ‘explanatory writings on the Bible are far more extensive than the combined writings of St. Paul, St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, and Martin Luther – the six messengers of the Church who preceded him’ and ‘that the place next to St. Paul in the gallery of fame as expounder of the Gospel of the Great Master will be occupied by Charles Taze Russell.’ ”[5] He spoke incessantly – often six and eight hours a day – and travelled as much as Bishop Asbury and the apostle Paul combined,[6] averaging, according to Braden, 30,000 miles per year.[7] It was not inappropriate that this zealot, who compassed land and sea to make proselytes, should end his earthly life on an itinerary. While traveling in the vicinity of Waco, Texas, Russell’s companion summoned his fellow travelers so they could see how a great man should die. The porter was particularly impressed by his quiet expiration.

His earthly life, however, was not so tranquil as his death. Tried for shady dealings in wheat, and summoned to court for various fabrications, he was forced, on one occasion, to confess open falsehood:

On the witness stand, under oath, he answered, “Yes,” to the question, “Do you know Greek?”
He was handed a copy of the New Testament in Greek. When requested to identify the letters of the alphabet, he could not do so. At that point Russell’s attorney became agitated, apparently fearing that his client would be indicted for perjury. Thereupon, he pressed him, “Now, are you familiar with the Greek language?”
Always a prevaricator, Russell caught the hint and answered, brazenly and unblushingly, “No.”[8]

Above all, as Ferguson puts it, “His domestic life was far from millennial.”[9] In 1897 he was separated from his wife, and in 1913, Mrs. Russell brought suit for divorce on four grounds.[10] The most serious charge was the charge of adultery. A certain Rose Ball was involved. Though at first Russell claimed innocence, “he was finally cornered and confessed to be an adulterer.”[11] But it seems that he afterward still maintained his innocency and vowed that he never again would so much as enter a room in which a member of the opposite sex, not actually a member of his own family, was present.[12] This vow did not prevent him from trying to defraud his former wife of her alimony.[13] His wife continued her relentless opposition to the pastor whose heavenly mission she seemed to doubt. The scandal of the whole affair threatened to destroy the movement. Russell’s successor, J. F. Rutherford, followed his leader in matrimonial infelicity also, but he kept his problems private, remembering, no doubt, the serious consequences of publicity for the captain of Jehovah’s hosts.

J. F. Rutherford

It was in 1916 that Judge J. F. Rutherford was elected president of the organization. Little is known of his contacts with the Witnesses prior to this elevation. He relates the circumstances of his conversion:

Long before I knew Pastor Russell he had done much for me. While I was engaged in the law practice in the Middle West, there came into my office one day a lady bearing some books in her arms. She was modest, gentle, and kind. I thought she was poor, and that it was my privilege and duty to help her. I found that she was rich in faith in God. I bought the books and afterwards read them. Up to that time I knew nothing about the Bible; I had never heard of Pastor Russell. I did not even know that he was the author of the books at the time I read them; but I know that the wonderfully sweet, harmonious explanation of the plan of God thrilled my heart and changed the course of my life from doubt to joy.[14]

His election to succeed “the greatest expositor since the apostle Paul” did not meet with universal approval as the break-off of a half-dozen small sects from the larger sect shows quite clearly. Rutherford assured them that they would suffer destruction for their recalcitrancy.[15]

Rutherford was strikingly similar to Russell in one respect and strikingly different in another. Like his predecessor, the judge was a voluminous and utterly confident expositor of the system. His doctrinal differences from Russell were very slight, and the mass of his literary output was even greater. And the same colossal circulation, which he Witnesses give to all their publications, was afforded the new leader. “The catalogue states that from 1921 through 1940 a total of 337,000,000 copies of his books and pamphlets were distributed, an average of almost 20,000,000 per year.”[16] It is interesting to note that his works actually supplanted Russell’s, even as his own writings have been supplanted.

But he conspicuously differed from his predecessor in his public ministry – or, perhaps we should say, in his lack of a public ministry. While Russell was always with people and became a popular idol, Rutherford was most secretive and unavailable. At the Detroit convention and other conventions he appeared mysteriously and disappeared again as soon as he had spoken. Charles Braden testified: “He refused the writer a personal interview, as he had consistently done to others who sought to make firsthand contact with him.”[17] Dan Gilbert reminisces: “In San Diego, for a period of some five years, the late ‘Judge’ Rutherford, chief mobilizer of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was my next-door, or, more precisely, across-the-canyon neighbor. I cannot recall that he ever manifested ‘neighborliness,’ despite the proximity of our dwelling-places and the well-known Rutherfordite penchant for ringing doorbells!”[18] Very little was actually known about Rutherford during his life, and his death was as mysterious as his life. When he passed on in January, 1942, at seventy-two years of age, few people knew that he had even been ill, and the cause of his death was not disclosed.[19] It was known that that his last few years were spent at Beth-Sarim, the House of Princes, which the Witnesses have since enlarged to palatial dimensions as a dwelling for David and the other Old Testament leaders when they return to rule the earth for Christ. That this estate was actually deeded to Jesus Christ was denied by Rutherford, who pointed out that Christ had already returned but was and would remain invisible.[20]

N. H. Knorr

In 1942 N. H. Knorr, who actually had been running the Brooklyn office for the last few years of Rutherford’s reign, was elected his successor. Knorr was definitely less conspicuous than Russell and Rutherford, both as a speaker and a writer. We do, however, get some insight into the drift of things from the article he submitted to Vergilius Ferm’s Religion in the Twentieth Century. Knorr apparently regarded his distinctive emphasis to be educational. “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” he said, “are trained for ministerial work. Not that they attend seminaries – neither did Jesus or the apostles. But intensive private and group study in the Bible and Bible helps equips them. Such training has been stressed particularly since J. F. Rutherford has been succeeded in the Society’s presidency by N. H. Knorr …”[21] It also appears highly significant and indicative of the future of the Witnesses that Knorr made only a slight reference to Russell and Rutherford, listing only the recent books in his article and bibliography. It would seem that Knorr intended to ignore Rutherford as Rutherford ignored Russell before him. Indeed, many modern Witnesses do not even recognize the names of these pillars of their faith.

We may refer to the cult of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as Russellism. For, though the master’s writings are no longer printed and his works and even his name little known among the followers, his brand of theology still prevails with only slight modifications. Others have written at great length, but this is mostly repetition and elaboration.

The Theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Coming right to the heart of this theology, we find two fundamental principles. To use scholastic language, one is the formal, and the other the material principle. The formal principle is the authority of the Bible; the material principle is the vindication of Jehovah. All the rest of the myriad details of this complicated system of doctrine (with its particularly vivid eschatology) may be viewed as a deduction from this latter principle.

The Authority of the Bible 

First let us examine the formal principle, the authority of the Bible. There is no reasonable doubt that the Witnesses accept the Bible as the Word of God and profess to ground all their doctrines on its authority. Russell announced in his journal: “The Watch Tower does not assume a dogmatic attitude, but confidently invites a careful examination of its utterances in the light of God’s infallible word.”[22] They accept the Bible in its entirety and claim to be the only group which has done justice to all its teachings. “ ‘Be it known,’ wrote Russell, ‘that no other system of theology even claims, or ever has attempted, to harmonize in itself EVERY statement of the Bible; yet nothing short of this we claim for these views.’ ”[23] Russell claimed no inherent authority and on occasion specifically denied having it. “I claim nothing of superiority or supernatural power!”[24] This position has been continued to the present day.

Nevertheless, the Witness movement has developed the role of the infallible interpreter of the infallible Word. And, as with Romanism and all other groups which have yielded to this temptation, the infallible interpreter has tended to replace the infallible Word in the thinking and faith of the believer. According to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, May, 1925, Russell was the angel referred to in Ezekiel 9:11, or the seventh messenger of the church. This clearly put him in the position of infallible teacher. It is apparent that Russell thought of himself in such a way, although he disclaimed “superiority or supernatural power.” How else can one explain his statement in Studies in the Scriptures, “that it would be better to leave the Bible unread and read his Studies than to read the Bible and ignore his Studies”?

Rutherford continued the same unofficial doctrine of the infallible interpreter. “These speeches do not contain my message, but do contain the expression of Jehovah’s purpose which he commands must now be told to the people.’ ”[25] Since this sure word of prophecy was vouchsafed to Rutherford, he could quite naturally warn his followers that “ ‘It is entirely unsafe for the people to rely upon the words and doctrines of imperfect men.’ ”[26]

It is clear from the notion of the infallible interpreter is a real one and firmly established in practice. The organization of the Witnesses is utterly authoritarian. Differences of opinion are simply not tolerated; defectors from the party line are liquidated from the membership. We have already noted that Rutherford did not dare deviate much from Russell’s teachings; when he did, he caused trouble in the ranks. While Russell was living, Rutherford would never have dared to deviate from him. Stroup gives a detailed description of the meetings if the Witnesses and points out that they consist of questions asked by the leader. The people attempt to give answers and are finally told by recitation of the Watch Tower the correct answers. To these “answers” they unquestioningly submit.

So then, the Witnesses’ nominal acceptance of the principle of an authoritative Scripture is vitiated by their practical acceptance of an infallible interpreter. The right of private judgment is, for all practical purposes, done away with, as the Witness bows to the hierarchy, or rather, the one at the head of the hierarchy. Nevertheless, the nominal or official acceptance of any human authority, makes this the most vulnerable point at which to question the theology of the Witness. His actual interpretation of the Bible is so palpably capricious that the traditional theologian should not have too much trouble carrying conviction if he can be sure to have the Witness first acknowledge his willingness to abide by the verdict of the Bible, regardless of the teachings of any or all Witnesses.

The Vindication of Jehovah’s Name

The vindication of the name of Jehovah is the basic material principle of the system. This is not obvious on the surface but becomes apparent with a little scrutiny. It is stated in the earlier and more definitive authorities, Russell and Rutherford, and later N. H. Knorr made as clear an affirmation as any:

Rebellion in Eden called into question Jehovah’s position as supreme Sovereign and challenged his power to put men on earth who would maintain integrity toward God under test. (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-5). It raised an issue requiring time to settle, and made necessary the vindication of God’s name. The Scriptures abound with evidence that the primary issue before creation is the vindication of Jehovah’s name and word … In due time God will establish his new world of righteousness and completely vindicate his name … (italics mine).[27]

It is to be noted what kind of vindication is in view here. It was Jehovah’s “power to put men on earth who would maintain integrity toward God under test” that was challenged and must be vindicated. Compare this theodicy with Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo to get some idea of the jejune character of Russellism. According to Anselm, God’s honor suffered by sin, and nothing would adequately satisfy His offended majesty but the suffering and death of one of equal honor and dignity with His own great self. Hence God had to become man to satisfy the honor of God. But according to the Witnesses, God has merely to put men on the earth who would maintain integrity under test. For the Almighty this would be child’s play. So at the outset we see the shallow view of the attributes of God and the superficial estimate of human sin which lies at the base of the Witnesses’ thought.

Consistent with this is an exceedingly low view of Christ. For if God’s honor is so meager and man’s sin so slight, what need could there be of a great salvation or great Savior? The virgin birth is denied; the incarnation becomes a mere change of natures; the atonement merely satisfies for Adam’s sin and incidentally provides a ransom (which does not ransom anyone but simply gives everyone another chance or second probation). The Witnesses believe that at death the human Jesus “dissolved into gas” and remains extinct forever. It was the spirit Jesus who rose from the dead; materializations of a body were effected to give the apostles the impression of a resurrected body.[28] All of this is in perfect keeping with Rutherford’s belief that in comparison with testifying to the honor of Jehovah human salvation occupies a secondary place. Needless to say, although the Witnesses regard Christ as the first-born of the creation, the ransomer who provides a second chance for all who need it, the leader of Jehovah’s people in their witnessing to Him, He is far short of being “very God of very God.” The churches’ creeds which use such language to describe Jesus are dubbed “gibberish” by Russell. And as for the Trinity, “There are” says H. E. Pennock, “some clergymen, no doubt, who are really sincere in thinking that Jesus was his own father, and the Almighty is the son of Himself; and that each one of these is a third person who is the same as the other two, and yet different from them!”[29]

The Practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses 

Without question this principle makes them witness by word of mouth and from door to door, with an endless stream of books, booklets, pamphlets, and magazines, and with an what Willard Sperry calls their “omnipresent victrola.” In their fervent pursuit of millennial happiness they display zeal that tar and feathers, bullets, imprisonment, concentration camps, and death have been impotent to diminish. But Gilbert sets this matter in its realistic light:

While religious denominations may talk of salvation by faith or by character, Russell and Rutherford hammer into the thickest skull of the simplest minded devotee that there is a mansion in heaven for no one who does not devote his days and nights unto the hour of death itself – to the high calling of door-to-door canvassing and propagandizing. There is no other test of “faithfulness.” It matters not what one believes or what one does, he is doomed to extinction unless he incessantly witnesses in the prescribed manner. Rutherford says: “While on the earth those who receive God’s approval must be witnesses to the name and kingdom of Jehovah. In no other way can they be faithful and perform their commission” (Riches). “If Jehovah’s witnesses should fail or refuse to deliver the message, they would be unfaithful to God and would suffer destruction” (His Vengeance).[30]

Some of the Russellites’ practices may be noted. In their meetings the Witnesses pray, but, Stroup says, they pray only for themselves:[31] “Seldom does family strife lead to divorce, however, because the movement is strictly opposed to it. Although no exact figures can be obtained as yet, I have the impression that the number of separations among the Witnesses is unusually high compared to those of other religious groups.”[32] Marcus Bach asked a Witness, “Do you have children?” and received this typical kind of answer: “No, we haven’t. We think it is better to wait until after Armageddon.”[33]

The no-hell doctrine makes it very difficult for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to counteract antinomianism. Ferguson said of Russell: “I am told that while lecturing in Waco, Texas, on the existence of hell, a sot rose to his feet in the back of the audience and shouted, ‘Stay with ‘em, Pastor! We’re dependin’ on you.’”[34] But, after all, if sin required nothing more for its expiation than a few men to stand up and testify for Jehovah, hell would certainly be unnecessary.

Nothing is more characteristic of Russellism than its unmitigated hostility to religion. But it saves its greatest vindictiveness for the church of Christ. The church is not witnessing to the truth but professes to be doing so. What could be worse? Even Paul was a corrupting influence. But the church since his time has become increasingly more wicked.

A pious Witness wrote to r. Russell: “Will you kindly advise me in regard to severing my connection with the church of which I am a member? I feel as though I should not attend because I would be consenting to their teaching which I do not now believe.” In reply, Russell roundly criticized the churches as apostates from the Word of God. He declared that they profess one sort of morality and practice another. He likened them to the “anti-Christ” of the book of Revelation, and declared that because they were so evil, the true believer must “come out from among them and be clean.”[35]

But Rutherford, who regarded all religion as of the devil,[36] outdid his master in his hatred of the Christian church: “The greatest racket ever invented and practiced is that of religion … There are numerous systems of religion, but the most subtle, fraudulent, and injurious to humankind is that which is generally labeled the “Christian religion” … (Enemies) ”[37]

The Eschatology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

The clearest working out of the divine vindication is seen in the realm of eschatology. For it is in the end of the age that the real vindication will come. One gets the impression that it is in the vindication of the Witnesses which looms more significant than the vindication of their God. While Abel was the first Jehovah’s Witness and many outstanding Old Testament saints testified to the truth also, the Christian era is unique. Since Pentecost, God has been calling out the 144,000 who were destined actually to attain immortality and rule with Christ during the millennium and forever. The beginning of the end, however, was in 1874 when Christ returned to the “upper air” where, a few years later, the apostles and other dead Witnesses were caught up with him.

Then in 1914 another stage was reached. “That year ‘nation rose against nation’ in history’s first engulfing world war. It was the first of a series of physical evidences Jesus foretold in his outstanding prophecy in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew concerning his second coming and the end of the world. The witnesses as a whole understood that this second coming and end did not mean a fiery end of the literal earth, but meant the end of Satan’s uninterrupted rule over “this present evil world’ and the time for Christ’s enthronement in heaven as King.”[38]

In 1918 Christ came to the temple of Jehovah for the temple judgment. He gathered His followers and began the judgment of the nations mentioned in Matthew 25. Gilbert is caustic but correct when he says, “Christ came to the temple in 1918,’ means that He returned to indwell and lead them in refusing to salute the flag of their country, in walking the paths of treason, and in abusing every busy housewife who will not neglect her domestic duties and betray her Saviour to hear and heed a Rutherford recording as ‘her Master’s Voice’ ”[39]

The Witnesses are not waiting for the return of Christ; that has already happened. They are eagerly anticipating, with apparent relish, the imminent coming of the Battle of Armageddon. Christ will lead the forces of Jehovah (which may or may not include Jehovah’s Witnesses) against all the forces of this evil world, slaughtering all in the most terrible carnage of history. “By the side of this great fall,” says Ferguson, “the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. will seem like a snow-ball fight between boys …”[40]

The vast host of the dead will then be raised as the millennium begins on the earth. Those who had previously been annihilated are not recreated in order to be given another chance to believe and follow Jehovah. The Witnesses think that there will be probations lasting about one hundred years for the individual, after which, if he does not believe, he will be destroyed. During this time of probation, there may be a great problem of standing room on the earth for the billions of persons then present. Ephraim Eaton has calculated that they could not all be accommodated:[41] But Russell had it all figured out that “ ‘there is sufficient standing room at ten square feet for 660 trillion bodies of men on the earth.’ ”[42]At the end of the millennium Satan, who will be bound during it, will be released and then will stage one final rebellion. Jehovah will be vindicated in Satan’s final destruction.

2. Doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Doctrine of the Bible

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible is the inspired Word (Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, I, 348). The creeds of the church (the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian). He labeled “gibberish manufactured by Satan” (SS, VII, 53). Ostensibly Russell, Rutherford, and other Jehovah’s Witness writers are not infallible: “I claim nothing of superiority or supernatural power” (Watch Tower, July, 1906). “The Watch Tower does not assume a dogmatic attitude, but confidently invites a careful examination of its utterances in the light of God’s infallible word” (Charles W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, p. 72). At the same time, Russell is ranked with the apostle Paul as one of the two greatest Bible interpreters (Watch Tower, 1918, no. 1, p. 2). Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Russell himself was the seventh messenger to the church predicted in Ezekiel 9:1-11. Judge Rutherford identified his interpretation with the Word of God, saying: “These speeches do not contain my message, but do contain the expression of Jehovah’s purpose which he commands must now be told to the people” (Why Serve Jehovah, p. 62). “It is,” he says, exempting himself from the category, “entirely unsafe for the people to rely upon the words and doctrines of imperfect men” (Prophets Foretell Redemption, p. 35). And still today, in spite of much neglect, the teaching of these two men remains the standard of truth, as Dr. W. R. Martin observes (The Christian and Cults, p. 65).

Doctrine of God

There is one God and His proper name is Jehovah (used 6,823 times in the Old Testament). Such names as “God” and “Lord” were introduced into the Greek translations of the Old Testament and thereby into the New Testament to provide a basis for the “gibberish” about the Trinity. There is no authority for the Trinitarian doctrine in the Bible (Russell, SS, V, 54); its originator is Satan (J. F. Rutherford, Let God Be True, p. 82). Persistently, the Jehovah’s Witness writers represent the Trinity as three gods in one person rather than one God in the three persons (cf. Schleurlen, Die Sekten der Gegenwart, p. 37). The deity of Christ is denied. Not only the deity but the personality of the Holy Spirit is denied as even the New World Translation of 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:15; 16:8, etc., illustrates (Mayer, The Religious Bodies of America, p. 462; J. F. Rutherford, Deliverance, p. 150; J. F. Rutherford, The Harp of God, p. 198). The Holy Spirit “is the invisible force of the Almighty God that moves his servants to do his will” (LGBT, pp. 81, 89) and not a person in the Godhead (SS, V, 169, 210). The vindication of Jehovah is the whole theodicy of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the essence of their whole theology. (N. H. Knorr, “Jehovah’s Witnesses of Modern Times” in Ferm [ed.], Religion in the Twentieth Century, pp. 381ff.).

Doctrine of Man

A Jehovah’s Witness tract commenting on the Genesis account of creation says: “Man did not receive an immortal soul, he became, he then was, a living soul.” He is a combination of the dust of the earth and the breath of life (LGBT, p. 59) and does not differ from beasts who are also living souls (Gen. 1:30, margin; Eccles. 3:19). So the soul is not really distinct from a living body and dies with it. “Nowhere is it stated [in the Bible] that he [Adam] was given an immortal soul” (LGBT, p. 60). When a man dies, he is as dead as a dog (Russell, SS, V, 406). However, through the redemption of Christ man is kept from eternal death and is preserved in a consciousless state in Sheol until the resurrection when he will be reawakened and will remember himself (Schleurlen, SG, p. 35).

Doctrine of Sin

The first man Adam disobeyed Jehovah when tempted by the angel Lucifer, who was jealous of man. As a result of this disobedience, Adam and all his descendants lost the right to life and so became liable to death (Rutherford, Harp of God, pp. 38f.). This liability is applied to temporal death only.

Doctrine of Christ

Christ was the “only-begotten,” which means He was the highest of all creatures (SS, V, 84). He “did have a beginning” (LGBT, p. 88). In John 1:1 logos without the article is taken to mean “a god” and indicates that Christ is not the God. Philippians 2:6 is rendered: “Christ Jesus, who although he was in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure …” and is said to teach that Christ never even aspired to be God. Colossians 1:15 is said to teach that “Jehovah’s first creation was his Son.” John 5:30, 14:28, etc., are believed to teach that Christ was not divine. So, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christ was not eternal but was the first born. He had a brother, Lucifer, the only other son of Jehovah, who rebelled while Christ, then called Michael, the Captain of Jehovah’s host, remained obedient. In the incarnation “ ‘the Word’ in heaven was transferred from heaven to the ovum or egg-cell in the womb of the unmarried Mary, and thereby she was blessed with the privilege of supplying Jesus’ human body” (J. F. Rutherford, The Kingdom Is at Hand, p. 49). Thus Michael was changed into the form of a man: “the life of the Son of God was transferred from his glorious position with God his Father in heaven to the embryo of a human” (J. F. Rutherford, Let God Be True, p. 39). He was born a perfect child “and grew up to be a perfect man, absolutely sinless, holy, harmless, undefiled” (ibid., p. 41f.). After He laid “aside his humanity forever as a sacrifice, God begat him by his spirit to become again a spirit Son of God” (ibid., p. 42). His body was preserved in the grave and then dissolved into gas or preserved somewhere (Russell, SS, II, 129; Rutherford, Harp of God, p. 170). So his “resurrection” was a transformation from His human state to a spirit state. Jehovah created another body after the death of Christ for Thomas to touch and the disciples to see, but this was also later dissolved. Recapitulating: Christ has been in three states: 1. The pre-existent state, as Michael, the Son of God; 2. The earthly state, as a bodily human being; 3. The post-resurrection state, again an invisible spirit.
Doctrine of Redemption

Man lost the right to life because Adam disobeyed God. Christ paid a ransom to cancel death and give an opportunity to earn life again. Rutherford uses the following illustration: John (representing the sinner) is in prison because he cannot pay his debt of one hundred dollars. Charles, his brother (Jesus), works, earns this money (by sacrifice), and pays it to the judge (Jehovah). (HG, pp. 139-141). Thus Christ’s sacrifice did two things: 1. It canceled Adam’s sin and its consequence, death; 2. It made a second chance to earn merit possible (SS, I, 150). This sacrifice had value because Christ, by His holy life, had deserved to live and not die. But He chose to die or rather exchange His human existence for the spirit existence (Rutherford, Deliverance, p. 159), and by relinquishing His right to live, He gave man an opportunity to live. Christ Jesus’ receiving life as a spirit creature and paying over His right as a human creature made Him by right of purchase the owner of every of every son of Adam who would comply with God’s requirement (Rutherford, Salvation, pp. 228 f.). This is the ransom and puts a person in the position to earn his redemption by faith and good works. This at-one-ment process began and will continue till the millennial age. “In this ransom work Jesus was assisted by the 144,000. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that according to Ephesians 5:32 the mystical body of Christ consists of Jesus as the head and of the 144,000 as the body. Like Jesus these 144,000 sacrificed their right to live in this world, earned through their perfect obedience to Jehovah’s theocracy, and like Jesus these – and these alone – will receive immortality of the soul” (Mayer, RBA, pp. 465 f.).

Jehovah’s Witnesses profess allegiance to the usual Christian ethical code but have some peculiarities, such as a tendency to antinomianism at points, a disinclination to benevolences outside their group, refusal to salute the flag, etc. “The writer was counseled not to repay more of the money he had taken in earlier life, because since his conversion his ‘old self’ had ‘died,’ and he was now living as though you actually were dead” (Stroup, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 112). Another former Witness wrote: “As a boy and man I served them for thirty years and have yet to find practiced by that organization any real charity that could be called spontaneous and proper” (W. J. Schnell, Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave, p. 81). The refusal to salute the flag is based on the belief that “the saluter impliedly declares that his salvation comes from the thing for which the flag stands; namely, the nation symbolized by the flag” (LGBT, pp. 242 f.).

Doctrine of the Church

“The greatest racket ever invented and practiced is that of religion … (especially) the ‘Christian religion.’ ” This judgment of Rutherford (Enemies, p. 9) is constantly reiterated by him and others (cf. Russell’s comparing churches to the Antichrist, Watch Tower, 1882; Stroup, JW’s, pp. 102 f. Luke 11:52 shows Christ coming in judgment upon the clergy (Schleurlen, SG, p. 29). Rejecting professing Christendom, Jehovah’s Witnesses regard the 144,000 as members of the body of Christ. This poses a problem about the status of present-day Witnesses. “So, the Society conveniently declared its position to be that of the Remnant of Christ on earth, or the last ones; and the problem of all now coming in to be that of ‘the Great Multitude,’ who no longer could be of such a spirit-begotten class” (Schnell, TYWS, p. 46). Those now coming into the fast-growing movement are “Jonadabs” whose purpose is to escape the imminent destruction of Armageddon. The group shows a high degree of organization; indeed, it is one of the most effective organizations in existence.

The company or Kingdom Hall meetings open with prayer and are occupied mainly with a discussion of current Watchtower teaching. W. J. Schnell describes their seven step program of reaching others: (1) Sell book; (2) Call back; (3) “Publisher” studies with new person privately; (4) Area book study; (5) Watch Tower study on Sunday at Kingdom Hall; (6) Attend service meeting and begin dispensing literature; (7) Receive baptism (TYWS, pp. 131 ff.). Baptism is my immersion, often in mass public ceremony; about 3500 in Detroit in 1940, for example. The Lord’s Supper is held on the fourteenth of Nisan (date of ancient passover). N. H. Knorr wrote that emphasis on training of Witnesses was the feature of his presidency (JW’s in Ferm, p. 387). He also wrote: “Some 6,700 full-time field workers (pioneers) are aided financially by the Society.” The intensity and persistence of their witnessing is known to all. When they cannot get in the doors, they come through the windows by means of messages broadcasted from sound trucks – this, they claim, in fulfillment of Joel who predicted that the locusts would climb in through the windows (Mayer, RBA, pp. 459 f.).

Doctrine of the Future

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have an intricate calendar of future events. The general orientation of temporal events, according to Russell (SS, I, “The Plan of the Ages”), is in three dispensations: “the world that was” (creation to flood); “the present evil world” (flood to millennium beginning in 1914-18); “the world to come” (with its two divisions, the millennium and the ages beyond). The more detailed eschatological calendar is as follows: (1) 1874: Christ returned to the upper air and was invisible Lord over the earth from 1874 to 1914 (New Heavens and New Earth; cf. Royston Pike, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 66; Schleurlen, SG, p. 43). (2) The apostles and dead members of the “little flock” were raised (first resurrection) to be with Christ in the air (E. T. Clark, The Small Sects in America, p. 47). This was the “parousia” or “presence” of Christ during the forty-year harvest (Russell). (3) 1914 (later, 1918): Russell and others had taught that Christ had returned to His temple (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses) and became King of this world, ruling through His people in 1914 (Watch Tower, 1920). Rutherford and others said it was 1918 (Theocracy, pp. 32f.; Protection). Knorr simply identified this event with World War I, which fulfilled Matthew 24, and he added: “The Witnesses as a whole understood that this second coming and end did not mean a fiery end of the literal earth, but meant the end of Satan’s uninterrupted rule over ‘this present evil world’ and the time for Christ’s enthronement in heaven as King” (JW’s, p. 384). (4) Armageddon: In the indefinite but near future Christ will lead His hosts, the Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently joining them, in the slaughter of all His enemies (Religion). (5) Millennium: “Armageddon survivors will multiply and populate the earth. Unnumbered multitudes will be raised to life by a resurrection from the dead during the time of Christ’s thousand-year reign (John 5:28, 29, American Standard Version), (Knorr, JW’s, p. 390). This re-creation is the second resurrection, and the subsequent millennium is a probationary period affording a chance which every person must have to acknowledge Jehovah, according to Isaiah 65:20 (Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, p. 218). (6) Annihilation: the impenitent are not punished, for “a Creator that would torture His creatures eternally would be a fiend, not a God of love” (Rutherford, World Distress, p. 40). So they are annihilated again, this time never to be re-created. (7) Immortality: Jehovah’s Witnesses deduce from 1 Timothy 4:10, Luke 2:10, and Matthew 1:21 a twofold immortality: heavenly and earthly. The little flock is sustained by Christ’s heavenly presence and the millennial believers live forever on the food of the new earth.

3. Terms Frequently Used by Jehovah’s Witnesses

Annihilation: The doctrine that unbelievers will not be eternally punished; they will instead be annihilated. This will occur after the probation of the millennium.

Arius: Early Christian heretic who affirmed that there was a time when the Son of God was not. Though he was repudiated by the Council of Nicaea in 325, he was regarded by Pastor Russell as one of the six great Christian teachers.

Armageddon: Impending battle in Palestine between the hosts of Christ and Antichrist, which will issue in the destruction of the latter.

Awake: Widely circulated periodical of the Witnesses.

Beth Sarim: This “house of princes” was, until 1948, maintained by the Witnesses as a residence for David and other saints who had been expected to return. They are still expected to return, but they will apparently have to find their own accommodations now because of their belated arrival.

Consolation: A popular periodical of the Russellites.

Day of Our Lord Jesus Christ: The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that this time period began when Christ returned to His temple, probably in 1918. It continues, apparently, until Armageddon.

Gehenna: New Testament Greek word, derived from the Hebrew, indicating place of endless punishment; but according to Jehovah’ Witnesses, annihilation.

Hades: A word sometimes used in the Bible to refer to death as the separation from the world, and to Jehovah’s Witnesses see in it a denial of hell.

The Harp of GodJudge Rutherford’s basic and comprehensive elucidation of Jehovah’s Witness’ theology.

Immortality: The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach an earthly and heavenly immortality.

Jonadab: Members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come into the Organization to escape the approaching storm of Armageddon. They are not considered Christians or “begotten of the Spirit.” They are carefully taught that if they stay close within the confines of the Organization, follow all its instructions religiously, listen regular to Watch Tower’sindoctrination, go out as Publishers regularly, and rigidly report the time they spend in doing so, then maybe they will be saved in Armageddon (from Schnell, Thirty Years a Watch Tower Slave, p. 164).

Little Flock: Another name for the 144,000 Witnesses who inherit eternal life in heaven.

Lucifer: The seondborn creature of God (after the firstborn, Jesus), who rebelled and has become the chief adversary of Jehovah; he will be destroyed at the Battle of Armageddon.

Messenger of the Covenant: Another name for Christ.

Michael: The archangel, firstborn creature, who is the leader of Jehovah’s hosts and at one time became the man, Jesus.

Millennium: The coming visible reign of Christ on earth during which an effective enforced peace will prevail and evangelization will be accelerated.

New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures: The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official translation of the Bible, which gives to controversial passages a Russellite interpretation.

Ransom: Christ’s death, which, although not necessary, purchased an opportunity for every human creature to be saved if he will believe and obey. The doctrine of the “ransom” formally resembles orthodoxy. However, Christ is not regarded as an eternal being of infinite worth, nor as the One who endured the wrath of God in the sinner’s stead.

Russellite: A follower of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Soul-Sleep: The state of unconsciousness into which the soul of the Christian passes at death (until the return of Christ). The unbelievers are annihilated, but the believers will be recreated at Christ’s return.

Temple: The Witnesses are the “temple” of Christ, to which He returned in 1918.

Watch Tower: The official periodical publication of the Witnesses.

144,000: Those referred to in Revelation 7 as the true witnesses who live in heaven after their death. Apparently the number has been reached by now but there seems to be no official statistics.

4. For Further Reading

American Civil Liberties Union. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the War. New York: American Civil Liberties Union, 1943.
_______. The Persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. New York: American Civil Liberties Union, 1941.

Axup, Edward J. The Jehovah’s Witnesses Unmasked. New York: Greenwich, 1959.

Cole, MarleyJehovah’s Witnesses: The New World Society. New York: Vantage Press, 1955.
_______. Triumphant Kingdom. New York: Criterion Books, 1957.

Czatt, Milton Stacey. The International Bible Students: Jehovah’s Witnesses. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933.

Dencher, Ted. The Watchtower Heresy Versus the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1961.
_______. Why I Left Jehovah’s Witnesses. Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1966.

Duncan, Homer. Heart to Heart Talks with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Lubbock, TX: Missionary Crusader, n.d.

Grigg, David H. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible Agree? New York: Vantage Press, 1958.

Gruss, Edmond C. Apostles of Denial. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970.
_______. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1972.

Hoekema, Anthony A. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974.

Knorr, N. H., “Jehovah’s Witnesses of Modern Times.” In Religion in the Twentieth Century, edited by Vergilius T. Ferm, 1948. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Inc., n.d.

Lewis, Gordon. The Christian and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1966.

McKinney, George D. The Theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.

Martin, Walter R. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1967.

Martin, Walter R. and Klann, Norman H. Jehovah of the Watchtower. Rev. ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974.

Mayer, Frederick E. Jehovah’s Witnesses. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1957.

Pike, Royston. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Who They Are, What They Teach, What They Do. New York: Philosophical Library, 1954.

Quidam, Roger D. The Doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959.

Russell, Charles T. The Divine Plan of the Ages. Brooklyn: Dawn Publishers, 1937.
_______. Photo-Drama of Creation, and Religious Speeches. Brooklyn: Dawn Publishers, 1917.
_______. Sermons: A Choice Collection of His Most Important Discourses on All Phases of Christian Doctrine and Practice. Brooklyn: Dawn Publishers, n.d.
_______. Studies in the Scriptures: A Helping Hand for Bible Students. 7 vols. Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1886-1917.

Rutherford, Joseph F. Rutherford wrote the following books, all published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society: Children (1941); Creation (1927); Deliverance (1926);Enemies (1937); Government (1928); The Harp of God (1921); Jehovah (1934); Life (1929); Light, 2-vols. (1930); Preparation (1933); Preservation (1932); Prophecy (1929);Reconciliation (1928); Religion (1940); Riches (1936); Salvation (1939); Vindication, 3-vols. (1931-1932).

Schnell, Wm. J. How to Witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses. New York (former title: Christians Awake!). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961.
________. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Errors Exposed (former title: Into the Light of Christianity). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959.
________. Thirty Years a Watch Tower Slave. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957.

Stevenson, W. C. The Inside Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. New York: Hart Publishing Co., 1968.

Stroup, Herbert H. The Jehovah’s Witnesses. 1945. Reprint. New York: Russell and Russell, 1967.

Stuermann, Walter E. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible. Tulsa: Tulsa University Press, 1955.

Thomas, F. W. Masters of Deception. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972.

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The following books give no indication of authorship. They were published in the year indicated:
All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial (1963).
Babylon the Great Has Fallen! God’s Kingdom Rules (1963).
Blood, Medicine, and the Law of God (1961).
Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? (1967).
Equipped for Every Good Work (1946).
From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained (1958).
Is the Bible Really the Word of God? (1969).
Kingdom Is at Hand, The (1944).
Let God Be True (1946; revised 1952).
Let Your Name Be Sanctified (1961).
Life Everlasting – in Freedom of the Sons of God (1966).
Make Sure of All Things (1957).
Make Sure of All Things: Hold Fast to What Is Fine (1965; revised ed. of Make Sure of All Things).
Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah – How?, The (1971)
New Heavens and a New Earth (1953).
New World, The (1942).
Qualified to Be Ministers (1955; revised and expanded 1967).
Then Is Finished the Mystery of God (1969).
Theocratic Aid to Kingdom Publishers (1945).
Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie (1965).
This Means Everlasting Life (1950).
Truth Shall Make You Free, The (1943).
Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, The (1968).
What Do The Scriptures Say About “Survival After Death”? (1955).
What Has Religion Done for Mankind? (1951).
“Word, The” – Who Is He? According to John (1962).
Your Will Be Done on Earth (1958).
Your Word Is a Lamp to My Feet (1967).

Whalen, Wm. J. Armageddon Around the Corner. New York: John Day Co., 1962.

5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines.

In the following chapter we present views which are held by the church without exception (unless so indicated). There are three main branches of the catholic (universal) church: Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. These have differences among them, but there is a remarkable consensus of viewpoint on the basic structure of Christian doctrine. This fact is justification for use of the term “the catholic church.” We have chosen quotations from official creeds of these branches to illustrate the various doctrines.

Doctrine of the Bible

The catholic church believes the sixty-six books of the Old Testament and New Testament to be the plenarily inspired Word of God. The Roman Church adds to this number some of the apocrypha. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches seem to give ecclesiastical tradition virtually equal authority with Scripture. The Protestant churches, however, hold tosola scriptura. Thus, the Lutheran Formula of Concord affirms: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctors ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament.” The French Confession of Faith says of the Bible that “inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.” The American Revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England states: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Doctrine of God

The Athanasian Creed, accepted as an ecumenical creed by all branches of the church, reads: “ … we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (Essence). For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible (unlimited or infinite), the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal … so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches: “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Doctrine of Man

Again we may use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, for it expresses what all catholic churches believe about man. “God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Doctrine of Sin

The Roman Catholic statement made at the Council of Trent contains a catholic affirmation: “ … Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and … he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through the offense of prevarication, was changed , in body, and soul, for the worse … this sin of Adam … [is] transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation … “ All catholic churches say at least this much; some, such as the Reformed, make more of the consequences of the Fall.

Doctrine of Christ

We may use the historic confession of the Council of Chalcedon (A. D. 451), for this has been recognized through the ages by all branches of orthodox Christendom as a true statement concerning the person of Jesus Christ. “ … our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one. Person and Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ …”

We note that the expression, “Mary, the Mother of God,” is a genuinely catholic expression. It does not mean that Mary was the genetrix of God, but that the human nature which was begotten in her womb was united with the eternal Son of God. So Mary was the mother of the child who was God; i.e., the mother of God.

Doctrine of Redemption

The satisfaction view of the atonement is the truly classic view of the catholic church. This could be shown from Protestant, Roman, or Eastern Orthodox creeds. We will show it by a citation from “The Longer Catechism” of the Eastern Orthodox Church: “Therefore as in Adam we had all fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have the victory over sin and death.”

There is a great difference among the three divisions of Christendom concerning the appropriation of this redemption achieved by Christ. The Protestant churches teach that it is by faith alone; the other branches incline to the view that it is by faith and works, or by faith considered as the beginning of works.

All branches of the church teach that the Christian has an obligation to endeavor to keep the moral law of God and that a person who does not do so is a reprobate. There is a doctrine in the Roman Church which is inconsistent with this, but nevertheless she teaches the above explicitly.
Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a definition of the church shared by all bodies of Christendom which accept the notion of the invisibility of the church. “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”
Doctrine of the Future

While there has been less defining of the doctrine of the future by the catholic church than has been true of other doctrines, what has been stated is unanimously affirmed. All branches of Christendom are agreed that there is a place of eternal felicity, called heaven, where redeemed men and unfallen angels dwell in the gracious presence of God. It is also taught that there is a place of eternal misery, called hell, where all unredeemed men and fallen angels dwell in the wrathful presence of God. The Roman Catholic Church maintains, in addition, the existence of purgatory, the limbus patrum, and the limbus infantum. Universal salvation has been taught by various individuals, but no church recognized by catholic Christianity has affirmed it.

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects

Seventh-day Adventism teaches that salvation is attained by faith in the atonement made by Christ in 1844. This faith must be expressed in obedience to the ethical teachings of the Bible (including the Saturday Sabbath) and in acceptance of the doctrinal teachings of the Bible (including the imminent premillennial return of Christ).

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the only consistent Bible students. They find the vindication of Jehovah to be the fundamental aim of history. This vindication of Jehovah is accomplished by the atonement of the first-born creature, Jesus, and expressed by the witnessing to an impending Armageddon. At this battle Jehovah and His witnesses will be vindicated and the final consummation of things will begin.

Mormonism is built on a revelation subsequent to the Bible, called the Book of Mormon. According to this book, the church is to be recognized on the basis of a creed which teaches a plurality of created gods, repudiates justification by faith, and teaches a salvation achieved by the merit of obeying divine laws.

Christian Science is a formula for health and wealth by right thinking, but its thinking denies the reality of poverty and sickness.

Doctrines Traditional Christian Mormonism Seventh-day Adventism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Science
Bible Verbally inspired Inspired Bible and Book of Mormon Reluctant to affirm verbal inspiration; vague about status of Mrs. White Verbally inspired Bible inspired andScience and Health is its inspired interpretation
God Three Persons in one essence Polytheism Approximately traditional Christian view Uni-personal Impersonal and pantheistic
Man Body & soul created good Pre-existent soul takes body at birth in this world Body-soul creature; created neutral or with inclination to evil Body; soul not distinguishable from body Soul only; body is an illusion
Sin Result of Adam’s disobedience; corruption of nature and action It was necessary for Adam to sin. This brought mortality without guilt No clear doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin; man now polluted Adam’s sin brought liability to temporal death “There is no sin” – it is an illusion
Christ One divine person in two distinct natures (divine-human) Called creator but only pre-existent spirit who took body at incarnation Like traditional view but represents human nature as having tendency to sin First born creature; changed into man at birth in this world Christ is a divine idea; Jesus is mere human
Redemption Faith in atonement as expressed by holy life Atonement gives man chance to earn salvation Believing in atonement made in heaven plus holy living including observance of the Saturday Sabbath Christ’s ransom gives man chance to earn salvation Salvation is casting out idea of sin
Church Mystical union of all true believers; visible union of all professed believers Other churches apostate; efficient hierarchical organization Seems to regard itself as true remnant church Traditional church rejected; 144,000 witnesses make up Church A denomination like Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish
Future Eternal heaven, eternal hell, temporary purgatory (R.C.) Pre-millennial reign at Independence, MO; tends toward universal salvation Annihilation of the wicked; millennium in heaven and eternity on new earth Earthly millennium during which final probation leading to annihilation or eternal life Universal salvation in future when idea of sin gradually dies

[1] Jan Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1938 edition, p. 190.

[2] Charkes W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, p. 66.

[3] See The Watch Tower, July, 1906.

[4] Confusion of Tongues, p. 87.

[5] Elmer T. Clark, The Small Sects in America, revised edition, pp. 45f.

[6] Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues, p. 65.

[7] Charles Samuel Braden, These Also Believe, p. 361.

[8] Dan Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 16.

[9] Confusion of Tongues, p. 67.

[10] Herbert H. Stroup, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 9.

[11] Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 16.

[12] Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p 16.

[13] Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 233.

[14] Watch Tower, Dec. 1917, cited by Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 13.

[15] Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 14f.

[16] Charles Samuel Braden, These Also Believe, p. 363.

[17] Ibid., p. 363.

[18] Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, preface.

[19] Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 19f.

[20] Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, preface.

[21] N. H. Knorr, “Jehovah’s Witnesses of Modern Times,” in Vergilius Ferm’s Religion in the Twentieth Century, pp. 386f.

[22] Cited in Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues, p. 72.

[23] Cited in Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 76f.

[24] The Watch Tower, June, 1906.

[25] Rutherford. Why Serve Jehovah, p. 62, cited by Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 52.

[26] Cited by Stroup, Ibid. p. 125.

[27] N. H. Knorr, “Jehovah’s Witnesses of Modern Times,” quoted in Vergilius Ferm’s Religion in the Twentieth Century, p. 388.

[28] Cf. J. F. Rutherfords’s Harp of God.

[29] Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 240.

[30] Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 35, footnote.

[31] Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 33.

[32] Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 33.

[33] Ibid., p. 116.

[34] Marcus Bach, They Have Found a Faith, p. 44/

[35] Confusion of Tongues, p. 73.

[36] Stroup, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 102f.

[37] Gilbert, Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 50.

[38] Knorr in Ferm, Religion in the Twentieth Century, p. 384.

[39] Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 12.

[40] Confusion of Tongues, p. 82.

[41] Ephraim Llewellyn Eaton, Millennium Dawn Heresy.

[42] Julius Bodensieck, Isms New and Old, p. 67.

The Teachings of Mormonism by John Gerstner

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From retired Pastor Joe Gwynn,

A project of mine this summer has been to type four out-of-print works by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner. They are critiques of four prominent cults that ensnare thousands of unwary people. They (the booklets) are carefully footnoted and therefore can be defended with confidence. In them you will learn things (especially about their founders and history) that many of their proponents who come knocking at your door either do not know or will not admit. My purpose was to make these booklets (25-30 pages each) available for free downloading and distribution.

They are:
· The Teachings of Mormonism
· The Teachings of Seventh-day Adventism
· The Teachings of Christian Science
· The Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, the favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent historian and Reformed theologian, Dr. Gerstner also wrote several excellent books, including my favorite “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”, an excellent critique of Dispensationalism.

In the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ,
Joe Gwynn 

If you want this in Word format email me.
RMS

The teachings of

MORMONISM

John H. Gerstner

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, a favorite teacher of Dr. R. C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. Dr. Gerstner was a Reformed theologian, historian, and author.

CONTENTS

Introduction ……………………………………………….…2

1. A Description and History of Mormonism ……3

2. Doctrines of The Mormons …………………………12

3. Terms used by Mormons ……………………………16

4. For Further Reading ……………………………………19

5. Summary of Traditional Christian Beliefs ……21

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects ………………………24

Introduction

The abundance of literature on various “sects” shows that there is great interest in the subject. But what is a sect? We must make our definition clear, for there is wide difference of opinion on its meaning.

Evangelicals generally use sect when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles … especially the deity of Christ and His atonement. This booklet is written from the evangelical perspective.

The Teachings of Mormonism is designed as a ready reference booklet. It is meant to be a quick guide to the wealth of literature on this subject, and it includes a valuable table and glossary.

The general exposition in the first chapter gives an easily-grasped overview of the sect. The following chapter, “Doctrines of Mormonism” provides the reference material which summarizes the first chapter and adds some more technical data. Chapter two contains the basic theological structure of Mormonism, stated objectively and concisely. The text itself gives a fuller exposition of some of the cardinal points outlined in the first chapter.

Chapter three, “Terms Frequently Used by Mormons,” gives some of the most common terms in the vocabulary of this sect. Sects often have their own precise definitions for common religious words, and the glossary makes this immediately evident.

Chapter four, “For Further Reading,” lists both primary and secondary sources for further study of the theology and practice of the sect.

A summary of the essential teachings of traditional Christianity appears in chapter five. This summary is included to provide a basis for comparison with the doctrines of Mormonism. This chapter is designed to be used as a frame of reference.

To make the theologies of different sects clearer, their teachings have been summarized in the “Chart of Comparative Doctrines” at the end of chapter six. This tabular outline classifies the doctrines of Mormons, and continuing with the teachings of Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, this chart allows the reader to see at a glance the position of each group on various Christian doctrines.

1. A Description and History of Mormonism

The Mormons were driven from Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois, and finally found rest in unoccupied Mexican territory. (This later became American land, in spite of the Mormons’ vigorous opposition to the “Gentiles.”) While Mormonism has never quite come to terms with America, it is still unquestionably the most native of all religious groups.

Its Bible came into being at Palmyra, New York, it proclaimed Zion first in Illinois and later in Utah, its prophet’s name was Smith, its sacred history deals with North and South America, with landmarks familiar to us all, and not with events in far off Judea. Its exodus took place across the plains of our continent, its Red Sea was the Mississippi, and when the last trump sounds Jesus is coming to American soil, with headquarters in Salt Lake City.[1]

Joseph Smith

It all began in Sharon, Vermont. Today, a thirty-eight-and-a-half foot monument stands to Joseph Smith, who was “martyred” thirty-eight-and-half years after being born in this small town. The inscription reads, “Sacred to the memory of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, born here 23rd December, 1805, martyred at Carthage, Illinois, 27th June, 1844.” If Sharon today is proud to have cradled the Mormon idol, it was not always so, judging from an old New England gazetteer which confessed: “This is the birthplace of that infamous imposter, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, s dubious honor Sharon would relinquish willingly to another town.” [2]

Joseph Smith cannot be called a “root out of a dry ground.” His resemblance to his father brings to mind the remark William Pitt (the younger) made in his maiden speech to Parliament: “This is not a chip off the old block; it is the old block himself.” Joseph Smith, Sr. was a prophet in his own right – as his son seems to have appreciated, judging from the striking similarity between two of their alleged visions. And Lucy Mack Smith likewise was a worthy mother of the prophet, for she was the daughter of Solomon Mack, who displayed some knack for the occult. She was what we would today call “psychic,” judging from her reputation among some neighbors. With such parents it is not surprising that Smith’s youth could be summed up by his principal biographer as that of a “likable ne’er-do-well who was notorious for tall tales and necromantic arts and who spent his leisure leading a band of idlers in digging for buried treasure.”[3] He had a highly imaginative disposition of his own, which was fanned by religious fanaticism rampant around Palmyra, New York, (where his family now lived). With such a background it was not surprising that Joseph Smith would, in 1820, have his first vision.

Three more years passed, however, before there came the dream to end all dreams. Not far from Palmyra, according to Smith, appeared a resurrected saint, the angel Moroni, who had died about A.D. 400. He gave Joseph Smith an important message. It seems that Moroni had been the son of Mormon and he last of the Nephites, which were crushed out by the rival Lamanites. The whole story was recorded on certain golden plates which Moroni had hidden under the hill Cumorah until the appointed time for their disclosure to the prophet of the Latter-day Church. Joseph greatly desired the valuable plates, but was rebuked and told he could not have them for four more years. During the interval he was to visit Cumorah every year.

In 1827 Smith was permitted to take the plates home, and another three years passed before these, inscribed in “Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics,” were translated by Smith (using his personal Rosetta stone, called Urim and Thummim). Behind a sheet which was suspended by a rope, he looked into his peepstone and translated the inspired words to his secretary, Martin Harris, who was on the other side of the curtain. Harris’ profane eyes were forbidden to behold the celestial plates on pain of immediate death at the hands of the enraged deity. Oliver Cowdery, being more literate, later replaced Harris. Finally, in 1830, the new revelation was published at Palmyra, and the existence of the plates certified by the three witnesses who, probably under the influence of the prophet, saw them with the “eyes of faith.” In August, the Church of Christ (later, of the Latter-day Saints) was formed by six people meeting in Fayette, New York. The first 100 percent American church was born.

From this time on, the prophet was largely without honor in his own country. In 1831, he found it advisable to leave New York for Kirkland, Ohio. From here, because of various offenses culminating in a huge bank fraud, he and the saints found it expedient to move to the American Zion in Missouri. There the Gentiles fought him, imprisoned him, and finally drove him out to take his refuge on the banks of the Mississippi, Nauvoo, Illinois. From this place he was driven off the planet altogether, killed by some lawless militia at a nearby prison in 1844.

Brigham Young

In 1847 Brigham Young, substituting hard-headed business efficiency for revelations and visions, removed the harassed saints out of civilized America to distant Utah. There they were destined to make the desert blossom as the rose and become a part of the United States, from which they thought they had fled. Now a million strong and reconciled to the Gentiles (and the Gentiles to them), both are living together more or less happily.

The Theology of Mormonism

What beliefs motivated the Mormon movement and helped make it what it has become? Fortunately, for our purposes, there is a brief innocuous summary of Mormon doctrine by the prophet himself. Joseph Smith received the revelation of the “Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It consists of thirteen brief statements of the main points of Mormon belief. Although it is in itself not very instructive, when the outline is filled out with other statements of Smith and other authorities it can provide a fairly clear understanding of the theology of the Latter-day Saints.

Article 1. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

The Mormon doctrine of God embraces the following points: (a) There are many gods: ‘Are there more Gods than one? Yes, many’ (Cat., 13). (b) These gods are polygamous or ‘sealed’ human beings grown divine: ‘God himself was once as we now are, and is an exalted Man’ (Brigham Young, J. of D. VI:4); ‘And you have got to learn how to be Gods yourself, the same as all Gods have done before you’ (Ibid.); ‘Then shall they (that have been ‘sealed’ in marriage) be Gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them’ (D. and C. 467). (c) Adam is the God of this world: ‘He (Adam) is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do’ (Brigham Young, J. of D., 1:50). (d) These Gods have fleshly bodies: ‘There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones’ (Smith, Comp., 287). (e) They are polygamous: ‘When our Father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him’ (Young, J. of D., 1:50). (f) They have children forever: ‘Each God, through his wife, or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters … for each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever’ (The Seer, I:37).[4]

D. M. McAllister also makes perfectly clear that God is a literal Father:

Neither can that most filial word, Father, as so often lovingly uttered by our Elder Brother (Christ), be regarded as a merely figurative expression; it was always clearly evident that he meant it for an actual, not figurative, declaration. He was in very deed a Son of the Most High, in his spirit, just as he was also a Son when his spirit body was combined with his earthly tabernacle, when born of his divinely selected mother in the flesh.[5]

It is already manifest that Joseph Smith’s confession, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father” is a horrid travesty of what those words usually signify in the creeds of Christendom.[6]

The following phrase, “and in His Son, Jesus Christ,” is just as misleading. Jesus pre-existed. But this is true of all human beings: they pre-exist as the spirit children of the Gods, waiting for incarnate men to provide them bodies by procreation. These bodies they then inhabit.[7] So pre-existence itself is nothing unique. Jesus was, however, in His pre-existent state, Jehovah, the agent of the Father God, Elohim. But Christ was unique in His birth, for the Mormons have a doctrine of the virgin birth. Brigham Young states: “When the virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was NOT begotten of the Holy Ghost. And who was the Father? He was the first of the human family … Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.”[8]

Mormonism also has a doctrine of the exaltation of Jesus Christ. He is exalted to become equal with God the Father, another travesty of the Biblical doctrine, which maintains that He always was an equal member of the Godhead and that His exaltation consisted only in the elevation of His humanity (His deity was incapable of further elevation). McAllister is aglow with the thrill of this “exaltation” of Christ, which is really a base humiliation. “What! Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, to be ‘equal with God,’ the Father! Yes, that was his glorious destiny; he is one with God the Father!” Having thus humiliated Christ far below what He actually is, McAllister then elevates man, saying, “and ‘we are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17), if we follow in his footsteps.”[9]

The Holy Ghost is the only traditional member of the Godhead who in Mormonism retains His spirituality or rather, refined materiality. For, as Joseph Smith said, “’There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes.’”[10]

Article 2. “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”

Denying the responsibility of men for the sin of their great representative Adam, in whom the Bible says all sinned, by implication does away with original sin. The Mormons also deny the inherited contamination of children: “Wherefore little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me (Christ), that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me … And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism … Behold, I say unto you, that he that supposeth little children need baptism, is in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity; … wherefore should he be cut off in the thought, he must go down to hell.”[11]

Not only do the Mormons believe that other persons cannot be responsible for Adam’s sin, strictly speaking, they hold that even Adam cannot be, for his sin was not a sin and his fall was a fall upward. Mormonism clearly makes Adam’s “sin” a necessary and inevitable thing that effected a great advantage for mankind. Thus Talmadge states:

Adam found himself in a position that impelled him to disobey one of the requirements of God. He and his wife had been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. Adam was still immortal; Eve had come under the penalty of immortality; and in such dissimilar conditions the two could not remain together, and therefore could not fulfill the divine requirement. On the other hand, Adam would be disobeying another command by yielding to his wife’s request. He deliberately and wisely decided to stand by the first and greater commandment; and, therefore, with a full comprehension of the nature of his act, he also partook of the fruit on the tree of knowledge. The fact that Adam acted understandingly in this matter is affirmed by the scriptures … [12]

The Mormon Catechism puts the whole matter more briefly and bluntly:

“Was it necessary that Adam should partake of the forbidden fruit? Answer: Yes, unless he had done so he would not have known good and evil here, neither could he have had moral posterity… Did Adam and Eve lament or rejoice because they had transgressed the commandment? Answer: They rejoiced and praised God.”

Elder McAllister also makes necessity out of free choice and a virtue out of necessity. “The earthly bodies of Adam and Eve,” he writes, “were no doubt, intended by the Heavenly Father to be immortal tabernacles for their spirits, but it was necessary for them to pass through mortality and be redeemed through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ that the fullness of life might come. Therefore they disobeyed God’s command …”[13]

This type of thinking makes God appear foolish, since it seems that the only way man can carry out God’s purpose is to disobey his commandments; or, to carry out one commandment he much disobey another. In order to preserve God’s best interests, man must devise his own best strategy; very much the way a wise and experienced elder counselor of state would advise a young and inexperienced monarch. To make the matter worse, the real thinker and wise counselor in this whole affair is the devil himself. So, instead of tempting Adam and Eve to evil, he was giving counsel of perfection; and instead of frustrating God, he was advising what was necessary for God to accomplish His purposes. One is reminded of the Ophites, or serpent worshipers, in the ancient church, who consistently adored the serpent because his temptation was regarded as an invitation to progress.

Article 3. “We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

What kind of atonement can there be in a system in which sin is a work of necessity and virtue? Atonement has a place, but an utterly adventitious one. John Taylor states: “ ‘In the first place, according to justice, men could not have been redeemed from spiritual death, only through obedience to His law …’ ”[14] This statement, like Smith’s, is mere statement without explanation. One looks in vain for a real conception of atonement or expiation in the Mormon scheme of salvation. The word is used because of traditional Christianity rather than because of any inherent place in this system.

The companion statement (“may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”), following a reference to an atonement which lacks any real meaning, surely suggests a legalistic doctrine of salvation. Furthermore, the explicit rejection of justification by faith, which is said to have “exercised an influence for evil since the early days of Christianity,” confirms this deduction.[15]

It is at this point that polygamy comes into the Mormon system. (Polygamy is clearly a part of the Mormon scheme of salvation.) Here are what seem to be the steps by which the Latter-day Saints arrive at their belief in polygamy:

(1) The Gods have begotten a host of spirit children.
(2) These are restless spirits until they are clothed with a body.
(3) Bodies for the spirit-children are provided by human procreation. Therefore, man’s chief end is to glorify the Gods and have babies.
(4) Hence, procreation becomes man’s primary duty.
(5) The more children a person has, the more virtuous he is.

This line of reasoning would appear to lead to polygamy. But monogamy was so clearly taught in the Bible, especially in the words of Christ, and so universally accepted by the Christian churches, that early Mormonism in the Book of Mormon advocated it.

Joseph Smith’s actual practice preceded his pretended revelation in the subject of setting aside the teaching of the Bible and Book of Mormon. His pretended “Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including Plurality of Wives, Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 12th, 1843” is as follows:

And again as pertaining to the law of the Priesthood: If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent; and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth to him and no one else. And if a man have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery for they belong to him, and they are given unto him. Therefore he is justified.

Polygamy would presumably not require any other inducements to make it agreeable to certain men; but the women would not, naturally, find it so attractive. Hence the Mormons developed a doctrine that a woman cannot be saved without being “sealed” to a man. Sealing may be effected without natural cohabitation; this has frequently been done, even in the case of the prophet himself.

Polygamy has now been categorically repudiated by Utah officials and probably is very rarely practiced, though twenty fundamentalists went to prison for it in 1946. The principle remains a blemish on the religion of Joseph Smith. An unfortunate footnote to all this is the oft-quoted remark of Brigham Young: “Jesus Christ was a polygamist; Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, were his plural wives, and Mary Magdalene was another. Also, the bridal feast of Cana of Galilee, where Jesus turned the water into wine, was on the occasion of one of his own marriages.”[16]

Article 4. “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Article 5. “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”

Article 6. “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz., apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.”

In these sections we find the doctrine of a group that considers itself the exclusively true church. All other denominations are outside the pale. This notion harks back to Smith’s first revelation, which he was hoping would show him which denomination to join. It instead showed him the way out of them all. From then on it was a duty for all followers of the prophet to follow him out of their churches. Later Smith said, “Any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the minister of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless he repents of the unholy and impious act.”[17] The Elders’ Journal took up the same refrain: “We shall see all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day, with all their followers without one exception, receive their portion with the Devil and his angels.”[18] Frightening the sheep out of other folds, Mormonism corralled them in its own by the famous gathering act of 1830.

Church Organization

The actual organization of the Church of Latter-day Saints is almost as complicated, efficient, and autocratic as the Roman Catholic Church. The autocratic character of the Mormon system is well stated by Fawn Brodie:

Basically, therefore, the church organization remained autocratic; only the trappings were democratic. The membership voted on the church officers twice a year. But there was only one slate of candidates, and it was selected by the first presidency, comprised of Joseph Smith himself and his two counselors. Approval or disapproval was indicated by a standing vote to the general conference. Dissenting votes became so rare that the elections came to be called – and the irony was unconscious – the ‘sustaining of the authorities.’[19]

This was in Joseph Smith’s day; Brigham Young was more autocratic still. It is doubtful that the basic character of the hierarchy has changed much today.

Probably the most novel of the Mormon rites is that of baptism for the dead. This is an instance of extreme literalism, mistaking Paul’s mysterious words in 1 Corinthians 15:29, Mormons baptize the dead, believing that they cannot be saved without the rite. Penrose tells how Mormons feel on the subject:

Millions of earth’s sons and daughters passed out of the body without obeying the law of baptism. Many of them will gladly accept the word and law of the Lord when it is proclaimed to them in the spirit world. But they cannot there attend to ordinances that belong to the sphere which they have left. Can nothing be done in their case? Must they be forever shut out of the kingdom of heaven? Both justice and mercy join in answering ‘yes’ to the first and ‘no’ to the last question. What, then, is the way of their deliverance? The living may be baptized for the dead. Other essential ordinances may be attended to vicariously. The glorious truth, hidden from human knowledge for centuries, has been made known in this greatest of all dispensations … it gives men and women the power to become ‘Saviours on Mount Zion,’ Jesus being the great Captain in the army of redeemers.[20]

Marcus Bach in his Youth and My Friends tells of an interesting encounter with a Mormon to whom he put the question, “How far does the church intend to go in this ritual? Does it expect to baptize someone for each of the early Americans and the early Protestants and even further back than that?” To which he received this answer from his Mormon missionary friend: “As far back as Adam! That is part of the great Mormon commission. I intend to have baptism made for my ancestors as far back as I can. So does every active Mormon. The church has the most complete genealogical system in the world. It has on file nearly ten million names already. Missionaries work on these genealogies wherever they go. Everyone helps. Everyone should help to bring together into one family all who have ever lived, and all who are yet to be born for the number of those who are to be born is predetermined. Their souls already exist in the realms of God. Isn’t it a wonderful thought? We come from God and we return to God to be like Him. I expect someday to sit down with those I have known in a pre-existence and in this existence. I expect to talk with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and all the other prophets. And I fully expect to talk with God.”[21]

Article 7. “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.,”

Article 8. “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

Article 9. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

Article 10. “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this (the American) continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive it paradisiacal glory.”

This is a fairly conventional sort of millennialism – except for the American locale. But this article gives us very little of the full eschatology of the Mormons. For one thing, Mormons believe that the righteous go immediately to be in paradise and await the resurrection. After the resurrection, it appears that there will be the final disposition of all men. Some go to hell. Joseph Smith said that the number who went to hell could be counted on the fingers of one hand. From this remark it can be concluded that Mormonism is a form of universalism. It is difficult to reconcile this report, however, with the afore-quoted remark of Smith that all who impenitently receive rites from Christian clergymen will perish in hell.

There are three grades in the Mormon heaven: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The last, being of inferior glory, seems to be located on other planets; the first is the full heaven reserved for this who have died in the Mormon faith. There are apparently two kinds of beings in heaven. One is the angel, or resurrected being; the other is the unembodied spirit of the just men made perfect.[22]

Article 11. “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

This sounds quite American, but as James Snowden says, it is not easy to reconcile such statement with the following from the prophet: “I say, rather than apostates should flourish here, I will unsheathe my bowie knife, and conquer or die. Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line … I want you to hear, bishops, what I am to tell you: Kick these men out of your wards.”[23]

Article 12. “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honouring, and sustaining the law.”

This statement would truly reflect Mormon history and principles if the following words were added: “that is, whenever we find it to be consistent with our doctrine or absolutely necessary.” Otherwise, it sounds too much like another official deliverance given out to “fool the Gentiles.” Utah was finally subjected to the authority of the United States government only after the most determined opposition of the Saints. Then and then only did Utah become obedient to the laws of the land. Only when the very property of the whole Mormon church was threatened by the government did Mormonism yield to the authority of government and officially forbid polygamy. It is all right to be bygones be bygones and forget the past if Mormonism is as patriotic and loyal as it appears today. But we must not forget the principles that are still on the books, such as this statement of Apostle John Taylor:

The priesthood holds “the power and right to give laws and commandments to individuals, churches, rulers, nations and the world: to appoint, ordain, and establish constitutions and kingdoms; to appoint kings, presidents, governors, or judges” (Key, p. 70). The priesthood “is the legitimate rule of God, whether in the heavens or on the earth, and it is the only legitimate power that has a right to rule on the earth; and when the will of God is done on the earth as it is in heaven, no other power will be or rule.”[24]

Article 13. “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

We do not intend to probe the motives of the Mormons nor do we find any relish in questioning their good intentions, nor in denying their achievement of certain worthy goals. But insofar as they have anything of which to be proud, it may be traced to their residium of Bible faith.

2. Doctrines of The Mormons

Doctrine of the Bible

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (Joseph Smith, Articles of Faith, Article 8). In addition to these books, the church adopted Joseph Smith’s Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price as authoritative (Talmadge, Articles of Faith, p. 5), but the Bible and Book of Mormon are far more influential. Furthermore, “The Book of Mormon ‘in no sense supplants the Bible, but supports it’ ” (Paul Hanson, Jesus Christ among the Ancient Americans, p. 143; cited by Braden, These Also Believe, p. 438; cf. Talmadge, AF, p. 236). “About one-eighteenth of the book (of Mormon) is taken from the Bible, no credit being given for this in the earliest editions, but in the present edition proper credit is given. The following chapters are taken bodily: Isaiah 2 to 14, 18, 19, 21, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54; Matthew 5, 6, 7; 1 Corinthians 13. Besides these chapters, from page 2 to page 428 contain 298 direct quotations from the New Testament …” (Snowden, Truth about Mormonism, p. 101). Concerning the Book of Mormon, “more has been written about (its) divine authenticity … more than about any other moot matter on the human record, unless it be the Genesis account of creation” (Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, p. 368). Joseph Smith claimed to find plates written by the angel Moroni which he translated as the Book of Mormon. Most non-Mormon students are convinced that the Book of Mormon was actually drawn from the unpublished Manuscript Found (not Manuscript Story) by Spaulding (Brodie, NMK, Appendix B). Constant revisions have been made – more than three thousand changes since the first edition. The principal content of the Book of Mormon is the narrative of the dispersal of the Jews, after their captivity, and their settlement and struggle in America.

Doctrine of God

“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (Smith, AF, Article I; cf. Cowles, “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” in Ferm (ed.), Religion in the Twentieth Century, p. 288). This is not a Trinity of three persons in one God, for the Mormon Catechism teaches many gods (answer to question 13). These many gods are human beings grown divine: “God himself was once as we now are, and is an exalted man” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, VI, p. 4). “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, CXXX, 22; CXXXI, 7). This is the teaching of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Parley Pratt, James E. Talmadge. Roberts argues from the physicality of the son, Christ, that the Father must also be physical (The Lord Hath Spoken, p. 134). The Gods not only have bodies and wives, but are polygamous, with an endless progeny of children. A favorite Mormon hymn contains this prayer: “When I leave this frail existence, When I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet You, in your royal courts on high.”

The only difference between the Holy Spirit and other gods is that the Holy Spirit has a more refined materiality (Smith, Compendium of Doctrine, p. 259). All spirit is material, and all matter is eternal. God “certainly did not create in the sense of bringing into primal existence the ultimate elements of the materials of which the earth consists, for the ‘elements are eternal’ ” (Talmadge, AF, p. 466, cited by Braden, TAB, p. 441; cf. Smith, DC, XCII: 33).

Doctrine of Man

“As man is, God once was; as God is, men may be” (Talmadge). All Gods were originally men, and all men are destined to become Gods. Therefore, Brigham Young could say, “You have got to learn to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you” (JD, VI, 4). That quotation seems to suggest a God above the gods, but these appear to be nothing but a difference of degree between God and gods. Mormonism appears to be henotheistic, having one god supreme in a pantheon. Men, who are destined to become gods, were pre-existent. Only their present bodily organization is acquired by being born into this world. Morgan argues that God promised eternal life “before the world began” (Titus 1:2); so Paul must have been there to hear this promise made before the world began (The Plan of Salvation, p. 6). “We were numbered among ‘the sons of God (who) shouted for joy’ when the foundation of this earth was laid (Job 38:4-7) and we saw the rebellious Lucifer and his followers cast out of heaven” (McAllister, Life’s Greatest Questions, p. 9). The Mormons show concern for the body’s welfare by their strict dietary and health laws, but more that this “the Mormons exalt intelligence and learning.”

Doctrine of Sin

As observed above, the gods are constantly begetting children, but these are “spirit” children, without bodies. It is not quite clear how the first humans to live on the earth, Adam and Eve, received bodies, but somehow they did and began the process of human procreation – whereby bodies are produced for the spirit children. But at the very beginning of the process of human generation, sin entered (necessarily). “The earthly bodies of Adam and Eve, no doubt, were intended by the Heavenly Father to be immortal tabernacles for their spirits, but it was necessary for them to pass through mortality and be redeemed through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ that the fullness of life might come. Therefore they disobeyed God’s commands …” (McAllister, LGO, p. 11). Thus the fall of man was necessary – it became necessary for men to disobey God in order to do His will (Talmadge, Articles of Faith, p. 68; Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi i. 8).

Concerning the transmission of sin to Adam’s posterity, Mormons take a negative position: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Talmadge, AF, p. 1). Having rejected the doctrine of imputation of the guilt of sin, Latter-day Saints likewise repudiate the transmission of inherent corruption, or original sin (Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, 18, 19).

Doctrine of Christ

The Christology of the Mormons is rather complicated. (1) Jesus, the pre-existent spirit, is the Son of the Father-God. (2) As such, He is called Jehovah in this prenatal state. (3) As Jehovah, He is the Creator of the world, (4) Being the Creator, He is called the Father. (5) Thus, in a sense, He is the Father and the Son. (6) The birth of Jesus is often spoken of, but the reference apparently applies only to the body which the pre-existent spirit took when He was born in this world. (7) The body of Jesus was the product of the union of Father-God and the virgin Mary, Brigham Young very plainly teaches that the body of Jesus was physical. (8) The pre-existent Jehovah now in the flesh as Jesus Christ becomes “equal with God” and “one with God.” (9) Those who follow Jesus will become His heirs and, like Him, equal with and one with God (Book of Mormon, Ether 3:14; Young, Journal of Discourses, I:50; McAllister, Life’s Greatest Questions, p. ii; Talmadge, AF, pp. 465 f.; Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, p. 163; Braden, TAB, p. 441).

Doctrine of Redemption

It seems that the death of Christ canceled the necessity of man’s dying. And with this penalty of sin removed by the atonement, man is apparently then in a position to earn his own salvation by his obedience to the law and gospel (John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, p. 170, cited by Van Baalen, CC, p. 158). That the works of Mormonism are considered meritorious and deserving is clear. Consistently, justification by faith is rejected (Talmadge, AF, p. 120).

The Mormon record for outwardly good works is contradictory. A reputation for temperance, honesty, patriotic zeal (once they were subjugated), large, stable families, and care for their health is to the credit of the Latter-day Saints. On the other hand, Brigham Young himself accused them of great profanity, and some pirating (JD, I, 211, etc.); and eye-witness has described very immoral conditions at times (cited by Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, p. 188), and their official journals showed them against abolition (Elders’ Journal, July, 1858; Millennial Star, vol. 15, pp. 739 ff.; William Earle La Rue, The Foundations of Mormonism, p. 27). Their greatest moral defect, however, is polygamy.

Doctrine of the Church

“A revelation in the summer of 1830 was the basis of … the ‘doctrine of the gathering of the Saints.’ The Saints, having been chosen out of the world, were to gather together in one place ‘upon the face of this land to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked’ ” (Braden, TAB, pp. 432 f.,; cf. DC, sect. 29, vss. 7-8). This separation of Mormon from non-Mormon churches is maintained in much literature, as in The Seer’s statement that apostate churches, if impenitent, will be cast down to hell (II, 255, quoted by Snowden, The Truth about Mormonism, pp. 134; cf. to the same effect, Orson Pratt, Orson Spencer, Brigham Young, Penrose, and others; Van Baalen, CC, p. 159; H. Davies, Christian Deviations, p. 78; H.C. Sheldon, A Fourfold Test of Mormonism, pp. 99 f.). La Rue cites the Elder’s Journal of 1838, (pp. 59f.), to the same effect.

The Mormons compare with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their high and efficient degree of ecclesiastical organization. The two priesthoods form the basic hierarchical structure. Of these the Melchizedek Priesthood is supreme in spiritual things and consists of the following: (1) The presidency – made up of three men, although the first president really has absolute power; (2) Twelve apostles who appoint the other officials, administer sacraments, and govern between presidents; (3) Patriarch who blesses the members with the blessing of prophecy; (4) High priesthood, which consists of the presidents of the stakes of Zion; (5) The Seventies, or missionaries in groups of seventy; (6) Elders who preach, baptize, and impart the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands.

The second priesthood is the Aaronic, which consists of the following: (1) Presiding bishopric of three bishops in presiding council who collect tithes, care for the poor; (2) Priests who expound the Bible, baptize, administer the Lord’s Supper; (3) Teachers who assist the priests and watch that no iniquity occurs; (4) Deacons who assist the teachers and expound the Bible (Julius Bodensieck, Isms New and Old, p. 86).

With respect to the state, Smith wrote, “We believe in being subject to kings.” On the other hand, some Mormon theologians, such as Apostle John Taylor, taught that the priesthood was superior in authority to the secular power (Key to Theology, p. 77; cf. Snowden, TM, p. 138).
Mormon history seems to suggest that the reconciliation of these two ideas is that authority resides essentially in the hierarchy, but since force is the prerogative of secular governments, subservience is a duty. This interpretation appears evident in the relinquishing of the practice of polygamy because of the law of the land.

Mormonism has some ordinances common to Christendom and some peculiar to itself. Mormons believe in “baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (AF, p. 4). Since none can enter heaven without baptism, Mormons are busily baptizing many dead persons by proxy. Smith also taught in the Articles of Faith the “Laying on of hands for the gift of the holy Ghost” (AF, p. 1, article 4). In addition to the conventional marriage ceremony, the Saints have a unique “sealing” ceremony. A man who died childless may have children raised to him by wives “sealed” to him. In this case, a man on earth is appointed to serve in the place of the dead man, in begetting children for him (cf. Blunt, Dictionary of Sects and Heresies, p. 352; Louis Binder, Modern Religious Cults and Societies, p. 151). Another unique rite is the shedding of the blood of certain grievous sinners in a secret way called “blood atonement” (cf. Journal of Discourses, iv. 219; William Alexander Linn, The Story of the Mormons, pp. 454 f.; Cannon and Knapp, pp. pp. 266 f.; Sheldon, FTM, pp. 123 f.; Stenhouse, RMS, pp. 292 f., Hyde, M. pp. 179 f., Snowden, TM, p. 132). A woman’s hope of salvation is being sealed to a man who will call her forth on the day of resurrection (Smith, DC, sect. cxxxii, vss, 15-20; Mayer, RBA, p. 454, footnote 30; Braden, TAB, p. 446).

Doctrine of the Future

The Mormons teach a rather common variety of the premillennial reign of Christ, with the exception that Christ will have His headquarters in Independence, Missouri. At the end of this righteous period, a rebellious Satan will be crushed and the world will be transformed (Mayer, RBA, p. 455). The Mormons apparently believe in hell and that some non-Mormons will go there. However, there is very little explicit teaching on retribution. Smith’s Articles of Faith, for example, have nothing on the future. Many think, as Mayer (RBA, p. 452), that “Mormons believe in universal salvation.” Mormon doctrine concerning heaven is more detailed. There are three grades of heaven; telestial (lowest grade where unbelievers seem to go); terrestrial (for ignorant but honorable persons); celestial (for the good Mormons).

3. Terms Frequently Used by the Mormons

Aaronic Priesthood: One of the two priesthoods into which the Mormon hierarchy is divided, which includes the presiding bishopric, priests, teachers, and deacons.

Adam God: Doctrine that Adam was the Father God, based on the following statement of Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses: “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who was the Father? He was the first of the human family … Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven” (I:50).

Apostles: The twelve men that are second in the Melchizedek Priesthood (subordinate only to the power of the presidency), who appoint the other officers and rule between presidential periods.

Baptism for the Dead: The practice of baptizing the dead by proxy, based on the Mormon interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29 that no dead person may go to heaven until baptized.

Blood Atonement: Apparently not officially recognized practice of shedding the blood of certain grievous sinners to atone for past sins and prevent still others in the future (cf. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, iv., 219; Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, p. 292 f.).

Book of Mormon: The record of extra-biblical, as well as much unbiblical history. The source of this information was allegedly golden plates, the location of which was revealed to Joseph Smith, who with the aid of Urim and Thummim was able to translate them from the Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics in which they were written.

Celestial Heaven: The highest heaven, reserved for faithful Mormons only.

Cumorah: Hill near Palmyra, New York. An impressive shrine today marks the spot where Joseph Smith is said to have found the golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. 

Deacons: The fourth order of the Aaronic priesthood, who assist the third level of officer, the teachers.

Doctrine and Covenants: Record of revelations subservient to the Book of Mormon.

Elders: Sixth level of officer in the Melchizedek priesthood. Elders preach, baptize, and perform certain other ministerial functions.

High Priests: The fourth level of the Melchizedek priesthood, composed of the various
Presidents of the different stakes into which the community is divided.

Immortality: The Mormons teach a graded heavenly mortality which involves continued procreation.

Josephites: A minority of the followers of Joseph Smith claiming to be true to his principles (which are said not to have included polygamy) and his succession.

Lamanites: According to the Book of Mormon there were three migrations from the Bible lands. The last two (about 600 and 588 B.C.) combined in this country, forming the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Lamanites survived wars, living on as American Indians.

Latter Days: Biblical prophecy of coming time of special outpouring of the Spirit.

The Manuscript Found: A romance by Solomon Spaulding, which most critics of Mormonism believe to contain the materials from which the Book of Mormon was actually constructed.

The Manuscript Story: The romance to which Mormon apologists usually refer when refuting the charge that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from The Manuscript Found.

Melchizedek Priesthood: The first, and more important, of the two priesthoods, consisting of six offices: president, apostles, patriarch, high priests, seventies, and elders.

Moroni: An “Angel,” who revealed to Joseph Smith the location of the golden plates which recorded the story of the earlier history.

Nephites: According to the Book of Mormon there were three migrations from the Bible lands. The last two (about 600 and 588 B.C.) combined in this country forming the Nephite and Lamanites. The Nephites were later destroyed by war.

Patriarch: The nominal head of the Mormon hierarchy; an honorific title first given to the father of the Prophet.

Presiding Bishopric: The first division of the Aaronic Priesthood, charged with the collecting of tithes and care of the wards.

Priests: These do a work similar to the elders but belong to the second order of priesthood, the Aaronic.
Revelation on Celestial Marriage: “Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including the Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Illinois, July 2th, 1843, served as the basis for the practice of polygamy. (Text in Stenhouse, Rocky Moutain Saints, pp. 176 ff.).

Seventies: These who go out as missionaries of the Mormon faith constitute the fifth division of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Spiritual Wifery: A temple-performed marriage in which a spiritual affinity occurs between the partners and makes the marriage eternal.

Teachers: The third division of the Aaronic Priesthood that assists the priests and administers discipline.

Telestial Heaven: The lowest of the three Mormon grades of future existence where the wicked apparently dwell.

Terrestrial Heaven: An earthly paradise reserved for non-Mormons who are ignorant of the truth but are nonetheless honorable persons.

Urim and Thummim: The device which Joseph Smith used to translate the Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics of the golden tablets into the Book of Mormon.

4. For Further Reading

Allen, Edward J. The Second United Order Among Mormons. 1936. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, n.d.

Anderson, Einar. I Was a Mormon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964.

Anderson, Rodger I. The Bible and Mormonism. Grand Rapids: Faith, Prayer, and Tract League, n.d.

Arbaugh, George B. Gods, Sex, and Saints: The Mormon Story. Rock Island: Augustana Press, 1957.
_____. Revelation in Mormonism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932.

Bennett, Wallace F. Why I Am a Mormon. New York: T. Nelson, 1958.

Berrett, William Edwin, ed. Readings in L.D.S. Church History from Original Manuscripts. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1953.

Birrell, Verla L. The Book of Mormon Guide Book. Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallis, Inc., 1948.

Brodie, Fawn M. No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet. Reprint. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1971.

Budvarson, Arthur. The Book of Mormon: True or False? (former title: The Book of Mormon Examined). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959.

Codman, J., The Mormon Country, 1874. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1972.

Cowan, Marvin W. Mormon Claims Answered. Salt Lake City: author, 1975.

Erickson, Ephraim E. The Psychological and Ethical Aspects of Mormon Group Life. 1922. Reprint. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1974.

Fraser, Gordon HIs Mormonism Christian? Chicago: Moody Press, 1957.

Gunnison, J. W. The Mormons or Latterday Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake … 1853. Reprint. Plainview, N.Y.; Books for Libraries, n.d.

Hoekema, Anthony A. Mormonism. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963.

Hunter, Milton R. Brigham Young, the Colonizer. 1940. Reprint. Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1973.
_____. Archaeology and the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1956.

Kirkham, Francis W. A New Witness for Christ in America. Independence: Zion Press, 1951.

Lewis, Gordon. The Bible, the Christian and Latter-day Saints. Nutley, N.J., Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1966.

Linn, W. A. The Story of the Mormons. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1923.

Martin, Walter R. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1968.
______. The Maze of Mormonism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.

Mulder, Wm. Homeward to Zion: Mormon Migration from Scandinavia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1957.

Mulder, Wm. and Mortensen, A. Russell, eds. Among the Mormons: Historical Accounts by Contemporary Observers. 1958. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.

O’Dea, Thomas F. The Mormons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Smith, Joseph. The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.
_____. Doctrine and Covenants. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.
_____. The Pearl of Great Price. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures. Independence: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.

Smith, Joseph Fielding, comp. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1958.

Talmadge, James E. A Study of the Articles of Faith. 36th ed. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1957.
_____. The Vitality of Mormonism. Boston: R.G. Badger, 1919.

Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. Archaeology and the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., n.d.
_____. The Case Against Mormonism. 3 vols. Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1967-71.
_____. Mormon Kingdom. 2 vols. Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1969-71.
_____. Mormonism – Shadow or Reality. Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1972.

Turner, Wallace. The Mormon Establishment. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

Wood, Wilford C. Joseph Smith Begins His Work. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1958.
5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines

In the following chapter we present views which are held by the church without exception (unless so indicated). There are three main branches of the catholic (universal) church: Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. These have differences among them, but there is a remarkable consensus of viewpoint on the basic structure of Christian doctrine. This fact is justification for use of the term “the catholic church.” We have chosen quotations from official creeds of these branches to illustrate the various doctrines.

Doctrine of the Bible

The catholic church believes the sixty-six books of the Old Testament and New Testament to be the plenarily inspired Word of God. The Roman Church adds to this number some of the apocrypha. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches seem to give ecclesiastical tradition virtually equal authority with Scripture. The Protestant churches, however, hold tosola scriptura. Thus, the Lutheran Formula of Concord affirms: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctors ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament.” The French Confession of Faith says of the Bible that “inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.” The American Revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England states: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Doctrine of God

The Athanasian Creed, accepted as an ecumenical creed by all branches of the church, reads: “ … we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (essence). For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible (unlimited or infinite), the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal … so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches: “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Doctrine of Man

Again we may use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, for it expresses what all catholic churches believe about man. “God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Doctrine of Sin

The Roman Catholic statement made at the Council of Trent contains a catholic affirmation: “ … Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and … he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through the offense of prevarication, was changed , in body, and soul, for the worse … this sin of Adam … [is] transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation … “ All catholic churches say at least this much; some, such as the Reformed, make more of the consequences of the Fall.

Doctrine of Christ

We may use the historic confession of the Council of Chalcedon (A. D. 451), for this has been recognized through the ages by all branches of orthodox Christendom as a true statement concerning the person of Jesus Christ. “ … our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one. Person and Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ …”

We note that the expression, “Mary, the Mother of God,” is a genuinely catholic expression. It does not mean that Mary was the genetrix of God, but that the human nature which was begotten in her womb was united with the eternal Son of God. So Mary was the mother of the child who was God; i.e., the mother of God.

Doctrine of Redemption

The satisfaction view of the atonement is the truly classic view of the catholic church. This could be shown from Protestant, Roman, or Eastern Orthodox creeds. We will show it by a citation from “The Longer Catechism” of the Eastern Orthodox Church: “Therefore as in Adam we had all fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have the victory over sin and death.”

There is a great difference among the three divisions of Christendom concerning the appropriation of this redemption achieved by Christ. The Protestant churches teach that it is by faith alone; the other branches incline to the view that it is by faith and works, or by faith considered as the beginning of works.

All branches of the church teach that the Christian has an obligation to endeavor to keep the moral law of God and that a person who does not do so is a reprobate. There is a doctrine in the Roman Church which is inconsistent with this, but nevertheless she teaches the above explicitly.

Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a definition of the church shared by all bodies of Christendom which accept the notion of the invisibility of the church. “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”
Doctrine of the Future

While there has been less defining of the doctrine of the future by the catholic church than has been true of other doctrines, what has been stated is unanimously affirmed. All branches of Christendom are agreed that there is a place of eternal felicity, called heaven, where redeemed men and unfallen angels dwell in the gracious presence of God. It is also taught that there is a place of eternal misery, called hell, where all unredeemed men and fallen angels dwell in the wrathful presence of God. The Roman Catholic Church maintains, in addition, the existence of purgatory, the limbus patrum, and the limbus infantum. Universal salvation has been taught by various individuals, but no church recognized by catholic Christianity has affirmed it.

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects

Seventh-day Adventism teaches that salvation is attained by faith in the atonement made by Christ in 1844. This faith must be expressed in obedience to the ethical teachings of the Bible (including the Saturday Sabbath) and in acceptance of the doctrinal teachings of the Bible (including the imminent premillennial return of Christ).

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the only consistent Bible students. They find the vindication of Jehovah to be the fundamental aim of history. This vindication of Jehovah is accomplished by the atonement of the first-born creature, Jesus, and expressed by the witnessing to an impending Armageddon. At this battle Jehovah and His witnesses will be vindicated and the final consummation of things will begin.

Mormonism is built on a revelation subsequent to the Bible, called the Book of Mormon. According to this book, the church is to be recognized on the basis of a creed which teaches a plurality of created gods, repudiates justification by faith, and teaches a salvation achieved by the merit of obeying divine laws.

Christian Science is a formula for health and wealth by right thinking, but its thinking denies the reality of poverty and sickness.

Doctrines Traditional Christian Mormonism Seventh-day Adventism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Science
Bible Verbally inspired Inspired Bible and Book of Mormon Reluctant to affirm verbal inspiration; vague about status of Mrs. White Verbally inspired Bible inspired andScience and Health is its inspired interpretation
God Three Persons in one essence Polytheism Approximately traditional Christian view Uni-personal Impersonal and pantheistic
Man Body & soul created good Pre-existent soul takes body at birth in this world Body-soul creature; created neutral or with inclination to evil Body; soul not distinguishable from body Soul only; body is an illusion
Sin Result of Adam’s disobedience; corruption of nature and action It was necessary for Adam to sin. This brought mortality without guilt No clear doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin; man now polluted Adam’s sin brought liability to temporal death “There is no sin” – it is an illusion
Christ One divine person in two distinct natures (divine-human) Called creator but only pre-existent spirit who took body at incarnation Like traditional view but represents human nature as having tendency to sin First born creature; changed into man at birth in this world Christ is a divine idea; Jesus is mere human
Redemption Faith in atonement as expressed by holy life Atonement gives man chance to earn salvation Believing in atonement made in heaven plus holy living including observance of the Saturday Sabbath Christ’s ransom gives man chance to earn salvation Salvation is casting out idea of sin
Church Mystical union of all true believers; visible union of all professed believers Other churches apostate; efficient hierarchical organization Seems to regard itself as true remnant church Traditional church rejected; 144,000 witnesses make up Church A denomination like Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish
Future Eternal heaven, eternal hell, temporary purgatory (R.C.) Pre-millennial reign at Independence, MO; tends toward universal salvation Annihilation of the wicked; millennium in heaven and eternity on new earth Earthly millennium during which final probation leading to annihilation or eternal life Universal salvation in future when idea of sin gradually dies

[1] Charles W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, p. 366.

[2] Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History. The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, p. 1.

[3] Ibid., p. 16.

[4] James Henry Snowden, The Truth about Mormonism, N. Y., 1926, pp. 1281, Cf. also Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, p. 42.

[5] McAllister, Life’s Greatest Questions – Who Am I?, p. 5.

[6] Cf. B.H. Roberts, The Lord Hath Spoken, pp. 3f.

[7] James E. Talmadge, Articles of Faith, 12th ed., Salt Lake City, 1924, pp. 465ff.

[8] Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:50.

[9] Life’s Greatest Questions, p. 11.

[10] Compendium of Mormon Doctrine, p. 259, cited in Snowden, Truth about Mormonism, p. 130

[11] Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants, pp. 181., cited in Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 179.

[12] Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 68.

[13] Life’s Greatest Questions, p. 11.

[14] The Mediation and Atonement, p. 170, cited by Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 2nd revised and enlarged edition, 1956, p. 180.

[15] Talmadge, Articles of Faith, p. 120.

[16] Journal of Discourses, 1:50.

[17] The Seer, Vols. I & II, p. 255, cited by Snowden, Truth about Mormonism, p. 134.

[18] August, 1838, pp. 591., cited in La Rue, p. 45.

[19] Brodie, No Man Knows, p. 162.

[20] Penrose, Mormon Doctrine, p. 48, cited by Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 180.

[21] Faith and Friends, p. 277.

[22] Cf. Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, p. 132.

[23] Journal of Discourses, 1:80, cited by Snowden, Truth about Mormonism, p.134.

[24] Snowden, ibid., p. 138. Charles W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, p. 366.