Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Watchtower's false teaching against Christmas #2: Celebration of anyone's birth is pagan

Continuing from my Watchtower's false teaching against Christmas #1: Not celebrated by early Christians, with this part #2 of my

[Above (click to enlarge): "Angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds," Govert Flinck, 1639, Louvre, Paris: Wikipedia:

Lk 2:8-14. "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, `Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"

As did the angels and shepherds on that first Christmas Day, I along with hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, will be celebrating Jesus' birth tomorrow, Christmas Day 2009!]

working through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's false teaching against Christmas in its 2005 book, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" pp.156-159, with its words in bold. Each part-quote is linked to the full quote near the end of this post.

"Even if Jesus' disciples had known the exact date of his birth, they would not have celebrated it. (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," p.157a). At least some of Jesus' early disciples would have known the exact date of Jesus' birth. As I pointed out in part #1:

1. the Bible specifically mentions angels celebrating the day of Jesus' birth, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you" (Lk 2:8-14) and Jesus' mother Mary and his brothers were founding members of the first church in Jerusalem (Acts 1:13-15).

2. the Bible indicates that early Christians were disputing over observing sacred days and religious festivals in Rom 14:5 "One man considers one day more sacred than another" and Col 2:16 "do not let anyone judge you ... with regard to a religious festival" and it is highly likely that this included commemorating the birth of Jesus (Christmas) and His death and resurrection (Easter), especially since those two dates coincided at first with the Jewish festivals of Hanukkah and Passover.

3. early Christians had by the 2nd-3rd centuries not only been celebrating Jesus' birth but they had been doing it on December 25.

Why? Because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christians `considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom.' (p.157a). Without a reference from an authoritative early Christian source, this quote from an encyclopedia is merely the anonymous author's unsubstantiated opinion. That there is no such early Christian source is evident in that if there was one the Watchtower would quote it, not an encyclopedia!

The early Christians included many Jews and as the Jewish Encyclopedia states, "Birthday festivals were not considered by the Rabbis as ... customs of the heathen," "the Biblical text ... contains passages from which it may be inferred that the custom of remembering birthday anniversaries was not wholly unknown among the Jews" and "Birthdays ... were remembered by congratulations, as in modern times":

"There are no positive data in the Bible or in rabbinical literature concerning birthday festivals among the ancient Jews. This silence on the subject is, however, no warrant for the conclusion that the Jews altogether abstained from following a custom which was general among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 20), Persians (Herodotus i. 133), Syrians, and Greeks ... Birthday festivals were not considered by the Rabbis as ... customs of the heathen ... A close study of the Biblical text shows ... it contains passages from which it may be inferred that the custom of remembering birthday anniversaries was not wholly unknown among the Jews. ... .Birthdays might not have been celebrated by the common people with great solemnity, yet they did not pass wholly unnoticed, and were remembered by congratulations, as in modern times. Jeremiah not only cursed the day of his birth, but wished that it should not be blessed (Jer. xx. 14), as though such had been the custom. It is said of Job, `and he cursed his day' (Job iii. 1). The emphatic and determining expression `his day' implies the idea that he, like everybody else, had a certain day of the year singled out for a certain purpose, which we learn further was the anniversary of his birth." (Adler, C. & Roubin, S., 2002, "birthday," Jewish Encyclopedia).

So since even Jewish rabbis did not consider "Birthday festivals" to be "customs of the heathen" and Jewish birthdays "were remembered by congratulations," therefore the Watchtower's encyclopedia quote above is false.

And even if it were true, Jesus is not just "anyone" and His birth was not just another birth. And celebrating an individual's birthday is not the same as commemorating Jesus' birth. Besides, as we have seen, by at least the 2nd-3rd centuries the early Christians were celebrating Jesus' birth!

The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) (p.157a) Even if this were true, so what? That it was Pharaoh's and Herod's birthday is merely incidental to these accounts:

Gn 40:20-22. Now the third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh's hand, but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

Mk 6:21-28. Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered. At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.

and the Bible says nothing there or elsewhere about birthday celebrations themselves being wrong. Moreover "Herod was a Jew, not [a] pagan":

"When birthdays are mentioned in Scripture, the celebrations themselves are not condemned. There is not one word in Scripture saying that either of the two birthday celebrations mentioned was bad or should not have taken place. In the case of Pharaoh's birthday [Gn 40:20-22], there is nothing critical of the celebration. Neither is there anything critical of Pharaoh's actions on the day. ... In the case of Herod Antipas's birthday [Mt 14:6-11; Mk 6:21-28] ... it should be noted that Herod was a Jew, not pagan ... The mere mention of birthdays in these two texts does not allow one to infer that birthdays are being implicitly criticized. ... No firm conclusions can be drawn from a sampling of only two instances, as is the case here." (Evert, J., 2001, "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," p.142).

albeit nominally, as even the Watchtower admits:

"HEROD. The name of a family of political rulers over the Jews. They were Idumeans, Edomites. They were nominally Jews, for the Idumeans had had circumcision forced upon them by the Maccabean ruler John Hyrcanus I in about 125 B.C.E., according to Josephus. ... It was Herod Antipas' adulterous relationship with Herodias that brought reproof from John the Baptizer. John could properly correct Antipas on this matter, for Antipas was nominally a Jew and professedly under the Law." (WB&TS, "Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1: Aaron-Jehoshua," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, 1988, pp.1090-1091, 1095. Emphasis original).

As a professed Jew, and to avoid uprisings by his Jewish subjects, Herod Antipas would have had to, at least nominally, participate in all the Jewish ceremonies in "worship [of] Jehovah." Therefore it is a false claim by the Watchtower that "he [Herod Antipas] did not worship Jehovah."

And while Gn 40:20 & Mk 6:21, and the parallel in Mt 14:6-11, are the only places that our English Bible has the word "birthday," it is a false claim by the Watchtower that these are "The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible", because as the Jewish Encyclopedia above states Job 1:4 refers to each of Job's sons celebrating "his own day," where the context makes clear that these were their birthdays:

"Although the actual word birthday appears only in connection with Pharaoh and Herod in most translations, the Bible does contain reference to such celebrations in godly families: In Job 1:4, it says of the patriarch Job's family, `And his sons went and held a banquet at the house of each one on his own day; and they sent and invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them' (NWT, italics added). That `his own day' refers to each one's birthday becomes clear when we read further: `It was after this that Job opened his mouth and began to call down evil upon his day. Job now answered and said: `Let the day perish on which I came to be born ...' ` (Job 3:1-3, NWT, italics added). The Living Bible's paraphrase of Job 1:4-5 expresses this thought: `Every year when each of Job's sons had a birthday, he invited his brothers and sisters to his home for a celebration. On these occasions they would eat and drink with great merriment. When these birthday parties ended... .'" (Reed, D.A., 1986, "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," p.26).

Also, as the Jewish Encyclopedia quote above mentions, Jer 20:14-15 indicates that to the Old Testament Jews, the day that one was born was normally regarded as "blessed":

"Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, "A child is born to you-a son!"

and this "language of Jeremiah (20:14, 15) would seem to indicate that such occasions were joyfully remembered." (Unger, M.F., 1966, "Unger's Bible Dictionary," p.147).

Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun-god, Apollo. (p.157a). That pagans celebrated the birthdays of their deities is actually evidence that the celebration of birthdays was normal in Gentile society also.

Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity." (p.157a). No. See above. The Watchtower has only cited one quote from an anonymous author of an article in an encyclopedia that "the early Christians" did not celebrate "anyone's birth," which is false at least for Jewish Christians. The Watchtower has not provided a quote from an authoritative early Christian source to that effect, which shows that if there was such a quote the Watchtower would use it endlessly and not have to resort to an unsubstantiated quote by an anonymous author in an encyclopedia.

This is just another example of the Watchtower's "guilt by association" and "warped logic":

"Jehovah's Witnesses say that since Herod the pagan celebrated a birthday and had John the Baptist executed on that day, then Christians shouldn't celebrate birthdays. To take part in celebrating a birthday is to associate oneself with a pagan practice and violate God's holy law. Hence, no true follower of Jehovah will celebrate a birthday ... Again, the Watchtower position is a clear case of guilt by association. Concluding that a particular day is evil simply because something bad happened on that day is warped logic. Matthew 14:6-10 proves only that Herod was evil, not birthdays." (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," p.394. Emphasis original).

"There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday. (p.157b). The Watchtower has not yet established that "first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday"!

As we saw in part #1 with Christmas, the Watchtower judges and punishes JWs who celebrate birthdays, up to and including disfellowshipping them, even for merely sending a birthday card:

"It is worth noting that, as with other teachings, it is not left up to the individual Witness to read the Bible and come up with this conclusion. Rather, the sect's secretive governing body has promulgated this official interpretation and uses its disciplinary procedures to enforce the policy on all Witnesses. For example, one elderly JW of our acquaintance in Massachusetts decided that he would send a birthday card to his non-Witness son, but his wife reported it to the local elders. They summoned him before a closed-door judicial-committee meeting and put him on trial for this offense. The seventy-year-old gentleman challenged them to show him one Scripture verse prohibiting sending a birthday card, but the committee went ahead and disfellowshiped him on the basis of the Watchtower Society's ruling. His Witness relatives now refuse him admittance to their home, and Witnesses who encounter him on the street turn away without even saying hello." (Reed, D.A., 1986, "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.24-25).

His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition.(p.157b) No. The disciples would have known that birthday celebrations, even if only "remembered by congratulations, as in modern times" were normal in both Jewish and Gentile society.

Ironically the Watchtower's fear of anything even remotely connected with paganism, like "birthday celebrations," is itself a form of superstition! I have downloaded and listened to about a 100 ex-JW testimonies and a common theme in many of them is that as JWs they had a superstitious fear of demons, the cross, entering a church, reading Christian material, etc:
"It has been my own observation, as I have observed the behaviour of, and talked with Jehovah's Witnesses over the years, that many have an almost superstitious dread and fear of the cross shape." (McCann, V., 2005, "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross." My emphasis).

Ex-JW Diane Wilson describes her and her fellow JWs superstitious fear of demons:

"The organization also instilled in me a terror of demons. The Witnesses I knew spent much time talking among themselves about Satan and the earthly activities of his invisible wicked spirit followers, the demons." (Wilson, D., 2002, "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness," p.37).

"Some Witnesses were so fearful that they even left Watchtower magazines strewn about their homes, hoping to ward off demon attacks. ... When the brothers prayed audibly for the congregation, many used the name `Jehovah' repeatedly, almost superstitiously, throughout their prayer. During assemblies, brothers often told stories about demons attacking Witnesses who left the organization ..." (Wilson, 2002, pp.38-39. My emphasis).

"Telling demon stories was a favorite past-time at Witnesses' social gatherings. ... All such stories were told in hushed undertones, for fear the demons would overhear. .... The Witnesses lived in obvious fear of demons .... Hearing such stories about demons contributed towards my developing a phobia of ever leaving the organization." (Wilson, 2002, p.39).

"I noticed the Witnesses' obsessive fear of demons also manifesting itself while in the house-to-house preaching work. Occasionally a householder would want to give the Witness a religious pamphlet from her own church; ... as soon as we were out of sight of the householder, the pamphlet became like the proverbial `hot potato' - the Witness couldn't get rid of it fast enough! Some Witnesses feared that even touching the pamphlet could cause a demon to transfer itself from the pamphlet to themselves. .... I found it odd that Witnesses, who claimed to be representatives of God in doing His work, would be so frightened of a mere pamphlet." (Wilson, 2002, pp.39-40).

"Witnesses often frequented garage sales .... I noticed that Witnesses were fanatical about the articles they found at these sales, worrying that demons might have attached themselves to the items; bringing such things home would be an open invitation to demon attack. Often I watched as Witnesses, before buying something at a garage sale, peered into the eyes of the people selling the desired objects to see if they had the `special look' individuals who were demonized were thought to have. If they did, the Witness would immediately put the items down in order to avoid likewise becoming demonized, and would breathlessly beat a hasty retreat.." (Wilson, 2002, p.40).

"If a Witness ever showed symptoms of `spiritual sickness' (low witnessing hours, sporadic meeting attendance, not living in accordance with all of the Watchtower teachings), usually the elders' first course of action would be to physically go through the house of the Witness, searching for items that could have attracted demons-even helping the person to destroy any suspicious objects that they found. I puzzled over why Jehovah's Witnesses, ostensibly God's `name-people,' would be so worried about demons. God was certainly more powerful than demons, and surely He could protect His people. I wondered why the Witnesses seemed to have so little confidence that He would." (Wilson, 2002, p.40).

For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life. `This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,' says the book The Lore of Birthdays. (p.157b). What "many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed" is simply irrelevant. It is ironic that the Watchtower claims to be opposed to paganism yet it is still influenced (if not controlled) by these ancient Greek and Roman pagans beliefs as though their gods are real and that humans today actually do "have a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born"! Otherwise, what is the Watchtower's point?

Jehovah certainly would not be pleased with any observance that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isaiah 65:11, 12) (p.157b). Celebrating a person's birthday, including Jesus' birth at Christmas, is hardly "setting in order a table for the god of Good Luck" and "filling up mixed wine for the god of Destiny" which is what Isa 65:11-12 NWT is referring to:

"But YOU men are those leaving Jehovah, those forgetting my holy mountain, those setting in order a table for the god of Good Luck and those filling up mixed wine for the god of Destiny. And I will destine YOU men to the sword, and YOU will all of YOU bow down to being slaughtered; for the reason that I called, but YOU did not answer; I spoke, but YOU did not listen; and YOU kept doing what was bad in my eyes, and the thing in which I took no delight YOU chose."

So the Watchtower is also guilty of to misquoting Scripture, i.e. "twisting ... the Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2Pet 3:16 NWT) in an attempt to make its anti-birthday, anti-Christmas, point.

Moreover, it is the Watchtower which is linking Jesus with superstition, and the Watchtower is correct about one thing: Jehovah (who is Jesus) would not be pleased with those who link Him with superstition, as the Watchtower does!

So how did Christmas come to be celebrated by many people?" (p.157b). Continued in "The Watchtower's false teaching against Christmas #3: Pagan origins of Christmas."

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & The Shroud of Turin.


"When birthdays are mentioned in Scripture, the celebrations themselves are not condemned. There is not one word in Scripture saying that either of the two birthday celebrations mentioned was bad or should not have taken place. In the case of Pharaoh's birthday [Gn 40:20-22], there is nothing critical of the celebration. Neither is there anything critical of Pharaoh's actions on the day. It does mention that he had one of his former servants put to death on that day, but Scripture is silent about whether the man had done anything worthy of death. That question is not considered, and we are given no information about what the servant had done that led him first to be put in prison and then put to death. In the case of Herod Antipas's birthday [Mt 14:6-11; Mk 6:21-28] - and it should be noted that Herod was a Jew, not pagan-the implied criticism is that he made a rash promise and bowed to social pressure (Matt. 14:9), which together led him to have John the Baptist executed. Neither of these is a criticism of birthdays but of rash oaths and bowing to peer pressure. The mere mention of birthdays in these two texts does not allow one to infer that birthdays are being implicitly criticized. Good Bible interpretation does not permit taking a passage where something unpleasant is mentioned, finding a second element in the text, and from that alone inferring that the second element is being criticized. This is the case especially when one has a very limited number of samples from which to draw. No firm conclusions can be drawn from a sampling of only two instances, as is the case here." (Evert, J., 2001, "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, p.142).

"There are no positive data in the Bible or in rabbinical literature concerning birthday festivals among the ancient Jews. This silence on the subject is, however, no warrant for the conclusion that the Jews altogether abstained from following a custom which was general among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 20), Persians (Herodotus i. 133), Syrians, and Greeks. Even if not common among the people, yet kings and princes probably practised it, following the custom of their heathen contemporaries. Birthday festivals were not considered by the Rabbis as `h.ukkot ha-goyim' (customs of the heathen; see Maimonides, Yad ha-H.azak.h, 'Akkum we-H.uk.otehem, xi. 12), although Lightfoot held a contrary opinion ("Horæ Hebr." on Matt. xiv. 6). ... A close study of the Biblical text shows that the Bible is not altogether wanting in references to the subject; for, while it lacks positive accounts, it contains passages from which it may be inferred that the custom of remembering birthday anniversaries was not wholly unknown among the Jews. `The day of our king' (Hosea vii. 5), on which the princes made the king sick with bottles of wine, and the king himself `stretched out his hand with scorners,' alludes more probably to a birthday festival than to a solemn occasion, such as the anniversary of his installation, which would have been observed with more decorum (see Josephus, "Ant." xv. 9, § 6). Birthdays might not have been celebrated by the common people with great solemnity, yet they did not pass wholly unnoticed, and were remembered by congratulations, as in modern times. Jeremiah not only cursed the day of his birth, but wished that it should not be blessed (Jer. xx. 14), as though such had been the custom. It is said of Job, `and he cursed his day' (Job iii. 1). The emphatic and determining expression `his day' implies the idea that he, like everybody else, had a certain day of the year singled out for a certain purpose, which we learn further was the anniversary of his birth." (Adler, C. & Roubin, S., 2002, "birthday," Jewish Encyclopedia).

"It has been my own observation, as I have observed the behaviour of, and talked with Jehovah's Witnesses over the years, that many have an almost superstitious dread and fear of the cross shape. So convinced are they, of what the Watchtower has told them regarding this image, that many instantly associate it with paganism. This is most unfortunate because, as was seen, the evidence seems to clearly be in favour of this shape. When Christians use the cross of Christ in their decorations of churches etc. they use it as a symbol of victory over the forces of paganism. It also reminds Christians of the suffering which Christ endured for our sins. Some Witnesses may even think that Christians worship the cross. While there may be some individuals who may do this, this is certainly something which is not the norm in Christianity (particularly Protestant Christianity) and certainly something to be rejected, as indeed it is by the vast majority of Christendom." (McCann, V., "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross," Spotlight Ministries, 7 November 2005).

"Genesis 40:20-22 ... The Watchtower organization has prohibited birthday celebrations among its adherents, using Genesis 40:20-22 as a key part of the `scriptural basis' for this ruling. Their thought is that the word birthday appears in the Bible only in reference to Pharaoh of Egypt (as above) and King Herod of Galilee (Matt. 14:6 and Mark 6:21). [but]... Although the actual word birthday appears only in connection with Pharaoh and Herod in most translations, the Bible does contain reference to such celebrations in godly families: In Job 1:4, it says of the patriarch Job's family, `And his sons went and held a banquet at the house of each one on his own day; and they sent and invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them' (NWT, italics added). That `his own day' refers to each one's birthday becomes clear when we read further: `It was after this that Job opened his mouth and began to call down evil upon his day. Job now answered and said: `Let the day perish on which I came to be born ...' ` (Job 3:1-3, NWT, italics added). The Living Bible's paraphrase of Job 1:4-5 expresses this thought: `Every year when each of Job's sons had a birthday, he invited his brothers and sisters to his home for a celebration. On these occasions they would eat and drink with great merriment. When these birthday parties ended... .'" (Reed, D.A., 1986, p.26. Emphasis original).

"Jehovah's Witnesses say that since Herod the pagan celebrated a birthday and had John the Baptist executed on that day, then Christians shouldn't celebrate birthdays. To take part in celebrating a birthday is to associate oneself with a pagan practice and violate God's holy law. Hence, no true follower of Jehovah will celebrate a birthday ... Again, the Watchtower position is a clear case of guilt by association. Concluding that a particular day is evil simply because something bad happened on that day is warped logic. Matthew 14:6-10 proves only that Herod was evil, not birthdays. Ask... o Based on a reading of Matthew 14:6-10, isn't it more logical to conclude that it is Herod that is portrayed as evil and not birthdays? (If the Jehovah's Witness argues about this, ask:) o What is the source of the evil in Matthew 14:6-10 - Herod or the birthday?" (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, p.394. Emphasis original).

"Birthday (Heb. yom huledeth; Gen. 40:20; Gr, ta genesia, Matt. 14:6; Mark 6:21). The custom of observing birthdays was very ancient and widely extended. In Persia they were celebrated with peculiar honor and banquets, and in Egypt the king's birthday was observed with great pomp (Gen. 40:20). No reference is made in Scripture of the celebration of birthdays by the Jews themselves although the language of Jeremiah (20:14, 15) would seem to indicate that such occasions were joyfully remembered. By most commentators the feasts mentioned in Job. 1:13, 18, are thought to have been birthday festivals, but Delitzsch (Com., in loc.) believes them to have been gatherings each day in the home of one of the brothers. The feast commemorative of `Herod's birthday' (Matt. 14:6) may have been in honor of his birth or of his accession to the throne (Hos. 7:5). The later Jews regarded the celebration of birthdays as a part of idolatrous worship. In the early Church the term `birthdays' was applied to the festivals of martyrs, the days on which they suffered death in this world and were born to the glory and life of heaven." (Unger, M.F., 1966, "Unger's Bible Dictionary," [1957], Moody Press: Chicago IL, Third edition, Fifteenth printing, 1969, p.147. Emphasis original).

"Even if Jesus' disciples had known the exact date of his birth, they would not have celebrated it. Why? Because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christians `considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom.' The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun-god, Apollo. Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.157a)

"There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday. His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition. For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life. `This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,' says the book The Lore of Birthdays. Jehovah certainly would not be pleased with any observance that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isaiah 65:11, 12) So how did Christmas come to be celebrated by many people?" (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.157b).

"The organization also instilled in me a terror of demons. The Witnesses I knew spent much time talking among themselves about Satan and the earthly activities of his invisible wicked spirit followers, the demons. One evening I was at a social gathering with other Witnesses, some of whom told of persons who were studying with Jehovah's Witnesses being attacked by demons who wanted to keep them in Satan's realm and out of the Truth. I was assured, though, that if I were ever assaulted by demons, shouting the name `Jehovah!' repeatedly would frighten them away." (Wilson, D., "Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society," Prometheus: Amherst NY, 2002, p.37).

"Some Witnesses were so fearful that they even left Watchtower magazines strewn about their homes, hoping to ward off demon attacks. Even Witnesses' daily conversations were liberally sprinkled with the name `Jehovah' to keep the demons at bay. When the brothers prayed audibly for the congregation, many used the name `Jehovah' repeatedly, almost superstitiously, throughout their prayer. During assemblies, brothers often told stories about demons attacking Witnesses who left the organization, as they were then outside the realm of Jehovah's protection. Demons were said to cause them to go crazy, to become depressed, or to lead debauched, meaningless, poverty-stricken lives full of misery and sorrow. The Society reinforced this belief at nearly every assembly by featuring the testimony of a person who had either left the organization, or had been `disfellowshipped' (ousted from the organization) and had now been reinstated. Invariably, they would tell of how horrible life outside the organization had been, and how Satan had influenced them to become prostitutes, drug addicts, or to do all manner of immoral or illegal things. They would always emphasize that returning to the organization had been the only way to straighten out their lives and obtain relief from the demons. Watchtower Society literature at times even described how - their missionaries in remote foreign countries were the only missionaries able to stay alive despite deadly curses put on them by tribal witch doctors." (Wilson, 2002, pp.38-39).

"Telling demon stories was a favorite past-time at Witnesses' social gatherings. One sister exclaimed a demon once grabbed her while she was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and had spun her around in circles. Another said that the beautiful sofa her sister gave her was demonized, as everyone who sat on it developed an impulsive urge to kill someone. Yet another told of her Bible student who owned a blanket possessed by demons; whenever she would beckon it to cover her, it would creep up her body and snuggle itself up around her neck. All such stories were told in hushed undertones, for fear the demons would overhear. The Witnesses believed that anyone showing too much interest or curiosity about the demons would be the demons' next target. The Witnesses lived in obvious fear of demons; these stories always ended with the group agreeing how thankful they were to be Jehovah's Witnesses, as Jehovah would always protect them from these invisible adversaries. Telling and listening to these stories served to reinforce the need to stay closely involved in all organizational activities as a protection against these evil, invisible demonic forces. Hearing such stories about demons contributed towards my developing a phobia of ever leaving the organization." (Wilson, 2002, p.39).

"I noticed the Witnesses' obsessive fear of demons also manifesting itself while in the house-to-house preaching work. Occasionally a householder would want to give the Witness a religious pamphlet from her own church; while often the Witness would refuse to accept it on the basis that she already had the Truth, at other times another Witness might accept it. However, as soon as we were out of sight of the householder, the pamphlet became like the proverbial `hot potato'-the Witness couldn't get rid of it fast enough! Some Witnesses feared that even touching the pamphlet could cause a demon to transfer itself from the pamphlet to themselves. This fear stemmed from their belief that Jehovah's Witnesses represent the only true religion, thus all other religions are false and under the control of the Devil and the demons; consequently, they believe all literature from another religion to be contaminated with demonic forces. While some Witnesses insisted that burning the pamphlets was the only safe way to dispose of them in order to avoid demon attacks, others seemed relieved to simply drop them into the nearest trashcan. I found it odd that Witnesses, who claimed to be representatives of God in doing His work, would be so frightened of a mere pamphlet." (Wilson, 2002, pp.39-40).

"I observed many Witnesses become nervous and abruptly scurry away from talking to a householder who talked too much about Jesus, exclaiming: `Did you notice his eyes? He is obviously demonized!' Witnesses often frequented garage sales, as most Witnesses were not well off financially, in large part due to the brothers urging them to work only part-time so as to have more time for the witnessing work. I noticed that Witnesses were fanatical about the articles they found at these sales, worrying that demons might have attached themselves to the items; bringing such things home would be an open invitation to demon attack. Often I watched as Witnesses, before buying something at a garage sale, peered into the eyes of the people selling the desired objects to see if they had the `special look' individuals who were demonized were thought to have. If they did, the Witness would immediately put the items down in order to avoid likewise becoming demonized, and would breathlessly beat a hasty retreat. If a Witness ever showed symptoms of `spiritual sickness' (low witnessing hours, sporadic meeting attendance, not living in accordance with all of the Watchtower teachings), usually the elders' first course of action would be to physically go through the house of the Witness, searching for items that could have attracted demons-even helping the person to destroy any suspicious objects that they found. I puzzled over why Jehovah's Witnesses, ostensibly God's `name-people,' would be so worried about demons. God was certainly more powerful than demons, and surely He could protect His people. I wondered why the Witnesses seemed to have so little confidence that He would." (Wilson, 2002, p.40).

4 comments:

Brandon said...

Thanks for this valuable resource! I love talking with Mormons and JW's, and showing them what the Bible really teaches. I'm blessed to have come across your site!
Merry Christmas!

Brandon said...

Also, I read your creation/evolution blog post titled "What I believe about creation, evolution, and design". Great stuff. Lots to think about that I haven't considered...such as Adam not technically being the first man. Thanks for your hard research...I love finding fellow believers who are thinking men. I imagine you're familiar with William Lane Craig...I consider him a Christian mentor to me.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Brandon

>Thanks for this valuable resource!

Thanks for your comment.

>I love talking with Mormons and JW's, and showing them what the Bible really teaches.

Great! Even though Mormons and JWs are hard to win to Jesus, ex-Mormons and ex-JWs testify that Christians taking the time to explain patiently and lovingly the major problems of their respective counterfeit systems, and the truth of the Christian genuine article, does sow seeds of doubt which God can make grow (1Cor 3:6).

>I'm blessed to have come across your site!
Merry Christmas!

Thank you and the same to you.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Brandon

>Also, I read your creation/evolution blog post titled "What I believe about creation, evolution, and design". Great stuff.

Thanks again.

>Lots to think about that I haven't considered...such as Adam not technically being the first man.

The fundamental principle for me is that the Bible and nature are two books of God, which each having the same Author, must complement, not contradict, each other, when all the facts are known and erroneous interpretations are cleared away.

>Thanks for your hard research...I love finding fellow believers who are thinking men.

Thanks again. One reason cults like Mormons and JWs flourish is that comparatively few Christians take the time and effort to think through their Christian beliefs.

>I imagine you're familiar with William Lane Craig...I consider him a Christian mentor to me

Yes, I have his book "Reasonable Faith" and I have downloaded over 20 of his talks and debates and listened to them several times.

Stephen E. Jones