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Beginning Apologetics 2: How to Answer Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons Paperback – September 1, 2014
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[Beginning Apologetics ] is one of the best tools I've ever encountered for dealing with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses....
Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are the two most aggressive door-to-door religion peddlers out there. They know their arguments well. They're persistent and dedicated. They're well-trained in how to convert Catholics. They've got a zillion difficult questions to throw at Catholics. They're ready to argue when they knock at your door.
But Mormons and JWs are not ready for a Catholic who knows how to answer their questions and arguments. They're not ready for a Catholic who knows Scripture and Church history. They're not ready for a Catholic who turns the table and asks them tough questions. In short, they're not ready for a Catholic who has studied this book. --Patrick Madrid (from the Foreword)
From the Publisher
Written in a clear, accessible style, this deceptively simple handbook targets the major beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons--two of most aggressive AND successful door-to-door evangelist, especially when it comes to Catholics. It shows you how to charitably refute their claims and shows how their fundamental beliefs are contrary to Scripture, history, and common sense.
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I thought this book was average and had some very factual information backed up by pertinent data. Again, this book was written from the Catholic viewpoint, and no one can argue with the fact that the Catholic religion was the "first" Christian religion that was in existence for approximately 1750 years before the Reformation; therefore, the fundamental basics in religious thought was preserved through the Catholic Church. After the Protestant movement, which began with Luther, there have been over 2000 various sects of different Christian religions by the year 1850 A.D. Frankly, I am overwhelmed and do not know which church is the true church? So, I feel what is important is to concentrate on the simple message of the gospel, which teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and to love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Also, to follow the 10 commandments and live by the word of God and read the Bible daily. No matter which version of the Bible you read, what matters to God is that you follow His teachings and commandments and remember to be kind and loving to animals and people.
The Bible also says that you can judge a "tree" by the fruit it produces. Trees are sometimes used symbolically to refer to "man" or mankind. The most outstanding citizens of the noblest and honest characters I have ever known, were Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and Jews. So although they vary in some theological doctrines, they all produce "good fruit" in my eyes.
The first chapter is "The Merely Human Jesus" and the authors don't quite understand our position. They fail to understand that we believe that Jesus was "Merely Human" while he was on earth, and they also fail to understand that we accept the divinity of Christ being a god or just like his father. What the authors are missing is that in the Bible the term "god" is used in an absolute sense for God almighty, and in a lesser sense for others, such as Jesus who is a mighty God (Isaiah 9:6), and even angels (Psalm 82:1) and men (Psalm 82:6). (1 Corinthians 8:5-6) "For even though there are those who are called "gods," whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many "gods" and many "lords," there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him." The authors don't understand the above scriptures, and believe that if Jesus is stated to be 'god' then he must be The God, when what the Bible is stating is that he is like god. For if their argument was correct, then the Bible would never use the term 'god' for anyone but the Almighty, and Jesus never would have said what he did at John 10:32-39 "Jesus replied to them: "I displayed to YOU many fine works from the Father. For which of those works are YOU stoning me?" The Jews answered him: "We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy, even because you, although being a man, make yourself a god." Jesus answered them: "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said: "YOU are gods"'? If he called 'gods' those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, do YOU say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, 'You blaspheme,' because I said, I am God's Son? If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I am doing them, even though YOU do not believe me, believe the works, in order that YOU may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father." If they only had ears to listen, Jesus himself pointed out the use of the term 'god' in a lesser sense and clearly stated that his point was that he worked in union with God his Father, not that he himself was his Father.
The second chapter is "The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand" in which they attack us for taking the number literally as being the number of those who go to heaven. Their line of argument is that we that the number literally but don't take it as literally being from the 12 tribes of Israel and being male Jewish virgins. The authors cite at length parts of the two chapters in Revelation in which the number appears, but they fail to notice that listing of Jewish tribes is not a literal listing of the tribes of Israel, for there never was a tribe of Joseph and the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not in the list. The listing is symbolic. They seem to think that because the Bible states "of the sons of Israel" that women would be excluded, apparently they are completely unfamiliar with the Biblical use of the term which in nearly all uses always included all Israelites. They also fail to understand the use of the term virgin in the spiritual sense. For example see James 4:4 "Adulteresses, do YOU not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?" Which is why the 144,000 are stated to be "without blemish" which doesn't mean that they have no birthmarks, it means they are without marks of being part of the world. Ephesians 1:4 "we should be holy and without blemish" Revelation gives a spiritual description of a group of people who are numbered, for why use the number twice when the Great Crowd in Revelation is unnumbered? Other numbers in Revelation are literal as well, the four horsemen, the seven plagues, etc. The authors also criticize us for not believing that the "OT saints" are in heaven, since they died before Jesus offered the value of his sacrifice before his Father in heaven to redeem Mankind. (Hebrews 9:11) The Bible clearly states that Jesus was the first one who was resurrected to heaven, (the resurrections preformed by the prophets and Jesus himself were earthly and the persons all later died for it was not a resurrection to eternal life and they were not truly freed from death.) (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) "Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. . . . For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence." We could not be saved without the sacrifice of Jesus, the door to heaven was not open until after his death and those who go to heaven must be "born again" (John 3:3) which one must be a disciple of Christ to do so. The "OT saints" in the Bible are sleeping in death until they receive an earthly resurrection in the paradise earth durning the 1,000 year rule of Christ's Kingdom. Which is what the Bible teaches. (Acts 2:29-35) "David, that he both deceased and was buried and his tomb is among us to this day. Therefore, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one from the fruitage of his loins upon his throne, he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Ha'des nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this which YOU see and hear. Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, 'Jehovah said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet."' David has not yet received a resurrection while Jesus has and is in heaven.
The next chapter is "Refusal of Blood Transfusions" which highlights the very different view of blood that Catholics have compared to Jehovah's Witnesses. Catholics believe that they literally drink the blood of Christ, and that the command at Acts 15:28-29 "For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to YOU, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication." was temporary and was later removed, the authors state "Once these concerns no longer existed [Jewish Christians still keeping the Mosaic law] the early Church lifted the restrictions" which means the authors believe that the command at Acts has been nullified. The authors fail to notice that the command was by holy spirit, it was a command from God. Which brings to mind what Jesus said at Mark 7:7-8 "'It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men.' Letting go the commandment of God, YOU hold fast the tradition of men." In the Bible blood is sacred, representing life and Jesus shedding his blood for us, which is why as Christians we are commanded by the Word of God to abstain from blood just as we are to abstain from fornication and idols. (another difference between Catholics and JWs) If there was a medical condition that your doctor told you that you had to commit fornication or worship an idol to survive, as a Christian, what would you do?
The authors then spend the rest of the chapter attacking us for "Doctrinal Reversal" which I guess means that they haven't heard about "Vatican II" so maybe they still don't eat meat on Fridays. Change is not unique to Jehovah's Witnesses and change is not evil. If something is seen to be in conflict with scripture, the wise thing to do is to change it. We have made many changes over the years and have brought our doctrines into harmony with what the Bible teaches, the Catholics still have their work cut out for them in this area.
The authors last chapter on Jehovah's Witnesses is "Annihilation of the Soul" in which they find fault with our teaching that a person is a soul rather than having a soul. That at death you die and no longer exist until you are resurrected. The authors try to use "Reason" and state "if we study human beings . . . people have certain abilities, including thinking, will and self-reflection, that cannot arise from a purely material substance." The authors are apparently completely ignorant of the last several decades of research on the human mind. It is possible with MRI and other scanning systems to see a persons thoughts as the mind works, which it would not be possible to do if the thoughts were nonmaterial as the authors claim. The author's position on the human soul is scientifically impossible, ample evidence clearly shows that the human brain is the human mind, our conscience, our thoughts. We are our brain, our thoughts are not coming from another nonmaterial source, or a person's thinking would not be impaired by alcohol or other 'purely material substances'. What about mental retardation, clearly an imperfection of the flesh or do the authors believe that God created retarded souls?
The authors then use six scriptures to try to support their position, but they fail to realize that your average Jehovah's Witness is familiar with those verses and knows that they don't support the soul being immortal. They also fail to address verses such as Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul that is sinning--it itself will die." and many others, that clearly contradict the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul.
The authors make extensive use of "The Early Church Fathers" but fail to realize that those men were not inspired and why what they wrote is not part of God's Word, while doctrines should be based on God's Word alone. But then that again is one of the differences between Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses.
I have not been able to cover all the points made in this booklet, and suggest that you contact your local friendly neighborhood Jehovah's Witnesses for a more detailed discussion. We are always happy to show people what the Bible really teaches. This booklet and the points covered does highlight why many Catholics become Jehovah's Witnesses, but very few Jehovah's Witnesses become Catholics.