I thought I would share some rich "spiritual food" from the "Channel of Communication" here:
The Watchtower, 5-15-1976 Issue, Page 298:
It is a serious matter to represent God and Christ in one way, then find that our understanding of the major teachings and fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures was in error, and then after that, to go back to the very doctrines that, by years of study, we had thoroughly determined to be in error. Christians cannot be vacillating-‘wishy-washy’-about such fundamental teachings. What confidence can one put in the sincerity or judgment of such persons?
The Watchtower, 12-01-1981 Issue, Page 27:
However, it may have seemed to some as though that path has not always gone straight forward. At times explanations given by Jehovah’s visible organization have shown adjustments, seemingly to previous points of view. But this has not actually been the case. This might be compared to what is known in navigational circles as "tacking." By maneuvering the sails the sailors can cause a ship to go from right to left, back and forth, but all the time making progress toward their destination in spite of contrary winds.
Awake!, 4-22-1970 Issue, Pages 8-11: THE churches are in rapid decline. Even in the United States, where religion still enjoys perhaps the greatest popularity, nearly three out of four persons polled said that it is losing influence. Why is there this decline in religion?
Changes That Disturb People
One of the reasons is that people are disturbed by what is happening in their churches. Yes, millions of persons have been shocked to learn that things they were taught as being vital for salvation are now considered by their church to be wrong. Have you, too, felt discouragement, or even despair, because of what is happening in your church? A businessman in Medellín, Colombia, expressed the effect the changes have had on many.
"Tell me," he asked, "how can I have confidence in anything? How can I believe in the Bible, in God, or have faith? Just ten years ago we Catholics had the absolute truth, we put all our faith in this. Now the pope and our priests are telling us this is not the way to believe any more, but we are to believe ‘new things.’ How do I know the ‘new things’ will be the truth in five years?"
What are some of these changes that disturb people?
Should Meat Be Eaten on Friday?
FOR centuries Catholics abstained from eating meat on Fridays. It was a Church law. Many sincerely believed it was a law of Almighty God. But now this has changed.
The fact is that the meatless-Friday rule was made an obligation only some 1,100 years ago. Pope Nicholas I (858-867) was the one who put it into effect. And how vital was it considered that Catholics abide by this rule?
A publication that bears the Catholic imprimatur, indicating approval, states: "The Catholic Church says that it is a mortal sin for a Catholic to eat meat on Friday knowingly and wilfully, without a sufficiently grave and excusing reason." It adds: The "Church says that if a man dies in unrepented mortal sin, he will go to hell."-Radio Replies, Rumble and Carty (1938).
Thus the devout carefully avoided eating meat on Fridays. They sincerely believed that failure to obey could lead to their eternal punishment in a fiery hell.
But then, early in 1966, Pope Paul VI authorized local Church officials to modify this abstinence requirement in their countries as they saw fit. The pope was acting in line with recommendations made at the recently completed Second Vatican Council. Thus, in one country after another, meatless Fridays were virtually abolished-in France, Canada, Italy, Mexico, the United States, and so on.
The effect upon many devout Catholics has been devastating. "All these years I thought it was a sin to eat meat," explained a housewife in the midwestern United States. "Now I suddenly find out it isn’t a sin. That’s hard to understand."
If you are a Catholic, can you understand how a practice that was considered by the Church a "mortal sin" can suddenly be approved? if it was a sin five years ago, why is it not today? Many Catholics cannot understand.
When a woman in Canada was asked how she felt about the changes in her church, she replied: "I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me. What are they going to do with all those people sent to hell for eating meat on Friday?"
Not just a few Catholics have asked such questions. The change in teaching has shaken their confidence in the Church. Would you not feel the same way if what you had always been taught to be vital for salvation was suddenly considered unnecessary? Would you not be inclined to question other teachings of your church also?
The Catholic Church, however, has not completely changed its position on Friday meat abstinence. Even now Catholics are still required to abstain from eating meat on "Good Friday." Also, in some places they must not eat meat on Fridays during the Lenten season.
But why is it considered wrong to eat meat on "Good Friday," but permissible to do so on other Fridays of the year? It has caused thinking persons to wonder.
Many persons have begun to ask questions regarding the basis for this teaching, as well as about other Church teachings. And what especially disturbs them is that they have not received satisfying answers.
What Becomes Evident
The inability of the Church to explain its position Scripturally makes evident an important fact: The Catholic Church has not based its teachings upon what God’s Word says. Rather, it has founded many of its beliefs and practices on the unstable traditions of men.
This is obviously true with regard to Friday meat abstinence. For, look as you may, nowhere in the Bible will you find that Christians were ever instructed to refrain from eating meat on any Friday of the year, or on any other day. It is not a requirement of God. In fact, the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version Bible says that enjoining or commanding "abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving" is an evidence of a departure from the faith.-1 Tim. 4:1-4.
Thus, many truth-seekers are having their eyes opened to see that the Catholic Church has not been holding strictly to God’s Word. And they are wondering whether any religion that does not do so is worthy of their confidence and support.
But there are other changes that are also disturbing people today.
[Picture on page 9]
What will happen to those sent to hell for eating meat on Friday?
Dropping of Saints Causes Confusion
LAST May Catholics were shocked by front-page newspaper stories that announced the dropping of many of their saints from the Church’s official liturgical calendar. Many Catholics evidently understood "dropped" to mean the abolishing of their saints. Confusion and discontent were widespread, and have not died out.
A retired school principal in Argentina said: "What I can’t explain is how after so many centuries of worshiping saints just recently the Church declares that it must not be done."
A young man in the Netherlands observed: "Either our forbears have always been cheated or we are now."
Especially were Catholics disturbed in sections of Italy where demoted St. Januarius is worshiped. "Heavens! What on earth are you saying!" exclaimed one woman when the news was brought to her. "One doesn’t understand anything anymore. I believe in St. Januarius and I’ll keep him."
What do these changes mean? Does the Catholic Church now prohibit veneration of saints? Are religious medals to be discarded?
It depends upon where one lives as to what is practiced. In some places images of saints have been discarded from Catholic churches. Thus a Catholic woman in Canada lamented: "Nothing is the same; they have taken down the statues; even the Virgin Mary had to go from our church."
But in other places little, if any, change has occurred. Catholics still venerate their favorite saints, even though these have been officially ‘dropped’ or ‘downgraded.’ A Catholic in a South American country observed: "The Church’s declaration is ambiguous, because the Church says that in those towns where these are patron saints there is nothing wrong in continuing the worship of them."
It has caused many persons to wonder: Is it proper for a religion to discard images as wrong in certain places, and yet permit the use of them in worship in other places? Could Almighty God approve of a religious organization that tolerates practices that are so opposed?-2 Cor. 6:14-16.
A Stand for Truth?
True religion does its utmost to correct error and inform people of the truth. Yet, when the Vatican announcement regarding the dropped saints was made last spring, the official spokesman for New York city’s Cardinal Cooke commented: "These changes are not really surprising, as for many, many years there has been doubt as to whether some of these saints were actually saints or simply revered, legendary heroes."
Yes, religious leaders of the Catholic Church for a long time knew that these saints probably never existed, yet they tolerated and even encouraged veneration of them. And they still do! In fact, after the announcement about the dropping of the saints was made, a Vatican weekly observed: "If a saint really never existed God would still see the faith of him who prays [to the saint] and listen to his supplication."
But is this really true? Does God approve of prayers said to "saints"? Jesus Christ made clear the only way of approach to God, saying: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me." (John 14:6, Douay) These words of Jesus clearly rule out any approach to God by means of prayers said to "saints."
Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible to show that a religious organization can create "saints." God is the one who sanctifies humans, setting them apart for his holy service. (1 Thess. 5:23) But even those whom God sanctifies are not to be venerated, as evidenced by the fact that Cornelius was not permitted to do obeisance to the apostle Peter. The Bible shows that worshiping even an angel is wrong.-Acts 10:25, 26; Rev. 19:10.
Is it not evident, therefore, that the Catholic Church has not been holding fast to God’s truth, and that this has contributed to the religious confusion? But there are still other disturbing changes.