In some research I have been doing, I've broken down that same article, just to show how we so closely parallel what is condemned.
*** g70 4/22 8 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?”
The above statements could even more so be applied to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The following article goes on to state just what exactly one of these changes consisted of that so disturbed these Catholics. The irony is that while the Society would rip into the Catholic Church for changing their long stand on eating meat on Friday, such a change pales in significance when compared with the changes that have taken place among the Witnesses.
*** g70 4/22 8-10 Should Meat Be Eaten on Friday? ***
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.
For decades Witnesses also held to certain teachings which they believed was the law of Almighty God. As with the Catholics, changes have been made, even more frequently so.
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?
Even as the Pope enacted rules which are made an “obligation”, throughout the Society’s history they too have had Presidents and a Governing body that similarly interpret Scripture and impose rules on the members as well.
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).
The Witnesses also teach that if someone “knowingly and willfully” commits a sin by breaking certain rules (as was the case with transplants, blood fractions, alternative civilian service) and is “unrepentant”, that person will go to “hell”. Of course, our interpretation of hell is different and means “the grave”.
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.
Witnesses teach that “failure to obey could lead to their eternal punishment” as they will be forever destroyed at Armageddon.
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.
In recent times, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has also “saw fit” to “modify” the position they held on certain matters. This is frequently referred to as “new light”.
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.
The effect upon many Witnesses “has been devastating” as well. Things that were “a sin five years ago” are suddenly “a conscience matter”. Many Witnesses are also asking themselves “how a practice that was considered by the [Organization] to be a [disfellowshipping offense] can suddenly be approved?”
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?”
We could well ask “what are they going to do with all those [Witnesses disfellowshipped for following their conscience in matters such as organ transplants when they were forbidden?]” Are they going to apologize for their “over-zealousness” and welcome them back?
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?
“Not just a few [Jehovah Witnesses] have asked such questions.” “The change in teaching has shaken their confidence in the [Organization]. But the question is, is a Witness permitted to “feel the same way if what [he] had always been taught to be vital for salvation was suddenly considered unnecessary?” Is a Witness permitted to “question other teachings of [his] 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.
Thinking Witnesses also wonder about inconsistencies such as why we are required to “abstain from blood” yet are permitted to accept certain parts of blood (blood fractions).
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.
Many persons have written to the Society on matters such as “blood fractions”. These Witnesses cannot reconcile that such fractions are permitted when the scriptures specifically state that we are to “abstain from blood” and that it “is to be poured out on the ground”; and not collected, processed, stored, and injected. “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.
Interestingly, “what becomes evident” regarding the Catholic Church is not permitted to “become evident” for the Witnesses. Because the Catholic Church has changed its views on eating meat on Friday, it makes evident that “it has founded many of its beliefs and practices on the unstable traditions of men” and “has not based its teaching upon what God’s Word says.” Yet it is “new light” when the Society changes its stand on more important matters such as identifying the “superior authorities”, the time for “judging the sheep and the goats”, whether Witnesses could accept blood fractions, transplants, vaccinations, civilian service, higher education etc., as well as changes regarding dates and predictions and understandings such as the “generation of 1914”.
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.
What is left out of the article is that many of the things the Organization required acceptance, or required abstinence of were also not “a requirement of God.”
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.
This last statement cannot in any way apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses, even though comparisons reveal that Witnesses have made even more changes than the Catholic Church, and even more serious ones. Of course, the article was written before many major changes occurred, so it was quite easy to lambaste the Catholic Church for making this disturbing change regarding the eating of meat on Fridays. Since the article was written, the 1975 prediction would fail, changes in viewpoint would occur regarding the generation of 1914, sheep and the goats, blood fractions, transplants, civil service, and education. These changes certainly impact more on the lives and health of members than any change regarding the eating of meat on Friday. In light of this fact, it would be rather surprising to see an article such as this printed in the year 2000.