Refuting Watchtarded Reasoning - 2. Does the use of "abstain" at Acts 15:29, necessitate avoiding more than just the eating of blood?

by Island Man 3 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Island Man
    Island Man

    In my first post Refuting Watchtarded Reasoning - 1. "If a doctor tells you to abstain from alcohol, you wouldn't inject it..." Steve and several other posters made the pertinent point that when the blood-alcohol analogy is refuted, JWs will simply fall back on the reasoning that the use of the word "abstain" means to avoid taking it in by any means. Since this is indeed another common line of Watchtarded reasoning used by JWs, I've decided to make it the subject of this, my next refutation.

    Abstain is indeed a word with somewhat of a broad meaning, or more accurately, a broad usage. One definition of the word is:

    "to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy..."

    Notice the definition does not specify any specific method of "holding oneself back". The exact method of avoiding the thing being abstained from is dependent on the particular context in which the word is used. This seems to be by design for the one word can then be used in a myriad different contexts to allude to myriads of different ways of avoiding things and actions. This makes for brevity of speech.

    For example, instead of the writer of Acts 15:29 having to write:

    "...keep refusing to eat things that are sacrificed to idols; blood; things that are strangled; and keep refusing to participate in acts of fornication."
    (two different methods of avoidance specified due to the different natures of the things to be avoided)

    He only needs to write:

    "...keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, blood, things that are strangled, and from fornication"
    (only the one word "abstain" need be used because its meaning does not specify methodology and is thus broad enough to cover each different kind of activity)

    So Acts 15:29 isn't saying to hold yourself back from all kinds of uses of blood, specifically. No. It's saying:

    "Hey, you need to not partake in each of these four things in the specific respective ways in which they're normally partaken of. I'm not going to specify what those specific ways of partaking for each of them are because that would make my statement needlessly wordy and I know you already know what they are or can easily find out by looking up what the Law of Moses says on them since that is, after all, the context of my mentioning them. OK?"

    Context, context, context! The context determines the meaning of "abstain". The context of Acts 15:29 is all about which parts of the Mosaic Law, if any, are still binding on Christians. Thus what the Mosaic Law says about avoiding blood, delineates what it means to "abstain ... from blood". Acts 15 was not the issuing of a new all encompassing law on blood with expanded application extending to blood transfusions. Rather, it was a referral to existing OT laws forbidding specifically, the eating of blood. The use of the word is not to indicate an all encompassing avoidance of any single thing mentioned but rather, due to the fact that several things with different modes of participation are being mentioned.

  • biblexaminer

    To go head to head with a dub on the blood thing. Easy peezy.

    Ask them,

    "Is the Watchtower 1985 4/15 p.12 par. 11 correct and fair when it equates blood transfusions as being "as serious a moral wrong as illicit sex relations." in its explanation of Acts 15:20, that "blood" and "fornication" are mentioned together in the Scriptures, thus these two sins being equal...?

    Make sure they know that you have made a direct quote.

    They will defend Watchtower and its teaching.

    Then say,

    "The Watchtower also teaches that taking many blood fractions is okay for Christians today. Therefore, is it then just as okay to have fractions of fornication?

    Conversation over.

  • MissFit

    Islandman: Thank you.

    I never thought I would consider a blood transfusion. That teaching of abstaining from blood was so ingrained.

    Even now my knee jerk reaction would be to reject one. But I think I would be more likely now to have an open mind and not dismiss it all together

    That is why posts like yours are so important.

  • TD

    I agree Island Man, but not quite for the same reason.

    To illustrate: As the name given to the act of sexually immorality, "Fornication" has a verb form and it is therefore easy to restate the abstention as a finite negative:

    "Do not fornicate"

    You can't do this with blood, because blood is not a finite act and therefore doesn't have a verb form that really has anything to do with the noun form:

    "Do not ______" (What?)

    In order to complete the thought, we must insert a finite verb and the only interpolation that any translator would be justified in making would limited to that which the context will directly support.

    There are a number of translations that do, in fact, render the abstention as "tasting blood" "eating blood" etc., but nobody (Including the translators of the NWT) makes the leap that JW interpretation would require.

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