The death of Lawrence's daughter prompted more research

by jaffacake 4 Replies latest jw friends

  • jaffacake
    jaffacake This blood issue is so important. Even the WTS knows now the doctrine was in error but has painted itself into a corner, from which it tries to extract itself very gradually for fear of a backlash.
    If you folks read nothing else this month, please read the free online chapter 9 from In Search of Christian Freedom, if you truly wish to understand scriptural truth about blood. Here are small samples:

    The question then is, in what context did James and the apostolic council use the expression to “abstain” from blood? The council itself specifically dealt with the effort of some to demand of Gentile Christians that they not only be circumcised but also “observe the law of Moses.” {33} That was the issue the apostle Peter addressed, observance of the Mosaic law, which he described as a burdensome “yoke.” {34} When James spoke before the gathering and outlined his recommendation of things the Gentile Christians should be urged to abstain from—things polluted by idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood—he followed this up by the statement:

    For from ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.—Acts 15:19-21. {35}

    His recommendation therefore quite evidently took into account what people heard when ‘Moses was read’ in the synagogues. James knew that in ancient times there were Gentiles, “people of the nations,” who lived in the land of Israel, dwelling among the Jewish community. What had been the requirements placed upon them by the Mosaic law? They were not required to be circumcised, but they were required to abstain from certain practices and these are outlined in the book of Leviticus, chapters 17 and 18. That law specified that, not only Israelites, but also the “alien residents” among them should abstain from engaging in idolatrous sacrifices (Leviticus 17:7-9), from eating blood, including that of unbled dead animals (Leviticus 17:10-16), and from practices designated sexually immoral (including incest and homosexual practices).—Leviticus 18:6-26.

    While the land of Israel itself was now under Gentile control, with large numbers of Jews living outside in various countries (those doing so being called the “Diaspora,” meaning the “scattered [ones]”), James knew that in many cities throughout the Roman Empire the Jewish community was like a microcosm reflecting the situation in Palestine in ancient times, in that it was quite common for Gentiles to attend synagogue gatherings of the Jews, and thus to mingle with them. {36}

    The early Christians themselves, both Jewish and Gentile Christians, continued to frequent these synagogue gatherings, even as we know that Paul and others did much of their preaching and teaching there. {37} James’ reference to the reading in Moses in the synagogue in city after city certainly gives basis for believing that, when listing the things he had immediately before named, he had in mind the abstentions that Moses had set forth for Gentiles within the Jewish community in ancient times. As we have seen, James listed not only the very same things found in the book of Leviticus, but even in the very same order: abstention from idolatrous sacrifice, blood, things strangled (hence unbled), and from sexual immorality. He recommended observance of those same abstentions on the part of Gentile believers and the evident reason for this abstention was the circumstance then prevailing, that of an intermixture of Jew and Gentile in the Christian gatherings and the need to maintain peace and harmony within that circumstance. When Gentile Christians were urged to ‘abstain from blood,’ this clearly was to be understood, not in some all-embracing sense, but in the specific sense of refraining from eating blood, something abhorrent to Jews. To take the matter beyond that, and to try to assign to blood of itself a sort of “taboo” status, is to lift the matter out of its Scriptural and historical context and to impose upon it a meaning that is not actually there. {38}

    Notably, James did not list such things as murder or theft among the abstentions urged. Those things were already condemned as much among the Gentiles in general as among the Jews. But the Gentiles did condone idolatry, did condone eating of blood and eating of unbled animals and condoned sexual immorality, even having “temple prostitutes” connected with places of worship. The recommended abstentions, then, focused on those areas of Gentile practice that were most likely to create great offense for Jews and result in friction and disturbance. {39} The Mosaic law had not required circumcision for alien residents as a condition for living in peace within Israel and neither did James urge this.

    The letter that resulted from James’ recommendation was directed specifically to Gentile Christians, people “from the nations,” in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia (regions stretching contiguously to the north of Israel) and, as we have seen, it dealt with the specific issue of an attempt to require Gentile believers to “observe the law of Moses.” {40} It dealt with those areas of conduct most likely to create difficulty between Jewish and Gentile believers. As will be demonstrated later, there is nothing to indicate that the letter was intended to be viewed as “law,” as though the four abstentions urged formed a “Quadrilogue” replacing the “Decalogue” or Ten Commandments of the Mosaic law. It was specific counsel for a specific circumstance prevailing at that period of history.
  • jaffacake

    We can see a striking contrast between the legalistic approach of control by “policy,” rules and regulations, and the approach taken by the apostle Paul in his giving of admonition against wrongdoing. His appeal consistently gave primary emphasis, not to law, but to love. Thus, in his letter to the Romans, he writes:

    Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another; for he that loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. For the law code, “You must not commit adultery, You must not murder, You must not steal, You must not covet,” and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this word, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore love is the law’s fulfillment. {48}

    Paul exemplified this approach in his handling of problems. One notable example is that of the issue of eating meats offered to idols (one of the four things listed in the letter recorded at Acts chapter 15). In Corinth, some Christians were even going to idol temples where such sacrificed meat was thereafter cooked and served up (for a price) in the precincts of the pagan temple. For a Christian to eat there was in the eyes of many of their fellow disciples—particularly those of Jewish background—undoubtedly comparable to the way Jehovah’s Witnesses would view it if one of their members today were to share in a church supper, consisting of food earlier blessed by priests and served at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic cathedral in New York, with the money payment going to the church. Though the viewpoint might be comparable, the issue itself was far more serious. How, then, did the apostle deal with the matter?

    Did he threaten those eating this meat by warning them of judicial proceedings and probable disfellowshiping? Was his appeal to law, a body of rules, as the means for curbing this practice? To the contrary he showed that the action of itself was not condemnable. But it could produce undesirable, even tragic consequences. Counseling on the basis, not of law, but of love, he wrote:

    It is easy to think that we “know” over problems like this, but we should remember that while this “knowing” may make a man look big, it is only love that can make him grow to his full stature. For if a man thinks he “knows” he may still be quite ignorant of what he ought to know. But if he loves God he is the man who is known to God.

    In this matter, then, of eating food which has been offered to idols, we are sure that no idol has any real existence, and that there is no God but one. . . . But this knowledge of ours is not shared by all men. For some, who until now have been used to idols, eat the food as food really sacrificed to a god, and their delicate conscience is thereby injured. . . . You must be careful that your freedom to eat food does not in any way hinder anyone whose faith is not as robust as yours. For suppose you with your knowledge of God should be observed eating food in an idol’s temple, are you not encouraging the man with a delicate conscience to do the same? Surely you do not want your superior knowledge to bring spiritual disaster to a weaker brother for whom Christ died? And when you sin like this [that is, by a misuse of Christian freedom] and damage the weak conscience of your brethren you really sin against Christ.—1 Corinthians 8:1-12, PME. {49}

    Whether one ate or did not eat would not depend, therefore, upon law and concern over being found guilty of violating law. It would depend upon love and concern not to harm one’s brother “for whom Christ died”—truly a superior approach that caused the Christian to reveal what was in his heart, not simply his compliance with a rule.

    That same counsel demonstrates as well that the apostle did not look upon the decision reached by apostles and others in Jerusalem (recorded in Acts chapter fifteen) as being “law.” Had it been law, Paul would never have written as he did to Christians in Corinth, stating frankly that the eating of meats offered to idols was a matter of conscience, with the determining factor being whether the eating would cause others to stumble or not. To view the Jerusalem letter as law and, on this basis, to claim that its reference to blood indicates that Christians remain under the Mosaic law’s ordinances regarding blood, is clearly to ignore the apostle Paul’s statements, in the corollary matter of “meats offered to idols,” showing that such reasoning is invalid. {50} If no stumbling was probable, then no one could rightly judge Paul or any other Christian for eating such meat. As Paul states:

    For why should it be that my freedom is judged by another person’s conscience? If I am partaking with thanks, why am I to be spoken of abusively over that for which I give thanks?—1 Corinthians 10:29, NW. {51}

  • TD

    I can never understand why JW's don't realize that invoking a partial predicate apart from the context that completes it is not grammatical ---Not in English and not in Koine Greek.

    I wonder if they truly realize how stupid they sound.

  • anewme

    Thankyou Jaffacake for your informative research. I wrote down the verses you chose to use. I appreciate the time you spent.

  • jaffacake


    Thanks, don't worry I didn't type it all out. If you use the link at the top you'll see it is a paste from a whole chapter of the Ray Franz book, In Search of Christian Freedom - available online (follow up to Crisis of Conscience) - one of the best book I've read.


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