Thursday, January 8, 2009

Worship the Father; Follow the Leader

"[The Man of Lawlessness] is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called 'god' or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god."-2 Thessalonians 2:4

If a Christian does research on this Scripture, we find that "The Man of Lawlessness" is the clergy of Christendom. Some have taken to doubting this truth given by the "Faithful and Discreet Slave." (Matthew 24:45) Why is this? I cannot say. Maybe they cannot find how the assertion fits with the facts. And yet, after reasoning on the text and how the clergy views itself, I could see how this is very factual.

First of all, a statement made by Jesus Christ is very revealing. He says, "But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers.Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ." (Matthew 23:8-10) Christ made it clear that we were not to elevate ourselves or other people above anyone. Special titles that are only reserved for Jehovah and Jesus are not to be used for any human. And yet, that is the case.

If we were ever part of Christendom, the terms "Pastor", "Minister", and "Bishop" are recognizable to us as they were used as special titles, setting someone above us. This gave them special positions of authority that are not for one man to either have or handle.-Exodus 18:13-14, 17-22; 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 5, 8-10

Further, the title "Father" for a man is extremely disrespectful to our only Father, Jehovah. Jesus said that we have only one Father and so, logically, if we apply that title to anyone else we are elevating them to Jehovah's position.

Further, by being the only teacher of an entire congregation, religious "leaders" are actually taking the glory from Jehovah. Through His prophets Jehovah said, "all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah." (Isaiah 54:13) Men on earth that are "teachers" in the congregation are actually instruments that Jehovah uses. The glory for our knowledge and what we learn from God's Word actually comes from Jehovah.-Genesis 40:8

Jehovah getting the glory that is due Him is very important. He says, "I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory." (Isaiah 42:8) The Christ, yes, was a great teacher, but he never took glory for himself. He always gave it to Jehovah God, at one point saying, "I do not accept glory from men." (John 5:41; Mark 10:17-18) How unlike the clergy Jesus Christ was! How unlike the clergy the Faithful Slave is! They do not refer to themselves with any special titles but they simply refer to themselves as "brother so-and-so" and refer to us likewise.

Another special title reserved for Jehovah in the Bible was told us by the psalmist, "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name." (Psalm 111:9, King James Version) The New World Translation has the word "reverend" as "fear-inspiring." To call a religious "leader" by the title reverend, as many are called, is again taking glory from Jehovah and His Name, the one alone who is fear-inspiring. The clergy do not inspire righteous fear in our hearts and should never claim that this is their privilege.

Another way in which the clergy elevate themselves to the position of Jehovah is by saying that they have the power to forgive sins. The standard statement in Catholic confession is "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned" and then the priest will say that they are forgiven. In contrast, look at what the Bible has to say on this subject:

"However, after some days he again entered into Capernaum and he was reported to be at home. Consequently many gathered, so much so that there was no more room, not even about the door, and he began to speak the word to them. And men came bringing him a paralytic carried by four. But not being able to bring him right to Jesus on account of the crowd, they removed the roof over where he was, and having dug an opening they lowered the cot on which the paralytic was lying. And when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic: 'Child, your sins are forgiven.' Now there were some of the scribes there, sitting and reasoning in their hearts: 'Why is this man talking in this manner? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins except one, God?' But Jesus, having discerned immediately by his spirit that they were reasoning that way in themselves, said to them: 'Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and pick up your cot and walk"? But in order for you men to know that the Son of man has authority to forgive sins upon the earth,'—he said to the paralytic: 'I say to you, Get up, pick up your cot, and go to your home.' At that he did get up, and immediately picked up his cot and walked out in front of them all, so that they were all simply carried away, and they glorified God, saying: 'We never saw the like of it.'"-Mark 2:1-12

In an alternate account the Bible record tells, "the crowd...glorified God, who gave such authority to men." (Matthew 9:8) While on earth, Jesus was given authority to forgive sins. No other man has had that privilege except Jesus. For a priest or anyone else to take that privilege for themselves is setting themselves up as equal to God. And this shows them up to be the "Man of Lawlessness", just as the faithful slave has told us.

So may we follow our only Reverend and Father, our "heavenly One" and our only Leader, "the Christ".