This FAQ response will address the JW argument….and evidence they use to support their stance on whether Jesus supposedly died on a cross or stake.
I just love the presumptuous large font…..bold print answer they start with. “The bible’s answer”. Not “our answer as we have interpreted scripture to fit our pre-determined and biased belief system.” No…..the assumption is made that they are the only ones on earth that are capable of interpreting the bible correctly ……..and they have already done just that so the reader better pay attention because this message is coming from god. Yes siree. A start of presumption mixed with a little arrogance and topped off with a splash of fear mongering (if you don’t agree then you are disagreeing with the bible….not us. You would be pissing off god! You don’t want to do that…..do you?) They quickly move on by saying that no one can know the shape of the instrument of Jesus’ death with certainty. If that is the case then why do they make such a big deal out of insisting that it was an upright stake instead of a stake with a cross-piece? And yes, they most certainly DO make a big deal out of that. If you talk to any JW for long and ask them about what makes THEIR religion true, they’ll tell you that they use God’s name, they don’t believe in the Trinity, they abstain from blood and they don’t believe in the cross. It IS a big deal to them. What I am saying is that if no one knows for a certainty what instrument jesus died on….then why do they (JWs) care if they are right since it would be unfair of God to judge somebody for believing in something that cannot be proven or disproven?
Next they go into the definition…..using the original Greek word “stauros” as well as a quote from “A Critical and Condordance to the English and Greek New Testament.” The quote indicates that the Greek word used “never means two pieces of wood adjoining each other at any angle.” I actually looked this up and under the word “tree” in that publication, you will indeed find this quote. It wasn’t even taken out of context. How about the next quote? It was taken from “The Companion Bible, which concludes that “there is nothing in the Greek of the NT even to imply two pieces of timber.” So…..at this point, their argument seems to be gaining steam, no?
That is, until you come to the realization that both of the quotes they used above came from the same man. E.W Bullinger was responsible for both “A Critical and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament” and “The Companion Bible” (he was chief editor of this publication but died prior to its finish). So their argument SEEMS to be strong at first glance…..in that there are TWO sources supporting their view. Only…..in reality…..it is ONE source. E.W. Bullinger. Any reason they failed to mention that?
Let’s look a little further, shall we? Let’s take a look at another publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses called “Reasoning From the Scriptures”. Here is a screen shot of page 89 and their argumentation against the cross:
Again……the argument seems convincing, doesn’t it? That is, until you actually look up the reference article. In this case, the reference is from The Imperial Bible Dictionary. Here is a screen shot of what the quote REALLY said, without the deceptive use of ellipses:
As you can see, the Imperial Bible Dictionary most certainly DOES indicate that the CROSS (not stake) was what Jesus likely died on because it was the most commonly used instrument of torture in ancient Rome. The exact OPPOSITE of what their Reasoning From the Scriptures publication tried to make it look like it said.
These two source arguments of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Reasoning From the Scriptures and their website) are arguably their two best efforts at trying to prove that Jesus didn’t die on a cross. Isn’t it strange that in one, they had to use the same source twice (E.W Bullinger), and in the other, they had to use scholarly dishonest quoting practices in order to alter the context of the message?
Next they ask the question “Is using the cross in worship acceptable to God?” This is circular reasoning at its finest. They are building on an unproved foundation. They automatically, unfairly and wrongly assume that the mere existence of a cross in a person’s life constitutes worship of it. Who, in today’s society USES the cross as an idolatrous substitute during worship services? I would venture to say NOBODY. Just because a cross decorates the outside or inside of a church doesn’t mean IT is being worshipped or USED in worship. Just because someone wears a cross pendant as a necklace doesn’t mean it is being worshipped or USED in worship. Just because someone has a tattoo of a cross doesn’t mean it is being worshipped or USED in worship. But JW leadership cannot be convinced of this. Therefore if you, as a JW, were to put up a cross in your home, or wear a cross around your neck, you would be disfellowshipped and shunned by the congregation.
The second point they bring out is that the 1st century Christians didn’t USE the cross in their worship and that the teachings and examples of the apostles set a pattern that all Christians should adhere to. Again…..nobody USES a cross. It is nothing more than a symbol. And just because there is no record of Paul preaching with a cross behind him or John wearing one around his neck doesn’t mean they are or were unacceptable. In a couple of weeks the Jehovah’s Witnesses will celebrate their annual “memorial of Christ’s death” (or…..deny Jesus party as I refer to it – I’ll explain that in another post). They argue that on the night of the passover, when Jesus and his disciples ate of the bread and drank of the wine, he said “keep doing this in remembrance of me.” The argument is that Jesus’ words were to be taken literally and that EVERYBODY must OBSERVE this night annually forever and ever (with only a select few actually partaking of the bread and wine). Only……where in the scriptures is this event ceremoniously remembered? To the best of my knowledge, the bible makes NO other mention of it. It is merely assumed by them that ALL Christians observed this memorial ritual each year and they must do the same. The scriptures make NO mention of it, yet they still do it. So….if the scriptures similarly make no mention of having a cross in one’s home, how can it be wrong? Simply put, you cannot use lack of evidence to create rules that others must follow…….yet that is exactly what their leadership has done.
Their final point is that USE of the cross in worship has a pagan origin. Perhaps back then, people did actually worship the images they created……..bowing to it…….venerating it. But people don’t do that today. The cross has simply taken on a new meaning of faith. Apparently Jehovah doesn’t adapt well with changing times.
What I find to be strange is….amongst all this damnation for the USE of the cross and how merely having one in your church or home constitutes idolatry…….have Jehovah’s Witnesses forgotten to apply these strict principles to themselves?
JW leadership has gone on a massive media campaign to peddle their logo and website. The JW logo is on all of their signs and buildings now. You can buy pins, magnets, stickers, earrings, keychains etc……all with the blue and white JW.ORG logo on it. Granted, these items aren’t being mass produced by JW leadership…..rather by individual JWs……but the fact of the matter remains the same. JW leadership approves of such mass product distribution. If they didn’t……..they’d make an announcement and it would end very quickly. They’ve warned active JWs not to join Facebook. They’ve advised active JWs not to promote their own bible study groups outside of JW direction. They’ve told active JWs not to launch and promote their own pro-JW websites and blogs. Believe me……if they DIDN’T want the mass production and distribution of idolatrous products with their logo all over them (AT NO COST TO THE ORGANIZATION) to continue…….they’d do something about it.
And how is it that a cross decorating a church is a sign of idolatry to them but a big blue JW.ORG sign adorning their kingdom hall somehow doesn’t get that same label? How is it that a cross around a person’s neck constitutes idolatry………but a JW.ORG pin worn on one’s lapel is somehow acceptable?
I guess their God is ok with a little bit of idolatry so long as the JW organization can get some free advertising out of it.