Thursday, July 16, 2015

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: a rare book that I could not put down until I finished reading it

Last night, I finished reading the above book by Dr. Nabeel Qureshi; a book, that once I started reading, I just could not put down until I got to the end.

It had been a number of months since I last read any books concerning Islam, but when I happened upon the book while surfing the internet last week, I felt compelled to look into it, even though I knew Dr. Qureshi had been an associate with David Wood, a high profile critic of Islam whose approach to apologetics I hold a certain dislike for. But, Dr. Qureshi has become a team member of Ravi Zacharias International Ministires (link); this, coupled with his substantial educational credentials (MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, MA in Religion from Duke University, and currently pursuing a doctorate in New Testament studies at Oxford University), led me to purchase book, and 'give it a chance'. I am quite pleased that I did so, for I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The book is not a scholarly treatment, and at times, is a bit too polemical for my taste, but Dr. Qureshi is a masterful writer, and the story that he relates to his readers concerning his life as a devout Muslim growing up in America (and Scotland), and ultimate conversion to Christianity, is certainly a dramatic and emotional one. A must read IMO...

A Google 'preview' of the book is available HERE.

Aaron Menikoff (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), senior pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, has provided a pretty good review HERE.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dr. Qureshi was raised in the Ahmadiyyat sect of Islam; many Sunni and Shia Muslims hold that members of the Ahmadiyyat sect are not Muslims at all. Dr. Qureshi has provided and excellent treatment on the Ahmadiyyat sect, addressing the issue of whether or not Ahamdis are Muslims (LINK).

I hope a number of my readers will take the time to read Dr. Qureshi's book, and then share their thoughts with me....

Grace and peace,


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian: a sad tale of resignation, moral failure and church schism

Yesterday, while engaged in some unrelated online research (the doctrine of the Trinity), I happened upon a Christianity Today article (LINK - posted on June 21st, 2015), that came as quite a shock to me: the resignation of Tullian Tchividjian (a grandson of Billy Graham), as senior pastor of the famous Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida due to an affair with "a friend".

As most probably know, the former senior pastor (and founder) of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was D. James Kennedy, a postion he held from 1960 until his retirement on August 26, 2007 (he passed away a mere ten days later). I started listening to D. James Kennedy's radio ministry, Truths That Transform, way back in the mid-80s, and did so faithfully (five days per week) for over ten years. I also took in his weekly Coral Ridge Hour, and ended up spending a fair amount of money on various products offered through his Coral Ridge Ministries.

My zeal for D. James Kennedy's ministries waned after I left the Reformed tradition in the late 90s, but I retained some interest until his death in 2007. After that date, my knowledge of events concerning the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church were non-existent until yesterday. I did not know that in March 2009 the membership of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church voted in Tullian Tchividjian as their senior pastor. I was also unaware that this event subsequently spawned a substantial schism—note the following:

Internal divisions at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church burst into the open this past weekend as six members were ordered to stay off the premises.

The six have called for the ouster of the Rev. W. Tullian Tchividjian, saying he is deserting the heritage of his revered predecessor, the Rev D. James Kennedy. In reply, the Fort Lauderdale church has accused them of spreading rumors and disrupting church unity. Among the six is Kennedy's daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.

Stresses are common whenever a longtime pastor is replaced, observers say. But with a huge, successful church with long-entrenched traditions - and a new pastor nearly two generations younger - the effects are heightened.

"I'd be surprised if it didn't happen," said Lesley Northup, a specialist in religion and culture at Florida International University. "Change is inevitable with a new pastor. And change produces discomfort. And it's magnified in a highly publicized place, where both the predecessor and the current guy are well-known."

Tchividjian, 37, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, was elected March 15 as pastor at Coral Ridge, which had lacked a leader since Kennedy died in September 2007. But if he thought he had a mandate for change, the small but vocal coterie of critics has hotly disagreed.

They have mass-mailed accusations to congregants, accusing Tchividjian of heavy-handed tactics such as downplaying the church's traditional service in favor of contemporary worship. They've criticized Tchividjian for replacing some Coral Ridge staff with his own people, and planning to sell land at the church's west campus "to make up for budget shortfalls."

Their recommended solution: a petition to put an end to Tchividjian's 4-month-old pastorate. More than 1,600 copies of the petition were mailed to church members on July 24.

The church sent the six a letter on Aug. 4, saying that if they step onto church property, they will be considered trespassers. A second letter on Thursday, signed by Tchividjian, gave the rationale: "No church government can tolerate such an insurrection from those who will not listen to admonition, refuse all counsel, and will stop at nothing until they have overthrown legitimate authority and replaced it with their own." (LINK)

Kennedy's daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, and a number of other dissidents, went on to form the New Presbyterian Church in Pompano Beach, Florida. See THIS LINK for information on the schismatic church.

Certainly some very sad events within the tradition I once embraced. My prayers go out to those souls who have been adversely affected...

Grace and peace,


Sunday, May 24, 2015

A comprehensive Eastern Orthodox site

I have been studying the early Church Fathers (I use the term "early" for the CFs who wrote between the end of the first century and the end of fifth century) for over three decades now. In addition to trying to understand what those CFs taught within the framework of the period in which they wrote, I have also attempted to understand how their writings relate to the developed theologies of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions.

Earlier today, I discovered a comprehensive Eastern Orthodox site that is nothing short of a 'goldmine' of valuable information on Eastern Orthodoxy, the Church Fathers and numerous other topics:

I was led to this site via the following page concerning the Cappadocian fathers:

The above page is part of the "Lessons on Christian Dogmatics" (link) series, which is:

... the notes that were taken from the lectures of Professor I. Zizioulas (current Metropolitan of Pergamus and Chairman of the Athens Academy) at the Poemantic Division of the Thessaloniki University’s School of Theology, during the academic year 1984-1985.

They are published with the blessing and the permission of the reverend Metropolitan.

Given my in depth work on the of the Monarchy of God the Father, I found the following from above "Cappadocian fathers" page to be of particular interest:

The third element that the Cappadocian Fathers contributed was that they not only “endowed” a complete hypostasis to each of the three persons, they in fact attributed the cause of God’s existence to the person of the Father. In other words, they attributed the beginning of God’s existence to the person of the Father – to a person.  

In view of the fact that they introduced these new elements (note: in the terminology, not in the dogma), the Cappadocian Fathers utilized images and analogies when referring to the Holy Trinity, which always had the characteristic of comprising complete beings.

In the 1st Ecumenical Council, with the theology of Saint Athanasius it was stressed very much that the Son is born of the nature -or of the essence- of the Father. That could have been misconstrued as an extension of the Father’s essence, and not as a birth of a complete and independent entity. If we have three extensions of God’s essence, then we are dangerously close to Savellianism [i,e, Sabellianism/Patripassianism/modalism].  That is why such a huge reaction against the “homoousion” had been raised, by those who were concerned that the “homoousion” -as defined in Nice- might contain in it the danger of Savellianism.

Savellius viewed God as a unit that extended itself; a unit that expanded and took on these three separate roles, and that in the end, this group would again contract unto itself, and become once again the original one unit. He saw God as a being that extended itself and acquired three “offshoots” which had the same essence.
The Cappadocians wanted to eliminate this interpretation, hence their insistence that these three persons are not extensions of the one essence, but three independent, complete entities, and that is the reason for their stressing the meaning of “hypostasis”.

The images they used for this purpose are characteristic. In both the 1st Ecumenical Council as well as the Symbol of Faith (the Creed), we note the image of light, which was used to portray the unity between the Father and the Son. There is the image and the expression of: “light out of light”.  Just as light emanates rays that cannot be distinguished from their source, nor the source from the rays, this proved itself to be a useful portrayal, to indicate that the Son is united with the Father inseparably, as “light out of light”.

The Cappadocian Fathers found this depiction inadequate, as it (the rays) could be construed, as the extension of a body, also, the Son could be construed as an energy of God.  So, instead of saying: “light out of light”, they preferred the concept of three suns.  Not just a light that originates from a light, but three individual suns, three lit torches.

These are the favored depictions, by which it is illustrated that we have three self-existent, complete persons, which, together with this depiction, are simultaneously presented as united. But here is the critical point: What is that common thing that unites those three suns?  It is the common essence, the common energy which they possess, because all three suns emanate the same heat and the same light. Consequently, the energy is common to all three, and the Essence –which goes along with the energy- is also common to all three.  It is in this manner that the presence of their hypostasis and the fullness of each person and their unity are simultaneously depicted.

In the analogy used for man, they used three persons in order to denote the three persons of the Holy Trinity.  Just as Basil, George and John are three persons, three people joined by a common nature, a common essence, which is their human nature, so can the three persons of the Holy Trinity be denoted by the image of three people.  In the instance of God, an adjustment of this depiction is necessary, because it is different to the instance of three people.  What needs to be stressed as an introduction to what will follow, is that the Cappadocian

Fathers insisted that each person of the Holy Trinity comprises a complete entity, and that the depictions we use should be depictions of complete entities and not extensions of a body.  Three suns, three torches, three people.  This is the way to denote the full hypostasis of each person.

And then a bit later, we read the following provocative assessment:

Thus, in the East, the Greek Fathers came to a halt at the Cappadocians, with regard to the dogma on the Holy Trinity.  Whoever is not acquainted with the Cappadocians, is not acquainted with the dogma of the Holy Trinity.  One cannot learn about it from anyone else, only from the Cappadocians.  Prior to the Cappadocians, many ideas had been expressed, which, however, needed to be supplemented by the Cappadocians. With the Cappadocian Fathers, the East possessed the dogma on God in its completed form. (Bold emphasis mine.)

Though I have read a good number of works by Eastern Orthodox theologians on the issue of the doctrine of the Trinity, the above is the first time I have come across such a bold assertion. I am left wondering if this a consensus view within the Eastern Orthodox paradigm...

With that said, I believe that the entire page worth reading—finding much of the content in agreement with my own thought—though I suspect that a number of folk will take issue with some of the content as I have (especially the author's reflections on Augustine).

Off to take in more of this site's content...

Grace and peace,


Monday, May 4, 2015

New academic book on R. J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism

This morning, I found out about the above book on R. J. Rushdoony by Dr. Michael J. McVicar, assistant professor of religion at Florida State University. Given my long standing interest in Christian Reconstructionism, I immediately ordered the book, and then found a Google preview: LINK.

I also located an excellent (and lengthy) review of the book, that is (IMO), a must read: LINK.

As the review states, this is the, "First major book about R. J. Rushdoony", and that "the work's 1,017 endnotes underscore the workmanship of the author".

I suspect that those who have an interest in Christian Reconstructionism will 'open their wallets' and join me in purchasing this major treatment.

Now, I have to wait for the book to arrive...

Grace and peace,


Monday, April 13, 2015

FROM CONFLICT TO COMMUNION - Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017

A few days ago, while engaged in some online research, I came upon a document that was published back in 2013 which I had been unaware of: FROM CONFLICT TO COMMUNION - Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017.

The document/report was a collaborative effort of The Lutheran–Roman Catholic Commission on Unity (formerly known as "The Joint Lutheran - Roman Catholic Study Commission on the Gospel and the Church"), and the following is an introduction to the report, published on The Lutheran World Federation website (LINK):

The Luther-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity invites all Christians to study its report open-mindedly and critically, and to walk along the path towards the full, visible unity of the Church.

In 2017, Catholics and Lutherans will jointly look back on the event of the Reformation and reflect on 50 years of official worldwide ecumenical dialogue during which time the communion they share anew has continued to grow.

This encourages Lutherans and Catholics to celebrate together the common witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, amidst this celebration, they will also have reason to experience the suffering caused by the division of the Church, and to look self-critically at themselves, not only throughout history, but also through today’s realities.

And from the Forward of the document/report, we read:

The true unity of the church can only exist as unity in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that the struggle for this truth in the sixteenth century led to the loss of unity in Western Christendom belongs to the dark pages of church history. In 2017, we must confess openly that we have been guilty before Christ of damaging the unity of the church. This commemorative year presents us with two challenges: the purification and healing of memories, and the restoration of Christian unity in accordance with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4–6).

I read this interesting document/report last week before spring-break guests arrived on Thursday. I plan on rereading it again in greater depth, with an emphasis on the 91 footnotes, and may publish some reflections in a new thread once I have finished the task.

I hope a few readers will take the time to read through the document, and share their assessment/s in the combox.

[Links to document: HTML; PDF.]

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beggars All and James Swan: from bad to worse...

James Swan of the Beggars All blog, on 04-05-15, added "Addendum #2" to his recent thread (link), that I commented on in my last post here at AF (link).

He begins "Addendum #2" with the following highly subjective opinion:

The response was written by an ex-defender of Rome (if I recall correctly) with whom this blog has interacted with over the years. Of my interactions with this blogger, I've noticed the imprecise defining of theological positions (the very thing I'm being accused of with his latest response).

James certainly has the right to share his opinion(s) with us, but I hope he realizes that such subjective opinions will not carry much weight with informed readers. Before moving on to his ONE example of my supposed "imprecise defining of theological positions", I would like to point out his statement that I was "an ex-defender of Rome" is "imprecise". What precisely does he mean by "Rome" ??? Does he mean the Rome of the historic Roman empire ? Does he mean the "Roman Church" as understood by Martin Luther, in distinction from the Papacy ? Does he mean the Bishops of Rome, in distinction from the official documents of the historic "Catholic Tradition" ? Does he mean the Roman Catholic Church as a separate denomination from the hundreds of other Christian sects ? (Hope everyone realizes that I am using the above questioning as a hyperbolic function.)

James then wrote:

For instance, in our previous interaction, the blogger thinks Luther held the "Roman church" is a true church, but failed to account for Luther's important distinction between the Roman church and the papal church. He used a quote without a context (that when read in context, demonstrates the distinction).

In our earlier "interactions", James had the decency to refer to me by name, but now, I am just "the blogger" (condescension ?). Be that as it may, I find the phrase, "the blogger thinks Luther held the "Roman Church" is a true church, to be "imprecise", and this because it gives one the initial impression that Luther himself did not believe that the Roman Catholic Church of his day retained enough truth to still be considered a Christian church; that this is something I just 'think' he held to. Thankfully, James does clear this matter up in an older post of his; note the following:

Mr. Waltz is accurate: the particular quote he utilized does point out that Luther did not deny the Roman church was a Christian church: "I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy."

It seems that James' charge of imprecision has nothing to do with whether or not the quote I provided was accurate, for he agrees with me that, "Luther did not deny the Roman church was a Christian church"; which, for the record, was EXACTLY what I was attempting to convey in my original post (link). With this in mind, I think it is important ask why James believes that my quote is "out of context" if the distinction (the fact the Luther separated the Papacy from the "Roman Church") he obsesses on is not included ? (I suspect that I am not the only one who believes that no less than five specific threads on this issue, plus the "Addendum #2", lies within the realm of obsession).

In my 'book', for a quote to be construed as "out of context", the quote would have to convey a meaning that is in some sense untrue. Since James has clearly stated that the quote I provided "is accurate" and conveys the fact that, "Luther did not deny the Roman church was a Christian church", I find little value in his charge.

Further, I would argue that if one obsesses on the distinction that Luther believed the Pope/Papacy to be the "Antichrist" (something pretty much everyone who has knows anything about Luther's beliefs is quite aware of), while leaving out his belief concerning the "Roman church", the odds of misconstruing Luther is much greater. [Ask yourselves this: how many times have you come upon the quote that I provided in my post, in treatments on Luther from authors who write from an anti-Catholic position ? Compare those rare instances with the number of times one finds reference(s) to his position on the Pope/Papacy.]

Before moving on to rest of James' "Addendum #2", I would like to provide a quote from the first of James' five threads on this issue:

Since Rome officially anathematized the Gospel at Trent, I don't consider her part of the Catholic Church. The debate on this amongst the reformed still goes on. In fact, it was debated by James White and Douglas Wilson: ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST? . Here would be a good example of something I part company with Luther on, and even many of my Reformed friends. I don't think the papacy can be extracted from the Church of Rome and still have the term "Church of Rome" make sense. (link)

Am I the only person who finds it a bit strange that James has "part[ed] company with Luther on, and even many of my Reformed friends", on an issue he has spent so much time documenting ???

[BTW, the debate referenced by James is now available on YouTube: LINK.]

James then wrote:

I would argue that the Watchtower's view of faith in relation to works, and faith and its relationship to the righteousness of Christ (Luther's "great exchange") are fundamentally different than what Luther held to. So in his present criticism, the blogger equates Luther's view of sola fide and the Watchtower's alleged view of sola fide, without actually presenting Luther's view of sola fide and comparing it to what he purports the Watchtower believes. Nor have I come across anything from the Watchtower in which they actually attempt to explain Luther's view in comparison to their own view.

I am anything but an 'expert' on "Luther's view of sola fide"; but, I am somewhat of an 'expert' on the Jehovah's Witnesses current (and past) take on this matter. With that said, I do not recall EVER stating that the JWs current understanding of sola fide is identical (the same) to that of Luther. (Though not an expert on Luther, I am aware of at least three very important distinctions: the relationship between baptism/baptismal regeneration and faith; the issue of whether or not one who has been justified by faith [alone] can fall into unbelief; the unique JW 'two class' distinction.) With that said, I would argue that James has completely missed the point I was attempting convey: JWs currently believe that one is justified by faith [alone], not by some faith and works construct—works/obedience, "simply demonstrates that their faith is genuine".

James then focuses on only one the three selections I provided in my post; the one, which of course, can be most easily distorted. Interestingly enough, he even gets the document I quoted from wrong, attributing it to the 1988 2 volume document, Insight on the Scriptures, not the 1971 document I actually quoted from, Aid to Bible Understanding. Though the document Insight on the Scriptures, borrows without any change a considerable portion of the material found in Aid to Bible Understanding, the two are separate, distinct works. For instance, the last selection he provides from "This document", is not to be found at all in Aid to Bible Understanding. Since the content of the two documents does not represent any change in the JWs position on faith [alone], I will relegate his error to sloppy referencing.

James also posted:

"Missing is any discussion of Christ taking upon himself the sin of the world..."

If James thinks that JWs reject the clear Biblical teaching found in John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2, et al. ("Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"; "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" - KJV), he is grossly mistaken. The affirmation of this teaching is found is dozens of JW documents, including both the Aid to Bible Understanding and Insight on the Scriptures (see the contributions in both documents under the "ATONEMENT" section).

[BTW, I sincerely wonder if James, an avowed Calvinist, believes that Jesus, the Lamb of God, has taking upon Himself the sin/s of the "unregenerate" ???]

James ends his opinionated piece with:

I'm not entirely sure of the motivations of this blogger, but the application of equivocation to distinct theologies leads me to wonder if this particular person has embraced some form of a universal Fatherhood of God and theBrotherhood of Man approach to Christian theism (or perhaps theism in general).

Since I do not believe that the JWs current understanding of sola fide is identical (the same) to that of Luther, the charge of "equivocation" is baseless. As for "the motivations of this blogger", I wanted to clear up some misconceptions concerning the theology of the sect I was born into, and have kept a keen eye on throughout my life. [BTW James, what are your "motivations" ???]

Though much more could be related, I shall end my reflections on James' charges for now. I sincerely hope that others than James and myself have some shared interest in the issues that have been touched on...

Grace and peace,


Friday, April 3, 2015

Beggars All and the Jehovah's Witnesses position concerning justification—yet another misrepresentation of a non-Reformed soteriology

Back on 07-03-14, I published a post (link) that brought into question a thread at the Beggars All blog (link) which adopted the assertion that the Council of Trent "reaffirmed" semi-Pelaganism that was "condemned at Orange in 529 AD".

There were also those infamous threads at BA which attempted to defend the charge that Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI "is pretty much a full-blown Pantheist" (see this post for links to those threads). But, it seems that misrepresentation at BA is not limited to the Catholic Church... 

In a thread published on 03/31/15 at Beggars All (link), James Swan relates to his readers, "what the Jehovah's Witnesses have to say about Luther".

He provides selections from a The Watchtower, 09-15-03, article, with the title, "Martin Luther—The Man and His Legacy" (available online here).

The first two quotes pertain directly to Martin Luther, but the third quote, moves beyond the historical Luther into the realm of theology, specifically, what James believes JWs believe/teach concerning justification. He prefaces the third quote he provided from the JW article with:

What I looked for as I read the article was how it gave testimony to the distinctives of the Watchtower. For instance, the Watchtower article mentions justification.

The quote itself is immediately followed by the following:

Someone reading these statements quickly might find them within the realm of orthodoxy. Certainly it's true that Luther thought himself not worthy of God's favor. Certainly it's true that Luther had his evangelical breakthrough by "Bible study, prayer, and meditation." It is true that "Luther recognized that God’s favor cannot be earned." It is true that salvation is "by faith and not by works, or penance." What's missing from these statements is Luther's emphasis on the righteousness of Christ imputed to sinners (alien righteousness), and the word "alone," as in "faith alone." The majority of the article focuses on what Luther did: his works. Without stating it explicitly, the Watchtower has presented its soteriology: having faith in God and doing works.

The last portion, "having faith in God and doing works", is a hyperlink that leads one to an online article, published on John Ankerberg's apologetic website (LINK).

I have some difficulties with James assessment(s). First, it is an error to extrapolate that if, "Luther's emphasis on the righteousness of Christ imputed to sinners (alien righteousness), and the word 'alone,' as in 'faith alone'", are "missing" in an article on Luther, then one should conclude the soteriology of the author writing the article denies those concepts. If one adopts such methodology, consistency would lead one to also conclude that the Bible denies those concepts, for one will not find therein an explicit statement of, "the righteousness of Christ imputed to sinners (alien righteousness)", nor will one find the phrase "faith alone" used in the sense that one is "justified by faith alone"; in fact, "faith alone" is found only once in the entire Bible, and it is used in a negative sense: one is NOT justified by "faith alone" (James 2:24).

Second, one should not rely on a professional apologist to discern what someone else (and/or group) believes. One should always let that person, or group, speak for themselves. It is a rare instance to find a professional apologist giving a totally accurate picture of a person, or group, he disagrees with. The article linked to by James is unreliable, for it omits a good deal of germane evidence that contradicts the two authors (Ankerberg and Weldon) conclusion: Jehovah's Witnesses teach a "works salvation". The following explicit JW texts are not to be found in their article:

Is anything more than faith needed in order to gain salvation?

Eph. 2:8, 9, RS: By grace ["undeserved kindness," NW] is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (The entire provision for salvation is an expression of God’s undeserved kindness. There is no way that a descendant of Adam can gain salvation on his own, no matter how noble his works are. Salvation is a gift from God given to those who put faith in the sin-atoning value of the sacrifice of his Son.)

Heb. 5:9, RS: “He [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Italics added.) (Does this conflict with the statement that Christians are “saved through faith”? Not at all. Obedience simply demonstrates that their faith is genuine.)

James 2:14, 26, RS: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” (A person does not earn salvation by his works. But anyone who has genuine faith will have works to go with it—works of obedience to the commands of God and Christ, works that demonstrate his faith and love. Without such works, his faith is dead.)

Acts 16:30, 31 RS: “‘Men, what must I do to be saved?’ And they [Paul and Silas] said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (If that man and his household truly believed, would they not act in harmony with their belief? Certainly.) [Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, 1989, p. 359.]

These sheeplike ones are not justified or declared righteous on the basis of their own works any more than the 144,000 heirs of Christ are. The prime thing that counted was the thing that was evidenced by their trying to do what they could in behalf of Christ just as the situation afforded, namely, their faith in him as the Messiah or Christ of God. They recognized that they had no righeousness wholly pleasing to God in themselves. In harmony with this they availed themselves of the propitiatory blood of the sacrificial Lamb of god, Jesus Christ. (John 1:29, 36) To gain a righteous apperance before Jehovah God, they did a washing, as it were, of their symbolic robes. [God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, 1973.]

Finishing his earthly course free from flaw in any sense of the word, Jesus was acknowledged by God as justified. He was thus the only man, who through test, stood firmly and positively just, or righeous before God on his own merit. By this "one act of justification [form of di•kai'o•ma],"that is, by Jesus' proving himself perfectly righteous his entire flawless course, including his sacrifice, he provided the basis for declaring righteous those persons having faith in Christ.—Rom. 5:17-19; 3:25, 26; 4:25. [Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 437.]

[Note: emphasis in the above selections are in the original.]

The above quotes present the offical view of Jehovah's Witnesses concerning justification by faith [alone]. No amount of sophistry will change this teaching into a "works salvation" soteriology, as Ankerberg and Weldon have attempted to accomplish in their misleading article.

As for the Jehovah's Witnesses view of Martin Luther, the fullest treatment that I am aware of is in the book, Mankind's Search for God (1990). Chapter 13, "The Reformation—The Search Took a New Turn", is 29 pages long, with pages 314-319 being devoted to Luther. The treatment is certainly a brief one, but, I find nothing in it that is historically inaccurate.

Shall end this post here, sincerely hoping that I have brought some clarity and accuracy to the Jehovah's Witnesses view on justification.

Grace and peace,