Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Example of Cultic Redefinition of Terms

As is stated here Bible-based Cults have a tendency for redefining the meanings of theological terms into another meaning. It is very disorientating.

The unsuspecting will think the cult follower is speaking of the same thing as it is defined in mainstream Christianity. But the cult follower in fact has a different understanding of those terms which may well go over the heads of the unsuspecting.

I recently came across a perfect example of this. What I find remarkable about this statement is how ordinary and orthodox this statement may seem to a Protestant or a Catholic yet to a member of this cult these words are expressing very different ideas.

"The miracle that God performed was that of transferring the life of his firstborn Son from his position in heaven to an egg cell within Mary's womb. She thus became pregnant through the operation of God's holy spirit.--Luke 1:26-35."

Now to a regular Christian this seems perfectly orthodox. This phrase "transferring the life of his firstborn Son" seems not to contract the Trinitarian understanding of that event; " operation of God's holy spirit" seems to be perfectly fine and proper from a Trinitarian point of view.

However this quote comes from the Jehovah's Witnesses, specifically from Awake!, December 2008, p. 8.

The Jehovah's Witnesses understand these things very differently. When they speak of God, generally they refer only to God the Father. Only God the Father is viewed as possessing divinity.

When they speak here of the "firstborn Son" they are not referring to either Jesus' conception or his resurrection, as some unknowing reader might assume, but instead it expresses their belief that Jesus was the very first and greatest creation of God the Father who was then used by God to create all else. Their Jesus is not worshiped though the Jehovah's Witnesses did worship (their non-trinitarian) Jesus in times past. Their present position contradicts both the Trinitarian and Armstrongite position that Jesus Christ is a divine and eternal being who has always existed and always will exist from eternity to eternity who is worthy of worship.

The Trinitarian reader may be somewhat suspicious that "holy spirit" is not capitalized, but still this could easily be missed or ignored if one is unaware of their distinctiveness. This reflects their belief that the Holy Spirit is merely a force through which God performs his actions and is not a personal being, which seems similar to the Armstrongite position.

Such subtle redefinitions can cause people to believe that such groups are similar to mainstream Christianity when such is simply not the case and may be a barrier to understanding each other's views.

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