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Correcting Media Portrayals of Prince’s Faith

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The recent passing of music icon Prince has motivated many people to look at a once little-known fact about his life: his faith. Though he was baptized a Seventh-day Adventist, Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness. He regularly attended services and even knocked on doors, as this CNN.com story illustrates:

On one occasion Prince knocked on a door in a middle class suburb of Minneapolis. A woman answered and stared at the instantly recognizable singer, easily the Twin Cities’ biggest celebrity, Lundstrom recalled. “In the middle of Prince’s very nice Bible presentation, the woman says, ‘Excuse me, but has anyone told you that you look a lot like Prince?’ He looks at her and says, ‘It's been said.’ Then goes back to his presentation. When the woman asked Prince for his name, Prince said, ‘Rogers Nelson,’” his middle and last name.

One problem in stories like these and other commentary on Prince is that he is often described as a “conservative Christian,” even though Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians. Now, before I explain why Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, I need to head off some objections, specifically: “How dare you question someone else’s faith!” and “Don’t you have any respect for the recently departed?”

First, when I say Prince was not a Christian, I’m not saying he was a bad person. “Christian” and “good person” are not synonymous. Bad people can be Christians—indeed, all Christians are sinners—and there are good people who happen to be non-Christians. The term Christianrefers instead to people who believe certain truths about God and have received certain sacraments, namely baptism, in accordance with those truths.

Second, I’m not questioning what Prince believed or judging the contents of his heart and soul. I’m assuming that Prince was a faithful Jehovah’s Witness until death. What I am saying is that if someone believes Jehovah’s Witnesses theology, he is not a Christian. Of course, the critic will reply, “Who gave you the right to say who is and isn’t a Christian?”

But even the critic will admit that some people, like Jews or atheists, are not Christians. His criteria for being a Christian is probably “anyone who says he is a Christian,” which makes sense in a world where one’s personal sense of self-identity is allowed to override almost any objective measure of reality. However, if Jesus rose from the dead and left us an authoritative church to guide believers to salvation, then I’m going to go with the definition of Christianity Christ’s Church gives us.

Tangling with the Trinity

The key difference between Christians and non-Christians such as Jehovah’s Witnesses is the doctrine of the Trinity. According to theCatechism of the Catholic Church:

Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: “I do.” “The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity” (CCC 232).

But Jehovah’s Witnesses emphatically deny the doctrine of the Trinity. They say the Trinity is “the lie that made God a mystery”[1] and is simply “not a Bible teaching.”[2]

Many of their objections to the Trinity can be answered by explaining what it actually is. For example, when Jesus was tempted to worship the devil, he refused and responded by quoting the Old Testament’s command to “worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8).

The Watchtower, the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, says of this passage, “Jesus made it clear that there is just one God who must be worshipped when he said ‘him alone,’ not ‘us,’ which hewould have said if he were part of a Trinity.”[3] But the Trinity doesteach that there is just one God to be worshiped, and this God is a unity that can be referred to as “him.” God is not a collection to be referred to as “us” but three persons united in one being, each of whom fully possess the divine nature.

Other Jehovah’s Witnesses criticisms of the Trinity try to prove that the doctrine is unintelligible or is a pagan belief that was assimilated by Christian doctrine and is not biblical. For example, one Watchtowerarticle says:

The Trinity, explain Catholic scholars Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler, "could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible." Can you really love someone who is impossible to know or understand? The doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, is a barrier to knowing and loving God.[4]

But this objection confuses being incomprehensible with beingunintelligible. Yes, the Trinity cannot be fully comprehended, or understood, in every respect. But just because something is not “wholly intelligible,” it does not follow that it is unintelligible, or nonsense. Jehovah’s Witnesses even admit that their God Jehovah is not completely understandable. According to their training manualReasoning from the Scriptures, “Should we really expect to understand everything about a Person who is so great that he could bring into existence the universe, with all its intricate design and stupendous size?[5]

Since there is nothing else in the universe like the Trinity, we can expect that there would be things we don’t understand about this doctrine, even though on the whole the doctrine is not a logical contradiction. The Trinity is a mystery, but that does not mean it is some unknowable “black hole.” Rather, a theological mystery refers to truths that we would not know if God had not revealed them to us. It is, like other mysteries of the faith, “not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:13).

Jehovah’s Witnesses also claim the term Trinity is a pagan one derived from ancient mythology and is not found in the Bible. It is true that the word does not appear in Scripture, but neither do the wordsGoverning Body, generation of 1914, kingdom hall, or other words associated with many important Witnesses doctrines. This shows that a doctrine does not have to appear in the Bible in order for one to believe it to be true.

Furthermore, the claim that the Trinity is based on mythological “triads” of gods such as Osiris, Isis, and Horus in Egypt is false. These pagan triads are nothing like the Trinity, because they represent three different and competing gods, while the Trinity is one God who is three co-equal, co-eternal persons, or, as Tertullian wrote in A.D. 216, “The unity is distributed in a Trinity. Placed in order, the three are the Father, Son, and Spirit.”[6]

The bottom line

All people, no matter what their beliefs, will eventually stand before God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s why Catholics evangelize, or share the good news about God: so that all people can have a relationship with God before death.

This is especially true when it comes to evangelizing groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who claim Jesus as their savior but deny the deity of Christ. These groups don’t even feel it is appropriate to pray to Jesus, so it is an act of kindness, not arrogance, to correct their mistaken Christology. This is done out of love so that the person can come to know the God who not only became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) but stands ready with the Father to dwell within our very being (John 14:23).

Join me in praying for the soul of Prince and for all those who die with mistaken beliefs about God. In this Year of Mercy especially we have hope of their eternal salvation.

If you want to learn more about how to answer the arguments of Jehovah’s Witnesses, see my booklet 20 Answers: Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

[1] “The Lie That Made God A Mystery,” The Watchtower, November, 1 2013, 5. http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20131101/lie-made-god-a-mystery-trinity/. ?

[2] Reasoning From the Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), 405. ?

[3] “Is the Trinity a Bible teaching?” The Watchtower, March 1, 2012, 23. http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2012173. ?

[4] “The Lie That Made God A Mystery,” The Watchtower, November, 1 2013, 5. http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20131101/lie-made-god-a-mystery-trinity/. ?

[5] Reasoning From the Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), 149. ?

[6] Against Praxeas, 2. ?


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After his conversion to the Catholic Faith, Trent Horn earned a bachelor's degree in history from Arizona State University and a master's degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy from Holy Apostles College.

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On 5/19/2016 at 3:10 AM, Kurt said:

The key difference between Christians and non-Christians such as Jehovah’s Witnesses is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians?

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/are-jehovahs-witnesses-christians/#?insight[search_id]=9196bc35-b8e8-42e0-a6b4-76a1ade87bb8&insight[search_result_index]=0

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      “It’s not really restrictive. It’s more like a protection from things that could possibly harm us,” Graham said. “So it’s a positive thing … and making you a better person.”
      Prince was particularly drawn to biblical messages of a hopeful future, he said. One of his favorite passages was Revelations 21:3-4, which states that God ultimately will dwell with his people and that “death will be no more.”
      “The resurrection and the hope for the future — and many more [passages] — we discussed many weeks and many months and years,” Graham said.
      “A lot of people will remember Prince for his music,” he added. “But he’d also want people to know what he learned from the Bible. We lost a really good friend and a spiritual brother.”

      UNTIL  TO  PARADISE........   OUR  DEAR  BROTHER ❤
      ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫.♪ ♫ ♪ ♫.♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫.♪ ♫ ♪ ♫.♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫.♪ ♫
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
       
      Para aquellos que siguen el camino de la rectitud, la recompensa está en el más allá: "Un mundo de felicidad sin fin donde siempre puedes ver el sol, de día o de noche".
      Prince grabó canciones con mensajes religiosos más explícitos (incluyendo el álbum conceptual "The Rainbow Children" sobre los Testigos de Jehová), pero nunca volvió hacer sonar la fe con tanto gusto.
      http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-43567590
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Veinte años antes, en una entrevista con la revista Guitar World Magazine, el cantante y compositor que murió el 21 de abril de 2016 por una sobredosis de medicamentos, consignó su rechazo hacia las tecnologías digitales que se popularizaban para manipular y rescatar las voces de cantantes muertos.
      “Ciertamente no. Esa es la cosa más demoníaca imaginable. Todo es como es y como debería ser. Si hubiera sido mi destino tocar con Duke Ellington (un compositor americano que murió en 1974), habríamos vivido en la misma época. Toda esa realidad virtual... es realmente demoníaca. Yo no soy un demonio”, respondió por las técnicas que permitían juntar voces que habitan en planos diferentes.
      "Además, lo que hicieron con la canción de los Beatles ['Free As a Bird'], manipular la voz de John Lennon para que cantara desde el otro lado de la tumba... eso nunca me pasará. Para evitar que este tipo de situación ocurra, es otra de las razones por las que quiero el control artístico”, agregó el también guitarrista, que pertenecía a los Testigos de Jehová.
      Estas palabras de Prince retumbaban en la memoria de sus familiares y amigos, quienes en la víspera del juego entre los Eagles de Filadelfia y los Patrios de Nueva Inglaterra tomaron las redes sociales para expresarse en contra del uso del holograma. La disputa se armó tan pronto trascendió que el exmiembro del grupo NSYNC reviviría al enigmático cantante y compositor en su homenaje mediante dicha tecnología.
      Leer más: https://www.univision.com/entretenimiento/prince-hubiera-rechazado-el-tributo-de-justin-timberlake-por-considerarlo-demoniaco
    • By David Normand
      December 15, 20172:52 AM ET Heard on Morning Edition In a far-reaching report on child sex abuse in Australia, a government commission is recommending that the country's Catholic Church lift its celibacy requirement for diocesan clergy and be required to report evidence of abuse revealed in confession.
      Those are among the 400 recommendations contained in the 17-volume final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which is wrapping up a five-year investigation – the longest in Australia's history.
      "We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades," the report said.
      The Australian reports: "More than 15,000 people contacted the commission to share their experiences of abuse, more than 8,000 of them spoke personally with the commissioner about the trauma it caused, and approximately 2,500 cases have now been referred to police."
      The commission said the church failed to properly address allegations and concerns of victims, calling the Church's response to them "remarkably and disturbingly similar."
      The report also detailed abuse in churches of other denominations and at such institutions as schools and sports clubs. However, it concluded that the greatest number of alleged abuse perpetrators were found in Catholic institutions. The commission has concluded that 7 percent of priests who worked in Australia between 1950 and 2009 had been accused of child sex abuse.
          Among the report's recommendations:
      — A national strategy to prevent child abuse, with a national office of child safety.
      — Making failure to protect a child from risk of abuse within an institution a criminal offense on the state and territory level.
      — Implementing preventative training for children in schools and early childhood center.
      — A requirement that candidates for religious ministry undergo external psychological testing.
      — Any person in a religious ministry subject to a substantiated child sex abuse complaint should be permanently removed from the ministry.
      Currently, Australian law exempts confessional evidence from the rules that apply to other kinds of evidence in court, according to The National Catholic Register.
      THE TWO-WAY
      Vatican Cardinal Charged With 'Historic Sexual Offenses' In Australia
      THE TWO-WAY
      Prominent Cardinal Returns To Australia To Face Sex Abuse Charges
      "We recommend that canon law be amended so that the 'pontifical secret' does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse," the report said.
      It said that "Religious ministers, out-of-home care workers, childcare workers, registered psychologists and school [counselors] should be brought into line with police, doctors and nurses who are all obliged by law to report sexual abuse," according to The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
      "Without a legal obligation to tell police about abuses, many staff and volunteers failed to let anyone outside the institution know, the commission found," the Heraldreported.
      The commission called for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to ask the Vatican to introduce voluntary celibacy for clergy. The commission found that clerical celibacy was not a direct cause of abuse, but that it increased the risk of abuse when celibate male clergy had privileged access to children.
      In an official statement, Archbishop Denis Hart of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, apologized for past abuse, calling it a "shameful past" and said the commission's report "will be taken very seriously."
      However, speaking to reporters later, Hart said the commission's report "hasn't damaged the credibility of the church" and called the recommendations on the confessional "a distraction."
      "The seal of the confessional, or the relationship with God that's carried through the priest and with the person, is inviolable. It can't be broken," Hart told reporters.
      "I think everyone understands that this Catholic and orthodox practice of confession is always confidential," he said.
      Hart also pushed back on the subject of celibacy: "We know very well that institutions who have celibate clergy and institutions that don't have celibate clergy both face these problems. We know very well that this happens in families that are certainly not observing celibacy."
      The commission's findings follow numerous allegations of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Australia in recent years. In June, Police in Victoria charged Cardinal George Pell, now a high-ranking Vatican official, with sex abuse dating to his time as a priest in Australia in the 1970s and 80s. Pell has denied the allegations.
      The report concluded: "Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number." the report concluded.
      "It is not a case of a few 'rotten apples.' Society's major institutions have seriously failed," it said.
    • By Bible Speaks
      Prince Read His Bible! - Just Found Photo. Many interviews he talks about Jehovah God and Christ Jesus in his life! 

    • By Bible Speaks
      Rules that the American Catholic sect is giving to their parishioners to get rid of Jehovah's witnesses.
      Would you be able to rebut these almost military standards?
      ________________________________
      Interaction with a Jehovah's witness
      Answer the door. This may seem counter-intuitive to get rid of someone, but the fact is, if you don't answer the door, it's likely to mark you as "no house" and come back in the near future. If you really want to get rid of them, you'll have to answer the door and let them know.
      Interrupt. Sounds rude, but it doesn't have to be. It is likely to deepen your command sequence and it will only be more difficult to get a word Polly interrupt to take control of the conversation.
      When a Jehovah's witness begins to speak, interrupt with an educated gesture: "excuse me" to draw your attention.
      Try to raise your hand and keep it between the two at the chest level with the palm of your hand to the other person and start your interjection with "wait".
      If you wait until the Jehovah's witness asks a question, you can simply reply with: "I would rather not have this conversation".
      Be honest. If you make up a reason not to want to talk to them, you can see this as an invitation to come back another time. This also starts a conversation.
      Be honest and direct with your answer to get your point through and avoid one of your starters of the conversation.
      Avoid making excuses. They are trained to respond to specific protests and may consider coming back in the future if they are too busy right now.
      We politely. Choose very few words to reject your invitation to speak. It's unnecessary to be rude, and arguing will only stimulate the conversation. A simple and polite decline will do the trick.
      Once I get a chance to talk, try a simple, "No, thank you".
      It can also be direct saying, " I'm not interested, thank you."
      Close the door. Don't hit him in the face, but I understand you've been trained to keep the conversation. Once I have rejected, close the door gently. This is important, because, like the caretakers or any lawyer, they are not likely to accept the first, "no" and will do everything possible to return to you.
      Closing the door may be the only way to end the conversation.
      If this feels rude to you, try to say, "I'm sorry" when you close the door.

    • By Kurt
      Prince was remembered fondly at Kingdom Hall."He was kind and gentle, funny and he liked to laugh," another source told E! News.
      Google News:Prince cremated following private memorial ceremony
       
       
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