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May 29, 1998

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Q/A Topics:
JW's and the "soul"

Q.
"...if you could help me by sending me any information on...why the Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe that man is soul, spirit and body. They told me when man dies he is just spirit that go to God and a body that turns to dust and that there is no such thing as a soul the soul is not important. Why, why do they say that and what does the Bible say? Can you help me?

A.
I personally don't have much of a background on the JW's. I only know a smattering of this and that about them. But, perhaps I can direct you back to VW's website, click on "Other Links" and check out the "Cult Information Centre." Once you click on "Sites of Interest" there are several links on JW's.

As for "why" they believe this, or don't believe that...well, they are a "cult." They do not believe God's Word in its purity.

As for "soul" Scripture is quite plain. It couldn't be a whole lot clearer. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."(Gen2:7 -kjv)

Quite possibly they teach that the soul is not important, because it is the "soul" of Christ which saves. (..along with His shed blood -1Jn1:7) "When You make His SOUL an offering for sin..He shall see the travail of His SOUL...because He poured out His SOUL to death."(Isa 53:10-12) If there is no soul, then Christ's work was ineffectual. And sin was not atoned for. This is why they are a "cult."

As for the importance of "our" soul/s, here is what Paul writes, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Th 5:23-24) If the soul was not important, why would Christ bother to "preserve" it? And it says He "also will do it." It's a sure thing.

People and animals have bodies. We both have souls. The soul of mankind is different from that of animals. But it is that which makes up our personalities; our consciousness. And then, what distinguishes us from animals is the spiritual. That is where we have the "connection" with God; being made in His "image".(Gen1:26) But it was man's "humanity" (soul) which sinned. Which, in turn, created spiritual death by breaking that connection with God, since God cannot fellowship with sin.(Is59:2) But, if there is no soul, there is no sin, making God a liar. (Rom3:10,23) It is the "soul" that "sins" and "dies."(Ez18:4) If there is no soul, then Jesus' death on the cross was pointless. Humanity doesn't really exist. Jesus the "man" didn't really exist.(1Jn4:2,Heb2:14) Therefore, any sin, which its existance must of necessity be denied, doesn't need atonement...and was not. And so, if people are persuaded in that way, they do not believe in Christ and His death on the cross. They will remain "dead in sins."(Eph2:1) And that is the whole point of Satan's strategies with cults. Anything to draw people away from humbling themselves before God in repentance.

But if you notice in Jesus' illustration, when the rich man was confronted by God, God said to him, "You fool! This night your [soul] will be required of you..."(Lk12:20)

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Covenant Theology a "bad" thing?

Q.
I have appreciated your help in the past. I am looking for a good church in our town and thought I had finally found one. It is a Presbyterian Church in America(PCA). They teach expositionally, are strong on doctrine, believe the Bible is inerrant, and do not buddy up with the Catholic church. We were all set to celebrate, when someone told us that PCA is "covenant theology" and not "dispensational." Would you please tell me what that means and why it is, apparently, a bad thing?

A.
Apparently you have just run into the people of the "5-point Calivinist" persuasion which was referenced in a recent Q/A. Which was responding to a statement in the commentary "Rapturing the Wicked?"

Regarding PCA, I've not been to one, myself. From what I read and hear here and there, I would guess that PCA will tend to be somewhat divergent in their emphases, much as Baptists will vary, from congregation to congregation.

PCA aside, what I am understanding of "covenant theology" is that they hold to Abrahamic/Mosaic "covenants." Which, of course, are mostly "earthly" in nature. The "land" of Israel and "material" blessings for obedience.(Gen15:18-21, Deu7:12-15) And since the coming of Christ, His death and resurrection, those covenants now extend to the "Church." Their big error is in combining Israel and the Church. Thus, all the things written in the O.T. to Israel, they appropriate directly to the Church. Thus, you will also hear things about "restorationism." IOW, seeking to raise up Christians to take over civic and government, attempting to "clean up" the world, from the earth upwards. And ultimately, once this purification has happened, then Christ can come back to earth to rule and reign.

I'm not sure what they do with Romans 11, where it is quite clear that the present "Gentile" Church situation is not permanent. But that Israel will be once again restored. Or that there was a "fault" with the first covenant, and thus a "new" covenant came into being.(Heb8) When visiting with friends of this persuasion, it seemed as though the concept of the "Rapture" was a "strange" one to them. "Any" rapture. And yet 1Ths4:17 is quite clear on that.

While I believe many of these know the Lord, they have been blinded, somehow by the "Covenant Theology" perspective. Comments, typically, are on the order of "We believe blah, blah, blah." And underneath that "we believe" is the understood perspective..."We [as covenant theology] believe...." As though, "Covenant Theology" is the "standard" by which they were plumb-lining their faith.

Now..."dispensational" means that God, while "unchanging" (Mal3:6), has chosen different means by which to deal with mankind throughout history.

After the fall there were not many specific laws. Primarily about murder (Gen9:6) And, there had obviously been something given about proper sacrifices.(Gen4) Then, along comes Moses and the Law. And yet we know that salvation was "by faith." For Abel (Heb11:4) For Abraham (Gen15:6,Gal3:6) before the Mosaic law. And for Israel. (Deu5:29, Gal3:7, Heb3:19) As it "still" is under "Grace" now. (Rom6:14, Acts16:31) And when the Jewish apostles established a "law" for Gentiles, you notice it was not the same as for Jews.(Acts15:29)

And yet, I have noticed about these people. While they claim to be under the covenant, they don't keep all the old Mosaic laws. I haven't figured out yet how they pick and choose which ones are to be kept, and which ones not. It's an "interesting" mix...to say the least.

For a thorough understanding of the Scriptural perspective on all this, may I recommend reading through Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. These three speak of the "new" in relationship to the "old."

But, in a nutshell...while covenant theologians tend to be "earthly" minded, "our citizenship is in heaven.."(Phil3:20) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col3:2)

(Covenant theologians tend to be "Covenants" and nothing else. Dispensationalists tend to hold their views, totally rejecting Covenants. In our study series "Covenants and Dispensations", which will follow "Seven Mysteries", we will see that Scripture actually teaches "BOTH." It's not "either/or." It is "both/together." Covenants administered "BY MEANS OF" Dispensations. Until we get to it, unless the Lord returns first, think about word definitions, and I think you'll see what I mean.)

Since I've not visited a PCA, I don't know how to recommend one way or another about your continuation at this particular place. If you are strong in your knowledge of Scripture, and know how to be a Berean (Acts17:11), it "might" be OK to continue going for the Word and fellowship. But "membership" might be something to be wary of...?

Q. ...continued...

It seems that you are advising someone like me to stay away from a covenant church. The pastor(or teaching elder, or reverund) is also a postmillenialist. I can see that it might make them have a Dominion-type theology. They do a lot of corporate reciting of creeds and scripture. They also believe in the 10% tithe and they recite the 10 commandments.

"...they [also] gave us a handout by C. Peter Wagner entitled "Finding Your Spiritual Gifts." It talked a lot about healing, speaking in tongues, and prophecying. A Charismatic church wannabe.

A. ...continued...

  1. The pastor is also a postmillenialist.
  2. I can see that it might make them have a Dominion-type theology.
  3. They do a lot of corporate reciting of creeds and scripture.
  4. they recite the 10 commandments.
'Sounds like a sort-of "dead works" kind of place... Yes. Either "stay away from" or listen with one ear, and compare with Scripture A LOT. However, from everything you've said, personally, I'd "stay away from..."

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