What God has Cleansed by Robert Revie; available from John Ritchie Ltd; 86 pages. Price £5.00. (9781871642568)
The title of What God has Cleansed is taken from the account of Peter's vision of "a great sheet…let down to the earth" (Acts 10.15). It deals, not with relationships between Jew and Gentile but, as its subtitle indicates, with Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Salvation and Reception into a Local Church. The author recognises that he addresses a subject that the Foreword describes as "evocative and emotive".
What God has Cleansed deals with marriage in its creatorial setting, which the author qualifies with reference to "God's desired will – what He intends, and His permissive will – what He allows and provides for, as a result of the entrance of sin into the world" (author's emphasis). In dealing with the regulation of marriage and divorce under the Mosaic Law, he emphasises strongly that Deuteronomy 24 did not "institute, encourage or approve divorce, but treat[ed] it as a practice already in practice". Some reference to the Lord's teaching on both Genesis 2 and Deuteronomy 24 would have been helpful.
The chapter "The teaching of the Lord Jesus on divorce" deals with the so-called exception clause as set out in Matthew 5 and 19. The author widens the definition of fornication beyond that of adultery, but does not limit it in the context to pre-marital sin. The Lord's teaching on marriage and divorce in Mark 10.11-12 and Luke 16.16-18 is more direct in many ways, but not examined in What God has Cleansed. The inclusion of those passages would have enabled consideration of the Lord's unequivocal statements in Mark and Luke, and of the Holy Spirit's omission in those two passages of the so-called exception clause included in Matthew 5 and 19.
One term "Betrothal Theory", used several times in the book's 79 pages, is new to the reviewer. It is not defined, but appears to relate to sin committed within the Jewish betrothal period, perhaps in the context of Deuteronomy 22.13 ff., a passage that does not place special emphasis on a betrothal period.
The Preface expresses the desire that readers of What God has Cleansed consider its contents with Christian love and grace. At a time when several nations are re-defining marriage, we need careful exposition of the relevant passages of Holy Writ and grace to adhere to their teaching. As the Foreword indicates, the absolute authority of Scripture must be our sole guide; it must govern behaviour in an age that has little regard for the Creator's ordinances.
Now a True Witness for Jehovah by E W Young; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 114 pages. Price £7.99. (9781907731877)
Most Christians are aware of the door-to-door activities of Jehovah's Witnesses, but few have any conception of the organisation that controls the world-wide reach of the JWs. Fewer still could conceive the nature of a home dedicated to serving that system and the pressures felt within that home. Now a True Witness for Jehovah gives, through the author's personal experience, an insight into: the multi-national organisation requiring absolute obedience to its decrees; the operation of a Kingdom Hall; the home in which the author grew up; and her home after marriage.
The author leads the reader from her knocking (alone!) her first "door" at 61/2 years of age to sell JW publications. Dad was a few doors away, but felt that at 6 years of age, it was time the author became a "publisher." We follow her development at home, at school, and knocking doors in a neighbourhood. The demands of headquarters ate into her time and that of her parents, and its regulations caused endless embarrassment and conflicts. JW rules did not allow any participation in Christmas activities, out-of-school clubs, or standing when the national anthem was played. Any sensitive child would cringe at the demands made on the author and all growing up in such circles.
The book tells how the author's husband, also a JW, turned to faith in Christ. The turmoil that caused in her marriage and in the family circle is told carefully and without exaggeration, but the reader cannot escape the emotional impact on a young wife and the sense of added pressure applied to her by the elders of the Kingdom Hall she attended. The author's own salvation and the accompanying price she had to pay are set out in equally controlled terms.
E N Young devotes considerable space to chronicling the history of doctrine and practice that has continued behind closed doors for more than a century in the JW organisation, although the name "Jehovah's Witness" dates only from 1931. She evidences the shift of dates for Christ's Return and other related doctrinal revisions. The New World Translation of the Bible is also exposed both as to its being undertaken by men with little formal training in Greek or Hebrew, but more disturbingly, its omissions, its unwarranted changes (e.g. from "the Spirit of God" to "God's active force"), by its distortions (from "Thy throne, O God" to "God is thy throne"), and its evident abhorrence of the worship of the Lord Jesus.
Now a True Witness for Jehovah is a rewarding book to read and re-read, particularly at times when and where JWs are active. It is also an engaging look at the problems of growing up in a home markedly different from those around and the impact of conversion in the wider family circle.