A Change that Strengthens Faith and Gives Hope
In the spirit of the impartial nature of our Father, we were moved by the recent speech of Pope Francis, the governing authority over the Roman Catholic Church, wherein he expressed in bold language his sweeping call for change in the Church’s centuries-long rules and customs that he believes are no longer useful or proper in directing people to the Christ. This Pope appears to be a man who is a lover of people, more than a lover of the Church. If his vision is realized, his proposed changes will sweep across our planet like a wild fire as the more than 1.5 billion adherents (more than 1/5 of the world’s population) move closer to a more Christ-like expression of their faith.
The importance of the Catholic Church attempting to make changes in its manner of operating, in its rituals, and the like, is reason for cheer around the world, especially for those of us who are working hard to ‘bring heaven down,’ for it demonstrates that the great as well as the small can change for the better. This bold and courageous effort by the Pope, which appears to have the support of at least his close circle of companions, should stir to action all religious leaders, no matter whether they preside over one small storefront church, or over a large international organization. When one comes to understand truth, that one is obligated to conform to that truth if he intends to serve God as a fellow worker. Otherwise, he is a rebellious voice seeking his own advantage.
As previous associates of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, we hope the actions of the Pope will deeply effect the Governing Body who are faced with a need to make changes of their own in teachings and policies, especially the teaching that most Christians should not reach out for the heavenly hope. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Governing Body does not have to overturn centuries of deeply held, burdensome and unhealthful practices. The erroneous teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been promoted for only about 80 years and affect less that 8 million people worldwide (less than the population of New York City). As such, their task is far easier in comparison and can be accomplished in far less time. We pray they take notice of what is occurring, as well as the effect it will have on their tiny nation of worshipers.
We are not assigning special religious or spiritual status to either Jehovah's Witnesses or the Catholic Church, or claiming either to be the ‘true church.’ But we recognize that their actions affect a great number of Christians, and their willingness to change will no doubt have a domino effect in the world of religion as other religious groups open up to the possibility of change and enhancement for the betterment of their people.
The Father in heaven loves all His children and allows each one sufficient time to correct their errors and bring those errors to an end. We should see God’s patience and impartiality as a means to seek out a greater understanding of Christ’s teachings, and not fall back to old ideas about an angry God who wants to punish and inflict great pain and suffering on the lowest form of intelligent creation. That would be like a father inflicting severe punishment on his 1 year old child who is still trying to master sitting up straight! As such, we should all continually and impartially pray in behalf of each other with a view toward all of mankind turning to the reality of the brotherhood of spirit unity as Christ Jesus taught us in order to ‘bring heaven down’ – so that the will of God may be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-13)
The proposal of Pope Francis demonstrates his awareness that modern man is restless when it comes to religion and its stagnant and outmoded ideas. But he is not alone in this realization. We are confident that many religious groups, Christian and non-Christian, recognize a need for change in their doctrines, beliefs and rituals as our secular society opens doors to new understandings of matters that were once considered magic and superstition. Archaeological discoveries, in particular, open doors to new understandings of the history of man and require a fresh look and a modern interpretation of our sacred writings, Biblical and non-Biblical. Failure to take note of a need for change and enhancement will result in such religions becoming useless, obsolete, and obstacles to progress, while their membership wanes and dries up.
Thinking man will refuse to accept a religion which is inconsistent with known facts and out of harmony with his highest concepts of truth, beauty and goodness. He will not acquiesce to a religion based on superstitious bondage and religious fear. But truth withstands and harmonizes with all known facts so there is never a need for a religion to be fearful of change. Therefore, what is needed is a new revelation of Jesus’ life illuminated with a new understanding of his good news of eternal salvation. If religion is to be a positive force in the modern world, and fulfill its role as a moral stabilizer and spiritual uplifter, it must dust off the cobwebs of ancient ideology and step into a new century where the plain and open teachings of Jesus shine brightly, and universally, not just for Christians, but for all mankind.
We should, therefore, rejoice in the possibilities for the Catholic Church, and pray that their courageous actions positively effect the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions around the world. Imagine how quickly we could ‘bring heaven down’ and hasten the arrival of our Lord Christ Jesus and the worldwide reign of peace on earth. The ability to effect this change is illustrated in the Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree.