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BILLIONS of people have read or heard what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe. The 3,500-year-old account starts with the well-known statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Many people, however, are unaware of the fact that Christendom’s leaders, including so-called creationists and fundamentalists, have spun the Bible account of creation into numerous tales that deviate from what the Bible really says. These interpretations fly in the face of scientific fact. Even though those tales are not found in the Bible, they have caused some people to dismiss the Bible account as mythical allegory.

The real Bible story of creation has gone largely unnoticed. This is a shame, for the Bible actually presents a very logical and credible explanation of the beginning of the universe. What is more, that explanation harmonizes with scientific discovery. Yes, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Bible’s untold story of creation!

THE UNCREATED CREATOR

Infinity

The Bible account of creation hinges on the fact that there is a Supreme Being, Almighty God, who created all things. Who is he, and what is his nature? The Bible reveals that he is quite different from the deities found in popular culture and mainstream religion. He is the Creator of all things, but most people know very little about him.

  • God is a person, an individual. He is not a vague force devoid of personality, floating aimlessly throughout the universe. He has thoughts, feelings, and goals.

  • God has infinite power and wisdom. This explains the complex design found everywhere in creation, especially in living things.

  • God created all physical matter. Hence, he cannot be made of physical elements that he himself has created. Rather, he is of a spiritual, or nonphysical, nature.

  • God’s existence is not limited by time. He has always existed and will always exist. Hence, no one created him.

  • God has a personal name, which is used thousands of times in the Bible. That name is Jehovah.

  • Jehovah God loves and cares for humans.

 HOW LONG DID GOD TAKE TO CREATE THE UNIVERSE?

Face of a clock

The Bible states that God created “the heavens and the earth.” This broad statement, however, makes no reference to the length of time involved in creating the universe or to the methods he used to shape it. What about the widespread creationist belief that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days? This concept, widely rejected by scientists, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the Bible account. Consider what the Bible really says.

The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days

  • The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days.

  • The Bible frequently uses the term “day” to designate various periods of time. In some cases these periods are of an unspecified length. The account of creation found in the Bible book of Genesis is one example of this.

  • In the Bible account, each of the six creative days could have lasted for thousands of years.

  • God had already created the universe, including a lifeless planet Earth, by the time the first creative day began.

  • Evidently the six creative days were long periods during which Jehovah God prepared the earth for human habitation.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with scientific conclusions about the age of the universe.

DID GOD USE EVOLUTION?

Theoretical process of evolution

Many who do not believe in the Bible embrace the theory that living things emerged from lifeless chemicals through unknown and mindless processes. Supposedly, at some point a bacteria-like, self-replicating organism arose, gradually branching out into all the species that exist today. This would imply that ultimately the mind-bogglingly complex human actually evolved from bacteria.

The theory of evolution is also embraced by many who claim to accept the Bible as the word of God. They believe that God produced the first burst of life on earth but then simply monitored, and perhaps steered, the process of evolution. That, however, is not what the Bible says.

The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind

  • According to the Bible, Jehovah God created all the basic kinds of plant and animal life, as well as a perfect man and woman who were capable of self-awareness, love, wisdom, and justice.

  • The kinds of animals and plants created by God have obviously undergone changes and have produced variations within the kinds. In many cases, the resulting life-forms are remarkably different from one another.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.

 A CREATOR PERCEIVED IN CREATION

In the mid-1800’s, British biologist Alfred Russel Wallace agreed with Charles Darwin on the theory of evolution by natural selection. But even this renowned evolutionist is said to have stated: “For those who have eyes to see and minds accustomed to reflect, in the minutest cells, in the blood, in the whole earth, and throughout the stellar universe . . . , there is intelligent and conscious direction; in a word, there is Mind.”

Almost two thousand years before Wallace, the Bible had already observed: “For [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) From time to time, you might want to take a moment to reflect on the marvelous complexities found in nature—from a single blade of grass to the countless heavenly bodies. By examining creation you can perceive the Creator.

‘But if there is a loving God who created all things,’ you may ask, ‘why would he permit suffering? Has he abandoned his earthly creation? What does the future hold?’ The Bible contains many other untold stories—truths that have been buried under human ideas and religious agendas and, therefore, hidden from most people. The publishers of this magazine, Jehovah’s Witnesses, would be happy to help you examine unadulterated Bible truth and learn more about the Creator and the future of his human creation.

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The Bible clearly tells us what Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ, will do about the suffering caused by Satan the Devil. “For this purpose the Son of God [Jesus] was made manifest,” declares the Bible, “to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) The present system of things based on greed, hatred, and wicked deeds will be broken up. As for “the ruler of this world”—Satan the Devil—Jesus promises that he “will be cast out.” (John 12:31) Without Satan’s influence, a righteous new world will be established, and this earth will become a peaceful place.—2 Peter 3:13.

What about those who stubbornly refuse to change their ways and who insist on doing bad things? Reflect on this straightforward promise: “Only the upright will reside in the earth, and the blameless will remain in it. As for the wicked, they will be cut off from the earth, and the treacherous will be torn away from it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) Gone will be the influence of wicked humans. Under such peaceful conditions, obedient humans will gradually be set free from inherited imperfection.—Romans 6:17, 18; 8:21.

In that new world, how will God eliminate badness? Not by nullifying the gift of free will and making humans robots. Rather, he will teach obedient humans his ways, helping them to turn around from harmful thoughts and actions.

God will remove all causes of suffering

What will God do about unforeseen calamities? He has promised that his Kingdom governmentwill shortly take control of the earth. The God-appointed King of that Kingdom is Jesus Christ, who has the power to cure the sick. (Matthew 14:14) Jesus also has the power to control the forces of nature. (Mark 4:35-41) Hence, gone will be the suffering caused by “time and unexpected events.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Under Christ’s rulership, no calamity will befall mankind.—Proverbs 1:33.

What about the millions of innocent people who have suffered tragic deaths? Shortly before bringing his friend Lazarus back to life, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Yes, Jesus has the power to resurrect, or bring back to life, those who have died!

If the idea of living in a world where bad things will not happen to good people appeals to you, why not make it your aim to learn more about the true God and his purpose by studying the Bible? Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to help you to gain that knowledge. You have our warm invitation to contact them locally or to write to the publishers of this magazine.


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Since Jehovah God * is the Creator of all things and is almighty, many people may be inclined to hold him responsible for everything that takes place in the world, including all that is bad. However, consider what the Bible says about the true God:

  • “Jehovah is righteous in all his ways.”—Psalm 145:17.

  • “All his [God’s] ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust; righteous andupright is he.”—Deuteronomy 32:4.

  • “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”James 5:11.

God does not cause bad things to happen. Does he, though, incite others to commit vile deeds? Not at all. “When under trial,” state the Scriptures, “let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’” Why? Because “with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) God does not try, or test, anyone by inciting him to behave badly. God neither causes bad things to happen nor incites others to do what is bad. Who or what, then, is to blame when bad things happen?

BEING IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME

Identifying one reason why humans suffer, the Bible states: “Time and unexpected events overtake them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) When unanticipated events or accidents happen, whether someone is affected or not depends to a large extent on where he is at the time they occur. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ spoke of a calamity involving 18 people who were killed when a tower fell on them. (Luke 13:1-5) They did not become victims because of the way they had lived their lives; they were simply under the tower when it happened to fall. More recently, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010; the Haitian government says that over 300,000 lives were lost. All those lives were claimed without regard for who the individuals were. Illnesses too can strike anyone at any time.

Why does God not keep good people out of harm’s way?

Some might ask: ‘Could not God prevent such deadly calamities from happening? Could he not shield the good people from the calamity?’ For God to intervene in such ways, it would mean that he knows about bad things before they happen. While God certainly has the ability to foreknow the future, the question we need to consider is this: Does God choose to exercise to a limitless extent his power to foreknow such things?—Isaiah 42:9.

The Scriptures say: “God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) Jehovah  does what he deems necessary to do—not everything he is capable of doing. That applies also to what he decides to foresee. For example, after wickedness became prevalent in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, God told the patriarch Abraham: “I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20, 21) For a time, Jehovah chose not to know the extent of the wickedness in those cities. Similarly, then, Jehovah can choose not to foreknow everything. (Genesis 22:12) In no way is this an indication of imperfection or weakness on his part. Since “perfect is his activity,” God balances his ability to foreknow the future with his purpose; he never forces humans to follow a certain course. * (Deuteronomy 32:4) What, then, may we conclude? Simply this: God’s exercise of foreknowledge is selective and discretionary.

A woman in a parking lot about to become a victim of crime

Why does God not protect good people from crime?

 

 

ARE HUMANS RESPONSIBLE?

Part of the blame for wickedness lies with humans. Notice how the Bible describes a process that can lead to harmful acts. “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.” (James 1:14, 15) When individuals act on improper desires or give in to wrong cravings, they are bound to suffer bad consequences. (Romans 7:21-23) As history shows, humans have committed horrendous acts and caused immense suffering. Moreover, wicked men can influence others to become corrupt, thus perpetuating badness.—Proverbs 1:10-16.

Humans have committed horrendous acts and caused immense suffering

Should God intervene and prevent people from doing bad things? Consider how man is made. The Scriptures say that God created man in God’s own image, that is, in God’s likeness. Thus, humans have the ability to reflect God’s qualities. (Genesis 1:26) Humans have been given the gift of free will and can choose to love God and stick to him by doing what is right in his eyes. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) If God coerced people into following a certain course, would he not be nullifying the gift of free will? Why, humans would be reduced to nothing more than machines, doing exactly what they were programmed to do! The same would be true if fate, or Kismet, dictated what we do and everything that happens to us. How glad we can be that God dignifies us by allowing us to choose our own course! This does not mean, though, that the harm caused by human error and bad choices will forever plague mankind.

 IS KARMA A CAUSE OF SUFFERING?

If you were to ask someone from a Hindu or Buddhist background the question posed on the cover of this magazine, you would likely hear this answer: “Bad things happen to good people because of the law of Karma. They are reaping the fruitage of what they did in their previous lives.” *

Regarding the teaching of Karma, it is helpful to note what the Bible says about death. In the garden of Eden, where humankind originated, the Creator said to the first man, Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) If Adam had not sinned by disobeying God, he would have lived forever. Death came about as a penalty for disobedience to God’s command. Then, when children were born, “death spread to all men.” (Romans 5:12) Thus, it can be said that “the wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23) The Bible also explains: “The one who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) In other words, people do not keep paying for their sins after death.

Millions of people today explain that the problem of human suffering involves Karma. A believer usually accepts his own suffering as well as that of others without getting too disturbed by it. But the fact remains that this concept holds out no hope of stopping bad things from happening. It is believed that the only relief offered to an individual is liberation from the cycles of rebirth through socially acceptable behavior and special knowledge. These ideas, of course, are far different from what the Bible says. *

THE PRIMARY CAUSE!

A hand holding planet Earth

Did you know that the main cause of suffering is “the ruler of the world”—Satan the Devil?—John 14:30

 

 

The primary cause of wickedness, though, is not man. Satan the Devil, originally a faithful angel of God, “did not stand fast in the truth” and brought sin into the world. (John 8:44) He instigated a rebellion in the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-5) Jesus Christ called him “the wicked one” and “the ruler of the world.” (Matthew 6:13; John 14:30) Mankind in general follow Satan by heeding his urgings to ignore the good ways of Jehovah. (1 John 2:15, 16) “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” says 1 John 5:19. There are other spirit creatures who have turned wicked and have joined Satan. The Bible indicates that Satan and his demons are “misleading the entire inhabited earth,” causing “woe for the earth.” (Revelation 12:9, 12) Thus, the principal blame for wickedness has to be placed onSatan the Devil.

Clearly, God is not responsible for bad things that happen to people; nor does he make them suffer. On the contrary, he has promised to eliminate badness, as the following article will show.


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Smita, * a 35-year-old woman in Dhaka, Bangladesh, had the reputation of being a loving and caring person. People knew her as a hardworking and happy young wife who wanted to help others know what she had learned about God. How shocked her family and friends were when Smita suddenly contracted an illness that claimed her life in less than a week!

 

James and his wife, a young couple in their 30’s, had a reputation similar to that of Smita. One springtime, they went to visit their friends on the West Coast of the United States. They never returned to their home in New York. While away, they were involved in a fatal automobile accident, leaving a tremendous void in the lives of their loved ones and coworkers.

 

You do not have to look far to see that evil and suffering abound today. Wars kill civilians as well as soldiers. Crime and violence victimize innocent people. Deadly accidents and crippling illnesses occur irrespective of a person’s age or status in life. Natural disasters wipe out communities indiscriminately. Prejudice and injustice are widespread. Perhaps you have personally suffered as a victim.

 

It is only natural to ask questions like these:

 

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?

  • Is God to blame for such things?

  • Are calamities random occurrences, or are they man-made?

  • Could it be Karma, that is, the result of one’s actions in a past life, that causes personal suffering?

  • If there is an almighty God, why does he not protect good people from harm?

  • Will life ever be free of evil and suffering?

 

To answer those questions, we need to understand the answer to these two basic questions: Why do bad things happen at all, and what will God do?

 


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The Bible’s answer

Yes, for although the Bible is not a science textbook, it is accurate when it mentions matters of science. Consider some examples showing that science and the Bible agree and that the Bible contains scientific facts that differed greatly from the beliefs of many people living at the time it was written.

  • The universe had a beginning. (Genesis 1:1) In contrast, many ancient myths describe the universe, not as being created, but as being organized from existing chaos. The Babylonians believed that the gods that gave birth to the universe came from two oceans. Other legends say that the universe came from a giant egg.

  • The universe is governed day-to-day by rational natural laws, not by the whims of deities. (Job 38:33; Jeremiah 33:25) Myths from around the world teach that humans are helpless before the unpredictable and sometimes merciless acts of the gods.

  • The earth is suspended in empty space. (Job 26:7) Many ancient peoples believed that the world was a flat disk supported by a giant or an animal, such as a buffalo or a turtle.

  • Rivers and springs are fed by water that has evaporated from the oceans and other sources and then has fallen back to earth as rain, snow, or hail. (Job 36:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 1:7;Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:6) The ancient Greeks thought that rivers were fed by underground ocean water, and this idea persisted into the 18th century.

  • The mountains rise and fall, and today’s mountains were once under the ocean. (Psalm 104:6, 8) In contrast, several myths say that the mountains were created in their current form by the gods.

  • Sanitary practices protect health. The Law given to the nation of Israel included regulations for washing after touching a dead body, quarantining those with infectious disease, and disposing of human waste safely. (Leviticus 11:28; 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 23:13) By contrast, one of the Egyptian remedies in use when these commands were given called for applying to an open wound a mixture that included human excrement.

Are there scientific errors in the Bible?

A reasonable examination of the Bible shows the answer to be no. Here are some common misconceptions about the scientific accuracy of the Bible:

Myth: The Bible says that the universe was created in six 24-hour days.

Fact: According to the Bible, God created the universe in the indefinite past. (Genesis 1:1) Also, the days of creation described in chapter 1 of Genesis were epochs whose length is not specified. In fact, the entire period during which earth and heaven were made is also called a “day.”—Genesis 2:4.

Myth: The Bible says that vegetation was created before the sun existed to support photosynthesis.—Genesis 1:11, 16.

Fact: The Bible shows that the sun, one of the stars that make up “the heavens,” was created before vegetation. (Genesis 1:1) Diffused light from the sun reached the earth’s surface during the first “day,” or epoch, of creation. As the atmosphere cleared, by the third “day” of creation, the light was strong enough to support photosynthesis. (Genesis 1:3-5, 12, 13) Only later did the sun become distinctly visible from the surface of the earth.—Genesis 1:16.

Myth: The Bible says that the sun revolves around the earth.

Fact: Ecclesiastes 1:5 says: “The sun rises, and the sun sets; then it hurries back to the place where it rises again.” However, this statement merely describes the apparent motion of the sun as viewed from the earth. Even today, a person can use the words “sunrise” and “sunset,” yet he knows that the earth revolves around the sun.

Myth: The Bible says that the earth is flat.

Fact: The Bible uses the phrase “the ends of the earth” to mean “the most distant part of the earth”; this does not imply that the earth is flat or that it has an edge. (Acts 1:8; footnote) Likewise, the expression “the four corners of the earth” is a figure of speech referring to the entire surface of the earth; today a person might use the four points of the compass as a similar metaphor.—Isaiah 11:12; Luke 13:29.

Myth: The Bible says that the circumference of a circle is exactly three times its diameter, but the correct value is pi (π), or about 3.1416.

Fact: The measurements of “the Sea of cast metal” given at 1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chronicles 4:2indicate that it had a diameter of 10 cubits and that “it took a measuring line 30 cubits long to encircle it.” These dimensions might have been merely the nearest round numbers. It is also possible that the circumference and diameter represented inner and outer measurements of the basin respectively.


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Our planet is ideally suited to host life. It has abundant water, which isessential for life. The earth’s tilt, rotation, and orbit are all just right to prevent the oceans from freezing over or boiling away. And the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect it from deadly radiation. The interdependent web of plant and animal life on earth is simply amazing. Consequently, many people have concluded that our planet was designed for a purpose.—Read Isaiah 45:18.

But you may wonder, ‘Is suffering and injustice part of that purpose?’—Read Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.

Will earth’s purpose be accomplished?

The earth was designed to be a happy home for people who respect one another and love their Creator. Thus, human life has a higher purpose than plant or animal life. We can understand who our Creator is and admire and imitate his love and justice.—Read Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8.

Our Maker can accomplish all that he purposes to do. So we can be sure that he will do away with suffering and injustice and make our planet a perfectly happy home for mankind.—Read Psalm 37:11, 29;Isaiah 55:11.

 


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“WHAT is truth?” That was the question that Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea in the first century, asked of Jesus, who was on trial before the governor. (John 18:38) Pilate, of course, was not really seeking the truth. If anything, his question revealed his skeptical or cynical attitude. Apparently, to Pilate truth was whatever a person might choose or was taught to believe; there was really no way to determine what is truth. Many today feel the same way.

Churchgoers in 16th-century Europe faced the dilemma of what to believe as truth. Raised to believe in the supremacy of the pope and in other teachings of the church, they were confronted with new ideas spread by the Reformation, which was sweeping through Europe at the time. What should they believe? How would they decide what is truth?

During that period, there were, among many others, three men who were determined to seek out the truth. * How did they go about identifying what was true and what was false? And what did they find? Let us see.

“LET THE BIBLE . . . ALWAYS RULE SUPREME”

Wolfgang Capito was a young man with deep religious convictions. A student of medicine, law, and theology, Capito became a parish priest in 1512 and then chaplain to the archbishop of Mainz.

At first, Capito tried to soften the zeal of Reformers who preached a message contrary to Catholic dogma. Soon, however, Capito himself began to advocate reform. What did he do? When confronted with various teachings, Capito believed that “the best source with which to judge their preaching was the Bible, for only it was certain,” writes historian James M. Kittelson. Capito thus concluded that the church teachings on transubstantiation and the veneration of saints were unscriptural. (See the box “ See Whether These Things Were So.”) Abandoning his prominent post with the archbishop in 1523, Capito settled in the city of Strasbourg, a center of religious reform at the time.

The Capito home in Strasbourg became a place where religious dissenters met and no doubt discussed many religious matters and Bible teachings. Though some Reformers still promoted the Trinity doctrine, Capito’s writings,  according to the book The Radical Reformation, reflect “reticence on the doctrine of the Trinity.” Why? Capito was impressed by the way that Spanish theologian Michael Servetus appealed to Bible texts to disprove the Trinity. *

Denial of the Trinity could bring fatal consequences, so Capito was cautious about declaring his feelings openly. However, his writings suggest that he had privately questioned the Trinity doctrine even before he met Servetus. A Catholic priest later wrote that Capito and his associates “proceeded to discuss in their private capacity, and without appeal,—the profoundest mysteries of religion; [and] rejected that of the most Holy Trinity.” A century later, Capito was listed first among prominent anti-Trinitarian writers.

Wolfgang Capito

Wolfgang Capito believed that “neglect of the Scriptures” was the chief failing of the church

 

 

Capito believed that the Bible was the source of truth. “Let the Bible and the law of Christ always rule supreme in theology,” he stated. According to Dr. Kittelson, Capito “insisted that the chief failing of the scholastic theologians lay in their neglect of the Scriptures.”

This earnest desire to learn the truth from God’s Word was shared by Martin Cellarius (also known as Martin Borrhaus), a young man who stayed at the Capito home in 1526.

“KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE GOD”

Title page from De Operibus Dei (On the Works of God)

Title page of Martin Cellarius’ book On the Works of God, in which he compared church teachings with the Bible

 

 

Born in 1499, Cellarius was a diligent student of theology and philosophy. He accepted a teaching post in Wittenberg, Germany. Since Wittenberg was the cradle of the Reformation, Cellarius soon became acquainted with Martin Luther and others who wanted to reform church teaching. How could Cellarius distinguish mere human ideas from Scriptural truth?

According to the book Teaching the Reformation, Cellarius believed that true understanding results “from the assiduous reading of Scripture, from frequent comparison of Scripture with itself, and from prayer joined with repentance.” What did Cellarius find in his examination of the Bible?

In July 1527, Cellarius published his findings in a book entitled On the Works of God. He wrote that church sacraments, such as transubstantiation, were purely symbolic. According to Professor Robin Barnes, Cellarius’ book also “put forward an interpretation of scriptural prophecies in which a coming period of general calamity and suffering would be followed by a universal renovation and fulfillment.”—2 Peter 3:10-13.

Especially noteworthy were Cellarius’ brief remarks regarding the nature of Jesus Christ. Although he did not directly contradict the Trinity, Cellarius distinguished the “Heavenly Father” from “his Son Jesus Christ” and wrote that Jesus was one of many gods and sons of the almighty God.—John 10:34, 35.

In his book Antitrinitarian Biography (1850), Robert Wallace noted that Cellarius’ writings did not follow the Trinitarian orthodoxy common in the 16th century. * Several scholars thus conclude that Cellarius must have rejected the  Trinity. He has been described as one of God’s instruments “in inculcating a knowledge of the true God and of Christ.”

HOPE OF A RESTITUTION

In about 1527, Wittenberg also became home to theologian Johannes Campanus, considered to be one of the greatest scholars of his day. Although at the center of religious reform, Campanus became dissatisfied with the teachings of Martin Luther. Why?

Campanus objected to the ideas of both transubstantiation and consubstantiation. * According to author André Séguenny, Campanus believed that “the Bread as a substance remains always bread, but as a sacrament, it represents symbolically the flesh of the Christ.” At the 1529 Marburg Colloquy, a meeting held to discuss these very questions, Campanus was not permitted to share what he had learned from the Scriptures. Thereafter, he was shunned by his fellow Reformers in Wittenberg.

The 1532 book Restitution by Johannes Campanus

In his book Restitution, Johannes Campanus questioned the doctrine of the Trinity

 

 

The Reformers were especially upset by Campanus’ beliefs about the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. In his 1532 book Restitution, Campanus taught that Jesus and his Father are two distinct persons. The Father and Son “are one,” he explained, only as a husband and wife are said to be “one flesh”—united, yet still two persons. (John 10:30; Matthew 19:5) Campanus noted that the Scriptures use the same illustration to show that the Father has authority over the Son: “The head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.”—1 Corinthians 11:3.

What about the holy spirit? Again, Campanus appealed to the Bible, writing: “With no Scripture may it be adduced that the Holy Spirit is the third person . . . The spirit of God is taken in an operative sense, in that He prepares and carries out all things through his spiritual power and activity.”—Genesis 1:2.

Luther called Campanus a blasphemer and an adversary of God’s Son. Another Reformer called for Campanus’ execution. Yet, Campanus was undeterred. According to The Radical Reformation, “Campanus was convinced that the loss of this originally apostolic and biblical understanding of the Godhead and of man accounted for the fall of the Church.”

It was never Campanus’ intention to organize a religious group. He had sought in vain for truth, he said, “among the sects and all the heretics.” So he hoped that the Catholic Church, by means of a restitution, would reinstate true Christian teaching. Eventually, however, Catholic authorities arrested Campanus, and he may have spent upwards of 20 years in prison. Historians believe that he died in about 1575.

 “MAKE SURE OF ALL THINGS”

Diligent study of the Bible enabled Capito, Cellarius, Campanus, and others to distinguish truth from error. Even though not all of the conclusions reached by these truth seekers were in full harmony with the Bible, these men humbly searched the Scriptures and treasured the truth that they learned.

The apostle Paul urged his fellow Christians: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) To help you in your search for truth, Jehovah’s Witnesses have published a book with the appropriate title What Does the Bible Really Teach?

 “See Whether These Things Were So”

What enabled Capito, Cellarius, Campanus, and others to reject certain church teachings? They did what the first-century Beroeans did, who examined the Scriptures carefully “to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Here are some of the three Reformers’ findings:

CHURCH TEACHING

WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY

Saints may be venerated as intercessors with God.

“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.”—1 Timothy 2:5.

Infants should be baptized.

“When they believed . . . both men and women were getting baptized.”—Acts 8:12.

Jesus and his Father are equal parts of a Trinity.

“I [Jesus] am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) “Jesus . . . gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.”—Philippians 2:5, 6.

At Mass, the bread and the wine offered become Jesus’ flesh and blood.

“Jesus took a loaf, and after saying a blessing, he broke it, and giving it to the disciples, he said: ‘Take, eat. This means my body.’ And taking a cup, he offered thanks and gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you, for this means my “blood of the covenant.”’”—Matthew 26:26-28.

Footnotes

^ par. 4 See the box “Let Both Grow Together Until the Harvest,” on page 44 of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

^ par. 8 See the article “Michael Servetus—A Solitary Quest for the Truth,” in the May 2006 issue of Awake! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

^ par. 17 Regarding Cellarius’ use of the word “god” when applied to Christ, the book states: “It is printed deus, and not Deus, the latter being used only to designate the Supreme God.”

^ par. 20 Consubstantiation is Luther’s teaching that the bread and the wine “coexist” with Christ’s body at the Lord’s Supper.