SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Should You Believe in the Trinity?
REVIEW: 32 page booklet. (WBTS, 1989)
By Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
While presenting the standard [WatchTower Society] arguments against the Trinity, this 32-page booklet misrepresents theologians and scholars, makes outrageously indefensible statements, and uses convoluted reasoning to make Bible texts say the opposite of what they really mean. Misrepresentation of theologians and scholars is not new to the [WatchTower Society], but in this booklet it has become an art.
I counted at least 27 distinct misrepresentations, and there may be more than 30. For example, part of a sentence from an article in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library is quoted to the following effect: most scholars now agree that Jesus never claimed to be God (pp. 19, 20). Edited out of the sentence, however, is the observation that these same scholars also deny that Jesus claimed to be the Christ!
The booklet's misrepresentations of the early church fathers are especially dishonest. The booklet even tries to argue that Tertullian, the church father who gave us the expression "three persons in one God," did not believe in the Trinity!
Among the booklet's most indefensible statements are the following: God "begat" the prehuman Jesus "in the same sense that an earthly father, like Abraham, begets a son" (p. 16), and when the Bible called Jesus God's Son, "It meant 'Son' in a literal way, as with a natural father and son" (p. 29). Jehova's Witnesses will have a difficult time explaining why this does not imply that the prehuman Jesus also had a literal Mother.
For the most part, the booklet rehashes old JW arguments and interpretations of Scripture. One of the few surprises concerns Paul's statement in Philippians 2:6 that Christ did not seize at equality with God. The writer correctly notes that this statement should be related to verses 3-5, where Christ's humility is presented as an example for Christians: how they should regard one another as better than themselves. But then he concludes from this that Christ was "actually inferior" to God (pp. 25-26).
Apparently, he failed to realize that this would imply that some Christians are actually inferior to others! Paul's whole point is just the reverse: Christians, though equal to one another by right, should not demand that their equality be recognized in fact, but instead should give up their rights and treat others "as if" they were better than themselves. They should do this because Christ -- who was by right equal with God -- did not seize at equality with God in fact, but instead humbled Himself before the Father.
Biblical Basis for Trinity
THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD
OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCES OF THE TRINITY
(Points I & lll are not contested by those who deny the Trinity, therefore little space is given them here.)
THE FATHER IS GOD
I Peter 1:17
THE SON IS GOD
He Is Called God Explicitly
Matthew 1:23, "Emmanuel-God with us."
John 1:1, "The Word was God." (Note: There is no scholarly support for the NWT rendering it "a god.")
John 5:17-23, The Son is "equal" to his Father
John 8:53-59, Jesus is the "I AM" of Exodus 3:1-15
John 10:28-33, Jesus and the Father are equal
John 20:28 "The Lord of me and THE GOD of me."
Romans 9:5, Christ is God over all
Colossians 2:9, All the fullness of deity
Titus 2:13, "our Great God and Saviour."
Hebrews 1:8, "Thy throne O God."
I John 5:20, "The true God."
He Is Described In Terms Reserved Only For God
Creator of ALL Things
Revelation 1:8 with 21:5-7; and 22:12,13,16,20
The First and Last
Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13 (Compare Isaiah 44:6)
The Exact Representation of The Father
John 12:45 and 14:6-11
He Is Worshipped As God. (See Luke 4:8)
Revelation 5:11-13 (Compare Revelation 4:9-11)
O.T./N.T. Cross-Reference Proves Jesus Is God
Isaiah 40:3 with John 1:23 & 3:28
Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10,11 and Romans 14:11
Isaiah 44:24 with John 1:3
Isaiah 6:1-5 with John 12:37-41
Isaiah 8:13,14 with I Peter 2:7,8
Isaiah 42:8 with John 17:5
Isaiah 60:19 with Luke 2:30-32
Psalms 102:24-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12
Psalms 45:6,7 with Hebrews 1:8,9
Psalms 23:1 with Isaiah 40:10,11 and John 10,11
I Kings 8:39 with Revelation 2:23
Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:9-13
Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58,59
Malachi 3:1 with Matthew 11:10
Exodus 19:18-21 with Hebrews 12:18-26
Zechariah 12:10 & 13:6,7 with John 19:34-37
Zechariah 14:4,5 with Matthew 24:29-31; Matthew 25:31; Jude 14,15; II Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-21
Jesus Is God Made Flesh
Philippians 2:5-8: Jesus "being in the form of God" (i.e., deity), did not consider it something to cling to, but emptied himself of his divine glory and perogatives, NOT his divine nature, and took UPON his divine form "the form of a servant" (i.e., humanity), in order to suffer death.
John 1:1,14: "In the beginning was (eternally) the Word and the Word was with God (i.e., the Father and Holy Spirit), and the Word was God (deity)." "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
Hebrews 1:3 and 2:9-18: Jesus is the "EXACT REPRESENTATION of His (God's) VERY BEING" (NWT). No creature could possibly do that! But, Jesus set aside his infinite glory to become one of us so that he could be to us an, example in faith, the perfect sacrifice, our High Priest, Comforter, and Saviour.
Who Is The "Angel Of Jehovah?"
Genesis 18:1,13,17,20-22,26,33; 19:24
Genesis 32:24-30 (compare Hosea 12:4,5)
Genesis 48: 15,16
Exodus 3:1-15 (compare vs. 5 with Joshua 5: 14,15)
Note: In these passages the "Angel of Jehovah" speaks as Jehovah, is called Jehovah, does the works of Jehovah, and is worshipped by those to whom He appears. He is Jesus, the Son of God. "Angel" means "messenger" and is applied to the angelic beings, men (evangelists), and to God (see above)
Answers To Common Antitrinitarian Prooftexts
John 14:28 "My Father is greater than I." Just as the husband is positionally greater than the wife so the Father is greater the the Son. Both husband and wife are equally human as the Father and Son are equally divine.
Colossians 1:15 "the Firstborn of all creation." "Firstborn" (Gr. Prototokos), not "first created" (Gr. "Protoktistos"). Firstborn is term that means first in importance. These scriptures bear that out: Genesis 41:51,52 with Jeremiah 31:9; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Exodus 4:22; and Job 18:13.
Revelation 3:14 "the beginning of the creation of God." We derive many words such as architect, archangel, arch-rival, from the Greek word "arche" translated "beginning" in this verse. It means "origin," "source," "chief," and "ruler." Jesus is the origin of ALL, or the creator.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD
He Is Called God
Acts 5:3,4 Lying to the Spirit is lying to God
II Corinthians 3:17 "The Lord is that Spirit." (compare this with Exodus 34:29-35)
He Is Omnipotent
Isaiah 40:12-14 (See Romans 11:34 and I Corinthians 2:16)
He Is Omniscient
I Corinthians 2:10,11 Isaiah 40: 13,14
He Is Omnipresent
He Is Eternal
He Has The Attributes Of Personality
Romans 8:27, "The MIND of the Spirit."
I Corinthians 2:10-12, The Spirit "KNOWS."
I Corinthians 12:11, "The Spirit WILLS."
Ephesians 4:30, "GRIEVE" not the Spirit
His Self-Cognizance Is Shown By These Actions:
Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 21:11
Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22
I John 2:26,27
If the Holy Spirit is a self-cognizant personality, and is also eternal, then He must be God, for God is the only eternal being.
"So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God." (from The Athanasian Creed)
Revelation -- Its Grand Climax at Hand! (WBTS, 1988)
Book Review: How ANTI-TRINITARIAN Is It?
By David A. Reed.
The Watchtower Society's latest commentary on the Book of Revelation repackages familiar Jehovah's Witness interpretations in an attractive new format. Profusely illustrated with imaginative, full-color scenes from the Apocalypse, the new volume should be easy for Jehovah's Witnesses to sell in their door-to-door ministry.
On page 9, the reader is told, "It is not claimed that the explanations in this publication are infallible." But on page 16, the publishers imply that they constitute "God's channel for giving spiritual nourishment" whom Jesus uses "in unlocking the meaning of the prophecy." And baptized Jehovah's Witnesses know, of course, that they would be called before a "judicial committee" and "disfellowshipped" (formally expelled from the group and totally shunned by friends and relatives) if they were actually to reject any of the book's "fallible" explanations.
While The Finished Mystery (an earlier Watchtower commentary on Revelation published in 1917) declared on page 15 that Christ Jesus was the one spoken of as "the Almighty" in Revelation 1:8, this new commentary repeatedly stresses the organization's teaching that Jesus is a mere angel (143, 148, 155, 181, 259, etc.), that the "holy spirit" is an impersonal force, and that the Father alone is God.
In harmony with this, page 36 features a box proudly pointing out that "In the songbook produced by Jehovah's people in 1905, there were twice as many songs praising Jesus as there were songs praising Jehovah God. ... But in the latest songbook of 1984, Jehovah is honored by four times as many songs as is Jesus." Conveniently ignored is the biblical injunction that men should "honor the Son just as they honor the Father" (John 5:23; NIV).
Along similar lines the book says, "When Jesus presents himself by the title 'the First and the Last,' he is not claiming equality with Jehovah, the Grand Creator. He is using a title properly bestowed on him by God" (27). To "prove" this, a footnote on the same page attempts to explain away a similar phrase in Isaiah referring to God: "In the original Hebrew at Isaiah 44:6, there is no definite article with the words 'first' and 'last,' whereas in Jesus' description of himself in the original Greek at Revelation 1:17, the definite article is found. So, grammatically, Revelation 1:17 indicates a title, whereas Isaiah 44:6 describes Jehovah's Godship."
That this reasoning leads to a false distinction, however, becomes obvious when Revelation 1:17 is compared with Revelation 22:13, which the Witnesses apply to Jehovah God. Both verses use the identical expression in Greek (ho protos kai ho eschatos -- "The First and the Last") with the definite article. In an apparent effort to avoid this fact, the Watchtower's new book skips over Revelation 22:13 in its verse-by-verse commentary, discussing verses 12 and 14 without mentioning verse 13 at all. This appears to be the only significant verse the new Revelation book skips over without comment.
On page 125, the Society suggests that some Jehovah's Witnesses who died in earlier years "may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today." This is reminiscent of their teaching in 1917 that the then-dead Pastor Russell was still running the organization from "beyond the veil" (The Finished Mystery, 144, 256). One can only wonder how such communications from the dead are supposedly received by Watchtower leaders who publicly repudiate spiritism and seances.
As earlier Watchtower commentaries have done, the new book explains much of Revelation as prophesying developments within the Watchtower organization. Thus, seven angels blowing seven trumpets become seven annual Watchtower conventions held between 1922 and 1928: "The trumpet blast of the seventh angel was reflected in highlights of the Bible Students' convention in Detroit, Michigan, July 30-August 6, 1928" (172).
And even Isaiah's reference to standing "upon the watchtower" (Isa. 21:8) points to the sect's leadership today as it "uses the _Watchtower_ magazine and other theocratic publications to sound abroad the news. ..." (260). While such "exegesis" appears laughable to outsiders, it is received with deadly seriousness by Jehovah's Witnesses, who are not allowed to read anything else.