10 Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses on the Watchtower Trinity Brochure – Chapter 12 – Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity!

Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity book

Most objections Jehovah’s Witnesses raise against the Doctrine of the Trinity can be answered by accurately defining the doctrine.

For example, many Jehovah’s Witnesses think that when Christians claim that Jesus is “God,” they are claiming He is the same Person as the Father. This misunderstanding is easily corrected by quoting the Creed of Athanasius, the most authoritative Creed that Christianity has used for centuries to define the Trinity. It demonstrates how the Son is a distinct “Person” from the “Person” of the Father, yet “one God” with the Father:

“For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost… So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.” (View PDF of the Athanasius Creed)

So, when Jesus was praying to the Father, He wasn’t praying to Himself, but to the Person of the Father who is just as much “God” by nature as Jesus is “God.” Another misconception Jehovah’s Witnesses embrace is the idea that since “in this Trinity none is before, or after other: none is greater, or less than other,” Jesus could not have said, “the Father is greater than I” at John 14:28. This objection is easily answered by the following statement found in the Creed: “Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching His Manhood.” Thus, many of the occasions where Jesus operated under the limitations of His humanity, the Father was indeed in a “greater” position than He was, but this does not prove that Jesus in His God nature is less “God” than God the Father is “God.”

At this point, it is helpful to draw an analogy between a human father and his son. Just as a human son is not any less “human” than his father is “human,” so Jesus as God’s “Son” is not any less “God” than His Father is “God.” To drive this point home, you can ask a Jehovah’s Witness why Jesus is called the “Son of Man” at Mark 14:62. If God is not a “man” (Hosea 11:9), why is Jesus called the “Son of Man”? Could it be that He is called the “Son of Man” because He is 100% human? In the same way, when Jesus claimed to be the “Son of God,” the Jews fully understood Him to be claiming to be 100% God (See John 5:18; John 19:7 c.f., Leviticus 24:16).

Having addressed some of the most common objections against the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity doctrine, we will turn our attention to 10 Questions one can ask concerning lies in the Watchtower Should You Believe in the Trinity? brochure:

1. Does the Watchtower claim that Clement of Alexandria taught Jesus is “not equal” to God?

“Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E… said that the son ‘is next to the only omnipotent Father’ but not equal to him.” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p. 7 (View PDF of the page)

2. If it is true that Clement did not teach Jesus is “equal” to God, why did he say Jesus has “equality of substance” with the Father and is “eternal and uncreate”?

“There was, then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate.” — The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 2, p. 574 (View PDF of this page)

3. If Clement taught Watchtower doctrine on the nature of Christ, why did he teach that “the Divine Word” (Jesus) is “equal” to the Lord of the universe? Did the Watchtower lie about Clement?

“…the Divine Word, He that is truly most manifest Deity, He that is made equal to the Lord of the universe.” — The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 2, p. 202 (View PDF of this page)

4. Does the Watchtower claim “the Trinity” was “unknown” for “several centuries” after Biblical times, implying the Fathers prior to the council of Nicaea did not teach it?

“ ‘…the Trinity… derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr]: and this observation may be extended to all the ante-Nicene Fathers; that is, to all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ… It is true, they speak of the Father, Son, and … holy Spirit, but not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One…’ Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p. 7 (View PDF of this page)

5. If Clement did not know about the “Trinity” doctrine, why did he teach it?

“I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.”—The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 2, p. 468 (View PDF of this page)

6. If Tertullian (another Ante-Nicene Father featured in the Watchtower’s Trinity brochure) did not know about the “Trinity” doctrine, why did he teach it?

“If the number of the Trinity also offends you… I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in the plural phrase, saying, ‘Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness;’… Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word….”—The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 3, p. 606 (View PDF of this page)

7. If none of the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers taught that the three Persons are “co-equal” or “one numerical essence,” why did Clement teach Jesus was “equal” to the Father as we saw earlier? And why did Tertullian teach the three are “one… substance…”?

“I mean the Word of God… Now if He too is God, according to John, (who says,) ‘The Word was God,’ then you have two Beings… In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another, I have already explained, on the ground of Personality, not of Substance—in the way of distinction, not of division. But although I must everywhere hold one only substance in three coherent and inseparable (Persons)…” —The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 3, p. 607 (View PDF of this page)

8. If the Trinity “derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr],” why did Justin teach that Christ is the “Angel of God” who spoke to Moses at Exodus 3 and proclaimed, “I Am that I Am, the God of Abraham”?

“…our Christ conversed with him [Moses] under the appearance of fire from a bush… ‘And the Angel of God spake to Moses, … and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of they fathers’… the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets.” —The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, p. 184 (View PDF of this page)

9. Does the Watchtower claim that The Journal of Biblical Literature supports their translation of “the Word was a god” at John 1:1 in the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation Bible?

“The Journal of Biblical Literature says that expressions ‘with an anarthrous [no article] predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning.’ As the Journal notes, this indicates that the lo’gos can be likened to a god.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p. 27 (View PDF of this page)

10. If The Journal of Biblical Literature supports the Watchtower’s “a god” rendering, why does the Journal specifically state that John would have had to write John 1:1 differently (using either Clause D or E) if he wanted to teach the Word is “a god” or “divine”? Is the Watchtower guilty of misrepresenting the Journal’s claims?

“John could have written any of the following:

A. ho logos en ho theos (The Word was the God.)
B. theos en ho logos (God was the Word.)
C. ho logos theos en (The Word God was.)
D. ho logos en theos (The Word was God.)
E. ho logos en theios (The Word was divine.)

“Clause D, with the verb preceding an anarthrous predicate, would probably mean that the logos [Word] was ‘a god’ or a divine being of some kind, belonging to the general category of theos [God] but as a distinct being from ho theos [the God]. Clause E would be an attenuated form of D. It would mean that the logos [Word] was ‘divine,’… John evidently wished to say something about the logos [Word] that was other than A and more than D and EB means that the logos [Word] has the nature of theos [God] (rather than something else). In this clause, the form that John actually uses, the word theos [God] is placed at the beginning for emphasis.This would be one way of representing John’s thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos, [the Word] no less than ho theos, [the God] had the nature of theos [God].” —Philip B. Harner,“Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1,” The Journal of Biblical Literature, 1973, pp. 84-85, 87 (View PDF of these pages)

 

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