One of the greatest shortfalls of the booklet is that while it relies heavily on what appear to be 'scholarly sources' to disprove the doctrine, there are almost no proper citations of references (e.g. only the title or name of a source is given), and worse yet, many of the sources are anti-Christian to begin with. This is not a good approach if one is attempting to make honest and objective arguments, for it does not allow the reader to verify a quote for context and accuracy, nor does it do any good to quote anti-Christian sources, for it would be nothing more than the special pleading fallacy.
This article will give an analysis of this booklet.
The booklet begins as follows:
People often say they believe in the Trinity, yet they differ in their understanding of it.This is a good introduction, and getting the proper answers to these questions is vital.
What, exactly, is the Trinity?
Does the Bible teach it?
Is Jesus Christ the Almighty God and part of the Trinity?
DO YOU believe in the Trinity? Most people in Christendom do. After all, it has been the central doctrine of the churches for centuries.
In view of this, you would think that there could be no question about it. But there is, and lately even some of its supporters have added fuel to the controversy.Not to much to object to here, the only point that I think should be emphasized is that it notes the doctrine has been believed "for centuries," and while that doesn't automatically make it true, we should note that many intelligent and Biblically astute Christians have embraced the doctrine. Further, the three major "branches" of Christendom, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism - with all their differences - have always embraced this doctrine, going back 2,000 years. What this means is if this doctrine is in error, then virtually all Christians for all 2,000 years of Christianity have been virtually under the deception of Satan. That should be room for pause.
Why should a subject like this be of any more than passing interest? Because Jesus himself said: "Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." So our entire future hinges on our knowing the true nature of God, and that means getting to the root of the Trinity controversy. Therefore, why not examine it for yourself?—John 17:3, Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB).
Various Trinitarian concepts exist. But generally the Trinity teaching is that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet, together they are but one God. The doctrine says that the three are coequal, almighty, and uncreated, having existed eternally in the Godhead.While this definition could be read in a correct manner, it can also be misunderstood to mean something very incorrect, and thus not really describing the Trinity at all. The latter, as will be shown, is the unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) case; the JWs do not accurately understand the Trinity, and thus end up attacking a strawman.
Others, however, say that the Trinity doctrine is false, that Almighty God stands alone as a separate, eternal, and all-powerful being. They say that Jesus in his prehuman existence was, like the angels, a separate spirit person created by God, and for this reason he must have had a beginning. They teach that Jesus has never been Almighty God's equal in any sense; he has always been subject to God and still is. They also believe that the holy ghost is not a person but God's spirit, his active force.Here is the first open rejection of the doctrine, and is given with some important JW distinctives as well, notably Jesus' "prehuman existence" and that the "holy ghost is not a person." These distinctives play an important role in whether or not one accepts the Trinity (e.g. if the Holy Ghost isn't a Person then there isn't a Trinity by definition).
Supporters of the Trinity say that it is founded not only on religious tradition but also on the Bible. Critics of the doctrine say that it is not a Bible teaching, one history source even declaring: "The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan."—The Paganism in Our Christianity.Notice the "history source" being quoted here as 'support' for the JW side, a book titled "The Paganism in Our Christianity." This is book is openly anti-Christian, and thus is very biased against Christian teachings, hardly a fair and objective tool for determining the truth of the matter.
If the Trinity is true, it is degrading to Jesus to say that he was never equal to God as part of a Godhead. But if the Trinity is false, it is degrading to Almighty God to call anyone his equal, and even worse to call Mary the "Mother of God." If the Trinity is false, it dishonors God to say, as noted in the book Catholicism: "Unless [people] keep this Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt [they] shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: we worship one God in Trinity."Agreed; the stakes are very high here - and that's why anything less than fair and honest investigation has no place for those truly interested in honoring God.
There are good reasons, then, why you should want to know the truth about the Trinity. But before examining its origin and its claim of truthfulness, it would be helpful to define this doctrine more specifically. What, exactly, is the Trinity? How do supporters of it explain it?Good, these are precisely the questions that need to be addressed. But, sadly, as will be shown, the JWs do not properly define or understand it, and they unfortunately use some deceptive tactics in making their cause.
THE Roman Catholic Church states: "The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion . . . Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: 'the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.' In this Trinity . . . the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent."—The Catholic Encyclopedia.
Nearly all other churches in Christendom agree. For example, the Greek Orthodox Church also calls the Trinity "the fundamental doctrine of Christianity," even saying: "Christians are those who accept Christ as God." In the book Our Orthodox Christian Faith, the same church declares: "God is triune. . . . The Father is totally God. The Son is totally God. The Holy Spirit is totally God."While this description can be understood in a True sense, for those who do not understand what such terms as "Person" and "totally God" and such will not truly understand the doctrine. For example, if one were to speak of "Super Bowl" without knowing football would be prone to mistaking the term for one large kitchen dish. Another example is misunderstanding the term "Indian," which describes the natives of the country of India, though has historically and mistakenly been applied to those peoples of America. As will be shown, the JWs are putting their own mistaken definitions to key Trinitarian terms and thus (quite logically) come to the conclusion the doctrine is nonsense and un-Biblical.
Thus, the Trinity is considered to be "one God in three Persons." Each is said to be without beginning, having existed for eternity. Each is said to be almighty, with each neither greater nor lesser than the others.
Is such reasoning hard to follow? Many sincere believers have found it to be confusing, contrary to normal reason, unlike anything in their experience. How, they ask, could the Father be God, Jesus be God, and the holy spirit be God, yet there be not three Gods but only one God?This paragraph is very telling, for the JWs immediately jump to the conclusion the doctrine makes no sense and thus must be false. The last sentence is especially important, for it tries to paint the doctrine as a math problem, trying to make '1=3'. The fundamental distinction one must make to understand the Trinity is the Person-Nature distinction. The terms "Person" and "Nature" are not synonymous, they each signify a distinct reality - and the fact this booklet has yet to mention the term "Nature" (or "Being" or "Essence") is quite telling, for it not only is that leaving out a key piece of understanding of the Trinity, it can only end up in confusion and error over the doctrine.
In a nutshell, Person addresses the "Who?" questions, while Nature addresses the "What?" questions. Person is unique to God and man (in virtue of being created in God's image), animals and impersonal things (obviously) have no personhood associated with them (e.g. a rock). Person is that which performs the action in rational natures (e.g. in humans), while Nature is what determines what can be performed (e.g. human nature does not allow one to fly, but does allow one to walk, talk, swim, etc). Without this distinction, much confusion and improper conclusions will arise. Given this critical distinction, the Trinity is Three Persons each fully possessing the One Divine Nature. There is no '1=3' type set up; the Trinity is not a math problem, and with the Person-Nature distinction understood to set it up as a math problem would be a category mistake fallacy, no different than saying '1 apple = 3 oranges' (they're two different fruits that cannot be equated).
THIS confusion is widespread. The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be "beyond the grasp of human reason."Now is when the booklet starts to become really bold in painting the whole doctrine as a deceptive game of semantics, even painting Christians themselves as wildly confused about the doctrine. What's worse, now we see the booklet quoting sources (with nothing more than the title of the work no less!) out of context and misrepresenting their true position: It just so happens that I got access to this article in the Encyclopedia Americana (under the topic of "Trinity", 1990 edition, pages 116-117), which is written by a head professor of Biblical Theology (clearly someone who believes in the Trinity and believes it to be Biblical and not illogical). In context, the article states: "although the doctrine is beyond the grasp of human reason, it is, like many of the formulations of physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended..." What a different picture emerges by quoting the author in context, as well as what an amazingly distorted picture we get when quotes are ripped out of context! In otherwords, just like with physics and such, there are things that we humans have a hard time understanding or fully explaining, but they are not unreasonable and in fact can be understood in a very real sense.
Further, the article states important information such as: God "exists in Three Persons... [and] is One in 'substance'," which is precisely the Person-Nature distinction; and later says it "is probably a mistake to assume that the doctrine resulted from the intrusion of Greek metaphysics or philosophy into Christian thought" - which directly contradicts the JW's previous source alleging the doctrine is "entirely pagan"; and affirmation that the Bible and early Christians taught the Holy Spirit is a Person.
Many who accept the Trinity view it that same way. Monsignor Eugene Clark says: "God is one, and God is three. Since there is nothing like this in creation, we cannot understand it, but only accept it." Cardinal John O'Connor states: "We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don't begin to understand." And Pope John Paul II speaks of "the inscrutable mystery of God the Trinity."Here is another classic case of poor (and even downright dishonest) scholarship, for this booklet is quoting Catholic figures but gives no sources where they said this nor context. The impression given off by these quotes is that major Catholic figures are admitting the Trinity is actually nonsense but that Christians go ahead and believe it anyway. Nothing could be further from the Truth. One key fact to point out is that two of the quotes employ the term "mystery," which to the untrained reader can sound like an admission of ignorance yet naively embracing the doctrine nonetheless. In realty, the term "mystery" is a theological term, meaning while we can grasp a lot of the truth about something, it still (being divine) rises above human understanding. For example, when we call God "all powerful" and such, that is true and we can give examples of that, but we cannot come anywhere close to fully comprehending what "all powerful" truly means; so we can say God being 'all powerful' is a mystery but we accept it based on Divine Revelation (e.g. Scriptural testimony) and philosophy (e.g. God has to be all powerful else He couldn't be God).
Thus, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge says: "Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves."Again, no context given and no source details; this kind of stuff is not a good precedence to have if one is seeking honesty and fairness. That said, the way this quote is worded, there is truth to it, for while Trinitarians might use slightly different terms or analogies or proofs, they still believe the doctrine. This quote comes off as making it sound as if Trinitarians act in utter confusion about the doctrine, with no common ground at all, when the Truth is virtually all (informed) Trinitarians first and foremost recognize the Person-Nature distinction.
The disciples of Jesus were the humble common people, not the religious leaders
We can understand, then, why the New Catholic Encyclopedia observes: "There are few teachers of Trinitarian theology in Roman Catholic seminaries who have not been badgered at one time or another by the question, 'But how does one preach the Trinity?' And if the question is symptomatic of confusion on the part of the students, perhaps it is no less symptomatic of similar confusion on the part of their professors."This is a play on emotion more than anything. Nobody denies the early Christians didn't explain the Trinity in the modern ways Christians have come up with doing so, that doesn't make it untrue. As for the New Catholic Encyclopedia quote, again no source details nor context given. The quote comes off as saying the Trinity is too complex (or even nonsensical) such that religious leaders must act in a sly and deceptive manner as to hide this from students and laymen lest they 'see through' the deception of the doctrine. But that's not likely what is being said. What is likely being said is how advanced of a description of the doctrine does one give? - not whether or not it should be affirmed and the basics mentioned. All through Catholic prayers and even the Nicene Creed (which is recited every Sunday by Catholics) makes the basics of doctrine of the Trinity plain (e.g. explicitly noting the Son is of the same substance/nature as the Father, and that the Three Persons are equally glorified).
The truth of that observation can be verified by going to a library and examining books that support the Trinity. Countless pages have been written attempting to explain it. Yet, after struggling through the labyrinth of confusing theological terms and explanations, investigators still come away unsatisfied.This is a fallacious argument (an appeal to emotion) for the number of books written on something and especially whether or not a person can understand something is totally relative. How many people would deny gravity exists? Few if any, but to try an explain gravity beyond some basic observations is not an easy task the more details one goes into. In a similar sense, many books have been written on gravity trying to explain it, even employing advanced terminology, and doubtless many come away confused. But does that in any way mean gravity is thus false and shouldn't be believed? No, and by the same token the JW argument here is totally off the mark.
In this regard, Jesuit Joseph Bracken observes in his book What Are They Saying About the Trinity?: "Priests who with considerable effort learned . . . the Trinity during their seminary years naturally hesitated to present it to their people from the pulpit, even on Trinity Sunday. . . . Why should one bore people with something that in the end they wouldn't properly understand anyway?" He also says: "The Trinity is a matter of formal belief, but it has little or no [effect] in day-to-day Christian life and worship." Yet, it is "the central doctrine" of the churches!As usual, no source details (e.g. page numbers), nor context is given. And it doesn't help that the booklet is only quoting parts of sentences and stringing them together. The motive is clear: try to make the doctrine look meaningless, nonsensical, and distant. And to add that the Trinity has "little or no effect in day-to-day Christian life and worship" is outrageously slanderous, for references are made to the Trinity all through very basic Catholic prayers and standard theology. There is nothing academic, honest, or fair about such methodology. It turns out Catholic Answers took a question on this quote, and shows that the priest was in fact misquoted and misrepresented.
Catholic theologian Hans Küng observes in his book Christianity and the World Religions that the Trinity is one reason why the churches have been unable to make any significant headway with non-Christian peoples. He states: "Even well-informed Muslims simply cannot follow, as the Jews thus far have likewise failed to grasp, the idea of the Trinity. . . . The distinctions made by the doctrine of the Trinity between one God and three hypostases do not satisfy Muslims, who are confused, rather than enlightened, by theological terms derived from Syriac, Greek, and Latin. Muslims find it all a word game. . . . Why should anyone want to add anything to the notion of God's oneness and uniqueness that can only dilute or nullify that oneness and uniqueness?"Really, this is more of the same methodology as above. It is more an appeal to emotions ('it's too hard thus it must not be true') than anything. If something is true, it's not our job or right to water it down to appeal to more people.
HOW could such a confusing doctrine originate? The Catholic Encyclopedia claims: "A dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation." Catholic scholars Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler state in their Theological Dictionary: "The Trinity is a mystery . . . in the strict sense . . . , which could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible."The doctrine is only "confusing" for people who don't understand the fundamentals of it. If one wants to take an anti-intellectual approach where one runs away the moment they are faced with a question that takes more than a sentence to address, then they will find themselves rejecting and denying all sorts of everyday technology and branches of knowledge. As for the quotes above, as noted earlier, the term "mystery" in theology does not mean illogical but naively accepted anyway, but rather it is dealing with matters involving God which will certainly mean there is a degree to which we can grasp the truth and yet not know more than that due to the fact we are creatures and not God. This is highlighted by the fact that there is lots we would not know had God not divinely revealed it (e.g. in the Scriptures).
However, contending that since the Trinity is such a confusing mystery, it must have come from divine revelation creates another major problem. Why? Because divine revelation itself does not allow for such a view of God: "God is not a God of confusion."—1 Corinthians 14:33, Revised Standard Version (RS).
In view of that statement, would God be responsible for a doctrine about himself that is so confusing that even Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholars cannot really explain it?If one looks carefully, the *only* people saying the doctrine is "confusing," and even incorrectly using the theological term "mystery" in the phrase "confusing mystery," is the JWs - and unfortunately those Christians who are too uninformed to know any better. No reputable Christian source would call the doctrine "confusing," for there is nothing truly "confusing" about it. It might be hard to explain beyond a certain point without getting complext, as many things are (e.g. gravity, time, atoms, etc), but that is not at all the same as "confusing". If most people find calculus "confusing" does that make calculus untrue? Thus is shown the nonsense and fallacious methodology being employed by the JWs.
Furthermore, do people have to be theologians 'to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent'? (John 17:3, JB) If that were the case, why did so few of the educated Jewish religious leaders recognize Jesus as the Messiah? His faithful disciples were, instead, humble farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, housewives. Those common people were so certain of what Jesus taught about God that they could teach it to others and were even willing to die for their belief.—Matthew 15:1-9; 21:23-32, 43; 23:13-36; John 7:45-49; Acts 4:13.This is full of nonsense. Many of those who rejected Christ did so because they didn't want to abandon their lives of sin, while many of those who accepted Him did so in spite of the fact much of what Christ said was way over their heads - even often received rebukes from Jesus for them displaying such little faith and cowardice (e.g. Mk 7:17-18; Lk 24:25).
IF THE Trinity were true, it should be clearly and consistently presented in the Bible. Why? Because, as the apostles affirmed, the Bible is God's revelation of himself to mankind. And since we need to know God to worship him acceptably, the Bible should be clear in telling us just who he is.Christians do believe the doctrine is clearly and consistently presented in the Bible - however, the Bible is also not a 'textbook' in the modern sense, it is not written in such a way as to list of doctrines in a systematic manner. The Bible gives us sufficient information, not exhaustive details.
First-century believers accepted the Scriptures as the authentic revelation of God. It was the basis for their beliefs, the final authority. For example, when the apostle Paul preached to people in the city of Beroea, "they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."—Acts 17:10, 11.It is manifestly false to say early Christians accepted the Bible as their "final authority;" nowhere does the Bible teach this. The JWs are trying to espouse the unbiblical and manifestly false Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The Acts 17 quotation is a good example of misrepresenting what the Bible is saying. Acts 17 is about Paul proving that the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus (who was not mentioned by name in the OT!), and that's precisely what texts like Acts 17:2-3 (quoted fully, which the JWs did not do above!) show: "he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said." What a different picture emerges when things are properly read! If anyone is abusing Scripture here, it's the JWs. This Acts 17 quote is very clear the Scriptures were not employed as a "final authority" nor to address any given doctrine, but rather the Apostles employed them for certain specific proofs.
What did prominent men of God at that time use as their authority? Acts 17:2, 3 tells us: "According to Paul's custom . . . he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references [from the Scriptures]."
Jesus himself set the example in using the Scriptures as the basis for his teaching, repeatedly saying: "It is written." "He interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures."—Matthew 4:4, 7; Luke 24:27.Jesus teaches numerous things without appealing to the Scriptures, and in fact often says He is instituting new rules in contrast to the old (e.g. Mat 5:21-48)! The Scriptures were an authority, but that is a far cry from saying they were the only divine authority nor the "final authority" (which Jesus Himself disproves many times, eg Mk 7:17-19).
Thus Jesus, Paul, and first-century believers used the Scriptures as the foundation for their teaching. They knew that "all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work."—2 Timothy 3:16, 17; see also 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.Again, the Bible is a source of Divine Revelation and thus an authority, but that is no room for jumping to the conclusion that Sola Scriptura is how Christians should go about doing theology; it's simply bogus reasoning.
Since the Bible can 'set things straight,' it should clearly reveal information about a matter as fundamental as the Trinity is claimed to be. But do theologians and historians themselves say that it is clearly a Bible teaching?
A PROTESTANT publication states: "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century." (The Illustrated Bible Dictionary) And a Catholic authority says that the Trinity "is not . . . directly and immediately [the] word of God."—New Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Catholic Encyclopedia also comments: "In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word [tri'as] (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180. . . . Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian."
However, this is no proof in itself that Tertullian taught the Trinity. The Catholic work Trinitas—A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, for example, notes that some of Tertullian's words were later used by others to describe the Trinity. Then it cautions: "But hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology."Nobody said the term had to be found in the Bible, anymore than the Bible specifically lists the names of all the books that belong in it calling itself "the Bible." The JWs have plenty of things that are not named after things in the Bible (e.g. they call their meeting places "Kingdom Hall" when the Bible comes nowhere close to such a church name, nor do Christians in the Bible call themselves "Jehovah's Witnesses"). What is worth noting is that the booklet admits Christians like Theophius were using the term Trinity as early as 180 A.D.! It is also interesting that the JWs said the doctrine is "entirely pagan" and yet the term was only coined in the Christian era! As for the JWs commenting on Tertullian, as usual, no context is given, nor does what is quoted necessarily mean what the JWs are implying. What is interesting is whether the JWs are saying they see Tertullian as a Christian and/or JW, for if Tertullian was not teaching JW doctrines, then they have no business pointing to him! As will be shown later, Tertullian taught clearly the key points of the Trinity, notably that Jesus was God (something flatly contradictory to JWs).
WHILE the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, is at least the idea of the Trinity taught clearly in it? For instance, what do the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") reveal?Nothing has changed, the JWs are still demonstrating poor, selective, and deceptive citation of sources (especially in the last quote where - out of full sentences - only a few words here and there are actually quoted!). The doctrine is not taught in the OT in the sense that it was only partially revealed at the time, and only came to full light in the NT, and later on Christians employed more helpful ways of explaining it all. In a similar light, Jesus as revealed in the Gospels is not easily seen or explicitly and vividly revealed in the OT, we only see bits and pieces and require NT revelation to be able to look back and see it in the first place (all through the NT the Jews had no clue the Messiah was going to die, and in fact such a notion was downright disturbing to them, e.g. Mat 16:21-22). The Catholic Answers link (also given above) shows the JWs clearly misquoting the New Catholic Encyclopedia. So, with a stroke of the pen, in three short paragraphs, the JWs dismiss the whole OT from being appealed to. This is hardly a fair look at the doctrine and OT proofs Christians have historically appealed to!
The Encyclopedia of Religion admits: "Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity." And the New Catholic Encyclopedia also says: "The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament]."
Similarly, in his book The Triune God, Jesuit Edmund Fortman admits: "The Old Testament . . . tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . . . There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead. . . . Even to see in [the "Old Testament"] suggestions or foreshadowings or 'veiled signs' of the trinity of persons, is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers."—Italics ours.
An examination of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves will bear out these comments. Thus, there is no clear teaching of a Trinity in the first 39 books of the Bible that make up the true canon of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
WELL, then, do the Christian Greek Scriptures ("New Testament") speak clearly of a Trinity?
The Encyclopedia of Religion says: "Theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity."
Jesuit Fortman states: "The New Testament writers . . . give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. . . . Nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead."
The New Encyclopædia Britannica observes: "Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament."We are dealing with the same old story: confusing a formal and explicit definition of the doctrine with sufficient and enough details given to support it. These quotes are indicating that the doctrine is not stated in terms of "Three Persons in One Divine Nature," which is not at all the same as saying there is no proof for these concepts in Scripture (e.g. Mat 28:19)! The last few paragraphs are the most telling, for they shows that the scholars' words are limited to using certain developed terminology and formulations, not about denying any Scriptural support whatsoever.
Bernhard Lohse says in A Short History of Christian Doctrine: "As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual doctrine of the Trinity."Notice how the streak of not properly citing sources is still the standard operating procedure for this booklet, and notice how even these quotes - when read carefully - are limited to explicit formulations along the lines of employing terms like Person, Essence, etc.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology similarly states: "The N[ew] T[estament] does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. 'The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence' [said Protestant theologian Karl Barth]."
Yale University professor E. Washburn Hopkins affirmed: "To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; . . . they say nothing about it."—Origin and Evolution of Religion.These last two quotes are especially unhelpful (and again improperly cited). And note the source still being quoted "The Paganism in Our Christianity," which of course is biased and thus going to 'find' paganism in any given Christian doctrine, surely not just the Trinity!
Historian Arthur Weigall notes: "Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word 'Trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord."—The Paganism in Our Christianity.
Thus, neither the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures nor the canon of 27 inspired books of the Christian Greek Scriptures provide any clear teaching of the Trinity.If one wants to accurately, honestly, and fairly address a doctrine they disagree with, they should have the Christian decency to accurately, honestly, and fairly address the actual doctrine. These lousy bunch of quotes are worse than irrelevant, they're deceptive, giving the impression no Christian scholars believe the Trinity has any decent amount of Biblical support. If someone is going to approach the situation like that, then they're looking for the cheap way out, not the Truth (wherever it may lead!).
DID the early Christians teach the Trinity? Note the following comments by historians and theologians:Surely by now the reader knows what I'm going to say: Of course we don't expect "primitive Christianity" to have "explicit" formulations of the Trinity that came about in later Christian generations! Nobody said otherwise!
"Primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds."—The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.
"The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the [Trinity] idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognised the . . . Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One."—The Paganism in Our Christianity.Who would have guessed? Here we have it yet again, quoting the same anti-Christian source that is from its very title biased against Christian doctrine in general. Looking to this sources is as absurd and deceptive as someone quoting an openly anti-JW source against JW teachings.
"At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian . . . It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the N[ew] T[estament] and other early Christian writings."—Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics.There is not enough context or even proper citation (what's new?) to know just what is being said. If one is speaking "at first" and "sub-apostolic" and such, that could simply mean the earliest times before Jesus' public ministry even began, and thus the Trinity was still not more fully manifested yet.
"The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. . . . Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective."—New Catholic Encyclopedia.Sure, such terminology didn't become commonplace until then, but the core concepts (e.g. Jesus was God) were firmly believed from the earliest times. And the Apostolic Fathers certainly taught these core concepts as well. So either the New Catholic Encyclopedia is wrong (and doesn't believe the doctrine has Biblical or Patristic support!) or else the JWs are misquoting and abusing sources again (which, by now, should be the default assumption).
THE ante-Nicene Fathers were acknowledged to have been leading religious teachers in the early centuries after Christ's birth. What they taught is of interest.Now the JWs turn to the earliest of Church Fathers, claiming they didn't believe in the Trinity. What is interesting here is that if the JWs are right, we should expect these fathers to be teaching key JW doctrines, else the JWs have no business quoting them and must concede the earliest Christians fell into apostasy almost immediately after the Apostles died and the Truth wasn't recovered until about 1900 when the JWs came along!
And without missing a beat, the JWs proceed to quote a host of major Church Fathers, without giving context or even the source from which they quote from! Luckily, many good Catholics have done the research for us, and have given us clear evidence - with accurate source, properly cited - for where these same fathers taught key Trinitarian concepts (link here). Thus, one should not fall for the JWs quotes below, and instead realize they are misquoted.
Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is "other than the God who made all things." He said that Jesus was inferior to God and "never did anything except what the Creator . . . willed him to do and say."This would be funny if it were not so tragic and put so many poor souls at risk. Where did fathers say these things? Zero references are given. Surely it isn't our job to go hunting for where - *and if* - the fathers really said these things - what kind of proof or teaching method is this? The link above shows where these fathers explicitly affirmed key Trinitarian concepts, so until those quotes are addressed and the JWs actually give specific sources, we can safely discount the JW claims as manifestly false, dishonest, and deceptive. And just as bad, some of these quotes (as they stand right now), can be understood as perfectly Trinitarian in so far as the Father and Son really are distinct and separate Persons and thus cannot be identified (i.e. as if the Father was the Son).
Irenaeus, who died about 200 C.E., said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the "One true and only God," who is "supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other."
Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E., called Jesus in his prehuman existence "a creature" but called God "the uncreated and imperishable and only true God." He said that the Son "is next to the only omnipotent Father" but not equal to him.
Tertullian, who died about 230 C.E., taught the supremacy of God. He observed: "The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent." He also said: "There was a time when the Son was not. . . . Before all things, God was alone."
Hippolytus, who died about 235 C.E., said that God is "the one God, the first and the only One, the Maker and Lord of all," who "had nothing co-eval [of equal age] with him . . . But he was One, alone by himself; who, willing it, called into being what had no being before," such as the created prehuman Jesus.
"There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead."—The Triune God
Origen, who died about 250 C.E., said that "the Father and Son are two substances . . . two things as to their essence," and that "compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light."
Summing up the historical evidence, Alvan Lamson says in The Church of the First Three Centuries: "The modern popular doctrine of 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, in any sense now admitted by Trinitarians. The very reverse is the fact."
Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter.
AT THIS point you might ask: 'If the Trinity is not a Biblical teaching, how did it become a doctrine of Christendom?' Many think that it was formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.Now the JWs want to assert it was the time of Nicaea when this false doctrine began to creep in, but this is false itself for the doctrine was already taught and believed since the time of the Apostles. Even what the JWs say of the Council is inaccurate, for the Council specifically said Christ was of the same substance as the Father, though by phrasing it as "same substance as God" one fails to recognize the Person-Nature distinction which Nicaea was explicitly making: Person of Jesus was "of the same" Nature as Person of Father. And second of all, the Holy Spirit was mentioned, at the end of the original Nicene Creed, which fits with the Three Persons scheme of the Trinity, but this was only briefly touched upon for the central controversy was Christ's Divinity, something which makes or breaks the Trinity.
That is not totally correct, however. The Council of Nicaea did assert that Christ was of the same substance as God, which laid the groundwork for later Trinitarian theology. But it did not establish the Trinity, for at that council there was no mention of the holy spirit as the third person of a triune Godhead.
FOR many years, there had been much opposition on Biblical grounds to the developing idea that Jesus was God. To try to solve the dispute, Roman emperor Constantine summoned all bishops to Nicaea. About 300, a fraction of the total, actually attended.So we have clear admission here that before Nicaea there were people claiming Jesus was God - and among these adherents were Christian bishops. Not all bishops attended for various reasons (e.g. too far to travel, disagreed, etc).
Constantine was not a Christian. Supposedly, he converted later in life, but he was not baptized until he lay dying. Regarding him, Henry Chadwick says in The Early Church: "Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; . . . his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians."It's not helpful, nor even to be trusted at this point, that the Encyclopedia is being accurately quoted. Further, it is more than an overstatement - it's down right false - to paint Constantine as an utter pagan who practically micromanaged and drafted up the Nicene Creed all by himself and forced all bishops to submit against their will.
What role did this unbaptized emperor play at the Council of Nicaea? The Encyclopædia Britannica relates: "Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, 'of one substance with the Father' . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination."
'Fourth century Trinitarianism was a deviation from early Christian teaching.' —The Encyclopedia Americana
Hence, Constantine's role was crucial. After two months of furious religious debate, this pagan politician intervened and decided in favor of those who said that Jesus was God. But why? Certainly not because of any Biblical conviction. "Constantine had basically no understanding whatsoever of the questions that were being asked in Greek theology," says A Short History of Christian Doctrine. What he did understand was that religious division was a threat to his empire, and he wanted to solidify his domain.What is ironic here is that all this time the JWs have been arguing the Trinity is nonsense and confusing and yet they now show Constantine as siding with this more confusing and nonsensical doctrine? Surely Constantine would have sided with the more 'easy and plain' teaching which denies such a Trinity? And this quote says Constantine didn't understand what was being said and asked using Greek theology and yet the previous quote says he personally led the charge to draft up the ever controversial Greek phrase "same substance"? And finally, if religious division was a thread to his empire, then surely he would have sided with the majority of bishops, for what good does it do appealing to a minority and forcing the majority to go along when doctrinal unity is the goal? To alienate the majority would surely worsen divisions, not fix them - thus (if the logic is correct) the majority of bishops had to have supported the doctrine originally, directly contradicting the JWs argument.
None of the bishops at Nicaea promoted a Trinity, however. They decided only the nature of Jesus but not the role of the holy spirit. If a Trinity had been a clear Bible truth, should they not have proposed it at that time?This is grossly inaccurate. None of the Bishops promoted a Trinity (despite the JWs admitting the term was used 150 years earlier) even though they explicitly mentioned the Three Persons (and nothing else) in the Creed? And explaining that the Father and Son were both God but distinct Persons isn't a major hinge on which the doctrine turns? On the contrary!
AFTER Nicaea, debates on the subject continued for decades. Those who believed that Jesus was not equal to God even came back into favor for a time. But later Emperor Theodosius decided against them. He established the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard for his realm and convened the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. to clarify the formula.Look at these sweeping claims, all in the span of a few paragraphs! And this doesn't even try to support it's claims with any sources! What's interesting is that the JWs would have us believe that out of nowhere the Council decided to now raise the Holy Spirit to the same level as the Father and Son, almost as if making up new persons of the Trinity on the spot (because Jesus being God wasn't good enough since the last council). Surely such radical novelties were not the intent of the council (which was to try to settle existing disputes, not invent new ones!).
That council agreed to place the holy spirit on the same level as God and Christ. For the first time, Christendom's Trinity began to come into focus.
Yet, even after the Council of Constantinople, the Trinity did not become a widely accepted creed. Many opposed it and thus brought on themselves violent persecution. It was only in later centuries that the Trinity was formulated into set creeds. The Encyclopedia Americana notes: "The full development of Trinitarianism took place in the West, in the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, when an explanation was undertaken in terms of philosophy and psychology."
THE Trinity was defined more fully in the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius was a clergyman who supported Constantine at Nicaea. The creed that bears his name declares: "We worship one God in Trinity . . . The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three gods, but one God."The actual date of the Athanasian Creed is not critical for this discussion. The quote above says it was likely written in the 400s, which was within 100 years of St Athanasius, which either could have had a hand in it or else was derived from his teaching overall. The exact details are not critical.
Well-informed scholars agree, however, that Athanasius did not compose this creed. The New Encyclopædia Britannica comments: "The creed was unknown to the Eastern Church until the 12th century. Since the 17th century, scholars have generally agreed that the Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius (died 373) but was probably composed in southern France during the 5th century. . . . The creed's influence seems to have been primarily in southern France and Spain in the 6th and 7th centuries. It was used in the liturgy of the church in Germany in the 9th century and somewhat later in Rome."
So it took centuries from the time of Christ for the Trinity to become widely accepted in Christendom. And in all of this, what guided the decisions? Was it the Word of God, or was it clerical and political considerations? In Origin and Evolution of Religion, E. W. Hopkins answers: "The final orthodox definition of the trinity was largely a matter of church politics."This is just deceptive and is nothing more than confusing the formal definitions with the already accepted and established key elements (e.g. Jesus being of the same Nature as the Father).
THIS disreputable history of the Trinity fits in with what Jesus and his apostles foretold would follow their time. They said that there would be an apostasy, a deviation, a falling away from true worship until Christ's return, when true worship would be restored before God's day of destruction of this system of things.From a historical point of view, Trinity deniers were in the tiniest minority (especially after the first few centuries), meaning that for approximately 1500 years Christendom as a whole has been in utter darkness. Given that the Apostolic Fathers were preaching Jesus was God means that this "apostasy" was almost immediate and a good 1800 years long, until Jesus restored it all in 1914. Luckily, the Bible doesn't come anywhere near affirming such a thing.
"The Triad of the Great Gods"What is astonishing here is that these descriptions don't even attempt to sound Trinitarian, and instead openly embracing polytheism and paganism. How is this description even close to the Trinity as Christians teach it? Where have they ever come close to affirming such a pagan set up? No source would even suggest such pagan gods were the framework by which the Trinity built from.
Many centuries before the time of Christ, there were triads, or trinities, of gods in ancient Babylonia and Assyria. The French "Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology" notes one such triad in that Mesopotamian area: "The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu's share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods."
Regarding that "day," the apostle Paul said: "It will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed." (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7) Later, he foretold: "When I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them." (Acts 20:29, 30, JB) Other disciples of Jesus also wrote of this apostasy with its 'lawless' clergy class.—See, for example, 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3, 4.What should be more shocking than what the JWs are saying is the fact they believe the Bible foretold an apostasy lasting almost 1800 years! The Bible says nothing of the sort. As for the final quote, while I have the source in possession, I don't see that quote! (Why am I not surprised?!)
Paul also wrote: "The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths."—2 Timothy 4:3, 4, JB.
Jesus himself explained what was behind this falling away from true worship. He said that he had sowed good seeds but that the enemy, Satan, would oversow the field with weeds. So along with the first blades of wheat, the weeds appeared also. Thus, a deviation from pure Christianity was to be expected until the harvest, when Christ would set matters right. (Matthew 13:24-43) The Encyclopedia Americana comments: "Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching." Where, then, did this deviation originate?—1 Timothy 1:6.
THROUGHOUT the ancient world, as far back as Babylonia, the worship of pagan gods grouped in threes, or triads, was common. That influence was also prevalent in Egypt, Greece, and Rome in the centuries before, during, and after Christ. And after the death of the apostles, such pagan beliefs began to invade Christianity.False gods, ranging in one to many, has always existed in various times of pagan nations.
Historian Will Durant observed: "Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity." And in the book Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz notes: "The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians . . . Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology."No source is given for the first quote, and nothing of the second quote is reputable either (no page numbers, not full quotes, is it an anti-Christian source?, etc). Further, if such things were already developed, why did it take so long for Christians to embrace them? Shouldn't the logical conclusion be they quickly accepted the false Trinity doctrine wholesale, rather than wait all those centuries to 'work up to' that point? If not, then there is centuries of a break between the pagan nations proposing the doctrines and the full embrace by "Christians."
Thus, in Alexandria, Egypt, churchmen of the late third and early fourth centuries, such as Athanasius, reflected this influence as they formulated ideas that led to the Trinity. Their own influence spread, so that Morenz considers "Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity."There is no credible evidence Athanasisus or any other major Christian figures worked with or adopted local pagan theology. That's wholly invented.
In the preface to Edward Gibbon's History of Christianity, we read: "If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief."From just what is quoted, this man is clearly anti-Christian and thus has an anti-Christian bias. This quote says the first Christians were Deists, something the JWs strongly deny! Further, this quote states the Church of Rome caused these changes, despite the fact the booklet just got through saying Contantine and the Eastern Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople were the original fundamental corrupters. And last but not least, this quote says the pagan Trinity concepts were invented by the Egyptians at or before the time of Plato, which was centuries before Christianity!
A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge notes that many say that the Trinity "is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith." And The Paganism in Our Christianity declares: "The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan."These bogus examples of proofs are simply unacceptable. Of course a book calling Christianity Pagan is going to say major Christian doctrines are pagan. I wouldn't be surprised if those sources called the God of the Jews a pagan god!
That is why, in the Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings wrote: "In Indian religion, e.g., we meet with the trinitarian group of Brahma, Siva, and Visnu; and in Egyptian religion with the trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus . . . Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality," which is "triadically represented." What does the Greek philosopher Plato have to do with the Trinity?They are merely searching to find anything that can be associated as Trinity - regardless of how far off from mirroring the Trinity they really are. It's as absurd as pointing to a pagan god who created the world and saying the God of the Bible must be pagan because He is said to have created the world.
PLATO, it is thought, lived from 428 to 347 before Christ. While he did not teach the Trinity in its present form, his philosophies paved the way for it. Later, philosophical movements that included triadic beliefs sprang up, and these were influenced by Plato's ideas of God and nature.This is as irrelevant as saying the Greek alphabet and spread of Greek played a critical role in the writing of the Bible (both OT and NT) in Greek. Just because something came from pagans, doesn't mean it's bad (e.g. Greek alphabet is directly applied to Christ as "Alpha and Omega").
The French Nouveau Dictionnaire Universel (New Universal Dictionary) says of Plato's influence: "The Platonic trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave birth to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by the Christian churches. . . . This Greek philosopher's conception of the divine trinity . . . can be found in all the ancient [pagan] religions."This is manifestly absurd, for Christians didn't make up the Three Persons, they are explicitly listed in the Scriptures. To say Plato's ideas "gave birth to the three persons" would mean the author is saying the Bible was corrupted by paganism in texts like Mat 28:19! And with all the spaces between these quotes, who knows what was left out.
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge shows the influence of this Greek philosophy: "The doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who . . . were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy . . . That errors and corruptions crept into the Church from this source can not be denied."This source was found online (here). The correct reading of the quote is that while Platonic ideas influenced Greek Fathers, the context makes it clear this was not always a bad thing, and in fact used to help Christianity explain and defend doctrines. In fact, the source immediately cites Greek Fathers (who above are said to have given shape to the Trinity!) such as Justin Martry, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Clement of Alexandria as Platonic in their thinking - the very fathers the JWs quoted earlier in this booklet as model Christians who denied the Trinity! And, further, being influenced and taking their shape from Platonic framework is very different than saying the Trinity was entirely pagan and derived from pagan gods such as those of India and Egypt - they are two different things!
The Church of the First Three Centuries says: "The doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; . . . it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; . . . it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers."So, which was it? Was it pagan trinity gods that were copied or was it Platonic philosophy that grew gradually into the doctrine and came late? It can't be both! As for the notion that its origin in a source entirely pagan, that's not at all how the "Platonizing Fathers" saw it, for they appealed to Scripture, OT and NT, all the time!
By the end of the third century C.E., "Christianity" and the new Platonic philosophies became inseparably united. As Adolf Harnack states in Outlines of the History of Dogma, church doctrine became "firmly rooted in the soil of Hellenism [pagan Greek thought]. Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians."Using pagan philosophy to explain a truth is not bad in itself, anymore than using Greek alphabet to write the NT or the printing press or invention by a non-Christian to promote Christianity is in itself automatically bad.
The church claimed that its new doctrines were based on the Bible. But Harnack says: "In reality it legitimized in its midst the Hellenic speculation, the superstitious views and customs of pagan mystery-worship."Clearly a biased anti-Christian source, for it won't allow any claims that the early Christians looked to Biblical support for the Trinity, because the fact is, they did. Further, as usual, there is no context or proper citation given, and the way it's worded this author likely thinks more than just the Trinity was superstitious pagan views.
In the book A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton says of the Trinity: "We can trace the history of this doctrine, and discover its source, not in the Christian revelation, but in the Platonic philosophy . . . The Trinity is not a doctrine of Christ and his Apostles, but a fiction of the school of the later Platonists."It's not hard to find people who will publish what you want to hear, so quoting a sympathyzer is hardly fair proof against the doctrine. And, further, anyone who would dare say the Trinity believers didn't look to Scripture is being downright dishonest and loses credibility.
Thus, in the fourth century C.E., the apostasy foretold by Jesus and the apostles came into full bloom. Development of the Trinity was just one evidence of this. The apostate churches also began embracing other pagan ideas, such as hellfire, immortality of the soul, and idolatry. Spiritually speaking, Christendom had entered its foretold dark ages, dominated by a growing "man of lawlessness" clergy class.—2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7.So from 300 onward until 1914, the Church was in utter apostasy? That's not anything close to what the Bible foretells, nor what 2 Thess 2 is saying.
Hindu TrinityThe JWs can't have it both ways, either the Trinity was ripped off from pre-exising pagan so-called trinities, or it grew gradually from philosophical word games via Greek Philosophy. And what's most interesting is that the JWs proceed as if there are no scholars (even secular) out there who believe the Trinity to be Biblical, historical, and not of pagan origin.
The book "The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals" says regarding a Hindu trinity that existed centuries before Christ: "Siva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction. The other two gods are Brahma, the god of creation and Vishnu, the god of maintenance. . . . To indicate that these three processes are one and the same the three gods are combined in one form."—Published by A. Parthasarathy, Bombay.
WHY, for thousands of years, did none of God's prophets teach his people about the Trinity? At the latest, would Jesus not use his ability as the Great Teacher to make the Trinity clear to his followers? Would God inspire hundreds of pages of Scripture and yet not use any of this instruction to teach the Trinity if it were the "central doctrine" of faith?This is all relative, for Christians believe Jesus did teach the core concepts of the Trinity.
Are Christians to believe that centuries after Christ and after having inspired the writing of the Bible, God would back the formulation of a doctrine that was unknown to his servants for thousands of years, one that is an "inscrutable mystery" "beyond the grasp of human reason," one that admittedly had a pagan background and was "largely a matter of church politics"?The idea of something being "unknown to his servants for thousands of years" is misleading, for Christ Himself didn't come until "thousands of years" after many OT figures. What took so long for just that? The answer is: God does things in His time, not ours. As for saying the doctrine is "mystery" and "beyond human reason, " those misrepresentations have already been addressed. And, lastly, the charges of paganism and such is more from anti-Christian biased sources than anything substantial - it's nothing more than the special pleading fallacy.
The testimony of history is clear: The Trinity teaching is a deviation from the truth, an apostatizing from it.An honest look at history would look to respectable sources, properly cited, and in context, given the most charitable (rather than most unfavorable) reading.
Now the booklet takes a turn into looking at what the Bible has to say. Based on the track record so far, one can brace themselves for a wild ride ahead of misquoting, misunderstanding, and misrepresenting.
IF PEOPLE were to read the Bible from cover to cover without any preconceived idea of a Trinity, would they arrive at such a concept on their own? Not at all.
What comes through very clearly to an impartial reader is that God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, separate and distinct from anyone else, and that Jesus, even in his prehuman existence, is also separate and distinct, a created being, subordinate to God.This is an oversimplification. First of all, the Bible doesn't stand alone; it's not a 'one stop shop' for Christian teaching; it's not a textbook. It's a collection of writings, passed on, meant to be read in the context of church gatherings. The NT very often calls Jesus by titles such as "Lord" and ascribes to Him powers that only God has, such as creating everything that exists. This is not insignificant, and it's a far cry from a clear cut contrast between an Almighty God on one hand, with the closest thing is a purely human but sinless man on the other.The notion of Jesus' "prehuman existence" itself is a point of controversy, for the JWs say he 'used to be' Michael the Archangel, when the Bible nowhere teaches this.
THE Bible teaching that God is one is called monotheism. And L. L. Paine, professor of ecclesiastical history, indicates that monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity: "The Old Testament is strictly monotheistic. God is a single personal being. The idea that a trinity is to be found there . . . is utterly without foundation."
Was there any change from monotheism after Jesus came to the earth? Paine answers: "On this point there is no break between the Old Testament and the New. The monotheistic tradition is continued. Jesus was a Jew, trained by Jewish parents in the Old Testament scriptures. His teaching was Jewish to the core; a new gospel indeed, but not a new theology. . . . And he accepted as his own belief the great text of Jewish monotheism: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.'"
Those words are found at Deuteronomy 6:4. The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) here reads: "Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh."* In the grammar of that verse, the word "one" has no plural modifiers to suggest that it means anything but one individual.Where is the source for this? Further, the Trinity is monotheistic, so this charge is nonsense. Even the phrase above "God is a single personal being" can be taken in a Trinitarian sense, that God is a single being, and yet personal, Tri-Personal. If one cannot see this, they they have a false understanding of the Trinity in mind.
The Christian apostle Paul did not indicate any change in the nature of God either, even after Jesus came to the earth. He wrote: "God is only one."—Galatians 3:20; see also 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.Who says there was a change "in the nature of God" - especially after Jesus came down? Such a suggestion implies the JWs don't really get it. If the charge is that the Trinity is not monotheistic in a genuine sense, then that person is not interested in addressing the true doctrine.
Thousands of times throughout the Bible, God is spoken of as one person. When he speaks, it is as one undivided individual. The Bible could not be any clearer on this. As God states: "I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory." (Isaiah 42:8) "I am Yahweh your God . . . You shall have no gods except me." (Italics ours.)—Exodus 20:2, 3, JB.God can be spoken of as one Person, because sometimes only one of the Persons is being addressed, but God is also spoken of as Three Persons as well. Further, the key is to distinguish between Person and Nature, because unity is found in Nature, while distinction is found in Person.
Why would all the God-inspired Bible writers speak of God as one person if he were actually three persons? What purpose would that serve, except to mislead people? Surely, if God were composed of three persons, he would have had his Bible writers make it abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it. At least the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures who had personal contact with God's own Son would have done so. But they did not.The fallacy here is manifold: (1) thinking that God is speaking only as one Person when He speaks; (2) thinking that only one of the Persons speaking denies the others; (3) missing the evidence that mentions explicitly the other Persons; (4) in cases of the OT especially, God had not fully revealed Himself.
Instead, what the Bible writers did make abundantly clear is that God is one Person—a unique, unpartitioned Being who has no equal: "I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God." (Isaiah 45:5) "You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth."—Psalm 83:18.What is abundantly clear is that God is one Being (i.e. Divine Nature); not that God is only one Person. The fact that the JWs describe God as "one Person - a unique, unpartitioned being" is precisely to confuse the distinction between Person and Nature. Further, a Person doesn't "partition" the Nature, so that's likewise a caricature.
JESUS called God "the only true God." (John 17:3) Never did he refer to God as a deity of plural persons. That is why nowhere in the Bible is anyone but Jehovah called Almighty. Otherwise, it voids the meaning of the word "almighty." Neither Jesus nor the holy spirit is ever called that, for Jehovah alone is supreme. At Genesis 17:1 he declares: "I am God Almighty." And Exodus 18:11 says: "Jehovah is greater than all the other gods."This quote is clear evidence of the confusion among the JW authors. For example, in John 17, Jesus is addressing the Father, who is the only true God, which doesn't hurt the Trinity at all. In that context, Jesus is addressing how the Father sent Him on that special mission to earth. As for Jesus referring to God as a plurality of Persons, that actually is done all over the place, most notably in the fact Jesus is called the "Son" and likewise elsewhere makes reference to the Person of the Holy Spirit coming from the Father.
The JWs make a serious slip when they equate this with the term "Almighty," for that is descriptive of Nature, not Person, so it doesn't in itself undermine any of the Persons.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word ´eloh'ah (god) has two plural forms, namely, ´elo·him' (gods) and ´elo·heh' (gods of). These plural forms generally refer to Jehovah, in which case they are translated in the singular as "God." Do these plural forms indicate a Trinity? No, they do not. In A Dictionary of the Bible, William Smith says: "The fanciful idea that [´elo·him'] referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God."
The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures says of ´elo·him': "It is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate, and takes a singular adjectival attribute." To illustrate this, the title ´elo·him' appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation, and every time the verb describing what God said and did is singular. (Genesis 1:1-2:4) Thus, that publication concludes: "[´Elo·him'] must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty."Christians have said the plural form can correspond to plurality of Persons, and the "plural of majesty" doesn't contradict this. But even if it didn't, it would apply to Nature, as the quote says "divine strength" for example, which itself wouldn't negate the possibility or reality of other Persons.
´Elo·him' means, not "persons," but "gods." So those who argue that this word implies a Trinity make themselves polytheists, worshipers of more than one God. Why? Because it would mean that there were three gods in the Trinity. But nearly all Trinity supporters reject the view that the Trinity is made up of three separate gods.
The Bible also uses the words ´elo·him' and ´elo·heh' when referring to a number of false idol gods. (Exodus 12:12; 20:23) But at other times it may refer to just a single false god, as when the Philistines referred to "Dagon their god [´elo·heh']." (Judges 16:23, 24) Baal is called "a god [´elo·him']." (1 Kings 18:27) In addition, the term is used for humans. (Psalm 82:1, 6) Moses was told that he was to serve as "God" [´elo·him'] to Aaron and to Pharaoh.—Exodus 4:16; 7:1.
Obviously, using the titles ´elo·him' and ´elo·heh' for false gods, and even humans, did not imply that each was a plurality of gods; neither does applying ´elo·him' or ´elo·heh' to Jehovah mean that he is more than one person, especially when we consider the testimony of the rest of the Bible on this subject.This is neither here nor there. We're not talking about "false idol gods" nor human servants given high status (e.g. such as the human judges, poetically termed 'gods' in Ps 82). None of this rules out the idea/possibility of multiple Persons.
WHILE on earth, Jesus was a human, although a perfect one because it was God who transferred the life-force of Jesus to the womb of Mary. (Matthew 1:18-25) But that is not how he began. He himself declared that he had "descended from heaven." (John 3:13) So it was only natural that he would later say to his followers: "What if you should see the Son of man [Jesus] ascend to where he was before?"—John 6:62, NJB.
Thus, Jesus had an existence in heaven before coming to the earth. But was it as one of the persons in an almighty, eternal triune Godhead? No, for the Bible plainly states that in his prehuman existence, Jesus was a created spirit being, just as angels were spirit beings created by God. Neither the angels nor Jesus had existed before their creation.
Having been created by God, Jesus is in a secondary position in time, power, and knowledgeYes, Jesus had an existence before coming to earth, and that demands a continuity - the Son never ceased to be who He was, whether in Heaven or on earth. The idea that Jesus went from an angel to a human (and back to an angel) doesn't allow for continuity nor have Scriptural warrant. In that case, Jesus had to cease to exist between transitions - and that's a serious problem (for example Jesus says in John 17:24 "you loved me before the creation of the world," which is impossible for the human man named Jesus didn't exist yet!). Further, nowhere does the Bible say Jesus was created, nor along the lines of an angel.
Jesus, in his prehuman existence, was "the first-born of all creation." (Colossians 1:15, NJB) He was "the beginning of God's creation." (Revelation 3:14, RS, Catholic edition). "Beginning" [Greek, ar·khe'] cannot rightly be interpreted to mean that Jesus was the 'beginner' of God's creation. In his Bible writings, John uses various forms of the Greek word ar·khe' more than 20 times, and these always have the common meaning of "beginning." Yes, Jesus was created by God as the beginning of God's invisible creations.The term "first-born" in Jewish thought was a place of honor or pre-eminence, but did not strictly tie to being born first chronologically (e.g. Israel is called God's "firstborn", though was actually born second, Ex 4:22). Same can be said for the Greek term for "beginning", for it is used throughout Revelation in reference to Jesus being the "beginning and the end" which refers to pre-eminnence, not chronology.
Notice how closely those references to the origin of Jesus correlate with expressions uttered by the figurative "Wisdom" in the Bible book of Proverbs: "Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning, before the oldest of his works. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I came to birth; before he had made the earth, the countryside, and the first elements of the world." (Proverbs 8:12, 22, 25, 26, NJB) While the term "Wisdom" is used to personify the one whom God created, most scholars agree that it is actually a figure of speech for Jesus as a spirit creature prior to his human existence.
As "Wisdom" in his prehuman existence, Jesus goes on to say that he was "by his [God's] side, a master craftsman." (Proverbs 8:30, JB) In harmony with this role as master craftsman, Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus that "through him God created everything in heaven and on earth."—Today's English Version (TEV).The way the verse is quoted here isn't quite how it actually appears. None the less, the passage can be taken in reference to the incarnation, or to Christ's 'eternally begotten' state before creation even existed.
So it was by means of this master worker, his junior partner, as it were, that Almighty God created all other things. The Bible summarizes the matter this way: "For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things." (Italics ours.)—1 Corinthians 8:6, RS, Catholic edition.Jesus being 'co-creator' doesn't say anything about Him existing second.
It no doubt was to this master craftsman that God said: "Let us make man in our image." (Genesis 1:26) Some have claimed that the "us" and "our" in this expression indicate a Trinity. But if you were to say, 'Let us make something for ourselves,' no one would normally understand this to imply that several persons are combined as one inside of you. You simply mean that two or more individuals will work together on something. So, too, when God used "us" and "our," he was simply addressing another individual, his first spirit creation, the master craftsman, the prehuman Jesus.Just because the teaching doesn't correspond to us humans doesn't mean it's not true. More importantly, the notion of someone standing along God's side creating is sheer blasphemy, for that's a unique attribute of God, not something He steps back and lets a worker do.
AT MATTHEW 4:1, Jesus is spoken of as being "tempted by the Devil." After showing Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory," Satan said: "All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me." (Matthew 4:8, 9) Satan was trying to cause Jesus to be disloyal to God.There is some important distinctions to make here. The Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, while possessing the Divine Nature, at His Incarnation took on a human nature. Human nature was capable of suffering temptation, so in that sense Jesus could be God and be tempted. On the other hand, God can also be tempted, as places like Mat 4:7 (the very context) indicate, warning against putting God to the test (same root word as tempt). It's wrong to test/tempt God, not because there is a possibility of Him falling, but because it's disrespect. So, Jesus could be tempted in both senses, and neither of which would undermine His divinity.
But what test of loyalty would that be if Jesus were God? Could God rebel against himself? No, but angels and humans could rebel against God and did. The temptation of Jesus would make sense only if he was, not God, but a separate individual who had his own free will, one who could have been disloyal had he chosen to be, such as an angel or a human.
On the other hand, it is unimaginable that God could sin and be disloyal to himself. "Perfect is his activity . . . A God of faithfulness, . . . righteous and upright is he." (Deuteronomy 32:4) So if Jesus had been God, he could not have been tempted.—James 1:13.
Not being God, Jesus could have been disloyal. But he remained faithful, saying: "Go away, Satan! For it is written, 'It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.'"—Matthew 4:10.
ONE of the main reasons why Jesus came to earth also has a direct bearing on the Trinity. The Bible states: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all."—1 Timothy 2:5, 6.This gets into the problem of how JWs explain the 'transition' from Heaven to earth by Jesus. If Jesus was a mere man, then to speak of him as a pre-existing spirit and creator of all is non-sense. Next, the notion of a one-to-one ransom is off, for Adam's sin was an infinite offense, not something made up for by simply living a perfect life. Further, Jesus merited far more than just earthly life, but Resurrected and Glorified life, not something a mere man can earn. Again, Adam was created in an upright world without pain or suffering, yet Jesus had to endure everything up to death, so again there is no one-to-one merit. Lastly, Jesus himself became exalted to the point that He as a man sat at God's right hand, not something Adam could have earned.
Jesus, no more and no less than a perfect human, became a ransom that compensated exactly for what Adam lost—the right to perfect human life on earth. So Jesus could rightly be called "the last Adam" by the apostle Paul, who said in the same context: "Just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45) The perfect human life of Jesus was the "corresponding ransom" required by divine justice—no more, no less. A basic principle even of human justice is that the price paid should fit the wrong committed.
If Jesus, however, were part of a Godhead, the ransom price would have been infinitely higher than what God's own Law required. (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-21) It was only a perfect human, Adam, who sinned in Eden, not God. So the ransom, to be truly in line with God's justice, had to be strictly an equivalent—a perfect human, "the last Adam." Thus, when God sent Jesus to earth as the ransom, he made Jesus to be what would satisfy justice, not an incarnation, not a god-man, but a perfect man, "lower than angels." (Hebrews 2:9; compare Psalm 8:5, 6.) How could any part of an almighty Godhead—Father, Son, or holy spirit—ever be lower than angels?
THE Bible calls Jesus the "only-begotten Son" of God. (John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) Trinitarians say that since God is eternal, so the Son of God is eternal. But how can a person be a son and at the same time be as old as his father?
Trinitarians claim that in the case of Jesus, "only-begotten" is not the same as the dictionary definition of "begetting," which is "to procreate as the father." (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) They say that in Jesus' case it means "the sense of unoriginated relationship," a sort of only son relationship without the begetting. (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) Does that sound logical to you? Can a man father a son without begetting him?First, the Father couldn't have always been the Father without the Son, thus they must have been co-eternal. As for how a son can be "as old as his father," there's an important qualification here. This is not a literal father-son relationship, the Father didn't have relations with a 'mother', nor was the Son 'born' as a human son is. These terms are used by God to help give us some understanding. Thus, there is no problem of 'time' here, only 'sequence'. Various examples can be given of something 'causing' another thing, though both being roughly simultaneous, for example lighting a candle simultaneously 'begets' light, heat, and smoke. As for looking to the secular dictionary for a theological term, that's fallacious for secular dictionaries don't contain nuanced theological terms.
Furthermore, why does the Bible use the very same Greek word for "only-begotten" (as Vine admits without any explanation) to describe the relationship of Isaac to Abraham? Hebrews 11:17 speaks of Isaac as Abraham's "only-begotten son." There can be no question that in Isaac's case, he was only-begotten in the normal sense, not equal in time or position to his father.
The basic Greek word for "only-begotten" used for Jesus and Isaac is mo·no·ge·nes', from mo'nos, meaning "only," and gi'no·mai, a root word meaning "to generate," "to become (come into being)," states Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Hence, mo·no·ge·nes' is defined as: "Only born, only begotten, i.e. an only child."—A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, by E. Robinson.
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel, says: "[Mo·no·ge·nes'] means 'of sole descent,' i.e., without brothers or sisters." This book also states that at John 1:18; 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:9, "the relation of Jesus is not just compared to that of an only child to its father. It is the relation of the only-begotten to the Father."Are the JWs seriously trying to argue that God the Father had literal relations and the 'mother' became pregnant and after 9 months the Son was 'born'? That's what they're going to have to argue if they say the Father 'begot' Jesus just as Abraham did. This alone should raise a red flag and show that the JWs are operating from a flawed framework here. Worse yet, the JWs shift the argument from "begotten" to "created," when that is not what is being said. What is also interesting about the fact the JWs quote Heb 11:17 is that Isaac was not Abraham's first son, so the point cannot be about first in time, but rather that Isaac was a unique son to Abraham (Gen 21:11-13).
So Jesus, the only-begotten Son, had a beginning to his life. And Almighty God can rightly be called his Begetter, or Father, in the same sense that an earthly father, like Abraham, begets a son. (Hebrews 11:17) Hence, when the Bible speaks of God as the "Father" of Jesus, it means what it says—that they are two separate individuals. God is the senior. Jesus is the junior—in time, position, power, and knowledge.
When one considers that Jesus was not the only spirit son of God created in heaven, it becomes evident why the term "only-begotten Son" was used in his case. Countless other created spirit beings, angels, are also called "sons of God," in the same sense that Adam was, because their life-force originated with Jehovah God, the Fountain, or Source, of life. (Job 38:7; Psalm 36:9; Luke 3:38) But these were all created through the "only-begotten Son," who was the only one directly begotten by God.—Colossians 1:15-17.
WHILE Jesus is often called the Son of God in the Bible, nobody in the first century ever thought of him as being God the Son. Even the demons, who "believe there is one God," knew from their experience in the spirit realm that Jesus was not God. So, correctly, they addressed Jesus as the separate "Son of God." (James 2:19; Matthew 8:29) And when Jesus died, the pagan Roman soldiers standing by knew enough to say that what they had heard from his followers must be right, not that Jesus was God, but that "certainly this was God's Son."—Matthew 27:54.
Hence, the phrase "Son of God" refers to Jesus as a separate created being, not as part of a Trinity. As the Son of God, he could not be God himself, for John 1:18 says: "No one has ever seen God."—RS, Catholic edition.Here we see some confusion of Person and Nature emerging. The term "God" can refer either to "God the Father" or to God's Nature, depending on context - the two cannot be confused. When Jesus is called "Son of God," that means "Son of God the Father," not 'the Son is God the Father'. For the JWs to suggest "he could not be God himself" is a gross misunderstanding of the Trinity, for the JWs are suggesting Trinity means Jesus was God the Father.
The disciples viewed Jesus as the "one mediator between God and men," not as God himself. (1 Timothy 2:5) Since by definition a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation, it would be a contradiction for Jesus to be one entity with either of the parties he is trying to reconcile. That would be a pretending to be something he is not.
The Bible is clear and consistent about the relationship of God to Jesus. Jehovah God alone is Almighty. He created the prehuman Jesus directly. Thus, Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity.The Trinitarian position is that Jesus had a Divine and human nature, thus was both God and Man. What is astonishing about this JW argument is that if Jesus cannot be part of either party, he can be neither God nor man!
JESUS never claimed to be God. Everything he said about himself indicates that he did not consider himself equal to God in any way—not in power, not in knowledge, not in age.Jesus never claimed to be God the Father, but He made numerous references to sharing all that the Father had and such (e.g. Jn 10:36-38). Jesus' "subordination" is in regards to His mission of being sent, but not in regards to Nature. For example, a husband is above his wife in terms of the office of father and office of wife, but the wife by nature is not inferior to her husband, as if to say women were inferior to men, as if they were 'less human' than men.
In every period of his existence, whether in heaven or on earth, his speech and conduct reflect subordination to God. God is always the superior, Jesus the lesser one who was created by God.
TIME and again, Jesus showed that he was a creature separate from God and that he, Jesus, had a God above him, a God whom he worshiped, a God whom he called "Father." In prayer to God, that is, the Father, Jesus said, "You, the only true God." (John 17:3) At John 20:17 he said to Mary Magdalene: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (RS, Catholic edition) At 2 Corinthians 1:3 the apostle Paul confirms this relationship: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Since Jesus had a God, his Father, he could not at the same time be that God.The last line shows clearly the confusion going on. Of course Jesus couldn't have been God the Father, again this is a confusion of Person and Nature. Pointing out Jesus is not the Father, as all those passages do, says nothing against the Trinity, and in fact supports the Trinity.
The apostle Paul had no reservations about speaking of Jesus and God as distinctly separate: "For us there is one God, the Father, . . . and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 8:6, JB) The apostle shows the distinction when he mentions "the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels." (1 Timothy 5:21, RS Common Bible) Just as Paul speaks of Jesus and the angels as being distinct from one another in heaven, so too are Jesus and God.Again, in the Trinity, the Person of the Father is distinct/separate from the Person of the Son, thus there is no true problem here.
Jesus' words at John 8:17, 18 are also significant. He states: "In your own Law it is written, 'The witness of two men is true.' I am one that bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me." Here Jesus shows that he and the Father, that is, Almighty God, must be two distinct entities, for how else could there truly be two witnesses?The witness of two persons is the point here, not two different 'things'. And just as the two human persons here have credibility (i.e. not a human and a non-human), so in this case the Father and the Son, being equal according to Nature, have credibility.
Jesus further showed that he was a separate being from God by saying: "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Mark 10:18, JB) So Jesus was saying that no one is as good as God is, not even Jesus himself. God is good in a way that separates him from Jesus.The point of the passage is that the man was not recognizing Christ's dignity, not that Jesus wasn't actually good.
TIME and again, Jesus made statements such as: "The Son cannot do anything at his own pleasure, he can only do what he sees his Father doing." (John 5:19, The Holy Bible, by Monsignor R. A. Knox) "I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38) "What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me." (John 7:16) Is not the sender superior to the one sent?
This relationship is evident in Jesus' illustration of the vineyard. He likened God, his Father, to the owner of the vineyard, who traveled abroad and left it in the charge of cultivators, who represented the Jewish clergy. When the owner later sent a slave to get some of the fruit of the vineyard, the cultivators beat the slave and sent him away empty-handed. Then the owner sent a second slave, and later a third, both of whom got the same treatment. Finally, the owner said: "I will send my son [Jesus] the beloved. Likely they will respect this one." But the corrupt cultivators said: "'This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may become ours.' With that they threw him outside the vineyard and killed him." (Luke 20:9-16) Thus Jesus illustrated his own position as one being sent by God to do God's will, just as a father sends a submissive son.
The followers of Jesus always viewed him as a submissive servant of God, not as God's equal. They prayed to God about "thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, . . . and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus."—Acts 4:23, 27, 30, RS, Catholic edition.Superior only in one sense, not another. Superior in office, but not in dignity. A husband can command his wife to do something, by virtue of the office of husband, but both are still human, not one less than human. As for the vineyard parable, the son in this situation is very significant, for He speaks for the owner and is heir to all the owner has.
AT THE very outset of Jesus' ministry, when he came up out of the baptismal water, God's voice from heaven said: "This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved." (Matthew 3:16, 17) Was God saying that he was his own son, that he approved himself, that he sent himself? No, God the Creator was saying that he, as the superior, was approving a lesser one, his Son Jesus, for the work ahead.Here we have one of the most explicit proofs that the JWs are utterly confused about the very doctrine they are attacking. The Father was not saying he was the Son, and the fact the JWs speak like this show they don't know what they're attacking, they're confusing Person and Nature!
Jesus indicated his Father's superiority when he said: "Jehovah's spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor." (Luke 4:18) Anointing is the giving of authority or a commission by a superior to someone who does not already have authority. Here God is plainly the superior, for he anointed Jesus, giving him authority that he did not previously have.
Jesus made his Father's superiority clear when the mother of two disciples asked that her sons sit one at the right and one at the left of Jesus when he came into his Kingdom. Jesus answered: "As for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father," that is, God. (Matthew 20:23, JB) Had Jesus been Almighty God, those positions would have been his to give. But Jesus could not give them, for they were God's to give, and Jesus was not God.Again, the distinction in office must be made (e.g. the husband and wife example). In taking on human nature, Jesus took on a servant role, without abandoning His pre-human Personhood and Nature.
Jesus' own prayers are a powerful example of his inferior position. When Jesus was about to die, he showed who his superior was by praying: "Father, if you wish, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place." (Luke 22:42) To whom was he praying? To a part of himself? No, he was praying to someone entirely separate, his Father, God, whose will was superior and could be different from his own, the only One able to "remove this cup."Note the clear Person-Nature confusion: "To whom was he praying? To a part of himself?" and again "To whom was Jesus crying out? To himself or to part of himself?"
Then, as he neared death, Jesus cried out: "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?" (Mark 15:34, JB) To whom was Jesus crying out? To himself or to part of himself? Surely, that cry, "My God," was not from someone who considered himself to be God. And if Jesus were God, then by whom was he deserted? Himself? That would not make sense. Jesus also said: "Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit." (Luke 23:46) If Jesus were God, for what reason should he entrust his spirit to the Father?
The term "whom" applies to Person, you pray to Persons, not things. And "a part of himself" applies to Nature, for that is "what" a thing is. The JWs are asking if Jesus prayed to His Nature, which is absurd. Also: "And if Jesus were God, then by whom was he deserted? Himself?" Confusion of Person and Nature, for the Person of the Son didn't abandon the Person of the Son, but rather the Person of the Father did.
After Jesus died, he was in the tomb for parts of three days. If he were God, then Habakkuk 1:12 is wrong when it says: "O my God, my Holy One, you do not die." But the Bible says that Jesus did die and was unconscious in the tomb. And who resurrected Jesus from the dead? If he was truly dead, he could not have resurrected himself. On the other hand, if he was not really dead, his pretended death would not have paid the ransom price for Adam's sin. But he did pay that price in full by his genuine death. So it was "God [who] resurrected [Jesus] by loosing the pangs of death." (Acts 2:24) The superior, God Almighty, raised the lesser, his servant Jesus, from the dead.Death is a function of nature, when the soul separates from the body. But things without this nature, like angels, cannot die, for they have no body from which to separate from. By the same token, this is also what God by Nature cannot die, because it is not a body-soul composition that can separate. But Jesus having both human and Divine nature could in one sense die (as a human), but in another sense could not. As for who resurrected Jesus from the dead, it turns out all Three Persons are said to have played a part (e.g. Jn 2:19-21; Jn 10:18)
Does Jesus' ability to perform miracles, such as resurrecting people, indicate that he was God? Well, the apostles and the prophets Elijah and Elisha had that power too, but that did not make them more than men. God gave the power to perform miracles to the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles to show that He was backing them. But it did not make any of them part of a plural Godhead.The OT prophets were not acting with their own power, but Jesus was acting with his own power (e.g. John 8:46).
WHEN Jesus gave his prophecy about the end of this system of things, he stated: "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32, RS, Catholic edition) Had Jesus been the equal Son part of a Godhead, he would have known what the Father knows. But Jesus did not know, for he was not equal to God.
Similarly, we read at Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus "learned obedience from the things he suffered." Can we imagine that God had to learn anything? No, but Jesus did, for he did not know everything that God knew. And he had to learn something that God never needs to learn—obedience. God never has to obey anyone.This is speaking of the extent of revealed knowledge to creation, and which Jesus by his human nature was subjected to. As a human, Jesus was subject to learning, growing, eating to survive, etc. Angels, by their nature, cannot and do not need to do things like eating and growing. Thus, to not properly recognize the role of nature in the person-nature distinction will lead to serious problems.
'New Testament research has been leading an increasing number of scholars to the conclusion that Jesus certainly never believed himself to be God.' —Bulletin of the John Rylands LibraryThe main problem with this is that most scholars today are more or less atheistic and or modernists. For example, there is an increasing number of scholars who don't believe the Bible is inspired and free from error. Certainly these are not the people we should be looking to.
The difference between what God knows and what Christ knows also existed when Jesus was resurrected to heaven to be with God. Note the first words of the last book of the Bible: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him." (Revelation 1:1, RS, Catholic edition) If Jesus himself were part of a Godhead, would he have to be given a revelation by another part of the Godhead—God? Surely he would have known all about it, for God knew. But Jesus did not know, for he was not God.The verse is cut off mid thought, the point is the Father appointed Jesus to deliver this message, just as the Father appointed Jesus to do various things. The point is not that Jesus didn't know, and then He learned, and then passed it on, for that's ripping the verse out of context. It would be similar to man asking God to do something and God fulfilling the request, which is nothing to do with God not knowing or needing to know the request.
IN HIS prehuman existence, and also when he was on earth, Jesus was subordinate to God. After his resurrection, he continues to be in a subordinate, secondary position.This doesn't go against the proper understanding of the Trinity at all. One can be subordinate without implying inferiority, else when Jesus stooped down to wash his disciples' feet he would have been of less dignity than men.
Speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, Peter and those with him told the Jewish Sanhedrin: "God exalted this one [Jesus] . . . to his right hand." (Acts 5:31) Paul said: "God exalted him to a superior position." (Philippians 2:9) If Jesus had been God, how could Jesus have been exalted, that is, raised to a higher position than he had previously enjoyed? He would already have been an exalted part of the Trinity. If, before his exaltation, Jesus had been equal to God, exalting him any further would have made him superior to God.It was Jesus as a human that was exalted.
Paul also said that Christ entered "heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf." (Hebrews 9:24, JB) If you appear in someone else's presence, how can you be that person? You cannot. You must be different and separate.More explicit confusion on the part of the Witnesses. To ask, "how can you be that person?" shows the JWs are clearly confusing Person and Nature, for Christians never said the Father and Son were the same Person! Also, this is speaking of Christ's human nature, His Resurrected and Glorified Body.
Similarly, just before being stoned to death, the martyr Stephen "gazed into heaven and caught sight of God's glory and of Jesus standing at God's right hand." (Acts 7:55) Clearly, he saw two separate individuals—but no holy spirit, no Trinity Godhead.Again, we would expect to see separate Persons. Also, all Three Persons need not always be mentioned or appear in a given text, and in this case the Holy Spirit is mentioned but is revealing this image to St Stephen.
In the account at Revelation 4:8 to 5:7, God is shown seated on his heavenly throne, but Jesus is not. He has to approach God to take a scroll from God's right hand. This shows that in heaven Jesus is not God but is separate from him.Confusion of the Trinity doctrine, no need to say more on that. What was left out here was that the Father and Son are both receiving the praise and worship by the angels and saints (Rev 5:13-14).
In agreement with the foregoing, the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, states: "In his post-resurrection heavenly life, Jesus is portrayed as retaining a personal individuality every bit as distinct and separate from the person of God as was his in his life on earth as the terrestrial Jesus. Alongside God and compared with God, he appears, indeed, as yet another heavenly being in God's heavenly court, just as the angels were—though as God's Son, he stands in a different category, and ranks far above them."—Compare Philippians 2:11.
The Bulletin also says: "What, however, is said of his life and functions as the celestial Christ neither means nor implies that in divine status he stands on a par with God himself and is fully God. On the contrary, in the New Testament picture of his heavenly person and ministry we behold a figure both separate from and subordinate to God."All irrelevant, unless they are insinuating a false caricature of the doctrine of the Trinity.
In the everlasting future in heaven, Jesus will continue to be a separate, subordinate servant of God. The Bible expresses it this way: "After that will come the end, when he [Jesus in heaven] will hand over the kingdom to God the Father . . . Then the Son himself will be subjected to the One who has subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all."—1 Corinthians 15:24, 28, NJB.But read carefully, this text is saying the kingdom is not yet the Father's and that Jesus is not currently subjected to the Father, and wont be till the End of time! How can he "continue to be" something that doesn't happen till the End? And how can the Father not have His kingdom nor have everything subject to Him yet? Properly understood, 1 Cor 15:24-28 is speaking of God the Father rooting out all evil through His Son's Incarnation and Resurrection, especially that of death itself.
THE Bible's position is clear. Not only is Almighty God, Jehovah, a personality separate from Jesus but He is at all times his superior. Jesus is always presented as separate and lesser, a humble servant of God. That is why the Bible plainly says that "the head of the Christ is God" in the same way that "the head of every man is the Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:3) And this is why Jesus himself said: "The Father is greater than I."—John 14:28, RS, Catholic edition.Again, note the confusion of Person and Nature, both in pointing out they cannot be the same because they are separate persons and that 'greater' must entail greater Nature rather than office. If one reads the very verse quoted, 1 Cor 11:3, it says the 'head of woman is man,' which the JWs would be forced to say woman is less human than man! However, properly taken, it is speaking of 'office' and not nature (just as a president and vice-president are both humans but have a different office).
The fact is that Jesus is not God and never claimed to be. This is being recognized by an increasing number of scholars. As the Rylands Bulletin states: "The fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say, the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of reputable New Testament scholars to the conclusion that Jesus . . . certainly never believed himself to be God."What the JWs wont say is that over the last few decades scholarship has become increasingly more liberal, with a 'standard' set of denying the inspiration of Scripture, denying the historicity of Jesus, etc, etc, so of course they wont say Jesus is God. Further, why are there no page numbers and context for this quote? Such methodology is both irresponsible and deceptive, especially when putting "..." in key parts of the quote.
The Bulletin also says of first-century Christians: "When, therefore, they assigned [Jesus] such honorific titles as Christ, Son of man, Son of God and Lord, these were ways of saying not that he was God, but that he did God's work."
Thus, even some religious scholars admit that the idea of Jesus' being God opposes the entire testimony of the Bible. There, God is always the superior, and Jesus is the subordinate servant.That's merely special pleading. One can scrounge up "some religious scholars" who will say just about anything, even things the JWs wont agree with.
ACCORDING to the Trinity doctrine, the holy spirit is the third person of a Godhead, equal to the Father and to the Son. As the book Our Orthodox Christian Faith says: "The Holy Spirit is totally God."Now the booklet shifts to the topic of the Holy Spirit. Much of what is said for the intro isn't much to dispute, for what is said can sometimes be true, and not necessarily be anti-Trinity.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word most frequently used for "spirit" is ru'ach, meaning "breath; wind; spirit." In the Greek Scriptures, the word is pneu'ma, having a similar meaning. Do these words indicate that the holy spirit is part of a Trinity?
THE Bible's use of "holy spirit" indicates that it is a controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of his purposes. To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.
At Genesis 1:2 the Bible states that "God's active force ["spirit" (Hebrew, ru'ach)] was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters." Here, God's spirit was his active force working to shape the earth.
God uses his spirit to enlighten those who serve him. David prayed: "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your spirit [ru'ach] is good; may it lead me in the land of uprightness." (Psalm 143:10) When 70 capable men were appointed to help Moses, God said to him: "I shall have to take away some of the spirit [ru'ach] that is upon you and place it upon them."—Numbers 11:17.
Bible prophecy was recorded when men of God were "borne along by holy spirit [Greek, from pneu'ma]." (2 Peter 1:20, 21) In this way the Bible was "inspired of God," the Greek word for which is The·o'pneu·stos, meaning "God-breathed." (2 Timothy 3:16) And holy spirit guided certain people to see visions or to have prophetic dreams.—2 Samuel 23:2; Joel 2:28, 29; Luke 1:67; Acts 1:16; 2:32, 33.
The holy spirit impelled Jesus to go into the wilderness after his baptism. (Mark 1:12) The spirit was like a fire within God's servants, causing them to be energized by that force. And it enabled them to speak out boldly and courageously.—Micah 3:8; Acts 7:55-60; 18:25; Romans 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
By his spirit, God carries out his judgments on men and nations. (Isaiah 30:27, 28; 59:18, 19) And God's spirit can reach everywhere, acting for people or against them.—Psalm 139:7-12.
GOD'S spirit can also supply "power beyond what is normal" to those who serve him. (2 Corinthians 4:7) This enables them to endure trials of faith or to do things they could not otherwise do.
For example, regarding Samson, Judges 14:6 relates: "The spirit of Yahweh seized on him, and though he had no weapon in his hand he tore the lion in pieces." (JB) Did a divine person actually enter or seize Samson, manipulating his body to do what he did? No, it was really "the power of the LORD [that] made Samson strong."—TEV.The hard part commenting upon this is that the Holy Spirit does 'energize' men, so there is some truth to these claims. But it is at most only a half truth, which is the dangerous part, because it leads the JWs to jump to conclusions and thus deny the other half of the teaching. Many texts in the NT use personal pronouns (e.g. "he") in reference to the Holy Spirit, indicating person-hood. along with naming the Holy Spirit right along side the other Two Persons (implying personality as well).
The Bible says that when Jesus was baptized, holy spirit came down upon him appearing like a dove, not like a human form. (Mark 1:10) This active force of God enabled Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead. As Luke 5:17 says: "The Power of the Lord [God] was behind his [Jesus'] works of healing."—JB.Who said the Holy Spirit needed to be in human form? Neither the Father nor pre-Incarnate Son were of human form.
God's spirit also empowered the disciples of Jesus to do miraculous things. Acts 2:1-4 relates that the disciples were assembled together at Pentecost when "suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze,
. . . andthey all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance."
So the holy spirit gave Jesus and other servants of God the power to do what humans ordinarily could not do.Yes, but this is only half the story: what is clearly admitted is that the Holy Spirit is Divine. The second half is to show the Holy Spirit is separate from the Father and Son, and is a person.
ARE there not, however, Bible verses that speak of the holy spirit in personal terms? Yes, but note what Catholic theologian Edmund Fortman says about this in The Triune God: "Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers [of the Hebrew Scriptures] never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person."First it should be noted that the square brackets are part of the JW booklet. This is significant because it is referring to the OT, where we wouldn't expect the Jews to know of the Trinity yet. Further, a Catholic theologian, if he is orthodox, would not deny the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Trinity, thus we should expect foul play from the JWs quoting him as if he didn't believe it.
In the Scriptures it is not unusual for something to be personified. Wisdom is said to have children. (Luke 7:35) Sin and death are called kings. (Romans 5:14, 21) At Genesis 4:7 The New English Bible (NE) says: "Sin is a demon crouching at the door," personifying sin as a wicked spirit crouching at Cain's door. But, of course, sin is not a spirit person; nor does personifying the holy spirit make it a spirit person.The most important thing to do here is distinguish when the Bible is speaking metaphorically and when it is not. In those examples, the Bible is speaking metaphorically. However, when the Holy Spirit is repeatedly given the personal pronoun "he" and listed alongside the Father and Son, one will see they are not metaphorical contexts.
Similarly, at 1 John 5:6-8 (NE) not only the spirit but also "the water, and the blood" are said to be "witnesses." But water and blood are obviously not persons, and neither is the holy spirit a person.This comes from a text that has been disputed, because some manuscripts don't have a Trinitarian verse in here. The mention of spirit here doesn't necessarily mean the Holy Spirit is what is being referenced. The water and blood are said to refer to Christ in some sense, but how is not exactly clear.
In harmony with this is the Bible's general usage of "holy spirit" in an impersonal way, such as paralleling it with water and fire. (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8) People are urged to become filled with holy spirit instead of with wine. (Ephesians 5:18) They are spoken of as being filled with holy spirit in the same way they are filled with such qualities as wisdom, faith, and joy. (Acts 6:3; 11:24; 13:52) And at 2 Corinthians 6:6 holy spirit is included among a number of qualities. Such expressions would not be so common if the holy spirit were actually a person.There is a lot crammed in here. First, the Holy Spirit is not "paralleled" with water and fire, it describes the Holy Spirit as a divine baptism compared to mere water, and appeared as tongues of fire at Pentecost. People being filled with the Holy Spirit instead of wine again likens to the water, where the Holy Spirit is Divine and does what created things cannot do. When texts speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit it either signifies a manifestation of the Spirit's power or that the individual is Christian (e.g. Rom 8:5-11). Rather than putting the Holy Spirit on par with things such as joy and such, the JWs should note the Holy Spirit produces those things in men (e.g. Gal 5:22, 1 Cor 12:4ff).
Then, too, while some Bible texts say that the spirit speaks, other texts show that this was actually done through humans or angels. (Matthew 10:19, 20; Acts 4:24, 25; 28:25; Hebrews 2:2) The action of the spirit in such instances is like that of radio waves transmitting messages from one person to another far away.This is because the Holy Spirit is 'best known' for the action of inspiring men to say and do things.
At Matthew 28:19 reference is made to "theThis is fine, and actually supports the Trinity doctrine, for it says this is done in one name-authority, and proceeds to list the Three Persons. The use of "name" here refers not to names of persons.
name . . .of the holy spirit." But the word "name" does not always mean a personal name, either in Greek or in English. When we say "in the name of the law," we are not referring to a person. We mean that which the law stands for, its authority. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament says: "The use of name (onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority." So baptism 'in the name of the holy spirit' recognizes the authority of the spirit, that it is from God and functions by divine will.
JESUS spoke of the holy spirit as a "helper," and he said it would teach, guide, and speak. (John 14:16, 26; 16:13) The Greek word he used for helper (pa·ra'kle·tos) is in the masculine gender. So when Jesus referred to what the helper would do, he used masculine personal pronouns. (John 16:7, 8) On the other hand, when the neuter Greek word for spirit (pneu'ma) is used, the neuter pronoun "it" is properly employed.
Most Trinitarian translators hide this fact, as the Catholic New American Bible admits regarding John 14:17: "The Greek word for 'Spirit' is neuter, and while we use personal pronouns in English ('he,' 'his,' 'him'), most Greek MSS [manuscripts] employ 'it.'"
The Holy Spirit can be called "it" in so far as the Holy Spirit is not male, even in title. But the fact the Holy Spirit is called "he" in the first place and with such frequency is not something to be downplayed. On top of that, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "another helper," which means a "helper" just like Jesus, which is not just grammar! The JWs are approaching this as if to rule out the very possibility, but that's a wrong approach to the Bible.
So when the Bible uses masculine personal pronouns in connection with pa·ra'kle·tos at John 16:7, 8, it is conforming to rules of grammar, not expressing a doctrine.
VARIOUS sources acknowledge that the Bible does not support the idea that the holy spirit is the third person of a Trinity. For example:
The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person."
Catholic theologian Fortman: "The Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this
view. . . .The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics [Gospels] and in Acts as a divine force or power."
The New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The O[ld] T[estament] clearly does not envisage God's spirit as a
person . . .God's spirit is simply God's power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly." It also says: "The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God."—Italics ours.
A Catholic Dictionary: "On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power."
Hence, neither the Jews nor the early Christians viewed the holy spirit as part of a Trinity. That teaching came centuries later. As A Catholic Dictionary notes: "The third Person was asserted at a Council of Alexandria in
362 . . .and finally by the Council of Constantinople of 381"—some three and a half centuries after holy spirit filled the disciples at Pentecost!
No, the holy spirit is not a person and it is not part of a Trinity. The holy spirit is God's active force that he uses to accomplish his will. It is not equal to God but is always at his disposition and subordinate to him.What would a JW assume if a non-JW quoted JW sources that appeared to flatly deny JW dogma? He would recognize the strangeness and absurdity of the JW source supposedly "refuting" it's own doctrines and rightly question the non-JW's motives for accurate quoting. So should we do here, when we see Trinitarian sources apparently cutting the very branch that supports their doctrines and apparently undermining their own position. We should read these texts assuming they are misquotes, rather than the absurd picture the JWs are painting of Catholic scholars accepting things while admitting there is no good proof for them! Look at the absurdity of a Catholic source apparently saying nobody believed in the Holy Spirit until 362 but that Catholics are fine with believing it anyway. One will see problems with the majority of those quotes for two main reasons: (1) no context or page numbers are given, and the single sentences strongly imply ripping out of context; (2) many of those quotes are referring to the OT, where of course we wouldn't expect such revelation to be made clear yet.
IT IS said that some Bible texts offer proof in support of the Trinity. However, when reading such texts, we should keep in mind that the Biblical and historical evidence does not support the Trinity.
Any Bible reference offered as proof must be understood in the context of the consistent teaching of the entire Bible. Very often the true meaning of such a text is clarified by the context of surrounding verses.Thus far, we wouldn't expect the JWs to see Biblical proof for the Trinity for the JWs never properly define or understand the doctrine. In fact, one will see that when the JWs look at Christian proof texts, they often misunderstand what the Christian is saying, and sometimes unwittingly agree with the Christian argument! Further, many of the sources the JWs look to are of dubious nature and intent.
THE New Catholic Encyclopedia offers three such "proof texts" but also admits: "The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament]. In the N[ew] T[estament] the oldest evidence is in the Pauline epistles, especially 2 Cor 13.13 [verse 14 in some Bibles], and 1 Cor 12.4-6. In the Gospels evidence of the Trinity is found explicitly only in the baptismal formula of Mt 28.19."What is astonishing here is that the JWs had been quoting the New Catholic Encyclopedia throughout this booklet, painting it as teaching the Trinity has no basis in Scripture or history, and yet this very quote shows the NCE producing Bible verses for the doctrine! The conclusion is obvious, the JWs want to selectively cite and paint the doctrine in the most negative light. Hardly the honest, Christian approach to the Truth!
In those verses the three "persons" are listed as follows in The New Jerusalem Bible. Second Corinthians 13:13 (14) puts the three together in this way: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." First Corinthians 12:4-6 says: "There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all." And Matthew 28:19 reads: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Do those verses say that God, Christ, and the holy spirit constitute a Trinitarian Godhead, that the three are equal in substance, power, and eternity? No, they do not, no more than listing three people, such as Tom, Dick, and Harry, means that they are three in one.This is hardly a valid analysis of the texts. The texts do indicate Three Persons, acting in unity of power, the JWs just don't want to accept it. As for their "Tom, Dick, and Harry" example, that example is of three persons who all have the same nature, so it's odd they say that. The difference with God however is that there is only one indivisible Divine Nature, and thus does not appear 'individually' as with human natures.
This type of reference, admits McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, "proves only that there are the three subjects named,The texts do indicate a unity of power, so in that sense do indicate equality of nature. While it doesn't absolutely indicate this, that is true, but that is how it's read and corresponds to how the Persons operate (i.e. each performs divine acts, such as the Son being said to create).
. . .but it does not prove, by itself, that all the three belong necessarily to the divine nature, and possess equal divine honor."
Although a supporter of the Trinity, that source says of 2 Corinthians 13:13 (14): "We could not justly infer that they possessed equal authority, or the same nature." And of Matthew 28:18-20 it says: "This text, however, taken by itself, would not prove decisively either the personality of the three subjects mentioned, or their equality or divinity."The Bible is not about proving 'decisively' as if it were written to respond to objectors critical of Christian teaching. Also, given the deceptive quoting track record, it should be assumed the source is being misquoted (for why would a source affirm the Trinity and yet deny it's proof-texts teach it?).
When Jesus was baptized, God, Jesus, and the holy spirit were also mentioned in the same context. Jesus "saw descending like a dove God's spirit coming upon him." (Matthew 3:16) This, however, does not say that the three are one. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are mentioned together numerous times, but that does not make them one. Peter, James, and John are named together, but that does not make them one either. Furthermore, God's spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism, showing that Jesus was not anointed by spirit until that time. This being so, how could he be part of a Trinity where he had always been one with the holy spirit?It doesn't need to say they are three in one, for that was not the focus of the passage. The mention of "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" is irrelevant here, they were all humans and biological descendants without any divine qualities noted of them. The Anointing by the Spirit was for the purpose of revealing to men that Jesus was from God, this has nothing to do with "always being one" with the Holy Spirit, for that is only in regards to Divine Nature and not how the Persons are manifest: for example, Jesus could both say "I and the Father are one" (speaking of Nature) while saying "the Father sent me" (speaking of manifestation).
Another reference that speaks of the three together is found in some older Bible translations at 1 John 5:7. Scholars acknowledge, however, that these words were not originally in the Bible but were added much later. Most modern translations rightly omit this spurious verse.This verse has been disputed by some, but whether it is genuine is not the job of "scholars" to decide, but the Church. Since it is disputed, it shouldn't be the primary focus for Christians.
Other "proof texts" deal only with the relationship between two—the Father and Jesus. Let us consider some of them.
THAT text, at John 10:30, is often cited to support the Trinity, even though no third person is mentioned there. But Jesus himself showed what he meant by his being "one" with the Father. At John 17:21, 22, he prayed to God that his disciples "may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us,There is an unwarranted switching of contexts here by the JWs. John 10 is Jesus speaking to the Jews about divine protection, while John 17 is Jesus speaking to the Apostles at the Last Supper about Christian unity; two different contexts. The phrase "I and the Father are one" in John 10:30 needs to be read in context: from the previous verses it speaks of Jesus preserving His sheep by his power, "no one will snatch them out of my hand" (v28), and immediately Jesus says the same thing about the Father, "no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father" (v29), thus they are operating with the same Power, which is saying they have the same Nature. But that's not all, the next few verses show the Jews immediately attempt to stone him on the grounds of blasphemy - saying that he is a mere human making himself out to be God! So even in their ears Jesus wasn't claiming to be a mere human.
. . . thatthey may be one just as we are one." Was Jesus praying that all his disciples would become a single entity? No, obviously Jesus was praying that they would be united in thought and purpose, as he and God were.—See also 1 Corinthians 1:10.
At 1 Corinthians 3:6, 8, Paul says: "I planted, ApollosDifferent context! But that's not the worst of it: The JWs grossly misunderstand and misrepresent the Trinity, for look how they make the comparison of Paul and Apollos (not) being one person! Of course they are not, for that would be error, as the Trinity never teaches one of the Persons is another Person.
watered . . .He that plants and he that waters are one." Paul did not mean that he and Apollos were two persons in one; he meant that they were unified in purpose. The Greek word that Paul used here for "one" (hen) is neuter, literally "one (thing)," indicating oneness in cooperation. It is the same word that Jesus used at John 10:30 to describe his relationship with his Father. It is also the same word that Jesus used at John 17:21, 22. So when he used the word "one" (hen) in these cases, he was talking about unity of thought and purpose.
Regarding John 10:30, John Calvin (who was a Trinitarian) said in the book Commentary on the Gospel According to John: "The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that ChristJohn Calvin doesn't speak for Catholics and is in error here, as he clearly affirms the Church Fathers did understand the passage in the way that supports the Trinity.
is . . .of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father."
Right in the context of the verses after John 10:30, Jesus forcefully argued that his words were not a claim to be God. He asked the Jews who wrongly drew that conclusion and wanted to stone him: "Why do you charge me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent into the world by the Father, said, 'I am God's son'?" (John 10:31-36, NE) No, Jesus claimed that he was, not God the Son, but the Son of God.The terms mean the same thing; God the Son and Son of God are equivalent in concept. The text expressly states they wanted to stone him for blasphemy because he made himself out to be God - which would be blasphemy if not true.
ANOTHER scripture offered as support for the Trinity is John 5:18. It says that the Jews (as at John 10:31-36) wanted to kill Jesus because "he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God."
But who said that Jesus was making himself equal to God? Not Jesus. He defended himself against this false charge in the very next verse (19): "To this accusation JesusThe charge of "calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God" is not something to take lightly, for it affirms the Jews clearly saw the affirmation and implication: Jesus was the Father's Son in a truly unique sense, one in which he was equal in sense of Nature. Notice the connection, which is no accident, the Jewish mind saw calling oneself a son of someone also includes equality with that person. A good example is that of a king's son, by a boy calling himself the king's son, though he not be the king himself, is none the less entitled all the honor and inheritance of the king himself. The next verse is not speaking of Jesus denying their accusation, for that would have been grounds for them to stop the persecution, which did not happen. The next verse is not saying Jesus is incapable of acting as if paralyzed or need to be programmed, but rather He operates with the one power of the Father, for Jesus says He "does what he sees the Father doing" and "For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner." Jesus can do what the Father does, which is perform divine actions ("in like manner")! The next verses make this clear, just as the Father can give life to people, so in the same manner can Jesus! In short, Jesus was not correcting the Jews, but rather making the 'problem' worse, making them more angry!
replied: . . .'the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing.'"—JB.
By this, Jesus showed the Jews that he was not equal to God and therefore could not act on his own initiative. Can we imagine someone equal to Almighty God saying that he could "do nothing by himself"? (Compare Daniel 4:34, 35.) Interestingly, the context of both John 5:18 and 10:30 shows that Jesus defended himself against false charges from Jews who, like the Trinitarians, were drawing wrong conclusions!
AT PHILIPPIANS 2:6 the Catholic Douay Version (Dy) of 1609 says of Jesus: "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." The King James Version (KJ) of 1611 reads much the same. A number of such versions are still used by some to support the idea that Jesus was equal to God. But note how other translations render this verse:
That is a correct analysis of the implications of this passage. The JWs will now explain why they deny this analysis:
Some claim, however, that even these more accurate renderings imply that (1) Jesus already had equality but did not want to hold on to it or that (2) he did not need to grasp at equality because he already had it.
1869: "who, being in the form of God, did not regard it as a thing to be grasped at to be on an equality with God." The New Testament, by G. R. Noyes. 1965: "He—truly of divine nature!—never self-confidently made himself equal to God." Das Neue Testament, revised edition, by Friedrich Pfäfflin. 1968: "who, although being in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to greedily make his own." La Bibbia Concordata. 1976: "He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God." Today's English Version. 1984: "who, although he was existing in God's form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God." New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. 1985: "Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped." The New Jerusalem Bible.
In this regard, Ralph Martin, in The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, says of the original Greek: "It is questionable, however, whether the sense of the verb can glide from its real meaning of 'to seize', 'to snatch violently' to that of 'to hold fast.'" The Expositor's Greek Testament also says: "We cannot find any passage where [har·pa'zo] or any of its derivatives has the sense of 'holding in possession,' 'retaining'. It seems invariably to mean 'seize,' 'snatch violently'. Thus it is not permissible to glide from the true sense 'grasp at' into one which is totally different, 'hold fast.'"This is making a mountain out of a molehill, for the issue isn't whether "seize" is correct, but what concept is being conveyed.
From the foregoing it is apparent that the translators of versions such as the Douay and the King James are bending the rules to support Trinitarian ends. Far from saying that Jesus thought it was appropriate to be equal to God, the Greek of Philippians 2:6, when read objectively, shows just the opposite, that Jesus did not think it was appropriate.The astonishing thing here is that this charge is not (and in someways opposite) of what Christians argue: the point isn't whether Jesus thought it was 'appropriate', but rather whether the status was something to be 'taken away' and applied to solely to Himself, which is what the Devil wanted and Adam wanted (to proudly have divinity applied to themself to 'take away' from God's honor).
The context of the surrounding verses (3-5, 7, 8, Dy) makes it clear how verse 6 is to be understood. The Philippians were urged: "In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves." Then Paul uses Christ as the outstanding example of this attitude: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." What "mind"? To 'think it not robbery to be equal with God'? No, that would be just the opposite of the point being made! Rather, Jesus, who 'esteemed God as better than himself,' would never 'grasp for equality with God,' but instead he "humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death."The context is precisely the key to proving the Christian argument: "In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves." Does this mean one man is inferior to another man? No, it means that despite the inherent equality by nature, we are to not let our egos get in the way of humbling our self and thus miss the point of being a servant. Same thing with a king, a king can have sovereign power over all his subject, but a humble king will not let this power go to his head as a dictator would. The JW 'interpretation' totally misses the point, and fails to even recognize the phrase "though being in the form of God" and 'took on the form of a servant in the likeness of men'. Just as we are in the form of men should esteem others as superior to us, so Jesus being in the form (nature) of God took on a servant's role and esteemed Divinity as something to show off with, defeating the purpose of Christ's 'servant role'.
Surely, that cannot be talking about any part of Almighty God. It was talking about Jesus Christ, who perfectly illustrated Paul's point here—namely the importance of humility and obedience to one's Superior and Creator, Jehovah God.
AT JOHN 8:58 a number of translations, for instance The Jerusalem Bible, have Jesus saying: "Before Abraham ever was, I Am." Was Jesus there teaching, as Trinitarians assert, that he was known by the title "I Am"? And, as they claim, does this mean that he was Jehovah of the Hebrew Scriptures, since the King James Version at Exodus 3:14 states: "God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM"?
At Exodus 3:14 (KJ) the phrase "I AM" is used as a title for God to indicate that he really existed and would do what he promised. The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, edited by Dr. J. H. Hertz, says of the phrase: "To the Israelites in bondage, the meaning would be, 'Although He has not yet displayed His power towards you, He will do so; He is eternal and will certainly redeem you.' Most moderns follow Rashi [a French Bible and Talmud commentator] in rendering [Exodus 3:14] 'I will be what I will be.'"
The expression at John 8:58 is quite different from the one used at Exodus 3:14. Jesus did not use it as a name or a title but as a means of explaining his prehuman existence. Hence, note how some other Bible versions render John 8:58
Thus, the real thought of the Greek used here is that God's created "firstborn," Jesus, had existed long before Abraham was born.—Colossians 1:15; Proverbs 8:22, 23, 30; Revelation 3:14.
1869: "From before Abraham was, I have been." The New Testament, by G. R. Noyes. 1935: "I existed before Abraham was born!" The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed. 1965: "Before Abraham was born, I was already the one that I am." Das Neue Testament, by Jörg Zink. 1981: "I was alive before Abraham was born!" The Simple English Bible. 1984: "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
Again, the context shows this to be the correct understanding. This time the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for claiming to "have seen Abraham" although, as they said, he was not yet 50 years old. (Verse 57) Jesus' natural response was to tell the truth about his age. So he naturally told them that he "was alive before Abraham was born!"—The Simple English Bible.First off, the JWs incorrectly say the phrase in John is "quite different" from Exodus, at the very least considering the same Greek phrase is used (which the JWs don't say). Second, they give a list of 'translations', but none of those are standard nor written by a team of scholars; in other words, they are 'personal' translations of a scholar or two. The fact the phrase is the same, it is possible Jesus was identifying Himself as "I Am" and thus the reaction of the Jews for blasphemy. Also, the JWs try to insert "created" in here to apply to Jesus, but that's not what Jesus is saying. The text does *not* say "I was created before Abraham was created," but rather "I existed before Abraham was born." The JWs rightly point out the implication is His pre-human existence, even if denying His Divinity (via the Ex 3:14 connection). The text is still extremely powerful in this regard for it cannot be a simple issue of chronological 'birth', and instead pointing to Jesus' *continuous* existence from eternity with the Father. The JWs are in a bind here, for how could Jesus exist before becoming Incarnate? The answer is plain: he is more than mere man, something which throws a wrench into JW doctrine about Christ's life on earth! Even if the JWs want to say Jesus' start in Heaven was as an angel (or "a god"), the fact is there must be continuity from Heaven to Earth, else He cannot be said to have 'come down from Heaven' originally.
AT JOHN 1:1 the King James Version reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Trinitarians claim that this means that "the Word" (Greek, ho lo'gos) who came to earth as Jesus Christ was Almighty God himself.The JW analysis of this verse will prove very insightful. The very first paragraph has an error so significant that it exposes the JWs as (at the very least) to have totally misunderstood the Trinity and thus attacking a strawman. Christians *never* have said John 1:1 is saying the Word (Jesus) "was Almighty God *himself*". This is because Christians never taught the Person of the Word was the Person of the Father, nor is John teaching this. It is a classic (and in this booklet rampant) confusion of Person and Nature.
Note, however, that here again the context lays the groundwork for accurate understanding. Even the King James Version says, "The Word was with God." (Italics ours.) Someone who is "with" another person cannot be the same as that other person. In agreement with this, the Journal of Biblical Literature, edited by Jesuit Joseph A. Fitzmyer, notes that if the latter part of John 1:1 were interpreted to mean "the" God, this "would then contradict the preceding clause," which says that the Word was with God.Here is the fundamental error plainly stated: "Someone who is "with" another person cannot be the same as that other person." Christians never taught this! It's a false understanding of the Trinity! The JWs quote Jesuit Fitzmyer as *apparently* denying the Christian reading of the text, but *properly* understood, Fitzmyer is refuting the JW error!
Notice, too, how other translations render this part of the verse:One can always 'shop around' to find some scholar that will say what you want to hear, so this isn't really 'proof', especially given most of these translations are 'personal'/'private' ones of an individual. (And with the JW track record, who even knows if those scholars are being accurately represented?) What should be pointed out is that the term 'a' doesn't appear in the Greek, it is inserted there (though Greek doesn't *demand* it). Also, even more important, the translations above from 1935 and 1978 are actually correct: John *is* saying the Word was Godlike/Divine. This will be shown in the next few comments:
1808: "and the word was a god." The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text. 1864: "and a god was the word." The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson. 1928: "and the Word was a divine being." La Bible du Centenaire, L'Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel. 1935: "and the Word was divine." The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed. 1946: "and of a divine kind was the Word." Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme. 1950: "and the Word was a god." New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. 1958: "and the Word was a God." The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek. 1975: "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz. 1978: "and godlike kind was the Logos." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider.
At John 1:1 there are two occurrences of the Greek noun the·os' (god). The first occurrence refers to Almighty God, with whom the Word was ("and the Word [lo'gos] was with God [a form of the·os']"). This first the·os' is preceded by the word ton (the), a form of the Greek definite article that points to a distinct identity, in this case Almighty God ("and the Word was with [the] God").
On the other hand, there is no article before the second the·os' at John 1:1. So a literal translation would read, "and god was the Word." Yet we have seen that many translations render this second the·os' (a predicate noun) as "divine," "godlike," or "a god." On what authority do they do this?
The Koine Greek language had a definite article ("the"), but it did not have an indefinite article ("a" or "an"). So when a predicate noun is not preceded by the definite article, it may be indefinite, depending on the context.While this is accurate, the JWs don't realize the implications. John does use the term "god" twice, and only on the first instance does John use the article "the" - thus John is saying in 1b, "the Word was with *the* God" (as the JWs rightly note). Now, the JWs rightly point out that the definite article "the" is lacking in second instance, rendering 1c as "and god was the Word." So what does this all mean? The answer is quite simple: The term "the God" applies to the *Person* of God the Father, while the second theos applies to God's *Nature*. John is *not* saying "the Word was with the Father and the Word was the Father," that's heresy, and wrong, and the JWs are *right* to object to this. The problem is that the JWs are objecting to what Christians agree is error, and further that the JWs end up falling into another error. The *correct* understanding of John is, "the Word was with *the God* [i.e. the Father], and the Word was *Godlike*." By using the term "god" twice, John identifies the Word as Divine as he possibly could! This is shown clearly in the Greek. This is why some translators above translate the second 'theos' (God) as 'divine' or 'godlike' - and they were right! The JWs think that as long as scholars don't say "the Word was God" they are refuting the Trinity - oh how wrong the JWs were!
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. It also says of John 1:1: "The qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun [the·os'] cannot be regarded as definite."
So John 1:1 highlights the quality of the Word, that he was "divine," "godlike," "a god," but not Almighty God. This harmonizes with the rest of the Bible, which shows that Jesus, here called "the Word" in his role as God's Spokesman, was an obedient subordinate sent to earth by his Superior, Almighty God.The astonishing things is that the JW's reasoning is correct, but their conclusion is not. The fact the JWs are confused as far as misrepresenting the Christian position shows they really don't get it.
There are many other Bible verses in which almost all translators in other languages consistently insert the article "a" when translating Greek sentences with the same structure. For example, at Mark 6:49, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, the King James Version says: "They supposed it had been a spirit." In the Koine Greek, there is no "a" before "spirit." But almost all translations in other languages add an "a" in order to make the rendering fit the context. In the same way, since John 1:1 shows that the Word was with God, he could not be God but was "a god," or "divine."Again, clear JW confusion: Christians *never* said the Word was God the Father! The Trinity teaches Three Persons in One Divine Nature, not Three Persons as One Person!
Joseph Henry Thayer, a theologian and scholar who worked on the American Standard Version, stated simply: "The Logos was divine, not the divine Being himself." And Jesuit John L. McKenzie wrote in his Dictionary of the Bible: "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be tTaken what has been said, the reader can clearly see the issue at hand and thus have no issues about 1:1c being rendered "divine" and such. So the 'problem' isn't about what words are used as much as when the intention is to make Jesus a separate, inferior entity is the *meaning* wrong.
ranslated . . .'the word was a divine being.'"
SOME claim, however, that such renderings violate a rule of Koine Greek grammar published by Greek scholar E. C. Colwell back in 1933. He asserted that in Greek a predicate noun "has the [definite] article when it follows the verb; it does not have the [definite] article when it precedes the verb." By this he meant that a predicate noun preceding the verb should be understood as though it did have the definite article ("the") in front of it. At John 1:1 the second noun (the·os'), the predicate, precedes the verb—"and [the·os'] was the Word." So, Colwell claimed, John 1:1 should read "and [the] God was the Word."No orthodox Trinitarian argues this, and that's why no standard Christian translations say "and the Word was *the God*" (nor does the Greek).
But consider just two examples found at John 8:44. There Jesus says of the Devil: "That one was a manslayer" and "he is a liar." Just as at John 1:1, the predicate nouns ("manslayer" and "liar") precede the verbs ("was" and "is") in the Greek. There is no indefinite article in front of either noun because there was no indefinite article in Koine Greek. But most translations insert the word "a" because Greek grammar and the context require it.—See also Mark 11:32; John 4:19; 6:70; 9:17; 10:1; 12:6.
Colwell had to acknowledge this regarding the predicate noun, for he said: "It is indefinite ["a" or "an"] in this position only when the context demands it." So even he admits that when the context requires it, translators may insert an indefinite article in front of the noun in this type of sentence structure.That the indefinite article ("a") can be *sometimes* inserted does not mean it *must* be inserted. All Trinitarians agree with this.
Does the context require an indefinite article at John 1:1? Yes, for the testimony of the entire Bible is that Jesus is not Almighty God. Thus, not Colwell's questionable rule of grammar, but context should guide the translator in such cases. And it is apparent from the many translations that insert the indefinite article "a" at John 1:1 and in other places that many scholars disagree with such an artificial rule, and so does God's Word.No, context does not demand it, only a fallacious argument *demands* inserting "a". The indefinite article does *not* appear, and context doesn't demand it, thus the JW position is refuted. As has been shown very clearly, the JWs think Christians are saying "Jesus is the Father," when nothing could be more false!
DOES saying that Jesus Christ is "a god" conflict with the Bible's teaching that there is only one God? No, for at times the Bible employs that term to refer to mighty creatures. Psalm 8:5 reads: "You also proceeded to make him [man] a little less than godlike ones [Hebrew, ´elo·him']," that is, angels. In Jesus' defense against the charge of the Jews, that he claimed to be God, he noted that "the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed," that is, human judges. (John 10:34, 35, JB; Psalm 82:1-6) Even Satan is called "the god of this system of things" at 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Jesus has a position far higher than angels, imperfect men, or Satan. Since these are referred to as "gods," mighty ones, surely Jesus can be and is "a god." Because of his unique position in relation to Jehovah, Jesus is a "Mighty God."—John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6.It conflicts in so far as the way the Bible as a whole describes Jesus. One of the most distinguishable attributes of God is that He created the universe, and this power is ascribed to Jesus (e.g. Jn 1:3). The JWs have to go through various hoops to make Jesus a 'lesser god', but all this is in conflict with the testimony of Scripture, history, logic, and scholarship, all on various fronts.
But does not "Mighty God" with its capital letters indicate that Jesus is in some way equal to Jehovah God? Not at all. Isaiah merely prophesied this to be one of four names that Jesus would be called, and in the English language such names are capitalized. Still, even though Jesus was called "Mighty," there can be only one who is "Almighty." To call Jehovah God "Almighty" would have little significance unless there existed others who were also called gods but who occupied a lesser or inferior position.The way or distinction between "mighty" and "almighty" is really another issue apart from this, and a distinction that is more or less made up by the JWs given that the Bible never makes the direct comparison.
The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library in England notes that according to Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, while the·os' is used in scriptures such as John 1:1 in reference to Christ, "in none of these instances is 'theos' used in such a manner as to identify Jesus with him who elsewhere in the New Testament figures as 'ho Theos,' that is, the Supreme God." And the Bulletin adds: "If the New Testament writers believed it vital that the faithful should confess Jesus as 'God', is the almost complete absence of just this form of confession in the New Testament explicable?"Once one *understands* the situation, the words of Rahner are not an issue at all: he's simply saying Jesus is never identified as the Father - which is just what we would expect - and thus the Bible never does so.
But what about the apostle Thomas' saying, "My Lord and my God!" to Jesus at John 20:28? To Thomas, Jesus was like "a god," especially in the miraculous circumstances that prompted his exclamation. Some scholars suggest that Thomas may simply have made an emotional exclamation of astonishment, spoken to Jesus but directed to God. In either case, Thomas did not think that Jesus was Almighty God, for he and all the other apostles knew that Jesus never claimed to be God but taught that Jehovah alone is "the only true God."—John 17:3.The JWs are taking liberties with Thomas' words. He did not see Jesus as "like a God" but as *his* God and Lord. The idea that Thomas merely made an emotional outburst without thinking, or that he spoke to Jesus but was directing it to God, is desperation. Jesus never claimed to be the Father, thus places like John 17:3 are no problem.
Again, the context helps us to understand this. A few days earlier the resurrected Jesus had told Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." (John 20:17) Even though Jesus was already resurrected as a mighty spirit, Jehovah was still his God. And Jesus continued to refer to Him as such even in the last book of the Bible, after he was glorified.—Revelation 1:5, 6; 3:2, 12.
Just three verses after Thomas' exclamation, at John 20:31, the Bible further clarifies the matter by stating: "These have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God," not that he was Almighty God. And it meant "Son" in a literal way, as with a natural father and son, not as some mysterious part of a Trinity Godhead.The Father will always be God the Father to Jesus, so again, nothing against the Trinity here. As for Jesus being called the "Son of God," it's astonishing that the JWs insist this is to be taken "in a literal way, as with a natural father and son," as if the Father had marital relations with a female goddess and gave birth to Jesus nine months later! Jesus is the Son of the Father in a sense we cannot fully understand, but it is terminology God used to help us get a *glimpse* of the inner workings of the Trinity.
IT IS claimed that several other scriptures support the Trinity. But these are similar to those discussed above in that, when carefully examined, they offer no actual support. Such texts only illustrate that when considering any claimed support for the Trinity, one must ask: Does the interpretation harmonize with the consistent teaching of the entire Bible—that Jehovah God alone is Supreme? If not, then the interpretation must be in error.
We also need to keep in mind that not even so much as one "proof text" says that God, Jesus, and the holy spirit are one in some mysterious Godhead. Not one scripture anywhere in the Bible says that all three are the same in substance, power, and eternity. The Bible is consistent in revealing Almighty God, Jehovah, as alone Supreme, Jesus as his created Son, and the holy spirit as God's active force.One is free to examine the Catholic response to this booklet. The honest and objective reader will see that the JW case is *founded* upon a misunderstanding of what Christians actually teach about the Trinity. As a result, they ended up misrepresenting the doctrine, the reasoning behind it, the Scriptural support for it, the scholarly commentary, the historical record, etc, etc. What's worse, the JWs grossly misrepresent and misquote various sources (and even point to anti-Christian resources) for support, which is unChristian and totally unacceptable. One would think genuine study and research would have gone into a booklet like this, but it is clear that is not the case. In proceeding this way, attacking the central pillar of the Christian faith, the JWs have lost much credibility and really cannot be an organization God approves of.
All this brings to mind one verse:
None of the rulers of this age understood [the wisdom of God], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8)The final chapter of this booklet is essentially a condemnation of Christendom for introducing and preaching the Trinity doctrine, including various 'evils' that have supposedly resulted from teaching this error as well as the coming of God's wrath. What needs to be noted here though is that it is the JWs who are on the wrong side of this equation, putting themselves on the side of the unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles, who without realizing it crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ.
For more manifest JW errors, see this link (here).