In a previous article, I began exploring the problems with the way the Watchtower characterizes Christianity. Claiming to “expose” alleged Christian myths, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ flagship publication is not content to simply debate tenets of orthodox theology; it attacks “Christian” teachings that are not actually taught by Christians, as well. Today, I examine point 4 of their article.
4. The Triune God
One key Christian doctrine they attack is the Trinity. By Trinity I mean, “one God in three eternally-distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Who share the same essence, personality, and will” (see Statement of Beliefs). To attack this idea, the article quotes an entry in The New Catholic Encyclopedia, which admits that the Trinitarian formula was not universal before the fourth century. That is true, but the last time I checked, universal acceptance was not the criteria by which truth is determined.Perhaps Trinitarianism in general, and Jesus’ deity in particular were not universally accepted in the early days (nor are they today). But the Bible warned that even in the early days there would be heretics who would deny Biblical essentials.
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Peter 2:1-2).
If heretics and false teachers have existed since the earliest days of Christianity, then it is no small wonder that these doctrines were not “fully assimilated.”
The Watchtower claims as evidence of the Trinity’s falsehood the fact that it was not universally accepted. Then, they claim as evidence of the same the near universal acceptance of the Trinitarian formula at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. However, it is dishonest to claim that the Trinity is disproved by its non-universal acceptance and its near universal acceptance. This only makes sense if we determine before hand that the Trinity is false and resolve to read this conclusion into whatever evidence we find. But history neither proves nor disproves the doctrine of the Trinity: that is the Bible’s job.
And here the Watchtower errs again. They claim that Stephen’s statement in Acts 7:55-56 disproves the Trinity. It does not.
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).
In typical fashion, the Watchtower article states:
“Filled with God’s active force, Stephen saw Jesus “standing at God’s right hand.” Clearly, then, Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven but, rather, a distinct spiritual being. There is no mention of a third person next to God in this account.”
The Bible does not say that Stephen is “filled with God’s active force.” It says that he is full of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, nothing in this passage declares Jesus to be a distinct being, less than God, “clearly” or otherwise. It calls Jesus the “Son of Man.” But this does not refer to Jesus’ humanity; it is a term for the Messiah, taken from Daniel 7:13-14. (I am additionally puzzled by their implication that God can be God one minute and not the next: “Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven,” emphasis mine.) Lastly, they say that the third person of the Trinity is nowhere to be found in this passage. That is probably because they have already purposed to demote the Holy Spirit—Who is mentioned—to an “active force.”
The Watchtower Society’s anti-Trinitarian doctrines are found in the passage only if they are already assumed to be true. What makes the Watchtower‘s teachings on the Trinity so dangerous is that they are not just dealing with an abstract theological question about the nature of God; they are denying that Jesus Christ was and is Who He said He was. And if He was not and is not Who He said He was, then He is not the Lamb of God, able to save to the uttermost.
But the Bible as a whole teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, and that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Here are some of the verses that illustrate this fact.
There is One God:
- Deuteronomy 4:35
- Isaiah 43:10
- Isaiah 44:6-8
- Isaiah 45:5
- Romans 3:30
- I Corinthians 8:4
The Father is God:
- II Corinthians 1:3
- Philippians 1:2
The Son is God:
- John 1:1,14,18
- John 20:28
- Colossians 2:9
- II Peter 1:1
- Titus 2:3
The Holy Spirit is God:
- Acts 5:3-4
- I Corinthians 2:10-11
- II Corinthians 3:17-18
These Three are Distinct Persons, of the Same Nature, Mind, and Will:
- Matthew 3:16-17
- Matthew 28:19-20
- John 17:1-26
- II Corinthians 13:14
- I John 5:6-9