JWs and the Trinity

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Overcomer
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JWs and the Trinity

Post #1

Post by Overcomer »

Once again, I offer verbatim information from JW.org -- this time on the topic of the Trinity.

Here is how it is defined at JW.org:

. . . . the Trinity—the doctrine that the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit together form one God.

My response:


That’s not how the Trinity is defined. The Trinity is one God who exists in three persons. If JWs are going to try to refute its reality, they need to start with a correct definition, not one of their own making.

JW.org:


Many Christian denominations teach that God is a Trinity. However, note what the Encyclopædia Britannica states: “Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament.�

My response:

The above statement is partially true. The word “trinity� does not appear in the Bible. And there are no explicit statements in the Bible that say “God is one being who exists in three persons.�

However, the concept of the Trinity IS in the Bible. In fact, it first appears in the Book of Genesis. “Let us make man in our image.� Who is “us�? Who does “our� refer to?

Theologian Wayne Grudem poured through Jewish sacred writings including the Mishnah and the Talmud as well as secular Jewish writings (Josephus, for example) to see what the Jews made of these verses in Genesis. He said they tried all kinds of ways to explain it. Some suggested God was talking about himself and the angels. But we were not made in the image of angels. We were made in the image of God.

Also, JWs use the word “monotheism�, but that word doesn’t appear in the Bible either. It seems hypocritical to use as an argument that the word “Trinity� doesn’t appear in the Bible when they use the word “monotheism� which also doesn’t appear in the Bible. Yet the concept is there – just as the concept of the Trinity is.

JW.org:

FACT: The Trinitarian dogma is a late fourth-century invention.

My response:

That isn't true. I have noted in my other threads on the Holy Spirit and on Jesus Christ why we Biblically understand them both to be God so I won't repeat that here.

And I have also explained that the Hymn to Christ (Phil. 2:5-11) presents Christ as having always existed as God (being in the form of God) according to the Greek language. Given that Paul died around 65 A.D., we know Christ's followers understood Christ as God Incarnate long before the fourth century.

There are, in fact, thousands of verses that speak of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all being God. Robert Bowman lists them here:

http://irr.org/biblical-basis-of-doctrine-of-trinity

And then there are the early church fathers who spoke of all three as God in their writings. Because JW.org did not go into great length about the early church fathers, I hunted for information elsewhere and found this article:

http://examiningthetrinity.blogspot.ca/ ... reeds.html

Its author is a Jehovah's Witness. He lists all kinds of "evidence" in the form of quotations that no one ever thought of God existing in three persons prior to the fourth century. But here's the thing:

He has taken the quotations out of context, misusing them and misunderstanding them. But you wouldn't know that unless you actually read the manuscripts the early church fathers left us. That can be done here:

http://earlychristianwritings.com/

Let's take the example of Irenaeus, for example. Because the article is lengthy, I will not be able to deal with every quotation, but have selected the most salient ones. I begin with this statement from the JW article:

‘But there is only one God, the Creator ... He it is ... whom Christ reveals .... He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: through His Word, who is His Son, through Him He is revealed.’ - pp. 110, 111, A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans, 1976. (Ellipses were provided by Boer. Irenaeus quote by Boer is from ANF, 1:406.)


My response:

I don't know a single Trinitarian who would argue with this. We agree that there is only one God and that Christ is his son. So this is not an argument against the Trinity.

He also uses this quotation:

Irenaeus cited Justin [Martyr]...: “Justin well says in his work Against Marcion that he would not have believed the Lord [Jesus] himself if he had preached another God besides the Creator.� - p. 84, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, The Westminster Press, 1988.


My response:

This is where context becomes all-important. Irenaeus and Justin Martyr both wrote apologetic treatises. In them, they refuted heretics who took Scripture and changed its meaning to suit their purposes. When you read the above in context, you can see that they are speaking out against the stories of creation that were incorrect. Therefore, when both Irenaeus and Justin Martyr speak of "another God beside the Creator", they aren't referring to Jesus. They are referring to false gods that Marcion and others preached.

The author of the article also includes this statement:

“... neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme .... the Lord Himself handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all; it is incumbent on us to follow ... their testimonies to this effect.� (ANF, 1:422, ‘Against Heresies’)


My response:

Again, no Trinitarian including Irenaeus would acknowledge any other God other than the one Christ preached. But this doesn't mean that Irenaeus or any of the rest of us would deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Again, it is important to read this quotation in context because, if we do, we read this only a few lines later:

'For inasmuch as the Word of God was man from the root of Jesse, and son of Abraham, in this respect did the Spirit of God rest upon Him, and anoint Him to preach the Gospel to the lowly. But inasmuch as He was God, He did not judge according to glory, nor reprove after the manner of speech.' (IX.3, Against Heresies, http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... book3.html ).

So we see that Irenaeus states outright that Jesus is God. And he does so throughout the entire essay. For example, in Book 1, XX.1, of Against Heresies, he calls Jesus Christ "our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King".

See http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... book1.html

The author of the article lists other early church fathers and does the same things with them that he does with Irenaeus. He cherry-picks statements that either don't mean what he thinks they mean or can be shown in context NOT to deny the Trinity. For example, there's Clement of Alexandria. According to the JW article, he denies the Trinity, but when you read his essay in its entirety, you find out that he doesn't. In fact, here is one of the things he wrote:

“I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant: for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the Second� (Stromata, Book V, ch. 14; 190 A.D.) See here:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... book5.html

It doesn't get more explicit than that.

I wish I had time to go through each and every church father who wrote about the Trinity in the second and third centuries, but I don't. And, as usual, I have written yet another very long post. My thanks to those who have stuck with it to the end.

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Post #2

Post by Bust Nak »

Moderator Action

A trio of threads about Christian concepts were misplaced in the non Christian forum and is now moved here.

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #3

Post by rickmeist »

[Replying to post 1 by Overcomer]

It was an interesting read. I think the holy Spirit concept, the third person of the Trinity, came from Genesis 1:2.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

It doesn't say 'God moved upon the face of the waters'. So this 'Spirit' somehow had to be explained. Hence - the Holy Spirit.

However, ask any Christian what the Holy Spirit is and you will receive a blank face. Either that or a lengthy, obfuscated theology of any number of differing shapes and sizes.

The Trinity therefore becomes a conundrum. Which for me, who does not believe, comes as no surprise.

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #4

Post by JehovahsWitness »

[Replying to post 1 by Overcomer]


Do you have a debate question?
INDEX: More bible based ANSWERS
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


"For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah" -
Romans 14:8

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #5

Post by Bust Nak »

JehovahsWitness wrote: [Replying to post 1 by Overcomer]


Do you have a debate question?
Let me add one: Who is right, JW's or Overcomer?

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #6

Post by rickmeist »

[Replying to Bust Nak]

This to the OP:
I didn't realise that this was a question only forum.

I replied a contrast to the OP. Is this not debatable?

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #7

Post by JehovahsWitness »

It is usually a requirement that you include a debate question. When I post blocks of texts as you have done my posts are usually moved to random ramblings. I will watch with interest what happens to this thread post as I have entire articles that I would like to start posting WITHOUT having them moved to "ramblings" or being removed as "preaching".


JEHOVAH'S WITNESS
INDEX: More bible based ANSWERS
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


"For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah" -
Romans 14:8

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Post #8

Post by Wootah »

JehovahsWitness wrote: It is usually a requirement that you include a debate question. When I post blocks of texts as you have done my posts are usually moved to random ramblings. I will watch with interest what happens to this thread post as I have entire articles that I would like to start posting WITHOUT having them moved to "ramblings" or being removed as "preaching".


JEHOVAH'S WITNESS

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Post #9

Post by rickmeist »

[Replying to Wootah]


This is very confusing and most peculiar. I offered an a debatable viewpoint in tandem with the OP, not a challenge.

I have better things to do than parry with pettiness.

I'll leave.

Thanks

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Re: JWs and the Trinity

Post #10

Post by 1213 »

Overcomer wrote: …Theologian Wayne Grudem poured through Jewish sacred writings including the Mishnah and the Talmud as well as secular Jewish writings (Josephus, for example) to see what the Jews made of these verses in Genesis. He said they tried all kinds of ways to explain it. Some suggested God was talking about himself and the angels. But we were not made in the image of angels. We were made in the image of God…
Bible tells that Jesus is the image of God. And if Jesus was with God creating things and made human as image of himself, he made image of God also, because he himself is the image of God also.

in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him.
Colossians 1:14-16
Overcomer wrote:…Also, JWs use the word “monotheism�, but that word doesn’t appear in the Bible either. It seems hypocritical to use as an argument that the word “Trinity� doesn’t appear in the Bible when they use the word “monotheism� which also doesn’t appear in the Bible. Yet the concept is there – just as the concept of the Trinity is…
Monotheism means, only one God. And Jesus says:

How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

John 17:3

I think people should not despise what Jesus said, especially, if they are disciples of Jesus (“Christian�).

And early disciples of Jesus didn’t think Jesus is God incarnate. They taught Jesus is the temple of God. God dwells in Jesus.

Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works.
John 14:10

That is why Jesus could then later say that God forsake him.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani?" That is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Mat. 27:46

(Interesting thing is also, God is called Eli in that).

It is also good to know that Paul says:
For though there are things that are called "gods," whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords;" yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.
1 Cor. 8:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5

Christ is the King of Kings, but not as great as the one and only true God.

…for the Father is greater than I.
John 14:28

It is sad, if Pope or other “Church fathers� that go in many ways against what the Bible tells, are rather believed than the Bible, Jesus and the original disciples of Jesus.

If you really belong to the Church of Jesus, remember also this:

Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.
Matt. 23:9

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