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How to Witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses About The Deity of Christ

Part Two

By R. K. McGregor Wright, Ph.D.

This three-part article is continued from Jesus is Jehovah - Part One.

V. Avoid The Familiar Texts

Remember, the Watchtower does not teach its people how to understand Bible verses and arguments in their natural context. Their books just quote verses that seem to be relevant, and no serious exegesis of extended passages is attempted. They are therefore familiar with a large amount of separate texts and are most comfortable if they can stay with these selected texts. So do not use the usual proofs for Christ's divinity. Do not start with John 1:1 about the Word being God. They already have their own little dance to do about this text, and it is based on their ignorance of Greek.

Since they have their Emphatic Diagloa, or Kingdom Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, they can always snow you by quoting their own translation and appealing to the Greek, of which they have no useful knowledge. Then it just becomes a "battle of the authorities," and nobody can win. This is why you must use their translation. And do not go to John 8:58 (I am) because their translation butchers that too. And do not use 1 John 5:8-9 in the King James Version, because it is probably a spurious addition, and does not appear in modern versions. Romans 9:5 also teaches that Jesus is "God blessed forever," but this is often mistranslated in the modern liberal versions (such as the RSV) to look like a doxology much like the New World Translation, so avoid that too. Use only arguments which they have almost never seen before.

VI. Use The "Indirect" Method

By the "indirect method" I mean that first you must get their agreement with the premises of your argument, and then show them that the apparent conclusion is in fact unavoidable. If the premises come from their own translation, they have nowhere to go except out the door in a hurry! They will of course, resist the necessary conclusion, however clearly the premises demand it, but you must depend on the Holy Spirit to testify to his own logic, and use his own Word to regenerate the confused mind of the Witness.

God tells us in such passages as James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:22-25, and in John 1:11-13,3:3-8, and Hebrews 4:12-13, and Isaiah 55:6-11, that he regenerates us by using the power of his Holy Spirit applying his Word to our hearts. We must trust the Lord to regenerate whom he will (Romans 9:18) for all that the Father has given to the Son will infallibly come and be saved (John 6:37-39, 44 and 65). Considering how confidently they trust in their own reasoning, these verses in John should be very frightening to the Witnesses.

VII. Arguments Found In The Bible Itself

1) Start With Romans 1:18-21, and Move to Colossians 2:9.

Use Romans 1 to get their agreement that the Creator God revealed in the creation (verse 20) is indeed Jehovah. They will agree readily that when it speaks of "his eternal power and divine nature," it means the eternal nature of Jehovah as the Creator. Their NWT says "his eternal power and Godship." This sounds like rather odd English, but is technically correct, and helps your case. The Creator's "Godship" then, is the combination of attributes which identify Jehovah as the Almighty God. This is the first premise of your argument.

You must then point Out that this word for "godhead," or "Godship," occurs only twice in the whole New Testament -- here, and in Colossians 2:9. Going to this context you find that verses 8-9 speak of "Christ; because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily." The word for "divine quality" in the NWT is the same word as appeared in Rom 1:20, and means Godship or Deity. The Greek spelling is slightly different because this form of the word derives from the noun and the form in Rom 1:20 derives from the adjective, but even a Jehovah's Witness can see that it is from the same root Theios, which meant "having the nature of God."

The Colossians text may now be paraphrased "For in Christ dwells [as its natural home], the entire completeness [all the fullness] of what makes God to be God [the Godshis], in bodily form." Or to put it another way, the entire completeness of the Creator Jehovah dwells in the body of Christ. The NWT term "divine quality" may seem weaker at first, but the Witness has already agreed from Romans that it means that the very "quality" referred to is what makes God recognizable as the eternal Creator. "Divine quality" is what makes God to be God.

The Witnesses will not want to accept this conclusion, but you must press it strongly, that if the word means full Deity in one Pauline passage it must surely have that same meaning in the only other place it occurs. Therefore, Colossians states that Jesus is fully God. The expression "all the fullness of the divine quality" could mean nothing else.

Ask the Witnesses if they think this could have been a slip of the pen on Paul's part. They will not want to allow this, which would undermine the authority of the Bible. Now you are ready to take them indirectly to another case in Paul's letters.

2) Start Again With Isaiah 45:23, and Then Go To Philippians 2:5-11.

Isaiah Chapters 40-48 contain the highest expression of monotheism to be found in the Old Testament. Read the following verses with the Jehovah's Witness, being careful to offer few if any comments, and then only to emphasize that Isaiah obviously believed that Jehovah, as the eternal Creator of the world, is repeatedly claiming here to be the only existing God.

In Isaiah 40:3, the coming Messiah is "the LORD."

In 40:10, the coming one is "the Lord God."

In 40:13, nobody can tell the Holy Spirit how to understand the Bible.

In 40:25, nobody is even "like God."

In 41:21-24, only Jehovah as Creator, can predict the future.

In 42:8, Jehovah will not share his divine glory with a lesser being.

In 42:17, it is shameful to worship a lesser god than Jehovah.

In 43:1, the Lord is the Creator; 3, the Savior; 10, to whom Israel witnesses that he is the only existing God and Savior.

In 43:13, nobody can reverse a decision of Jehovah; 25, he saves us for his own sake (glory), and not for our sakes.

In 44:6, there is no god besides Jehovah; 8, and he recognizes no other God but himself.

In 44:24, Jehovah created the heavens all by himself, and the earth all alone; 28, even a wicked King Cyrus will do exactly what he wants.

In 45:5, beside Jehovah there is no god; 6, "no one beside Me";

In 45:14-15, no other Savior; '"there is no other God beside Me."

Its pretty hard to weaken this kind of testimony, so repetitive and pervasive does it appear throughout Scripture. Isaiah is certainly a clear example of God's attitude towards people who want to have more than one "god."

Jehovah is not just the biggest god in town, but the only one; "Before Me there was no god formed, and there will be none after Me. . . I am the first, and I am the last, and there is no god besides Me" (43:10, 44:6). The "gods" of the heathen are mere idols, figments of the gentile imagination, represented by carved trees and stones. It is wicked and sinful to imagine any other god as existing before the face of Jehovah God.

This view of God is called "monotheism," while a person who believes in more than one god is a "polytheist." Paul tells us that the "gods many" of the gentiles are really just demons when there is any spiritual power at all behind the visible idol. There can only be one eternal being, only one absolute, only one ultimate, and the Bible presents that as being Jehovah only.

This is not a negotiable issue, for the ultimate reference-point for truth determines all else; to change one's god is by implication to change one's universe, and with it one's whole world of discourse. A person who claims to worship Jehovah and who then says that Jesus is "a god" also, is just a polytheist hiding under the guise of Jehovah-worship. One God does not mean two, even if the second one is smaller, or created and therefore finite.

Another way of making this point is to ask the Witnesses whether Jesus is "a true God" or "a false God." If he is a false God, why do they give him any attention at all, and if he is a true God, they are not really monotheists, and come under the judgement of the prophet Isaiah in the above passages. The only remaining possibility is that they agree with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; Jehovah is one, tri -personal God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The next step in this argument is to look at the last verses of Isaiah 45. In verses 22-23 we read that Jehovah ("I am God and there is no other,") swears "by Myself, . . that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear (allegiance.)" Jehovah swears by himself because there is nothing and no one above him to whom he could appeal for confirmation. This is what it means to be "absolute" or "ultimate." The Witnesses will agree with this, and it makes no difference which translation they refer to.

3) Now Turn To Philippians 2:9-11.

The third step is to turn to Paul's quotation of Isaiah 45 in Philippians 2:10-11, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . . and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." It seems that here we have another Pauline slip of the pen. This trained Rabbi, who knew much of the Old Testament off by heart in the original Hebrew (for this was how the Rabbis taught the Bible in those days), changed the speaker in the quotation from Me (Jehovah) to Jesus. His use of this verse from the strongest passage on Jehovah's monotheism in the whole Bible, shows that Paul believed Jesus to be Jehovah. He could hardly make it any clearer.

How could anyone with a knowledge of Hebrew make an error like this? He states that it is to the glory of the Father that the Son be given "the name which is above every name." But there is only one name above every (other) name, and that could only be "Jehovah." No other name could be higher than that (verse 9). Therefore, it is to the glory of the Father that the Son be called Jehovah. If this is not so, then it would be idolatry for "every knee" to bow "at the name of Jesus." The personal name "Jesus" actually means "The Lord saves."

This argument is rationally irresistible, but the Witnesses may still prefer their college of cardinals in Brooklyn to the Apostle Paul. Of course, to admit that the Bible in any sense allows that Jesus is Jehovah is to admit that the Watchtower is a false prophet.

VIII. What Is The Trinity?

At some point in their presentation the Witnesses will have made a reference to the "Trinity doctrine." It is always interesting to ask them what they think the Trinity really is, because they usually have only the vaguest notion, and habitually quote inaccurate encyclopaedia articles written by liberal or secular writers, to explain what they think it is.

They also use the classical agnostic trivialisation of the doctrine which claims the idea of a Trinity is "mathematically absurd" because 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, not 1! They do not seem to be aware that when we say "God is one" and "God is three," the one and the three refer to different referents; one substance, and three persons. They may then be told that the Trinity is not a "thing" but a group of six minimal doctrines separately found in the Bible. You can then offer to explain what you understand by the term "Trinity."

The six separate doctrines are as follows;

1. "The Father is Jehovah," which the Watchtower agrees with,

2. "The Son is Jehovah," which they reject,

3. "The Holy Spirit is Jehovah," which they reject because they also reject the personality of the Spirit. For the Witnesses, the Holy Spirit is just a power or force from God when he is acting at a distance.

Together, these three simple propositions describe the Unity of the substance or being of God. Then there are three more;

4. "The Father is not the Son," which they agree with,

5. "The Son is not the Spirit," which they agree with, and

6. "The Father is not the Spirit," which they agree with.

Together, these last three propositions describe the distinction between the eternal Persons of the Godhead of the One Deity of Jehovah. Together, these six propositions outline the essential features of the doctrine of the Trinity.

But notice that the Jehovah's Witnesses already agree with four out of the six propositions. This makes them already two-thirds Trinitarian!! They will be very shocked to observe this, for they have heard so much nonsense about the "pagan doctrine" of the Trinity that it never occurs to them to find out what it really amounts to. It would only be necessary for them to agree with statements 2. and 3. to become full Trinitarians. You have already established that the Son is Jehovah, and the third can be easily proved from 2Corinthians 3:16-18, where even their own translation correctly says, "Jehovah is the Spirit" and then speaks of "Jehovah the Spirit."

The personality of the Holy Spirit is also indicated in John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15, or Ephesians 4:30, where the Spirit is variously said to teach, witness, glorify Christ, guide believers, hear, speak, and disclose truth, and be grieved with our sin. Would the Witnesses like to argue that witnessing is an impersonal act? Can electricity be grieved? Of course not.

This three-part article is concluded at Jesus is Jehovah - Part Three.

Jesus is Jehovah: How to Witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses About The Deity of Christ January 1996 R. K. McGregor Wright, Ph.D. for Aquila and Priscilla Study Center. Permission is hereby granted to Christians who want to print out a copy of this article to give to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above article was posted on this Web site September 4, 1999.

The Doctrine of the Trinity: Jehovah's Witnesses
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