Sunday, July 12, 2009

What to say to a Jehovah's Witness (Part 2)

By Andre Holwerda

Continued from Part 1

In my previous article on witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses I stressed the need to remain focussed on two topics only; namely, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and also His deity. In that article I gave some tips on presenting JWs with arguments for the resurrection. In this one it is my purpose to provide evangelical Christians, who wish to witness to JWs, with some basic arguments supporting the Christian understanding of the deity of Christ.

Let us start, then, by getting a clear understanding of the difference between what JWs believe about the person of Jesus and what we who call ourselves evangelical Christians typically believe. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society teaches that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God and based on that we might make the mistake of thinking that they believe the same as we do. However, the Watchtower defines the title ‘Son of God’ as referring to a created being who, while the first and greatest creation of Jehovah, is nevertheless a creature, not God, and is not to be worshipped. Two thousand years of orthodox Christianity, on the other hand, has consistently defined the Son of God as a being who is uncreated, eternally begotten, co-equal with the Father and of the very same nature and substance as the Father, while remaining a distinct person. What these two wildly different definitions serve to demonstrate is that JWs believe in one version of Jesus, while evangelicals believe in another. This is one instance in which Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:4 ring true, in which he indicated that it is possible to be deceived by someone who preaches ‘another Jesus’ (literally ‘a different Jesus’).

With our terms defined, then, let us move on to the nuts and bolts of how to present a cogent argument for the deity of Christ to JWs. Many arguments have been formulated for this task and most of them hold some value for the defence of this doctrine, however there are a select few that I find to be the most powerful when dealing with JWs. In this article I will present what I feel are the best three and then give some additional arguments at the end for those who wish to delve deeper.

The first argument involves the following verses (I am quoting from the ESV but this argument can also be made using the Watchtower’s own translation, the NWT):

"O my God," I say, "take me not away in the midst of my days-- you whose years endure throughout all generations!" Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalm 102:24-27)

But of the Son he (i.e. the Father) says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end." (Hebrews 1:8-12)

Thus says the Lord (i.e. Jehovah), your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,...(Isaiah 44:24)

In Psalm 102 we learn that it was Jehovah God who created the heavens and the earth. Get your JW friend to read those verses and acknowledge that indeed Jehovah God is the creator. Now, turn in your Bible to Hebrews 1 and get them to read verses 8-12. Verses 8 and 9 give us the context by showing us that this is a quote of God the Father saying something to His Son. Then in verses 10 to 12 we have God the Father taking those verses from Psalm 102 and applying them to the Son! So Jehovah God himself attributes the creation of the universe to the Son. There are profound Christological riches in these verses that could form separate arguments on their own but be sure to stick to the main point, which is that Jesus is called the creator by no less of an authority than the Father himself!

Now, this alone may seem to be a powerful argument for the deity of Christ. However, the JWs have formulated a response to this by saying that the Father created through the Son; that the Father was kind of like the chief architect, while the son was merely the builder. This is where Isaiah 44:24 comes into play. By taking your JW friend to this verse in Isaiah you can prove to him that Jehovah created all things all by himself! So, pulling the argument together, Psalm 102 says that Jehovah is the creator, Hebrews 1:8-12 says that Jesus is the creator and Isaiah 44:24 says that Jehovah created the universe all on his own. Therefore, Jesus and the Father are both Jehovah God! There is simply no other way to reconcile those verses.  

For our second argument, the following verses are needed:

And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" (Luke 4:8)

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." (Hebrews 1:6)

Now the argument is this; in Luke 4:8 Jesus, being tempted by the devil, refused to worship Satan because Deuteronomy 6:13 clearly stated that one is to worship Jehovah God and only Jehovah God. Comparing that with Hebrews 1:6, however, we see that God the Father commanded the angels to worship Jesus. The conclusion then is that either the Father commanded His angels to commit idolatry or else Jesus is Jehovah! And since the Father does not command anyone to sin, therefore the latter conclusion must be the correct one. Jesus is Jehovah! There is no other option. Even if a JW will not admit that Jesus is Jehovah, on the basis of Hebrews 1:6 he or she must at least admit that Jesus is to be worshipped.

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