The following article by Tim Staples was taken from the "Nuts & Bolts"section of Envoy magazine's premier issue. It addresses how to apologetically deal with one the key Jehovah's Witness anti-doctrine: Jesus Christ is not God. It's a real good example of how Envoy can empower you to give Catholic witness in real life situations.
HereÕs a step-by-step way to answer this typical Jehovah's Witness argument.
Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door on a Saturday afternoon. After a few moments of conversation, one of them spots the crucifix on the wall and remarks, "It's interesting that Catholics believe that Jesus was God. Did you know that the Bible teaches that Jesus was not God?"
This "did not know" question is designed to throw you off balance. If you answer with a "no," you appear ignorant and you've given them an invitation to control the discussion. If you say "yes," you've aligned yourself with their heresy. Instead of a "yes" or "no", turn the question back on them and take control of the conversation.
"That's an odd point of view. Didn't you know the Bible teaches that Jesus is God?"
Now you have to make good on you claim. Have the following Bible verses (the ones they'll use and the ones you'll use) highlighted in your Bible for easy reference.
Step One: B>
Ask the Witnesses to read the passages they think disapprove Christ's divinity. Here are several theyÕll use and responses you can give:
Joh n 14:28 - Jesus says, "The Father is greater than I."
The Father is greater than the incarnate Christ in terms of position because Christ's humanity is a creation, though in His divin ity He is equal to the Father.
Hebrews 2:9 says that Jesus was made for a while "lower than the angels" at the Incarnation.
Matthew 11:11 says there has never been a man "greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Does this mean John does not have a human nature? Does this mean those in heaven, who are greater than John, have a different nature?
If John the Baptist is the greatest man to ever live, and if Jesus was a just man, does that mean John the Baptist was greater than Jesus, superior to Hi m by nature? Does that mean Jesus and John could not have both had a human nature?
John 17:3 - "And this is eternal life, that they know You are the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." The Witnesses will argue that Jesus can't be God if God the Father is the "only true God," and they will point out that Christ was praying to God here.
God the Fathe r is the "only true God." This statement is completely in harmony with the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. One God in three Persons. Christ's statement does not entail a denial that He too is God. Christ was affirming the monotheism of the Jew s, that there is only one God. This monotheism is the basis of the Trinity. Christ is true God and true man (John 1:1,14; Col. 2-9, John 8:58 & Ex. 3:14), and as a man, He prayed to the Father.
John 20:17 - "I ascend to My Father and to your Father, My God and to your God." How can the Father be His God if Christ is God? How can God have a God.
Say "I believe that J esus is both God and man. Here he speaks in reference to His human nature. As a man the Father is His God - just as He is ours. He calls the Father His God because He is God whom he worships, prays to and need in His life just as we do."
This verse is a clear reference to the Hypostatic Union of Christ (He was fully God and man).
Rev. 3:14 - "These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of GodÕs creation."
Notice the text does not say Christ was created. The Greek word translated as "source" or "origin" is arche. It connotes "the eternal source of all that is."
In Revelation 21:16 Jehovah is called the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end...I shall be His God and He shall be my Son." But Jesus is called the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" in Revelation 22:13. Ask the Witness how Jesus and Jehovah can be both the "Alpha and the Omega." Also ask if this means that Jehovah God had a &quo t;beginning," because arche is used to describe Him? Her arche means "the source of the creation of God because he is the creator of all things. John 1;1-3 says Jesus (the Word) created Òall things...and without Him was made nothin g that was made."
If Christ was created, He would have had to have created Himself, which is impossible.
Colossians 1:15 - 17 - Jesus is call the "first-born of all creation. For in Him were all things created...He is before all and by Him all thing were created." JWs think this means Jesus is the first created being.
"Firstborn" here does not refer to time, but to preeminence. It is a title given by a father to his son. Isaac, Jacob and Ephraim received the blessing of being "first-born," though they were not biologically the first sons born to the ir parents.
The text doesnt say Jesus was created. If so, St. Paul would have said Jesus created all other things, but he did not. Jesus is the Creator of all things. He is God. He is given the tit le "first-born" as the title of His preeminence and because He is eternally begotten by the Father.
Ask the JWs if they agree that Collosians 1:15 -17 means that Christ created everything . They"ll say yes. Then show them Isaiah 44:24: "This is what the Lord says, your Redeemer who formed you in the womb: "I am the Lord , who has made all things, who stretched out the heavens, who spread the earth by myself." Ask them w hy, if Christ created "all things," it says the Lord God - the Hebrew word used here is Yahweh (Jehovah) - did it by Himself.
Tell th e Witnesses you believe God is not a God of confusion, but of order and truth. Since He inspired Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16), Scripture cannot contradict itself. Quote the following verses and show that only the Catholic position harmonizes all texts.< /FONT>
John 1:1-3 - "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God...All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made."
Before you bring up the verse, ask the JWs if they believe there are false gods. They will say yes. Then ask them to read John 1:1 from their Bible, which changes the passages to read. "the Word was a god." Then ask if Christ is the "true" God or a "false "God. They will say a "true" god, but that He is not the One True Almighty God. Then ask him to explain that Jehovah God commands us to have no other God besides Him (Ex. 20:3 ). Christ is either the One True God, or He is a false god (cf. Isa. 43:10: 44:6-8; John 17:3;1 Cor. 8:4;1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19).
Christ is here clearly identified as God, the Creator of all things . Notice that Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning God created" everything in the universe. This means Christ is God.
The JWs will respond that the Greek text actually says "the Word was a god"; meaning, Jesus is not the one true God (Jehovah); He was "godlike," but still just a man. They argue that because the Greek definite article ho (the) is not used before the Greek word for God (theos), when referrin g to Jesus, He cannot be God, Jehovah. There are defects with this argument. First, in this passage the word theos is a predicate nominative, and according to Koine Greek grammar rules, predicate nominatives do not take the definite article.
Second, the JWs are inconsistent. Their New World Translation Bible translates theos (without the definite article ho) as "Jehovah" or "God" numerous times (cf. Matt. 5:9, 6:24; Luke 1:35, 2:40: John 1:6, 12,13,18: Rom. 1:7,17,18: Titus 1:1). The reason they won't translate it that way in John 1:1 is because to do so would shatter their claim that Christ is not God.
Third, Christ is call ho theos (the God) elsewhere in Scripture. For example: "But to the Son (the Father) saith, "Thy throne, O God, (ho theos) is for ever and ever'" (Heb. 1:8; see also Titus 2:13, where the definite article tou (the geneti ve singular form of ho) precedes the phrase "Great God and Savior"; and "Thomas answered and said to (Jesus):" My Lord and My God'" (John 20:28). The Greek reads; ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou ("the Lord of me and the God of me"). If the Witnesses argue that in John 20:28 Thomas was exaggerating about Jesus, point out that if Jesus was not God, Thomas would have been blaspheming and Jesus would have rebuked him, but He didn't - He clearly approves of what Thomas said.
The JWs argue that Thomas referred to Jesus as "Lord" and then to the Father as "God," respond that there is no evidence for this in the text and Thomas was directl y addressing Jesus, not the Father.
Revelation 22:6 -"And the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets (ho kurios ho theos) sent His angels to show His servants the things that must be d one shortly."
Who is the Lord God who sent His angels? The Witnesses will say it is Jehovah, but Revelations 22:16 (just ten verses later) says: "I Jesus have sent my angel to testify toy ou these things in the Churches." Jesus is "the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets" spoken of in verse 6.
Luke 12: 8-9 - "And I tell you, every one who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God."
Matthew 13:41 says. "The Son of man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His Kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers." Jesus and God are synonymous.
Genesis 18:25 and Joel 3:12 - Jehovah is the Judge of the wor ld.
Matthew 25:31 -46, John 5:27, 9:39; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 2 Timothy 4:1 say that Jesus Christ is the Judge of the world. How can Jesus and Jehovah both be the supreme judge?
Exodus 3:15 -18 - "Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His Name?' what s hall I say to them? God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO AMÓ...'Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you...The Lord, God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My Name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.'"
The Hebrew consonants for the divine name, I AM, are YHWH. By inserting the first three vowels for the Hebrew title for God, Adonai, and corrupting the pronunciation, the term JEHOVAH, is made. Ask the JWs if "Jehovah" (I AM) is the Name of the one true God.
Ask the Witnesses if they agree that using the divin e Name in vain, or applying it to oneself, would be considered blasphemy in the Old Testament (cf. Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Ask them what the penalty for doing this would be (cf. Lev. 24:16).
In John 8: 21-59 Jesus repeatedly claims the divine name "I AM" for Himself. the Jews understood that He was calling Himself God and wanted to stone Him for blasphemy (cf. John 5:18, 8-59, 10:30-36). Ask the Witnesses why the Jews would seek to stone J esus if He wasn't claiming to be God, especially since execution by stoning was reserved by Jewish Law for only a few crimes.
Exodus 20:10 - "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the L ord your God."
Jesus calls himself :"The Lord of the Sabbath" in Mark 2;28, thus identifying Himself as God. Cf., Isaiah 8:13 (referred to in 1 Peter 3:15) and Joel 2:31-32 (quoted i n Acts 2:20 -21 and Romans 10:13).
Acts 20:28 - "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he ob tained with His own blood."
Ask the Witnesses when Jehovah ever shed His own Blood. Ask them if Christ shed His own Blood for the Church (cf. Matt. 28:27-28: Mark 14:24: Luke 20:20; Rev. 5 -6: "Worthy art Thou to take the scroll and open its seals, for Thou wast slain and by Thy Blood didst ransom me for God..."This passage clearly refers to Christ as God.
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