Friday, 26 December 2008

Should You believe in the Trinity - 6

Most Christians who talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses will eventually come across the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s [WBTS] booklet “Should You Believe In The Trinity” [abbreviated to “Trinity” from now on.]

As with most WBTS publications, the booklet gives the impression of being a well-produced, scholarly work. It is only as you check it out carefully that the errors begin to come to light. It may not be easy to get a Witness to investigate this publication but we want to give the opportunity to lovingly show some of the faults in it and hope you will be able to do the same with the next one that calls at the door. It is not wise to try to tackle all the arguments at once, concentrate on one at a time.

I have tried to see personally every book that the WBTS refer to. This was not easy at first because the WBTS left out references to page numbers, where and when published etc. Initially, thanks to the British Library I have managed to see most of them. Since completing my research, the WBTS have issued their list of all the original publications.

When you show that a particular quote is not the full one the reply that many Jehovah’s Witnesses have been given is, “Well the writer does say these words and therefore we are not misquoting them.” The answer I give to this is to quote John 3:16 & 17 from the New World Translation, as follows

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, in order that everyone... might... be destroyed.

Is that correct Mr Witness? No? Nevertheless, it is what is written in your Bible. I hope that through this the Witness will begin to see how dishonest it is, by judicial editing, to make any author say the opposite to what he or she actually said.

The “Trinity” booklet weaves a number of themes together but we have tried to break it down to a few main subjects each of which we will look at under the following headings.

A. MAIN WATCHTOWER ARGUMENTS - A summary of their main arguments.

B. PUBLICATIONS QUOTED - A look at the quotations they use, replacing, in bold italic print, anything of interest they have left out.

C. COMMENTS ON THE WATCHTOWER ARGUMENT - Highlighting anything that is wrong or suspect with their argument.

D. ADDED MATERIAL - A concise look at any extra material that will present another point of view.

SECTION 6 - THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD’S ACTIVE FORCE

A. MAIN WATCHTOWER ARGUMENTS


The words used for ‘Spirit’ in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, do not indicate that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. The Bible usage indicates a controlled force that Jehovah God uses. Certainly not a person and therefore cannot be part of the Trinity.

B. PUBLICATIONS QUOTED

Page 21. - Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p.9

Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers (of the Hebrew Scriptures) never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person.

COMMENT

This quote refers to the Old Testament. Later, referring to the New Testament, Fortman adds:

There is another series of texts that strangely suggests that the Holy Spirit is a person, for in these Paul says that the Spirit is, ‘grieved,’ ‘bears witness,’ ‘cries,’ ‘makes intercession,’ and ‘comprehends the thoughts of God.’ ... In all these so many personal acts are attributed in such close parallel to Christ that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to regard the Spirit as merely a divine impersonal force or personification. - p.21.

Page 22. - A Catholic Dictionary, WE.Addis & T.Arnold 1951, p.796

On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power... However if we look well to (1 Cor.12:11), we find that the Spirit is distinguished from the gifts of the Spirit, and that personal action is predicated of Him... In the fourth Gospel, however, this personal existence is stated more fully and plainly (ch.xiv).

Page 22. - The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol.7, p.409

Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person.

COMMENT

This is an honest quote but it is referring to the Old Testament. There follows four pages of evidence to show that in the New Testament the proof is there for us to see.

Page 22. - The New Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol.14, p.574

The Old Testament clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person... God’s spirit is simply God’s power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly.

COMMENT

This again is under the Old Testament section. One quote from the New Testament section is:

So clearly does St John see in the Spirit a person who takes Christ’s place in the Church, that he uses a masculine pronoun.

C. COMMENTS ON WATCIITOWER ARGUMENT

The quotes that the WBTS list, may agree that there is not much proof in the Old Testament to show that the Holy Spirit is neither a person nor God. However most go on to say that there is proof of the reality of the person of the Holy Spirit as part of the Godhead in the New Testament. We have listed under ADDED MATERIAL just a few of the major Scriptures.

D. ADDED MATERIAL

Three things are necessary in order to be classed as a person. Intellect, will and emotion.
John 14:26 tells us the Holy Spirit is able to teach. A sign of INTELLECT. 1 Corinthians 12:11 shows the Holy Spirit has a WILL of his own. And Ephesians 4:30 shows the Holy Spirit can be grieved, a sign of EMOTION.

It is clear that Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is a person. This can be clearly seen by reading John 14:7 & 13-15 in the NWT. Repeatedly the Holy Spirit is a HE. However, does the Bible also show that the Holy Spirit is God?

In Acts 5:3 Ananias lies to the Holy Spirit, but in Acts 5:4 Ananias lied to God.

But when there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away. Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom. And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed: into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by JEHOVAH [THE] SPIRIT. - 2 Cor.3:16-18 {NWT}

The Holy Spirit is not God’s active force as this verse clearly points out. The Holy Spirit is called by the name Jehovah; He is part of the Godhead.

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