Thank God For The New Atheists

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I plan to start on another project of sorts tomorrow, but for tonight, I’ve been thinking about something for some time in reviewing the literature of the new atheists and now is the time to say it.

The more I read the new atheists, the more I want to thank God for them. Why is this? There are a number of reasons.

First off, new atheist literature is quickly heralded as gospel around the blogosphere. People are suddenly quoting Dawkins and Harris as authorities in areas that they are not authorities in. While that can be aggravating at times when you debate these people, I realize a blessing in it.

The new atheists are not skilled authorities in what they say. It is simply by doing some basic checking even that one can see what they say is just false. Consider how one can often hear that the New Testament is nothing like the original. The only name I ever see dealing with this is Ehrman, yet in the scholarly literature rather than the popular, even Ehrman speaks well of the veracity of the New Testament and there are numerous other sources one could check.

Second, the new atheists don’t know how to do good research. I have written further about this here. It’s not just that their bibliography is lacking. Consider how for the new atheists, an excellent rejoinder to ask a Christian is “Who made God?” This is the kind of question I expect from a small child in Sunday School. It is not one I expect from a serious thinker. Lo and behold however, there it is.

In this, they also get the argument wrong. How often have I seen this coupled with the argument that claims that we believe that “Everything that exists has a cause.” Never have I seen cited the Christian who makes such a claim. If you are out there, please be quiet. You’re hurting the cause.

They do the same with the moral argument. No one is making the argument that you have to believe in God to be a good person. I don’t deny that that should help, but that is not the argument. Yet time and time again the new atheists argue that atheists can be good people and think they’re making a point.

Lastly, the new atheists have lowered the standard for their side. If someone like Dawkins is seen as the pinnacle of atheistic thought and someone like P.Z. Myers is out saying “The Courtier’s Reply” which is simply admitting that one has not studied because one not need to because the opponent’s beliefs are just dumb, counts as having a real argument, then we are in good hands.

Of course, we Christians need to stick to our guns and do our hard study, but something like this can allow us to corner the market. The new atheists with their bad research just bring forth discarded myths about Christianity and we can deal with them even easier than we could in the past. More and more information comes showing the new atheists to be wrong about much of what they speak and their works being criticized by their fellow atheists.

So to the new atheists, I say this. Please keep writing books. Please keep going on speaking tours. Spread your message far and wide please. I just love reading your books and realizing how bad the competition is and it’s going to be so great to see the next generation of apologists, who are quite serious, rise up and be able to answer some of the weakest arguments if not the weakest arguments for atheism ever.

Tomorrow, I hope to start a new project.

A Response To Paul Baird

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. The time has come for me to address the question that I said earlier that belongs to Paul Baird. Thus far, I have found Baird to be an atheist highly capable of dialogue and when a serious question like the one he has rises up, I wish to deal with it.

Basically, the question concerns the justice of God. Is it the case that Hitler could have prayed a prayer before he died and repented and wound up in Heaven while at the same time a Jew who had simply rejected Christ all his life and died in the gas camps would go to Hell?

How is that just?

It’s a good question and an understandable one, so let’s put into play some parameters for our discussion.

First, biblically, anyone who commits any sin whatsoever knowingly and unknowingly justifiably deserves Hell. Note that I am not saying that Hell is deserved to the same degree. I do believe there are degrees of sins just as there are degrees of acts of grace.

Second, there is no action that one can do that could merit eternal favor with God on one’s own. One has to come to God on God’s terms. You cannot do a good deed in order to cancel out a bad deed.

Third, apart from the saving work of Jesus on the cross, no one past, present, or future from that event would have any chance of salvation.

Is God’s system fair? Well let’s suppose that instead he had a system that was arbitrary clearly. In order to merit eternal life, at the end of your game, you have to have 1,000 points. Bad actions cost points and good ones gain them. Why 1000? Just because. Why how many points each action has? THhat’s just because also. You lose, say, 700 for murder and gain 2 for helping a little old lady across the street. You’d on the other hand gain 700 if you threw yourself on a live grenade to save innocents.

Is such a system fair? Hardly. It’s arbitrary and leaves the person in chaos wondering if they are or are not going to make it. What do we need? We need to get rid of the points system altogether. What if we had more of an all-or-nothing system related to good deeds as well?

Say, what if we had a system that meant one was on the path they needed to be on following as best they could and not rejecting the true path?

I believe this is a closer description. For those outside the body of Christ, I believe it’s best to say that frankly, we don’t know. We do know however that the judge of all the Earth will do right. No one will be able to say on the last day “It wasn’t fair.”

Someone like Hitler also will have a harder time repenting. The further you move from the light, the less likely you are to return to it. For the seeker, the closer you get to the light, the more likely you are to turn to it.

Now this has been an interesting diversion but keep in mind, it is a diversion. The truth of Christianity does not hinge on this. If Christ is not raised, then this is all just speculation that will never matter. Now if Christ has been raised, then this is important thinking on a topic that raises much controversy but is secondary The real question is “Did Jesus rise.” One should not reject God over a secondary question.

So I would put the question in my opponent’s course. What have you done to answer the question of “Did Jesus Rise?”

Presuppositional Apologetics on Unbelievable

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve finished up our study of the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” so now, I’m going to look at some other topics for the time being before the next big project. One topic I want to look at is the recent usage of presuppositional apologetics.

This was featured recently on Justin Brierley’s incredible program Unbelievable. The debate was between Christian Sye Tenbruggencate and atheist Paul Baird. This was round two of the debate. Now I do think round one that had been recorded last year went to Sye, but this time, I give the win to Paul and I wish now to critique some points from Sye’s presentation. Tomorrow, I could spend the blog answering an objection of Paul’s to Christianity presented on the show.

I have been in interaction with Sye and I have not been impressed by what I have seen. Sye had said on the air that other approaches to apologetics that did not presuppose God’s existence or start with Scripture were sinful. As an apologist using those other methods, I strongly disagree. I find that when the apostles dialogued in the book of Acts with unbelievers, they started with what their opponents knew and accepted as authoritative. If I am a non-Christian, I have no reason to accept Sye’s presuppositions. He needs to argue from the presuppositions of my worldview to convince me.

That having been said, I’m not ready to throw out the window what would be called the argument from reason. I do think there is something to the idea that if we find that our reason is the result of an accident, that there could be some reason to distrust it. We all seem to have this belief that our minds can interact with the world and tell us things about it and this is something fascinating worth studying.

If someone thinks they can use such an argument to demonstrate the existence of God, I say more power to them. It is not one I would use so there do not need to be any responses telling me why I should not accept the argument. I would accept a different form based on Aquinas’s fourth way, but it is not the presuppositional argument.

Looking at the debate, Paul did state to Sye that he was willing to grant theism so can Sye get him to specifically Christian theism? Much of the show was devoted to that and the hope was never delivered. Sye would say a nonsense sentence in response like “Pizza three music lamp green.” Well I’m sure at that that every Muslim out there was ready to repent and come to Jesus.

The argument from reason, like any other theistic argument, cannot get you to the Christian God. They do not rule out the Christian God either. They can get you to theism. This is a criticism many of the new atheists make of theistic arguments and sadly, many strongly Calvinistic Christians do. I have heard some say they dismiss the Five Ways for instance because those don’t get you to the Christian God specifically. Aquinas would say they were never supposed to. This is not to criticize Calvinism however. Someone can be a Calvinist and agree entirely with what I’m saying.

What Sye’s charge is is that people use logic and reason without a basis for the validity of logic and reason and they need God for that. Okay. Let’s suppose I grant that. Christianity is not the only system that can justify logic and reason in that case. Judaism can. Islam can. Deism can. Some cults could make such a claim. Aristotle himself would have had a basis for his logic and reason as well.

Sye’s response would be “But you don’t need a generic god! You need the true God!” I agree in a sense. Only the true God could account for reality. However, Sye’s argument is that it is inconsistent to trust logic without a basis for it. If that’s the case, any of the theistic systems win on the question of consistency. However, while something must not be consistent to be true, it’s being consistent does not mean that it is true. I believe the Bible has no contradictions, but that does not mean that if it had no contradictions it would be ipso facto true. If the Harry Potter series has no contradictions, that does not make it historical.

There has also been the case that man cannot know anything about God apart from the revelation of Scripture. I find it interesting that it seems Romans 1:20 is a verse that is used to defend this position when in fact, I think that it argues just the opposite position. Let’s look at the verse:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The Apostle Paul is arguing in Romans 1 that God is angry with the Gentiles for how they’ve lived. In Romans 2 however, he argues that the Jews are just as guilty. However, their condemnation is in some ways worse because they have the Scriptures and they still do not live as they ought. Thus, it is implicit in Romans 1 that these are people without the Scripture but only have general revelation.

These people are without excuse. Why? Because they do know there is a call to their lives. After all, Romans 2 makes it clear that the testimony of the law is written on their hearts. They know right and wrong as general revelation. (Another point for the new atheists to learn. You do not need the Bible to know right from wrong and the Bible is not the moral standard) Still, the gentiles are doing what is wrong.

Thus, they are without excuse. They know enough about the true God to know that he could not be contained by idols and such representations, but they do it anyway. Now does this mean this knowledge of the true God is salvific? Not necessarily. There is the question of those who’ve never heard of course and there is debate on that, but just having a right concept of God insofar as it goes is not enough to bring about salvation.

In fact, that’s what we have in other religions. Muslims and Jews both have some right beliefs about God. The arguments for natural theology can be used by the Muslims and Jews just as well as by the Christians. Of course, when it comes to special revelation, this is where they differ. Sye’s argument would say you need a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, immutable, etc. Well Jews and Muslims believe in that kind of God. “But that’s not the true God!” This is where we come to the main point.

There is not a single philosophical argument that can be used to prove Christianity. That does not mean philosophy is useless of course. Philosophy can defend the Trinity once Scripture establishes it. Philosophy can support the belief systems of Christianity. Philosophy can guide our thinking so we think rightly when studying the Scriptures. However, you cannot use just thinking and get to the point of saying “God revealed Himself in Jesus through Jesus’s death and resurrection and I need to believe on Him for eternal life.”

Philosophy can get you to God, but it will not get you to the cross. The cross and the empty tomb are events that take place in space and time and thus, they need the backing of arguments based on space and time. That is, they need history. You need to demonstrate historically that Jesus rose from the dead. Even if you could philosophically disprove other systems, it would not historically demonstrate Christianity, which is a historic faith resting on historical events.

Thus, I consider the argument as used for theism, one that is workable, but to say it works only for Christian theism, I deem it a failure in that sense. Let us not make the mistake of thinking what would not want to be thought, that with our reason alone we can reach a saving knowledge of God. We cannot. We need him to reach down to us and we need to use history to understand how he did so.

Should You Believe In The Trinity Conclusion

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” and tonight, we’re going to wrap things up as it looks like the Watchtower has and the arguments are all done. I don’t plan to cover new information tonight, but rather to just bring closure to what I hope has been for you an enjoyable and educational series.

First off, I could grant for the sake of argument that the Trinity is false. Granting that, this booklet is still a terrible booklet. Why is that? There is no interaction with Christian arguments. Christians are cited for disagreement more than anything else. We must always remember to beware the sound of one-hand clapping.

There is also the problem then of just referencing period. The Watchtower does not tell me where I am to find the information that they provide. That makes it very hard to track down which I think is the point. Who wants people tracking down this material to see how badly it’s being misquoted. I specifically suggest the reader look back to specific instances where it can be shown that misquoting and taking out of context is taking place.

This is interesting considering that credits are given even for the artwork….

Second, the argumentation just doesn’t follow. Often times, the Watchtower confuses the Trinity with modalism, such as the claim that Jesus cannot be the same person as the Father. Trinitarians agree with that. The sad reality is that the reason this works on Christians a lot of times is that the Christians have not been doing their homework on the Trinity and that is because of a lazy anti-intellectualism that has grown in the church. Just worship Jesus. What matters is how you feel. Don’t think about stuff. Avoid doctrine.

Third, this is a call to the church to do better. It’s been said that the average JW can turn the average Christian into a doctrinal pretzel in 90 seconds or less, and that’s because JWs do study more than Christians do. Now I’ll grant that it’s more indoctrination on their part than it is study, but they are taking their beliefs a lot more seriously than most Christians do.

We Christians need to realize that the Trinity is not just a doctrine that we say we believe and use to beat up Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is foundational to us. It should provide life and joy to us. We should be in utter awe of the doctrine of the Trinity and realize the rich depths it has. I urge you to read not only about defending the Trinity, but realizing the difference that the Trinity makes.

Thus, I conclude my long project of looking at this booklet and I do hope that it has been of service. If someone uses some of this material and wins a Witness to Christ, I would absolutely love to hear about it. If it helps you also, keep in mind we are supported here by your prayers and donations. I hope you will do the former and consider at least the latter.

Tomorrow, we shall discuss something different.

No Conflict

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re nearing the end of our look at the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Tonight, we’re going to go past the Colwell rule section as I believe those who are experts in Greek should speak there, but I am going to take on the next section called “No Conflict.”

The Watchtower asks us that if Jesus is a god, does that disagree with the biblical idea that there is only one God? To them, not at all, for there is only one God Almighty. No one else is in that position.

This doesn’t work however because few of the gods in the pagan systems that were polytheistic were considered Almighty. It was not the amount of power the gods had that was at issue. YHWH would not have said “You can believe in Molech just so long as you recognize that I am Almighty. No. YHWH shared his glory with no one. (Interesting that he shares it with Jesus.)

Were angels called gods in the Bible and is satan called a god? Yes. He is. Human rulers are said to be gods as well. What kind of gods are we talking about? We are talking about functional gods and not ontological gods. These beings functioned like they were gods in a sense, but they are not gods by their being.

The Watchtower asks if Jesus is to be called Almighty based on Isaiah 9:6. No. Jesus is a “Mighty god.” (Do note also that YHWH must be the same since he’s called that in Isaiah 10:21) In fact, I would place a great emphasis on Jesus being called Wonderful in Isaiah 9:6. That is the title the Angel of the Lord used of Himself in Judges 13 and the Angel of the Lord I would and have argued is ontologically equal to God and an appearance of the pre-incarnate son.

What about John 20:28? The Watchtower says some scholars think Thomas could have been making an exclamation of astonishment. Who are these scholars? I could tell you if the Watchtower had told us. However, while today we may say “My God” when something happens incredible, the Jews were not nearly so flippant. What Thomas said was “The Lord of me and the God of me” and it was said to Jesus in response to Jesus’s words to him.

But the Watchtower says this can’t be what was meant since John 17:3 says otherwise, which I think is their favorite verse. Again, this isn’t a problem. Jesus is subsumed under the identity of the one true God by being God’s Wisdom. It fits in just fine with Jewish thinking.

What about John 20:17 where Jesus says “my Father and your Father and my God and your God.” Note that he does not say “Our.” Jesus has his relationship by nature but we have it by adoption. Are we to think Jesus was an atheist however? Not at all. Seeing as he submitted to the Father, what is the conflict in having Him say the Father is God?

Finally, we are told that these were written so that we might know that Jesus is the Son of God, and I agree, but then we are told Son is literal. It is the same as a natural father and son.

Because I know several natural relationships that come about from a virgin birth with a son having pre-existence….

We shall continue next time.

“The Word Was God”

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the Watchtower booklet “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Tonight, we’re going to look at the rather lengthy section that they have on “The Word was God.”

Those who know about the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses know that they translate this as “The Word was a god.” Of course, I think if they do take that seriously, then they are indeed polytheists, as has been said before. On the other hand, there is a sense I could allow the translation and I would still not have a problem. It could be valid to say Jesus is a god in the way that Wisdom would be considered divine.

The Watchtower makes it a point to say that if the Word was with another person, it cannot be that other person. They quote the Journal of Biblical Literature where Jesuit Joseph A. Fitzmyer says if the latter part were rendered “the God” it would contradict the preceding clause that says the Word was with God.

The reality however is that this is exactly what Trinitarians argue! We do argue that if it said “The God” then that would mean that it was saying that Jesus was the God he was with and that he and the Father would be identical in person. The Watchtower has taken what Trinitarians argue and replaced it with a straw man. It’s a fine argument against modalism, but it does nothing to Trinitarianism.

The Watchtower then goes to a long list of translators that did not translate it the way most do today. Considering my response yesterday, things have not changed. A long list of English translations that agree does not justify that translation. It could still be wrong. Yes Watchtower. Thirty million Frenchmen can indeed be wrong. After all, I can show even more translations that say otherwise. That does not mean I win the translation war.

The Watchtower tells us that there’s two uses of Theos in the text. The first refers to Almighty God, which is the start of the question-begging. For them, Almighty God is one person and thus if anyone is with Almighty God, then by definition, that person cannot be Almighty God.

Now it is true that there was no indefinite article in Greek, but that does not mean that every noun that does not have the definite article before it should have “a” before it. For instance, should we read John 1:6 as saying that a man was sent from “a god.” In fact, John 1:1 says “In the beginning” but there is no definite article before “beginning.”

The reasoning usually given by commentators is that John 1:1 is a predicate normative. There are two nouns in the normative case and when a case as this one described shows up, the second use of the word Theos would be to describe the nature of the subject under question. In other words, God can be predicated of the Word.

Again, there is nothing new here really and the Watchtower has a case that I daresay they would have a hard time finding a scholar of Greek who would defend it.

We shall continue next time.

I Am

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” At the moment, we’re looking at verses that the Watchtower says Trinitarians use to back the Trinity but that the Watchtower claims doesn’t work.

This one starts at John 8:58 which should be recognizable as an allusion to Exodus 3:14. The Watchtower takes us back there however and cites the opinion. Interesting that the Watchtower goes back to one person who was writing about 50 years prior to the publication of this booklet. I’m not surprised. It seems the Watchtower method is to go through history, find one person who agrees with their view, and then shout out that they have confirmation.

You can find scholars however who will argue for nearly any position. I’m not against scholarship of course, but the reality is not that you believe something because scholars say it, but you need to know why the scholars say it. Of course, if many scholars say something and especially if it’s a case of something that would not be advantageous to their position, there’s good reason to affirm it.

The Watchtower tells us that some translate this as “I will be.” Why? Well, don’t ask such questions. You won’t find an answer. The Watchtower thinks it’s sufficient to show that one person agrees with them. It would be good of them to give the reason why their scholar is right and why everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

When it comes to their justification of John 8:58, we have instead a long list of translations that do not translate it as “I AM.” Well if that’s the game that they’re playing, all anyone needs to do is go to any Bible web site themselves and count out how many translations render the verse a certain way.

In fact, I have here just such a collection.

The Watchtower has five translations listed. I have more. Is it the case then that I automatically win the translation war? No. Instead, we’d want to look at the reasons why scholars do translate the verse the way that they do. However, there is just such a resource that does show the verse to be read as “I Am.”

And that source happens to be from the Watchtower.

It’s the Kingdom-Interlinear Translation. All you have to do is if you come across the rare JW who has this, just ask them to open it up to John 8:58 and read what it says on the side of the Greek. Lo and behold, they will read that it says “I am.” In this case, who am I to argue with the Watchtower?

Do I have independent reasons for believing it’s translated correctly traditionally? Yes. Jesus was not speaking about how old he was. He was speaking about existence. He was around before Abraham. He was around because He always was. What was the response of the crowd? They wanted to stone him. Was he claiming to be just older than Abraham? If so, they would have simply thought him a lunatic. No. The problem was not that the Jews misunderstood Jesus. They understood him entirely. He made a divine claim and they knew the response to that was stoning.

We shall continue next time.

I And The Father Are One

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’re still going through the Watchtower booklet “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” We are finally on the part where we are discussing biblical prooftexts and tonight, we are going to look at John 10:30.

The Watchtower takes us to John 17:21-22 in response where Jesus prays that his followers would be one with Him and the Father. Was he praying that they would be one entity? Since that is the case, then surely in the instance of John 10, he is not saying that he and the Father are one entity.

This could depend on what the Watchtower means by entity, which is simply unclear. They have consistently confused the idea of the Trinity saying that the Father and the Son are not the same person and since there is a difference between the two, the Trinity must be false, a position they should know is not Trinitarianism.

Now does being one sometime refer to something other than ontological oneness? Of course. However, how are the Father and Son one? They are of the same nature. They are of a nature of love and holiness. This would include a unity of purpose, but it would also go beyond such a unity.

How are the disciples to be one? Paul tells us in Philippians. We are to be of like mind. We should all be going forward with one pursuit. We can speak of a group of men acting as one man. In this, they are in union with one another and there is no division between them.

This nature is also holiness. We are to be holy because God is holy, as we are told numerous times in Leviticus. The Son shares that holiness and love with the Father by nature. We as the followers of Christ have that by adoption. It is granted to us by the gift of grace.

The Watchtower also tells us that Jesus immediately denied this charge. He did not. The Jews knew quite well what he was claiming so he answered them from their Scripture. It is a passage of Scripture that many Christians have not understood, but when it is understood, it turns out to be a powerful argument for the deity of Christ from this passage.

Jesus points to their Scripture which they claimed came from an infallible authority and says “Does it not say in there ‘ye are gods.’ ” Now who is it that he’s talking about? In this case, it’s about wicked men, wicked men who I believe were the leaders of Israel at the time. These men who were evil nevertheless in their position of leadership had a functional role as gods.

If wicked men can be functionally gods to Israel, how much more then can Jesus, the one who is the Son of God, be ontologically equal to the God of Israel? After all, if the wicked can claim a title and it be true, then the righteous can claim it and it can be true to a greater extent.

The Jews knew this full well so they sought to stone him again.

Again, the Watchtower I do not believe has made their case strongly enough here. Yes. I realize John Calvin disagreed. Even if he was right, there are many other passages. However, in this case, I will stick with what most have said.

We shall continue next time.

Three In One

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve lately been going through the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Now, we’re finally going to start going to specific Trinitarian prooftexts that can be used to support the Trinity. Some I will find weaker than others. Some I would not even use. However, let’s start with three in one passages the Watchtower brings up.

The verses are 2 Corinthians 13:13-14, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, and Matthew 28:19. I would agree that these verses in themselves do not prove the Trinity. The Watchtower makes much about whether a verse explicitly states the Trinity. I do agree that there is no verse that explicitly states the Trinity. I do not see why that is a problem however and it is up to the Watchtower to convince me that that is what must be done for any doctrine.

Matthew 28 however I consider the most important of all of these. Note that the actions are to be done in the name, singular, of the three persons. It does not mean they all share the same name in the sense the Watchtower means of Tom, Dick, and Harry. It means that they all possess the same authority. Now how is it that the Son and Spirit possess the same authority as YHWH and that they can be subsumed under His name?

One would think that for an organization that makes much of knowing what the name of God is, that they would take this much more seriously.

The Watchtower also brings up the baptism of Jesus and says that this does not prove the Trinity. Again, I agree. The Watchtower keeps forgetting that the Trinity is a cumulative case. It is a building block of the Trinity. For the Trinity to be true, there must certainly be three persons.

Reading this kind of thinking makes me think of how I can read atheistic rebuttals to the five ways of Aquinas for instance that think it’s something to say “But this argument does not prove that God is triune and possesses all the omni-attributes.”

At that point I just want to say “It wasn’t supposed to.” Neither were these verses supposed to prove the Trinity, although it is interesting how many verses there are that have all three persons mentioned as interacting together. They do not prove the Trinity, but they certainly can support it. They are what we call a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

Finally, the Watchtower says that 1 John 5:7 was added in later. With that, I agree, and I think it’s a shame when Christians want to jump straight to this verse to prove the Trinity. Even if you think it’s valid, you have to get into a whole other argument just to get it to be accepted. There are better texts to go to and ones that do not depend on a questionable text.

I thus conclude that the Watchtower is simply making the mistake that the new atheists also make. It is an all-or-nothing game instead of realizing that there is a cumulative case to be made.

We shall continue next time.

More On The Spirit

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to finish looking at the Holy Spirit. There’s just three sections remaining and I’d like to tie them all in together. Our discussion is coming from the Watchtower’s “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Thus far, we have not found much in their arguments. Let’s sum up the look they have of the Holy Spirit tonight.

To begin with, we are told the writers of the Old Testament never considered the Spirit a person. Okay. I’d be willing to grant that. So what? Their doctrine was developing. The writers of the Old Testament never conceived that a new set of books would come and be called the New Testament.

They also state that it is not unusual for something to be personified. In this, they are correct. However, that does not prove that personification is taking place in the case of the Spirit. Its not enough to say “Here are some examples of personification.” What must be done is to demonstrate that the descriptions of the Spirit are personifications.

The Watchtower also tells us that in 1 John 5:6-8, the Spirit, water, and blood are said to be witnesses. Blood and water aren’t persons, and thus, neither is the Spirit.

Very well.

In John 5, those that testify of Jesus are Jesus Himself, the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles Jesus was doing, and the Scriptures.

So which is it Watchtower? Are miracles and the Bible persons or are the Father, Son, and John the Baptist non-persons? There is no problem putting personal and non-personal sources together.

In actuality, 1 John 5 makes great sense. Water and blood could refer to Christ’s human nature, a counter to gnostic tendencies, or they could point to the baptism and crucifixion, or they could just point to the crucifixion. The Spirit meanwhile is a witness for Gnostic teachers who were making much about “spiritual claims”. John would be saying that the Spirit they have is sufficient to know Jesus came in the flesh.

What about language of filling which the Watchtower says would not be used if the Spirit was a person.

Then based on Ephesians 1:23 which says Christ fills all things and Ephesians 4:10 which says Christ fills the universe, Christ is not a person.

The idea of filling is most likely meant to convey the immediate presence of God in the life of a Christian through the Holy Spirit.

When we are told the Spirit speaks, that’s said to be done through humans or angels. Unfortunately, a text like Acts 13 is not dealt with in this case and it would be interesting to see the Watchtower demonstrate that that was through humans or angels.

And in fact, even if it was, so what? God can speak through humans and/or angels. What conclusion can be drawn then about the Spirit speaking through humans or angels? None whatsoever.

In commenting on Matthew 28:19, the Watchtower states that name does not mean a personal name. We agree. They state it is more like we ask someone to stop in the name of the law. We also agree. Finally, they state that the Spirit is included to show that the Spirit is from God and acts by divine will. We also agree.

If we are to say that the Spirit is impersonal however, will we not say the same of the Son? Could it be all three have divine authority because all three are fully divine?

As for neuter pronouns being used for the Spirit, this is because the word for spirit is a neuter word. Too much is made of grammar in this case, but I suggest the reader seek out those skilled in Greek grammar on this point.

As for the final point, some references would be nice. However, any Catholic source would readily state that the Bible does teach the personality of the Spirit and the deity of the Spirit. Without references, one really cannot tell. Surely it cannot be that the Watchtower wants it that way….