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Son of God, Lord of Glory – The Biblical Doctrine of the Deity of Christ – Vintage

Please Note: This outline goes with tape #402, “Son of God, Lord of Glory,” available from 
Alpha and Omega Ministries.

I. Introduction

A. Need for this study

1. Historic Importance of the Deity of Christ

2. Modern attacks

B. Bible based – no apologies

C. There is one God

1. Biblical view

2. Jesus not a “god-like” one – Is. 46:9, Psalm 77:13, 113:5

3. Definition of the Trinity

a. Not teaching modalism or Sabellianism

b. Not teaching polytheism

D. Method and outline

II. Jesus as God

A. John 1:1-3, 14, 18

1. Scripture quote

2. Translation 1:1-3

a. Background

b. Context

1) Immediate

2) Book-wide

c. Quotes

3. Interpretation

4. Interpretation of 1:14

5. Textual considerations 1:18 – John 6:46

6. Interpretation

B. John 20:28-29

1. Thomas’ confession

2. Jesus’ blessing

C. Acts 20:28

D. Romans 9:5

E. Hebrews 1:6-8

1. Context

2. OT Background

3. ho theos – vocative or nominative?

F. 1 John 5:20

G. Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:12

H. Isaiah 9:6

1. Messianic passage

2. Use of el gibbor

III. Jesus in Relation with the Father

A. Matthew 11:27 (Luke 10:22)

B. John 5:18-47; 19:7

1. Translation

2. Interpretation

C. John 10:30-38

1. Psalm 82:6

2. Jews don’t stone angels

3. The nature of “one”

4. Jesus’ argument

D. John 14:1-11

E. John 14:28

1. Context – setting

2. Meaning

F. John 17:10

G. Philippians 2:3-8

1. Context, 3-5

2. Possible Interpretations

H. Hebrews 1:1-3

1. Meaning of apaugasma (radiance)

2. character, hupostasis

I. Revelation 1:7-8, 17-18, 22:13

J. Proverbs 8:22

1. Meaning of qana (possessed me)

2. Various interpretations

IV. Jesus Working as, and Described as, God

A. Mark 2:5-7

B. Colossians 1:13-17

1. The extent of creation -ta panta

2. Creator, not creation (John 1:3)

C. Colossians 2:9-9

D. Revelation 5:13

E. Micah 5:2

1. Meaning of motzaah – “goings forth”

2. Meaning of olam as well as mikedem (Habakkuk 1:12)

V. Comparison Texts

A. Introduction and Importance

B. Matthew 1:21/Psalm 130:8, Isaiah 35:4 [God will save His people]

C. Matthew 3:12, Revelation 6:16, Psalm 2:12/Psalm 76:7 [Fear God]

D. Matthew 5:18/Mark 13:31 [God’s Word is eternal; Jesus’ Word is eternal]

E. Matthew 25:31-46/Psalm 50:6, 59:11, 96:13 [God is Judge, Jesus is Judge]

F. John 1:3/lsaiah 44:24 [Yahweh alone created all things]

G. John 1:7-9/lsaiah 60:9 [God is light]

H. John 7:37-38/Jeremiah 2:13 [Yahweh the fountain of living water]

I. John 10:11/Psalm 23:1, Psalm 100:3 [The Good Shepherd]

J. John 12:41/Isaiah 6:1 [The vision of Isaiah – Yahweh’s glory]

K. John 13:19/lsaiah 43:10 [I AM]

1. John 8:58

2. John 18:5-6

3. John 8:24

L. John 14:6/Psalm 31:5 [God is truth]

M. John 14:14/1 Corinthians 1:2 [Prayer to Jesus]

N. John 14:26 & 16:27/Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11, Nehemiah 9:20, 2 Samuel 23:2-3 [Spirit of

YHWH/God/Christ]

O. John 17:5/lsaiah 48:11 [Will not give His glory to another]

P. Acts 1:8/Isaiah 43:10 [Witnesses of Whom?]

Q. Acts 4:24/2 Peter 2:1/Jude 4 [Who is our Master?]

R. Romans 10:13/Joel 2:32 [Call on the name of … I

S. Ephesians 4:8-9/Psaim 68:18 [God leads the captives…

T. Philippians 2:10-11/lsaiah 45:23 [Every knee will bow…

U. Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 5:25, 27/Romans 11:36 [All things are to God…]

V. Colossians 1:17/Acts 17:28 [We exist in God]

W. Colossians 2:3/1 Timothy 1:17 [Only wise God … treasure of wisdom]

X. 2 Timothy 1:12/Jeremiah 17:5 [Trust in Yahweh – believe in Jesus]

Y. Hebrews 1:3/1 Timothy 6:15 [Jesus’ power – God is only sovereign]

Z. Hebrews 1:10/Psalm 102:25 [Jesus is Yahweh]

AA. Hebrews 13:8/Malachi 3:6 [God changes not]

BB. James 2:1/Zechariah 2:5 [Lord of glory]

CC. 1 Peter 2:3/Psalm 34:8 [Taste that Yahweh is good]

DD. 1 Peter 3:15/lsaiah 8:13 [Sanctify Yahweh]

EE. Revelation 1:5-6/Exodus 34:14 [Glorify Jesus]

FF. Revelation 1:13-16/Ezekiel 43:2 [God’s voice is the voice of Jesus]

GG. Revelation 2:23/1 Kings 8:39 [Jesus searches the hearts]

HH. Revelation 3:7/Revelation 15:4 [God alone is holy]

VI. Topical Sections

A. The name of Jesus (Acts 4:17-18. 5:28, 40-41, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Philippians 2:10-11)

B. Jesus the Savior (Genesis 22:2)

C. The Worship of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:9, 17, John 9:9, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 5)

D. The meaning of monogenes “only begotten” or “unique”

E. Jesus the Eternal Creator

F. The Lord Jesus Christ – Paul’s periphrasis for Christ

G. The Yom Yahweh///Day of the Lord

H. The Trinitarian Formulai [1 Thess. 1:3-5, 2 Thess. 2:13, 1 Cor. 2:2-5, 6:11, 12:4-6, 2 Cor. 1:21- 22, 13:14, Rom. 8:26-27, 14:17-18, 15:16, Col. 1:6-8, Eph. 2:18, 3:16-17, 4:46, etc. and etc.]

VII. Indirect Evidences of Christ’s Deity

A. Christ’s Words Concerning Himself

1. Matthew 11:28-30

2. John 14:6

3. Luke 14:25-26 [hate father and mother – come to me]

4. Luke 7:36ff [parable of debtor]

5. John 6:37 [I will in no wise cast out…

6. John 16:14 [He [the Holy Spirit) will glorify me…

B. The Apostle’s Witness

1. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

2. Philippians 1:21 [live for Christ]

VIII. Patristic Interpretation

A. Apostolic Fathers

1. Clement

2. Ignatius

3. Polycarp

4. Didache

5. Hermas

B. The Early Church Fathers

1. Irenaeus

2. Melito of Sardis

3. Athenagoras

4. Tertullian

5. Hyppolytus

6. Novatian

7. Origen

8. Gregory Thaumaturgus

C. Post-Nicene Fathers

1. Athanasius

2. John Chrysostom

3. Augustine

 This outline corresponds to cassette series #402.

Historical Dishonesty and the Watchtower Society: Ignatius and the Deity of Christ – Vintage

Historical Dishonesty and the Watchtower Society

A Review of the Watchtower’s Comments Concerning the View of Ignatius of
Antioch and the Deity of Christ

By James White, B.A., M.A.
Adjunct Professor Teaching Church History, Grand Canyon University

Background

During the summer of 1989, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
distributed, through its District Conventions, a new pamphlet entitled
“Should You Believe in the Trinity?” This booklet was sub-titled, “Is
Jesus Christ the Almighty God?” The booklet was interesting for many
reasons, one being the fact that it contained no footnote references
for its many supposedly scholarly claims. Another aspect of the
booklet that caught the attention of many Christian reviewers was its
attempted treatment of the writings of the early Fathers of the
Christian faith, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of
Alexandria, Hippolytus, and Origen (“Should You Believe in the
Trinity?” p. 7). The statements made by the Watchtower Society
regarding the views of these men were so far removed from the truth
that entire books began appearing on the market, all easily refuting,
directly from the writings of the Fathers, the claims made by the
booklet.
One early Father conspicuous by his absence from the
“Trinity” booklet was the bishop of Antioch, Ignatius. The reason
seemed fairly obvious: the statements by Ignatius regarding the deity
of Christ are clear and legion, and hence Ignatius did not fit into
the purpose of the Society’s publication. Admitting that such an
early Father as Ignatius (he died around A.D. 107) spoke often of “our
God, Jesus Christ” would not suite the Society’s position. Hence, no
mention was made of him in the booklet.
We were quite surprised, then, to learn that the February 1, 1992
Watchtower magazine contained an article that attempted to deal with
the teachings of Ignatius of Antioch regarding the Deity of Christ.
We knew that a series of articles had begun in the November 1, 1991
Watchtower entitled “Did the Early Church Teach That God is a
Trinity?” We felt that this series was an attempt to buttress the
tremendously flawed material that had appeared in the “Trinity”
booklet two years earlier. In the second part of this series, which
is to be found in the February 1, 1992 edition of the Watchtower,
pages 19-23, we find an attempt to deal with The Didache, Clement of
Rome’s letter to the Corinthians, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp,
Hermas, and Papias. The article shows unconstrained bias in its
dealing with each of these patristic sources, but we will focus our
attention in this article upon the comments that take up all of page
21, those comments that deal with Ignatius of Antioch.

The Article

Ignatius, a bishop of Antioch, lived from about the middle of
the first century C.E. to early in the second century.
Assuming that all the writings attributed to him were
authentic, in none of them is there an equality of Father,
Son, and holy spirit.

Please note that the author (no names indicating authorship are ever
given in Watchtower publications) introduces the issue of authenticity
right at the beginning, and necessarily so. As we will see, the
writer had available to him eight “pseudo-Ignatian” epistles, that are
recognized by scholars to be later works, as well as a “longer
recension” or version of Ignatius’ true epistles. This longer version
contains a great deal of material that gives internal evidence of
having come from a later time period. We say that our writer had to
introduce the issue of authenticity, for he will quote *exclusively*
from either the pseudo-Ignatian epistles, or from the longer recension
of the genuine epistles, to make his case. Further note that the
author asserts that in “none” of the Ignatian writings (and we must
assume he includes the genuine shorter version) do we find an equality
of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Even if Ignatius had said that the Son was equal to the
Father in eternity, power, position, and wisdom, it would
still not be a Trinity, for nowhere did he say that the holy
spirit was equal to God in those ways. But Ignatius did not
say that the Son was equal to God the Father in such ways or
in any other. Instead, he showed that the Son is in
subjection to the One who is superior, Almighty God.

We must note the direct assertion that Ignatius “did not say that the
Son was equal to God the Father” in eternity, power, position, or
wisdom. As we examine the genuine Ignatian materials, we will see the
importance of this claim. Following this paragraph, the
Watchtower article goes on to provide three paragraphs of quotations
from the longer version of the seven genuine Ignatian epistles, as
well as from the pseudo-Ignatian epistles. *No citations are provided
from the earliest, Greek versions of the genuine Ignatian writings.*
These citations will be examined in their place.
It seems that the author is aware that he is leaving out a great
deal of testimony to the deity of Christ, for he goes on to say,

True, Ignatius calls the Son “God the Word.” But using the
word “God” for the Son does not necessarily mean equality
with Almighty God. The Bible also calls the Son “God” at
Isaiah 9:6. John 1:18 calls the Son “the only-begotten god.”
Being vested with power and authority from Jehovah God, the
Father, the Son could properly be termed a “mighty one,”
which is what “god” basically means.–Matthew 28:18, 1
Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2.

We will examine, later, the validity of this claim with reference to
Ignatius’ use of the term “God.”
At this point the author introduces the issue of the authenticity
of the Ignatian literature that he has cited:

However, are the 15 letters attributed to Ignatius accepted
as authentic? In _The Ante-Nicene Fathers_, Volume I,
editors Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson state:
“It is now the universal opinion of critics, that the
first eight of these professedly Ignatian letters are
spurious. They bear in themselves indubitable proofs of
being the production of a later age…and they are now by
common consent set aside as forgeries.”
“Of the seven Epistles which are acknowledged by
Eusebius…,we possess two Greek recensions, a shorter and a
longer….Although the shorter form…had been generally
accepted in preference to the longer, there was still a
pretty prevalent opinion among scholars, that even it could
not be regarded as absolutely free from interpolations, or as
of undoubted authenticity.”

We note again that our author, though providing this information, does
not directly tell his readers that *all of the citations he provided
earlier were taken either from the longer version of the genuine
epistles, or from those epistles that, by the “universal opinion of
critics” are set aside as spurious.* In fact, in the concluding
paragraph, he says that “some” phrases that show Christ as subordinate
to God are eliminated by using only the genuine Ignatian writings.
Actually, *all* of the author’s citations are eliminated by sticking
with the original writings of Ignatius. We read,

If we accept the shorter version of his writings as genuine,
it does eliminate some phrases (in the longer version) that
show Christ as subordinate to God, but what is left in the
shorter version still does not show a Trinity. And
regardless of which of his writings are genuine, they show at
best that Ignatius believed in a duality of God and his Son.
This was certainly not a duality of equals, for the Son is
always presented as lesser than God and subordinate to him.
Thus, regardless of how one views the Ignatian writings, the
Trinity doctrine is not to be found in them.

Note that the author does not openly admit that if he were limited to
the genuine Ignatian writings that *all* of his citations would be
removed from him. Further, he asserts that the “shorter version still
does not show a Trinity.” He further says that “the Son is always
presented as lesser than God and subordinate to him.”
Thus we have the presentation of the Watchtower Society on the
beliefs of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. Millions of people world-wide
have now read these words, and believe implicitly that the ancient
Father Ignatius did not say “that the Son was equal to God the Father”
in any way. Before we examine all the claims made by this article, we
will stop to allow the true Ignatius to speak for himself.

Ignatius on the Deity of Christ

Early in the second century, Ignatius made a journey from his
home in Antioch to Rome, where he expected a certain death as a martyr
for his testimony to Jesus Christ, his Lord. While visiting Smyrna,
he wrote letters to the churches of the Ephesians, Magnesians,
Trallians, and Romans. Later on in his journey, while at Alexandria
Troas, Ignatius wrote three more letters, one to the Smyrneans, one to
Polycarp, and one to the Philadelphians. These seven letters make up
the true Ignatian corpus. As was mentioned above in the quotation
from Roberts and Donaldson, two recensions of these letters exist.
The longer recension bears the unmistakable evidence of a much later
time-period than the early second century, and hence are seen as later
productions. The shorter version is representative of what Ignatius
felt was important to say to the churches as he went to a certain
death. We note again that the Watchtower article *did not once quote
from the true Ignatian materials.* Why? A review of the following
quotations should provide our answer.
The following quotations are taken from J.B. Lightfoot’s
translation. The same material, with minor translational differences,
will be found in Roberts and Donaldson, ANF I:49-96. Emphasis is
added.

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her which hath been
blessed in greatness through the plenitude of God the Father;
which hath been foreordained before the ages to be for ever
unto abiding and unchangeable glory, united and elect in a
true passion, by the will of the Father and of *Jesus Christ
our God*; even unto the church which is in Ephesus [of Asia],
worthy of all felicitation: abundant greeting in Christ Jesus
and in blameless joy (Ephesians 1).

My spirit is made an offscouring for the Cross, which is a
stumbling-block to them that are unbelievers, but to us
salvation and life eternal. Where is the wise? Where is the
disputer? Where is the boasting of them that are called
prudent? *For our God, Jesus the Christ,* was conceived in
the womb by Mary according to a dispensation, of the seed of
David but also of the Holy Ghost; and He was born and was
baptized that by His person He might cleanse water (Ephesians
18).

 

From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was
dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanished away, the
ancient kingdom was pulled down, *when God appeared in the
likeness of man* unto newness of everlasting life; and that
which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take
effect (Ephesians 19).

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath found
mercy in the bountifulness of the Father Most High and of
Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church that is beloved and
enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things
that are, by faith and love *towards Jesus Christ our God*;
even unto her that hath the presidency in the country of the
region of the Romans…(Romans 1).

Ignatius wrote to the Romans so as to ask them not to interfere with
his martyrdom. It is in this context that he wrote,

Only pray that I may have power within and without, so that I
may not only say it but also desire it; that I may not only
be called a Christian, but also be found one. For if I shall
be found so, then can I also be called one, and be faithful
then, when I am no more visible to the world. Nothing
visible is good. *For our God Jesus Christ, being in the
Father, is the more plainly visible.* The Work is not of
persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might,
whensoever it is hated by the world (Romans 3).

To the Smyrneans he wrote,

I give glory *to Jesus Christ the God who bestowed such
wisdom upon you;* for I have perceived that ye are
established in faith immovable, being as it were nailed to
the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in flesh and in spirit,
and firmly grounded in love in the blood of Christ, fully
persuaded as touching our Lord that He is truly of the race
of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine
will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John
that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly
nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and
Herod the tetrarch (of which fruit are we–that is, of His
most blessed passion); that He might set up an ensign unto
all the ages through His resurrection, for His saints and
faithful people, whether among Jews or among Gentiles, in one
body of His Church (Smyrneans 1).

Let no man be deceived. Even the heavenly beings and the
glory of the angels and the rulers visible and invisible, if
they believe not *in the blood of Christ [who is God],*
judgment awaiteth them also (Smyrneans 6).

Aside from directly calling Jesus Christ “God,” Ignatius gives us
a number of other indications of his strong belief in the deity of
Christ. For example, in writing to the Smyrneans he said,

For He suffered all these things for our sakes [that we might
be saved]; and He suffered truly, *as also He raised Himself
truly*; not as certain unbelievers say, that He suffered in
semblance, being themselves mere semblance.

Here Ignatius attacks the docetic teachers of his day, and in doing so
makes reference to the Lord Jesus raising *Himself* from the dead. As
modern Christians often assert, the entire Godhead was involved in the
resurrection–the Father is said to have raised Jesus from the dead
(Romans 4:24), and Jesus’ words in John 2:19-21 are clear as well.
Ignatius here asserts the Son’s role, and in his letter to the
Trallians (9) he confesses his belief that the Father raised Christ
from the dead as well.
Another vital passage is to be found in Ignatius’ letter to
Polycarp:

Await Him that is above every season, the Eternal, the
Invisible, who became visible for our sake, the Impalpable,
the Impassible, who suffered for our sake, who endured in all
ways for our sake (Polycarp 3).

Here Ignatius describes the Son as eternal, invisible, impalpable and
impassible. One is reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy (1:17),

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Surely Ignatius had no problem in describing the Son in this way. In
fact, one of the highest Christological statements to be found in the
early patristic literature is to be found in his letter to the
Ephesians:

There is only one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate
and ingenerate, God in man, true Life in death, Son of Mary
and Son of God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus
Christ our Lord (Ephesians 7).

Such a confession of faith shows a keen insight into the person of
Jesus Christ, for it shows that Ignatius was fully aware of the dual
nature of Christ–“God in man” is the way he put it. Fully man and
fully God–the Christian faith being confessed barely ten years after
the death of the last apostle.

Finally, with reference to the three Persons of the Trinity, we
note the following passage that comes close on the heals of the above:

…forasmuch as ye are stones of a temple, which were
prepared beforehand for a building of *God the Father*, being
hoisted up to the heights through the engine of *Jesus
Christ*, which is the Cross, and using for a rope the *Holy
Spirit*…(Ephesians 9).

One is immediately reminded of similar constructions found in the New
Testament in such places as Matthew 28:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, 2
Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, 6:11, 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians
1:21-22, 13:14, Romans 8:26-27, 14:17-18, 15:16, 15:30, Colossians
1:6-8, Ephesians 2:18, 3:16-17, and 4:4-6.
Let us summarize Ignatius’ view. Seven times Ignatius directly
calls Jesus Christ “God.” Four of these times he uses the phrase “our
God” or its equivalent. He expresses his belief that Jesus Christ
raised Himself from the dead, and in describing Him, uses such terms
as “eternal,” “invisible,” “impalpable,” and “impassible.” He speaks
of Christ as “God in man,” “true life in death,” and as “Son of Mary
and Son of God.” To any serious investigator, Ignatius’ belief in the
deity of Christ could not be more clear.
It is truly incredible that anyone could write an article that
allegedly gives an accurate view of Ignatius’ view of Christ *without*
citing the above passages, or even mentioning their existence! The
deception is only compounded by the fact that the real Ignatian
beliefs are hidden behind citations of non-Ignatian materials! We
turn now to an examination of the claims made in the article itself.

Examination and Refutation

It is recognized by patristic scholars that the writings of the
Apostolic Fathers, including the epistles of Ignatius, were not meant
to be read as systematic theologies. We have not attempted to make
Ignatius believe anything that he did not clearly express in his own
words. But we must realize that the letters he wrote were not meant
to be a full confession of his faith, nor are they to be thought of as
an exhaustive representation of the theology of the bishop of Antioch
early in the second century.
The author of the Watchtower article, however, does not
seem to be aware of this. As he attempts to press each of the Fathers
into a Witness mold, he makes statement after statement that would
require him to have the gift of omniscience to make with certainty.
He does the same with Ignatius. In the very first paragraph we read,

Assuming that all the writings attributed to him were
authentic, in none of them is there an equality of Father,
Son, and holy spirit.

We have seen that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are joined together
in the one work of redemption by Ignatius in Ephesians 9, cited above.
We noted how reminiscent this is to New Testament examples, such as
that at Ephesians 4:4-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Further, we must
rightly assert that Ignatius was not a “henotheist;” that is, Ignatius
was a monotheist, and did not believe in “secondary” gods. Hence,
when Ignatius refers to “our God, Jesus Christ,” he is not speaking of
“our secondary god, Jesus Christ.” Therefore, the equality of the
Father and Son is to be found in Ignatius.

But Ignatius did not say that the Son was equal to God the
Father in such ways or in any other.

We have already seen that Ignatius directly asserted the full deity of
Christ. He described Christ as being eternal (Polycarp 3) and
ingenerate (Ephesians 7). The term “ingenerate” is the Greek
“agennetos”, a common patristic description of the uncreated, eternal
nature of the one God. Obviously, then, with reference to eternity,
the Father and the Son would be equal. How, then, does the Watchtower
writer attempt to substantiate his claims? He presses into service
the pseudo-Ignatian epistles, as well as the longer recension of the
true Ignatian letters. The first quotation presented comes from the
longer version of the epistle to the Ephesians, ironically enough,
section 7. We have seen above that the real epistle contains at this
point a tremendously strong Christological confession, wherein Christ
is called “generate and ingenerate” and “God in man.” Here is the
citation as given in the Watchtower article:

Ignatius calls Almighty God “the only true God, the
unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father
and Begetter of the only-begotten Son,” showing the
distinction between God and His Son.

Note the following items: First, in the true epistle, the term
“ingenerate” used here of the Father (and clearly showing His eternal
deity) is used of Christ. Second, it is highly educational to note
the very next sentence in the quotation from the longer recension, a
quotation, again, conveniently skipped by the Watchtower:

We have also a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, the
only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who
afterwards became also man, or Mary the virgin.

Even here the clear deity of Christ is proclaimed, and that in the
very materials that the article asserts “always presents” the Son as
“lesser than God.” Thirdly, we note that the Watchtower is quite
adept at misrepresenting the doctrine of the Trinity in its writings.
While at times giving accurate definitions, the writers of the
Watchtower often confuse the issue with statements such as the one we
see above, “…showing the distinction between God and His Son.” The
distinction that is clear in Ignatius, and is clear in the doctrine of
the Trinity as well, is between the Father and the Son. Many
Witnesses believe that the doctrine of the Trinity presents a
modalistic or Sabellian view of God–that is, they believe that
Christians feel that the Father is the Son, and the Son is the Spirit,
etc. There are some groups who believe like this–the United
Pentecostal Church (UPC) for example, preaches a “Jesus Only” or
“Oneness” theology–but such a viewpoint is not reflective of true
Trinitarian doctrine. The Father is not the Son, nor is the Son the
Father; therefore, to show a “distinction” between Father and Son is
to say nothing more than what the doctrine of the Trinity has said all
along. So pervasive is the misunderstanding of the doctrine of the
Trinity amongst Witnesses that the article can go on to make the
following statements:

He speaks of “God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And he declares: “There is one God, the Almighty, who has
manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son.”

The first quotation is from the conclusion of the longer version of
the epistle to the Ephesians, and the second is from the longer
version of section 8 of the epistle to the Magnesians. Though neither
is genuinely Ignatian in origin, neither causes us the slightest
problem with reference to the doctrine of the Trinity, either. Only
by *assuming* a modalistic view of the Godhead can one find a problem
in either of the citations.
Keeping in mind the true Ignatian reference to the eternity of
Christ (Polycarp 3), we are amazed to read the next false assertion by
the Watchtower:

Ignatius shows that the Son was not eternal as a person but
was created, for the has the Son saying: “The Lord [Almighty
God] created Me, the beginning of His ways.

The citation is from the spurious epistle to the Tarsians, section VI.
Note that the author says, “Ignatius shows…”; yet, can we possibly
believe that he did not notice that on page 105 of the volume of the
_Ante-Nicene Fathers_ from which he is quoting, we have the heading,
“Introductory Note to the Spurious Epistles of Ignatius”? How can he
quote the “universally admitted” opinion of critics that this epistle
to the Tarsians was *not* written by Ignatius, and yet say, “Ignatius
shows…”? He compounds the error in the next sentence:

Similarly, Ignatius said: “There is one God of the universe,
the Father of Christ, `of whom are all things;’ and one Lord
Jesus Christ, our Lord, `by whom are all things.’ ”

This is from the spurious epistle of Ignatius to Philippians, section
I. Again, we need not belabor the point that the author was well
aware that Ignatius did not say this, yet he uses the phrase,
“Ignatius said.” We note in passing that since this is, in fact,
nothing but Biblical language taken almost directly from 1 Corinthians
8:6, it does not cause the doctrine of the Trinity a moment’s unrest.
We see again that the Witness reader of this article is *expected* to
operate with a false (modalistic) view of the Trinity. This is the
“straw man” argument at its best.
As the next two citations in the article are given without
comment, and do not in any way impact the doctrine of the Trinity (nor
provide support for the assertion made by the article to begin with),
we will move on to the attempt by the writer to deflect the *one*
admitted instance of Ignatius calling the Son “God.” We read,

True, Ignatius calls the Son “God the Word.” But using the
word “God” for the Son does not necessarily mean equality
with Almighty God.

The author fails to provide us with a reference to this usage
regarding Christ being “God the Word” (although all other citations
are referenced). One such instance can be found in the spurious
letter to the Tarsians, section IV. We pause to again express
amazement that the author could so glibly give his readers the
impression that this is the *only* time Ignatius refers to Christ as
God. When we admit the longer versions and the spurious epistles to
the conversation, the occurrences of this construction is multiplied,
*yet there is no mention of this by the writer.* We cannot see any
possible excuse for such misrepresentation.
The attempt on the part of the Watchtower Society to deflect the
description of Christ as “God” in various Biblical passages (Isaiah
9:6, John 1:1, 1:18) by saying that the basic meaning of “god” is
“mighty one” is tremendously weak. First, Biblically speaking, the
contexts in which Christ is called God make is painfully clear that
the author is not simply saying that He is a “mighty one.” But
specifically in the context of Ignatius’ writings, our writer does not
even attempt to make a case that there is a basis for reading
Ignatius’ use of the term “God” with reference to Jesus Christ as
nothing more than a description of Him as a “mighty one.” A brief

 

examination of the citations above reveals the following: In
Ephesians 1, Ignatius speaks of “the will of the Father and of Jesus
Christ our God.” The divine will is predicated of Christ. In Romans
1 we see Ignatius speaking of “faith and love towards Jesus Christ our
God.” One does not have faith in “mighty ones,” and the greatest
commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul,
mind and strength” (Mark 12:30). In the introduction of the letter to
the Smyrneans, Ignatius gives *glory* “to Jesus Christ the God who
bestowed such wisdom upon you.” One does not give glory to a
secondary “mighty one,” and one does not speak of wisdom being
bestowed by anyone but the true God. There is no question that
Ignatius viewed the Son has having the very *fullness of Deity* that
Paul ascribed to Him as well (Colossians 2:9).

Conclusion

We read into the record once again the concluding statements of
the Watchtower’s attempt to present their doctrines under the name of
the bishop of Antioch:

And regardless of which of his writings are genuine, they
show at best that Ignatius believed in a duality of God and
his Son. This was certainly not a duality of equals, for the
Son is always presented as lesser than God and subordinate to
him. Thus, regardless of how one views the Ignatian
writings, a Trinity doctrine is not to be found in them.

We have seen that the Watchtower has been dishonest in dealing with
the issue of authenticity with regards to Ignatius’ writings. We have
seen that the author of this article *never* cites the actual writings
of Ignatius, but relies solely on materials that his sources clearly
indicate are later writings. Further, the writer passes over in
silence citation after citation that deals a death blow to his entire
thesis, compounding his error by misleading his readers into thinking
that Ignatius but once identifies the Lord as “God the Word.”
It is obvious to any semi-impartial reader that the Watchtower is
not the least bit interested in what Ignatius *actually* believed
about Jesus Christ. It is their purpose to make Ignatius into one of
Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just as the Watchtower Society has smuggled
their doctrines into the Bible by mistranslating numerous passages
(John 1:1, 8:58, Colossians 1:16-17, 2:9, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1,
Revelation 3:14, etc. and etc.), so they show a willingness to grossly
misrepresent an early Father of the Christian Church regarding his
belief in the deity of Christ. We cannot possibly accept any excuses
for this kind of deceptive writing–poor scholarship is one thing, but
this goes far beyond simply poor scholarship. This article shows
definite, pre-meditated deception. It’s purpose is to misrepresent
Ignatius’ beliefs, and in so doing confirm millions of Jehovah’s
Witnesses world-wide in their beliefs. When we think of the fact that
the vast majority of those individuals do not have recourse to
Ignatius’ actual writings, so as to discover the truth for themselves,
the grave responsibility that lies upon the shoulders of the
Watchtower Society for this deception becomes clear.
The venerable bishop of Antioch at the turn of the first century
of the Christian era believed heartily in the deity of Jesus Christ.
As he often confessed Christ to be His God, he was but following the
Apostolic example seen in Thomas (John 20:28), John (John 1:1), Paul
(Titus 2:13) and Peter (2 Peter 1:1). No amount of misrepresentation
can hide the truth of the Christian belief summarized so well by Paul,
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of Deity in bodily form”
(Colossians 2:9).

A Note To the Reader:

If you would like a type-set hard-copy of the above article, please
feel free to contact us and request it. You can netmail your request
to 1:114/105, or you can log onto the ministry’s BBS at (602) 973-
3739. [Note: we may have to change that number within a few weeks, so
check to make sure!] If you would prefer, you can contact us at Alpha
and Omega Ministries, P.O. Box 47041, Phoenix, AZ 85068. Or, you can
call us voice at (602) 265-4844.

Also, please note that we will be producing a small tract that will
summarize the above information. It will be titled, “Can You Trust
the Watchtower?” We will also offer a “documentation pack” to go
along with the tract, which will include this article, and photocopies
of relevant quotations from Ignatius. We encourage Christians to
offer this information to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those to those who
are studying with them.

Testimony from a Former Jehovah Witness

Matthew Fenn is a former Jehovah Witness saved by God’s grace through the reading of Philippians chapter 3.

Read his edifying story, here.

“But when I read this passage, I read that was talking about “not having a righteousness of his own”. That blew me away. It blew me away because it was so different from what the Watchtower teaches. The Watchtower teaches that God only saves the godly. The Organization says that Jesus helps us but we also need to help him. He isn’t enough to save us, we need to do something as well. Their version of salvation is Jesus giving the sinner the same chance as Adam had. Jesus needs us to participate and contribute to our own salvation. As a result it isn’t humble, it’s proud. It isn’t joyous, but very angry, critical, and mean. It’s isn’t grace, it’s nothing but pure law.”

After Fenn’s conversion, he would meet with the JW Judicial Committee, which was very telling. So read the whole story!

Here is video of his story: http://ponderingchrist.blogspot.com/2010/11/heres-my-story.html

An Excellent Review of Truth in Translation

···Dr. Thomas Howe is Professor of Biblical Languages and Director of the Apologetics Program for Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is in the process of writing a scholarly response to Dr. Jason BeDuhn’s work Truth in Translation. This is a link to an early draft of his review. It is very good but it is not the complete response. The complete response will be available early 2010.

···Some quick words about the linked version:

  • As mentioned earlier, it is partially done. Fuller work is being done to it, so consider this a (very in-depth and worthwhile) preview.
  • The contrast is stark from the two works. In fairness to Dr. BeDuhn, his work is intended to be for general consumption and Dr. Howe’s is intended to be more technical. Of course, that does not shield BeDuhn from critique, but the reader should simply note the difference in writing and detail.

···I’ll post another link of where one can get hold of the response when it becomes available. In the meantime, enjoy Dr. Howe’s work.