Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Exposing a Trinitarian trap


The Trinitarian “Jesus is Jehovah” is a slogan. One Trinitarian strategy when dialoging with Jehovah’s Witnesses is to use the Bible against itself using their New World Translation (NWT) to support that slogan. Below is my response to a strategy to try to trap Jehovah’s Witnesses into unwittingly saying their slogan.

The trap is set this way:
First, ask them to open their NWT to John 12:41 and note its marginal references to Isaiah 6:1 and 8. In the NWT, these read:
(John 12:41) Isaiah said these things because he saw his [Jesus’] glory, and he spoke about him.
(Isaiah 6:1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple.
(Isaiah 6:8) Then I heard the voice of Jehovah saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said: “Here I am! Send me!”
John said Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory, and Isaiah saw Jehovah’s glory via the NWT’s marginal references.
Thus, according to John NWT, Jesus is Jehovah.
The solution to this trap is pretty straightforward. First, educate your Trinitarian interlocutor of the main problem with this conclusion, that the Bible identifies Jehovah as the Father, and Jesus is not the Father. This is declared in Deuteronomy 32:6, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 31:9, Psalm 89:26 and Malachi 2:10, which all irrefutably identify Jehovah or God as the Father.

Next, highlight the “us” language in Isaiah 6:8. The NWT marginal reference there is to Genesis 1:26 which also has “us” language. The prehuman Jesus is the primary member of the “us.”

Additionally, in Isaiah 6:8 in the NET Bible, its footnote states: “Heb ‘for us.’ The plural pronoun refers to the Lord, the seraphs, and the rest of the heavenly assembly.” It states this even though “the rest of the heavenly assembly” was evidently not seen in Isaiah’s vision. “So it is reasonable to conclude,” the Study NWT states in its note for John 12:41, “that when John wrote that Isaiah ‘saw his glory,’ this refers to Jesus’ prehuman glory alongside Jehovah. (Joh 1:14) This harmonizes with such scriptures as Ge 1:26, where God said: ‘Let us make man in our image.’” So both the NET Bible for Isaiah 6:8 and the Study NWT direct our attention to “the heavenly assembly” where the prehuman Jesus was included. The NET Bible footnote for Genesis 1:26 cites Isaiah 6:8 and points out that “In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8).” Thus, the “us” language in Isaiah 6:8 and Genesis 1:26 is being interpreted as including the prehuman Jesus as the primary referent.

There is also the relevant concern of being aware of Jesus “being Jehovah” representationally. This is showcased in the NET Bible for Exodus 23:21: “Take heed because of him [the angel], and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.” The footnote on “name” says in part: “Driver quotes McNeile as saying, ‘The “angel” is Jehovah Himself “in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.”’”

As Jesus represented his Father and came in his Father’s name (John 5:43; 8:29), it could be said that Jesus is ‘Jehovah God Himself in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.’ It is representational not ontological.

Additionally, at Zechariah 3:1-2 a NET Bible footnote informs us: “The juxtaposition of the messenger of the LORD in v. 1 and the LORD in v. 2 shows that here, at least, they are one and the same.” Therefore, there is a scriptural precedent for representing God and bearing his name in a representational sense.

Consequently, the Trinitarian trap of using John 12:41 has been disarmed.


The binary star system GG Tau A illustrating the heavenly court.

Bibles:


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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fact-Checking Assurances


The 2011 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses revealed that a greater concerted effort at fact-checking had recently been implemented, resulting in some unreliable information being eliminated, with two examples being given: Gandhi’s statement to Lord Irwin and Newton’s model of the solar system.[1] This situation was showcased in the November 2017 JW Monthly Broadcast where David Splane of the Governing Body said that “we have to keep up. We have to check, check, check.” He added: “And when credible research reveals that we have to adjust or tweak a statement that we made in the past, we do so without hesitation.”[2] Thus, some information prior to this era of rejuvenated fact-checking may be suspect and in fact be unreliable, or less reliable than what we would prefer.

In this broadcast he also assured us: “We would never deliberately distort a quotation.”[3] That is, craft a quote as saying something that its author never intended.

Additionally, he stated after that their goal of keeping up with the latest research on a topic:
Now, it’s important to keep up with the very latest research. Something that was stated years ago as a fact may have been disproved. And the reason why is obvious. Someone may spend his entire life researching a very limited point in history—a very small point in history—and, of course, if he spends so much time researching, he’s going to uncover things. And so it’s not surprising that from time to time we have to adjust our view of some historical points. We have to check, check, check.[4]
Following this admission, Brother Splane provided an encouraging anecdote:
Now, someone might ask, ‘Why is it necessary to be so picky, to be so fussy, about accuracy?’ And in answer, I’d like to give an experience that I heard about a few years ago. In Northern Europe, there was a man who accepted a Bible study from Jehovah’s Witnesses. And when he was asked what motivated him to want to study, he said: “I read an article in your Awake! magazine on trees. Now, I happen to be a bit of an expert on trees. And after I read the article, I said to myself: ‘That article was so well-documented. It was so precise. Any organization that is that careful when writing about trees is going to be just as careful when teaching me the Bible.’” And on that basis, he accepted a Bible study.[5]
I applaud this effort at rejuvenated fact-checking, and I hope it produces beneficial results in pruning away past points that lacked sufficient fact-checking. Personally, I think we can see this at work in the new commentary on Ezekiel released this month at the Annual Meeting.

Lastly, this assurance of more conscientious fact-checking may remind one of this statement announced as recently as February, 2017, where a Watchtower commenced a paragraph confessing: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction.”[6] While such humility is great to see, may our rejuvenated fact-checking apparatus also add to our credibility across the board!

Footnotes:
[1] Tracing All Things With Accuracy,’ pages 9-13. https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/302011018#p12
[3] Ibid. From minute marker 4:20-25.
[4] Ibid. From minute marker 4:33-5:03.
[5] Ibid. From minute marker 5:10-6:00.
[6] w17.02 4:12, page 26. (italics added) Or, as the Simplified Edition put it: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor perfect. It can make mistakes when explaining the Bible or directing the organization.”—page 24. (italics added) https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2017283#h=23 Simplified: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/402017283#h=23

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