In 1989 the Watchtower Society published a 32-page booklet entitled "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" The aim of this publication was to discredit the Christian doctrine of the Triune nature of God.
The method that the Society used to accomplish this goal was to quote from a plethora of resources, both secular and religious, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, books and historical literature written by individual authors. In fact, on the back page of the October 1, 1990 Watchtower magazine was an advertisement for the Booklet that boasted that its strength was in the multitude of resourceful "evidence" against the Trinity doctrine.
It is true that there is a great abundance of quotes in the Booklet. But what is glaringly absent from the reader is any detailed notation of where these quotes actually came from. It was left up to researchers to delve into the pages of the booklet and locate the original sources of the quotes given. The result of my personal investigation is given below.
After examining the evidence, the reader would be justified in asking himself, "Why would a religious group that claims to be God's organization deliberately misrepresent information in order to disprove a teaching that they consider to be false?"
p.4 - ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA
Booklet:"the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be 'beyond the grasp of human reason'."
Source: The complete quote is:
"It is held that ALTHOUGH the doctrine is beyond the grasp of human reason, it is, like many of the formulations of physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended) by the human mind."
(So the Encyclopedia is comparing the degrees of mental perception, apprehension vs. comprehension, and does not state that the doctrine is "contrary" to reason - but BEYOND our fullest understanding.)
The Watchtower writers also ignored a statement on the same page of the Encyclopedia that disputes the idea that the Trinity doctrine is pagan. It says:
"It is probably a mistake to assume that the doctrine resulted from the intrusion of Greek metaphysics or philosophy into Christian thought; for the date upon which the doctrine rests, and also its earliest attempts at formulation, are much older than the church's encounter with Greek philosophy."
p.4 - A DICTIONARY OF RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
Booklet: "Precisely what the doctrine is, or precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves."
Source: Just prior to this statement the book says:
"It is certain, however, that from the apostolic times they paid worship to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, addressed to them their prayers, and included them in their doxologies."
and after the quote it states:
"It is not possible for the human intellect to comprehend fully the divine nature. The Bible represents God to us as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It represents them as equally entitled to our highest reverence, affection, and allegiance."
p.5 - ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY
Booklet: "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible...It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century."
Source: The Dictionary adds these 3 statements:
(a) "Though it is not a Biblical doctrine in the sense that any formulation of it can be found in the Bible, it can be seen to underlie the revelation of God, implicit in the Old Testament and explicit in the New Testament. By this we mean that though we cannot speak confidently of the revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, yet once the substance of the doctrine has been revealed in the New Testament, we can read back many implications of it in the Old Testament."
(b) "But even in the opening pages of the Old Testament we are taught to attribute the evidence and persistence of all things to a threefold source." (Not 3 sources separate)
(c) "By way of contrast it must be remembered that the Old Testament was written before the revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity was clearly given and in the New Testament after it."
p.6 - NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA
Booklet: "The doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the Old Testament."
"In the New Testament the oldest evidence is in the Pauline epistles..."
"In many places of the Old Testament, however, expressions are used in which some of the Fathers of the church saw references or foreshadowings of the Trinity."
"...the minds of God's people (Old Testament) were being prepared for the concepts that would be involved in the forthcoming revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity. In the New Testament, the revelation of the truth of the Triune life of God was first made in the New Testament, where the earliest references to it are in the Pauline epistles."
"Since the Son and the Holy Spirit are mentioned on a par with the Father, the passage clearly teaches that they are equally divine with the Father, who is obviously God."
"...they testify, under divine inspiration, in the belief of the Apostolic Church in a doctrine of three persons in one God."
p.6 - EDMUND FORTMANN - "THE TRIUNE GOD"
Booklet: "The Old Testament tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead..."
Source: Just prior to this statement he says:
"As a Catholic priest and a firm believer in the Triune God...and convinced that the doctrine is a Christian doctrine that did and could originate only from divine revelation, I start the study from the authentic record of divine revelation that is found in the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments."
p.6 - FORTMANN (Cont.)
Booklet: "Even to see in the Old Testament suggestions or foreshadowings or veiled signs of the trinity of persons is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers."
Source: The statement continues:
"However, these writers definitely do give us the words that the New Testament uses to express the trinity of persons, Father, Son, Word, Wisdom, Spirit. And their way of understanding these words helps us to see how the revelation of God in the New Testament goes beyond the revelation of God in the Old Testament."
p.6 - FORTMANN (Cont.)
Booklet: "The New Testament writers...give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons."
Source: The very next sentence reads:
"But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated."
p.6 - FORTMANN (Cont.) [Notes Traces of Triadic Pattern]
Booklet: "Nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead."
Source: (The sentence right before the Watchtower quote says:
"The clearest expression of this pattern is found in the baptismal formula where Matthew presents the three together as at once a triad and a unity."
CONCLUSION TO FORTMANN'S BOOK:
The Old Testament writers laid the groundwork for the Trinity though they did not teach it explicitly. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of progressive revelation from Old Testament times to New Testament times.
p.6 - NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA
Booklet: "Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament."
Source: There is a period (.) here while there is actually a comma (,). While the quote is exact, it has been taken out of context. Directly following the statement, the encyclopedia proceeds to document the implicit teaching of the Trinity and quotes Biblical passages where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are associated together and concludes with:
"Thus the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity."
p.6 - A SHORT HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
Booklet: "As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual doctrine of the Trinity."
Source: However, the article continues on p.38 and further states on p.39:
"In other passages of the New Testament the predicate "God" is without a doubt applied to Christ. Christians expressed their faith that it was not merely some heavenly being which encountered them in Jesus Christ, but God Himself."
p.6 - ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF RELIGION (Prof. Hopkins)
Booklet: "To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown.....they say nothing about it."
Source: At the (.....) the Watchtower omits the phrase "at any rate" because these words serve to qualify Hopkins' statement somewhat. However, even more important, in the sentence immediately preceding, Hopkins states:
"The beginning of the doctrine of the Trinity appears already in John (c.100 AD.)"
John's gospel would now be dated much earlier by most scholars. So it is clear from this statement then that Hopkins admitted the presence of Trinitarianism in at least some portions of the New Testament.
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THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS
On page 7, under the heading, "What the Ante-Nicene Fathers Taught" the Booklet had this to say about the credentials of these great men:
"The Ante-Nicene Fathers were acknowledged to have been leading religious teachers in the early centuries after Christ's birth. What they taught is of interest."
So it certainly appears that the Society considers the writings of the Fathers to be valid representations of what the early Christian Church believed. What they REALLY taught is of significant interest!
Booklet Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is "other than the God who made all things." He said that Jesus was inferior to God and "never did anything except what the Creator willed him to do and say."
[Notice that the words a created angel and inferior to God are not in quotation marks. This is because they are Watchtower statements and NOT found in any of Justin's writings.]
What Justin Martyr really said about the Deity of Christ and the Trinity -
SourcesFirst Apology; Dialogue with Trypho
"The Father of the universe has a Son, who also being the first begotten Word of God, is even God." - First Apology ch. 63
"Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts." - Dialogue with Trypho ch. 36
"Moreover, in the diapsalm of the forty-sixth Psalm, reference is thus made to Christ: 'God went up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet." Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 37
Trypho to Justin] "...you say that this Christ existed as God before the ages, and that He submitted to be born and become man" - Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 48
Justin quotes Hebrews 1:8 to prove the Deity of Christ. "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." - Dialogue with Trypho ch. 56
Notice that the wording of this verse does not read like the twisted rendering found in the New World Translation!]
"Therefore these words testify explicitly that He (Christ) is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ." - Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 63
*mnsp; CHAP. LXVI.--HE (JUSTIN) PROVES FROM ISAIAH THAT GOD WAS BORN FROM A VIRGIN. - Chapter Title
"And Trypho said, "You endeavour to prove an incredible and well-nigh impossible thing;[namely], that God endured to be born and become man...some Scriptures which we mention, and which expressly prove that Christ was to suffer, to be worshipped, and [to be called] God, and which I have already recited to you, do refer indeed to Christ," - Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 68
"Now I have proved at length that Christ is called God." - Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 124
Justin stated to Trypho, "For if you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God." - Dialogue with Trypho ch. 126 "The Father of righteousness...and the Son who came from Him...and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore." - First Apology ch. 6
"Only God should be worshipped." - First Apology chs. 16,17
Booklet: Irenaeus, who died about 200 C.E., said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the "One true and only God," who is "supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other."
[Once again, take careful note where the quotation marks are and where they are NOT.]
Sources: Irenaus Against Heresies [5 books]
(Quoting John 1:1) "...and the Word was God," of course, for that which is begotten of God is God." Book I, ch. 8, section 5
"Christ Jesus is our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King." - Book I, ch. 10, section 1
"But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father, from of old, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to Angels, Archangels, Powers, Virtues..." - Book II, ch. 30, section 9
[If Jesus pre-existed as an Archangel, then how could he reveal himself to himself?]
"And again when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, "I am come down to deliver this people," (Exodus 3:8 - the burning bush). For it is He who descended and ascended for the salvation of men." - Book III, ch. 6, section 2
"...so that He indeed who made all things can alone, together with His Word, properly be termed God and Lord: but the things which have been made cannot have this term applied to them, neither should they justly assume that appellation which belongs to the Creator." Book III, ch. 8, section 3
"Proofs from the Apostolic writings, that Jesus Christ was one and the same, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man." - Book III, ch. 16 [Chapter Title]
"For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself,...Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man." Book III, ch. 19, section 2
"God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin." Book III, ch. 21, section 1
"Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spake to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers." Book IV, ch. 5, section 2
"And for this reason all spake with Christ when He was present [upon earth], and they named Him God." Book IV, ch.6, section 6
"God formed man...it was not angels who made us...angels do not have the power to make an image of God." - Book IV, ch. 20, section 1
"The Word was a blending of God and man...it was foretold that God should be seen by men and converse with them upon the earth." - Book IV, ch. 20, section 4
"The Word, that is, the Son, was always with the Father." - Book IV, ch. 20, section 3
"There is but one God. He created all things. He is the only God, the only Lord, the only Creator." - Book II, ch.1, section 1
"Christ Jesus, the Son of God, because of His surpassing love for His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin." - Book III, ch. 4, section 2
[Irenaus said that creation belonged to Christ Jesus, thereby making Him the Creator]
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
Booklet: Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E., called Jesus in his prehuman existence "a creature" but called God "the uncreated and imperishable and only true God." He said that the Son "is next to the only omnipotent Father" but not equal to him.
[The phrases in quotations are much too small to distinguish their locations in the Patristic writings. Regardless, Clement never made the claims that the Society suggests.]
Sources: Exhortation to the Heathens; The Instructor; The Stromata (Miscellanies); Fragments From Cassiodorus; Protrepticus
"The Divine Word, He that is truly most manifest Deity, He that is made equal to the Lord of the universe..." - Exhortation, ch. 10
"The Son of God, who being by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreated." - Fragments, Part III, i,1
"I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father." - Stromata, Book V
"This Son Jesus, the Word of God, is our Instructor. He is God and Creator." - Instructor, ch. 11
"The Word, the Christ, was in God. He alone is both God and man. He is worshipped as the living God. He is truly God most manifest." - Protrepticus, i, x
Booklet: Tertullian, who died about 230 C.E., taught the supremacy of God. He observed: "The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent." He also said: "There was a time when the Son was not. . . . Before all things, God was alone."
[The Watchtower claims that Tertullian said: "There was a time when the Son was not...Before all things God was alone." In actuality, the phrase: "There was a time when the Son was not" is not from Tertullian himself, but an expression used by a scholar in his writings about Tertulian. (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.3, p.629)
The phrase "Before all things God was alone" appears in a totally different work in which Tertullian stresses that the Word existed eternally alongside God and was equal to Him.(Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, pp.600-601) The Fathers all believed that the Eternal Word did not become the Son until His incarnation. He was never called the Son before that except in a prophetic sense.]
Sources: Against Praxeas; On the Flesh of Christ; Apology
"We have always believed in one God, identified as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are one through unity of substance, which disposes the unity into a trinity...equal in quality, substance, and power [not three qualities, substances, and powers]" - Against Praxeas, ch. 2
"For before all things God was alone...yet even not then was He alone for he had with him that which he possessed in himself, his own Reason...which the Greeks call the 'Logos', which is designated 'Word'." - Against Praxeas, ch. 5
"All the Scriptures give clear proof of the Trinity, and it is from these that our principle is deduced...the distinction of the Trinity is quite clearly displayed." - Against Praxeas, ch. 11
" [God speaks in the plural "Let us make man in our image] because already there was attached to Him his Son, a second person, his own Word, and a third, the Spirit in the Word....one substance in three coherent persons. He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit." - Against Praxeas, ch. 12
"The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. Each is God. Yet we have never given vent to the phrases 'Two Gods or Two Lords'." - Against Praxeas, ch. 13
"The connection of Father and Son, of Son and the Paraclete [Holy Spirit] makes three who cohere in a dependent series. And these three are one thing; not one person." - Against Praxeas, ch. 25
"The Son of God is identical with God. The Spirit of God is God." - Against Praxeas, ch. 26
"Jesus consisted of flesh as man, of spirit as God. We see a two-fold mode of being, not confused, but conjoined in one person, who is God and man." - Against Praxeas, ch. 27
"Thus the quality of two modes of being displayed the humanity and the divinity: born as man, unborn as God." - On the Flesh of Christ, 5
"No angel ever descended for the purpose of being crucified, of experiencing death, of being raised from the dead." - On the Flesh of Christ, 6
"So too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God; and the two are one. In his birth he is God and man united." - Apology, ch. 21
Booklet: Hippolytus, who died about 235 C.E., said that God is "the one God, the first and the only One, the Maker and Lord of all," who "had nothing co-eval [of equal age] with him . . . But he was One, alone by himself; who, willing it, called into being what had no being before," such as the created prehuman Jesus.
[The description "created prehuman Jesus" is not in quotation marks because no such statement exists in the writings of Hippolytus.]
Sources: Refutation of All Heresies; Against Noetus
"He who is over all, God blessed, has been born, and having been made man. He is God forever. For to this extent John in (Revelation 1:8) has named Christ the Almighty." - Against Noetus, Part 6
*nbsp;*nbsp; "God, while existing alone before the creation of the world, existed in plurality." - Against Noetus, Part 10
"According to the tradition of the Apostles, God the Word came down from heaven...He came forth into the world and, in the body, showed himself to be God." - Against Noetus, Part 17
"Only the Word is from Himself and is therefore also God, bearing the substance of God." - Refutation 10:33
"For Christ is the God above all..." - Refutation 10: 34
Booklet: Origen, who died about 250 C.E., said that "the Father and Son are two substances . . . two things as to their essence," and that "compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light."
[Origen held to orthodox Christian beliefs until he came under the influence of Lucian. Afterwards, Origen taught a "generic unity" and not a numerical one, i.e., he believed that they were of the same substance but separate in being, and that the Son was a subordinate being. This paved the way for Arianism which further taught that the Son was created.]
Sources: Against Celsus, De Principiis, Comm. In Ioannem
"The Savior sometimes speaks concerning himself as a man, and sometimes as a more divine human nature, a nature which is one with the uncreated nature of the Father." - Comm. In Ioannem, xix 2
"He whom we confidently believe to be God and the Son of God from the beginning..." - Against Celsus, iii 41
"The Sacred Scriptures show that the Son of God is older than all created things." - Against Celsus, V, 37
"There must be no question of lesser or greater in the Trinity." - De Principiis, i, iii, 7
"Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all, i.e., by the naming of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." - De Principiis, Book I, 2
"The holy Apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, treated with the utmost clarity of certain matters which they believed to be of absolute necessity to all believers...The specific points which are clearly handed down through the Apostolic preaching [are] these: First, that there is one God who created and arranged all things...Secondly, that Jesus Christ himself was born of the Father before all creatures...Although He was God, He took flesh, and having been made man, He remained what He was, God...For we do not hold that which the heretics imagine: that the Son was procreated by the Father from non-existent substances, that is, from a substance outside Himself, so that there was a time when He did not exist." - Fundamental Doctrines, 1, pref. 2-4; 1.2.1; 4.4.1
From the book "The Triune God" which is quoted earlier in the Booklet: Author Edmund Fortmann says of Origen: "Origen is trinitarian in his thought." (p.58)
All of these men lived and died in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and taught that God was a Triune God, whereas the Watchtower states on page 8 of their Booklet that the doctrine was not formulated until the 4th century.
Do you believe that the Bible was inspired by God? The Early Church Fathers were the men who determined what was canonical (inspired) and what was not. From the first 200 years of the church, these very men wrote extensively on the subjects of the Deity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the bodily resurrection of Christ (and ours), the nature of the soul, hell, and eternal punishment. So how can you agree that the Bible was inspired yet reject the very men whose existence and writings were necessary to establish the authenticity of these Biblical books?
The Watchtower said it best when it emphasized:
"Lying is repugnant to Jehovah. They will have no place in God's new world. A religion that teaches lies cannot be true." WT 8-15-91 p.22 and WT 12-1-91 p. 7