Share on facebook
Share on twitter

The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 2

I continue from where I left off: https://answeringallah.com/the-bible-on-the-only-true-god-pt-1/

Another problem with Stafford’s analogy of Christ and Solomon is that it serves to discredit the JW position. It is common for JWs to use the argument that since Michael and Jesus share similar functions they must be one and the same. An example of such reasoning can be found from Heinz himself. In a newsgroup discussion, Heinz offered the following response to prove that Jesus and Michael are one and the same:

Scripture Proof: Only two names are associated with authority over angels: Michael (Rev.12:7) and Jesus Christ (Mat.16:27; 25:31; 2Thes.1:7). Michael led the angels to defeat Satan and hurl him to earth (Re 12:7). Christ leads that same heavenly army of angels and conducts God’s war. (Re19:13,19). This argues that Jesus and Michael are the same. Since they both command God’s army, the heavenly host of angels.

At 1Thes.4:16 the voice of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is described as being that of an archangel, suggesting that he is, in fact, himself The Archangel. The Greek for ‘with an archangel’s voice’ is literally ‘EN FWNHi ARXAGGELOU’, in the oblique dative case. In all other occurrences of this idiom in the Greek New Testament it describes the voice of the subject in the clause. To suggest that 1Th 4:16 represents the only exception is “special pleading”.

What about Heb 1?- It is only logical that the voice expressing this commanding call be described by a word that would not diminish or detract from the great authority that Christ Jesus now has. If the designation “archangel” also applied to other angels, then the reference to “an archangel’s voice” would not be appropriate.

Only one voice can command the dead to rise in the coming resurrection. This authority has been given to the Christ by his Father (Jn.5:25,26). But the voice of the archangel raises the dead during the resurrection at the time of the end. (1Thes. 4:16; cf Dan.12:2). Since only the voice of Christ can raise the dead at the time of the end, and this voice is the voice of an archangel, Christ must be the archangel. Michael is called “the great prince” (Dan. 12:1). Christ is called a “princely ruler” and “prince of peace” (Isa.9:6).

In Daniel chapter 7, there is a prophecy about the march of world powers to the end of the age. At the climax of that prophecy we read that “someone like a son of man” was “given rulership and dignity and kingdom”–Jesus Christ. (Dan.7:13, 14)

Daniel recorded another prophecy also reaching down to “the time of the end” (Dan.10:13;11:40) and then stated: “And during that time Michael will stand up.” (Da 12:1) In Daniel’s prophecy, ‘standing up’ frequently refers to the action of a king, either taking up his royal power or acting effectively in his capacity as King. (Dan.11:2-4,7,16,20,21) Michael’s “standing” indicates a ruling capacity and thus supports the conclusion that Michael is Jesus Christ, since Jesus is Jehovah’s/Yahweh’s appointed King.

Hence, in the climax of one prophecy, Jesus becomes a king. In the other prophecy in Daniel, Michael acts as a king. Since both prophecies deal with the same time and the same event, it seams reasonable to conclude that they are also dealing with the same person.

Finally, Satan is abyssed by an “*angel*” for a thousand years. (Rev.20:1, 2, 10) However, when Christ was on earth, the demons identified him as the one who was to hurl them into the “abyss” (Mt 8:29). The nations are destroyed by Jesus and *his* angelic armies. (Rev.12:12; 17:16, 17; 19:11-16) Since Jesus is the one prophesied to crush Satan’s head, and since he accomplishes all these other judgment acts (Gen.3:15, 1Jn 3:8), it is only logical to conclude that he was the one leading heaven’s armies in the casting of Satan out of heaven earlier. Hence, the conquering Michael with “his angels” referred to in Revelation 12 must be Jesus, who was told by Jehovah to “go subduing in the midst of [his] enemies.”–Psalm 110:1, 2; Acts 2:34, 35. with Christian Love -Heinz

We see that JW apologists are inconsistent in their methodology. They claim that it is wrong for Trinitarians to conclude that Jesus is Jehovah despite the fact that OT passages referring to Jehovah along with titles, attributes, functions and the worship given exclusively to Jehovah alone are applied to Christ. Yet, it is perfectly all right for JWs to assume that Jesus is the archangel Michael due to similarities shared by the two, despite the fact that not a single NT passage explicitly states that Jesus is an angel, or more specifically the archangel Michael. JW apologists are therefore guilty of assuming that similarities somehow prove sameness along with employing a methodology that they only too quickly condemn Trinitarians for using. This is known as religious hypocrisy.

(Note- for a rebuttal to Heinz’s arguments we recommend the following article: http://www.jude3.net/jesus_superior_to_angels.htm

We also recommend Ray Goldsmith’s on-line dialogues with JW Apologists regarding Hebrews 1 and its significance in refuting the notion that Jesus is an angel as well as other related issues:  http://www.serve.com/larryi/wboard/john/messages/306.html, http://www.serve.com/larryi/wboard/john/messages/201.html)

In light of all these factors, Paul’s use of the title Lord in 1 Corinthians 8:6 can only mean that Jesus is Jehovah God. Paul was by no means suggesting that Jesus is an inferior deity as Heinz erroneously implies.

Finally, Heinz repeats the same mistake over and over again. To say that the term THEOS is ALMOST exclusively used of the Father is not the same as saying that it is exclusively used for the Father alone.  There are several places where the term THEOS is in fact used for the Son, and not in the relative sense assigned by JW theology. Two such places include Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. We recommend that our readers take the time to read Rob Bowman’s excellent article addressing the grammatical, syntactical and historical context regarding the proper exegesis of the two passages in question, as well as a defense of Granville Sharp’s Rule governing article-substantive-kai-substantive constructions:

Sharp’s Rule and Antitrinitarian Theologies.

Bowman also addresses and refutes Stafford’s arguments in relation to the proper meaning of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 as well as the use of Granville Sharp’s rule.

Heinz:

Why would Jesus call the Father the ONLY true God, if in fact that Son and the holy spirit are also the ONLY true God? Why would the Bible call the Father the “one God” if the one God were really the Father, Son and holy spirit? Nowhere does the Bible call the Son or the holy spirit the true God or the one God, but both terms are used of the Father, and restricted to Him by His Son. (John 17:3)

Response:

The problem with Heinz’ question is that it assumes that God is a unipersonal Being. This assumption is then imposed upon Heinz’s reading of the text. Because of this, Heinz naturally assumes that since Jesus calls the Father the only true God this must therefore exclude the Son and the Holy Spirit from also being that true God. Herein lies the problem.  Heinz is essentially arguing in a circle since he assumes his conclusion right from the outset. This is eisegesis, not exegesis.

We might ask Heinz why does the Holy Spirit inspire Jude to write that Jesus is our only Sovereign Master and Lord, if in fact the Father is also our Sovereign Master and Lord? Nowhere does the Holy Bible call the Father or the Holy Spirit the only Sovereign Master and Lord or the one Lord, but both terms are used of the Son, and restricted to Him by God’s Holy Spirit.

From a Trinitarian perspective the answer is rather simple. Since the true God exists in three distinct yet inseparable Persons what is said of One member automatically applies to the Other members as far as their divine nature and essence is concerned. Therefore, to say that the Father is the only true God is in complete harmony with Trinitarian teaching since each individual member of the Godhead is in fact the only true God, as well as the only Sovereign Master, Lord, Creator, Sustainer and Savior.

Yet, the JW position crumbles at this point. It will not do for Heinz to claim that the Father made Jesus our only Sovereign Master and Lord since this still would not solve the problem for the JW apologist. The reason being is that it does not matter how Jesus became our only Sovereign Master and Lord, but that he is in fact the only One referred to as such. This being the case how can Heinz reconcile the passages which state that the Father is also our Sovereign Master and Lord at the same time that Jesus is said to be the only One who is?

Heinz:

Does not the New Testament call Jesus a God/QEOS? Yes it does, but only with qualification.

As Thayer’s Lexicon states, “Whether Jesus is called God must be determined from Jn. i. 1; xx. 28; 1Jn. v. 20; Ro. ix. 5; Tit. ii. 13; Heb. i. 8 sq.., etc.; the matter is still in dispute amongst theologians.”
Why, if we take the whole Bible in context should there be a dispute at all?

Response:

Heinz commits the fallacy of appealing to authority also known as argumentum ad verecundiam.

Appealing to authority to support a point is appropriate provided that one supplies sufficient exegetical and factual data in establishing why the cited authority is correct in the assessment given. Yet, to cite an authority to support a point without sufficient grounds in doing so is inappropriate and proves nothing. In particular, an appeal to authority is inappropriate if:

(i) the person is not qualified to have an expert opinion on the subject,

(ii) experts in the field disagree on this issue.

(iii) the authority was making a joke, drunk, or otherwise not being serious A variation of the fallacious appeal to authority is hearsay. An argument from hearsay is an argument which depends on second or third hand sources.

Since experts in the field disagree over the issue, to then cite Thayer as proof for the assertion that Jesus is called THEOS in a qualified sense proves absolutely nothing. In fact, Heinz is actually misusing the source. From what Heinz quoted, Thayer is not commenting on whether Jesus is called THEOS in a qualified sense. Rather, Thayer is arguing over whether the NT actually calls Jesus THEOS at all!

Heinz also commits the fallacy of ad populum, since his appeal to the dispute amongst theologians over whether the NT calls Jesus God also proves absolutely nothing. It is sound biblical exegesis not theologians that determine God’s truth.

Heinz asks the question why should there be a dispute over the issue of Jesus being called THEOS. The answer is rather simple. Exegetically speaking there is no dispute since Jesus is called THEOS in several places. See Murray J. Harris’ book, Jesus As God: The New Testament Use of ‘Theos’ in Reference to Jesus, for the exegetical proof.

The dispute arises from the prior assumptions of certain theologians and apologists that disallow for the NT to call Jesus God in an absolute sense. Assumptions are not bad in and of themselves, since we all have them. Yet, our assumptions should stem from an accurate exegetical examination of the Holy Bible and should not be imposed upon the text of scripture. Therefore, if after a careful examination of scripture we discover that our prior assumptions are simply wrong we should be willing to discard these in light of biblical truth.

Heinz:
Sam S points out that Moses is called a god at Exodus 4:16; 7:1, but notes,

“Moses is called God since he is acting on God’s behalf as his spokesman and prophet, not that he was divine in any sense.”

But further down he states,

“Hence, it seems likely that angels are being referred figuratively as gods in the same sense that Moses and the Israelite judges are viewed as gods, i.e. God’s servants speaking on his behalf and faithfully doing his will”

So…the angels are called God in the same sense as Moses, but yet, are not angels “divine?”
Take note of Genesis 6:2:
“supernatural beings” TEV1, CEV
“heavenly beings” TEV2, New Jewish P.S.,
“the sons of God” NRSV, NKJV, NWT
“angels” LXX Codex Alexandrinus, Moffatt
“sons of heaven” NAB

Response:

Either Heinz is being deceptive here, or has simply not read my point carefully since I already stated in what sense Moses and angels are alike. Here it is again, but this time with added emphasis:

Hence, it seems likely that angels are being referred figuratively as gods in the same sense that Moses and the Israelite judges are viewed as gods, i.e. GOD’S SERVANTS SPEAKING ON HIS BEHALF AND FAITHFULLY DOING HIS WILL:

“Now I, John, saw and heard theses things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed theses things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servantand of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” Revelation 22:8-9 NKJV

The comparison with angels and Moses stemmed from the fact that both angels and prophets (of whom Moses was one) are said to be servants of God who keep his commands, executing God’s will faithfully. Because angels and men represent God and speak on his behalf they are therefore addressed as God figuratively, precisely the point I made in the article. I even supplied a passage from Revelation to show that this was my point.

Furthermore, Heinz often makes the mistake of reading his own view into the writings and statements of others. For instance, after citing me regarding the relationship between Moses and angels as gods, Heinz states:

So…the angels are called God in the same sense as Moses, but yet, are not angels “divine?”

Instead of understanding my point, Heinz proceeds to interpret my own statements in light of his own theological presuppositions. Heinz also does this with the Holy Bible and other sources.

Third, Heinz is being evasive here by using the term “divine.” What does Heinz mean by “divine”, supernatural agents, heavenly beings, beings that dwell in heaven? If so, then I agree with his definition. If Heinz means that angels are truly gods, then I completely disagree with him and do so on biblical grounds.

Finally, Heinz alludes to Genesis 6:2 without mentioning the fact that I already addressed this point in my article. I also cited the WatchTower Bible & Tract Society’s Aid to Bible Understanding to demonstrate that the JWs have no grounds in arguing that the title “sons of God” implies that angels are gods in the sense that JW apologists claim. See below and my article for details.

Heinz:

Some might take me to task with the above scripture (like Rob Bowman who insists that all angels mentioned in the Bible bear some negative connotation, so they are false gods), as it is referring to angels in a negative light (see context), but with all the other scriptures referring to angels as gods (Ps 8:5; 97:7, and one that Sam missed, Ps 138:1), we see that it will take some work to always paint these beings negatively. When angels are specifically painted in a positive light, as in Judges 13:22, then Trinitarians need to change this angel to an uncreated, mysterious “angel of the LORD/malak YHWH”.

Historically though, those familiar with the Biblical way angels were portrayed, had no problem addressing angels as gods.

Response:

Heinz again reads his understanding of terms into the Holy Bible and attacks strawman. There is no debate over whether the Holy Bible calls angels gods. This is something that I myself acknowledged in my own article. The debate centers on the precise meaning of the term “god” when applied to angelic beings. Does it mean they are false gods, true gods or gods in a figurative sense? Heinz assumes only one meaning and therefore proceeds to read that meaning into the text as opposed to allowing the scripture to define what the term actually means in relation to angels. Two scriptural examples illustrate my point clearly:

There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, Neither are there any works like yours. All the nations whom you have made will themselves come, And they will bow down before you, O Jehovah, And will give glory to your name. For you are great and are doing wondrous things; You are God, you ALONE. Psalm 86:8-10 NWT

The NWT 1984 Reference Edition has a footnote to verse 8 explaining how various translations translated the term “gods”:

8* “Among the gods.” Heb., va’ elohim’Gr., theois’Lat., di’isT, “lofty angels.”

T stands for the Aramaic Targums. Hence, this is evidence that some of the early Jews understood the term “gods” as referring to angels. The NWT seemingly agrees with the Targums since it cross-references 86:8 with Psalm 89:6:

For who in the skies can be compared to Jehovah? Who can resemble Jehovah among the sons of God?

Seeing that the reference to gods in 86:8 is cross-referenced with the specific mention of the sons of God in 89:6 implies that angels are being referred to. In light of this, since the Psalmist clearly states that Jehovah alone is God the only sense these angelic beings can be classified as gods is in a figurative sense. As we shall see shortly see, Heinz’ interpretation of Psalm 86:8-10 makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Finally, Heinz cites Judges 13:22 regarding the Angel of Jehovah and claims that Trinitarians must assume that this is an uncreated agent in order to avoid the positive biblical assertion that angels are in fact gods. The only problem with Heinz’s claim is that it actually backfires against him. The text does not say that this particular Angel is a god, but rather states that the Angel is in fact Jehovah God himself appearing in human form. (Cf. Judges 13:1-23)

Trinitarians have no problem with this since most agree that this is the pre-incarnate Christ appearing in human form. Therefore, the OT picture of the Angel of Jehovah affirms that the true God is multi-personal since this Angel is both distinct from Jehovah who sent him while at the same time is himself Jehovah God appearing visibly. The Angel addresses himself as Jehovah God, and permits others to worship and call him Jehovah God. (Cf. Genesis 16:7-14; 28:10-22, cf. 31:10-13; Genesis 32:24-30, cf. Hosea 12:2-5; Genesis 48:15-16; Exodus 3:1-20, cf. Acts 7:30-34; Exodus 19:1-25, cf. Deuteronomy 5:1-5, Acts 7:37-38; Exodus 23:20-23, cf. Isaiah 63:8-9; Judges 2:1-5, cf. Malachi 3:1)

Yet, Heinz must deny the clear biblical witness to the eternal nature and perfect deity of this specific Angel. Heinz must assume that since this Angel speaks on behalf of God he can therefore address himself as Jehovah God since he has Jehovah’s full authority backing him up. Yet Heinz’s post-biblical 19th century JW theology does not allow him for a moment to believe that the Angel is actually Jehovah God himself. It is Heinz who therefore ends up denying the positive biblical witness to the Angel being Jehovah God who appears in visible form to his servants. Hence, Heinz ends up doing the very thing he accuses Trinitarians of.

Heinz:

Here is what the Dead Sea Scrolls give as to an insight of the early Jewish belief about Angels.

“Praise him, divine spirits, praising for ever and ever the firmament of the highest heavens, all…and its wall, all its structure, its shape. The spirits of the holy of holies, the living ‘gods’, the spirits of eternal holiness above all the holy ones…The divine spirits surround the dwelling of the King of truth and righteousness; all its walls” (Vermes 226 [4Q403 I i, 30-46]).

“The figures of the ‘gods’ shall praise him, the most holy spirits…of glory; the floor of the marvelous innermost chambers, the spirits of the eternal gods, all…figures of the innermost chambers of the King, the spiritual works of the marvelous firmament are purified with salt, spirits of knowledge, truth and righteousness in holy of holies, forms of the living ‘gods,’ forms of the illuminating spirits. All their works of art are marvelously linked, many-coloured spirits, artistic figures of the ‘gods,’ engraved all around their glorious bricks of splendour and majesty. All their works of art are living ‘gods,’ and their artistic figures are holy angels. From beneath the marvelous inner most chambers comes a sound of quiet silence: the ‘gods’ bless…”(Vermes 228 [4Q405 19ABCD]).

The author here describes the Most Holy chamber of the Temple. In this chamber was were the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This is where Jehovah dwelled symbolically. Everything in the Most Holy was made of the finest gold. The Bible tells us that the Temple was ornamented with pictures of angels (1 Kings 6:27-32). Therefore, this description of the “gods” ministering to the Almighty fits perfectly with the Bible. The curtain that separated the Holy from the Most Holy even has pictures of angels (“gods”) woven into it (2 Chron. 3:14).

“The ‘gods’ praise him when they take up their station, and all the spirits of the clear firmament rejoice in his glory…when the gods of knowledge enter by the doors of glory, and when the holy angels depart the realm, the entrance doors and the gates of exit proclaim the glory of the King…the fear of the King of ‘gods’ is awe-inspiring to all the ‘gods,’ and they undertake all his commissions by virtue of his true order” (Vermes 229 [4Q405 23i]).

The War Rule says that “the host of warring ‘gods’ gird themselves for the Day of Revenge” (1QMXV, Vermes 121). We also find in the fragment titled by Vermes as The Song of Michael and the Just (4Q491 fr. II, Ma) an incomplete sentence that says that there is “a throne of strength in the congregation of ‘gods’ so that not a single king of old shall sit on it,
neither shall their noble men…(Vermes 126). The one called Michael is also held as saying “I am reckoned with the ‘gods’ and my dwelling place is in the congregation of holiness” and “for I am reckoned with the ‘gods,’ and my glory is with the sons of the King” (Vermes 126).

Response:

Heinz again reads his understanding of the term “gods” into the Scrolls. To say that the Scrolls contain references to “gods” who dwell in the heavenly courts still does not tell us in what sense did these Jews, believed to be the Essenes, view angels as gods. Therefore, to simply quote sources indicating that angels are called gods proves absolutely nothing. Heinz begins with the assumption that the reference to angels as gods prove that angels are divine beings much like Jehovah, albeit in a lesser sense. Heinz then proceeds to read this assumption into the Scrolls. It is therefore not surprising that Heinz finds the proof for his assertion since he defines terms in light of his own post-biblical 19th century JW understanding, and then proceeds to read his definition back into these sources. This is a classic case of circular argumentation and eisegesis.

Furthermore, even if it were true that these Jews did view angels as gods in the same sense that Heinz did, this still would not prove the point Heinz seeks to make. All this would prove is that a certain Jewish sect held to a position that was clearly unbiblical. These Jews also expected at least two Messianic figures, a Messianic priest from the tribe of Aaron and a Messianic king from the house of David. These Jews were obviously wrong since it is not two Messiahs, but one Messiah who would be both priest and king.

Therefore, one must look to the Holy Bible as the infallible standard of determining God’s truth, not fallible human sources. It is the Holy Bible that defines in what sense angels are gods, and once we allow the Holy Bible to speak it is clear that angels are gods simply in a figurative sense. No more, no less.

I have still more to say in the next part: https://answeringallah.com/the-bible-on-the-only-true-god-pt-3/

Related articles

Muhammad

Allah