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The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 5

I now arrive at the fifth segment of my rebuttal: https://answeringallah.com/the-bible-on-the-only-true-god-pt-4/

Heinz:

The Dictionary of the Bible by Catholic Jesuit John L. McKenzie, S.J. God, p. 317,says

“The unique character of Yahweh is the answer to the question about the monotheism of early Israel. Monotheism as a speculative affirmation is simply not found in the earlier books of the Bible; the affirmation presupposes a pattern of philosophical thinking which was foreign to the Israelite mind. Nor is there a clear and unambiguous denial of the reality of other Elohim before Second Isaiah in the 6th century. This does not mean that early Israel was polytheistic or uncertain about the exclusive character of Yahweh. They perhaps would have said that there are many Elohim but only one Yahweh, and would have denied to any Elohim the unique character which they affirmed of Yahweh.”

Response:

As I had already alluded to above, one common tactic of JW apologists is to misuse primary sources by wrenching citations out of their immediate and broader context. In so doing, JW apologists give a false and misleading impression as to what these authors are actually saying. Sadly, this is the case with Heinz. Heinz does not inform his readers that McKenzie, much like Smith, adopts an evolutionary view of Israel’s religious history. According to what McKenzie writes, it is only later in Israel’s history that one ends up finding monotheism, monotheism being understood as belief in the existence of only one God. Yet this cannot be definitely said of Israel’s early years, especially during the time of the Patriarchs.

Notice what McKenzie says in his section on monotheism:

Monotheism. Monotheism means the belief in the existence OF ONE ONLY GOD and exclusive worship OF THIS ONE GOD. Monotheism IN THE BIBLE and in Israelite-Jewish-Christian religion is questioned by no one for period AFTER the 6th century BC. The monotheism of Israel before this date has been questioned by many historians… The question is raised about the religion of the OT and of the religious leaders of Israel; admitting that their conception of the deity differed from that of popular Canaanite religion, does it deserve the name of monotheism AS DEFINED ABOVE [meaning the belief in the existence of one only God]? Here again a distinction must be made. A speculative philosophical affirmation of monotheism appears nowhere in the BibleNor can we find in the OT the monotheism WHICH IS EVIDENT IN THE NTModern historians have invented the terms ‘HENOTHEISM’ and ‘monolatry’ to describe the religion of EARLY Israel as they reconstruct it. The terms, while used loosely as equivalent, are not exactly the same; they designate the exclusive cult of one deity, with the admission of the existence of other deities, or at least without any explicit denial of the existence of other deities…

“The religion of the patriarchs (cf ABRAHAM; ISAAC; JACOB) appears to have been the exclusive worship of a God conceived as the god of the family or clan. This worship is represented in Gn as given to Him exclusively; but we here meet the problem of the gap in time between the patriarchs and the form in which these traditions appear in Gn [Sam’s note- McKenzie ascribes to the Documentary Hypothesis which posits four different documentary strands in the formation of the first five books of Moses. These documentary strands are collectively referred to as the JEDP source. McKenzie does not believe that Moses actually wrote the first five books of the OT.] Preserved and retold for many generations, including peoples who in all probability were not members of the original group of Israel, the patriarchal stories exhibit some retrojection of later religious ideas.  This means that they are often represented as devout Israelites of a later period. This element should not be exaggerated, because in many respects the patriarchs are not represented as devout Israelites of a later period; but it does mean that caution is necessary in affirming THAT THEY WERE MONOTHEISTSIn Gn 14 Abraham is represented as present at the worship of a Canaanite deity; his active participation is not explicitly mentioned, but it is highly IMPROBABLE that he would be present and INACTIVE. It would be impossible for a devout Israelite OF A LATER PERIOD even to be present at such a sacrifice. The Israelites obviously identified the deity of Melchizedek with the deity of Abraham. Rachel stole the household gods of her father Laban, which gives a clue to his religion; yet Jacob was a member of his family for some years. Joseph was completely Egyptianized; the story of Joseph says nothing of his attitude toward Egyptian religion, but it hardly needs to be said. These elements in the patriarchal traditions suggest, although they do not demonstrate, that monotheism is scarcely the word to describe the religion of the ancestors of Israel…

Monotheism becomes more explicit in the 9th century. The combat of Elijah on behalf of Yahweh (1 K 18) is a more explicit rejection of the divinity of the Baal. In the 8th century Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah leave no doubt of their monotheism. But the most explicit and formal profession FIRST appears in Is 40-55. Here the gods of the nations are said to be nothing, nonexistent. This is not a departure from earlier belief, which never affirmed the reality of the gods beyond the images, but never formally denied it. The monotheism of Second Isaiah appears also in his presentation of Yahweh as lord of nature and lord of history- which appear in earlier prophets also, but not explicitly connected with the unity of Yahweh…” (McKenzie, pp. 584-585 bold and capital emphasis mine)

It should be pointed out that McKenzie does not believe that a single author wrote the book of Isaiah. Instead, McKenzie adopts the liberal view that Isaiah 40-55 was written after the Babylonian Captivity when the Jews returned from exile. Hence, to McKenzie the only time Israel formally and explicitly denies the existence of the pagan gods is only during the 6th century when the Jews returned home from their Exile.

Commenting on Abraham’s religion, McKenzie states:

“… In no tradition of Abraham does God demand that He be worshiped EXCLUSIVELY, and the omission is significant, since this feature of Hebrew belief is so emphasized IN LATER HISTORY and yet not read back into the story of Abraham; cf. Josh. 24:2…” (Ibid., p. 6 bold and capital emphasis mine)

McKenzie’s claims regarding the composition of Isaiah, the monotheism of the Patriarch’s and that OT monotheism not being the same as the monotheism of the NT are rejected by both Evangelicals and JWs alike.

Finally, McKenzie’s definition of monotheism completely negates Heinz’s position. McKenzie defines monotheism not just as the exclusive worship of the one God, but the belief in the existence of only one God. According to McKenzie, historians define the belief in a host of gods with the exclusive worship of only one God as henotheism and/or monolatry. This is precisely the point I made throughout my article, that JWs are not biblical monotheists but rather are henotheists disguising themselves as monotheists.

Hence, the very source Heinz appeals to ends up affirming my position while negating Heinz’s entire argument.

Heinz:

Sons of God as members of a class:
Sam states:

Thus, Stafford’s reasoning is that the term “sons of God” must mean that angels are divine beings since this is the way Scripture uses the phrase “sons of”; to refer to membership or participation in a particular class. What Stafford failed to note is that although the phrase is used at times to denote participation in a given class, it is not always used in this sense.
“As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, sons of Belial, surrounded the house… ” Judges 19:22
“The sons of Eli were sons of Belial, having no regard for Jehovah.” 1 Samuel 1:12
The Israelites are also addressed as the sons or children of God:
“You are the children (Heb.- beney) of the LORD your God.” Deut. 14:1 NIV
“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” Hosea 1:10 NIV
This presumably being the case, JWs face further difficulties since Adam is another one who is addressed as God’s son:
“… the son of Adam, the son of God.” Luke 3:38 NIV

Hosea is probably the only exception where you will see the term “sons of God” to someone other than angels. What Stafford printed in his book that Sam takes aim at are quotations from Gesenius and Sam Cooke. Stafford explains alot more that Sam let’s on, including the following,

“The description “sons of God” are given to the Israelites in Hosea 1:10. That this description has a much different meaning than when used of the angels is clear from the fact that the description in Hosea is figurative, relating to their newfound relationship with God, as opposed to His rejection of them mentioned in the same verse. The angels in Genesis (6:4), Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:7) and the book of Psalms (89:6; compare 29:1) are not described as sons of God in such a context. Rather, they, as “sons of God,” “take their situation before Jehovah” in the heavens (Job 1:6; 2:1), and witnessed the creation of the heavens and the earth (Job 38:7).” JWD2 pp. 114, 115

Response:

Heinz does not tell his readers that my paper originally addressed the first edition of Stafford’s book. Stafford only added the above citation to his second edition, apparently in response to what I had written in my article.

Furthermore, Stafford must assume that the different context implies whether the term “sons of God” is figurative or not. But there are several problems with Stafford’s reasoning.

First, Stafford built his entire case on the argument that the phrase “son of” implied membership and/ or participation in a specific class. Stafford also provided several examples from the OT to illustrate his point:

“Further evidence that the angels were considered ‘gods’ or ‘divine beings’ is found in the use of the Hebrew for ‘sons of.’ In the Hebrew Bible, when we read of the ‘sons of’ someone or some group of people, they are typically seen as members of the group or class of whom they are ‘sons.’ For example, in 1 Kings 20:35 the ‘sons of the prophets’ are ‘prophets,’ and in Nehemiah 12:28 the ‘sons of the singers’ are ‘singers.’ Commenting on this use of son Gesenius tells us: ‘There is another use of… [ben, ‘son’] or… [beney, ‘sons’] to denote membership in a guild or society (or of a tribe, and any definite class).

“Thus… [beney elohim, ‘sons of God’]… [beney ha-elohim, ‘sons of (the) God’] Gn 6:2, 4, Jb 1:6, 2:1, 38:7… properly means not sons of god(s) but being of the CLASS of… [elohim].’ Gerald Cooke concludes that ‘the “sons of God(s)” are to be understood without question as lesser divine beings.’” (Stafford, first edition, p. 190 bold emphasis mine)

My use of Hosea 1:10 along with the other OT references where individuals are called sons of Belial proved that Stafford’s reasoning is not necessarily true in all instances. The fact that he had to address Hosea 1:10 and claim that it is an exception to what he had originally claimed in his first edition only proves my point. It proves that Stafford realized that Hosea 1:10 posed a problem with his position and therefore needed to explain it away in his second edition.

Furthermore, to say that Hosea 1:10 is using figurative language backfires against Stafford. In the above quotation, Stafford mentions the “sons of the prophets” and the “sons of the singers” to support his claim. Yet these examples can only be figurative since the phrase “sons of” does not imply biological descent from individuals who were either prophets or singers. Rather, it refers to the fact that these individuals belonged to the class of prophets or singers. The use “sons of” is therefore a figurative expression. This being the case, Stafford’s attempt of evading Hosea 1:10 through the use of figurative language proves absolutely nothing.

Third, in Heinz’ citation from the second edition of Stafford’s book we are not told in what sense is Hosea’s use of the term “children of God” in relation to Israel simply figurative. Does Stafford mean that whereas the children of Israel are not God’s children in a literal sense, angels in fact are? If so, what does Stafford mean by literal? That God produced these angels in the same way a human father produces children, i.e. through sexual union with a consort? This would be Mormonism, not JW teaching.

Does Stafford mean that angels are God’s spiritual sons? If so, what difference is there between born-again Christians being referred to as the sons of God from angels being called God’s son? The Holy Bible states that all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ become children of God. (Cf. John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14-17, 19, 21; 9:22-26 [Sam’s note- Paul interestingly cites Hosea 1:10 here as being fulfilled in the gracious calling of both Jews and Gentiles into the family of God]; Galatians 4:4-7; 1 John 3:1-2, 9-10; 4:4-7; 5:1-2, 18-19)

This sonship is obviously spiritual and is neither literal nor metaphorical.

Does Stafford mean by spiritual that angels derive their life from God? If so, then my original argument stands. Notice what I said:

“…With this point in mind, the phrase “sons of God” when used of angels presumably means that since they derive their existence from God, God is then viewed as their Father in that he is their Creator. This interpretation bears out in light of Malachi 2:10:

“Have we not all one FatherDid not ONE GOD create us?…”

Since God created us, he is our Father and we are his offspring. Paul quotes Greek poets who had this same idea in mind, namely that since we exist because of God we are therefore his children:

“‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:28

Hence, in light of the biblical data we are left to conclude that Stafford’s position is simply indefensible.”

Does Stafford mean that angels partake of the divine nature? If so, then what does Stafford mean by divine nature? Does he mean that angels share in the holy and incorruptible life of God? If so, then even believers partake of this divine nature as was mentioned earlier.

Does he mean that angels are also gods in a real sense? If so, then Stafford is clearly wrong.

Finally, Heinz failed to address the final problem with Stafford’s reasoning. Both Stafford and Heinz allude to Genesis 6:2 regarding the term “sons of God.” Here is my original comment showing why this passage sounds the death knell to Stafford’s claims:

“A final problem with Stafford’s position is that it views the sons of God in Genesis 6, who according to many biblical scholars and JWs are fallen angels (i.e. demons), as lesser divine beings. For instance, the JW book, Aid to Bible Understanding, defends the view that the sons of God in Genesis 6 are angels by stating:

‘The identification of the “sons of the true God” at Genesis 6:2-4 with angelic creatures is objected to by those holding the previously mentioned view (author- namely that Gen. 6:2-4 refers to the godly seed of Seth as opposed to Cain’ s corrupt seed) because they say the context relates entirely to human wickedness. This objection is not valid, however, since the wrongful interjection of spirit creatures in human affairs most certainly could contribute to or accelerate the growth of human wickedness… The mention of a mixing into human affairs by angelic sons of God could reasonably appear in the Genesis account precisely because of its explaining to a considerable degree the gravity of the situation that had developed on earth prior to the Flood…

Supporting this are the apostle Peter’s references to “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days” (1 Pet. 3:19, 20), and to the “angels that sinned” mentioned in connection with the “ancient world” of Noah’s time (2 Pet. 2:4, 5), as well as Jude’s statement concerning “the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.” (Jude 6) If it is denied that the ‘sons of the true God’ of Genesis 6:2-4 were spirit creatures, then these statements by the Christian writers become enigmatic, with nothing to explain the manner in which this angelic disobedience took place, or its actual relation to Noah’s time… There seems to be no valid reason then, for doubting that the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2-4 were angelic sons…”’ (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971 ed., pp. 1527-1528; emphasis mine)

In fact, the publication goes on to identify these angels as demons:

‘Demon. An invisible wicked spirit creature, sometimes called a ‘fallen angel,’ having superhuman powers… In Noah’s day these disobedient angels materialized, married woman, fathered a hybrid generation known as Nephilim… and dematerialized when the flood came. (Gen 6:1-4)…’ (Ibid, pp. 441-442; emphasis mine)

In light of the earlier citations, these beings could in no way be gods since the Bible denies the possibility of fallen angels-demons from ever partaking in the divine nature…”

Therefore, to simply claim that Hosea 1:10 is using figurative language does nothing to solve the problem for Stafford or Heinz.

Heinz:

This is why “sons of God” are the primary definition for angels in such publications like Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible, McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible, and the Oxford Companion to the Bible (which also includes “gods” as another definition). You will find that this is not the case with Adam, or Israel or the other cases presented.

Response:

Heinz again cites authorities as if somehow citing authorities establishes his point. One must produce sound exegetical evidence to support the claims made by an authority. Furthermore, to say that angels are called primarily “sons of God” does not tell us in what sense is the term being used.

Heinz is also wrong by stating that the title “sons of God” is not used as a primary definition for either Israel or Adam. If the frequent usage of a title proves anything then Israel is called God’s “sons”, “children”, and “firstborn son” at least eleven times. (Cf. Exodus 4:22-23; Deuteronomy 14:1-2; 32:5-6, 18-20; Isaiah 1:1-3; 45:10-11; Jeremiah 31:9; Ezekiel 16:20-21, 23:36-37; Hosea 11:10)

In contrast, angels are called “sons of God” only four times. (Cf. Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6, 2:1; Psalm 89:6).

Heinz also fails to mention that whereas Adam is called the son of God once, not a single individual angel is ever referred to as the son of God. The term is applied to angels collectively as a group, but never individually.

Finally, both Adam and man in general are said to be in the image of God, something never said of angels. If anything, this should serve as greater proof that human beings, not angels, are actual gods. Yet the Holy Bible clearly refutes the notion of man being god in any sense. (Cf. Ezekiel 28:1-10)

This demonstrates that Heinz’s appeal to frequent usage again proves absolutely nothing.

Heinz:

Sam: Another major weakness in the argument is that it leaves JWs with a serious problem. In the Old Testament, Jehovah is pictured as the Light:
“Jehovah is my light and my salvation… ” Ps. 27:1
“… for Jehovah will be your everlasting Light… Jehovah will be your everlasting Light…” Isaiah 60:19, 20
“… Though I sit in darkness, Jehovah will be my light.” Mic. 7:8
If as JWs assume that Jesus is not Jehovah, this implies that Jehovah is not the true light but a copy of the true one. Using Stafford’s reasoning, Jesus as the one true light is the one reality and source from which others can only reflect, but never possess. Therefore, since Jesus is the true light and Jehovah is not Jesus, then Jehovah’s light is not “true in the sense of the reality only possessed by the archetype alone,” but one of its derivative copies. The only way to resolve this problem is to affirm that Jesus is Jehovah, since what is true of Jehovah is true of Jesus.

Reply: This was written before Jesus time, where Jehovah was the only true light to contend with. The scriptures mentioned preceeded Jesus time on earth.

Response:

Heinz again begs the question since he assumes that Jehovah is unipersonal and therefore to say that Jehovah is the only true light implies that Jesus’ light must be derived since, to Heinz, Jesus is not Jehovah. Yet this is precisely the problem that Heinz has tried to avoid, namely if in fact Jesus is not Jehovah then Jehovah is not the true source of light. Rather Jesus is the archetype from which Jehovah derives his light.

The second problem with Heinz’ statement is that John 1 is referring to Jesus’ pre-incarnate state:

“In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:1-5 NIV

“There arose a man that was sent forth as a representative of God: his name was John. This [man] came for a witness, in order to bear witness about the light, that people of all sorts might believe through him. He was not that light, but he was meant to be a witness about that light. The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world.”John 1:6-9 NWT

Heinz is therefore simply wrong to assume that since these OT passages precede Christ’s sojourn on earth they are therefore inapplicable here. John’s statement has a direct understanding on how we view these OT passages since John is speaking of the Logos’ relation to the Father even before creation. Hence, if the Logos exists as the true light even prior to the creation of the universe, then Heinz has not addressed my initial argument. How can Jesus exist as the true light prior to the creation of the cosmos and not be Jehovah God? If Jehovah is light and yet Jesus is not Jehovah, this means that Jesus is the source of Jehovah’s light.

Heinz

Heb. 1:1 says that in times past, God was represented by prophets.

Moses was a prophet who reflected God’s glory:

Interestingly, the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible says this of Moses,

“In the OT as well as the NT Moses is above all the mediator or revelation. Several times his most intimate relation with the LORD is emphasized (e.g., Exod 19:9.19; 20:18-21; 24:18; 33:11.18-23; Num 12:7,8; Deut 5:20-28; Ps 103:7; Sir 45:5; cf. John 9:29; Acts 7:38; Heb 8:5), evidently to emphasize that Moses’ words and prescriptions really are the words and rules of the LORD himself. In connection with his role as a mediator of revelation, Moses is portrayed with superhuman traits (cf. also Deut 34:5; Sir 45:20. According to Exod 34:29-35 the skin of Moses’ face radiated after his meeting with the Lord on Mount Sinai (Exod 34:29.30.35), i.e.his face was enveloped in a divine aura. By this nimbus Moses was legitimated as the true representative of the LORD (cf. Matt 17:2, Acts 6:15).”

Response:

Heinz commits the fallacy of false analogy as well as the fallacy of equivocation. Whereas Moses merely reflected the light of Jehovah, Jesus is the source of all light. (Cf. John 1:4; 8:12; 9:5)

Whereas Moses is ascribed with superhuman traits, Jesus is the fullness of Deity in bodily form, being the very exact representation of God’s nature and essence. (Cf. Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3)

Whereas Moses spoke God’s words, Jesus is the eternal Word of God and the only perfect revelation of God to man. (Cf. John 1:1, 18; Revelation 19:13)

Whereas Moses reflected God’s glory, Jesus shares the same divine glory of the Father. (Cf. John 17:5)

To therefore compare Jesus to Moses is to compare the sun to a smoking wick.

Heinz:

But according to Heb 1:1-3, it is now Jesus who is the reflection of God’s glory….”glory as of the only begotten from the Father”.

Response:

Correction. It is not just now that Jesus reflects the glory of God, but has always done so even before the creation of the world.

Furthermore, to be more precise Jesus reflects the glory of the Father who is God. The reason why he does so is because, unlike Moses, Jesus is fully God in nature and contains within his own Person the very same divine glory that the Father has. (Cf. John 17:5)

Jesus therefore not only reflects the Father’s glory, but shares the same divine glory of the Father since he is all that the Father is in essence and nature.

Heinz:

Jehovah, as Father (Is 64:8; Deut 32:6), is the source of all light (Is 45:7; Gen 1:3), and he is the “Father of lights”(Jas 1:17), meaning obviously, that there would be other lights.

Response:

Yet if Jesus is not Jehovah and Jesus is the true light, then Jehovah is one of the many that derive the source of their light from Jesus.

Heinz:

As McKenzie puts it:

“The Servant of Yahweh is a light to the nations, an agent of salvation (Is 42:6; 49:6).” Dictionary of the Bible, p. 511

When Jesus came down to earth, he revealed the invisible God (John 1:18), and as the true light, to see Jesus was to see the Father (John 14:9).

For more on OT Monotheism go to http://www.jehovah.to/exegesis/otstudies/elohim.htm

Response:

Heinz has still not addressed my question. Quoting McKenzie regarding Jesus being the Servant of Yahweh does nothing to explain how Jesus can be the true light without him also being Jehovah God. The reason why Jesus can be a light to the nations is due to the fact that Jesus is the true light that gives life to all men. Therefore, the light that gives life to all dwells within Christ personally and is intrinsic to his very nature. It is part of who Jesus is. Yet, if Jesus is not Jehovah and yet Jesus is the true light then Jehovah’s light is borrowed or derived from the One who is true.

So far Heinz has been unable to address this question. This leads us to conclude that Jesus is in fact Jehovah God (yet not the Father). This further establishes that the one true God exists in more than one Person, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

With that said do make sure to read the postscript to this series: https://answeringallah.com/the-only-true-god-postscript/

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