Jehovah`s Witness/Does the words "Son of God" show the deity of Jesus
I was reading a story posted to Derrick that comes from a Watchtower of one woman’s conversion to being a JW. Derrick picked up on something in his response to the question about something the converted woman said. This is the quote from the article that Derrick refers to
<<<<<"For example, in the Pentecostal school, I had been taught that Jesus is God, but I learned from the Bible that he is “the Son of the living God.”—Matthew 16:15, 16.>>>>
Derrick responds to this by saying
<<<<< This comment from her, is about like the hogwash that Rando writes on a regular basis....The notion that somehow, born again Christians do not believe Jesus is the "Son of the living God", which we CERTAINLY do. In fact, we understand the title "Son of God", to be a clear claim to deity.
So, that statement was highly suspect, and attempts to create a false dilemma. And there were a few others, as well.>>>>>
As a JW how would you understand those words form that woman and is Derrick correct in his reply that the words "Son of God" is a clear statement of Jesus deity?
Greetings again Henry
Thank you for giving me the opportunity top respond again
First how do I, as a JW, understand those words of the woman? To answer that I have to give you some background information
Well my view will be some what different to many JWs. I have family members that are of different religious belies as well as family members that were once Catholic and Methodist, and I have spoken to many people over the years from a variety of Christian backgrounds. Until I come on the internet in the late 1990s my view of what the trinity was all about, was based on my discussions with those various people as well as other JWs that had had been raised in different religions.
The view I had was, that Jesus was in-fact God - that when people (not JWs) spoke of God, that they were referring to Jesus. So the words God and Jesus were used interchangeably. (It is my personal experience
that is how MOST
people that go to church understand the relationship). This is coming mainly from people who had been to church but never really been taught anything from the Bible. They just hear the preacher referring to to Jesus as God. I had discussed the idea of the identity of Jesus and God with a few different pastors, ministers and priests of different religions as well, and the best that they could do in explain it was that it was a divine mystery that we just have to accept must have faith in.
Generally, the idea that I had form all those people was basically a mixed form of “modalism” (for an explanation of that see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabellianism
) and trinitarianism Many people also seem to mix
Even though the people I spoke to knew the words “Son of God”, many
(probably most) did not necessarily see those words as saying Jesus was someone different to God, but just thought it meant he was the “Son of God” in his human form.
Many people that have become JWs will have come from a background of not not fully understanding the “traditional” view of the trinity. I had no clear idea as to what it was until I researched it on the internet.
So, for many readers of that Watchtower article that are JWs, they may well have understood the words written by that woman in that light, ( as many JWs do not understand the trinity doctrine even though it is stated reasonably clearly in one of or our publications )
that Jesus was not a separate entity to the Father (as the trinity teaches and as JWs understand) The vast majority of people I know have that view.
I went and looked at what was written to Derrick to see the article that was being refered to. There was one part there that I personally have to agree with as I have done this on other allexpert forums is ask a question as she did to her instructors and she reports “answers were often quite vague and not satisfying. They talked about the Trinity and said that it is a mystery. I found it quite confusing” I have had very similar results when I asked questions to some Catholics. Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists preachers on allexperts forums. One theologian sent me a “I'm sorry, I can't help with that “ response. So, unless someone is very well versed in the trinity doctrine like Derrick is (and I have encountered very few with his knowledge), my experience has to agree with the woman giving the experience of here time at the Pentecostal school that most people will give “.. quite vague and not satisfying..” as she reports.
Now to what Derrick said, is “ This comment from her, is about like the hogwash...”
Depending on your point of view. Obviously to Derrick, it was “ hogwash” as he has a commanding understanding of the subject. Obviously, his response comes from his perception (understanding) of what the trinity is about. He is entitled to his opinion. One thing I noticed was that Derrick is speaking from the point of view of a “born again Christian” he goes on to say ….“ The notion that somehow, born again Christians do not believe Jesus is the "Son of the living God", which we CERTAINLY do
.”.... I may be wrong here but from what I read there, the words “ The notion that...”
, suggest to me, that Derrick is assuming the writer of the article is having a particular dig at “born again Christians” not believing in Jesus being “the son of God”. No where in the Watchtower article does the writer mention she was a “born again Christian”, or was referring to them. Has Derrick jumped to a conclusion here without knowing all the details? Perhaps Derrick is assuming that all Pentecostals are “born again Christians”. (I do not know if all Pentecostals do, or do not, claim to be born again so, he might assume correctly) But that just highlights a very important aspect that many of us tend to assume what others have said, or, we assume others know the same things we do. Making assumptions often leads to misunderstandings and arguments.
But, generally, no it is not “hogwash”. One needs to look at ALL the facts. It seems to me that she never understood the full doctrine of the trinity as is the case with many pastors, preachers, ministers etc. Now I am only assuming this from what I understand she was saying, and my own personal experience from many people, is that she had a mixed idea of modalism and trinity theology. She finally realised that the words “Son of God” told here that Jesus was not equal to the Father in any way, but was in fact, a literal Son - begotten of/by the father.
Now Derrick goes on to say ….“In fact, we understand the title "Son of God", to be a clear claim to deity.”... I an assuming here that he is saying that Jesus is equal to God the Father
I understand why he might say that. The general reasoning that I have heard is ... A son of man is man - that is having the same nature both being human so their nature is humanity. In like manner a son of God is God – that is having the same nature of being God or divine. I am reasonably sure that is the basic way Derrick would explain it
When we talk about man our nature is human – that is we are terrestrial - of the earth – we have flesh blood and bone breath air need to eat and drink etc.
The word man in different context can have different meanings. It can refer to one man or mankind in general. The word man in not a name but it describes a particular "creature" on this planet
Now there are two questions in regard to God that we must ask.
1) What does the word God mean
2) what nature is God
The word God in its basic form means a might one. In its earliest form it did not apply exclusively to a deity. There are several closely related words in the Old testament that are rendered as God in the Bible.
The first word is " 'el" Strongs Hebrew word number 410
which, my various Hebrew dictionaries tell me, is a is a shortened form of the Hebrew word “‘ayil” which means …. “properly, strength; hence, anything strong; specifically a chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree: — mighty (man), lintel, oak, post, ram, tree.” (Strongs Hebrew word number 352)
Here are the first instances of the Hebrew word "'el" (except for the bold, these are a cut and past form a software program using the KJV linked to Strongs Lexicon)
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God
<410>, possessor of heaven and earth:
And blessed be the most high God
<410>, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
The vast majority of times, "'el" is rendered as God. Now here are some other places where the word is used
It is in the power
<410> of my hand to do you hurt:
and there shall be no might
<410> in thine hand.
neither is it in our power
<410> to redeem them
O ye mighty
<410>, give unto the LORD glory
Thy righteousness is like the great
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power
<0410> of thine hand to do it
Because the basic meaning of el is “a might one: that fits the description of a god. The word god there is basically an adjective describing a quality of a particular person. By the time the New Testament was written in Greek, the Greek word for God “theo” (which my Greek dictionaries say is of uncertain origin) came to basically mean what we see it as today – a person (or thing)to be worshiped.
From the above discution what I am saying is that when we (JWs) speak of the word god we speak of mighty ones that have come to be worshiped. These mighty ones can be for good or bad. We understand that there is only ONE ALMIGHTY
[singular] person who is above all other "mighty ones" ('el) that is to receive religious worship
But what is the nature of God. Is it restritced to the godhead of the Father, Jesus and the holy spirit as I have assumed Derrick is saying? What does the bible say about divine nature?
The “divine nature” is referring to being in the spirit realm as apposed to being in the fleshly realm. “God is a spirit” as John 4:24
tells us. Paul writing to the Corinthians in discussing the resurrection of those that are “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1
) tells us of the different types of “bodies”. There are terrestrial and celestial ones. In particular Jesus was raised as a life giving spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:39-47
“39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies
, and bodies terrestrial
: but the glory of the celestial is one
, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body
. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
The above texts show that the nature of God
confined to just God and Jesus. There are many others with "divine nature". If Jesus being the “Son of God” makes him divine, and, thus, a part of the “godhead” then there are many others that are part of, have been and will be, part the divine “godhead” as well. Does that sound reasonable? Notice these texts taken from the Old and New Testaments of “Sons of God”
That the sons of God
saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God
came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Now there was a day when the sons of God
came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Again there was a day when the sons of God
came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy?
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God
, even to them that believe on his name:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God
, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God
: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God
, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
In 2 Peter 1:4
Peter tells us that there are others (beside Jesus) that share in divine the nature “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature
, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
So is Jesus being the “Son of God” a clear statement of his deity? In reference to Jesus being a part of the godhead - NO.
In reference to Jesus having a the same “nature” as God YES.
Both God and Jesus, and the heavenly host, share the same nature – they are spirits, just as we share the same nature – we are human. Not all humans are equal. Not all spirits are equal. There is only ONE ALL MIGHTY
spirit, and that is the God and Father of Jesus.