Jehovah`s Witness/cont. from the 4th of oct.


QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

{Strange how my post did not get to you, the delivery receipt I received did not mention that there was any problem, anyway, I’m send this anew.}

I hope that you are well, and that you went somewhere pleasant on your break.

Your last reply is quite long, so if there is something where you think I skipped over then tell me and I will address it.

In your edited note on the 19th of September you say

“Not ALL of the “church fathers” looked to Plato.”

Yet when you read the portion from the Catholic Encyclopaedia, which you quoted, and which you put in BOLD text,  it says “from Justin Martyr to St. Augustine” what does that mean? It means those between the time of Justin Martyr to the time of Augustine, without exception. So are you now contradicting what you quoted and put in bold text?

You also say in your edited note regarding the writings of the early church;

“So far, I have not seen any of their writings that advocate basic JW ideas.”

But earlier in another post you said;

“The so called Arian idea in  the post Christian era actually had its roots even earlier.  They can be seen in the writings of people such  Tertullian (c.155 – c.240 AD) and Origen (c.185- c.232 AD).”

First you say the Arian idea CAN be “seen” in the writings of Tertullian and Origen, but you then say that you have not “seen” in their writings “basic JW ideas”.

Basic Arian idea – Jesus is supposedly created.

Basic JW idea - Jesus is supposedly created.

This is as basic as it gets.

Then in your latest response you proceed to quote, where you think, that this Arian idea is being stated by some of the early church writers such as Tertullian and Origen, but you claimed in your edited note that you have NOT seen this basic idea in any of their writings.

Which is it?

Is there some other basic JW idea you have in mind?

When I mentioned how Tertullian and Irenaeus in their writings recognised the Holy Spirit as a person long before AD 381, you made the claim that the early church had “varying views” about the Holy Spirit but you were unable to verify this claim, and instead went on and claimed that the early church, those at least, after the first century, were apostate and their writings were “not to be trusted”.  

But now you turn full circle on this by claiming some of the early church writer as support - even the ones I mentioned to you, Tertullian and Irenaeus, which you condemned as apostate, remember - now you think that these writers advocated some later Arian position.

Interestingly though later in your post you revert back to claiming that the early church writers were apostate.

I’d like you to understand something or at least try to understand.

The early church writers would use similar terminology and verbal forms as the Greek philosophers to explain, to a Greek influenced world, the truth of the Scriptures. Even the Apostle Paul would employ Stoic philosophical terms in his preaching work see for example Acts 17:28-29. This does not mean Paul looked to the Stoics now does it?

Even when Paul did use Stoic philosophical images and language, he gave to the words a new and higher meaning and significance. Just as the early church writers do. I hope that you can understand this.

Moving on, you say;

“The idea that the holy spirit was a 3rd person of the trinity developed over several centuries and it was not until the council of Constantinople in 381 AD that  “pneuma hagion” was  officially  recognised as the third   person of the trinity .  Neither Jesus or his disciples recognised (addressed) the holy spirit as a person.”

“I did not bring it up because I am interested in the teachings of the second and third centuries etc. The reason why I brought that up is, because,  I understand you to be of the opinion that the spirit, as a person,  would make the holy spirit the third person of the trinity.  When I mentioned 381, it was to show that up up until the fourth  century, the idea of the trinity, as is taught by the majority of churches today, was not accepted.  Even at the council of Nicea  ( 325 ) only the Father and and the Son were linked together (dualism). It started of “ We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible...”  and there was a brief statement, almost like an after thought at the end  that says   “...And in the Holy Ghost”

Brenton, as I showed the early church did clearly believe and teach the personality of the Holy Spirit; you are under some delusion regarding the reason for the early church’s council.

The council’s were called to debate what was being instigated by certain individuals AT THE TIME; and when they concluded their debates they would then develop creedal formula’s to reinforce the outcome of the councils deliberations.

This is done today in other areas where people come together to debate certain issues, at the close of the convention a consensus would be developed to expound to others the outcome of the forums.

Your whole line of looking at the reasons for the early church councils is distorted by the false teaching of the Watchtower planted in your head.

The inclusion of the Holy Spirit in the Nicene creed confirms that the Holy Spirit is, and always has been, viewed as a person and not an “after thought” as you would want. Have you read the creed, I wonder?

You say,

“Between the two councils  the “church”  for a while, formally adopted “Arianism”.  A promonant “chrurch father” was a driving force in having Arius and is idea reinstated into the church teaching for a short time.”

As far as I’m aware, it was the then eastern Roman emperor who tied to instigate this in the church. Constantius, one of the sons of Constantine, attempted to mould the Christian church to follow what he believed. Richard Watson in his Biblical & Theological Dictionary explains, “Constantius,… became warmly attached to the Arian cause, as were all the court party…Constantius supported Arianism triumphantly.” And according to the Encyclopedia of Saints, Constantius “compelled the Eastern churches to embrace” Arianism. (page 146).

Please tell me who the “promonant ‘church father’” you say that “was a driving force in having Arian idea reinstated into the church”.

You move on and quote from Tertullian, Against Hermogenes, Chapter 3, and say;

“He uses language that shows he believed that Jesus did not always exist but came into being at some point.  This is made in relation to God being a judge.  He argues that God is the supreme Lord and Judge and Father, but those titles only become operative once there was creation, once there was evil, and once there was a son.”

In chapter 3 of Against Hermogenes, Tertullian is not talking about existence here, but as you said, titles. The Son did not always exist as Son for Tertullian. He asserts that God technically did not have the title "Lord" if there was no creation to Lord over, or "Judge" if there was no sin to judge, nor aptly called "Father" if there was not a 'Son". Nowhere does he suggest that the Son “came into being at some point” as you proclaim. When he makes the statement "there was a time when neither sin existed, nor the son..." it is only to make the point that existence of the titles, in this case "Judge" and "Father" are contingent upon a relative subject.

So the statement in Against Hermogenes needs to be viewed in the light of the peculiar character of the subject that is being treated.

Hermogenes viewed matter was eternal, or else God could not have been Lord from eternity, since there would have been nothing over which He could exercise sovereignty. Tertullian answered that God was not always Lord, as He was not always Judge, or always Father, since ‘ Lord’ was a title which was given to Him in connexion with the created universe, ‘Judge’ in connexion with sin, and ‘ Father’ in connexion with Son. The idea in Tertullian’s mind is not that there ever was a time when God’s Ratio (Reason) did not exist, but that there was a time when He did not exist as Son.

Next you quote from Tertullian Against Praxeas chapter 5, But when you were researching this, as you claim, you must have first read in chapter 2 where he lay the ground work for what he goes on to say throughout the treatise, yes?

Probably not. Anyway let’s take a quick look.

“All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes THE UNITY INTO A TRINITY, placing in their order THE THREE PERSONS — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: THREE…of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds.” (Against Praxeas chapter 2 emphasis added)

That is quite clear.

So when we look closely at chapter 5 of Against Praxeas, we notice that Tertullian states that “Reason” existed eternally alongside God; “Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason…I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself.”

His statement is that before all things God alone existed, since there was nothing external to Himself but Himself, Yet He was not alone, even at that time, for He had with Him His own Reason.  Strictly speaking, says Tertullian, we should distinguish between Logos and Reason, because God had not Logos from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning.

When you read Tertullian in context, what he says is the complete opposite of what the Watchtower wants you to think he says!

You say about Tertullian;

“Later so called theologians took what he says here and  expanded on them, and  turned it into the trinity as described in 381 CE”

This type of statement only reinforces that maybe you actually did not read chapter  2 of Against Praxeas, where it shows that this claim is groundless. The rest of what you claim regarding Tertullian is pretty much a misconception about to what he really says.

To really understand chapter 8 of Against Praxeas, you must first recognize what Tertullian believed, and that there is the Unity into a Trinity, if you don’t realise this then you will not grasp the intent behind the metaphors.

You say;

“Tertullian introduces the idea that Jesus and the spirit emanates from God. He is writing in Latin but he used the Greek word   προβολαί”

Prior to the metaphors given by Tertullian he states, “This will be the prolation taught by the truth, the guardian of the Unity wherein we declare that the Son is a prolation from the Father, without being separated from Him. For God SENT forth the Word, as the Paraclete also declares, just as the root puts forth the tree, and the fountain the river, and the sun the ray...” (Against Praxeas, chapter 8 emphasis mine)

Therefore as the context shows, you will see that Tertullian’s uses the word προβολαί to counter the philosophy of Valentinus.

You say of Tertullian;

“In light of all his writings (that I have so far read) he is actually saying that Jesus has the qualities of theo (God).  He said that the Son “is called God from unity of substance with God.”  what was the substance that joined the two? He continues   “For God, too, is a Spirit.”  The son has qualities like that of his Father. They are both “spirits”.  They can both be called god (dues in Latin). WHY?  Because of the original meaning of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin words.”

I think you read to much into what someone writes (and while not reading what they actually states) concocting an idea to suit your system of belief that is totally foreign to the writers intent.

Let’s see, what does Tertullian mean when he says “unity of substance”. Again the context tells us clearly, without having to read into the passage, just what he means, “Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still PART OF THE PARENT MASS; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun— there is NO DIVISION OF SUBSTANCE, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled…that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, AND THE TWO ARE ONE.” (Apology chapert 21, emphasis mine)

I believe this is again quite clear on what he means; so here once more your conclusions are unfounded and clearly a by-product of the misconception inflicted on you by the misleading and untruthfulness of the Watchtower.

You go on and then make a most outrageous claim;

“When he look at his other writings as per the earlier quotes, we learn that Tertullian did not view Jesus as the modern day trinitarian theory teaches. The trinity as taught since 381 c.e. has Jesus being co eternal, but from Tertullian we see that he did not teach that in his writings. He taught the Jesus and the spirit  were part of “all things” that came from God at a later time.”

This claim is so far from the truth as I have already shown. Tertullian was clearly what we would call a Trinitarian who believed in the uncreated Deity of Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit. Let’s have a brief look at more evidence which refutes your claim.

“Scriptures attest the clear existence of, and distinction in the Trinity, and indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith…the distinction OF PERSONS IN THE TRINITY is clearly set forth” (Against Praxeas, chapter 11 emphasis mine)

“If the number of the Trinity also offends you…With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity… the following text also He distinguishes among the Persons… I must everywhere hold one only substance in THREE COHERENT AND INSEPARABLE PERSONS” (Against Praxeas, chapter 12 emphasis mine)

“That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God” (Against Praxeas, chapter 13)

“Then there is the Paraclete…Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces THREE COHERENT PERSONS, who are yet distinct One from Another. THESE THREE ARE, ONE ESSENCE, not one Person…”(Against Praxeas,  chapter 25 emphasis mine)

There are many, many, more text that can be drawn upon to show how far from the truth your claims are.

Next you jump back to Against Hermogenes chapter 18 and even though you quote the majority of the passage you again miss the intent.

Tertullian in chapter 18, to denounce Hermogenes teachings he expounds on wisdom being ever present in the creation of the world, and this wisdom, to Tertullian, is the Spirit mentioned in 1 Cor. 2:11, and he goes on to say that this “same Wisdom is the Word of God” Jesus the Son of God. Now it is the last part of the chapter where we see the bottom line of Hermogenes’ argument and how Tertullian wittily responds;

“Therefore on this ground  Hermogenes  puts  Matter  even before God, by putting it BEFORE THE SON. Because the Son is the Word, AND THE WORD IS GOD,  and I and my Father are one.  But after all, perhaps, the Son will patiently enough submit to having that preferred before Him which (by Hermogenes), is made equal to the Father!”

Next you say;

“The words in chapter 32 Tertullian shows that in his argument against matter being eternal, Tertullian tells us that, in his mind, the spirit  (my spirit) which he aligns with the wind that “wafted over the waters” (“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Gen 1:2 [KJV] )  was also created

What we notice here is that Tertullian did not consider that it was the Holy Spirit that moved over the waters of Gen 1:2. To him he considered this to be just a wind as shown by linking to the quote from Amos 4:13, and therefore to consist of matter, as he goes on to say

“Now, when we prove that these particular things were created by God, although they are only mentioned in Genesis, without any intimation of their having been made, we shall perhaps receive from the other side the reply, that these were made, it is true, but out of Matter, since the very statement of Moses, ‘And darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters’ REFERS TO MATTER, as indeed do all those other Scriptures here and there, which demonstrate that the separate parts were made out of Matter. It must follow, then, that as earth consisted of earth, so also depth consisted of depth, and darkness of darkness, AND THE WIND AND WATERS OF WIND AND WATERS.” (Against Hermogenes chapter 18 emphasis mine)

Now let’s remember the fact, as shown above, that Tertullian recognised full well that the Holy Spirit is a person.

Then you move on to Irenaeus, here you claim that while Irenaeus refutes Modalism and the Simon Magus cult, you say; “We have associated here the heresy of the “idea” that later become the trinity.”

Your comment is completely ludicrous to say the least. And here is why!

"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, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man.” (Against Heresies, book 3, chapter 19 emphasis mine)

I agree completely with this statement by Irenaeus, do you?

If you do not then you need to ask yourself, why not, considering the claim you made about Irenaeus.

Irenaeus certainly believed that Jesus Christ was fully God. Not "a god". Eternal God. Nowhere does he suggest that Jesus had a different "existence" or essence from God the Father.

Irenaeus did, when refuting different manifestations of Modalism, stress that Jesus was a different "person" from the Father, which is consistent within Trinitarian theology. However regarding their essence, he says in Against Heresies book 4 chapter 5;

“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.”

So Christ is aptly termed God with the Father. In a practical sense, Irenaeus was Trinitarian, despite the fact that this was long before the Trinity had been formally defined. Moreover, Irenaeus says that the name of God is applicable to both the Father and the Son. He says in Against Heresies book 3 chapter 6 that:

"Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God…For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name, of God — both Him who is anointed as Son, and Him who does anoint, that is, the Father."

I agree with this statement, do you?

In Against Heresies book 1 chapter 10, Irenaeus says that the early church’s faith is based on the teachings of the apostles and their disciples and believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and says,

"Christ Jesus is our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King."

I say, “Amen!” Do you?

“And in what respect will the Word of God — yea, rather God Himself, since He is the Word — differ from the word of men, if He follows the same order and process of generation?” (Against Heresies 2 chapter 13).

There are more that can be added to show that even though he lived years before the Trinity was formally defined, his beliefs were entirely Trinitarian.

You next move on to Origen, who you seem to quote with approval at first, but then criticize further on, you say,

“In the Preface of Oregin's De Principiis  we find that he starts of teaching that Jesus was born of the Father and was subordinate to the Father as the servant.”

And then you go on to quote a portion from the Preface, but I feel that you have left out a very critical part of what Origen believed from the very same Preface.

“That Jesus Christ Himself, who came (into the world), was born of the Father before all creatures; that, after He had been the servant of the Father in the creation of all things — “For by Him were all things made” — He in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man REMAINED THE GOD WHICH HE WAS” (emphasis mine)

The fact that Jesus is the “servant” of the Father is in complete harmony with the Scripture see for example Matt. 12:18.

What does Origen mean when he say that Jesus is “born of the Father”?

Well let’s allow Origen to explain.

“For if the Son do all those things which the Father does, then, in virtue of the Son doing all things like the Father, is the image of the Father formed in the Son, WHO IS BORN OF HIM, like an act of his will PROCEEDING FROM THE MIND.” (De Principiis book 1 chpter 2)

Now note that Origen uses the term “Trinity” (τριάς).

“From all which we learn that the PERSON of the Holy Spirit was of such authority and dignity, that saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the MOST EXCELLENT TRINITY OF THEM ALL, i.e., by the naming of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…. Moreover, nothing in the Trinity can be called greater or less” (De Principiis book 1 chapter 3)

“But in our desire to show the divine benefits bestowed upon us by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which Trinity is the fountain of all holiness” (De Principiis book 1 chapter 4)

“For we have pointed out in the preceding pages those questions which must be set forth in clear dogmatic propositions, as I think has been done to the best of my ability when speaking of the Trinity.” (De Principiis book 1 chapter 6)

Yes, Origen was fond of using Greek philosophical terms, but he also used Scripture to back it up.

You go on and quote from Origen’s commentary of John Book 2, however I don’t think you grasp what Origen is saying. Firstly he is not saying Jesus is a god (see above). In part 1 of book 2 Origen writes,

“…however, He (Logos) is God, just because He is with Him… the Word being with God makes Him God. (Oregins commentary of John book 2, part 1)

In book 2 Origen emphasises that Logos is of the one essence with the Father. Notice that he is explaining clause b of John 1:1 where the Father is “the God” (ho Theos), pointing out that the clause has the article, and even though God” is clause c of John 1:1 is without the article that does not diminish that Logos is still God, “and who by being with God is at all times God” (Oregins commentary of John book 2, part 2).

You next move on to Eusebius; let me state, when I research something I’ll have many books open and papers scattered everywhere. My wife refuses to tidy up the study because of this. So when I said “see Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History 2: 23: 25” I had this book open as well as a few others, and going back on this I referenced Ecclesiastical History which only lists a few of disputed books of Scripture, instead of the one with the complete list. Here is the reference source to look up and more; Bruce Metzger's The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance; Donald Guthrie’s New Testament Introduction; and the Catholic Encyclopaedia under the article ‘Canon of the New Testament.’

You move on to Justin Martyr and say;

“Justin wrote to the pagans, especially Greeks.”

You will find that Justin not only wrote to pagans but to the Jews also.

You go on to claim that “Justin shows how unsure he is of the identity of the” Holy Spirit, because he refers to the Spirit by a number of terms.

This does not mean that he is unsure as to the Spirits identity but quite the opposite, in fact the Bible uses very similar terms for the Spirit, for example, as we have already touch on, in John 16:13 “the Spirit of truth”, “the Spirit of life” Rom. 8:2, “the Spirit of grace” Heb. 10:29, “the Spirit of glory” 1 Peter 4:14. Does this mean that the writers of Scripture were unsure as to the identity of the Holy Spirit? Of course not!

Let’s look at some of what Justin say;

“Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar…and holding HIM IN THE SECOND PLACE, AND THE PROPHETIC SPIRIT IN THE THIRD… for they do not discern the mystery that is herein, to which,
as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed.” (First Apology, chapter 14)

Why would anyone put a mindless active force in the third place unless he considered the Spirit a person?

To Jews Justin wrote  

“…you will permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order TO PROVE that Christ is called BOTH GOD AND LORD OF HOSTS…” (Dialogue with Trypho, Chpeter 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. Sing ye to our God, sing ye: sing to our King, sing ye; for God is King of all the earth” (Dialogue with Trypho, Chpeter 37)

And Trypho said, ‘We have heard what you think of these matters… For when you say that THIS CHRIST EXISTED AS GOD before the ages, then that He submitted to be born and become man’… And I replied to this… ‘as Son of the Maker of all things, BEING GOD, and was born a man by the Virgin’” (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 48).

Of course you will claim that these are all mistranslation of what Justin says…so the onus is on you to prove your claim.

You move on to Ignatius. I know that there are letters that were supposedly written by Ignatius which are forged, the one we are discussing is not one of those.

It’s fanciful how you then say;

“The bottom line is, that these so called church fathers were not inspired writers, they started to put in their own ideas and deviate from what Jesus and the Bible writers taught. They became heretics (apostates) themselves from the teachings of the first century”

It’s interesting here that you resort back again to the claim that they were apostates; my question is WHY then, does the Watchtower try to use them as support in that funny little booklet they published on the Trinity when you claim that they were apostates? Why is that?

Next you mention personification and say;

“When the following things do what a person can do, does it give them personality?”

And then you list some examples…which is exactly what those who claim that the Devil is only a personification do.   

Strangely though is that you turn and say that because the Holy Spirit “is something that BELONGS to God” therefore it is God who is “directing his breath, wind, force to accomplish the deed.”

On the one hand the Holy Spirit according to you is a personification, but then you say the Spirit is a kind of extension of  God, and therefore it is God who is doing “the deed”.

Personification is a rhetorical figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with personal qualities"

As you show, personification are found throughout the Scriptures, But in all these examples we know by way of human experience that they are not really persons. Not so with the Holy Spirit. No one can know the Holy Spirit is a thing (and not a person) the way we can know a mountain is not a person from human experience.

We can prove something is personification by finding a Bible verse that outright states it is not a person but a thing. We can do this with sin, death, hills, wisdom, stars etc.

When a passage that ascribes personal characteristics or action to a thing cannot be interpreted literally, then the passage is using personification. Personification is an example of poetic license: saying something that ordinary logic tells us is impossible. If this ordinary signal is absent, it stands to reason that the passage is not using personification. For example, death does not literally rule as king, nor does sin literally rule as king, a martyr’s blood does not literally cry out from the ground. Tongues do not literally strut. Rivers do not literally clap their hands. Light and truth are not literal travel guides to a sacred site. Money is not a literal god.

When we turn to the Scriptures that describe the person and work of the Holy Spirit, however, this ordinary signal is absent. There is nothing in these descriptions of the Holy Spirit that cannot be true of an actual spiritual being. For example: “If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John16:7); “The Spirit intercedes for us” (Rom.8:26); “The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1Cor.2:10).

None of these passages states any personal characteristic or action that is impossible for a spiritual entity to possess or to perform. The usual signpost that says “personification” is absent. There is nothing in these passages that puts them into the company of valleys that sing (Ps.65:13) and stones that cry out (Hab.2:11).

There is a second principle that also comes into play: does personification fit the context? When we try to interpret the descriptions of the Holy Spirit as mere figures of speech, the attempt fails. The contexts of the passages do not fit the premise that the Holy Spirit is not a person.

Consider this example: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness” (John15:26–27).

Note that Jesus says the Spirit will “bear witness” just as the disciples will bear witness (“you also…”). Jesus regards the Spirit (the Helper) as being just as much a person as each of the disciples, and speaks of them in the same terms. Beyond that, the actions He attributes to the Spirit—coming, being sent, proceeding, bearing witness—do not fit a mere personification of some aspect of God.

Here is a another example:

“If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you…I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John16:7–13)

Throughout these passages in the book of John, Jesus ascribes the same or similar personal actions to the Holy Spirit as He does to the disciples and even Himself (e.g., I will go/He will come; I have things to say/He will speak). It would be very strange to ascribe these personal actions in the same way and in the same statement to real persons and to a personification.

John 12:49 “because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak." (NWT)

John 16:13 “However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his OWN IMPULSE, but what things he HEARS he will SPEAK, and he will declare to you the things coming.”

In the dialogue Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to Himself, the comparison of one person to another. It would make no sense doing so if the Holy Spirit were not a person.

We also find that the Holy Spirit is linked with personal human activity.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials” (Acts 15:28 NASB).

I hope that you can understand this.

You then list a number of passages where “the Spirit of God” is mentioned and you think that somehow this proves that the Holy Spirit is not a person, we have gone over this and I showed you how this type of reasoning is floored. Add to this the fact that the Holy Spirit is clearly distinguished from the Father and the Son in Scripture (Matt 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14, 1 Peter 1 :2, Heb. 9:8, Isa 48:16).

You move on to where you quote from the Catholic Dictionary and you say,

“You mention a few words I missed out from a quote ““PARTICULARLY IN THE HEARTS OF MAN”…”

Brenton I did not accuse you missing out these words or trying to hide anything, I said that it is the Watchtower that leaves this last part of the sentence out whenever they quote this passage from the Catholic Dictionary. I said you just read over them as if they mean nothing. And the only reason I could give for why you do so was because you must have seen the first part of the sentence so many times in Watchtower publications and in those “study’s” that you are oblivious to the last part of the sentence.

Frankly, why would the Watchtower leave these last few words out whenever they quote this sentence? It is quite obvious why.

Now you claim that these last few words of the sentence, “were superfluous to the point I was making”.

But Brenton it is the point of the writer we want to evaluate, not what you read into the comments.

“On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the Spirit as a divine energy or power particularly in the heart of man.” (Catholic Dictionary).

Does this sentence say that the Holy Spirit is a “divine energy or power” and there stop? Or is it saying that “particularly in the heart of man” the Holy Spirit is “as a divine energy or power”? Clearly the second is the intended meaning, why, because a sentence must be understood as a whole.

You are under some misconception thinking that the Catholic authority has no Bible foundation for the belief in the personality of the Holy Spirit. You are completely wrong on this.

"Most of these places furnish no cogent proof of personality. ... In the fourth Gospel, however, this personal existence is stated more fully and plainly" (Catholic Dictionary).

What the dictionary is saying is that many places indicate personality, but some offer no "cogent proof" (convincing proof) , but the Gospel of John does!

And I refer you to the above where I show this very fact from John’s Gospel.

Let’s consider also for a moment the writers added reference to 1 Cor. 12:11 and how, for the writer, “Poetical personification would be quite out of place here” because of the “personal action” attributed the Holy Spirit.

Notice also the Greek verb βούλομαι (boulomai), which you even touched on, translated in the NWT as “it wills”, the very word must raise the question how does a “thing”  have will, have desired intent, determination; “be willing or be disposed” as you put it? A “thing” can’t, only a person can because only a person has will (boulomi)!

You go on and say, “there would always be some that would be considered “true Christians”” I have to ask why did you place the term true Christians in quotation marks (“ “)?

It is interesting how you now consider that Arius “may” have been “part of God’s organization” although your reasoning as to why this “may” be is not really practical.

The question must still be asked, where during the centuries prior to Arius (at least), were the ancient counterparts to you JWs? We would at least expect to find some record of a religious group in the second and third century with views somewhat resembling those of you JWs. But there is none!

Next you move on to your initial quote of the article from the New Catholic Encyclopaedia and say,  

“… The quote clearly tells us that there was uncertainly about the relationship of the Son and the holy spirit to to the Father.  It was vague and undefined?  Why was that so?..”

I don’t see anywhere in the article that says that to the early church writers there was any “uncertainty” in the relationship of the three persons. Nowhere in the article does it say that the early church writers were “vague”, or that the early church writers were “undefined”, these are words and ideas that you impute to the article.

The article only discusses how the early church writers were explaining the understanding of how the three persons operated together yet distinctly all prior to the “future solution”. You read far too much into the words “may have been”.

As shown, prior to the “future solution” these early writers considered the Holy Spirit a person. See above.  

You move on to Justin Martyr’s “First Apology where even though he denounced the idea of many gods, you believe that he goes on to then advocate what he had denounced; and you think that this is not inconsistent.

What you failed to notice is how Justin denounces the very idea of multiple gods, nothing of what you claim is even present in his letter, please note again the above from Justin Martyr.

Next you move on to Philip Harner’s article, which you cited as support for your idea, but as I pointed out does not support your idea at all.

So instead you question what he says, which is strange, because it was you who cited him as support in the first place?

One wonders why you would cite someone for support when he clearly refutes your very idea?

You go into various points which you believe gives support to your idea on anarthrous nouns, but that still does not explain why you would cite someone for support when that person refutes your claim.

I’d like to discuss your misconception surrounding anarthrous predicate nouns in detail, but here is not the place as this has now turned out to be a very long reply; and as has been shown above, Justin Martyr clearly does not consider Jesus to be “a god” which was your original point of claim. <><


Thanks for resending that. There is a lot of information in that.  It came to 13 pages when I put it into  my word processor.

This is only a short reply, because it is going to take me some time to go back and read all our correspondence to set the stage, and then try to see where your arguments above fit onto our previous conversations.

There is a lot of information there which we obviously do not agree on. When quoting the church fathers I did so from my own reading of what they said and from non WT information and not from from WT information. From the information that I gleaned from the church fathers and other writings I will stay by the idea that the holy spirit was not fully accepted as a divine person until 381, which tells me that it was in dispute and or not fully formalised until then.

I really have no desire at all in discussing the so called church fathers. Our view of what they said seems poles apart. Getting into an “I said” - “You said” situation is not my idea of a constructive dialogue especially when so much is trying to be talked about at one time. In an earlier post I had made this observation

“ Sometimes there is just so much information in the questions, that   a lot of the points you ask are not covered in my replies. That is unfair on you not to have answers to all you ask.  That is why I asked if you could ask less questions in each each post, maybe one or two. I then would not feel over whelmed, and providing an answer of one of two questions is much easier. “

sorting things out is fine, but in small pieces at a time.

What I am interested in is what the Bible says.

The Bible shows that Jesus had a beginning, and has always been and will be subordinate to his Father and God. The Bible also shows that the holy spirit is not a person. It belongs to God, something he possesses, what the holy spirit does is actually what God does. The holy spirit is fully controlled.

As this relates directly to the Bible and not the so called church fathers, this is the type os dicsution I look forward to. You had said....

“ I’d like to discuss your misconception surrounding anarthrous predicate nouns in detail”

In relation to that topic is the writings of P Harner. I have P. Harner's,  article in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92.1, 1973 and what he has produced there supports the NWT rendering of John 1:1c. Harner's theological bias then sends him on a different  track in regard to John 1:1c

He is often quoted by others who say that his work does not support the NWT because he gives 5 possible ways that John could have written the last clause

A ho logos en ho theos
B theos en ho logos
C ho logos theos en
D ho logos en theos
E ho logos en theios

Examining his writings and reading a lot of information from people that support his idea that clause “D” “with the verb preceding an anarthrous predicate, would probably mean the the logos was 'a god' or a divine being of some kind, belonging to the general category of theos but as a distinct being from ho theos." I can see how his theological bias has influenced that. His hypothesis is not supported by Johns writings.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

How are you progressing with the full response? It has been some weeks now, so I'm much looking forward to hearing back from you very soon. <><


Nice to hear from you. I hope that you have been coping with the heat this summer. Its been the hottest December on record here with so many days over 40. I think it is to be about 39 today and tomorrow here again.

I must apologise for not being real clear in my last response. When I said

This is only a short reply, because it is going to take me some time to go back and read all our correspondence to set the stage, and then try to see where your arguments above fit onto our previous conversations.

My intention was, that I did not intend to reply to all the information about the church fathers, because there was just too much information to go back over, and I had failed to keep any notes of where I had found different things. Also, I mentioned that

I really have no desire at all in discussing the so called church fathers.   [As] Our view of what they said seems poles apart.  

So, the bottom line is, something else I had said

What I am interested in is what the Bible says.

I am more than happy to continue on discussing what the Bible says, as I do not hold any other writings as being inspired of God and beneficial for setting matters straight (2 Tim 3:16)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

Yeah it has been hot, we have a number of bushfires our way as I guess you would have also, about half are deliberately lit, which are made worse because people have lost property to these fires.

You know Brenton I find it very strange that you, on the one hand, would cite extra biblical writings like the Catholic Dictionary, the Catholic Encyclopaedia etc, and articles from such persons as Harner even certain web sites in an attempt to try to reinforce your ideas, also claiming incorrectly regarding the early church writings, but because you don’t like what the early church actually did write, you do not want to discuss their writings anymore as you “do not hold any other writings as being inspired of God” other than the Bible; yet you cited from other writings all the time which are not inspired either.  

No one ever said that the early church writings were inspired, I certainly never have!

Sorry to say but it seems to me that you just want to sweep their writings under the carpet, and forget them altogether BECAUSE they just don’t quite agree with you. If that is the case then sadly it is your lose in this regard because you would have learned quite a lot from them.

Anyway as I mentioned in my rating, there is a number of places in my response that relates DIRECTLY to the Bible, you can respond there at least and leave out of your response all the bits you don’t like regarding what the early church wrote, OK. And no I will not re-write my response because you now don’t want to discuss the early church, you can just leave them out of your response.

Looking forward to hearing back from you on those places that relate directly to the Bible. <><

Hi Cos,

You know, there are several reasons for referring to other writings. Usually to highlight a point. To get background information.  Or it can be to refer to another authority on a historical matter . At times it is to refer to a language scholar to see how and why a word of phrase should be translated. I had no intention of discussing the church fathers. I honestly view much of their writings as a history of theology going astray. Also,I do not trust the translators that rendered their work into English to keep theology out of translation. Just as many Bible translators of been effected by their theology in rendering the old manuscripts into English.

I do not have original language copies of the church fathers to check dubious renderings. (I gave you one example that I came across)

I have spent some time looking back through our correspondences on my all-experts account, and unless I have missed something, it would appear that, the “church fathers” came up, after I had made the following statement. “The idea that the holy spirit was a person developed over several centuries and it was not until the council of Constantinople in 381 AD that  “pneuma hagion” was recognised as a person.” I, unfortunately, did not give a historical source on that, at that time.

A few of discussions later , you posted some quotes from Irenaeus (120-202) )Against Heresies, book 3, chapter 19)

Tertullian (155-220) (Against Praxeas, chapter 25)

Hippolytus  (170-235)  (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus, section 8)

After that, a lot of time was waisted as, I started digging up what I could remember reading in the past, from some of the church fathers. Personally, I have found their writings, at times, to be very contradictory, between then selves, as well as on occasion from the same writer. That is another reason why I find their information is only good for getting an historical overview of how the trinity doctrine developed.

I had used writings from various Catholic sources to verify what I see as inconsistencies with the church fathers.

Yes you are correct, as far as seeing any real value in the church fathers, I would prefer to sweep their writings under the carpet, because, as a whole, they are of no value in determining Biblical truth. I honestly believe that after the passing of the apostles, a great apostasy over ran the “church”.

I will make a broad statement in regard to the Bible. The trinity as taught by the majority of churches today can not be found in the writings of the Bible . That means, that Jesus was a created being, inferior to God, and that the holy spirit is not a “being” of any kind.

The only outside sources that I prefer to use in establishing a particular theological point are Hebrew and Greek lexicons and or works related to them.

You said
Anyway as I mentioned in my rating, there is a number of places in my response that relates DIRECTLY to the Bible,

May I ask that you take a fresh approach to this and use the Bible by rewording what you want to say into a concise format.

About you comments in the rating area (your words in bold)

 Brenton You want a constructive dialogue, yes good, but how can we have a constructive dialogue when you contradict what you claim and say?  

Sorry I do not see where I contradict my self. What I have been guilty of is not clearly explaining my thoughts. Perhaps of jumping to the conclusion that I have contradicted my self, if you think that might be the case, it might be better to ask for an explanation.

And yes I do, and will, continue to point this out to you, hoping that, that will help you see through the illusion and false claims placed before you by the Watchtower; I endeavour to do what I can to check the things stated by the Watchtower. I have not found them to make false claims. No doubt you will disagree with that.

...  On the subject of Harner, the problem is that you quote his article (as does the Watchtower) for support but his article denies your idea; it is your allegation, and sorry but it is an unfounded allegation, that his conclusion, because it is contra to your claim is because you say of his “theological bias”.  

From reading his article and examining texts, I have concluded that his idea of the meaning of John 1:1 is influenced by his theology.

I have been analysing all the texts that he has used in that article of his. And I will say from my analyse that he has used a very broad brush in his thesis. When it comes to John 1:1, he has NOT compared like with like. He has lumped John 1:1 in with the broad mix of texts in stead of refining it down to the ones that correspond to the same construction. In the charts I have done from his lists, I have looked for texts that are of the same construction.

Let me ask you, is his conclusion on Mark 15:39 also based on his “theological bias”? That literally reads “ the human this son was of-God”.

In the KJV it is translated as “this man was the Son of God.”
In the NWT it is rendered a “this man was God’s Son”

This is an example of NOT comparing like with like. The sentence, or more importantly the clause, are not the same structure. They are close, but not the same. I want to see if you can work that out.
We must keep in mind the purpose of his article. He said “ This study will suggest that anarthrous predicate nouns proceeding the verb may function primarily to express the nature of the subject , and this qualitative significance may be more important than the question whether the predicate noun itself should be regarded as definite or indefinite”

He examines some aspects of “Colwell's Rule” which leant heavily toward being definite. He often makes a point of saying that there is no basses for viewing the “noun” as definite – a hark back to Colwell. Now the NWT dose not argue for indefiniteness, but for the nature, or the qualitative aspect of the subject not identity. The “a” is a correct way of expressing that thought. With out the “a”, the idea of identity is highlighted, and that is not what John is saying.

Harner starts of by saying “Although the exact meaning of this passage remains uncertain, we may raise some question...” He goes on to examine some different aspects  as to what that particular construction in 8 verses from Mark. A consistent, and clear meaning is not forth coming. He also fas to make a lot of assumptions.

In Mark 15:39, there is a demonstative pronoun (houtos = this) before the anarthrous noun. A demonstrative pronoun is closely related to the definite article. So to capitalise the word “Son” is grammatically correct.

In Traditional English, “an article is usually considered to be a type of adjective. In some languages, articles are a special part of speech, which cannot easily be combined with other parts of speech. It is also possible for articles to be part of another part of speech category such as a determiner, an English part of speech category that combines articles and demonstratives (such as 'this' and 'that').”
My examination of the examples he uses tells me that his conclusions about John 1:1 are based on a faulty set of data that too many people have just accepted.

That's all for now. Its hot and I have no air-conditioning and I have been at this for some time today.

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2016 All rights reserved.