A Question the Jehovah’s Witnesses Can’t Answer

When I was in seminary in the 1970’s, I took Cults from Walter Martin and he had former Jehovah’s Witness Bill Cetnar speak to the class. What follows is the line of reasoning Cetnar presented. I’ve used it ever since with JWs at my door, with JW Greg Stafford and other JWs on my radio program, and with JW elders at Kingdom Halls (By the way, I was 16 the first time I went into a Kingdom Hall to witness to the JWs).

Christian: Let me ask you only one question and after you answer it, I’ll answer any question you want. First I need to clarify a few things. In the New World Translation, John 1:1 reads: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Then in Isaiah 9:6 (NWT) we read: “For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” So then, does Jehovah equal almighty God?

JW: Yes.

C: Now Jesus isn’t Jehovah, right?

JW: That’s right.

 C: Jesus equals a Mighty God?

JW: That is correct.

C: Is Jehovah a true God or a false God?

JW: Jehovah is a true God.

C: Is Jesus a true God or a false God?

JW: Jesus is a true God.

C: Okay, here’s my question: How can you believe there are two true Gods when the Bible says there is only one God? After all, it says in Isaiah 43:10-11 (NWT), “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none.” And Isa: 44:6 (NWT) says: “I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.”

JW: That passage is teaching that there are no capital “G” gods.

C: Hebrew doesn’t have capital letters so the capitalization of the “G” in those passages is an insertion by the NW translators to make us believe there are two categories of gods. It is equivalent to their just inserting the word “almighty” in the text. If the Lord had wanted to proclaim that “besides me there is no Almighty God” instead of what it really says, “beside me there is no god,” He could easily have had Isaiah insert the word “Almighty” in those passages. But He didn’t.

JW: Well, we only worship one God.

C: If I only loved one wife but was married to two women, I would still be a polygamist and your believing there are two true Gods even though you only worship one of them still makes you a polytheist. The Bible says there is only one God.

JW: But the Bible calls Satan a God.

C: Is Satan a true God or a false God?

JW: A false God. 

C: You still have two true Gods. 

JW: But in Ex. 4:16 (NWT) it says that Moses “will serve as God to him [Pharaoh].” 

C: It says Moses will serve “as God.” In other translations of this verse it says Moses will be “like God” to him. Do you see a difference between serving “as” God or “like” God and really being a god? For example, if I said an older woman was “as a mother to me” it wouldn’t mean that I actually came out of her womb, right? Do you see the difference?” 

JW: But the word “God” is just a title that can be used for those on the side of God. 

C: Then there would be lots of true Gods, but John 17:3 (NWT) says “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” If that’s true, how could you say that Jesus is a true God? 

JW: As I said, we only worship one God. 

C: But I’m not asking about how many Gods you worship, I’m asking about how many Gods you think are true. Can you think of a time when someone says that ‘X’ is the ‘only true’ ‘X’ that it doesn’t make everything else in that category false? If there God is the ‘only true’ God then any other god must be a false god, but you have already said that Jehovah and Jesus are both true Gods and that makes… count them… two true Gods. 

JW: 1 Cor. 8:4-6 says “…there is no God but one. For even though there are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.” See, the Father is God, not Jesus. 

C: But you’ve already agreed there are two true Gods and this passage says there is only one God. 

JW: You’re talking about the Trinity. 

C: No, I’m pointing out that Jehovah’s Witnesses are polytheists who believe there is more than one true God, even though the Bible tells us there is only one true God. 

JW: We didn’t come here to argue. [What?] 

C: Okay, well, if you want to bring someone back, I’ll be glad to talk with them. [That hasn’t happened yet.] 

This is all about logic. After all, if there is one God and if there are three persons in the Bible called God, then the three persons must be the one God. It is no surprise that I have yet to hear a coherent answer. I carried on an email dialog with one JW and after several months she ended our discussion with, “You just like to go around and destroy other people’s religions!” 

What? 

By the way, I really don’t let them ask me a question unless they can answer mine first because JWs, more than any cult I’ve talked to, will change the subject as soon as they see they are in a bind (I got that from Bill Cetnar, too). 

Titus 2:13: “We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” 

Amen.

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24 Responses to A Question the Jehovah’s Witnesses Can’t Answer

  1. Sam says:

    I’ve tried this line of reasoning on message boards before, but it has never worked out for me. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses have answered it by accusing me of equivocation. They do not believe Jesus is God in the same sense that Jehovah is God, so it is perfectly consistent to say that Jehovah is the only true God while, at the same time, saying that Jesus is a true God, but is not Jehovah. There’s only a contradiction if you say Jesus and Jehovah are gods in the same sense.

    • clayjones says:

      Yes, they’ve tried that with me but I point out all the verses that they have to “edit” to make that work. Isa. 43:10 doesn’t say “before me no Almighty God was formed and neither was there any Almighty God formed after me.” The Hebrew certainly could have said that but it doesn’t. Same with John 17:3. It doesn’t say “that they would know you, the only true almighty God….” The Greek is certainly capable of saying that but it doesn’t. They try a similar tactic when Thomas, after examining Jesus’ wounds, says, “My Lord and my God.” The JWs say that what happened was that Thomas called Jesus Lord but then looked up into heaven when he said “my God.” Of course, the text doesn’t say that either. Let people insert a word or two into any passage they want and they will be able to make the Bible say just about anything.

      • Sam says:

        Thanks for responding! What about when they bring up passages such as Psalm 82:6 where the context dictates that “elohim” refers to human judges? The argument is that since elohim can refer to Jehovah or to human judges, it is not inconsistent to say that there is only one true elohim (meaning Jehovah) while at the same time saying there are many true elohims (meaning judges). There are other passages, like Exodus 22:8-10 that use “elohim” for judges. The JW’s I’ve talked to have said Jesus is god in the sense that he is a powerful ruler or judge, not that he is divine. And since the elohim over Israel were true elohim, Jesus, too, can be a true elohim even though he is not the one true elohim (Jehovah). How would you respond to that?

        • clayjones says:

          The Psalm 82:6 passage where men are called “gods” is obviously sarcastic when you read the context. Am I reading into this? No. Consider v. 7 where the psalmist says but “you will die like men.” Aka: you guys think you really are something but you’re going to die like everyone else.

          As for Ex. 22:8-10, I think the New American Commentary well explains it: “In vv. 8-9 the NIV translators have chosen to render ʾelōhîm as “judges,” a translation that in our opinion cannot be sustained. What the law calls for is a decision by God (“the owner of the house must appear before God,” v. 8; “both parties are to bring their cases before God,” v. 9). How would this decision be accomplished? Verse 11 tells us: “The issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD.” What if both parties swore that they were innocent? They and the court would simply have to leave the matter in God’s hands for disposition, as Solomon envisioned in his prayer in 1 Kgs 8:31-32 (“When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence”). But if both parties had (as the covenant expects) a proper fear of God (i.e., a fear of the consequence of disobeying him), it would normally be the case that, under oath, one of them would somehow and to some sufficient degree admit to being in the wrong in the dispute over the piece of property and would accept the requirement that he pay back double to his neighbor.” Douglas K. Stuart, New American Commentary – Volume 2: Exodus, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 506-507.

          • Sam says:

            Thanks again. This is something I have never considered. Let me make sure I’m understanding you, though. Do you mean to argue that every single case of “elohim” in the Old Testament refers either to the one true God or to false gods except where it is being used sarcastically or metaphorically or something like that? Are you saying that it is never used to refer to human judges? If so, I think that would adequately answer the JW’s I’ve talked to, but I kind of feel like I need to go look up every case of “elohim” just to make sure.

            • clayjones says:

              Hi Sam,
              I haven’t done an exhaustive study on elohim in the OT. If the JWs try to argue from another verse, please me me know.
              Clay

  2. Sam says:

    And Greg Stafford is perfectly happy being called a henotheist.

  3. vikki says:

    Jesus is a mighty God Jehovah is a almighy God, big differance. What about the holy spirit is that a person to? If so did it commit fornication with Mary? If so arn’t you accussing God of doing exactly what the demons did that got them kicked out of heaven!!! I feel sorry for you if that is your accusation. By the way do you believe God has multiple personality disorder? Because Jesus did not know everything God knew, according to Jesus words. He also talk to himself alot even asking himselfs to not make himself do something that he thought might make him look bad or his father

  4. Sam says:

    Hi Vikki. I’m not Clay Jones, but I hope it’s alright for me to chime in anyway. I was just reading an article the other day that addressed one of the points you brought up–the distinction between “mighty god” and “almighty God.” Mike Licona addressed that issue in this article:

    http://www.bethinking.org/other-religions/introductory/what-to-say-to-jws—ch-3-biblical-texts-for-the-deity-of-christ.htm

    He basically made two points. First, that since the underlying Hebrew for “almighty god” is El Shaddai, meaning God is sovereign, and “mighty god” is El Gibbor, meaning God is a hero or a champion, the distinction is not what the English would suggest at first glance. The English suggests that one is greater than the other, but that is not what the underlying Hebrew suggests.

    The other point he made was that in several contexts (e.g. Isaiah 10:20-21), Jehovah is called “mighty god,” so the distinction is illegitimate since both titles can refer to the same God.

    It is a mystery to me why you would think the Holy Spirit being a person somehow entails that he had sex with Mary. The Holy Spirit is not a physical being. But isn’t it your position that Jehovah was the one who brought about the miracle of the virgin birth? That doesn’t entail that Jehovah had sex with Mary, does it?

    We Trinitarians do not believe God has multiple personality disorder. Multiple personality disorder is when one person somehow develops multiple personalities. In God’s case, God really IS three persons. It is not a disorder. It’s his nature.

    Jesus did not talk to himself. You are apparently confusing the Trinity with modalism. Under modalism, the Father and the Son are the same person. Not so with the Trinity. In the Trinity, the Father and the Son are distinct persons. Jesus talked to his Father, not to himself.

    This misunderstanding you seem to have about the Trinity is understandable. I have noticed that when Watchtower literature addresses the subject of the Trinity, they almost always misrepresent it. In fact, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses left me a magazine earlier this year in which the doctrine of the Trinity was misrepresented. I wrote a blog about it if you want to have a look-see:

    http://philochristos.blogspot.com/2009/10/jehovahs-witness-misrepresent-trinity.html

    The Watchtower magazines are not a reliable source for information about the doctrine of the Trinity. The reason their arguments are ineffective with educated Christians is because the arguments are based on simple misunderstandings. If you want to make effective arguments against the Trinity, you first need to have an accurate understanding of what it is and why so many people believe in it. If that is your aim, I highly recommend James White’s book, “The Forgotten Trinity,” which you can get on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Trinity-James-R-White/dp/1556617259/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280885289&sr=8-1

  5. clayjones says:

    Hi Vikki,
    In addition to the other verses I mention there is Deut. 32:39: “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me.” If Jesus is a true god (by JW belief) and is seated at the right hand of the Father, what does that verse mean?

  6. Douglas Reis says:

    Mr. Clay Jones,

    I’m always reading your blog; I’m a chaplain in Brazil and I would like receive theological articles about deuteronomy. Can You help me? Thanks! God bless you!

    • clayjones says:

      Hi Douglas,
      I’m thankful you’ve found my blog helpful. I don’t know of any particular articles on Deuteronomy. Was there a particular question you were investigating?
      Clay

  7. Jackie P says:

    Hi Vikki,
    I’d like to ask you a question about your comment on the Holy Spirit if I may. According to your beliefs, is Satan a “person” or is that merely a name for the force of evil? Please give me your reasons for your belief. Thank you.

  8. matt says:

    This never works with JW’s because it is a strawman argument.

    • clayjones says:

      Hi Matt,
      Please tell us, Matt, exactly how it didn’t work when you used it.
      Thanks!
      Clay

  9. Alex Blagojevic says:

    Hello Dr. Jones,
    I have enjoyed reading this blog on Jehovah Witnesses. I have been studying about JW doctrine so that I can better reach out to my JW friends.
    Since JWs believe Jesus was Michael the Archangel, I like to point out that in Jude 1:9, Michael does not dare to rebuke Satan, but rather claimed that only the Lord could rebuke him. Nevertheless, Jesus did rebuke Satan in Matt. 4:10 and Mark 8:33, proving that he is different than Michael and that He had powers superior than angels.
    Does that make sense?
    Blessings,
    Alex

  10. Jan Pierre Pangyarihan says:

    Mr. Jones,

    Do you still have the recording of the encounter/debate with Greg Stafford?

    • clayjones says:

      Hi Jan,

      The honest asnwer is “probably.” I have a slew of recordings. One of the problems is that if I do have it, it is on mini-disc and no one uses that format so I have to transfer it to CD before I begin making CDs. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to it.

  11. Susan says:

    I just discovered your blog, and am so interested in it! I read a book a couple of years ago suggesting a different approach to witnessing to JWs, and I’ve used it for the past 6 months with two JW ladies who meet with me weekly. The background to the approach is based on the fact that JWs are told unbelievable lies about Christian beliefs and practices–we’re all mean, stupid, and know nothing about the Bible, etc. Also, they are deeply deceived, and they are strongly discouraged by the Watchtower Society from THINKING. Therefore, the approach is to establish a friendly, non-confrontational atmosphere and never to argue doctrine. Instead, I “plaintively” and sincerely ask them to explain Watchtower theology in terms I can understand. They find themselves unable to do this, but, in trying to come up with answers, they’re forced to THINK. I have seen with my own eyes their struggle to do this. In a friendly, loving environment, where they’re not put on the defensive, they’re also more open to considering a different viewpoint. This does require a lot of Bible study beforehand, and a willingness to listen to complete nonsense from them with a calm demeanor, but I have reason to believe it will bear fruit. A former JW told me of a woman like me who “studied” like this with a JW for three years, and the Witness became a Christian at the end of that time! I’m willing to meet with these ladies for as long as they’re willing, utilizing this strategy of building a relationship, while I gently but persistently question them about their beliefs. I never argue doctrine, but every week I seem to get the opportunity to tell them how totally fantastic Jesus is, how real He is in my life, how much He’s changed it, and how I look forward to meeting Him one day in person. They NEVER hear this at Kingdom Hall.

  12. clayjones says:

    Wow, that’s awesome, Susan! You have a lot of patience. I wish more Christians would do what you are doing.

    Please let me know how it progresses.

    Clay

  13. william linam says:

    jehova witnesses claim also that jesus is michael the arcangle but hows that did he reincarnate hisself and died for our sins and was resurected

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