The Watchtower Misquotes The Ante Nicene Fathers
The Denial That God Is A Trinity
It’s no secret that the Watchtower Society strongly opposes the doctrine of the Trinity. This subject is generally the most debated topic amongst Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this post I’m not looking to prove the Trinity, but I would like to show the Society’s willingness to misquote the Anti-Nicene Fathers to support their cause of Arianism. They purposely misquoted not just them but other sources in their 1989 “Should You Believe in the Trinity” book. Everyone knew that the fix was in once they provided quotes while leaving out the references e.g. page number, date of book, etc to their sources. In some cases they didn’t even name their source at all! Before I continue, I would also like to bring to your attention two other important issues within this publication.
- Though they quoted “Bible scholars” and “historians”, such individuals were in contempt of the Bible; rejecting entire parts of the New Testament altogether. They relegated these parts of scripture as merely borrowed ideas from Greek philosophers . Needless to say, not a reliable source unless you like to cherry pick, which the Society did of course.
- Another observation, is that the Watchtower spent a great deal of time mixing Modalism/Sabellianism, Tritheism, and Trinitarianism into one belief system. This “muddying of the waters” makes it hard for one to define what they are refuting or defending.
On page 7 of this publication (below) we see the Society reference 6 “An Fathers” consisting of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen.
(Note: Below in the red is what the Trinity book wrote and in black is what the writer actually said and believed)
(1a) Trinity book says “Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is other than the God who made all things. He said that Jesus was inferior to God and never did anything except what the creator…….willed him to do and say.” Page 7
(1b) Justin says“… nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.”– First Apology of Justin, Ch LXIII.
“… but now 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 the Lord of hosts …” – Dialogue with Trypho, Ch XXXVI.
“Therefore these words testify explicitly that He is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ.” – Ibid, Ch LXIII.
(2a) Trinity book says “Irenaeus, who died about 200C.E, said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the One true and only God, who is supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other.” Page 7
(2b) Irenaeus says“… and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King …” – Against Heresies, Bk 1, Ch 10.
“But that He is 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 and apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth.” – Against Heresies, Bk 3, Ch 19.
(3-Clement of Alexandria)
(3a) Trinity book says “Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E., called God the uncreated and imperishable and only true God. He said that the Son is next to the only omnipotent Father but not equal to him.” Page 7
(3b) Clement says “For ‘before the morning star it was;’ and ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’” and “This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) and of our well being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man …” and “The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher; that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends.” – Exhortation to the Heathen, Ch 1.
(4a) Trinity book says “Tertullian, who died about 230 C. E., taught the supremacy of God. He observed The father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begats is different from him who is begotten; he who sends; different from him who is sent. He also said: “There was a time when the Son was not….Before all things, God was alone.” Page 7
(4b) Tertullian says “”Him we believe to have been sent by the Father into the virgin, and to have been born of her – being both Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and to have been called by the name of Jesus Christ.” and “… while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing them in their order the three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost …” – Against Praxeas, Ch 2.
“With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity, as with His ministers and witnesses.” and “…I mean the Word of God, ‘through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made.’Now if He too is God, according to John (who says) ‘The Word was God’…” – Against Praxeas, Ch 12.
(5a) Trinity Book says “ Hippolytus, who died about 235 C.E., said that God is the one God, the first and the only One, the Maker and Lord of all, who had nothing co-eval[of equal age] with him…But he was One, alone by himself; who, willing it, called into being what had no being before, such as the created prehuman Jesus.” Page 7
The underline above is a misquote. The original is “But He was One, alone in Himself.” The Refutation of All Heresies Book One Chapter XXVIII. This subtle misquote changes the meaning of the writer.
(5b) Hippolytus says“For he speaks to this effect: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’” and “…’Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth.” – Against the Heresy of One Noetus, Ch 14.
“For Christ is the God above all, and He has arranged to wash away sin from human beings.” –The Refutation of All Heresies, Bk 10, Ch 30.
(6a) Trinity book says “Origen, who died about 250 C.E., said that the father and Son are two substances …two things as to their essence, and that compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.” Page 7
(6b) Origen Says “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 …” – Origen de Principiis, 1.3.2
“For it is one and the same thing to have a share in the Holy Spirit, which is (the Spirit) of the Father and the Son, since the nature of the Trinity is one and incorporeal.” –Origen de Principiis, 4.1.32
1. One of the “Bible authorities” the WBTS references is “historian” Will Durant. They quote him as saying “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it….From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity”. Below is what else he stated concerning the Bible and Christianity.
(The Story of Civilization: Part III, Caesar and Christ, 1944, pp. 594-595) “It seems incredible that the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel should have come from the same hand. The Apocalypse is Jewish poetry, the Fourth Gospel is Greek philosophy….Just as Philo, learned in Greek speculation, had felt a need to rephrase Judaism in forms acceptable to the logic-loving Greeks, so John…sought to give a Greek philosophical tinge to the mystic Jewish doctrine that the Wisdom of God was a living being, and to the Christian doctrine that Jesus was the Messiah. Consciously or not, he continued Paul’s work of detaching Christianity from Judaism.…Now the pagan world—even the anti-Semitic world—could accept him as its own. Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it.”