Is water baptism necessary for salvation? This subject has been hotly debated between Christians and those in certain cult groups (Churches of Christ and Oneness Pentecostals, etc.) and the apostate Roman Catholic church for decades.
In order for water baptism to be considered necessary for salvation it must be part of the gospel message because it is the gospel that provides salvation. (Romans 1:16) But is water baptism synonymous with the gospel of Jesus Christ as some pseudo Christian groups claim it is?
On a “gospel song” Nicki Minaj espouses the Word of Faith teaching of “Name it and Claim It.” Is this doctrine biblically supported? For that matter, can we as Christians take Nicki Minaj seriously when it comes down to the bible and theology?
Can We Literally Speak Life and Death into Existence?
What does Proverbs 18:21 mean when it says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Is this passage of Scripture teaching us as Christians that we can literally speak life and death into reality by the words which we speak?
In this video we will examine Proverbs 18:21 and see whether or not we as Christians can speak life and death into existence as it is claimed by those in the Positive Confession/Word of Faith movements. Click here and find out.
In part 1 of ‘In Defense of the Triune Nature of God’, the Jehovah’s Witnesses faulty understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity historically was exposed, and their misinterpretation of two Scripture passages which they attempt to use to debunk the Christian doctrine of the Triune nature of God: John 17:3 and John 14:28 were corrected hermeneutically. If you haven’t yet read the previous article or if you need to refresh your memory on what was written, I encourage you to go back and read ‘In Defense of the Triune Nature of God: Part I. In this concluding article, I will address the remaining Scripture passages mentioned in Part 1 and examine and refute the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation of them: Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 42:8, and Acts 2:32. With no further delay, let’s dive in and continue where we left off.
“Proof Texts” Against the Doctrine of the Trinity (Continued)
At first glance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in saying there is one LORD (Yahweh or Jehovah). As Christian theologian Ron Rhodes accurately stated, “That there is only one true God is the consistent testimony of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. That truth is like a thread that runs through every page of the Bible.”1 Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses can readily agree on this fundamental biblical truth. Where we part ways, however, is when Jehovah’s Witnesses equate God (who they refer to as Jehovah) as being a singular Being, and thus assume this proves beyond a shadow of doubt God is not a Triune Being.
This begs the question: How does affirming Jehovah as being one God disprove the claim that He has a Triune Nature as Christianity claims God does? In actuality, it doesn’t disprove it at all. In fact, it exposes the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ignorance of what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. This argument demonstrates their gross assumption that Trinitarianism and tritheism are definitionally synonymous with one another. As seen, however, in part 1 of this article, Trinitarianism teaches that there is one God who exists as three co-eternal and distinct persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–whereas tritheism is the belief in three distinct gods like The Capitoline Triad in ancient Roman religion: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. In Christianity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have the same divine nature: God’s nature. They do not have three separate and different divine natures. If so, this would lead to tritheism.
It is also important for Jehovah’s Witnesses (and Christians alike) to understand that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all called Jehovah or Yahweh (LORD). The Greek word for the Hebrew word YHWH or LORD is Kyrios. With this understanding in place, let’s see what Scripture says concerning the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being Jehovah or Yahweh.
In the gospel of Matthew in verse 25 it states, “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” Jesus rightfully calls the Father, Kyrios (Lord) of heaven and earth.
In Romans 10:9, it states, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” In Romans 10:9 the Apostle Paul tells us Jesus is Kyrios (Lord) and four verses later the Apostle Paul tells us “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.””(Romans 10:13) The Kyrios who sinners call upon for salvation is none other than Jesus. The Apostle Paul quotes this from the Old Testament prophet Joel in chapter 2 verse 32 where LORD refers to Yahweh or Jehovah. The Apostle Paul understood and believed that Jesus was Kyrios and specifically the Kyrios and YHWH the prophet Joel was speaking of in chapter 2 verse 32.
Finally, in Acts 13:2, it states, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” This verse may not be as clear as the earlier verses, but in verse 2 the Holy Spirit is equated with Kyrios. First, we have to ask: who is being ministered to? The Lord (Kyrios). Secondly, who responds to the ministering? The Holy Spirit. Thirdly, who calls Barnabas and Saul (Paul) to their missionary task? The Holy Spirit. Lastly, can anyone outside of the Lord (Kyrios) call Christians into ministry? No, they cannot. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be Kyrios; Yahweh or Jehovah.
Thus, as clearly understood from the New Testament, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are Kyrios and the Jehovah or Yahweh (YHWH) of Deuteronomy 6:4. Deuteronomy 6:4 does not disprove the Triune nature of God if one has a proper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. The only thing God, through Moses, sought to teach Israel and ourselves also, is that there is only one God; not a multiplicity of gods like the pagan nations surrounding them believed in and worshiped. Until the Jehovah’s Witnesses properly understand the doctrine of the Trinity and stop equating the Trinity with tritheism, these kinds of misinterpretations of Scripture will continue on and on ad nauseam.
As with the previous passage in Deuteronomy 6:4, Jehovah’s Witnesses assume their position without actually proving their position. Again they beg the question: How does Jehovah being one God disprove the claim that He has a Triune Nature as Christianity claims God does? This is once again a blatant misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and we will not reiterate what has already been explained concerning the difference between Trinitarianism and tritheism. Instead, we will examine Isaiah 42:8 and see that God the Father (Jehovah) does in fact share His glory with another, but not with idol gods as God Himself states so clearly to us in this text.
In John 17:5 of Jesus’ prayer to the Father just before His crucifixion on the cross, said, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Further along in John 17:24, Jesus says, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” So do we have a contradiction between these two verses in John 17 and Isaiah 42:8? Not at all if we understand what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches us about the nature of God.
If we believe what God said concerning Him not giving His glory to another (and we rightfully should), then how can we reconcile what God the Father (Jehovah) said with what Jesus said in John 17:5, 24? It is actually quite easy to reconcile these Scriptures with each other if we look at them in light of God’s Triune nature. Isaiah 42:8 tells us God does not give His glory to graven images; which are false gods/idols. Since this is the case, was Jesus telling the truth or was He lying and thus guilty of the sin of blasphemy? Or worse yet, do we simply toss the whole Bible away and reject the claim that it is divinely inspired? The answer to both questions is no.
Jesus was not guilty of blasphemy; otherwise Jesus’ death on the cross would have been ineffective, and therefore vain in atoning for our sins. This is not the case since the Apostle Paul told us “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21) Since we know this to be indeed true, we can thankfully wipe away from our minds the other conclusion, which is that the Bible is not the divinely inspired Word of God.
So the logical answer to how Jesus can share in God’s glory, but at the same time know that God gives His glory to no one else is to explain it in light of God’s Triune nature. If Jesus is God–which we have seen from Scripture that this is the case–then it logically follows that Jesus has glory equal to the Father. This would also include the Holy Spirit since He is also God in nature.
So when we understand the doctrine of the Trinity (insofar as we are able to), then we can see how the Jehovah’s Witnesses argument against the Trinity, as we see here in this misinterpretation of Isaiah 42:8, is truly fallacious. As I have said once, and I will say once more: Until the Jehovah’s Witnesses understand what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches about the nature of God, they will continue to be guilty of grotesque misinterpretations of Scripture in a futile attempt to debunk the Triune nature of God.
5.) Acts 2:32: “God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses.” “Thus, the Almighty God and Jesus are clearly two separate persons.” (You can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth: God–Who is He? p.39.)
At this point you may be thinking, “Is it necessary at this point to respond to this argument?” To your question, I say yes, it is necessary to respond to this weak argument against the Triune nature of God; the deity of Jesus in this particular case. The reason for doing so is to demonstrate that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are so desperate to deny the Triune nature of God that they end up falling off the cliff of sound reasoning.
The argument stated here by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is as follows:
1. God resurrected Jesus from the dead.
2. Therefore, the Almighty God and Jesus are clearly two separate persons.
As you can probably see, the premise and the conclusion are totally disconnected from one another. The conclusion does not flow from the above premise or vice versa, the premise does not logically lead to the conclusion stated. It is common logic from those in the cults and their reasoning leads them to incoherent truth claims. What does God raising Jesus from the dead have to do with Jesus not being God in human flesh or Jesus not being part of the Triune Godhead? There is clearly no logical connection between the premise and the conclusion. All Christians readily agree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Father and Jesus are two distinct persons, but this biblical and logical truth does not disprove that Jesus and the Father are both God in their nature (as well as the Holy Spirit). This argument offered up here by the Jehovah’s Witnesses only demonstrates the obvious, which is that the Father and the Son are truly distinct persons. Nothing more, and nothing less.
In conclusion, we have seen here and in part 1 of this article, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a sound logical and biblical case against the Triune nature of God. Instead we have continuously seen how their misinterpretation of Scripture and the poor arguments they state are due to a gross misunderstanding of the teaching of the doctrine of the Trinity. They wrongly make Trinitarianism and tritheism definitionally synonymous with one another and as a result provide Christians with illogical and incoherent arguments against the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
So if you are a Christian reading this, do not fear the arguments railed against the Triune nature of God which has been taught in the Christian church since its inception and was progressively revealed to us from Genesis to Revelation beforehand. The doctrine of the Trinity is biblical and God’s Triune nature is unique because no other god in the cults or god in the vastness of world religions compares to Him. This Triune God is unique, special, and is full of mystery; especially as it pertains to His nature. This God is worthy of everyone’s worship, but we must know Him as He has revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Worshiping God in spirit is not enough unless you know the truth about who God (Yahweh) is.
Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), pp. 229.
Can we as Christians speak things into existence? Can we speak life and death into our lives or speak poverty and wealth into our lives with our words? There are those in the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity movement who would want us to believe we can in fact do so.
In my latest TikTok video (a two-part video) I deal with this subject by examining one of the passages of Scripture they use to claim we can call things into existence: Romans 4:17. Find out how they are in serious error concerning this doctrine of Positive Confession.
I hope you’ll make your way there. Until next time, God bless you.
A couple of articles ago, I sought to accurately identify Jehovah god, the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that article I identified Jehovah god using three descriptions: The Nature of Jehovah god, The Attributes of Jehovah god, and The Name of Jehovah god and its Salvific Power. Its purpose was to provide an introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses since this god could, and often does, go under the radar undetected by some and is often wrongly identified as the God of the Christian faith. By the end of the article we discovered how very different Jehovah god is to Yahweh, the God of Christianity.
In this article we will begin embarking on a biblical, theological, and apologetical journey in our response and refutation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses strong objections to the Triune God of Christianity, which they attempt to do, both historically and biblically. This will be done in two parts beginning with examining their historical claim against the doctrine of the Trinity and afterwards, responding and refuting the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation of two of the five Scripture passages stated in the prior article. The other three passages of Scripture will be covered in the second part.
The Trinity: Egyptian in Origin?
In the prior article, I quoted from a Jehovah’s Witnesses source which claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is not unique to Christianity, but was borrowed from Egyptian religions by an early church father, Athanasius, and was thus inserted into Christian theology concerning the nature of God. Just in case you did not see the quote prior, here it is below:
Historian Will Durant observed: “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity.” And in the book Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz notes: “The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians . . . Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.”
Thus, in Alexandria, Egypt, churchmen of the late third and early fourth centuries, such as Athanasius, reflected this influence as they formulated ideas that led to the Trinity. Their own influence spread, so that Morenz considers “Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.” (Should you Believe in the Trinity: How Did the Trinity Doctrine Develop?https://www.jw.org/en/library/books/Should-You-Believe-in-the-Trinity/How-Did-the-Trinity-Doctrine-Develop/. Accessed 29 November 2021.)
Is it true? Did the doctrine of the Trinity derive from pagan Egyptian religions? Absolutely not, and here is why. Historian Will Durant defines the Trinity as three gods who are combined and treated as a single being. This is not Trinitarianism; this is Tritheism, which is commonly confused with the former. Even dictionary.com confuses the two terms in its definition of Tritheism, “belief in three Gods, especially in the doctrine that the three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) are three distinct Gods, each an independent center of consciousness and determination.”(https://www.dictionary.com/browse/tritheism) Dictionary.com has the first part correct in defining Tritheism as the belief in three distinct gods, but the later part of the definition is incorrect. There are not three distinct gods in the Triune Godhead, but three distinct persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The correct definition of the Trinity is due at this point. “The Christian understanding of God as one in essence though consisting of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”1 In other words, there is only one God, and this one God exists (not manifest himself) as three distinct persons who are fully God in nature and who are coeternal and have coexisted together for all eternity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same in essence, but distinct and different in persons. This theological definition of the Trinity in Christian theology is entirely different from Historian Will Durant and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ faulty understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Trinitarianism is not Tritheism and Tritheism is not Trinitarianism. Thus, Trinitarianism was not derived from Egyptian religions by Athanasius. Instead, Athanasius theologically and philosophically arrived at the definition of the Trinity, both logically and biblically.
“Proof Texts” Against the Doctrine of the Trinity
As I wrote in my prior article, Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to provide “proof text” from their New World Translation of the Bible which they believe debunk and disproves the doctrine of the Trinity. Every “proof text” provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses to debunk and disprove the Trinity are also used in an attempt to debunk the deity of Jesus Christ. If they successfully debunk and disprove the deity of Jesus, they also successfully debunk and disprove the doctrine of the Trinity. There are also passages of Scripture which they also use in an attempt to debunk the deity of the Holy Spirit, but I will address those passages in a future article. I will, however (where I can), make a case for the divinity of the Holy Spirit in correlation with the Scriptures and arguments in question.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have provided us with two arguments: 1). Jesus called God “the only true God, which implies that Jehovah God is the only true God, which therefore excludes Jesus as well as the Holy Spirit as God and 2). Jesus never referred to God as a deity of plural persons, which they think debunks and disproves the doctrine of the Trinity.
In the first argument, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have put themselves in the proverbial corner logically and biblically and here’s why. If God the Father is the only true God, then Jehovah’s Witnesses must also believe that God the Father is also the only Savior which would instantly exclude Jesus as Savior since Isaiah 43:11 says, “ I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior.” But we know that Jesus also is called the Savior as seen in Luke 2:11 where the Angel of the Lord proclaimed to the shepherds that…”there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” On one hand we clearly see in Isaiah 43:11 that God proclaims with authority that there is no Lord and Savior beside Himself, yet on the other hand, the Angel of the Lord proclaims that Jesus is both Lord and Savior. Well, if we follow the Jehovah’s Witnesses argument to its logical conclusion, then Jesus is neither Lord nor Savior and the entire New Testament testimony of Jesus as Lord and Savior is deemed as false, which no rational thinking Jehovah’s Witness would agree with.
So, how do we make sense of this apparent conflict between Isaiah 43:11 and Luke 2:11? We make sense of this apparent conflict by concluding that both the Father and the Son are equally Lord and Savior, which is only possible if both of them by their very essence and nature are God, since only God can be both Lord and Savior as Isaiah 43:11 truthfully states. Thus, when Jesus called His Father “the only true God”, He is declaring that by nature the Father is the only true God, but this does not exclude either Jesus or the Holy Spirit as being by nature the “only true God”. Besides, if Jesus is not by nature the only true God, then Jesus is a false god because Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is the mighty God, which they quote from Isaiah 9:6.
In the second argument provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses which argues that Jesus never referred to God as a deity of plural persons, they highly neglect the one passage in all the New Testament which clearly demonstrates the plurality of persons in the Godhead. In Matthew 28:19, which is commonly known as the Great Commission, Jesus commands His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” At first glance you may ask, “Where is the Trinity demonstrated in this passage? I don’t see it!” Just look a little more closely at the Scripture. It is in the grammatical structure of the second half of the verse, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” The word ‘name’ is a singular word which is followed by three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Normally, this is grammatically incorrect, since name (singular) is followed by three persons (plural), so Jesus must be conveying something unique here.
The singular word ‘name’ in Matthew 28:19 refers to God (Elohim): Yahweh. This is followed by “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” So what is the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? The name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is Yahweh. This means that all three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are by nature God, which in turn demonstrates the Tri-unity of God. Therefore, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are grossly wrong for claiming Jesus never referred to God as a deity of plural persons. We find Jesus doing just that in Matthew 28:19.
2. John 14:28: “You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am.” “ THE Bible’s position is clear. Not only is Almighty God, Jehovah, a personality separate from Jesus but He is at all times his superior. Jesus is always presented as separate and lesser, a humble servant of God. That is why the Bible plainly says that “the head of the Christ is God” in the same way that “the head of every man is the Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) And this is why Jesus himself said: “The Father is greater than I.”—John 14:28, RS, Catholic edition.” (Should you Believe in the Trinity: Is God Always Superior to Jesus? https://www.jw.org/en/library/books/Should-You-Believe-in-the-Trinity/Is-God-Always-Superior-to-Jesus/ Accessed 29 November 2021.)
Jehovah’s Witnesses would consider this verse of Scripture to be one of the strongest “proof texts” against both the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. They assume that when Jesus said “the Father is greater than I”, it means that the Father is greater than Jesus from the standpoint of divinity, which then means Jesus is lesser than the Father in nature as God. Unfortunately, for the Jehovah’s Witnesses they are saying more than what Jesus meant when he said, “the Father is greater than I.”
The issue at hand in John 14:28 is not God the Father being greater than Jesus and more superior than Jesus because the Father is God and Jesus is not, but it is an issue of position in the Godhead. Christian theologian Dr. Ron Rhodes in his outstanding book Reasoning from the Scripture With the Jehovah’s Witnesses explains to us that according to the Greek text, Jesus did not teach the Father was better (krettion) than Him, but instead that the Father is greater (meizon) Him.2 Furthermore, Rhodes said, “The word ‘greater’ is used to point to the Father’s greater position (in heaven), not a greater nature”3
David A. Reed, a former Jehovah’s Witness who converted to Christianity, Scripturally explains why Jesus in John 14:28 is referring to the Father as being greater than Him positionally. Reed explains, “Remind them that Jesus was speaking at a time when He had done as in Philippians 2:6-7: ‘Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men’ (KJV)”.4 Reed explains to us that Jesus could say that the Father was greater than Him because Jesus, though in the form of God and did not count it robbery to be equal with God, choose to make Himself positionally lesser than the Father by taking on human flesh in order to die on the cross for our sins and rise bodily from the dead.
Interestingly, and quite revealingly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses argument as stated above actually validates and proves the point Dr. Rhodes and Reed made as it pertained to the Father being positionally greater than Jesus. Remember the latter end of their argument? They argued, “That is why the Bible plainly says that “the head of the Christ is God” in the same way that “the head of every man is the Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:3) And this is why Jesus himself said: “The Father is greater than I.” Surprisingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses left out a very critical part of I Corinthians 11:3. From their New World Translation, let’s read it again, “I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.” In their quote above from I Corinthians 11:3 they left out “in turn, the head of a woman is the man.”
Now, is the man greater (meizon) than the woman because the man has a better (krettion) nature than the woman? Of course not! The man is greater than the woman positionally in the household, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23) Therefore, we can confidently read I Corinthians 11:3 in the following way: ‘But I want you to know that the head of every man (positionally) is Christ, the head of woman (positionally) is man, and the head of Christ (positionally) is God.’
Thus, Jesus is not teaching us that the Father is greater than Him because the Father has a better nature (divinity) than Him (Jesus), but that the Father is in fact greater than Him positionally because Jesus, who is equal with God in nature, left heaven and added on the nature of a human being and was born of a virgin in order to redeem humanity. Also, we can further say that the Holy Spirit is positionally lesser than both the Father and the Son, but He is in no way by nature inferior to them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses own faulty argument and usage of I Corinthians 11:3 backfire on them in their attempt to debunk and disprove both the deity of Jesus and the Triune nature of God.
In the second part of this article we will cover the remaining Scripture verses: Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 42:8, and Acts 2:32. I hope this has helped you as you seek to win Jehovah’s Witnesses to the biblical Jesus of the Christian faith. The second article will be written and posted ASAP. I look forward to writing and sharing the second and final part of this article with you.
1. C. Stephen Evans, PocketDictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), pp. 118.
2. Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), pp. 146-47.
3. Ibid, pp. 147.
4. David A. Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Answered verse by verse (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), pp. 80.
Today in our modern era as a church thus far we have more false teaching than ever before. Not only is it found outside the church in the form of false philosophies and false religions, but it is also found from close by in the form of cult groups masquerading as Christians (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, etc.). The greatest threat, however, is found lurking within the assembly of the elect of God. Oneness Pentecostals lay hold to the claim of being Christian, even though they deny the true nature of God–His Tri-unity. Plus they deny that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone apart from good works by imposing water baptism in Jesus name only and the necessity of speaking in tongues. Another threat which is far more fierce than Oneness Pentecostalism is the modern day Word of Faith movement(Creflo Dollar, Myles Monroe, Benny Hinn, etc.) which has swept the nation and the globe with its message of health, wealth, prosperity, and the ability to have these with the power of your words. Tragically it has crept its way into the assembly of the Church. It has made its way into our homes during the week through TV, radio, Internet, books, and even billboards along the freeway. Thankfully there are Christians who know that Islam, Mormonism, and Christian Science teach that which is in opposition to biblical truth. Thankfully we are highly bless by God who have such gifted men and women like Dr. Tony Evans, John MacArthur, Kay Arthur, and so forth. There is never a need for a student of God’s Word to ever learn biblical truth from the pen and lips of the likes of Myles Munroe, Joyce Myer, or T.D. Jakes, correct? Sadly this is exactly what is happening today. Sound doctrinal Christians are learning biblical truth from preachers and teachers who have denied the faith theologically and biblically from denying the nature of God to undermining or flat out denying the atoning work of the Lord Jesus on the cross. One may think I am being too extreme; a fundamentalist on the loose. Should we as Christians listen to a false teacher with a filter, attempting to glean out some truth? Is it a case of compromising bible study? Let me give you some reasons why it is and the dangers it entails.
We must ask, “Why should we listen to a false teacher who doctrinally and theologically denies the Christian faith regardless of what little speck of truth he or she teaches?” Many Christians listen to the sermons or read the books and devotionals of Joyce Myer even though she denies the doctrine of the atonement. She has taught without blushing that one cannot be saved unless the convert believes the work of atonement was done in hell, not on the cross(The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make, page 43, 1996-Edition). Joyce Myer has taught this blasphemous doctrine time after time and has in no way (to my knowledge) renounce this teaching which is commonly taught within Word of Faith circles. Countless number of Christians learn Christian living and how to wage spiritual warfare through her radio show, “Enjoying Everyday Life”, and her most successful book to-date, “Battlefield of the Mind”. Why are so many Christians who know what she teaches continue to read her books, listen to her radio broadcast, and follow her devotionals? This truly is a case of compromising bible study if a Christian knows a teacher and preacher is a false teacher, prophet, or apostle and go on ahead anyway and follow their ministry claiming to be gleaning the little nuggets of truth that they do teach. In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 God taught the young nation of Israel not to follow a false prophet even if his prophesy comes to pass, so how much more should we as Christians not follow the false teachers of our day even if they teach some gleans of biblical truth?
After stating my case, some reading this will still think there is no harm in listening to a false teacher with a filter erected in their mind. Some reading this will still say that they are teaching some truth from the Bible so we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Very well, let me ask you this: Would you go to the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or to the Mormon church to get gleans of biblical truth? If you say no, why not? Both believe in living holy. Both believe in having a godly ethic and oppose such things as abortion and gay marriage. Why limit your bible study to the Oneness Pentecostals and the Word of Fath movement? What? They are teaching false doctrine you say? You’re right! They do and so do the Word of Faith teachers and Oneness Pentecostal teachers. What separates T.D. Jakes from Joseph Smith, Jr.? What separates Kenneth Copeland from Charles Taze Russel? Nothing! They all have some gleans of biblical truth in some way or another. Therefore, if you can collect gleans of biblical truth from such groups as Oneness Pentecostals and the Word of Faith movement, then surely there is no logical reason why you cannot do the same with cult groups like Mormonism and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Hopefully you are seeing the point now.
In closing, we as Christians have far too many sound orthodox preachers and teachers in the Body of Christ to teach us God’s truth to ever have any need for the devil’s false prophets, apostles, and teachers. There is absolutely no need to have to do bible study with a filter erected in our minds when we can listen to sound orthodox men and women of God without the need for a filter at all. We have all the teachers we need in order to learn and grow as born again believers in Jesus Christ. (Eph.4:11-14) We have no need for false teachers like Creflo Dollar, Fred K.C. Price, or Charles Ellis III. We are not to validate their ministries by buying their books, sermons, and other products. In doing so, you are supporting false doctrine and the false teachers as well, which both are opposed to the truth of God in every area; from the doctrine of God to the doctrine of Christ and salvation. We are told in 2nd Corinthians 6-14-18 to separate ourselves from sin and to not touch it for it is unclean. We are to draw near to God by worshiping Him in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24) This can only be done through knowing His Word for yourself (2nd Timothy 2:15-17) and being under pastors and teachers who teach sound biblical truth. (Titus 1:9) So in response to the saying don’t throw the baby out with the bath water–I agree. Here is what I will do: I will hold tight to the baby–God’s Word–and I will throw out the bath water–false teachers and their false doctrines.
Today I read a CNN blog entitled, “How religion has been used to promote slavery”, written by John Blake. He opens up his article by asking the question, “which revered religious figure–Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Muhammad–spoke out boldly and ambiguously against slavery?” Blake answers, ” None of them.” From that answer forth, Blake attempts to show that since none of the religions directly opposed slavery, then there isn’t any reason that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam had members in their respected religions who condoned slavery at some point in their history. The question, however, is this: is it true that Christianity is guilty of not condemning slavery? Better yet, is Jesus guilty of not openly condemning slavery? This article will answer these questions by responding to both Daniel C. Peterson, and John Dominic Crossan’s assertion that Christianity, both Old and New Testament, fails to condemn slavery.
When dealing with Jesus and the issue of slavery, one has to first admit that Jesus did not deal with slavery by condemning it. Jesus, however, never condoned it either. Even Crossan had to admit it, ” He[Jesus} doesn’t say anything for or against it.” Crossan believes that despite Jesus lack of judgement for or against slavery, Jesus would have opposed slavery. I most certainly agree with Crossan on this point. Jesus loved all people and didn’t show partiality toward anyone. He who commanded His followers to “love your neighbor as yourself” demonstrated it throughout His entire three and a half years of ministry. Slavery, as we are familiar with, is in complete opposition to the “second greatest commandment.” A person cannot abuse and love his neighbor at the same time.
While Jesus is given a pardon for not addressing the issue because He was a perfectly moral person, the Bible as a whole and the Apostle Paul are not as fortunate. It is regularly argued that the Apostle Paul was for slavery because of what he taught and commanded in Ephesians 6:5-8. Crossan called the Apostle Paul of this book to be a “Pseudo-Paul” which was created by early church leaders to appease Rome. The real Paul was the Paul who opposed slavery as indicated in 1st Timothy 1:10 where “men stealers” or “kidnapping” is against the law. Is there two different Paul’s in Scripture? The authentic Paul who opposed slavery and the “Pseudo-Paul, supporter of slavery? No there isn’t.
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:5-8 does not describe slavery in terms of forced labor and abuse. It couldn’t because of what this same Paul goes on to say in verse 9, ” And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatenings, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” The Apostle Paul here clearly warns slave masters to treat their slaves with respect and dignity, not threatening them and abusing them. Therefore this kind of slavery is not the type of slavery which is oppressive and demeaning. Both slave and master are commanded to respect each other. Both are given ethical guidelines on how to treat each other. There are no signs of unethical treatment being promoted against a slave. The slave is commanded to obey his master and the master is commanded not to threaten and abuse his slave. Both are to do so unto the Lord (v. 5, 9).
Another attack on the Christian faith regarding slavery is from the Old Testament where the Israelites had slaves. This also is an attack against Judaism since the Old Testament is their Holy Scriptures as well. Daniel C. Peterson attempts to undermine the morality of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by questioning why He and His people Israel would sanction slavery at all. Peterson says, ” But how could ancient Israel sanction any form of slavery given their exodus from Egyptian captivity? Didn’t their God explicitly condemn slavery when he ordered Moses to tell Pharaoh to ‘let my people go?'” So how could God sanction any form of slavery?
First of all, before we answer that question, we should ask, “Are all forms of slavery immoral? If yes, says who? On what moral grounds do one base that on? Biblically only one kind is condemned. In Deuteronomy 24:14-15 it says, ” You shall not oppress a hired servant [slave} who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.” Here we see God commanding slave masters in Israel to not oppress their slaves, but pay them their wages for working for them. Slavery here is the poor servant working for wages. The kind of slavery here is not the kind of slavery Israel experienced in Egypt. In Exodus 3:9, God says, ” Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.” God brought Israel out of Egypt not because of slavery itself, but because of the type of slavery: oppressive slavery. The type of slavery that caused Israel to cry out to God for deliverance.
The slavery described in Deuteronomy 15:12-18 is again a worker-employer type of slavery. The Hebrew slave works for six years and is released in the seventh year during the year of Jubilee when all debts are forgiven and released. In verse 18 Moses, by the Word of the Lord, sternly instruct masters to release their slaves in the seventh year; for in doing so that master will be blessed by God.
Therefore in no way is slavery condoned in either Judaism or Christianity. Clearly we have seen from both the Old and New Testament that the only form of slavery which is condemned time and time again is oppressive slavery. In the Bible a labor for wages type of slavery is presented in Scripture. Moreover, the protection of the slave from oppression is commanded in both Testaments. I would say this is far from the unethical slavery of times past which sadly has been practiced and preached by Muslims and so called “Christians”. Both Crossan and Peterson are guilty of selective interpretation; picking out only those passages in Scripture in order to interpret them to teach what the whole of Scripture does not teach. I would strongly encourage Blake, Crossan and Peterson to search all the Scriptures which speak on the issue. In doing so they would see how frail their arguments are. It is true, unfortunately, that religion has been used to promote and practice slavery. Christianity however, was used in this way due to either false brethren or by true brethren who did not know the whole counsel of God [the Bible} on this subject. Sadly to this day, Christianity still has the ethical black eye due to this. The good news is, however, that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Christian Church has never and will never endorse oppressive slavery because God is a God who is morally perfect and stands for human value and dignity.