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.
If you are a non-Chrisitan and you are reading this, can I ask you a question? Are you a good person? Better yet, do you think God perceives you as a good person? Regardless of your initial answer, head on over to my YouTube channel and allow me to guide you through the Good Person Test. The answer might surprise you.
If you are a Christian but you do not know how to share the gospel with others, this video is for you as well. It is a biblical command to share the gospel with others, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”” (Mark 16:15) Are you ready to learn? View this video right now and learn how to share your faith! Also, I have a step-by-step lesson entitled: The Gospel Presentation. It is in a role-play format which you can use for your private learning or with an outreach ministry at your local church or campus ministry. So dig in! Before you know it, you’ll be sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness and confidence.
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.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”—Matthew 1:23
“Our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Spirit.”— Ignatius, A.D. 110 (Letter to the Ephesians 18)
Once again it is that time of the year: Christmas. With the Christmas season comes the craze of shopping for the perfect gift for that special someone as well as the captivating sight of Christmas decorations and lights. Also, with the Christmas season comes the Christian church’s emphasis on the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. No, Jesus was not born on December 25th and there isn’t a Bible verse to substantiate such as claim. Thus, I do not think we should be singing “happy birthday” to Jesus. However, there is an issue that surfaces frequently around this time of the year: The rejection of the Bible’s account of the virgin birth of Jesus.
Atheists (who do not believe there is a god of any kind), Naturalists (who claim the natural world is all there is), and Skeptics (who are skeptical or doubtful of accepted beliefs; especially religious beliefs) all say that a virgin birth is neither reasonable nor possible. Interestingly enough, their reason for rejecting the virgin birth of Jesus can be summarized by Rajneesh (also known as Ohso), the cultist founder of the cultic Rajneesh religion. Rajneesh said, “…the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It is so unscientific that to believe it is to destroy all your intelligence.”1 This is their primary reason for rejecting the virgin birth of Jesus: that it is unscientific and unreasonable to believe it actually occurred. As Rajneesh put it, to believe in such a thing is to destroy your intelligence; but is that really the case?
I will seek to show that to believe that the virgin birth of Jesus actually happened in real time and history is not unreasonable. I will point out the real reason behind their rejection which is not a rejection of the possibility of miracles. In my opinion, the argument against miracles is just a smoke screen in order to avoid the greater reason for rejecting such miracles as the virgin birth of Jesus. I will seek to reveal this reason in what follows.
Before we begin to unveil the real reason why Atheists, Naturalists, and Skeptics reject the biblical account of the virgin birth of Jesus, I think it would be wise to first define what a miracle is. It is wise to do so since the term ‘miracle’ has been wrongly defined by non-Christian theists such as the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume. Hume, in his most well-known work An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Book X defines a miracle as “…a violation of the laws of nature.”2 By defining a miracle as a violation of the laws of nature, Hume thinks he has stopped all arguments of the case for miracles since a miracle can only occur if the laws of nature are violated, and that simply cannot happen. According to Hume, a miracle can only occur in accord to nature, but if a miracle occurs according to nature, it isn’t a miracle at all, but simply an act of nature itself. Thus, miracles are not possible.
The good news is that Hume’s definition of a miracle was grossly wrong. A miracle is normally defined as a “supernatural act of God and such miraculous acts exceed the natural powers or capacities of natural things.”3 If the natural order of nature were created and set in motion by God, then why couldn’t He perform a miracle in the natural realm (earth) since He is omnipotent and sovereign over it? How could God be limited by or subjected to the very laws He made and yet remain God? God couldn’t. He is Lord over His creation, “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.” (Psalm 135:6)
Now that ‘miracle’ has been properly defined, it’s now time to unveil the underlying reason why Atheists, Naturalists, and Skeptics reject the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Simply put, they presuppose the non-existence of God; particularly the non-existence of the omnipotent God of the Christian faith. Atheists, Naturalists, and Skeptics must rule out the existence of an omnipotent God in order to rule out the possibility of miracles. They know that unless this denial of the existence of an omnipotent God is posited, then miracles are not only possible, but can in fact happen.
It is insufficient for Atheists, Naturalists, and Skeptics to simply presuppose the non-existence of the omnipotent God, they must demonstrate through sound logic why such a God does not exist. Therefore, until they have soundly done so, there is no logical reason to reject the possibility of miracles; in particular the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
The Virgin Birth of Jesus is Reasonable
In conclusion, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is reasonable and we as Christians don’t have to feel self-conscious about believing that this event happened in time and history. The burden of proof falls squarely in the lap of the Atheists, Naturalists, and Skeptics to prove that the virgin birth of Jesus is unreasonable, and this is not possible unless they can first disprove the existence of the omnipotent God. Until that has been established, it is thoroughly reasonable to believe that the omnipotent God of heaven and earth sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth through a virgin birth to ultimately die on the cross for the sins of the whole world and three days later rise bodily from the dead, so those who turn from and confess their sins and believe in Jesus can be forgiven and reconciled to their Creator. The virgin birth of Jesus was the critical prelude of God’s redemptive plan for all humanity and this Christmas season and in all seasons, let us praise and give thanks to God the Father for this beautiful and miraculous historical event.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.—Luke 2:10-11
Who holds the key to salvation? Hope, as the picture above rightly shows, is tied to this key called salvation; for there is no hope without salvation. The Greek word for salvation is sōtēria which means to deliver or rescue. In the Bible, salvation is presented in two ways: physical and spiritual. The Old Testament is filled with examples of physical salvation/deliverance; one such example is God’s deliverance of Noah, his family, and some selected animals from the great flood that God brought upon the Earth (Genesis 6-8). Another classic example is of Moses who, by the power and command of God, delivered the children of Israel from the land of Eygpt (Exodus) However, the most overarching message of salvation in the entire Bible is the spiritual salvation of people. Jesus came from Heaven to Earth, born of a virgin to die and atone for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). In this blog we will critique both how this key to salvation can be obtained according to the Baha’i Faith and according to the Christian faith and whether the Baha’i Faith or the Christian faith as presented in the Bible is a realistic way of obtaining it.
Baha’is and the Work of Who?
As I presented in my blog Christology of the Baha’i Faith and Christianity: A Comparative Overview, the Baha’i Faith does not believe that the work of Christ–His death on the cross–was satisfactory in accomplishing the work of atoning for the sins of the whole world and making salvation avaliable to all who repent of their sins and believe in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, according to Baha’u’llah, was not an adequate enough solution to the problem of the depravity and sinfulness of humanity. There was yet a need for additional manifestions of God which is ultimately found in the person and teachings of Baha’u’llah. What exactly is the way to salvation according to Baha’u’llah and the Baha’is? It is to obey the Word of God. Maya Bohnhoff, who is a New York Times best selling author and Baha’i disciple attempts to make this point from the Bible using I Peter 1:22-25 & 2:1-3 to teach that obedience to the Word of God is what is necessary to obtain salvation. You read that correctly: salvation is obtained through following the teachings in the Word of God, but which Word of God? The teachings of Baha’u’llah of course since, according to the Baha’is, he is the final manifestion and revelation of God and His teachings .
If you believe that I’m misunderstanding what Bohnhoff is teaching, let’s dig a little deeper into this. In Bohnhoff article Sacrifice and Resurrection, she recalled a Bible study entitled “Cult Night” where her pastor by the name of Dan asked the question, “Wasn’t the message the disciples delivered to their audiences about the blood atonement and the resurrection?” (Sacrifice and Resurrection) Bohnhoff answers this question with a no by saying that the disciples actually taught new disciples according to Matthew 28:20a, “…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” Bohnhoff goes further in her elaborations, “The Gospel says simply that the new believers must love God, believe in the One He sent, and observe His commandments — a message so simple a child could understand it.” (Sacrifice and Resurrection) So we see here that observing the commandments of God are a part of the Gospel message according to Bohnhoff.
Furthermore, Bohnhoff acknowleges that the disciples of Jesus would have told their listening audience about the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, but it would be linked to obedence to the Word of God. (Sacrifice and Resurrection) In concluding her article, Bohnhoff says, “While the disciples spoke of Christ’s sacrifice and the shedding of His precious blood, it was not His blood, but the “pure milk” of His word that they offered to those they taught.” (Sacrifice and Resurrection) Bohnhoff reiterates this point in another article about the same subject where she appeals to John 15:3-17, and afterwards says, “One of the first things Christ Jesus affirms in this passage is that: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” What is especially significant about this passage is the context: He is in Gethsemane, preparing His disciples for His arrest. He does not speak to them of His sacrifice, His resurrection, or His blood. He doesn’t mention atonement. He doesn’t remind them about baptism or mention the Trinity. Instead, Christ simply lays out clearly and unambiguously what they must do to be His “friends”, to stay connected to Him, to abide in God’s love, and to bear fruit.” (Agent of Salvation) So according to Bohnhoff, Jesus didn’t speak to His disciples about His impending sacrifice, shed blood, or resurrection, but Jesus does teach them that in order to remain His disciples, they must simply abide in Him through the Word of God He taught them. Therefore, it seems safe to conclude that belief in God plus keeping the commandments of God equals the key to salvation.
A critique of the Gospel of the Baha’i Faith
In this section we will do a step by step critique of the Gospel of the Baha’i Faith of how a person can obtain salvation. Bohnhoff, in her article Sacrifice and Resurrection, attempted to answer her pastor’s question of “Wasn’t the message the disciples delivered to their audiences about the blood atonement and the resurrection” by quoting Scriptures from the Bible in order to show that the message which the disciples delivered to their audience was not the blood atonement and resurrection of Jesus, but rather to obey the commandments of God which are able and necessary in order to obtain and keep one’s salvation. Furthermore, according to Bohnhoff, Jesus Himself did not speak to His discipes about His impending sacrifice, shed blood, or resurrection. Instead, Jesus emphasised the need for the disciples to abide in His teachings which Bohnhoff referenced to in John 15:1-4. Is Bohnhoff right or is there a gross case of misinterpretation of Scripture passages going on here? Sadly this is a gross case of misinterpretation of Scripture passages. Let’s first revisit I Peter 1:22-25 and see if the primary message of the Apostle Peter in this chapter was in fact not the blood atonement and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but keeping the commandments of God.
The proper and correct way for anyone to interpret any Scripture in the Bible is to interpret Scripture with other Scriptures which speak on the same topic. In this case we need to examine all of I Peter 1 in order to see if this claim which Bohnhoff makes is true or not, and not hang our theological claim(s) on just a few passages of Scripture that appear to teach a particular doctrine. To begin, let’s look at the opening verses in I Peter 1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” Right out of the gate the Apostle Peter mentions to his believing audience the blood of Jesus Christ. Granted though, however, a Baha’i disciple my say “yes, but it also says for obedience as well as the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Indeed it says that, but the blood of Jesus is presented as a critical aspect of the believer’s identification as one of God’s elect, but let’s not stop here.
In I Peter 1:3 we read, ” Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” In verse 3 the Apostle Peter articulates to his audience that their salvific hope is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So far we have seen the Apostle Peter emphasize the blood of Jesus and has articulated to his audience that their salvific hope is through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, not the necessity of keeping the comandments of God for and in order to keep one’s salvation. The Apostle Peter, however, is not yet quite finished.
In verses 18 and 19 the Apostle Peter says, ” knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The Apostle Peter for the second and final time emphasizes the blood of Jesus Christ and this time focuses on how Jesus’ shed blood redeemes those who place their faith in Christ Jesus, but the Apostle Peter is still not quite done.
The Apostle Peter in verses 20-21 keeps the focus on Jesus (which he has done consistently thus far) and for the last time brings up…yes you guessed it..the resurrection of Jesus, ” He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” Here the Apostle Peter emphasized the truth of God the Father raising Jesus from the dead and because God raised Jesus from the dead we can have faith and salvific hope in Him.
Unlike Bohnhofff’s claim that disciples like the Apostle Peter primarily focused on the necessity of keeping the commandments of God in order to receive and keep their salvation, the truth is that Peter as well as the other disciples did in fact put the soteriological doctrine of the death, shed blood, and resurrection of Jesus at the heart of their message to their audience. So in light of the passages that came before them, how should I Peter 1:22-25 be interpeted? What did the Apostle Peter mean when he said, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth..?” What truth must a believer obey which has the power to purify the soul? The truth of the Gospel which is the truth about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Merely obeying a list of commandments themselves is not enough to purify anyone. Believing in the Gospel message and the One who is the centerpiece and foundation of that message, being born-again, and being indwelt with the Holy Spirit is what makes keeping any commandments possible, but even then one must understand that even after this, our salvation rest in our continual faith in Jesus Christ, not our works, such as keeping the commandments. As Jesus rightly said in John 15:5, ” I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We can only abide in Christ through His Gospel; not apart from it. Therefore obeying the Word of God and its teaching has no role in how we recieve and keep our salvation. Obeying and keeping the commandments of God and His Word is the result of already having salvation through Jesus Christ.
A Further Response to Bohnhoff
Before closing out this part of Bohnhoff false claim that the disciples of Christ primary message to their audience was to obey and keep the commandments of God, let’s see how the Apostles Paul, John, and the unknown writer of the book of Hebrews emphasized the sacrifice, shed blood, and resurrrection of Jesus. Let’s also examine Bohnhoff’s statement concerning Jesus not mentioning His sacrifice, shed blood, and resurrection to His disciples in the garden of Gethemane, but rathered emphasized what was required in order to be His “friends” and remain connected to Him.
The Apostle Paul to His Audience
Unlike Bohnhoff’s claims previously stated, one is hard pressed to miss the Apostle Paul’s emphasis on Christ’s shed blood, death, and resurrection. Throughout the book of Romans all three aspects of the Gospel are presented to his audience. In the first chapter the Apostle Paul mentions the Gospel as of grave importance. In Romans 1:9, Paul speaks of serving with his spirit “in the gospel of His Son..”. In Romans 1:16 Paul boldly proclaims that he is not ashame of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to save. In Romans 3:21-26 Paul states that salvation/righteousness is obtained by faith in Jesus Christ and that He made redemption possible by His blood. In Romans 5:9 Paul teaches that Christ disciples are justified by the blood of Jesus and save from the wrath of God through Him. Other passages which the Apostle Paul emphasize the importance of the blood of Jesus include Ephesians 1:7 and 2:13. Regarding the Apostle Paul’s emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus and it’s importance to followers of Jesus Christ, look no further than the entire 15th chapter of I Corinthians. Especially in verses 14-17 which, in a nutshell, teaches that without the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, our preaching of the Gospel and our own hopes for salvation are futile or in vain. Thus we can see that the death, shed blood, and resurrection of Jesus from the dead was strongly emphasized to his audience.
The Apostle John to His Audience
The Apostle John, who is one of the closet followers of Jesus also emphasized the death, shed blood, and resurrection of Jesus. I John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The Apostle John at the opening of his letter emphasizes the blood of Christ as that which cleanses us from all sin. In connection to this passage, John in the second chapter and the second verse says, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” In other words, Jesus is the atonement for our sins, done through His shed blood on the cross. This truth is further echoed by John in I John 4:10. Other passages of Scipture where the Apostle John emphasizes the blood of Jesus and its importance includes Revelation 1:5, 5:9, 7:14, and 12:11. Regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John in Revelation 1:17-18 recounts the words that Jesus Himself said to John as John bowed in dreadful fear of the sight of Jesus, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” The Apostle John highlights Jesus’ claim to His own resurrection from the dead. Prior to this, John himself declared that Jesus was the firstborn from the dead in verse 5. Thus, the Apostle John did in fact emphasize the resurrection of Jesus as well. Most of them as they came from the mouth of the resurrected Jesus Himself.
The book of Hebrews to its Audience
In the book of Hebrews from chapter 6 to chapter 10 the unknown author goes into great depth and detail about the sacrifice and shed blood of Jesus. Time will not permit us to go into every single detail, but it is unmistakable what and who the emphasis is on here. On your own, take the time to read these chapters for yourselves and you will further see why Bohnhoff is wrong in light of these chapters. Hebrews 2:14 teaches that Christ overcame the devil by His death on the cross. In Hebrews 9:14, we are taught that through the blood of Christ our conscience is cleansed from dead works in order to serve God. So much more could be said here, but in a nutshell, both covenants, old and new, are never initiated without the shedding of blood because “…according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” In other words, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. The good news now is that disciples of Jesus are now able to enter into the presence of God(the Holy of Holies) by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19).
Jesus to His Audience
Finally, a look at Bohnhoff statement that in the garden of Gethsemane: “He does not speak to them of His sacrifice, His resurrection, or His blood. He doesn’t mention atonement.” But “Instead, Christ simply lays out clearly and unambiguously what they must do to be His “friends”, to stay connected to Him, to abide in God’s love, and to bear fruit.” I’m afraid there is a huge problem with Bohnhoff’s argument. While it is true that Jesus did not mention his sacrifice, shed blood, or resurrection in the garden, Jesus had been mentioning these very things throughout His three years of ministry and taught them to His disciples numerous times as seen in all four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus first taught His disciples about His impending death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Matthew 16:21) Jesus would repeat this same claim again in Matthew 17:22 as well. Mark repeats the same claim in his gospel, (Mark 8:31, and 10-32-33). Luke (9:21-22; 44, and 18:31-33) and John (12:27-34 and 2:19-22). Last, but not least, the theme of the Last Supper was about Jesus impending shed blood for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-28). Since Jesus over and over again taught His disciples the necessity of His sacrifice, shed blood, and resurrection throughout His three years of ministry, Jesus obviously did not see it necessary to mention it again in the garden of Gethsemane.
The Baha’is Gospel of Work Summarized
In order for a person to receive the key of salvation according to the gospel of the Baha’i Faith, a person must work for it through obeying the laws and commandments of God as dictated by their teacher Baha’u’llah. Baha’is belief that it is possible to obtain salvation through good works and in keeping commandments is due to the fact that they believe that a human being is basically good morally. According to Kenneth E. Bowers who currently serves as a member of the national governing body of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Baha’u’llah did not agree with the Christian church’s doctrine of original sin (Salvation, Miracles, and the Baha’i Teachings). Baha’u’llah, according to Bowers, did not believe that people were born in sin or, in other words, born with a sin nature due to the sin of Adam and Eve against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) as explained by the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:12). Thus, if humans are born free of sin, then it is possible to keep the commands of God as dictated by Baha’u’llah. Is this true though? Since the Baha’is often appeal to the Bible in an atttempt to validate their doctrines, let’s see what it teaches about our moral condition.
Original Sin, Law, and the Gospel
While Baha’u’llah denies the doctrine of original sin, the reality of it is taught throughout the Bible. As mentioned earlier, the Apostle Paul explained to us that it is through Adam that sin came into the world and is passed on from person to person (Romans 5:12). The way to judge if this is in fact true is to see if it corresponds with our everyday reality. Everyday acts of immorality are before our eyes: murder, lying, adultery, etc. If we rightly acknowledge that there are acts of immorality that happen everyday, then we are acknowledging that morality exist: both good and bad. If we acknowledge the reality or existence of good and bad morality, then there must be a moral law to which to judge what acts are considered moral and which acts are considered immoral. If we acknowledge the existence of a moral law, then we must acknowledge the existence of a moral Law Giver who in essence is the Judge or what is moral and immoral. Not only that, but this Judge must be perfectly impartial in His judgment of what is moral and immoral, and this can only be possible if this Judge is Himself morally perfect. The description of such a Judge can fit none other than God.
Has this perfectly moral and impartial God given a moral law in order to tell us what is morally right and wrong? Yes. Where is it? In the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 and beyond. Do any of us keep the law perfectly? No, because “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”(Romans 3:23). So if we break a law(s), is it not true that punishment for breaking that law(s) should surely follow? If God is indeed a perfectly good and impartial Judge, then God is just to punish lawbreakers. The punishment, for breaking the moral law of God is Hell. If God simply pardoned a person just because they said they were sorry, God would be unjust for not upholding the moral law and applying the punishment required for violating the law. A morally imperfect earthly judge doesn’t even allow that, so why should we expect the perfectly moral Judge, God, to do so? We can and should expect God to only do what is right (Genesis 18:25).
Since original sin is a reality by evidence of the fact we do commit immoral acts all the time like lying, stealing, murder, adultery, and other sins, and justly deserve to be punish by God for our sins…what is the solution according to the Christian church? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to teach us how to be morally good people (as the Baha’is teach) because we are by nature immoral (Romans 3:10). The key of salvation is found in the Person and work of Jesus. We can be forgiven of our sins and receive the key of salvation and hope through Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. We broke the law of God, but Jesus paid that fine in our place on the cross and it was finalize through His resurrection from the dead. The purpose of the law as explained by the Apostle Paul was to be a schoolmaster or tutor to point us to where salvation is truly found; in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:24). Now when a Christian does good works and seeks to obey God’s commandments, it is because they have salvation through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). Good works and a desire to live godly and holy are the fruits/results of the salvation a Christian has from Christ (James 2:14-24).
The Key to Salvation and Hope belongs to Jesus
In conclusion, the keys to salvation and hope are only found in the Person and work (death, burial, and resurrection) of Jesus Christ. The Baha’i Faith is wrong in saying that we can obtain the keys of salvation through our own moral efforts. This works oriented gospel message at its surface is no different than the other works oriented gospel messages taught by all the other world religions. In Christianity alone one is taught that the only work necessary for one to receive salvation was done by Jesus Christ on the cross followed by His bodily resurrection from the dead. Salvation is the gift of God which God is ready to give to all who will turn from their sin and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savor, the Son of God who is the only way to God (John 14:6). If you been reading this blog and you’re not a Christian, perhaps your a Baha’i disciple, then strongly consider all that has been said, especially about the Law and the Gospel. It is seriously a matter of Heaven or Hell for eternity.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. –Romans 10:8-10
In my last blog “Christology of the Baha’i Faith and Christianity: A Comparative Overview”, I began a comparative view of Christianity and the Baha’i Faith teaching about who Jesus Christ is. A comparative view of the nature of Christ held by both faiths was previously done. It showed that Christianity affirms the deity of Christ, which is the teaching of the incarnation; Jesus as God in human flesh. In the Baha’i Faith, however, the Baha’is deny the deity of Christ and hold to the view that Jesus was no greater than any other religious leader. Jesus, in Baha’i Christology, is just a mirrored image of God, but not God Himself. Finally a comparitive view of the work of Christ was examined. Christianity teaches that Jesus came to die on the cross for the sins of humanity in order to meet and fulfill the righteous requirements of God. Three days after Jesus’ death on the cross, Jesus rose bodily from the dead and conquered death so that now Christians have the hope of their own physical resurrection on the Last Day. In Baha’i thought, however, Jesus’ death on the cross was only a temporary solution to the problem of sin. The ultimate solution is found in the person and teachings of Baha’u’llah. As far as the physical resurrection of Christ is concerned, they deny it and say that Jesus rose in a “figurative body.” What really rose from the dead was the faith of Jesus disciples (the Body of Christ), which died with the death of Jesus. In this blog though, we will look more deeply into the nature of Christ as taught by both the Baha’i Faith and Christianity and explain why the Baha’i view of the nature of Christ is problematic and inferior to the Christology of the Christian faith.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
According to Baha’i theology, as presented by Alex Gottdank, who is said to have both a Jewish and Christian background, Jesus merely mirrored the image of God during His time here on Earth. In his article “Is Christ God“, Gottdank attempts to reconcile what appears to be contradictions in the New Testament about the deity and humanity of Christ. Gottdank lays out some scriptural examples of this like the supposed contradiction between John 10:30, “I and the Father are one” and John 14:28, “…for the Father is greater than I.” One more example given by Gottdank is John 14:9, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” and John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God… which seems also to contradict each other.
So how does Gottdank attempt to reconcile these supposed contradictions between Jesus being divine and human? Gottdank goes over to Colossians 1:15 which reads, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” It is here that Gottdank and the Baha’is present their argument that Jesus just merely reflected the image of God. According to Gottdank, “One simply has to consider how a physical mirror functions to understand Christ’s role as a spiritual mirror or image of God.” (Gottdank, Is Christ God) Gottdank then gives an illustration of how when we see the sun in a mirror, we know the sun is not actually in the mirror itself, but only the reflection of the sun that we see in the mirror. In the same way, according to Gottdank, when people looked at Jesus, they saw the image of God in the Person of Jesus, not God Himself. Gottdank concludes his argument by saying,
“Similarly, if one looks into the spiritual mirror of Christ, one would see God — but would know that God’s image, Christ, is not God Himself but God’s reflection, for God does not descend into the mirror. Instead, His attributes of love, power, omniscience, etc. reflect in the mirror.”(Gottdank, Is Christ God)
Therefore, according to Gottdank, it is impossible for God to be incarnate. God cannot come into the world as a human being just like the sun cannot come into a mirror. While Gottdank does not exactly say so, it is clearly implied by his illustration of the sun and the mirror. Just like it is not possible for the sun to descend into a mirror, it is also impossible for God to descend from Heaven to Earth via the virgin birth into human flesh.
Denial of the Omnipotence of God
In order for the incarnation of God (Jesus Christ) to be impossible, we must completely deny the omnipotence of God; which is exactly what Gottdank and the Baha’i Faith must and is doing in order to hold firmly to their Christology of the nature of Christ. If God is not all-powerful, then Gottdank and the Baha’is have a valid argument against the incarnation of Jesus Christ. If God is all-powerful, however, then it is perfectly possible that God could have came in human flesh, while still remaining God, in the person of Jesus Christ: One Person with two natures simultaneously existing within Himself. In theological terms this is called the Hypostatic Union.
Explanatory Power of the Hypostatic Union
A proper understanding of the Hypostatic Union helps in understanding the supposed contradictions presented by Gottdank. In John 14:9 and John 1:18 we see the Hypostatic Union in full view. Yes, both statements by Jesus are equally true when we view these passages of Scripture through the lenses of the Hypostatic Union: Jesus is one Person with both a divine and a human nature within Himself. Jesus is telling us the truth in John 1:18 that no one has seen God, which is to not have seen God in His full glory. In the Amplified Bible it reads, “No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father].” So it is true that no human being has ever seen God and God made it known to Moses why in Exodus 33:20, “But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” No human being can behold the unveiled nature of God and live, but one could see God if God is in fact veiled. This was the case in the Person of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. Jesus is God veiled in human flesh and could therefore say in John 14:9,”…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” . Jesus throughout His ministry revealed who God was through His teachings, His perfect moral conduct, His miraculious works such as healing people and raising the dead. In light of understanding the Hypostatic union these two passages of Scripture harmonize together perfectly.
Explanatory Power of the Trinity
Finally, Gottdank’s failure to reconcile John 10:30 and John 14:28 must be addressed. There is a need to delve a little deeper here in order to explain these supposed contradictions. Once again, both of Jesus’ statements are equally true. Yes, Jesus and the Father are one and yes, the Father is greater than Jesus. As have already been shown earlier in this blog, the Father and the Son (Jesus) are by nature equally divine; they are both by nature God. The question that really needs to be answered is how is the Father greater than Jesus if in fact both are by nature God? It is here that the doctrine of the Trinity is brought into play. The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one God who exist as three eternal person: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three persons are equally the same in nature and substance, but different in person and office (position). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God in nature, but in person and office they are different. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are their own person individually. Jesus is not the Father and vis versa and neither of them are the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is neither of them. An illustration of the Trinity can perhaps be summed up with an example of a family of three: Father, mother, and child. All three persons share one nature: human. Postionally, however, the Father as the head of the home is greater than his wife and child, and the wife positionally is greater than the child. Neither of the three persons are greater in nature to one another, which is human, but positionally they are in the order given. Likewise positionally the Father is greater than the Son (Jesus), but by no means is the Father greater than Jesus in nature. Both equally have the same exact divine nature. Without the explanatory power of the Trinity, these would be contradictory statements, but with such explanatory power Jesus statements harmonize perfectly.
In conclusion we can confidently declare that Christ is indeed God. Jesus is far more than just a person who “mirrored” or reflected the image of God. Also in light of what has been said and the comparsions which have been made Christologically between Christianity and the Baha’i Faith concerning the nature of God, it is more than safe to say that the Jesus of Christianity is superior to the Jesus of the Baha’i Faith. While Gottdank and the Baha’is attempt to use Scripture to support their idea of Jesus merely being the “mirror” of who God is, they fail to acknowledge and use the whole entire counsel of God. Gottdank and the Baha’is need to study not just John 1:1;14, but also look at verses 2-3 as well. If they did they would see more clearly who the Word is and His equality with God the Father. Perhaps it would help them to read and consider Jesus claim to deity in John 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus declared Himself to be the I AM of Exodus 3:14 who is none other than YHWH Himself. Since Christ is God, it makes Jesus mission and work of upmost importance and, for better or worst, has an eternal impact on our lives and existence. In the next blog we will see exactly how true this is.
This morning I read an article on how some youth are falling away from the Church and Christianity for what is called, “Yeezianity.” Yeezianity is derived from rapper Kanye West’s character “Yeezus.” These young people are not merely extreme groupies of the rapper. No. It runs deeper than that. These youths are gravitating to Yeezianity for more meaningful reasons and the Christian Church for most part has failed to address their questions and concerns. Even though there are a number of churches, pastors, evangelists, theologians, philosophers, and apologists dedicating their lives whole heartily to giving reasons for the Christian faith, yet still there are far too many Christians who are not doing so and as a result we see such tragedies as this happening every single day. Let us see a couple of the reasons why these youth are turning from Christianity to Yeezianity.
The first reason why these young people are turning from Christianity and the Church is because they think they are irrelevant. These youth say that the Church is too ancient and are turned off by church lingo or as I called it, “Christian-eeze”. Further as the article states it, ” Many feel the church is simply old-fashioned. The church has failed to address concerns young people are faced with today (Liberty Voice, www.guardianlv.com).” Here is where the problem lies. The Christian Church for most part is ill-equipped to answer the problems of life, doubt, and truth. Instead of Christians following the biblical command of I Peter 3:15 to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who ask for a reason for the hope that is in you”, many Christians silently sit on their bibles and act like fideists (those who reject the need for apologetics and just believe by faith) while the youth and others search and get answers from false religions, cults, the occult, and false philosophies. I submit to you then that it is not Christianity and the Church that is irrelevant, it is the uttermost failure of the Church to address the problems that face our youth today. It is no reason it is always the Church that the people hate and barely ever Jesus Himself. Jesus in His earthly ministry never shied away from the issues of His day so why are we doing the complete opposite? I think part of becoming like Jesus is dealing with the issues and giving answers to those who are genuinely seeking them. If we are not doing so, can we honestly say we are becoming more like Christ Jesus our Lord?
The second reason these youth are leaving the Church is due to a lack of understanding about the seriousness of sin and God’s justice. These young people are complaining that the Church “wastes too much time harping on sex.” (Liberty Voice, www.guardianlv.com) The youth feel that “whether it is a sin or not does not concern them as much as other issues which they feel the church overlooks such as education, hunger, homelessness and poverty.” (Liberty Voice, www.guardianlv.com) While it is important to be concerned about these issues raised by the youth, still this is not the main concern. The issue of sin is the main concern and it is articulated as so throughout the bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. It seems to me that not only has the Church failed to give apologetic answers to the questions of these young people, but also the Church has failed to show why they need salvation by biblically demonstrating why sin is in fact a very serious matter and problem and the consequences which are attached to it. Nobody must have told them that sin is breaking God’s law (I John 3:4) and all a person has to do is sin just once and they are guilty of sin and are condemned by God and separated from Him plus the wrath of God is upon him/her. (James 2:10, Isaiah 64:6, John 3:36) As evangelist Ray Comfort as said time and time again, until a sinner see how serious sin is in God’s eyes, sinners will not see the need for a savior. This is exactly the case here. Until we as Christians begin to give a biblical apologia for the nature of sin, the seriousness of sin, and God’s justice, young people will continue to think just like these “Yeezus” followers do about sin.
In closing we should now see why apologetics is so important. Unlike in the days of DL Moody, Charles Spurgeon, and others who preached in a time when Christianity and the Bible was accepted at face value, we as Christians today are faced with questions about life and its many problems, the evil in our world, the existence of God, and many other critically important questions. We cannot afford to take a long leap into the dark by faith like the fidiests when God has giving us the answers we need; both for ourselves and for others. If the truth truly sets us free as Jesus said it would (John 8:32), why are we not seeking the truth and in turn giving that truth out to those who need it? If we agree with Jesus that God’s word, the Bible, is truth (John 17:17) then we are absolutely responsible to proclaim that truth in a world of lies and deception. May we go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit and fight the good fight of faith.