Friday, June 10, 2011

Debunking Christianity: When Atheists Should Side with Jehovah's Witnesses

Facepalm Pictures, Images and PhotosGive an unbeliever or a heretic enough time, they immediately and never disappoint in refuting themselves. On Debunking Christianity today, TGBaker has really put his foot in his mouth in grand fashion. Again my comments are in red.

As an atheist I often quote from the Jehovah's Witness New Testament. Why? Because their translators are not effected by certain doctrines like Trinity. They rely on the most likely version of the Greek text under consideration. Most believers look at John 1:1-4 to argue for Jesus as God.

Jehovah's Witnesses rely on a translation that the consensus of scholars is that it's poorly translated. It's called the New World Translation. And it is untrue that it is influenced the doctrine of the Trinity. Quite the the opposite. The translators who were not experts in Kione Greek or Ancient Hebrew mistranslated the Bible is several instances differently than other great English translations like the Kings James Version so that they could dispense with things like the Trinity. The New World translation is inferior and it's like bringing a dull pocket knife to a gun fight in a scholarly debate.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Here is where TGBaker shows some dishonesty. He extols the value of the New World Translation but he doesn't point out that it renders John 1:1 differently and side-steps the fact that most translations do not render it into English that way.
1 In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. 2 This one was in [the] beginning with God. 3 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. - John 1:1 (New World Translation)
It reads really differently to avoid referring to Jesus as God. This is a horrible translation and people who really know Kione Greek agrees. If you want to read documentation on a trial during the early 20th century about the reliability of the New World Translation, you can read the Jehovah's Witness chapter in Dr Walter Martin's book Kingdom of the Cults.

But the much neglected verses of John 1:17-18 not only clarifiy these verses but point to how Jesus as a human teacher became a messiah and then became a god.
17 ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. 18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο.

The Law was given through Moses, Grace and Truth came about through Jesus Christ, No one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten god which is in the bosom of god has made him known (exegeted him).
We find here in these verses are an elevation of Jesus to a divine person that replaces the law. This is a teaching no different than of Paul. We see a shift from Paul's presentation of Jesus as Wisdom to a Hellenistic function of reason as an agent of creation (Logos). This is already known in Philo of Alexandria's work.

Where does this passage tell us that Jesus replaces the Law? It doesn't. Where does this passage tells us that any of Jesus' first followers considered him just a human teacher. From Matthew to Revelations, Jesus is presented as Messiah and Lord. I know about Philo of Alexander but his description of the Logos does not even compare to a personal being. Paul does not refer to Jesus as a living embodiment of Wisdom.

We also see this term identified as “image” by Philo of Alexandria. Christ as the “image of God” or “form of God” is a way pre-existence enters into the earlier Pauline writings. Verse 17 shows the comparison of the pre-existent Law with the pre-existent Messiah:
Pesachim 54a on the name of the Messiah "Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah... The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His [sc. the Messiah's] name shall endure forever, and has (Yanun) exited before the sun."
The Jewish idea of the pre-existence of the Messiah's name combined with “image” that we see in Philo is a further opening for Jesus, a mortal soul, to be uplifted by metaphor of worship hymns to literal belief. The Name of the Messiah becomes the Image of God in the hymnal passages of Paul. Again we find Philo who equates the Wisdom of Proverbs 8 with Logos, Image and Spirit:
Proverbs 8:22-30 "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him..."

I agree that metaphorically "Wisdom" in Proverb 8 can be mapped to Logos but TGBaker take the analogy much farther than what is warranted. By showing the the idea that the pre-existence of the Messiah was already a part of Jewish thought, shows that the Deity and Messiahship of Christ is not out of pocket in the slightest.

In this we can see a first begotten prior to creation. So the potential already resides in Judaism. The intensification of this belief and its rise to a literal per-existent entity that becomes flesh are readily identifiable elements in external literature. The only flaw of the Arians were they were more conservative theologically than the Trinitarians. They were more routed in the meaning of scripture than theological/philosophical speculation. Their motto, There was a time when He was not” point directly to the translation in the Jehovah's Witness and to there doctrine. Their scholars simply continue the second century line of thought:

“Similarly, though Wisdom has had her own independent history within Israelite culture, she has already been identified with the Angel of the LORD long before early Christianity. This is clear from Sirach 24:4 where Wisdom takes up the position of the Angel of the LORD in the cloud of Exodus 14:19 and Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-2, 18:15-16 where Wisdom, Logos and Angel of the Lord are equated. Wisdom and Logos, then, both point to the importance of angelic categories as the common denominator in Jewish mediatorial speculation.”
I agree that Jehovah's Witness are just carrying on the 2nd Century heresies of the Arians and Gnostics. That is the problem. John 1 speaks against the idea that the Logos ever came into existence. The scriptures do not allow us the luxury of thinking that there was ever a time when the Logos was not and if Jesus is the Logos there was never a time when He was not! The other thing most Protestants, Jews, and Jehovah's Witness agree on is that Sirach is not scripture. Failure all around in this argument.

Please do not misunderstand my usage of Watchtower research. I do not believe in their presentation of a god any more than normative Trinitarian Christianities. But they are not blinded by the presuppositions that trinitarian doctrine entails. The validity of their observations point to the source of their differences from normative Christianities. They like the Restoration Movement of The Campbell's and Barton W. Stone sought to have Christianity based only with what was in the Bible. Stone in fact debated Alexander Campbell for years contending that Trinity was non-biblical and espoused an Arianism long before the Jehovah's Witnesses existed. ( The Millennial Harbinger and The Baptist volumes). What this biblical research of “non-orthodox” Christian movements do is allow us to circumvent doctrines that have blinded many Biblical scholars unconsciously and see what is actually there in its native environment and original historical context.

TGBaker is wrong. Jehovah's Witnesses are so blinded by their desire to reject the normative Christianity that they have gone as far as twisting scripture to support their ideas. They have not made valid observation about the Bible or scripture. They are blinded by other presuppositions. Their doctrines can't be found in the Bible. What the research of "non-orthodox" Christian movements does is further deceive and distort the truth.

2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. - 2 Timothy 4:2-4

Debunking Christianity: When Atheists Should Side with Jehovah's Witnesses
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment