Saturday, March 03, 2007

To Witnesses: To Make Much Of Christ

I have, in my discussions with TJ, come to have a better grasp of the bottom line: Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus Christ is unworthy of worship because they believe he is of merely limited worth. I cannot refrain from addressing this.

First, I want encourage Witnesses to just relax a little bit. It seems to me that they have set themselves on a quest for which there is really very little cause. They don't need to keep wearing themselves out going door to door and spreading the good news of Christ’s inferiority, reminding Christians that they ought not to worship Christ or telling them that they ought to restrain themselves from esteeming him so excessively. If they would just take a look around they would note that Christ is not really in all that much danger of even being discussed in most churches, let alone of being esteemed too highly. Yet these crusaders insist on pressing forward with this noble task.

How have the Witnesses come upon such pious revelation, anyway? How have they discovered that Christ is of merely limited value? It is, they say, because Christ is not the Father; he is begotten of the Father. And how can one who is begotten of the Father, and who is not the Father himself, be worthy of infinite love, honor, and devotion? But of course, this is foolishness. Far from being any indication of Christ’s limited worth, the fact that Christ is begotten of the Father is proof that his worth could not possibly be limited. And why is that? Because in begetting the Son, it pleases the Father that all the fullness of his divinity should dwell in him (Col 1:19; 2:9). That is, all the fullness— not some of his fullness, not all of a portion, all of his fullness.

Really, then, the Witnesses’ error is rooted in their inadequate esteem for the Father's divinity. Is the Father’s worth in any way limited? Of course not. How then can that infinite worth be limited just because he has caused it to dwell in his Son whom he has begotten? It cannot. In effect, then, to limit the worth of the Son is to limit the worth of the limitless Father who is pleased to have his limitless fullness dwell in his Son, and that without any limit whatsoever. This, of course, is why we are told to honor the Son, even as we honor the Father and why we are told that if we do not honor the Son we do not honor the Father (John 5:22-23).

But the Witnesses, perhaps, are wiser than God, and more concerned for his glory than he is himself. But God is not jealous of any worth we should recognize in Christ. Why should he be? It is his own worth. It is his own fullness dwelling in Christ. It his own divinity which he has fully begotten in him. The more men love and honor Christ, the more glory the Father receives. It is unreasonable, then, to think that the Father would want Christ's praise to be limited or his esteem to be restrained.

Ponder, furthermore, the arrogance involved in believing that one even has the capacity to overvalue Christ. How can we love him too much whose love for his people exceeds our ability to understand it (Eph 3:19)? How can we give too much to him by whom, through whom, and unto whom all things were created and in whom all things consist (Col 1:16-17)? And how can we give ourselves too fully to him who wholly gave himself up for us (Gal 2:20)? We are not able to honor Christ according to a fraction of his worth. To persuade men to hold back any portion of their love, esteem, and devotion from Christ is more than just academically mistaken. It is blasphemously immoral. I sincerely pray that God would have mercy on the souls of those laboring so hard to lead men so far astray.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

It seems that you wrote this post with a lot of emotion and frustration. I hope we can resume our discussion of this subject after some time has passed and you're not so busy. I really don't think we've yet gotten to the root difference you were looking for in your original post.


Brad said...


I have enjoyed the calm and methodical debate in which we were able to engage over the past few months, but it is fairly obvious that we are both firmly committed to our positions.

The problem is that the position to which one or the other of us is so immovably committed is a very serious error. Either I am an idolater, or you are a blasphemer. The situation seems to call for at least a little emotion and frustration.

There are some issues with regard to which endless casual disinterested dialogue simply seems inappropriate. The worth of Christ strikes me as one such issue.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

I can appreciate your point, though I don't agree that our dialogue was endless or disinterested. As I said from the beginning, I don't believe that Christ's status can be ascertained from whether or not he is rendered worship, for the simple reason that others, especially Davidic kings who we both agree are not God(s), are rendered the same. I guessed I had hoped that after we discussed your argument in favor of Christ being God all the way through you'd be willing to give me the same opportunity to present my case, either via email or on your blog, which I believe gets to the root difference between our understandings of Christ's identity.

And if discussing Jesus any further is too much of a controversial topic, I'd also be willing to switch to discussing the holy spirit, since we should expect to find explicit, clear evidence in the Bible that 'he' is God for the Trinity doctrine to be accepted.

But again, I realize that you're busy, so I have no problem slowing down the responses to one a week or even longer. It can be difficult to find ones, even online, willing enough to discuss these things based firmly on the Bible's evidence, so I've really enjoyed examining the evidence with you and I was hoping to get your view on some other relevant areas. Thanks again for your patience with me.


Brad said...


Please pardon the following randomness (limited time).

1) As a threshold issue, it would help me to hear a good argument, as to what profit there might be in our continuing these discussions.

Now, assuming we can get past 1):

2) My time constraints make me presently unwilling to leave the topic of the person and work of Christ.

3) I like the "public" forum, and I don't mind answering your objections to my posts, but I'm not so comfortable offering my blog as a platform for you to affirmatively proclaim what I consider to be an extremely offensive doctrine (the limited value of Christ). Would you consider opening a blog of your own for the purpose?

Most random of all:

4) Would you mind telling me your full name?


Brad said...

Two more:

5) I cannot concede that the Davidic kings were rendered anything close to the worship rendered Christ.

and 6) I am still convinced that the central issue between us is Christ's worthiness or unworthiness to receive unlimited adoration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

1. In your original post to this discussion, your stated goal was to find the difference between your view of Jesus and the Jehovah's Witnesses' view. You believe that the crucial issue is worship, but we do in fact 'worship' him in a limited sense, just as we believe that he is a god in a limited sense, relative to Jehovah God.

I would contend that the root difference has more to do with the price of the ransom needed to redeem mankind from sin and death. It is our belief that the Bible clearly teaches that an equivalent of Adam, i.e. a perfect (sinless) man, had to die in order to pay for Adam's sin, which has been passed down to us. Most Trinitarians will argue that only God himself could die to buy mankind back, but the evidence for this (as presented to me) is hazy. We believe that the Bible teaches that out of all his heavenly sons, God sent his firstborn Son, the firstborn of all creation, to the earth as "the last Adam" to die faithfully. (1 Cor. 15:45) This sacrifice would cover over Adam's rebellion against Jehovah.

This would also mean that Jesus had no dual nature, which is not explicitly taught anywhere in the Scriptures, and that he was, like Adam, a free moral agent with the capacity to sin, though he did not do so. In fact, because Jesus chose not to sin, but to faithfully obey God even to death, he proved Satan's claim against Jehovah completely false. (Job 2:4)

So again, we believe that the ransom price was the death of the exact equal of Adam, which would be a perfect man, not half of a God-man.

2. That's fine if you want to focus on Jesus. Still, I think it's a hard sell to teach that the Bible explicitly states that the holy spirit is God anywhere. If someone else would be willing to take this subject up with me elsewhere, I'd like to hear your evidence.

3. Are you saying that you want me to start a blog to post my arguments, while you'll post your responses here? Or do you want the entire discussion to take place on my (potential) blog?

Brad, I understand that you find my beliefs "extremely offensive", but I am wondering if you recognize that I, and other Jehovah's Witnesses, sincerely believe that the Bible teaches these things. I ask this because your indignation at times seems to be directed towards us rather than the doctrines themselves.

4. I can send that to you via email if you wish.

5. You don't have to concede it, but you should recognize that at best your argument is something that can only be inferred from the text. If indeed, as you first proposed, the word proskuneo could only be rendered towards God, then your argument would be deductive and explicit.

6. I think that you are focusing more on a symptom of the main issue. But perhaps you can prove me wrong. :)


Brad said...


1) I guess I was more asking what you would hope to achieve by continuing our conversation: convince me? be convinced yourself? just get a good workout? (not that I'm opposed to the latter).

If I felt like I had more arguments that you might find convincing, or even if I felt that you had more arguments that I might find convincing, I would have an easier time seeing the point of going on. But I feel as though our last discussion revealed the very small likelihood of this.

3)I would (potentially) respond to your case presented on your blog, and would be fine with you continuing to respond to any of my posts on my blog. I know this may seem silly, but I feel that there is a difference between allowing a visitor to challenge what I present as true doctrine and giving someone a platform to affirmatively present what I believe is false doctrine.

I have no doubt of your sincerity, nor do I think you doubt mine. But I'm sure you would acknowledge that my sincerity will not get me off the hook when God asks me why I not only falsely worshiped Christ, but tried to get others to do the same.

I like your choice of the word "indignation". It's not anything like hatred or even personal dislike; I've actually found most Witnesses to be rather likeable folks(one I would even consider a friend). Nor have I found you to be anything but polite. But it seems to me that Jesus and the apostles' dealings with false teachers went well beyond mere indignation toward those teachers' sincerely held beliefs and actually attached to the teachers themselves.

In your case, not only do you restrain and limit your adoration for Christ, you try to convince others to do the same. I don't want to be indignant with you. But I feel I must be. And from your perspective, you ought to be just as indignant with me.

And this goes back to my initial concern about the point of going on. Along the way you've presented some reasonable, and I believe valid refutations of some of my arguments. I believe that every time you've done so, I've conceded the point.

Obviously, I believe the orthodox understanding of Christ's person and work rests on much more solid evidence than the few flubbers I threw out initially. I feel that through the course of the discussion, I've presented some very convincing evidence for that position, and have yet to see you budge an inch.

Now, of course, I'm not saying that you should concede to anything you don't really consider valid, and maybe you really haven't felt like anything I've said has been at all convincing.

But that's my point. I find the scriptures I've presented to be more than sufficient to prove Christ's worthiness of unlimited, unrestrained and unending worship. If you really haven't been moved by any scriptures I've presented, then I have trouble seeing the point of going on. 'Cause all I've got is more of the same.

4) email would be great.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

Thanks for your response. At times, certain people I speak with at the door bring up the same concerns regarding the goals of a biblical discussion. If we are both sure of our beliefs, what's the point of discussing them?

Proverbs 27:17 brings out an important truth, it says, "as iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend." (NET) During the course of a respectful discussion, a friend can bring another perspective to things and even present evidence of which one might have been previously unaware of. This will help each of us to observe Paul's counsel to "examine all things; hold fast to what is good." (1 Thess. 5:21)

Of course, I'll respect your request to keep my views off of your blog; this will be my last post here. I will send you an email shortly.

As to indignation, you said, "it seems to me that Jesus and the apostles' dealings with false teachers went well beyond mere indignation toward those teachers' sincerely held beliefs and actually attached to the teachers themselves . . . I don't want to be indignant with you. But I feel I must be. And from your perspective, you ought to be just as indignant with me."

I have to disagree with you here. In the case of Jesus' dealings with the scribes and Pharisees, he was able to judge their hearts, was he not? He knew their motivations for their false teachings and he knew their hypocritical acts. Can you say the same of me? You say that you have no doubt of my sincerity, but did Jesus typically express indignation towards those expressing sincere thoughts to him, or was he more long-suffering and compassionate?

I find the counsel at Colossians 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:15-16 especially helpful when speaking to others who believe differently than I do. They read, respectively, "let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt," and "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect."

You said that you feel that I have been less willing to concede what you believe to be valid points you present, while you have conceded to mine. Indeed, I commend you for your honesty in accepting points that went contrary to your argument, this speaks very well of the kind of person you are.

Still, this is the difference I spoke of in my last post. The points of mine which you conceded were explicit, whereas yours can only be described as implied. It would be extremely difficult to argue that proskuneo is not rendered to others in the Bible who are not God, based on the evidence I provided, would it not?

Compare this with your definition of absolute worship. You base this definition on what is said of God in Revelation 4 and then compare this to Christ in Revelation 5. But you have not presented any evidence that all of these things cannot be presented to one who is not the Almighty God or that they can not be expressed together in anything other than absolute (not relative) worship. In fact, a legitimate weakness in this argument is that it fails to take into account the explicit declarations of the participants in which they claim to glorify God because he is the Almighty God, whereas they claim to glorify Christ because of his role in providing the ransom sacrifice as the Lamb of God. It is very interesting that while they are more than willing to identify the Father as the Almighty God, they fail to do so with respect to the Son. This is why I have not conceded to your argument. Hopefully you can respect that just because I do not yield to your position based on this evidence alone, it does not mean that I do not accept valid points.

You said, "I find the scriptures I've presented to be more than sufficient to prove Christ's worthiness of unlimited, unrestrained and unending worship."

But you have not yet taken into account scriptures that I have presented which go against that, such as Jesus' objection in which he says, "Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God." (Luke 18:19) Reading this in the natural way, does it not appear that Jesus himself 'restrains' his worth in comparison to God? And if this is just Jesus speaking from his 'human nature', what basis do we have to distinguish when he is speaking from his 'human nature' and when he is speaking from his 'divine nature', or is this just decided arbitrarily in light of the Trinity doctrine? If so, wouldn't that make these arguments circular? Many more of these 'restraining' passages could be cited, but this is why further discussion would be fruitful for both of us. If you truly feel that this belief is necessary for salvation, I would appreciate your taking the time to explain these things to me (not necessarily here).

Let me conclude this long post (sorry!) by asking you a question. You said that the concluding verses of Revelation 5 made it difficult for you to see how any difference could be seen between the worship given to God and the worship given to Christ. Same acts of worship at the same time, right? Do you honestly believe that 1 Chronicles 29:20, where God and the king of Israel are worshiped at the same time, does not significantly undermine your argument? Could not that act of worship have included various praises of glory and honor to both God and king?

Thanks for your time and patience Brad.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brad, keep up the great argument...I think you are very wise in many different aspects. Spending the little time with you growing up, I never knew how educated and self driven you actually were/are! You are truly amazing, and I think your family is beautiful! Hope we can chat sometime, God bless you and your family...Leslie Peppo

Brad said...

Wow. What a nice surprise! Drop me a line:, and chat we shall :-)