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Should You Believe in the Trinity?


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The purpose of the following dialogue is not to formulate an exhaustive study of the Watchtower’s main anti-Trinity booklet. The purpose is to: 1.) Expose a very small, but powerful, fraction of Watchtower dishonesty that runs throughout the booklet, and 2.) Give our readers some help on how to use this booklet in a witnessing encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness.

To enhance your reading of the following dialogue, Watchtower quotes are in green and the full quote from the cited author is in red.  Enjoy!

Chris: Hi, John. I’ve spent some time lately looking through the magazine that you gave me called Should You Believe in the Trinity?

John: That’s great, Chris. It’s one of my favorite publications. It’s so well researched and documented, don’t you think?

Chris: Yes, I do. In fact, I found it to be full of so many interesting quotations that I decided to go down to the library to locate some of the source material. Maybe you can help me, John. I’d like to run a few things by you that I discovered concerning this magazine.

John: Go ahead.

Chris: On page 4 of the Trinity booklet, it says that The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be ‘beyond the grasp of human reason”.

John: And it really is, Chris. I mean, who can comprehend a three- headed god?

Chris: I’d like you to take a look at this photocopy of the actual page from where the Watchtower quoted volume 27 of The Encyclopedia Americana.  I’d like you to read this quote in the context of the original article. It’s right here on page 116.

John: Okay. It says, “It is held that although the doctrine is beyond the grasp of human reason, it is, like many of the formulations of physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended) by the human mind”. (underline ours)

Chris: Did you see that, John? It said that the doctrine of the Trinity is “....not contrary to reason and may be the human mind”. John, after reading the full statement from the encyclopedia, has the Watchtower quoted this article in context?

John: Well, sure. The Watchtower did use the exact words right from the article.

Chris: Yes, but has the Watchtower left out words that change the author’s viewpoint?

John: Chris, there are a hundred quotes in this magazine that prove the Trinity is false. Why are you making a fuss over this one? Didn’t you look at any others?

Chris: As a matter of fact, I did. On page 6 of the Trinity booklet it says, “Jesuit Fortman states: ‘The New Testament writers. . . give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons...”. Here is a photocopy of the introduction of The Triune God, 1972, where this quote was taken from. The Watchtower quotes four words from page 15; “The New Testament writers”. They then pick up the next sentence of the quote from page 16. But read some of the highlighted text that falls between the two quotes.

John: “They call Jesus the Son of God. Messiah. Lord. Savior, Word. Wisdom. They assign Him the divine functions of creation, salvation, judgment. Sometimes they call Him God explicitly. They do not speak as fully and clearly of the Holy Spirit as they do of the Son, but at times they coordinate Him with the Father and the Son and put Him on a level with them as far as divinity and personality are concerned. (underline ours)

Chris: Go ahead and read the next part of the Watchtower quote from page 16, plus the following sentence.

John: They give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated.” (underline ours)

Chris: John, it’s obvious that the author’s intention in this article is to validate the Trinity, not to discredit it. Another example is on pages 6 & 7 of the Trinity booklet where the Watchtower quotes the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1922, v.12, p. 461. The quote reads, “At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian. . . It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the New Testament and other early Christian writings”. John, read this photocopy from the original article, please.

John: “The transition from the Trinity of experience to the Trinity of dogma is describable in other terms as the transition from the economic or dispensational Trinity to the essential, immanent, or ontological Trinity. At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian in the strictly ontological reference. It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the NT and other early Christian writings.” (underline ours)

Chris: Did you catch that, John?

John: Catch what? I don’t even understand what half of the words in that quote mean.

Chris: That’s okay. My point is that the article isn’t saying that the early Christian faith was not Trinitarian, like the Watchtower would have us believe. The author was conveying that the early Christians believed in the idea of a dispensational Trinity before shifting their understanding to an ontological view of the Trinity. John, why, again, did the Watchtower leave out words that change the meaning of the article?

John: Please, don’t accuse the Organization of being deceitful. Look at all the work that they put into this magazine. They gave the exact references where these quotes were taken from. They’re not afraid of anyone doing some research on their own, like you did. Also, when they leave out certain words in a paragraph, they show that by inserting ellipses.

Chris: John, the Watchtower has made it very difficult for anyone to double-check the references that they cited from. Although the names of the publications are given, there are no page or volume numbers specified. And, yes, the Watchtower does tell its reader that words have been omitted from their quotes, but if the reader was to read all the words in context from either of the three articles that I showed you, would he think the author means the same thing as the Watchtower is telling us he means?

John: Chris, if you’re trying to convince me that the Trinity is true, you’re wasting your time.

Chris: I’m not trying to do that. I’m just asking you if the Watchtower is practicing honesty in its work? John, I’d like you to read another quote, not from the Trinity brochure, but from page 199 of a Watchtower publication from 1967 called, Qualified To Be Ministers. This book was used to train and instruct Jehovah’s Witnesses in their ministry school.

John: “Be very careful to be accurate in all statements you make. Use evidence honestly. In quotations, do not twist the meaning of a writer or speaker or use only partial quotations to give a different thought than the person intended.”

Chris: After reading these three photocopies, do you think that the Watchtower Society has followed their own instructions in this matter?

John: I’ll look into it further, Chris.

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