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Thursday, January 03, 2019

First Response

I have asked for years for a Jehovah's-Witness-non-Trinitarian type who denies the fundamental deity of Christ to explain to me John 1:3. For your reference:
All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
The Jehovah's Witnesses like to quibble about John 1:1. "It doesn't mean 'the Word was God'; it means 'the Word was a god'." It's called weak Greek. They don't get it. Okay, fine, but if the Son, this "Word," was a created being, then in what possible sense could John 1:3 work? How could a created being make all things that were made? That would make this Word a self-created being. Nonsense.

Well, someone actually tried to give me an answer. The logos, you see, is not Jesus. It is God's purpose, God's plan. It isn't Jesus. So when the logos became flesh, it was God's purpose, God's plan. Now, that is a creative approach; it just doesn't make any sense. A purpose, a plan, does not actually accomplish anything. It is a target, a goal, a direction. If you liken it to a target, that target is not going to shoot itself; someone has to do it. A purpose is not a thing. It doesn't accomplish anything. It has no power of its own. Creation was God's purpose, to be sure, but it wasn't the purpose that accomplished the Creation; it was God. And, according to John 1:3, it was the Word that became flesh (John 1:14) that accomplished it. It was the Preincarnate Christ who did it.

This "Word" that the commenter was sure was a "purpose or a plan" is said to have been "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1). Now, think about that a moment. in what sense can it be said that a purpose or plan is "with" God? Is there some way that you could have a purpose or plan that was not "with you"? Beyond that, if this "Word" actually was God, what does that possibly signify if it is intended to convey "purpose or plan"? In what sense is God some purpose or plan? None of this makes sense.

The fundamental denial here begins with the word "Him" in that verse in John. "Oh, no," you might hear, "that shouldn't be 'Him'; that should be 'it'. It is not 'All things were made through Him'; it is 'All things were made through it', meaning His purpose or plan." Having denied the possibility that a purpose or plan can actually accomplish something, is it possible that the word should be "it" rather than "Him"? The Greek is autos. We use it ourselves in words like "automatic" (something that runs by itself), "automobile" (a vehicle that moves by itself), or "autocratic" (a method of government in which the people rule themselves). The word means "self." (I bet you picked that up already, right?) Whatever this "self" is, it must be, it must exist, it must have substance. It isn't a theory, an idea, a thought, a purpose or a plan. It must be. So using the Greek to retranslate "Him" to something else doesn't work either. The Greek supports "Him".

And, of course, since Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, we don't have to look far to determine that Jesus is the one who created all things. God's "beloved Son" (Col 1:13) is the image of God (Col 1:15). Paul clearly states, "All things were created through Him and for Him" (Col 1:16). So it is "Him," Christ Jesus (Col 1:1), "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" (Col 1:19), who made all things. And we're back to either a created being who created himself as well or the position that Christ is God Incarnate.

I'll give the person their just due. They tried. They answered when no one else ever has. It's just that it doesn't work in the text, the context, or the whole of Scripture. Worse, if we decide that all of Christendom has been wrong all this time, then we are also deciding that Christianity is fundamentally false. The message of the Gospel is we're all sinners justly earning death, but Christ came to pay our debt. But one perfect life can only pay the debt for one imperfect life, not for all. It takes an infinite payment to pay for the sins of all mankind, so only a divine human could do it. It is the beauty of the wisdom and grace of God that He divined (small joke there) a plan like this to save His creatures by sending His Son to become flesh and dwell among us, to save His people from their sin. Take that away and it's all over.


Bob said...

Something i noted is that to postulate a position you can either; state what is true, or you can reconstruct the original idea to suit your purpose. for a reconstruction argument to seem rational the author must first redefine the main points. At the onset of the argument; the author must first give a list of new definitions to common words.

Stan said...

Let me see if I can restate that. One approach would be "Let's examine the text and see where it takes us." The other would be "What do I conclude? What do I have to do to make the texts agree?" I've seen a lot of people start from premises and then push Scripture to agree with them, even if (or especially since) it clearly does not.

Jesse said...

Excellent article, Stan.