A Twin Attack That Boomerangs
By Hal Flemings
In their zeal to discredit Jehovah's Witnesses, many writers inadvertently create irreconcilable difficulties for themselves. This paper will identify one of those difficulties.
Mainstream Trinitarians believe that when Jesus Christ was on the earth in the First Century of our Common Era that he was totally man and totally god. Everyone seems to agree with Jesus at John 4:24 where he stated, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (King James Version) Because God is a spirit and Trinitarians are certain that Jesus is God, they argue that while on earth Jesus was God incarnate, that is, a spirit being enclosed with flesh. Because Jehovah's Witnesses reject this view, literally volumes of books, magazines, tracts, cassette tapes, etc. have been produced to challenge them on the doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of Christ.
A sampling from some of the anti-Witness literature will suffice to show that the mainstream churches and others are firm on their view that Jesus Christ on the earth was a god-man - or rather the God-man. Consider the following:
* "How can this be? How can he be God and man at the same time? How could he be born of a virgin? ... Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can answer these questions. If we believe that these things are true, it is because we have accepted them by faith."
** "The incarnation of the eternal Son who came from the bosom of the father is clearly set forth."
*** "A God who is fully understood is a God set forth in the image of man."
In Francis Cassilly's volume entitled Religion Doctrine and Practice - For Use in Catholic High Schools, page 372, we observe: "Are there two natures in Jesus Christ? Yes, there are two natures in Jesus Christ, the Divine Nature and the human nature." It is thus clear that for most Protestants and Catholics that when Jesus walked the face of the earth, he was a spirit and a man simultaneously.
* "Homer Duncan, A Heart to Heart Talk With Jehovah's Witnesses, pages 80 and 81.
** Louis T. Talbot, D.D., What's Wrong With Jehovah's Witnesses, p.25
*** Edmund Gross, Apostles of Denial, p. 125
The same critics of Jehovah's Witnesses who take issue with
their view of Christ in relation to the Trinity also take umbrage with the
Witness view of the resurrection of Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus
Christ, the man, was resurrected a spirit. Note the quotations below from the
same authors quoted previously:
* These verses (Luke 24:36-45) blast the Jehovah's Witness theory to smithereens! Jesus is omniscient, he knows all things. He knew that false prophets would arise who teach that he was nothing more than a spirit. He, therefore, made it absolutely sure they would know that he was not a spirit... But even more than this, Jesus ate some broiled fish and a piece of honeycomb to prove that he was not a spirit. This disproves the false Jehovah's Witness theory."
** After quoting Luke 24 to "prove" that Jesus Christ was not a spirit at his resurrection, this author stated: "Thank God, he will return in that glorified resurrection body in which he left, and-we shall know him 'by the print of the nails on his hand'!"
*** "The view that Christ rose as a spirit creature is also
unacceptable as an understanding of 1 Peter 3:18 because such an interpretation
is clearly contradicted in the Gospels, by Paul and in Peter's messages
'recorded in Acts, which imply the empty 'tomb and the preservation of Jesus'
This paper is not concerned with defending the Witness stand on the nature of Christ at his resurrection or the question of Christ being the Almighty God or not; those matters have been effectively addressed elsewhere. What we are considering here is a serious contradiction.
That contradiction is as follows: these antagonists go to great
lengths to establish that while on earth Jesus was God incarnate - a spirit
clothed in flesh - but then deny that he was a spirit at all at his
resurrection. Either he was a spirit or he was not a spirit. If he was God in
the flesh - experiencing two natures simultaneously - then he was a spirit at
his resurrection since God is a spirit. On the other hand, if indeed he was, in
reality, not a spirit but a "glorified body", then he was not a God-man in the
sense Trinitarians understand it, since a God-man is a spirit clothed in flesh.
They cannot have it both ways. One of the attacks on the Witnesses has to be
* Homer Duncan, A Heart to Heart Talk with Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 108
** Louis T. Talbot, D.D., What's Wrong with Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 32,33
*** Edmund Gross, Apostles of Denial, p. 136