My Lord and My God: A Layman Looks at the Deity of Christ and the Nature of the Godhead

This work deals with the central issue of Christianity and indeed of theology itself. Its immediate purpose is to refute the contention of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the Jehovah’s Witnesses) that Jesus Christ is not God.  It does this in two ways:

  • It demonstrates that Jesus Christ is God, both from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s own Bible translations and from the Fathers of the church whom the Society contends deny the deity of Christ.
  • It examines the relationship of the Persons in the Godhead in a way that is different from much of Christianity by proposing a concept of subordinationism that is consistent with the deity of Christ.  Most Trinitarians have shied away from subordinationism, and this work shows why they should not.  A few, such as the Sydney Anglicans, have embraced it, albeit in the context of the relationship of men and women.  The way they have done this strikes me as lame.

The work is broken down into several parts; you can go to each as follows:

Some Background and Explanation of the Work

In August 1997 the website that became Positive Infinity was launched on GeoCities.  The following spring this work made its appearance on the site.  It has been in free distribution ever since.  In 2013 the work was serialised in blog form to make it more accessible and interactive.

This work is an outgrowth of a good deal of work about the deity of Jesus Christ, the denial of which is a central tenet of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)   The Watchtower isn’t alone in this; Islam likewise denies his deity, and Islam was and is far more important than the Watchtower.  The events of and following 11 September 2001 have put Islam in a new perspective; the references to Islam in the original and subsequent editions have added relevance because of this.

Nevertheless, in revising this work, it was decided to stick with the original purpose of dealing with the denial of the deity of Christ in a Watchtower context.  To do the subject justice, however, requires a broad theological perspective, and it is this that will make this work of interest to more than Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Having said all this, there were a few important decisions to make and conventions to follow that the reader needs to be made aware of.

The first – and potentially the most difficult – is that the Watchtower Bible translations were used, namely the New World Translation (NWT) and the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT). It made sense to use their translations to demonstrate the truth of the propositions set forth. Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the NWT. These translations are much pilloried by others and they do create some difficulties from time to time but in the end the main problems of these translations are those of the Witnesses themselves.

One result of this usage – and another accommodation to the Watchtower – is the use of the terms “Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures” for the Old Testament and the “Christian-Greek Scriptures” for the New Testament. The Watchtower has lengthy reasons for this but it’s hard to see how this really improves anything. It is interesting to note that liberals are using this terminology as well; liberals and Jehovah’s Witnesses are an interesting combination. Reference is also made in a few places to the “torture stake;” the author would like to make it clear that he does not support the Watchtower’s position on this either for reasons that are brought out in the text itself.

The second is that, for the Church Fathers, the Victorian series Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers were used for the most part. These translations have their limitations and the English language has changed quite a lot since they were done but they can still be very effective and best of all they are very readily obtained. The citations of the Church Fathers that were used in the section, “Faith of Our Fathers,” were taken from citations quoted or alluded to by Watchtower material found on their web site. The Watchtower is very reticent, however, about citing where they get their citations and allusions from, so it took some digging to find what references they were actually referring to. In some cases this digging was unsuccessful and I was forced to do the best I could. Based on what the Fathers actually say, however, the Watchtower’s reticence is understandable.

Every effort has been made to root out errors in the text; the author will gladly receive comments on correcting these.

6 thoughts on “My Lord and My God: A Layman Looks at the Deity of Christ and the Nature of the Godhead”

  1. Don,

    You write “One result of this usage – and another accommodation to the Watchtower – is the use of the terms “Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures” for the Old Testament and the “Christian-Greek Scriptures” for the New Testament. The Watchtower has lengthy reasons for this but it’s hard to see how this really improves anything. It is interesting to note that liberals are using this terminology as well; liberals and Jehovah’s Witnesses are an interesting combination.

    I don’t know what their “lengthy reasons” are but the terms do have the quite elementary virtue of being accurate without carrying any heavy though invisible baggage.

    The “Old” and “New” are clearly intended to imply the notion that both sets of books are part of the same work, and, perhaps or even probably, that the the latter replaces the former. These implications do not hold water. Both sets of books are arbitrarily chosen from a large number of candidates as the result of a number of historically interesting power struggles.

    The use of the word Testament, similarly, carries a good deal of bias. It slickly slips in the claim that these compendia of very varied writings are unified, that they are testimony proving something, etc. etc. The JWs’ version, Scriptures, carries the part of this which is true without the added diversions, don’t you think?

    As for your liberals and Jehovah’s Witnesses agreeing, it seems to me rather like those many cases where you find the ACLU in agreement with, e.g., the Utah right on civil liberties. What those cases exemplify, it seems to me, is the phenomenon of people paying attention coming to one position, and a muddled middle milling around in confusion.

    Cheers,

    -dlj.

    1. “The “Old” and “New” are clearly intended to imply the notion that both sets of books are part of the same work, and, perhaps or even probably, that the the latter replaces the former. These implications do not hold water. Both sets of books are arbitrarily chosen from a large number of candidates as the result of a number of historically interesting power struggles.”

      The status of the New Testament is, of course, part of the sticking point between Jews and Christians. It was not, however, the intention of the New Testament to replace the old (cf. Matthew 5:17). The challenging of Replacement Theology is one of the major changes in Christianity the last two centuries; that challenge’s effects can be felt every day.

      I also spend time elsewhere discussing the inspiration of the scriptures, esp. relative to Islam’s theory of the same.

      “The use of the word Testament, similarly, carries a good deal of bias. It slickly slips in the claim that these compendia of very varied writings are unified, that they are testimony proving something, etc. etc. The JWs’ version, Scriptures, carries the part of this which is true without the added diversions, don’t you think?”

      The JW’s would argue with your idea that the Scriptures don’t prove anything, and in fact spend a great deal of time showing what they think is proven therein.

      “As for your liberals and Jehovah’s Witnesses agreeing, it seems to me rather like those many cases where you find the ACLU in agreement with, e.g., the Utah right on civil liberties. What those cases exemplify, it seems to me, is the phenomenon of people paying attention coming to one position, and a muddled middle milling around in confusion.”

      That’s the way I feel about the civil marriage debate. We have the spectacle of two sides, which agree on almost nothing else, both working from the same assumption that it is “meet and right” for the state to marry people, when in fact thinking the issue through to the end leads one to understand that this is not the case. But, as you say, the result of that is a “muddled middle milling around in confusion.”

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