Should the Bible Be Trusted? Is It Really the Word of God?

trust bible

To validate the Bible as the inspired Word of God, we must look into internal and external evidence. However, some internal evidence might seem as if the Bible is claiming itself as the Word of God, and some people criticize this as circular reasoning, which basically means that it will not serve as substantial evidence. Even though for some this evidence is not enough to prove its authenticity, it is crucial we examine it. 

 

Internal Evidence of the Bible

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it says: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This extract from the second book of Timothy, written by Paul, clearly states that the Bible is the Word of God. This is one of the internal pieces of evidence we can find inside the Bible, alongside many other verses that testify of its divine origin. 

In addition, we can find in the Bible detailed prophecies regarding Israel and other nations, along with prophecies of the Messiah. Approximately 2,500 prophecies have been fulfilled exactly as they were described centuries before they even occurred. These prophecies were 100 percent accurate in their predictions, meaning there were no errors. For example: 

In the fifth century BC, a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem’s poor foreigners. – Zechariah 11:12-13

Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a “potter’s field,” used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10). 

 

External Evidence of the Bible

On the other hand, external evidence also suggests that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible narrates historical events accurately and truthfully, and it has been proven by archaeological discoveries. It is said that the Bible is the “best-documented book from the ancient world” (Got Questions Ministries). The Smithsonian Department of Anthropology said that the Bible is “more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories.” Many monuments found in Egypt, Assyria, and others had the names of at least 29 kings, who are mentioned in the Bible. 

Now, the most controversial issue while trying to justify the authenticity of the Bible is the fact that the authors of all 66 books are humans. It is to note that God used these men to write down His words. If we take a look at the lives of these men, they were respectable men, and some were well-known in other countries. 

For example, King David, the writer of many psalms, was recognized as a ruler by multiple countries in the region. Another example is the life of Paul, formerly known as Saul, who went from killing Christian to becoming an Apostle. Most of the Apostles lived with Jesus while He was on Earth until His ascension to heaven, and they were also first-hand witnesses. The lives of these men and their willingness to die for what they believe in is proof that the Bible is the Word of God.

Throughout history, many have tried to destroy the Bible, but it has been demonstrated to be indestructible. How after many attempts to vanish it is it still the best-selling book of all time? Why do many people read the Bible? What else is there to actually rely on the Bible? Maybe the answer is to test it personally, and by reading the Bible we can become convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God.

What is Mormonism? Christian Response & Engagement Ideas (Part 2)

The world today contains numerous adherents and followers of the religion of Mormonism, also known as the Church of Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Christ. Part 1 of this article series on Mormonism provided information on the history and general beliefs of the LDS tradition. In this next article, I will present the what and how of the Christian response in our culture today.

So What?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a religion that is multifaceted, firm, and dense in its theological understandings. 

Mormonism, in my opinion, is summarized well by statement number 13 in the Articles of Faith, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe in all things, we hope in all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (Pearl of Great Price, 60).

Realistically speaking, these values closely mirror the language in Philippians 4:8. So, as Christians, may we try to speak life and the Gospel to Mormons when the opportunities arise.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Gospel Distinctives

As believers today, we must remember the core Gospel distinctives and must be able to recall Scripture that points to the living and active Word of God. Provided below are some of the key points in the Christian doctrine. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these so you can recall them when engaging with a Mormon. 

  • God is One, Personal, Holy, and a Judge (Isa. 43:10, Isa. 45:5, Gal. 1:8)
  • Sin separates and is rebellion against God (Rom. 3:23) 
  • God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation (Eph. 2:8-9)
  • Incarnation/Divinity (Immanuel = God with us) (John 1:1,14)
  • Abundant and eternal life (Rom. 6:23)
  • Repentance and faith, no works-based salvation (Rom. 4:4-5, Gal. 3:10, Titus 3:5
  • The exclusiveness of Jesus (Acts 4:12)

The Christian Stance on General Beliefs of Mormons

Speaking from personal experience, receiving all of this information about the LDS Church and Mormon faith can be slightly overwhelming and hard to understand. As Christians, our hearts should desire to share the true Gospel of Christ with those following the LDS Church because they do not know the true freedom found in the Jesus of the Bible. Mormons are taken by the mentality of living a good life and pursuing Christ-likeness in order to achieve deification.

Scripture

Christians stand firm on the belief that Scripture is the living Word of God (Heb. 4:12). The Bible contains sixty-six books separated into the Old and New Testaments. It is the direct revelation from God and serves as the supreme and inerrant authority, guiding both what we believe and how we live (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 5:18). Unlike the LDS Church, which has multiple authoritative books/scripture, the evangelical Christian does not recognize any other document or book as holding authority.

The Trinity

Christians believe that there is one God eternally existing as one essence and three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God (Matthew 3:16-17, Matthew 28:19). As Christians, we believe in the full participation of each member of the Trinity and the active participation of each of them at work in the world today. Jesus was both fully man and fully God, having a dual nature, and now sits at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34). This is different from the LDS belief that the Godhead contains three separate gods, who developed into individual deities at different times prior to creation.

Salvation

Evangelical Christians believe that salvation comes solely by the grace God shows us and through our faith in Christ. Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6).

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

He lived a perfect life on our behalf in order to be a “Lamb without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). Without Jesus being divine, He could not have atoned for the sins of the whole world. 

For it is by grace you have been saved and that is not from yourselves. If it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. – Eph. 2:8-9

Nature of Humanity

Biblically, Christians teach that we are all children of God through faith and spiritual adoption occurs when we put our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 9:8, Jn 1:12-13). Man in his nature is sinful but has eternity placed in his heart. His heart will never find rest in the empty things he pursues until he finds rest in God (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Man cannot consider spiritual things because they are folly to him; but once the Spirit resides in him, man can begin to be reshaped by God into the sanctified image of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14). Contrary to LDS belief, God does not offer us laws today to follow in order to return to a higher estate or advance in position, but rather our faith is built on the finished work displayed on the Cross and our sonship through Christ’s shed blood (Gal. 3:26).

Guidelines/Tips for Engaging with the Gospel

If/when the opportunity arises for you to talk with and engage with a Mormon, a few tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Be in a spirit of prayer (Eph. 6:18, Rom. 8:26). Since you have the chance to discuss theological topics with a Mormon, be prayerful about how to share with them in a way that is kind and considerate of your role as an ambassador of Christ.
  2. Be respectful. Remember that you do not know everything, but by being willing to ask questions and to build rapport with someone, you increase the likelihood of them listening to what you believe.
  3. Use a KJV Bible when witnessing to Mormons since this is the only translation they hold to be true and not edited/misconstrued by humans.
  4. Familiarize yourself with and know basic LDS beliefs so you have prior knowledge before they begin to share with you. Here is a good website that compares doctrines within the Christian faith and the LDS Church.
  5. Start with common ground and a spirit of humility (Col. 3:12). Refer to the Gospel’s distinctive points above and think about where your beliefs overlap with Mormons.
  6. Share your story of coming to saving faith because testimony is a huge point of discussion for LDS members. Since Mormons have such a strong belief and foundation in their purpose as “spirit children”, sharing with them your beliefs and standards on creation can be a good connection point.

 

Further Resources

Official LDS website – https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/comeuntochrist/believe?lang=eng

“About Us.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 2021, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/about-us?lang=eng. 

Bushman, Richard Lyman. Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Jackson, Andrew. Mormonism Explained: What Latter-Day Saints Teach and Practice. Crossway Books, 2008.

Nelson, President Russell M., et al. “Becoming Like God.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng.

“Pearl of Great Price.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/pearl-of-great-price?lang=eng.

What is Mormonism? History & Beliefs (Part 1)

We’re your neighbors, friends, and family members–a community of believers trying to be a little better each day with Jesus Christ’s help.

This is the motto of the Church of Latter-Day Saints of Jesus, possibly more recognized as the religion of Mormonism. Today, the official number of memberships for the LDS Church rounds out at just over sixteen million with over 30,000 congregations in more than 160 countries and territories. You may be asking yourself, “Wait. Are these the people who come to my door, trying to witness to me? The answer is yes, but, in reality, Mormonism goes well beyond a simple knock on the door and is much deeper.

In Part 1 on Mormonism, I hope to provide some background information and a theological foundation in order for you to understand a Mormon’s beliefs and position in “religion”. Part 2 will contain information and suggestions of techniques and biblical starting points in hopes to engage a Mormon with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

History of the Religion

The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is unique and imperative to the foundations of what they believe. In 1823, Joseph Smith, a regular man turned prophet, was believed to have been led by an angel to ancient records and instructed to translate them by the power of God. Like the ancient prophets who came before him, Joseph supposedly served as God’s messenger and testified of Jesus Christ’s atonement and the Savior’s ability to change our lives for good. The holy text, apparently engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, told the story of Israelite people who had lived in America in ancient times. The religion sprouted communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Joseph and his brother were murdered, and the Christian sect was heavily persecuted. Brigham Young became Smith’s successor and led a mass migration of persecuted Mormons and finally settled in Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Today the area is known as Temple Square and the area is constructed so that the followers of the LDS Church always know how far they are from the temple downtown.

Scripture

The key books and scriptures for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are: The Book of Mormon (more historical; stories of Jesus in North America among the natives), The Bible (KJV only), Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, Continuing Revelation (unwritten from the current top 15 leaders). Joseph Smith claimed revelation, wrote scripture, and declared direct authority from God, as angels visited and gave him their powers. The Book of Mormon was created from the process of translated characters on the golden plates, which was a form of Hebrew written in Egyptian script. One of the simplest definitions of the Pearl of Great Price is that it is one of the standard works for the LDS Church and is a diverse collection of translations, narrations, and revelations written by Joseph Smith from 1830 to 1842. According to the Mormons’ ninth Article of Faith creedal statement, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Pearl of Great Price, 60).

God

Those who claim to be Latter-Day Saints would clarify that God, referred to as Elohim, is the father of the universe and each person’s spirit; however, he is not the ultimate god of the cosmos (Num. 16:22; Heb. 12:9). Elohim was not always a god, but became one by growing up a good Mormon, marrying and having children. He has physical skin and bones and grew up on a planet called Kolob (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:9). After his death, he inherited his own “sphere of existence” (ie. planet earth) and planned everything from there.
Mankind has a special relationship to God that sets man apart from all other created things: men and women are God’s spirit children. Mormons believe that the earth is a testing place for mortal men. In a discourse with Moses, God exclaims, “For behold, this is my word and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39). “According to Mormonism, everything in the universe is governed by eternal transcendent laws and principles; God himself is also governed by laws” (Andrew Jackson). Mormon theology regarding cosmology and God is in sharp contrast to the Christian ideal that God is above all things and continues to hold all things together.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

Jesus

Christ is considered the firstborn of the spirit child of Heavenly Father (Elohim) and Heavenly Mother, and he is referred to as Jehovah. At first, Jehovah was not Jesus Christ, but just a spirit child and his brother was another spirit child named Lucifer. Elohim told them the plan of salvation and Jehovah agreed to be the savior needed to provide salvation. However, there was conflict and Lucifer changed into Satan as Jehovah battled him. Jehovah defeated Lucifer, along with a third of the heavenly spirit children. They were changed into Satan and demons. Jehovah became Jesus the Messiah after the battle. From Jesus’ birth until his ascension, Mormons and Christians hold to very similar beliefs about Jesus and His life.

The majority of Mormons do not accept the traditional interpretation of the Bible as embodied in the creeds of Christendom, but do believe that Christ is the divine Son of God who died for humanity’s sin, was resurrected, and sits on the right hand of God (Rom. 8:34). A practicing Mormon, Richard Bushman states, “Mormons believe in what is sometimes called ‘social trinitarianism’ meaning the three beings of the Godhead are blended in heart and mind like extremely close friends but are not one being. That is to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three totally separate gods that progressed and developed into individual deities at different times prior to creation”. The LDS Godhead is not Christian Trinitarianism but rather is Mormon Tritheism.

Salvation

A central principle of Mormonism is the belief in the ongoing revelation and changeable nature of official LDS doctrine. As the prophets and apostles head the church, they receive revelation for the management of the church affairs and their word is taken over the written Bible. Salvation for a Mormon comes through these five things: (1) faith in LDS Jesus, (2) belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet, (3) baptism into the LDS Church, (4) obeying all that Elohim has commanded, (5) participating in secret temple ceremonies. Ultimately, Jesus’ atonement does not save or secure salvation, but secures the opportunity for salvation, if one obeys LDS teachings.

After death, Mormons believe in a Paradise of a Spirit Prison and final “states” which divide into three kingdoms. The first Kingdom is the Celestial, which is for those who become like God. Traditionally you become divine and receive a planet of your own. The second Kingdom is Terrestrial with the honorable people who had been deceived and are not valiant enough for Celestial. Lastly, the third Kingdom is the Telestial which is for liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and those of indescribable glory. However, keep in mind that each Mormon most likely has a different answer to what the role of both “grace” and “works” plays in salvation and impact on which Kingdom one will go to after death.

Nature of Humanity

The LDS Church holds to a belief in a premortal existence before birth and that human personality and intelligence have always been. When God created humans or spirit beings, he used this pre-existing matter so that we would strive to become like him as our “Father”. In the Pearl of Great Price, the Mormonism account of creation has an addendum which is not seen in the Genesis Creation account. Moses 3:7 describes the creation of man, “And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. The first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to the word”.

Mormonism teaches that finite humans can progress into infinite gods as the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit once did; signifying that humans and gods possess the same essential eternal nature (human deification and exaltation). President Russell Nelson of the LDS Church states this teaching “expresses for the Latter-Day Saints a yearning rooted in the Bible to live as God lives, to love as He loves, and to prepare for all that our loving Father in Heaven wishes for His children.” Christians advocate that through the eternal grace and power of Jesus Christ that we will become “like God” through salvation transformation, which is radically different from Mormon version of becoming “equal to God” (Jackson) (Titus 3:7) (Heb. 6:19) (2 Peter 1:4) (Romans 1:18-32).

Sharing the Gospel with a Muslim

Islam is one of the largest religions in the world yet one of the least understood by many Christians. In fact, a couple of years ago, I only knew a few details about Muslims, but in general, I used to avoid them and viewed them as hostile radicals. It wasn’t until a dear brother in Christ invited me to take a course on how to share the gospel with your Muslim neighbor, that I began to see them as they really are.

My favorite part of this course was that we not only gained knowledge and information, but every afternoon we went out into the city to meet people of the Muslim faith. We went from the mosque to their businesses, and even had the opportunity to go into their homes. I was surprised when I realized that viewing them as generally hostile people was found to be false.

In fact, they were very kind and hospitable—and the more I learned about them, there was this burden in my heart for them to know the Lord. I was amazed at how dedicated Muslims are to their religion. It made me sad that they are trying to please God when their religious traditions and practices are so far from the truth. Muslims are working tirelessly trying to earn their salvation through their own works. 

It is important to know some information on Islam so that you will be able to testify to Muslims if you have the opportunity. While you have probably heard about them or see one in your local community, it is important to recall that not all of them are terrorists as media portrays them, in fact the majority of them are just trying to follow the teaching of their holy book the Quran; but before we dive into more specific details, let’s see some important words that you need to understand.

First, a Muslim is a person who practices Islam. Islam is a religion like Judaism or Buddhism. Not all the Muslims come from the Middle East, in fact the most populated Muslim country in the world is Indonesia.  We also need to know that not all Arabs or people from the Middle East are Muslims, they can be Christian or other religions as well. There are two types of Isalm: the Sunnis and Shiites. Depending on those two groups, there are different beliefs in how they understand the Quran and practice Islam. In Arabic, “Allah” means God. They believe there is only one God, as we believe, but have many beliefs that differ from us when we talk about God. 

Muhammad is the prophet for the Muslims. He lived 600 years after Christ and he was from the Arab peninsula. Muhammad was influenced by the teachings of Christianity and Judaism and founded the religion of Islam. He said that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a cave and revealed the Quran, which is their holy book. This is only a glimpse of the major aspects of Islam, because there is much to cover, but for now we can work with what we know.

Why Testify to the Muslims?

If this is a question you have, I encourage you to take a look at these three points on why it is important to testify to Muslims. One of the main concerns that believers may have is that it can be challenging to speak to or share the gospel with Muslims, but in reality they are just like any other people, blinded by the lies of Satan. We believers should have a burden for every person who is trying to seek God but using the wrong approach to do so.

The Bible Encourages Us to Share the Gospel

One key verse when we look at the subject of sharing the gospel, is Matthew 28:19, but we always look at it in the broad sense. Let’s take a look at this verse from another perspective.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
-Matthew 28:19

I’m sure you have read this passage before, but it is interesting to see the word Nations in the Greek. In Greek, nations is translated from ἔθνος (Ethnos), which can also mean people group or as some scholars translate it properly, “people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” And if we look at this translation, many Muslims are just that: they are the largest people group in the world, joined by culture and religion. So, there is a clear command from the Bible to preach to them! It is also important to acknowledge that not all of the church is trying to reach the Muslims. 

One of the challenges we may face is that we think that Muslims only live in the Middle East, in Africa or Asia, but let me tell you, there are Muslims all over the world. According to Pew Forum, in 2017 there were an estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the United States and 1.8 billion around the world. Now we have an advantage, Muslims from all over the world are here. They study with us, they are living in our communities, they go to the same school, they are exposed to the same culture, and there is no language barrier. It is the perfect opportunity to reach them. 

Jesus Loves the Muslims and He Died for Them

When you meet a Muslim, you must remember one key verse that we all as Christians learned very early in our faith.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
-John 3:16

Yes, we must remember that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, and that we can be a tool of God for sharing the wonderful news of the gospel. This wonderful news is a promise for them, and we as Christians should use the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to share the gospel with them, now we do not need to travel to the Middle East. They are here and we can use that as an opportunity for the glory of God. 

You May Be the First Person Ever to Share the Gospel with Them

Even though they may live in America or in a western country, Islam is a very closed religion. For a Muslim (those who really practice the teaching of the Quran) there’s no difference between culture and religion. For them being Muslim is everything. Islam is a religion of rules and there’s no place for the grace of God. For them God is an impersonal God way beyond our reach and He needs to be worshiped and served, and if you follow the teachings of the Quran maybe, just maybe, God will choose to let you into paradise. There is no assurance of salvation for a Muslim. There is no personal relationship with God. 

And this is why when you share the gospel with them you may be the first person ever to explain that salvation is a gift from God and that God loves them. Even if they do not become believers you are sharing something new to them, something that Islam does not offer. This can be an awesome opportunity, and I am sure that the joy it will bring to you is priceless. 

Like John Piper says,

If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.

I would like to remind you that sharing the gospel with a Muslim is not an easy task. One of the reasons for this is the problem that if a Muslim becomes a believer he needs to turn his back to his family, culture, and sometimes even his country. Even though all this is nothing compared to the riches found in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is one of the biggest barriers a Muslim faces when they come to Christ.

Key points that a Muslim Must Understand

Even before you come to the point to ask them if they would like to become a believer, your Muslim friend must understand several important points, For time’s sake, I am going to list only two that are for, in my understanding, most important. 

Why do Christians Believe that Jesus Is the Son of God?

For a Muslim, saying that Jesus is the Son of God literally means God is his physical father, not the way we understand it. It is imperative that we explain the virgin birth of Jesus; maybe you can show them Luke’s account of Christ’s birth:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.
-Luke 1:35

Make sure to remind them that the reason Jesus is called Son of God is because he comes from God. Another example or illustration you can use is that in Arabic the phrase “son of” is used to show a place of origin, for example people from Lebanon are called “son of Lebanon.” In Egypt it is very common to hear “son of the Nile.” We can use these examples to show a Muslim that Jesus is the Son of God because He came from God.

Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross? 

For a Muslim, Jesus did not die on the cross. They refuse to believe that a merciful God would kill a Prophet. For them, God disguised Judas Iscariot as Jesus and Judas was the one who died on the cross, not Jesus. They believe Jesus was hidden and then he went to heaven. There is a simple quranic verse we can use to prove that Jesus really died. Surah 19:33 is Jesus speaking and according to the quran he talks about his death, “And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.” 

We can use this verse and ask them about what they think about that. After that you can read with them Isaiah 53 and ask them who they think the verse is talking about. You can show them how this passage points to Jesus and tell them the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Explain to them that Jesus was the Lamb. Read to them this passage from John:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
-John 1:29

This verse also talks about the Lamb of God. Explain to them why the death of Jesus on the cross is so important; you can use illustrations such as a judge and a jury and how Jesus is our only solution when we are judged by a just God.

God Can Use You to Share the Good News to the Muslims.

I encourage you to keep researching on this subject to be able to be fully prepare to share the gospel to a Muslim. We only covered the basics, but even though you do not know everything about Islam, you are capable by the Holy Spirit to share to any Muslim. Take into consideration that we do not want to argue with them like Paul encourage us in 1 Peter:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
-1 Peter 3:15

As we share the gospel with them let us not forget that the word of God is powerful to change every heart and that Jesus loves every Muslim. We can share that love by our example, love, and by showing them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Cosmic Battle for the Family

As a father goes, so goes the household. And as the household goes, so goes society.
-Michael Foster

Fathers are essential to families. Men leading by Christian virtue is essential to fatherhood. And godly families are essential to having a good society. The culture at large would have us believe otherwise, but if God created the institution of family, does he not have the authority to say how it ought to be? God has an intended design for what man and woman are and what a family and its purpose is. Satan has been at work in our society, seeking to destroy its foundation. If Christians are going to win the cosmic battle for the family then we need to make a few observations:

  • God’s design of man and woman for marriage is the only design that works.
  • Fathers are integral to a child’s development and the family’s stability.
  • Sex is a sacred act, given by God as a gift within His parameters.

The secular world will never admit these facts. Rather than seeking to encourage strong families, there are forces at play that propagate its very destruction. We see this firstly in the attack on design.

Attack on Design

God implemented the institution of the family at the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Going through Genesis we see that God’s intended design for marriage was the joining together of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24) with the mission to “be fruitful and multiply” and to take dominion over all the Earth (Gen. 1:28).

Satan has been attacking God’s design for the family ever since sin entered the world. In America, we have seen the degeneration of biblical marriage and biblically-informed ideas about family. In the past few decades alone, this country has legalized no-fault divorce, gay marriage, and abortion. Notice that the legalization of these three things is intimately tied to the institution of family:

  • No-fault divorce reduces the meaning of wedding vows and a marriage covenant.
  • Gay marriage is antithetical to the true nature and purpose of marriage.
  • Abortion attacks our God-given mandate to bear fruit and multiply and eliminates the consequences of fornication.

Why is Satan so focused on tearing down God’s family design? It’s because he knows that there is power in God’s people coming together and faithfully creating the next generation of God-worshippers. And when that generation grows up living for Christ, they continue the pattern of creating the next God-fearing generation. The fight for the sanctity of God’s design of marriage and family is a cosmic battle that we need to fight together.

Attack on Men

There has been a multi-generational attack on biblical manhood that is most noticeable in our culture today. The number of examples that could be given on this topic would take a large series of articles to fully analyze. Suffice it to say, masculinity is demonized in our culture. But it takes biblically masculine men to lead their families in following after Christ.

This is because a father is designed to create stability and structure within their family. But when a father is absent from their family, the mother ends up bearing responsibility that she was not originally intended to bear. The impacts of absentee fathers are various but are most noticeable in their children. Multiple studies have shown that children growing up without a father in the household are influenced to such a degree that it correlates with their development, behavior, and even their economic situation.

All this to say that having Christian men leading their homes is vitally important. It’s important to God and it’s important to having a faithful, God-fearing society. This is why we need to encourage biblical masculinity in men.

Let it not go unmentioned that encouraging biblical femininity in women is essential to God’s design and purpose for family as well. While the scope of this article is primarily centered around fathers, motherhood ought to be recognized for the powerful role that it plays in a family as well. Children that grow up without a mother suffer similarly to children that grow up without a father. Mother and fathers are equally essential to raising a family in the way that God intended.

Attack on Sex

Being a man isn’t just about being masculine, though. If that masculinity isn’t accompanied by virtue then the result is selfish men seeking to please their lustful desires.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
-1 Thess. 4:3-5

God intended for us, men and women, to have great self-control over our sinful desires. But Satan has influenced the majority of culture today to give in to whatever “feels good” to us at the moment. Our culture views pre-marital sex as the norm and shames those who refrain from it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, for even in Paul’s day people approved those who practiced sexual immorality (Rom. 1:32).

The perversion of sex in our culture has led to the tragedy of abortion. Men and women seek to escape the consequences of their actions by murdering their children. Children are gifts from the Lord (Ps. 127:3) and ought to be cherished. Every Christian should be united in fighting against this horror. 

Satan has strategically attacked the God-given mandate to be fruitful and multiply by influencing the widespread approval of legal child-murder. This has no doubt encouraged pre-marital sex and distorted God’s design for biblical sex. This is why we must be led by the word of God, grow in self-control, and stand up for truth at all costs.

Imminent Victory

Regardless of rampant fatherlessness, the deconstruction of the family, or the legal murder of children, Jesus Christ is Lord over everything. He is sovereign and is bringing all things under His rule (Ps. 110:1). It is because Christ sits at the right hand of the Father that we can faithfully and confidently proclaim the good news of the gospel. As God works through His people to confront the culture with His good news, we can rest assured that we are not fighting an uphill battle. Jesus Christ is King and already has the victory secured for us.

Rules of Engagement

Practically, Christians can be doing things to further the gospel and God’s design for the family. Bringing the gospel to the front lines of abortion mills is vital. Countless children have been saved at the hands of Christians who go to the clinics and plead for life.

We can also always seek to grow in holiness and purity, remembering that it is Christ who gives us that very power to will and work for His pleasure (Phil 2:13).

Christians should hope to see societal improvement. Since the dawn of creation, God gave us the mandate to take dominion over the earth. This is one of the reasons that He created the institution of the family. God’s word has a lot to say about the nature and purpose of family, and our worldview should be informed by His word. We are currently in a war of worldviews, so it is important to think through these things with Scripture as our foundation.

If Christians want to honor our Lord in this cosmic battle for the family, we must trust in the Father who will never abandon His children, and go forth bearing the message of His Son who came to save rebels like you and me.

C.S. Lewis, Modernism, and the Great War

The War to End All Wars

The nineteenth century was the age of optimism and change. Inventions such as the telephone, the light bulb, and the automobile were quickly adopted all over the world. As Lewis and Clark set out west, Manifest Destiny, the doctrine of American expansionism, was in full flight. Prized works of literature, such as Moby Dick and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, embodied the Western spirit. Although these examples of change inevitably spurred devastation, the tone of the cheerful nineteenth century greatly contrasted that of the somber twentieth.

The First World War brought an end to the optimism of the nineteenth century. The “Great War” was the disastrous culmination of eighteenth-century tactics—charge and short-range assaults—and nineteenth-century mechanization. Military expositions were often characterized by the use of advanced weaponry, such as machine guns and flamethrowers, and unsophisticated assaults on the enemy. Trench warfare had drastic effects on human health and mind. The muddied conditions of the trenches were often responsible for causing infections and tragic diseases, including mental debilitations. 

The unfortunate irony is this: The same technological advances that propelled the West into a golden age of optimism and progress were transformed into the weapons that shattered the human psyche. 

Modernism: A Reaction to Horror 

Modernism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that sought to make sense of the First World War and other tragic realities. In literature, modernism was tethered to the “Lost Generation” of poets and novelists. They were deemed “lost” due to their propensity to behave apathetically, fixating all desires on the reckless accumulation of wealth. 

One of the most specific attributes of literary modernism was nihilism, the rejection of all religious and moral principles. Novels such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises are quintessential works of modernism and nihilism, as the main characters throw themselves into a slough of hedonistic parties and pleasures. Rather than promoting personal creativity, modernists believed that traditional morality restricted human emotion. Instead of submitting to the historical understandings of morality and religion that are, assumably, rooted in hypocrisy, humans must trust their own inclinations—inclinations of natural expression and subjective moral standards—if they are truly to be happy. 

Modernism, also, was a radical approach to understanding the corruptibility of Western society—a corruptibility that was tethered to the vitalization of technology and change. As the twentieth century made incredible progress in the areas of science, automation, and mechanization, many sought to adopt philosophies that made sense of contemporary innovation, as well as the horrors of that innovation. Many believed that Christianity was not fit to access contemporary issues, nor could it adapt to the progress of the twentieth century. 

C.S. Lewis: From Nihilism to Joy

It is silly to suggest that Lewis did not succumb to the intellectual tension of his day. The young Lewis had his own encounter with the conflict that facilitated these existential anxieties. In the trenches, the boy from Belfast wrote poetry. Lewis’ wartime poems, Spirits in Bondage, reflect the modernist attitude towards moral authority and his cynical, albeit atheistic, outlook on nature:

I am Nature, the Mighty Mother,
I am the law: ye have none other.
I am the battle’s filth and strain,
I am the widow’s empty pain.
I am the sea to smother your breath,
I am the bomb, the falling death. 

Lewis’ career in wartime poetry would soon come to an end. On the offensive, Lewis witnessed the gruesome death of a fellow sergeant, while also taking shrapnel to his wrist, upper ribs, and left lung. He was deemed critically wounded and sent back to England. 

Lewis’ near-death experience would not make an insincere convert. His journey to faith, like that of St. Augustine, would be a long one. Lewis, the formidable Oxford scholar, was grounded in the atheism of his teenage years and invigorated by his academic stature. Despite his egotism, the “Hound of Heaven,” as Lewis called God, would have His way. Soon, Lewis was the most “dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.” 

The Fight Against Modernism 

Lewis used his remarkable wit and creative talent to fight modernism and the hedonistic tone of the literature of his day. The modernist belief, as we have previously discussed, is that traditional forms of morality restricted emotion, freedom, and the human spirit. Christianity could not keep up with the times, as it was believed to limit natural expression. During his period of atheism, Lewis concluded that imagination and reason were at odds. Imagination was edging him onto belief, while reason suppressed that belief. Lewis reflects upon this tension in his autobiography:

The two hemispheres of my mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-islanded sea of poetry and myth; on the other a glib and shallow ‘rationalism.’ Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless.

One of Lewis’ greatest rejections of modernism, along with the truth that brought him to faith, was that imagination and reason are not mutually exclusive realities—they inform one another. Lewis argues that reason is the vessel of truth and the “imagination is the organ of meaning.” We cannot fully grasp the meaning of a concept until an image is applied to that concept. Lewis affirmed that it is the same with the gospel message, as we see with Christ’s use of parables. The Chronicles of Narnia provide images of Christ’s death and resurrection, via the character of Aslan, to bolster our perception of Christ, while also fighting the ultra-rationalism of the time. The Chronicles, not exclusively, intermix traditional Christianity with creativity and expression—challenging the modernist idea that morality negates expression. 

In combating the nihilistic attitudes of his fellow novelists, Lewis combines hope and truth. Take, for example, the most important scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise—a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant’s plate. “I—I feel afraid to turn round,” said Susan; “something awful is happening.” The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan… They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane stood Aslan himself.

It is Lewis’s belief that the spiritual lens of a child will reveal truths, in a way, that our aged perspectives cannot. One of his many solutions to the problem of modernistic-nihilism is the appeal to youthful fantasy. We often forget that there is great wonder in appreciating the simplicity of childhood, and Lewis reminds us of this truth better than anyone. His theological fantasies, especially this very scene, appeal to imaginative faculties that our mundane rationalizations fail to excite. By tethering the emotions of the reader to the spirit of his characters, Lewis instills in us the truth that the creative soul and theological orthodoxy do not negate one another. 

Walk as Children 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states: 

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…”
-Matthew 18:2-5

We are called to be of the spirit of children, says the Lord. We often forget that Christ, being the embodiment of what he says, is the ultimate representation of childlikeness. While fighting the cynicism—cynicism being the opposite of childlikeness—of the twentieth century, Lewis harkens back to the simplicity of the gospel message, and he delivers this message in the form of imaginative, childlike fantasies. 

In the preface to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis says, “But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” The irony is this: No matter how old we grow, we should never outgrow being spiritual children.

Christian Theology and Plato’s Natural Law

Plato’s Minos is an ancient contribution to the subjects of legal philosophy and natural law. The Minos dialogue uses classical thought as a way to discuss what would later become the Christian idea of a supreme lawgiver. Written well before the time of Christ, this connection was not intentional. Yet, the presence of this relationship may bolster the Christian’s confidence in a natural lawgiver. 

Introduction: What is Law? 

The dialogue begins with Socrates—Socrates is used as a character in Plato’s dialogues—asking the question, “What is law, for us?” or “What is law, among us?” Broadly, Socrates is referring to the idea of law itself. Oftentimes, the companion, or interlocutor, will mistake Socrates for discussing specific laws. The philosopher’s question pertains to discovering the meaning of law itself. In response to the initial question, Socrates’ interlocutor concludes that the law is “those things held customarily” and “the resolution of the city.” The interlocutor is fixated on the idea that, because laws will vary by time and place, the law is nothing more than the culmination of social, political, and cultural opinion. 

In an initial attempt to dissuade the interlocutor away from his opinion, Socrates gives his definition of the law as such: “The law wishes to be the discovery of what it is.” Through this statement, Socrates is asserting that the law is not dependent upon any social or political factor. The law is only dependent upon its own existence. In the following scenarios, Socrates attempts to defend his definition of the law while also looking to expel the notion that the law is reliant upon outside factors. 

Scenario One: “Socrates! What laws are you talking about?!?” 

The companion seems thoroughly confused by Socrates’ initial question. Understandably, we may sympathize. So, the companion asks, “What sort of laws are you talking about?” Socrates does not give him a direct answer. Although the following is a direct response to this inquiry, it can also be considered a refutation of the companion’s definition of the law as nothing more than what is conventionally accepted.

Socrates uses the metaphor of discerning the substances of gold and rock. In distinguishing between the two, one will perceive a certain “goldness” and identify gold. In the same way, one will perceive a certain “rockness” and identity rock. Simply, the way in which all people perceive “goldness” and identify gold is the same route that all people take in identifying the law. Because every individual identifies law in the same manner, Socrates promotes the idea that all laws, no matter how they fluctuate in different contexts, can be apprehended as “law to some degree.” In answering the interlocutor’s question rhetorically, Socrates promotes the idea that all people instinctively recognize the law by its mere existence. 

Scenario Two: The Noble and Shameful Things 

Socrates’s next argument revolves around his statement that “the noble things, as is likely, are everywhere lawfully accepted as noble and the shameful things as shameful but not the shameful things as noble or the noble things as shameful.” The interlocutor seems to understand this statement as meaning, “the very things that are noble in one place are also noble in another,” and, “the very things that are shameful in one place are shameful in another.” In defense of his argument, the companion references the differences in the law of human sacrifice among the Carthaginians and the Athenians. Because laws differ in various contexts, the companion exclaims that he cannot be persuaded. 

Yet, he misunderstands what Socrates means by his statement that “the noble things… are everywhere lawfully accepted as noble…” Socrates is affirming that, in every society, some things are accepted as noble and some things are deemed shameful. Although what is considered noble and shameful varies, there is still a universal acceptance of nobility and shamefulness. In other words, there is not one society that does not have ideas of right or wrong.

Scenario Three: The Meaning of “True” Law 

Socrates’ final argument is dependant upon the understanding of “true” law as the laws that are constructed by those who have wisdom or knowledge. Possession of the attributes of wisdom and knowledge qualifies the law as something that is valid. Inversely, laws that are established under the authority of those who lack wisdom may not be laws at all, or at least not good or valid laws. This allows for an explicit distinction between “true law” and “pseudo-law.” Socrates states that “what is correct is kingly law, while what is not correct—what seems to be law to those who don’t know—is not.” 

Socrates seems to imply that “kingly” or “true” law—laws established by those who have expertise in the appropriate disciplines—is similarly understood as such: “The laws of the shepherd are best for the sheep.” Socrates is asserting that “kingly” or “true” law is meant to be in the best interest of the human soul. Just as a shepherd knows and tends to his sheep in a manner that is favorable to them, so the lawmaker must do the same with civilians. Because true law is established under the authority of experts and therefore beneficial to the human experience, the law cannot be defined as an arbitrary culmination of conventionally accepted social, political, and cultural ideals.

Natural Law and Christian Theology

The idea of natural law is ingrained into the Declaration of Independence and, more broadly, the American spirit. In a nutshell, the theory of natural law refers to the idea that there exists a universal body of unchanging moral principles. Thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wrote extensively on the subject, which, of course, explains the concept’s circulation in history. So, who coined the term? Scholars are not entirely sure. Yet, when we look at the “Minos” dialogue, there remains a curious, pre-Christianized version of natural law. 

Socrates’ sentiment that all people recognize “law to some degree” parallels with St. Augustine’s belief that “natural law… [is] inscribed upon the rational soul.” Both of these statements are intended to convey the truth that all people understand a universal system of law. St. Thomas Aquinas furthers this conviction when he states that all people are rational beings. Because both philosophers conclude that all individuals are able to behave in a way that is rational to their natural state, all human beings can discern between the “noble and shameful things.” Augustine’s idea of natural law echoes St. Paul in Paul’s letter to the Romans: 

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
-Romans 2:14 

But, how exactly do all people have the rationality—I use this term intentionally—to discern between right and wrong? Surely it is not because of the interlocutor’s idea that law—that is, the law as mere opinion—has been randomly impressed on our hearts through some mixture of cultural awareness and social experimentation. There must be a natural lawgiver. St. Augustine would conclude that all human beings know the “noble and shameful things” because “God has written the law of nature in the hearts of men.” 

When following this course of reasoning, the Almighty proves to be the expert lawgiver. In fact, Socrates’ use of the metaphor between a shepherd and his sheep—this metaphor is used to promote the idea that “true” law is established under the council of experts—elicits numerous parallels with the Christian Scriptures (c.f. Psalm 95:7; 1 Peter 5:2; John 10:11-13). Just as Socrates concludes that the shepherd is the expert, lawful provider for his sheep, so God is such a lawful provider for all of humanity. This Augustinian claim is finalized by St. Paul when he states that: 

They [all people] show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.
-Romans 2:15 

Plato’s Natural Law and the Christian

The irony is this: By asserting that all societies hold to some form of right and wrong, the “pagans” of ancient Greece philosophized a way to affirm Paul’s belief that all are aware of their wrongdoings. This is because God has done the work of writing the law “upon the rational soul.” The Platonic idea of natural law glorifies the Righteous Lawgiver. The combined philosophical and theological conclusions of Aquinas, Augustine, and Plato point the reader to a reassuring version of natural law and Christianity. In that, Plato’s case for the idea of natural law helps philosophically defend the Christian conception of moral universalismmoral universalism in the sense that all people know and have some form of morality. The genius of Plato has brought forth some light of understanding to the Christian world. Plato’s Minos dialogue gives us the philosophical tools to combat the question of natural law and approach the Scriptures. 

Furthermore, the existence of a pre-Christian idea of natural law should bolster the Christian’s confidence in God’s providential revelation of moral truth. God’s truth is ultimately laid out in the Scripture yet aspects of it can also be experienced in the natural world. In conclusion, moral truth has been providentially interwinted into the writings of Plato and is, therefore, an encouragement to the Christian.

Do Oneness Pentecostals Worship the God of the Bible?

Have you ever met someone who identifies themselves as Christian, yet they reject Trinitarianism outright? Many of these individuals embrace what is known as “Oneness” instead of Trinitarianism. First, I should elucidate what I mean by “Trinity.” To say that God is triune is to say that there are three persons who are unified in the one being of God. God is one and God is three. He is not one in the same way that He is three, so this is not a contradiction. There are two things we need to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. 

One God, Three Persons

First, Christians believe the Trinity because the Bible teaches that there is one God and one God only. Passages such as Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 96:5 and Isaiah 43:10 teach this truth unapologetically. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
– Deuteronomy 6:4

Secondly, the Bible teaches that there are three distinct persons who share in the one being who is God. Dr. James White does well to define “person” in the biblical sense. According to Dr. White, a distinct person has the “ability to have emotion, will, to express oneself.” Scripture shows that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have the capacity to express themselves. 

They each also have a will and the ability to have emotion. Each of the persons of the Trinity is referred to as God (Ephesians 1:2, Romans 9:6, Acts 5:1-4). The Bible emphatically declares that there is one God and there are three distinct persons within that one God. Trinitarianism is not some illogical fabrication of men, but it is purely biblical.

Oneness Theology Defined

In an effort to let the proponents of Oneness define their own position, I listened to Roger Perkins, one of their leading apologists, debate Dr. James White. Perkins argues,

Oneness people understand the New Testament distinctions between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which we readily concede, as arising in the incarnation [of Jesus]. This explains why we never see Father and Son distinctions in the Old Testament.

We see that they deny that Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit were distinct in any way from the Father prior to New Testament events. Keep in mind that Oneness theology is not teaching there are three distinct persons as Trinitarians do, but rather, one divine person working in three distinct roles. 

Believers of Oneness theology think Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Spirit, and the Father is the Spirit. Note that Perkins believes these distinctions arose in the incarnation of Christ and not before. Boldly, he also asserts the Old Testament writings do not distinguish between the Father and the Son. This makes sense considering Perkins does not believe God assumed roles as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before events detailed in the New Testament. 

Oneness beliefs can be described as a form of Modalism which teaches that God is both one in being and person as opposed to three persons. They believe one person takes on three different forms or modes (Father, Son, or Spirit). In his article, The Son Had His Beginning By His Begetting, Oneness apologist Steven Ritchie makes the two following statements, 

Oneness theologians agree that the true identity of the Son is the Spirit of Yahweh [,] God the Creator [,] before the Holy Spirit became incarnate as the human child born and Son given.

Hence, the Father’s own Name (Yahweh) was given to the Son at a specific point in time because the angel gave the Son’s name to Joseph (“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus [Jesus means ‘Yahweh Saves’], for He will save His people from their sins”) Therefore the Holy Spirit of the only true God miraculously became a man at a specific point in time as the child born and son given within the virgin in order to “save His people from their sins.”

What’s the Difference?

Trinitarians believe that in eternity past, God was one being shared by three coequal, coeternal persons. None of the persons ever came into existence, as they have always existed. None of the persons plays the role of any of the other persons. The Father has always been the Father, the Son has always been the Son who obeys the Father (John 5:19), and the Holy Spirit has always been the Holy Spirit who is sent by the Father (John 14:15-17). They all share fully in the one, infinite being that is God. That is why each of them can accurately be called God.

In contrast, Oneness believers do not believe Jesus and the Holy Spirit have always existed. They would say that there is only one person in the infinite being of God (instead of three persons). Oneness advocates would argue that this one person took the form of the Father in the Old Testament, the Son in the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. Some will contend that He places some of these roles simultaneously. A discussion of these claims will take place below, along with a brief argument for the Trinity.

Old Testament: Allusions to the Trinity

Two of the clearest passages which reveal the Trinity in the Old Testament are Psalm 110:1 and Isaiah 48:16-17. Let’s look at the first verse of Psalm 110:

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
– Psalm 110:1

In this verse, we have a clear demonstration of “the Lord,” who can only be identified as God in this passage, conversing with another whom David refers to as His personal Lord. The context, which we cannot explore here, grants us every reason to believe the second “Lord” here is God too. As I mentioned before, a distinct person has “emotion, will, [and the ability] to express oneself.” We see that the first Lord has a will (to make the other Lord’s enemies His footstool), and the ability to express Himself (He is expressing Himself to the other Lord). Please note that the Lord asks the Lord to sit at His right hand. How can the Lord ask the Lord to take a different position in relation to Himself if they are not different persons? 

After reading this passage, we can only conclude that these “Lord[s]” are two distinct persons. The only alternative is to believe God is talking to Himself about how He is going to defeat His enemies for Himself. They must also unreasonably believe He is telling Himself to sit beside Himself. Believers of Oneness theology must impose their theology onto the text here instead of reading it for what it really says. It is also important that Christ quotes this verse in Matthew 22:41-45 while conversing with the Pharisees. Quoting the verse, Christ points out His existence, before His incarnation, as David’s Lord when Psalm 110 was written, and now He has entered creation as David’s descendant, or “son.”

New Testament: The Trinity Revealed

Passages that show Christ’s eternal existence refute the Oneness theological position. Such verses prove that, before the incarnation, there is a distinction in the Godhead between the Father and the Son. Not only does this rebut the Oneness position, but it also provides evidence for the Trinity. Clearer evidence can be found in John 1:1-3, 14. John writes,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The first thing we should notice here is the “Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Since the Word is identified as God and is said to be with God, the reader should infer that the verse is communicating that God was with God. “With” is used to explain how things relate to one another, and never how something relates to itself. This implies two different persons. Next, we see that the Word was in the beginning with God. From this, we should understand that the Word (who is identified as God) is eternal and has always been distinct from God (identified as the Father later in this same chapter). The Word is in the beginning with God also means the Word existed prior to the incarnation. Verse 14 identifies Jesus as the Word, saying “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” We must believe all the attributes of the Word belong to Jesus, because we know Jesus is the Word.

According to this passage, He is God and He is a distinct person from the Father, and He existed before the incarnation. The distinction between Him and the Father did not arise in the incarnation as believers of Oneness argue. This passage also refutes the idea that God is playing different roles as Father, Son, and Spirit. We see clearly in John 1:1-3, 14 that God is with the Word (who is God), not that He is taking on the role of the Word. Finally, I must explain that this passage is not teaching polytheism, but the fact that God is more than one in person. Many scriptures affirm monotheism and John 1:1-3, 14 does not contradict them.

Christ’s interactions with the Father and the Holy Spirit are further proof of the Trinity. One of the clearest depictions of them interacting and thus, being distinct persons is in John 14.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
– John 14:16-17

In this passage, Jesus announces that He will ask the Father to send His disciples another Helper who is the Holy Spirit. Christ making a request of the Father shows that there is a distinction between the two as Christ is expressing His desire to another person. There is no reason to believe He is asking Himself in a different role as Oneness advocates might say. Also, Christ refers to the Holy Spirit as, “another Helper.” 

By using the term, “another”, Christ distinguishes Himself from the Spirit. When the term “another” is used, it means a different person than the first. The Spirit is like Jesus in that He is a Helper, but He is not Jesus. The last verse here refers to the Spirit as a Helper, which implies He is a person. An impersonal force cannot help, but a divine person who has emotions, a will, and the ability to express Himself is capable of being a “Helper.”

Conclusion

I must say, respectfully, Oneness theology is heresy. Obviously, rejecting the triune God of Scripture in favor of the unbiblical Oneness conception of God is idolatry. God demands that we worship Him as He has revealed Himself and not as we imagine Him to be (Exodus 20:3-17). One cannot deny Jesus is a divine person distinct from God the Father and still be worshiping Christ. We cannot dispense with Christ’s distinctness from the Father anymore than we can dispense with His divinity and incarnation as a man. These attributes are essential to understanding Christ’s true identity and the nature of the Godhead. I encourage all people, not just those who believe in Oneness, to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from God’s wrath. By faith in Him alone, not any actions on your behalf, you will be forgiven for your sins and reconciled to God for eternity in Heaven.

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 
– 1 John 2:22-23

May we worship Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself and not how we desire Him to be.

Engaging with a Jehovah’s Witness

Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Although Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be Christian, they are preaching a false gospel. Most notably, they do not accept the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, or justification by faith alone. Rather, they believe that Jesus is the archangel Michael, that He was crucified on a pole rather than a cross, and that He did not have a bodily resurrection. However, even though they are not Christians, they do claim to base their beliefs off of the Bible, and we ought to resolutely stick to the Bible when engaging with them.

An organization called the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society started the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1870s as a part of the “Bible Student movement” under Charles Taze Russell. Jehovah’s Witnesses, similar to many Muslims, will be ostracized from their community and completely cut off from their family for leaving their faith. For this reason, it is very rare that a Jehovah’s Witness will be interested in leaving their faith, perhaps because of the extreme impact that it will have on their life and relationships. This impact is worsened by other facts, including that they are usually forbidden from attending college, not allowed to be friends with anyone that is not a Jehovah’s Witness, and declared an apostate in front of the whole Kingdom Hall.

The Watch Tower also produced the New World Translation (NWT) of the Bible, which has seriously changed many parts of the text to fit their interpretation. Most notably, they changed John 1:1 from “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (ESV) to “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (NWT).

Jehovah’s Witnesses are radically brainwashed and entrenched in their beliefs. Due to this, it is essential that Christians love them and never give up on them. It may be easy to lose your temper with them due to their lack of reasoning, but that does not give them a good example of the true God, who is patient. So, be patient, try to spot the fallacies and errors in their arguments. Finally, remember that while almost every verse they use against you will be taken out of context, it is God who will work in their hearts to save them rather than your apologetics.

Approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses

When approaching a Watch Tower stand, know that the Witnesses are there to engage. They are out, giving their time freely, without pay, to talk to people, so don’t be afraid! As I approach, I usually introduce myself and let them know that I am a Christian. Then, I ask them a question, typically saying, “I was just wondering about this passage…” or “Can you let me know what you think about this verse?” or “How did you become a Jehovah’s Witness?”  Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that Christians are deceived. They believe that Christians believe in a false gospel and they will try and to use a variety of tactics and and verses to sway us. Most commonly, they change the subject when presented with evidence that contradicts their view of the gospel. They will try and talk about the church’s role in government, the devil and his plans, or they will simply walk away from a conversation. Do not be led astray or distracted.  Bring them back to the point that they are fleeing from and show them why Jesus is God. In order to make the most out of a conversation, a full defense of the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity is necessary. You must be ready with verses that prove Jesus’ divinity and the Trinity.

Engaging the Witnesses with Scripture

More often than not, I will begin by referring to two passages, Psalm 102:25-27 and Hebrews 1:10-12. Psalm 102:25-27 clearly refers to Jehovah. If you look at the beginning of the chapter, before verse 1 your Bible, like mine, will probably say “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.”  Noting this is very important before starting a dialogue. After reading these verses, lead them to Hebrews 1:10-12, again looking at the beginning of the chapter to point out the phrase before verse 1, “The Supremacy of God’s Son.” Now that you know Hebrews 1 is talking about Jesus, bring them to verses 10-12, noting that they are quoting Psalm 102.  Any intellectually honest person, who values the inerrancy of the Bible, would have to note, after reading these two passages, that Jesus is God. If A=B and B=C, then A=C. If one passage is about God and that same passage is also about Jesus, then Jesus is God.

After bringing up the last two verses, the Witness who you are talking to may think that you are polytheistic. Remember, they are not trinitarian and they think the Trinity we believe in is either a contradiction of Scripture or a belief in three different gods. If this happens, explain to them, as simply as you can, the concept of the Trinity, making sure to say God is three in Persons, one in being.  Be careful not to bring up any dangerous metaphors like the three states that water can exist in because often these can have characteristics that definitely do not apply to the Triune God. For instance, water can change from solid to liquid to gas, but the Father never becomes the Son, etc… After you explain the Trinity, point to the Bible verse Genesis 1:1. Explain to them that in the original Hebrew, the word for God (Elohim) is plural, and the word for created (bara) is singular. This doesn’t seem right if you do not believe in the Trinity, but God’s word is inerrant, and there are no contradictions anywhere in it.

Jehovah’s Witnesses correctly believe that Jehovah alone raised Jesus from the dead. Acts 4:10 clearly helps affirm this belief but then John 2:19-21 explicitly states that Jesus raised himself from the dead. These cannot both be true within their theology. Never have I been in a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness that has been able to explain to me how this could be possible if Jesus wasn’t actually Jehovah. They either change the subject or they say that they don’t know and that they’ll have to get back to you. This is one of the most convincing passages of the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. However, you may want to wait to reference John 2:19-21, and Acts 4:10 first. I like to ask them, “so just to be sure, it was Jehovah who raised Jesus from the grave, correct?” and have them affirm that so when they see Jesus saying that he will raise up his own body from the grave they cannot simply deny the first statement.

The passage (Col. 1) must be understood in order to refute a common Jehovah’s Witness belief.  The Watch Tower believes that Jesus is God’s first “creation.” They believe that he was made by God in the beginning as the master builder and that Jesus, God’s first creation, helped God to create the world. They pervert a couple of verses to justify the heresy that Jesus was a creation, rather than the Creator, but Colossians 1:15 is the most common. They believe that when Paul says that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation,” he is saying that Jesus was created. Going back to the original Greek for this is extremely helpful.  The word that is used for “firstborn” is prototokos. This word is a title, meaning preeminence. It does not mean, in any translation, that Jesus was created in any way. If Paul actually wanted to say that Jesus was created, he could have used the word protoplastos, which clearly means “first created.” It might be helpful to reference the remaining sections of this passage, Colossians 1:16-20 to show how the chapter continues to describe Christ’s preeminence.

There are numerous other verses and arguments that can be used against the Watchtower, but these are just a few that I use to refute their major heresies. Again, do not become angry, impatient, or disappointed when they do not respond the way that you expect. For many of them, dying would sound more appealing than becoming an apostate and being kicked out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, be sure to know the preceding arguments front and back as Scripture commands us, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15b). If you get stuck and they bring up things that you were not prepared for, that is a great opportunity to show grace and to set an example for them by actually going home and studying what the Bible says for yourself.

Do all Religions Lead to God?

The belief that all religions lead to God has become popular in our culture. This idea is known as pluralism. Pluralism teaches that multiple religions are equally truthful and acceptable because the core of any religion is to worship a god. This makes any form of worship directed toward any god of any religion just as valid as another.

For example, pluralism would suggest that Buddhists worship the same god as Christians, Muslims, and Hindus because there is a greater deity that accepts all forms of worship, not caring what beliefs you hold to as long as it leads to you worshiping the deity you believe to be correct. Pluralism has found its way into the churches of America and if Christians are unable to give a Biblical response to this growing trend, then Biblical doctrine will be diminished and may cause non-believers to hold a wrong view of God.

Why is Pluralism Incorrect?

Before noting the incompatibility of different religions, it is important to note the core issue of pluralistic thinking–relative truth. Relative truth is the denial of an absolute and ultimate truth. There is much to write about regarding relative truth; however, I will not go into much depth. The key principle to understanding relativism is that it is an endless cycle of contradiction. To state, “All truth is relative” is making an absolute claim that there are no absolutes.

Moral relativism simply offers a way out of reckoning absolute truth with reality, allowing all religions to be equally true. Moral relativism not only contradicts Scripture’s teaching, but logically does not make sense because it claims that all religions are equally true. From the Christian standpoint, there are key doctrines that other religions do not adhere to. This means that other religions are lacking the knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself through Scripture.

For example, Buddhists deny a personal god while Hindus believe in many gods. Mormons also believe in many different gods and only worship a few of those gods. The belief that the God of the Bible is triune in person while singular in being, has sent His only Son for the forgiveness of sin through His death, and was raised on the third day is a truth that cannot be sacrificed at the price of being loving, tolerant, and accepting of other religions. It is the key doctrinal element of Christianity that makes it unique.

In comparison to other monotheistic religions such as Islam and Judaism, there are fundamental doctrinal differences that separate them from Christianity, such as God’s attributes, character, and nature. It is simply illogical to state that all religions can lead to God when nearly every religion in history contradicts another one. Even from the perspective of a moral relativist, it is impossible for all religions to be equally true simply due to the numerous contradictions between them.

Why is the God of the Bible the only God?

The differences between Biblical Christianity and other religions are vast. Christianity is the only religion that gives a realistic view of who we are as humans (sinful), while other religions talk about salvation coming by human effort and inward goodness. Christianity is the only religion to teach that man is totally depraved and wicked from birth, yet has a Savior who offers grace freely based upon faith in Christ and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity is the only religion that teaches that the deity figure offered Himself up to bear the punishment of human sin and rose again so that we may be a new creation through Christ.

Biblically speaking, two verses give the explicit mention of Jesus being the only way. John 14:6 states, “Jesus said to [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12 states, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved (Jesus).” The pinnacle of the gospel is that God, being rich in mercy, provided what He demanded of us so that we can stand forgiven–the shed blood of Christ for sin. Christianity is based entirely upon the idea that everything needed for salvation has already been done for those who will believe and trust in Christ. Christianity says done while other religions say do. This is what distinguishes Christianity from any other religion.

Do all people who claim to be Christians worship Christ?

A final recognition still remains–one that I believe is more dangerous than believing in another religion. A rather harsh reality is that there are some people who claim to be Christians who do not worship God. Instead, they worship an idol. I cannot express enough that you are not a born-again believer simply because you claim the name of Christ. There are many people and denominations we consider under the umbrella of Christianity who do not know God. We share meals with these people. We have conversations with these people. We do life with these people. And all the while, we offer them false assurance of their relationship with Christ while they are on their way to eternal damnation because we neglected to tell them the truth of the gospel and of God.

This much is true–Christ, the second person of trinity, equal with the Father and the Spirit, was with the Father in creation (Col. 1:16-17), became the incarnate God-man, being fully God yet fully man, living a sinless and perfect life (Heb. 4:15), dying on a cross for the sins of those who believe (John 3:16), and raising on the third day to secure eternal salvation for those the Father had chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 4). Christianity is not about claiming a christ. Christianity is about knowing the Christ and His gospel. Friends, we must make Christ and the gospel clear.

Know Christ. Worship Christ. Follow Christ.

Pray that the Father, through the working of the Holy Spirit, will grant you the boldness and confidence to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for in him “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

In Christ,

Nicolas Olson