By Mike Willis
Son of God
The Jehovah’s Witnesses press the term “Son of God” to prove their doctrine that Jesus is a created being. They argue,
“The title `father’ means a male parent, and a male parent means a progenitor, an author or source, one who begets or brings forth offspring. Since God was the Father of Jesus, was Jesus also dependent upon God for life?” (The “Word” — Who Is He? According to John, p. 43).
By pressing the terms “Father” and “Son,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that there was a time when God existed by Himself but that He “fathered” Jesus to establish the Father-Son relationship frequently mentioned in the Bible. A similar emphasis is placed on the description of Jesus as the “only begotten” of God. Hence, we need to answer their arguments pertaining to these points.
The Witnesses have abused a figure of speech in order to justify their doctrine. Let us not forget that in order for Jehovah to reveal Himself to man that He had to use human language-language which was understandable to us. Hence, He compares Himself to many things in order to reveal Himself to us (Shepherd, Door, Bread, etc.). The Witnesses have made the mistake of taking one of the words used to reveal Jehovah to us and pressing it beyond the limits intended by the Lord. They argue that Jesus is God’s Son because Jehovah begat Jesus. We might just as appropriately argue that Jehovah is made out of wood because Jesus is the door to the house which is Jehovah; everyone knows that houses are made out of wood. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to press the Father-Son terminology to such an extent as to say that Jehovah begat Jesus, I do not think that it would be inappropriate for us to ask who was the Mother of Jesus. Keep in mind that Jehovah begat Jesus before the world began and, therefore, this terminology is not referring to Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary. Hence, we demand that the Witnesses tell us who was the Mother through whom Jehovah begat Jesus!
Such pressing of a figure of speech as I have just done is no more ridiculous than what the Witnesses do when they argue that Jesus was a created being because of the usage of “Father-Son” terminology. There are more points of comparison than just one which can come from the father-son relationship. The most obvious point of comparison is the one which the Jews understood when Jesus claimed that Jehovah was His Father. When Jesus claimed that God was His Father, the Jews understood that He was making Himself equal with God. John records, “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18). The Jews understood that the title “Son of God” was equal to claiming deity for oneself (Jn. 19:7; 10:33).
That the “Father-Son” terminology which applied to Jesus and God is not to be so pressed as to imply that one derived his existence from the other is evident as the following comments demonstrate:
“An eternal relation subsisting between the Son and the Father in the Godhead is to be understood. That Is to say, the Son of God, in His eternal relationship with the Father, is not so entitled because He at any time began to derive His being from the Father (in which case He could not be co-eternal with the Father), but because He is and ever has been the expression of what the Father is; cp. John 14:9, ‘he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ The words of Heb. 1:3, `Who being the effulgence of His (God’s) glory, and the very Image of His (God’s) substance’ are a definition of what Is meant by `Son of God.’ Thus absolute Godhead, not Godhead in a secondary or derived sense, is intended in the Title.’ “. . . . The words, ‘Father’ and `Son’ are never in the N.T. so used as to suggest that the Father existed before the Son . . . .” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. IV, pp. 48-49).
“It may be very natural to see in the designation ‘Son’ an intimation of subordination and derivation of Being, and it may not be difficult to ascribe a similar connotation to the term `Spirit.’ But It Is quite certain that this was not the denotation of either term in the Semitic consciousness, which underlies the phraseology of Scripture; and it may even be thought doubtful whether it was included even in their remoter suggestions. What underlies the conception of sonship In Scriptural speech is just ‘likeness’; whatever the father is that the son is also. The emphatic application of the term `Son’ to one of the Trinitarian Persons, accordingly, asserts rather His equality with the Father than His subordination to the Father; and if there is any Implication of derivation in it, it would appear to be very distant. The adjunction of the adjective `only begotten’ (Jn. 1:14; 3:16-18; 1 Jn. 4:9) need add only the idea of uniqueness, not of derivation (ps. 22:20; 25:16; 35:17; Wisd. 7:22 m.); and even such a phrase as `God only begotten’ (Jn. 1:18m.) may contain no implication of derivation, but only of absolutely unique consubstantiality; as also such a phrase as ‘the first-begotten of all creation’ (Col. 1:15) may convey no intimation of coming into being, but merely assert priority of existence …. The point lies, of course, in the adjective ‘own’. Jesus was, rightly, understood to call God ‘his own Father,’ that is, to use the terms `Father’ and ‘Son’ not In a merely figurative sense, as when Israel was called God’s son, but In the real sense. And this was understood to be claiming to be all that God Is. To be the Son of God In any sense was to be like God In that sense; to be God’s own Son was to be exactly like God, to be `equal with God'” (Benjamin Warfield, Biblical Doctrines, Vol. 1, p. 163-164).
Similar comments need to be made with reference to the “only-begotten” passages. The description of Jesus as God’s “only begotten Son” has nothing to do with derivation. Here is the idea denoted by it:
“. . . . But the word can also be used more generally without ref. to derivation in the sense of ‘unique,’ `unparalleled,’ Incomparable,’ though one should not confuse the refs. to class or species and to manner . . . In. emphasizes more strongly the ‘card distinction between Jesus and believers and the uniqueness of Jesus in His divine sonship . . . As the only-begotten Son Jesus is In the closest intimacy with God. There Is no other with whom God can have similar fellowship. He shares everything with this Son. For this reason Jesus can give what no man can give, namely, the fullest possible eye-witness account of God ….” Mittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Vol. IV, pp. 737-741).
“We can only rightly understand the term ‘the only begotten’ when used of the Son, in the sense of unoriginated relationship. `The begetting is not an event of time, however remote, but a fact irrespective of time. The Christ did not become, but necessarily and eternally Is the Son. He, a Person, possesses every attribute of pure Godhood. This necessitates eternity, absolute being; in this respect He is not ‘after’ the Father . . .
“In Jn. 1:18 the clause “The Only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” expresses both His eternal union with the Father in the Godhead and the ineffable intimacy and love between them, the Son sharing all the Father’s counsels and enjoying all His affections” (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. III, p. 140).
“In the Johannine lit. m. Is used only of Jesus. The mngs. only, unique may be quite adequate for all its occurrences here” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, p. 529).
“single of Its kind, only …. used of Christ, denotes the only son of God or one who in the sense in which he himself is the son of God has no brethren. He is so spoken of by John not because ho logos which was ensarkotheis in him was eternally generated by God the Father (the orthodox interpretation), or came forth from the being of God just before the beginning of the world (Subordinationism), but because by the incarnation (ensarkoosis) of the logos in him he is of nature or essentially Son of God, and so in a very different sense from that in which men are made by him tekna tou Theou (In. 1:13)” (Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament, pp. 417-418).
Hence, the “Father-Son” relationship does not prove that God created Jesus as the Witnesses claim.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Are Polytheists
When one has completely understood the doctrine of God taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he realizes that their doctrine of God is nothing less than a mutilated polytheism possessing every characteristic of a pagan polytheism. The pagans of old believed in a chief deity to whom other deities were subordinated. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine of God believes in one God who is chief over other gods. Jehovah is the chief god; Jesus is a subordinate god. Regardless of what other conclusions may follow, no one can deny that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ believe in more than one god. The belief in more than one God is polytheism plainly and simply.
God is one (1 Cor. 8:4). The one God is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are known as Jehovah. When we worship the one, we worship the sum total of them. The doctrine of the Trinity is the only way to harmonize the plain statements of Scripture which, on the one hand, assert the oneness of God and, on, the other hand, assert the deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Because the Witnesses err so greatly in their basic concept of God, they are a false religion under the curse of Jehovah.
Truth Magazine XXI: 16, pp. 243-244
April 21, 1977