Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.
Joe: Chris, I would like to talk to you about your belief in the pagan doctrine of the Trinity. How can you believe in a freakish three-headed God? Don't you understand that the Trinity was invented to turn people away from the one true God?
Chris: Joe, I don't believe that at all. Let's discuss the meaning of the word Trinity so that we can understand one another. Let's reference the Watchtower Feb. 1, 1960 pg 93.
Joe: It says "in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another."
Chris: Joe, this is a summary of the Athanasian Creed. This Creed teaches that there are three individual persons who are not to be confused with each other. These three persons share the same nature, the same attributes of being God and yet they are not three separate Gods but are by their nature and their attributes the one God. It appears that the Watchtower should understand the definition of the trinity because they have access to and quote from the Athanasian Creed, yet why do they constantly make reference to Christians believing that Jesus is the same person as the Father?
Joe: Where does the Watchtower do that?
Chris: In the You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth book, on page 39 it says "Since Jesus prayed to God, asking that God's will, not his, be done, the two could not be the same person." The Trinity doctrine does not teach that Jesus is the same person as the Father. Why does the Watchtower create a false definition of the Trinity?
Joe: Well I have heard people say that Jesus is the Father.
Chris: So? Just because some people are confused about what the Trinity doctrine actually teaches does not mean that the Watchtower has permission to misrepresent the doctrine itself.
Joe: The Athanasian Creed is the one that is confusing! In my Reasoning from the Scriptures, it quotes the Athanasian Creed and then says that there are other statements of the dogma that emphasize that the three "Persons" are not separate and distinct individuals but are three modes in which the divine essence exists. These three modes make God to be a three-headed God.
Chris: That is not true. What the Watchtower is referring to is a doctrine called Modalism. This doctrine that there are not three separate persons but only three modes that one person operates in has for almost 1,700 years been labelled as a heresy and not compatible with true Christianity. Modalism has never been a part of the Athanasian Creed nor is it a part of the Trinity teaching today. I challenge you to show me the Athanasian Creed where it says that God operates in three modes. That is not a part of the Athanasian Creed even though the Watchtower would have you think that! No wonder Jehovah's Witnesses are so confused when Christians say they believe Jesus is God.
Joe: What do you mean? I'm not confused!
Chris: If the elders from your Kingdom Hall were here and I told them that I believe that Jesus is God, would they interpret that to mean that I believe that Jesus is the same person as the Father?
Joe: Well, yes, they would. They would probably say to you "If Jesus is God, who was he talking to when he was hanging on the cross?"
Chris: Joe, that's Modalism. That's why it is difficult if not impossible for Christians to communicate with Jehovah's Witnesses. The Watchtower has taught you to confuse Modalism with the Trinity. Only when we understand the difference between Modalism and Trinity can we communicate properly. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Joe, give me a definition of "cat".
Joe: The Watchtower is not the one that is confused. The Trinity doctrine is very confusing. And I don't see your point about the definition of a cat.
Chris: You will shortly. Joe, to show my point, I need you to give me a definition of "cat".
Joe: Well, ok, a cat is a cuddly, warm, purring pet. I have two of them myself.
Chris: What would you say if I told you that my neighbor drove his "cat" through the mud and it got stuck. Then as it got colder the "cat" froze into the mud so my neighbor decided to leave it there until spring.
Joe: It sounds like your neighbor is a very cruel person.
Chris: If my neighbor's "cat" was your definition of a cuddly, warm, purring pet, then my neighbor was very cruel indeed! But his "cat" was not an animal but a machine. It was this kind of "cat" that got stuck in the mud. You see, Joe, you and I could never agree on whether my neighbor was a cruel person or not as long as we had different definitions for "cat".
Joe: I see what you mean. You are saying that when other people have different meanings for the same words they cannot communicate properly unless there is a basic understanding of the meaning of your words.
Chris: That's right. In the Watchtower's Reasoning from the Scriptures book on page 407 it says "Does the Bible agree with those who teach that the Father and the Son are not separate and distinct individuals?" Here is a perfect example of where the Watchtower is confusing Modalism with the Trinity.
Joe: Are you trying to tell me that when the Watchtower states that the Trinity teaches Jesus is the Father, this is not true? You don't believe that??
Chris: Absolutely. I don't believe that Jesus is the Father and I don't know any one who understands the Trinity doctrine properly who believes that either.
Joe: But I know that Jesus can't be God. He is not as powerful as Jehovah.
Chris: Joe, we need to discuss "What does it mean to be God?" Only when we both understand and agree on the very nature of God can we discuss whether Jesus has that nature or not and therefore qualifies to be God. Next week let's discuss the attributes of God that the Watchtower must reject in order to reject the Trinity doctrine.