Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.
Chris: Last week we said that in order to discuss whether Jesus was God or not, we need to discuss what it means 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.
Joe: But everyone knows what it means to be God. God is the most powerful person in the universe.
Chris: Not everyone knows what it means to be God. Sometimes people create a god in their own image, someone they can easily figure out and manipulate. But God is not a God like that. He is an awesome God so much greater and higher than us. In fact, unless he reveals his nature to us, we could never really understand Him. One of the attributes of God that He has revealed in His word is his omnipresence.
Joe: God cannot be omnipresent for he is spoken of as having a location.
Chris: We need first of all to define omnipresence. Joe, when I say that God is omnipresent what does that mean to you?
Joe: Well, the Watchtower says that omnipresence means being an all-pervasive impersonal spirit that is everywhere and in everything. We are taught that when Christians talk about God being omnipresent they make it hard for people to believe that God is real.
Chris: No wonder it is so hard for Jehovah's Witnesses to understand the Christian's view of God. You see, Joe, the Watchtower has misdefined the term omnipresent.
Joe: What do you mean? Doesn't omnipresent mean literally being everywhere and in everything?
Chris: No, Joe. Omnipresence has nothing to do with being in things. The New Webster's Dictionary says that omnipresence means the power of being present in every place at the same time, an attribute of God. The teaching that God is in everything is a new age teaching. It is what the pagan's believe. It is not the correct meaning of omnipresence nor is it a Christian teaching.
Joe: I don't see the difference. It has to mean the same thing.
Chris: No it doesn't. Let me give you an example. Does the Watchtower teach that the holy spirit is everywhere?
Joe: Yes. The Watchtower teaches that God's spirit is everywhere.
Chris: Does the Watchtower teach that God's spirit is in everyone or in everything?
Joe: Well, no. Jehovah's spirit is only in operation in those who are true Christians. And Jehovah's spirit can only indwell the 144,000 who will be going to heaven.
Chris: So the Watchtower teaches that God's spirit is everywhere but not in everything. That is the correct teaching of omnipresence. Why would the Watchtower misrepresent the historic Christian teaching of God's omnipresence when it comes to the Father?
Joe: I don't know...But anyway, we know that Jesus is not omnipresent. Even if Jehovah is omnipresent, Jesus is not.
Chris: Have a look at Matthew 18:20. What does your New World Translation say?
Joe: It says "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst." I know that the Watchtower says that this is the holy spirit that is everywhere.
Chris: Have another look at the verse. Jesus said "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst." What does "I am" mean?
Joe: It must mean the holy spirit.
Chris: If Jesus meant the holy spirit he would have said holy spirit, not "I am". "I am" means Jesus personally. Jesus said that he would personally be wherever his followers are.
Joe: The Watchtower says that when Jesus said these words, that this means a future presence. Jesus was talking about his presence that would happen in 1914.
Chris: The Watchtower is again trying to correct Jesus. Jesus did not say "I will be with you" as in some future time. He very clearly said "I am". That is present tense not some future happening. Being personally present everywhere at one time is omnipresence.
Joe: So what you are saying is that it is an attribute of the nature of God to be omnipresent?
Chris: That's correct Joe. The Jews for thousands of years have believed that God taught his omnipresence in Psalms 139. What does your bible say?
Joe: It says "Where can I go from your spirit, And where can I run away from your face? If I should ascend to heaven, there you would be; And if I should spread out my couch in She'ol, look! you [would be there]. Were I to take the wings of the dawn, That I might reside in the most remote sea, There, also, your own hand would lead me, And your right hand would lay hold of me."
Chris: Joe, what does this mean. If you could go to the ends of the universe, who would be there?
Joe: The psalmist says "you". That means Jehovah personally. But, Chris how can God be at all places at once and still said to have a location?
Chris: Good question, let's continue this discussion next week, Joe.