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Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: Responding To The WatchTower (Part 2)

This is part 2 in a series of articles responding to a piece of anti-Trinitarian literature from The Watchtower Society’s website, It’s a free digital booklet titled “Should You Believe In The Trinity?”, and of course their answer is “No” and that’s the case they’re trying to make for it in the booklet. The booklet was sent to me by a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) with whom I’d had a conversation in my Dad’s living room, and seeing as I was going to make extensive notes about what I was reading anyway, I decided to make my notes into a formal blog response. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the claims that the Trinity is logically incoherent at worst and too confusing at best, as well as the claim that the doctrine is not found in either the Old or the New Testaments. I made a positive case from scripture that the concept of a Godhead (one God consisting of more than one person) can be found in both Testaments. In this article, we will continue to move through the booklet’s contents together.

Taught By Early Christians? – (1) These Quotes Say No!

In this section of the booklet, the author continues to quote spamming sources that merely assert that the earliest Christians did not teach the doctrine of The Trinity. I am not familiar with all of these sources, so I cannot even say for sure if they are being taken out of context. We saw in the last post that there was at least one Jesuit Priest whose quote was misunderstood and misused, as he wasn’t saying the doctrine of The Trinity was nowhere to be found in The Bible, rather, that there was no one passage that spelled it out explicitly and clearly as, say, The Nicene Creed. But if The Trinity were a puzzle, the puzzle pieces are scattered throughout both testaments. Those pieces being doctrines like (1) There is one God, (2) The Father is God, (3) The Son is God, (4) The Holy Spirit is God, (5) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. I defended each of these 5 biblical teachings in the previous article. It’s possible that some quote mining might be at play here with some of the quotes in this section, however, not being familiar with the sources, I cannot say for sure. And I only know Jesuit Fortman was being misrepresented because that is more or less what I and other Christians have said about The Trinity being in The Bible.

Taught By Early Christians? – (2) The Ante-Nicene Fathers

The term ante-Nicene Fathers refers to those early church fathers whose lives and writings predate the council of Nicea.

Church Father 1: Justin Martyr

The booklet says \\“Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is “other than the God who made all things.” He said that Jesus was inferior to God and “never did anything except what the Creator . . . willed him to do and say.”\\ –

But is this true? Did Justin Martyr really deny the deity of Christ? New Testament scholar Michael Bird argues to the contrary. He writes “Justin makes no explicit mention of the Fourth Gospel, but it is far more likely than not that he knows of it and alludes to it, and his Logos theology is best understood in light of its Johannine heritage. Justin’s Logos is God’s instrument of revelation to humans (Dial. 128.2). The whole world come into being by a ‘Word of God” (Dial. 84.2; 1 Apol. 59.5; 64.5; 2 Apol. 5.3). The Logos goes under various names from Scripture such as ‘Glory of the Lord,’ ‘Son,’ ‘Wisdom,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘God,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘Logos,’ and ‘Commander’ (Dial. 61.1; cf. 126.1; 128.1). The Logos is the seed of reason by which philosophers and barbarians were able to know the truth (1 Apol. 5.4; 46.1-6; 2 Apol. 13.3-6).” [1]Michael F. Bird, “Justin Martyr On The Logos”,, January 4th 2021, — Justin Martyr On The Logos | Michael Bird (

Biblical scholar and theologian Paul Hartog explains that “Justin Martyr explicitly describes the Son as theos in both his First Apology and in his Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew (AD 150s and early 160s). In Dialogue, Justin designates Jesus Christ as “Lord and God” (129). The Son “as God” is “strong and to be worshipped” and is “deserving to be worshipped as God and as Christ.”11 Dialogue71 asserts, “This very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God and man.” Christ should be recognized “as God coming forth from above, and man living among men” (64). Justin later tells Trypho, “If you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God” (126). Jesus Christ is “Lord, and God the Son of God,” since the “prophetic word” calls Him “God” (128;60). Trypho readily recognizes Justin’s unmistakable application of theos to Christ (48;64;87;128).” [2]Paul Hartog, “Jesus As God In The Second Century”, June 11th 2009, — Jesus as God in the Second Century – Christian Research Institute (

Why then, does he call Jesus an “angel”. Well, remember that whole “Angel Of The Lord” thing that I talked about in the previous article, how there were “Two Yahwehs” that occasionally appeared in one scene, and one of them was manifest as an angelic being? Yeah, Justin Martyr is talking about that. In his 56th dialogue with Trypho, he specifically refers to the incident of the three men visiting Abraham in Genesis 18, and he says that one of these angels is God. Justin is making his apologetic case for the Trinity from The Two Powers theology from second temple Judaism that, because it was such an effective apologetic for Christianity, got declared as a heresy in the second century [3]See Dr. Allan Segal’s doctoral dissertation “The Two Powers In Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism”, — Two Powers in Heaven: Early … Continue reading. Why did he say that Jesus was “other than God” and “Did no other than what the Creator willed him to do and say?” It is unclear where these quotes are even coming from (the booklet author offers no footnotes), but in light of the explicit declaration of Christ’s deity elsewhere, it is perhaps possible that Justin is just distinguishing the person of Jesus from God The Father and is speaking about His subordination to the first person of The Trinity. (cf. John 5:19-20). If Justin Martyr taught that Jesus is God (and he did), and if Justin Martyr taught that Jesus was a separate person from God The Father (and he did), then you’ve got a couple of the major ingredients for Trinitarianism right here!

To quote Hartog again, “Justin repeatedly uses the Greek term Logos (“Word”) of the Son, so that his Christology has been labeled “Logos Christology.” Any attempt to systematize Justin’s Logos Christology is a difficult (and frustrating) task;14 nevertheless, a strand of pronounced Subordinationism seems to run through his Christology.” [4]Paul Hartog, “Jesus As God In The Second Century“, June 11th 2009, — Jesus as God in the Second Century – Christian Research Institute (

Church Father 2: Ireneus

The Watchtower Society Booklet then says \\”Irenaeus, who died about 200 C.E., said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the “One true and only God,” who is “supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other.”\\

But did Ireneus really deny the deity of Christ and The Trinity? To quote Hartog again, “In Against Heresies 4.6.7, he proclaims that Christ “received testimony from all that He was very man, and that He was very God.” Irenaeus exhorts his readers to acknowledge both Christ’s “divinity” and His “human nature,” so that they might overturn “all those notions of the heretics which were concocted afterwards” (5.14.4). Jesus’ name Emmanuel (which means “God with us”) signifies “His essence, that He is God,” since the description of Emmanuel is “proper to God” (3.16.2;3.21.4). Irenaeus interprets the titles “God over all, blessed for ever” (Rom.9:5), “Mighty God” (Isa.9:6), and “God” (Hab.3:3) as references to Jesus Christ (3.16.3;3.19.2;3.20.4). Christ is rightfully called God, Lord, eternal King, and Word incarnate in Scripture, revealing that He is not a mere man (since no other descendant of Adam is ever called God or named Lord) (3.19.2).” [5]ibid

So, Irenaeus explicitly called Jesus “Mighty God”, “God”, said he had a divine nature and a human nature and that it was very important that his readers affirmed that. If you ask me, this doesn’t sound like a good Jehovah’s Witness. Like with the Justin Martyr quote, it is difficult to interact with the specific quotes of Irenaeus on this point as the author does not alert the reader where they came from. The first quote isn’t even a direct quote, but an indirect one. The booklet author says “He showed that Jesus is not equal to the ‘One true and only God,‘” Where did Ireneus show this? What writing? What chapter of what writing? What section of what chapter of what writing? And the only directly quoted portion here is “One true and only God”. The second part of the quotation is also an indirect quote “who is ‘supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other.'” I can imagine Ireneus asserting the primacy of God The Father, but again, there’s no citation here. I have no problem with indirect quotations, but a good author should at least give the source of the quote so the reader can fact-check them. Needless to say though, what we know of what Ireneus did say is in line with proper orthodoxy.

Church Father 3: Clement Of Alexandria

The booklet then says \\“Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E., called God “the uncreated and imperishable and only true God.” He said that the Son “is next to the only omnipotent Father” but not equal to him.”\\ –

Again! We have the problem of indirect quotations and a lack of citation. Where did Clement say this? What writing? What chapter? What section? We aren’t told, so if you want to fact-check The Watchtower Society, you’re going to have to do some page-flipping through Clement to find where they may have gotten this. However, let’s just take the quoted words of Clement, and assume the booklet author is accurately citing him. What does Clement say here? God is “the uncreated and imperishable and only true God?” Now, how is this incompatible with the doctrine of The Trinity? As a Trinitarian, I likewise believe that Yahweh Elohim is the only true God, the only God who is uncreated and imperishable. I just believe that this one God consists of three persons, one of these became incarnate and walked the earth, and the gospels, Josephus, Tacitus, and some other historical writings tell us the name of the man is Jesus. The next quoted portion is “is next to the only omnipotent Father”. However, the words “but not equal to him” are not Clement’s words, but the words of the JW in the booklet. So, for all we know, in Clement’s mind, Jesus being “next to the only omnipotent father” could just be an assertion of that aspect of Trinitarian theology where Jesus is a distinct person from The Father, and sits at his right hand (cf. Mark 14:61-62, John 1:1, Acts 7:56). Now, if the author of this booklet is presupposing that it is logically impossible for there to be only one God who is uncreated and imperishable, and for Jesus Christ to be him but “next” to God The Father, then he is begging the question against Clement. Or rather, I should say that he is reading his anti-Trinitarianism into Clement’s words. [6]By the way, I dealt with the issue of whether the doctrine of the Trinity is logically coherent in the previous installment of this series. Check out “Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: … Continue reading

This is three strikes for this piece of Watchtower propaganda. Let’s see if they read any of the other early church fathers better.

Church Father 4: Tertullian

\\“Tertullian, who died about 230 C.E., taught the supremacy of God. He observed: “The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent.” He also said: “There was a time when the Son was not. . . . Before all things, God was alone.”\\ –

Now, I don’t want to be too pejorative here, but this is rather embarrassing! I would have thought if any early church father was so clearly a Trinitarian, it would have been Tertullian. Tertullian is quoted out of context in the latter quote, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, Tertullian talks about the incarnation of Jesus in ways that cannot be construed as anything other than Trinitarian. Tertullian writes, for example, “Nor was it as the Agent of revelation alone that the Son was known in the Old Testament times. He was the Agent of Judgement from the very beginning. ‘It is the Son, therefore, who has been from the beginning administering judgment, throwing down the haughty tower and dividing the tongues, punishing the whole world by the violence of waters, raining upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone, as the Lord from the Lord. For He it was who at all times came down to hold converse with men, from Adam on to the patriarchs and prophets, in vision, in dream, in mirror, in dark saying; ever from the beginning laying the foundation of the course which He meant to follow out to the very last. Thus was He ever learning, even as God, to converse with men upon earth, being no other than the Word which was to be made flesh.[7]Tertullian, p.170 n.1 Adv. Praxean, c. 16.

Two comments should be made about this passage. First, Tertullian makes an apologetic from the “Two Yahwehs” in the Sodom and Gomorrah account in Genesis 19, a proof text I appealed to in the prior article for there being two distinct persons in The Old Testament who are both “The Lord”. Tertullian identifies Jesus as the humanoid manifestation of God on Earth, raining fire down on Sodom from The Lord in Heaven. He also says of Jesus “Thus was He ever learning, even as God“. [8]Jesus not being omniscient is a sticky theological issue. I think a good answer can be given for how Jesus can be both God and have a normal human consciousness in need of learning at the same time. … Continue reading

Tertullian also wrote of what theologians call “The eternal procession from The Father”. Tertullian wrote “The Son became incarnate, being as such God and man. The Son is, as it were, a ray from the Father, and ‘this ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ.'” [9] Tertullian, from p.170 n.2 Apologeticus, c. 21.

Tertullian’s Christology couldn’t be more explicit if he had tried! For Tertullian, Jesus IS God! He explicitly calls him God! Yet, for Tertullian, Jesus is also a distinct person from the Father, just as sunlight is distinct from the sun producing it. But what about Tertullian’s statement that “ “The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent.”? Well, if you’re a Trinitarian, you have to say that The Son is different from The Father. If Jesus and The Father were completely identical in every single way, with absolutely nothing to distinguish one from another, then by the logical law of identity, the two would be one and the same. Thus, you’d end up with Sabellianism a.k.a Modalism. Jesus is certainly different from the Father is certain aspects. For one thing, The Father did not become incarnate. As such The Father is one person with one nature (i.e the divine nature). Jesus, on the other hand, is one person with two natures (divine and human). God The Father never has been and never will be a human being. But The Logos took on flesh in the first century. Moreover, it was not The Father who died on the cross (a heresy known as Patripassianism), but The Son did. Moreover, it was Jesus who was resurrected on the third day, not The Father. And as Tertullian pointed out, it was The Father who begets, and it is the Son who is begotten. The author of this booklet is reading his anti-Trinitarianism into Tertullian’s words. For The Son to be different from the Father is not necessarily to say that the Son is not God, it is only to say that he is a distinct person from The Father. If Tertullian were a Trinitarian, how he speaks about Jesus and The Father is exactly what we would expect!

But what about Tertullian’s statement that “There was a time when the Son was not”?

The second reference of Tertullian cited by the Watchtower comes from Against Hermogenes:

“[Hermogenes] adds also another point: that as God was always God, there was never a time when God was not also Lord. But it was in no way possible for Him to be regarded as always Lord, in the same manner as He had been always God, if there had not been always, in the previous eternity, a something of which He could be regarded as evermore the Lord. So he concludes that God always had Matter co-existent with Himself as the Lord thereof. Now, this tissue of his I shall at once hasten to pull abroad. I have been willing to set it out in form to this length, for the information of those who are unacquainted with the subject, that they may know that his other arguments likewise need only be understood to be refuted. We affirm, then, that the name of God always existed with Himself and in Himself – but not eternally so the Lord. Because the condition of the one is not the same as that of the other. God is the designation of the substance itself, that is, of the Divinity; but Lord is (the name) not of substance, but of power. I maintain that the substance existed always with its own name, which is God; the title Lord was afterwards added, as the indication indeed of something accruing. For from the moment when those things began to exist, over which the power of a Lord was to act, God, by the accession of that power, both became Lord and received the name thereof. Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son [emphasis mine to note what the Watchtower cites]; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father. In this way He was not Lord previous to those things of which He was to be the Lord. But He was only to become Lord at some future time: just as He became the Father by the Son, and a Judge by sin, so also did He become Lord by means of those things which He had made, in order that they might serve Him.” [10]Tertullian, Part Second, Section 3, Against Hermogenes, Chapter 3.

Commenting on this passage, New Testament scholar Dr. Michael Licona says “Notice that Tertullian does not also say in connection with ‘a time when the Son was not’ that ‘Before all things, God was alone,’ as the Watchtower tract claims. That latter statement is found in Against Praxeas, where Tertullian stated such to say that ‘matter’ does not co-eternally exist with God as the heretic, Praxeas, held. But what about the statement that there was a time when the Son did not exist? Tertullian says that while God always was, He only became ‘Lord’ when He created something to Lord over. You cannot be a ‘Judge’ unless there is something you are judging. You cannot be a ‘Father’ unless you have a ‘Son.’ Therefore, prior to the Son, He was not ‘Father.’] For Tertullian, the essence of what we call Jesus and the Son of God always existed. However, there was a time when the ‘Economy’ differed.” [11]Dr. Michael Licona, “The Early Church Fathers On Jesus” —

Church Father 5: Hyppolytus

We now come to the church father, Hyppolytus.

The Watchtower tract claims that he “said that God is ‘the one God, the first and the only One, the Maker and Lord of all,’ who ‘had nothing co-eval [of equal age] with him … But he was One, alone by himself; who willing it, called into being what had no being before,’ such as the created prehuman Jesus.” [12]Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p.7

Here is the citation from Hippolytus:

“The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them.” [13]Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies, Book 10, Chapter 28.

I want to draw attention to the fact that the phrase “such as the created prehuman Jesus” is not actually a part of Hippolytus’ writings. It is instead, commentary, by whoever wrote this booklet/tract. As I said before, indirect quotations is fine, but the way this Watchtower booklet is going about it is very misleading, and again it doesn’t give you the source so you can check it out for yourself. Now, did this ancient Christian brother mean when he said that God “was One, alone in Himself?” Well, he tells us in the immediate proceeding chapter:

“Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination [i.e., the process of exact thinking] of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself … The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God.” [14]Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies, Book 10, Chapter 29.

Hippolytus seems to be on the same page as Tertullian in saying that there was a time when the mode of God’s existence as three persons was different. However, Jesus was in God, was from God, is God, and is the substance of God. Elsewhere, Hippolytus writes:

“For, lo, the Only-begotten entered, a soul among souls, God the Word with a (human) soul. For His body lay in the tomb, not emptied of divinity; but as, while in Hades, He was in essential being with His Father, so was He also in the body and in Hades. For the Son is not contained in space, just as the Father; and He comprehends all things in Himself.” [15]Hippolytus, Exegetical Fragments from Commentaries, On Luke, Chapter 23.

“For all, the righteous and the unrighteous alike, shall be brought before God the Word.” [16]Hippolytus, Against Plato, Section 3

“Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven, (and entered) into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking the flesh from her, and assuming also a human, by which I mean a rational soul, and becoming thus all that man is with the exception of sin, He might save fallen man, and confer immortality on men who believe on His name…. He now, coming forth into the world, was manifested as God in a body [italics mine], coming forth too as a perfect man. For it was not in mere appearance or by conversion, but in truth, that He became man. Thus then, too, though demonstrated as God, He does not refuse the conditions proper to Him as man, since He hungers and toils and thirsts in weariness, and flees in fear, and prays in trouble. And He who as God has a sleepless nature, slumbers on a pillow.” [17]Hippolytus, Against the Heresy of one Noetus, Section 17.

Hippolytus’ view of Jesus was that he is “God,” “being the substance of God,” “was in essential being with His Father,” was “God the Word,” and “was manifested as God in a body.”

Church Father 6: Origen

Now we look at the church father Origen who put pen to papyrus approximately AD 200. The Watchtower tract claims that Origen “said that the ‘Father and Son are two substances … two things as to their essence,’ and that ‘compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.’” [18]Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p.7. By now though, hopefully, you’re skeptical that The Watchtower Society has accurately represented the church fathers they cite. But in the off chance that you’re thinking “Sixth time’s the charm”, let’s look into what Origen said for ourselves.

“Seeing God the Father is invisible and inseparable from the Son, the Son is not generated from Him by ‘prolation,’ as some suppose. For if the Son be a ‘prolation’ of the Father (the term ‘prolation’ being used to signify such a generation as that of animals or men usually is), then, of necessity, both He who ‘prolated’ and He who was ‘prolated’ are corporeal. For we do not say, as the heretics suppose, that some part of the substance of God was converted into the Son, or that the Son was procreated by the Father out of things non-existent, i.e., beyond His own substance, so that there once was a time when He did not exist…. How, then, can it be asserted that there once was a time when He was not the Son? For that is nothing else than to say that there was once a time when He was not the Truth, nor the Wisdom, nor the Life, although in all these He is judged to be the perfect essence of God the Father; for these things cannot be severed from Him, or even be separated from His essence.” [19]Origen, De Principiis, Book 4, Chapter 1, Section 28.

Whoever authored this Watchtower tract said that Origen said that “Father and Son are two substances … two things as to their essence.” However, as we can see, Origen uttered the exact opposite of this; “He is judged to be the perfect essence of God the Father…” But what about the quotation in which Origen said “compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light?”

That passage this Watchtower tract is referring to is to be found in Contra Celsus:

“Those, indeed, who worship sun, moon, and stars because their light is visible and celestial, would not bow down to a spark of fire or a lamp upon earth, because they see the incomparable superiority of those objects which are deemed worthy of homage to the light of sparks and lamps. So those who understand that God is light, and who have apprehended that the Son of God is “the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,’ and who comprehend also how He says, ‘I am the light of the world,’ would not rationally offer worship to that which is, as it were, a spark in sun, moon, and stars, in comparison with God, who is light of God’s creative power, or to call them, after the fashion of Anaxagoras, ‘fiery masses,’ that we thus speak of sun, and moon, and stars; but because we perceive the inexpressible superiority of the divinity of God, and that of His only-begotten Son, which surpasses all other things.” [20]Origen, Contra Celsus, Book 5, Chapter 11.

Of this passage, New Testament scholar Michael Licona comments that “Origen is speaking in reference to the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. He says that someone who sees the brilliance of these would not worship a spark which is small by comparison. Likewise, one who understands that ‘God is light’ and that Jesus is “the light of the world” does not worship the sun, moon, and stars which are sparks in comparison.” [21]Dr. Michael Licona, “The Early Church Fathers On Jesus”, — Once again, we see that the Watchtower Society has misrepresented the words of an early church father.

“For we who say that the visible world is under the government to Him who created all things, do thereby declare that the Son is not mightier than the Father, but inferior to Him. And this belief we ground on the saying of Jesus Himself, ‘The Father who sent Me is greater than I.’ And none of us is so insane as to affirm that the Son of man is Lord over God. But when we regard the Savior as God the Word, and Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Truth, we certainly do say that He has dominion over all things which have been subjected to Him in this capacity, but not that His dominion extends over the God and Father who is Ruler over all.” [22]Origen, Contra Celsus, Book 8, Chapter 15. Origen, De Principiis, Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 2.

Dr. Licona exegetes Origen in the following words; “Origen writes here that the Savior is God, but inferior to the Father. Since he does not seem to embrace polytheism saying above that Jesus is inseparable from the Father and ‘the perfect essence of God the Father,’ Origen must mean that Jesus, while God, is positionally inferior to the Father.” [23]Dr. Michael Licona, “The Early Church Fathers On Jesus”, —

Wrong On Every Count

As we can see, every single citation (and I’m using that term loosely) of the early church fathers does not establish what The Jehovah’s Witnesses want them to establish. The JWs want the early church on their side. After all, if the doctrine of The Trinity and/or the deity of Jesus did not show up for the first few hundred years after the church began, that would make such doctrines extremely suspect. We would still have to consult The Bible and defer to its authority, but if no one caught wind of this major doctrine, that would cast doubt on it at the very least. However, when the church fathers are properly read, rather than quote mined, we can see that even if they didn’t assert the Doctrine of The Trinity in so blatant and explicit of a way as The Nicene Creed does, they asserted and defended theological views that are crucial ingredients for The Trinity, such as explicitly declaring that Jesus is God and is the Creator of the world and also that Jesus is a distinct person from The Father. What The Council Of Nicea did was not invent the doctrine of The Trinity. Rather, they took what The Bible and the ante-nicene church fathers said, and formulated it into a formal statement of faith. It could be compared to farmers giving a kitchen all of the necessary ingredients to make a soup. They did not make the soup themselves, but they did provide all of the ingredients. Jesus being God and Jesus being distinct from The Father are two necessary ingredients for Trinitarian theology. Both the biblical authors and the early church fathers provide us with such ingredients.

I don’t want to be mean, but I speak truthfully when I say that this booklet/tract/article is some of the most sloppy work I’ve ever seen. To call it bad scholarship would be an understatement. I am not angry at those door-to-door Jehovah’s Witnesses for handing this tract out to people (like the nice people who visited me, for they may very well be good-intentioned yet misled. However, whoever wrote this thing needs to be taken to task. There is no excuse for quote mining and misrepresenting people over and over and over like this.

A JW sent this article to me in the hopes of winning me over. Sad to say that just going through what I’ve gone through so far, I don’t think this booklet or tract has much academic credibility. If they’ve botched the treatment of the church fathers this badly, that should cast doubt on the rest of the work. Nevertheless, in the name of fairness, let us examine the rest of the booklet.

The final page of this section ends with this quote \\”There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead.”—The Triune God”\\ – Only if you close your eyes to all of the evidence there is.

How Did The Doctrine Of The Trinity Develop? (1) – The Council Of Nicea

The Watchtower Tract says \\”AT THIS point you might ask: ‘If the Trinity is not a Biblical teaching, how did it become a doctrine of Christendom?’ Many think that it was formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.”\\ [24]“Should You Believe In The Trinity”? Page 8 — I’m not asking that. Because it is a biblical teaching and it’s found all over the church father’s writings. It was “formulated” at the council of Nicea in 325 CE, but only in the sense of taking what Christians have believed and taught for centuries, and finally laying it out in an official statement of faith that is mandatory for orthodoxy.

\\“FOR many years, there had been much opposition on Biblical grounds to the developing idea that Jesus was God. To try to solve the dispute, Roman emperor Constantine summoned all bishops to Nicaea. About 300, a fraction of the total, actually attended.”\\ [25]ibid – I’m not sure you can say there was “much” opposition, but there was certainly some, just as there is today. We’re having this conversation, aren’t we? But anyway, that Constantine conveyed a council for the sake of settling the matter to get the Bishops to stop fighting is certainly true. And it’s also true that only a small fraction of those invited actually attended.

\\“Constantine was not a Christian. Supposedly, he converted later in life, but he was not baptized until he lay dying. Regarding him, Henry Chadwick says in The Early Church: ‘Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; . . . his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians.'”\\ [26]ibid again – Judging the salvific status of Constantine has never been of much interest to me. So I will neither concede nor dispute this point.

Essentially, the point of this entire section is that The Council didn’t promote or endorse a Trinity. But their reasoning is pretty spurious. The Watchtower booklet says “it did not establish the Trinity, for at that council there was no mention of the holy spirit as the third person of a triune Godhead.” and “None of the bishops at Nicaea promoted a Trinity, however. They decided only the nature of Jesus but not the role of the holy spirit. If a Trinity had been a clear Bible truth, should they not have proposed it at that time?” [27]From “Should You Believe In The Trinity?”, a booklet from The Watchtower Society. — … Continue reading However, for one thing, the council was held because of the Arian controversy. Arius and his followers taught that Jesus was a mere creature, not God. This council was held to settle that dispute. The Holy Spirit was not even the source of hot debate at this time, so why should he be mentioned? Secondly, let’s read what the Nicene Creed actually says.

The Nicene Creed

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

The creed says there is “One God”, that Jesus is God (i.e “True God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father, through him all things were made.”), and that The Father and Jesus are distinct persons as is implied from terms that distinguish them like “True God FROM true God”, that the son is “Begotten”, as opposed to the Father is is the one doing the begetting. But to make sure that readers of this creed don’t infer that Jesus is a creation from this “begotten” language, they put the disclaimer “Begotten, not made. But what about The Holy Spirit? Well, the creed says that “We believe in The Holy Spirit, The Lord, the giver of life” sounds like a pretty God-like entity if you ask me. But is he identical with either The Father or Jesus? No, for it says He “proceeds from the Father and the Son”. A person cannot proceed from himself. So despite claims of The Watchtower Society, it seems the results of the council was full blown Trinitarian theology. It is odd, therefore, to say that “None of the bishops at Nicaea promoted a Trinity” when the creed that was the end result of the council asserts exactly that!?

How Did The Trinity Develop – (2) Further Development?

They write \\“AFTER Nicaea, debates on the subject continued for decades. Those who believed that Jesus was not equal to God even came back into favor for a time. But later Emperor Theodosius decided against them. He established the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard for his realm and convened the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. to clarify the formula. That council agreed to place the holy spirit on the same level as God and Christ. For the first time, Christendom’s Trinity began to come into focus.”\\ – [28]From “Should You Believe In The Trinity?”, a booklet from The Watchtower Society. — … Continue reading

Well, we’ve already debunked much of the revisionist history put forth in this tract so far, so hopefuly even a casual reader can see that this paragraph is false. We saw in the previous article that the doctrine of The Trinity is in The Bible (both testaments), and in this article we saw that even before The Council Of Nicea was held, church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Ireneus, Tertullian, and others, asserted and defended the deity of Jesus and his distinction from The Father, as well as holding to Monotheism, all major ingredients to Trinitarian theology. Moreover, we saw that The Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Nicene Creed, and his role is described as “The Lord, the giver of life” which are definitely a title and role that God alone posesses. Moreover, His distinction from The Father and Son is clear from his being said to “proceed” from them. Again, it’s absurd to say that a person proceeds forth from himself. So, the idea that it was not until “The Council Of Constantinople in 381 C.E [decided to] clarify the formula” that then “The council agreed to place The Holy Spirit on the same level as God and Christ”. Obviously not. From the creed, The Holy Spirit was on the same level as God and Christ back at Nicea. And I highly doubt the bishops who attended the council had such poor reading comprehension that they neglected the divine nature and distinct personhood of The Holy Spirit mentioned. They obviously agreed with it.

\\“Yet, even after the Council of Constantinople, the Trinity did not become a widely accepted creed. Many opposed it and thus brought on themselves violent persecution.”\\ – [29]ibid. Nope, nope, nope. Go back and read The Nicene Creed again. And the church fathers. And The Bible. As for the persecution of Non-Trinitarians, my memory of this aspect of church history is a bit hazy. But even if they did, nothing would follow from that other than that we had some Christians behaving in a non-Christian manner.

\\“It was only in later centuries that the Trinity was formulated into set creeds.”\\ [30]ibid – Again, no. We can see wide acceptance of The Trinity in The Bible, the ante-Nicene Church Fathers, and the Nicene Creed. The Trinity has an unbroken history of being taught and believed in the church.

They go onto cite The Encyclopedia Americana notes: “‘The full development of Trinitarianism took place in the West, in the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, when an explanation was undertaken in terms of philosophy and psychology.’” Whoever wrote this section should be ashamed of themselves for such a blatantly wrong conclusion.

I’m not going to comment on their short historical survey of the Athanasian Creed because, frankly, I don’t need to. If someone concocts a false story and you’ve already debunked 80% of it, what are the odds that they’re telling the truth later? Moreover, since I’ve already shown that The Trinity traces back to the council of Nicea, and early to the Ante-Nicene church Fathers, and even earlier to The Bible itself, then since the section on the Athenatian Creed builds on the falsehoods already states, then if the earlier falsehoods are falsehoods, then that which rests atop of it comes crumbling down as well.

Apostasy Foretold

The booklet goes on to say \”THIS disreputable history of the Trinity fits in with what Jesus and his apostles foretold would follow their time.”\ – How can you say that since it’s a history you made up? But, go on.

\\“They said that there would be an apostasy, a deviation, a falling away from true worship until Christ’s return, when true worship would be restored before God’s day of destruction of this system of things.”\\ — Indeed. And heretical sects like The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians and others who deny the deity of Christ and the Trinity are part of this deviation of true worship. Not Roman Catholics, Baptists (like myself), Lutherans, Anglicans, and others within Orthodox Christianity. We’ve seen this in both part 1 and 2 of this series.

They go on to say that Regarding that “day,” the apostle Paul said: “It will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7) Later, he foretold: “When I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them.” (Acts 20:29, 30, JB) Other disciples of Jesus also wrote of this apostasy with its ‘lawless’ clergy class.—See, for example, 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3, 4.

Well said, but if you’ve been following my apologia so far, hopefully, you can see that it is The Watchtower Society of whom these verses can be applied. And if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness reading this, it is my prayer that you turn from your heresy and worship God as He truly is.

They wrote \\”Jesus himself explained what was behind this falling away from true worship. He said that he had sowed good seeds but that the enemy, Satan, would oversow the field with weeds. So along with the first blades of wheat, the weeds appeared also. Thus, a deviation from pure Christianity was to be expected until the harvest, when Christ would set matters right. (Matthew 13:24-43)”\\ — Indeed. So stop deviating from what The Bible and the church has always taught. Jesus Christ is Lord!

The Trinity Among Pagans?

They then go on to try to argue that the Trinity originated in Paganism and that Christianity stole this idea and syncretized it with Judaic Monotheism. For example, they write; \\“Many centuries before the time of Christ, there were triads, or trinities, of gods in ancient Babylonia and Assyria. The French ‘Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology’ notes one such triad in that Mesopotamian area: ‘The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu’s share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods.'”\\ –

However, remember what The Doctrine of The Trinity is; there is only one God and this one God consists of three persons. I studied Ancient Near Eastern theology pretty in-depth when doing the research for my Primeval History Series (i.e Genesis 1-11) [31]Click here if you’re interested in hearing me exegete Genesis 1-11. and I can tell you with full assurance that Mesopotamia did NOT have a Trinity. Anu, Enlil, and Ea are completely separate entities. Yes, they are a trio of gods, but a trio of gods does not a Trinity make. You would only have a Trinity if the Babylonians taught that there was only one sovereign God and this one God consisted of three persons who they named as Anu, Enlil, and Ea. But that is not the case. If you’re interested in reading the primary sources, you can check out my Primeval History essay series and check those footnotes there.

Another attempted example is from Hinduism. The Watchtower tract says \\“The book ‘The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals’ says regarding a Hindu trinity that existed centuries before Christ: ‘Siva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction. The other two gods are Brahma, the god of creation and Vishnu, the god of maintenance. . . . To indicate that these three processes are one and the same the three gods are combined in one form.’—Published by A. Parthasarathy, Bombay.”\\ –

What is being described here is the doctrine of the “Hindu Trimutri” which is the belief that the creator god has three forms; Braham, Vishnu, and Shiva. However, this is a sad attempt to find trinitarianism in Hinduism. The Trimutri was never really a set doctrine in Hinduism. As historian A.L Basham says “Early western students of Hinduism were impressed by the parallel between the Hindu trinity and that of Christianity. In fact, the parallel is not very close, and the Hindu trinity, unlike the Holy Trinity of Christianity, never really ‘caught on'” All Hindu trinitarianism tended to favor one god of the three; thus, from the context it is clear the the Kalidasa’s hymn to trimutri was in fact addressed to Brahama, here looked on as the high god. The Trimutri was in fact an artificial growth and had very little influence.” [32]A.L Basham, “The Wonder That Was India”, pages 310-311.

Plus, notice that I said earlier that the trimutri can be three forms. As Michael Jones of Inspiring Philosophy says “This is not three co-existing eternal persons. This is more akin to the heresy of modalism. The only real similarity is the Trimutri as three forms, and there are three persons of the Trinity. And like we said, the number 3 is not much to go on.” [33]Michael Jones, Inspiring Philosophy, “Is The Trinity Pagan?”, May 22nd, 2015 –

Moreover, I have to point out that even if the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right that pagan religions had some concept of a Trinity, what would follow from that? That the doctrine of The Trinity is unbiblical? Certainly not, for in the previous blog post, I have shown that the doctrine of The Trinity is in scripture. The Bible teaches (1) There is only 1 God, (2) The Father is God, (3) Jesus is God, (4) The Holy Spirit is God, and (5) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. Even if we conceded the historically dubious claims of The Watchtower Society, The Bible would still say what The Bible says. At worst, this would undermine some of my apologetics elsewhere, such as my claim that the God of The Moral and Ontological Arguments must be the Christian God. [34]see my book “The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity”, published in paperback and Kindle. –> … Continue reading Aside from that, this would be equivalent to pointing out that pagan religions have animal sacrifices and miracles, and possibly belief in an afterlife. I’m pretty sure the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t want to forfeit the belief that Jesus performs miracles and will give us an afterlife simply because some other religions might teach similar things. [35]For the atheists in the readership, I recommend checking out my 11-part Gospel Reliability series to see why we should be more prone to believe the miracles of Christianity (especially the … Continue reading This whole section of the tract/booklet is just one big genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is when a view or argument is dismissed or ignored on the basis of its origins.

Summary and Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve seen that The Watchtower Society continues failing to undermine belief in the Trinity. Time after time they distort their historical sources and make their arguments off of quote-mined authors and a fabricated history. The early church fathers who preceded The Council Of Nicea were repeatedly quoted out of context, and misrepresented, and every place that they explicitly (in no unclear, uncertain terms) asserted that Jesus is God yet distinct from the Father was conveniently ignored. Moreover, even the council of Nicea itself was misrepresented. The author of this Watchtower tract/booklet claimed that The Trinity was not yet formulated even at Nicea, and that it was only the divinity of Jesus and the distinction from the Father that was under discussion and, finally, established as a mandatory belief for orthodoxy. Yet, language about The Holy Spirit clearly exalts him as God and distinguishing Him from The Father and The Son was conveniently ignored. Granted, the nature of God and the person of Jesus was the primary focus, and The Holy Spirit only gets mentioned briefly in the Nicene Creed, yet even though it was brief, Nicea still acknowledged The Holy Spirit’s deity and distinction. So the creed asserts there is one God, and that one God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these are three distinct persons. Finally, their claim that The Trinity has its roots in paganism was soundly refuted. While I didn’t address their claim that the Trinity is found in Plato, given how this author has botched the readings of the early church fathers, misrepresented the Hindu Trimutri, and said that Babylon believed in a Trinity when you all you have is a trio of entirely separate divine entities (Trinitarians believe in one divine entity that exists as 3 co-eternal persons), I figured even the casual reader would know to be skeptical of the rest of their claims.

That wraps it for Part 2 of this series, in the next installment, we will shift from a historical survey back to exegesis. We will see that The Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to undermine the doctrine of the Trinity from scripture as much as they do from church history.

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1 Michael F. Bird, “Justin Martyr On The Logos”,, January 4th 2021, — Justin Martyr On The Logos | Michael Bird (
2 Paul Hartog, “Jesus As God In The Second Century”, June 11th 2009, — Jesus as God in the Second Century – Christian Research Institute (
3 See Dr. Allan Segal’s doctoral dissertation “The Two Powers In Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism”, — Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (Library of Early Christology): 9781602585492: Segal, Alan F.: Books
4 Paul Hartog, “Jesus As God In The Second Century“, June 11th 2009, — Jesus as God in the Second Century – Christian Research Institute (
5, 25, 30 ibid
6 By the way, I dealt with the issue of whether the doctrine of the Trinity is logically coherent in the previous installment of this series. Check out “Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: Answering The WatchTower (Part 1)”.
7 Tertullian, p.170 n.1 Adv. Praxean, c. 16.
8 Jesus not being omniscient is a sticky theological issue. I think a good answer can be given for how Jesus can be both God and have a normal human consciousness in need of learning at the same time. I talk about this in my article “Is The Doctrine Of The Incarnation Coherent?” In a nutshell, I defend the Neo-Apollonarian model of the incarnation that philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig defends in the book he co-wrote with Moreland titled “Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview”. This model has three “planks”. The first plank is that Jesus is one person with two natures; a divine nature and a human nature. The second plank is that The Logos (The Word – John 1:1) is the rational soul that animates the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The third plank, and the one most relevant to explaining why Jesus didn’t come straight out of the womb speaking full blown Hebrew, is that the divine aspects of Jesus are largely subliminal. So, for example, in the case of omniscience, Jesus’ omniscience is largely tucked away in His subconscience. His knowledge of everything from auto mechanics to quantum mechanics is subconscious. This would mean that Jesus had to learn his ABCs and 123s just like everyone else. In this way, Jesus could know everything and yet not know everything at the same time. Occasionally, either through learning or through divine revelation from The Father, Jesus would, in a sense, regain access to some of this knowledge that was locked away. This shouldn’t be a bizarre concept. We all know cases in which we know that we know something, but it’s in our subconscious, and we can’t get to it. We may see a celebrity on TV and think “What is that man’s name? I know it. It’s on the tip of my tongue! Gah! Think!” And then maybe a few moments later, it dons on you. Hilariously enough, when trying to think of an actor as an example, this literally just happened to me. “Who was that guy who played Professor Proton on The Big Bang Theory? He had an old TV show named after him too. Rob Newman? Rob Newhart? Roger Newman? …..BOB! Bob Newhart!” So as I was preparing this article, I had a piece of knowledge stuck in my subconscious that I had to work at getting to. If you had asked me in the moment who played Professor Proton, I would have said in all honesty “I don’t know.” But I DID know! The answer was just in a part of my psyche that was consciously and temporarily out of my reach. Likewise, Jesus can be God yet say, in Mark 13:32, that he doesn’t know the time of his second coming.
9  Tertullian, from p.170 n.2 Apologeticus, c. 21.
10 Tertullian, Part Second, Section 3, Against Hermogenes, Chapter 3.
11 Dr. Michael Licona, “The Early Church Fathers On Jesus” —
12 Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p.7
13 Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies, Book 10, Chapter 28.
14 Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies, Book 10, Chapter 29.
15 Hippolytus, Exegetical Fragments from Commentaries, On Luke, Chapter 23.
16 Hippolytus, Against Plato, Section 3
17 Hippolytus, Against the Heresy of one Noetus, Section 17.
18 Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p.7.
19 Origen, De Principiis, Book 4, Chapter 1, Section 28.
20 Origen, Contra Celsus, Book 5, Chapter 11.
21, 23 Dr. Michael Licona, “The Early Church Fathers On Jesus”, —
22 Origen, Contra Celsus, Book 8, Chapter 15. Origen, De Principiis, Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 2.
24 “Should You Believe In The Trinity”? Page 8
26 ibid again
27, 28 From “Should You Believe In The Trinity?”, a booklet from The Watchtower Society. —
29 ibid.
31 Click here if you’re interested in hearing me exegete Genesis 1-11.
32 A.L Basham, “The Wonder That Was India”, pages 310-311
33 Michael Jones, Inspiring Philosophy, “Is The Trinity Pagan?”, May 22nd, 2015 –
34 see my book “The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity”, published in paperback and Kindle. –>
35 For the atheists in the readership, I recommend checking out my 11-part Gospel Reliability series to see why we should be more prone to believe the miracles of Christianity (especially the resurrection) over these other claims. Part 8 and Part 9 of the series would be of particular interest where I specifically refute David Hume’s arguments against miracles and provide a syllogistic defense of the resurrection of Jesus using “The McGrewian Trilemma”. I plan to make one single blog post abbreviating a Maximalist case for the resurrection at some point in the future, but this is where I direct the atheists and agnostics in my audience for now. Click the hyperlinks to read them.

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