I listened to the James White-Greg Stafford debate...


#1

It was interesting. I would definitely recommend it. Stafford is one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ best apologists, for those of you who don’t know. The subject of the debate was: Is Jesus God or a god?

Overall, I think it was a toss-up; it could have gone either way. White presented the classical Christian belief that Jesus is eternally God. Stafford presented the view that Jesus is God’s first-begotten, and the most highly exalted creature, but he is not co-eternal with God. White did well in explaining how the worship of the lamb in Revelation would be impermissible if Jesus were not God.

I don’t think that White did as well under cross-examination, as I would have liked. Stafford was questioning White on John 17:3, when Jesus said that God the Father is the only true God. Stafford asked, “If God the Father is the one identified as the only true God, and that’s monotheism, on what basis do you change the categorization of the Father as the only true God by Jesus?” White responded, “because I don’t read read into his statements the implicit Unitarianism that you do.” To me, that’s begging the question.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


#2

That’s one I don’t have, but my buddy Apolonio has it and said similar things as you, that it was close.

On John 17:3, the verse affirms the Father is the “only true God.” It is silent on whether Jesus is the only true God. Verse 5 says Jesus had the same glory with the Father before the world was. John 20:28 says Jesus is “ho theos” that is, the true God. John 5:18 says Jesus was making himself “equal with God.” John 8:58-59 says Jesus is the I AM. All texts White probably brought up in the debate. I have his book on the Trinity and it is quite good.

I’d like to know how Stafford dealt with John 20:28. The usual JW reply is “oh my lord, oh my god” which is a modern anachronism, is not what the text says, and would not be acceptable to a Jew.

Another debate to get, but unfortunately I would have to donate to White again.

Phil P


#3

They don’t directly deal with John 20:28 in the debate. However, in his opening statement, White alludes to a statement that Stafford made in another debate: “And so I would agree and affirm that Jesus is God both in terms of his authority and representation. There’s no question in my mind that Thomas looked at Jesus and affirmed, ‘My Lord and my God.’ I have no problem making the same declaration of Jesus if he stood before me now.”

Basically, Stafford contentds that Jesus is God in a relative sense, and is not consubstantial and co-eternal with the father.


#4

<< Basically, Stafford contends that Jesus is God in a relative sense, and is not consubstantial and co-eternal with the father. >>

Stafford probably had no problem then since once you get into arguing “non-biblical” terms White is stuck. Also shows the problems with sola scriptura. Did they do Bible only or address any of the Fathers?

Phil P


#5

No. None of the fathers were even hinted at by either side. Your point about sola scriptura is interesting, because in his closing statement, Stafford says, “If henotheism describes what’s in the bible, I’ll accept it. If it’s polytheism, I’ll accept it. If it’s monotheism, I’ll accept it. I don’t care what label you give it. I accept what’s in the bible.”

I will say this, Stafford is a persuasive speaker. He ought to be, since he argues with people regularly. If Jehovah’s Witnesses talk as persuasively and sincerely as Stafford does, then I can see why Catholics and Protestants can be lured into their sect.

Pax Tecum,
Jay


#6

Here is a link or URL to Stafford’s webpage, where you can download the debate in MP3 format for free. Have fun Phil!

elihubooks.com/online-audio/


#7

<< Here is a link or URL to Stafford’s webpage, where you can download the debate in MP3 format for free. Have fun Phil! >>

Ah ha thank you!

Phil P


#8

nasb:

Have you listened to the debate? If so, what did you think?

Pax Tecum,
Jay


#9

Hello Belcanto,

You posted:

Overall, I think it was a toss-up; it could have gone either way. White presented the classical Christian belief that Jesus is eternally God. Stafford presented the view that Jesus is God’s first-begotten, and the most highly exalted creature, but he is not co-eternal with God.>>

Aug: I think I would rate the debate 60/40 for Stafford. IMHO, both sides ‘missed’ some important points that would have ‘helped’ there respective positions; but in the end, Stafford’s overall presentation seemed tighter to me.

White did well in explaining how the worship of the lamb in Revelation would be impermissible if Jesus were not God.>>

Aug: I think this is actually a weakness, for in the very same book (Revelation), we are told that the saints are to be “worshipped” (Greek: proskunEsousiv).

I don’t think that White did as well under cross-examination, as I would have liked. Stafford was questioning White on John 17:3, when Jesus said that God the Father is the only true God. Stafford asked, “If God the Father is the one identified as the only true God, and that’s monotheism, on what basis do you change the categorization of the Father as the only true God by Jesus?” White responded, “because I don’t read read into his statements the implicit Unitarianism that you do.” To me, that’s begging the question.>>

Aug: Don’t remember if Stafford made use of the fact the NT never calls our Lord “the one God”; this title is reserved for God the Father alone.

Grace and peace,

Aug


#10

#11

My own view is that it is very hard to argue the Trinity from the Bible. When I was looking to find another church, I studied this issue pretty thoroughly. About the only thing I could really hang my hat on for the Trinity is the first chapter of the gospel of John. Even that is subject to interpretation. In the end the only thing I had to hang onto was the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church from the time of the Apostles and it is one of the reasons I became a Catholic. Anyone who just tries to figure out their religion by looking at the Bible is always going to come away hopelessly confused. That is why there are so many different denominations out there. The teaching authority of the church is absolutely necessary.


#12

Hello again Belcanto,

You posted:

I can’t find in Revelation where the saints or elders are given proskuneo, but nowhere is the praise, “blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever” given to anyone but to the one who sits on the throne and the lamb. As I said, I think White’s appeal to these texts was the strongest part of his case.>>

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship (proskunEsousiv) before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Rev. 3:9)

Grace and peace,

Aug


#13

AMEN! And early Christian apologists said as much, stating that the Holy Scriptures needed to be interpreted by “the rule of faith”.

Grace and peace,

Aug


#14

Hi Aug,

This passage is not talking about the saints being worshipped; it’s talking about bringing the people of the “synagogue of Satan” to worship before God’s throne. “Thy feet” refers to God’s throne.

Pax Tecum,
Jay


#15

Sorry brother, but I must strongly disagree, the whole context is referring to the “angel of the Church of Philidelphia”:

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev. 3:7-10)

The referent, thee/thy, is the same throughout the passage, and is clearly “the angel of the church in Philadelphia”. (BTW, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, II.474 is quite clear on this.)

Grace and peace,

Aug


#16

OK. No particular response at this point. I’m going to look into it some more, though. At first blush, it seems odd for a church to be worshipping at the throne of an angel, doesn’t it? And anyway, my original point was that in Revelation, “glory and honor and power and might” are not given to anyone, including the angels of the churches, but to God and the lamb. Thanks for your observations, though.

Pax Tecum,
Jay


#17

Hi Jay,

You posted:

At first blush, it seems odd for a church to be worshipping at the throne of an angel, doesn’t it?

Aug: Agreed; however, it must be kept in mind that most Christian commentators believe that the “angels” of the 7 churches are not heavenly angels, but rather, the bishops/elders of the churches. This should not seem too foreign, for the Greek for angel (aggelos/angelos) is clearly used for men in the following instances: Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52; and James 2:25.

Further, in the Book of Revelation we are told that:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev. 3:21)

Grace and peace,

Aug


#18

For those who may not know, James White’s only sibling, Patty Bonds, is a convert to the Catholic Church. James was not pleased.

You can read Patty’s conversion story here:
www.chnetwork.org

At the home page, click on Conversion Stories. Then scroll down to the name, Patty Bonds.

Katholikos


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