Nonetheless, CDs continue to deny the pre-existence of Christ and maintain that, before the Virgin Birth, the Son had no existence at all except as a thought in the mind of God. And so they take John 6:57; 8:42,58, 16:28; 17:5 as indicating no more than the fact that the Son existed as a purpose in the divine will. But taken as they stand these verses indicate that at the very least Jesus was conscious of His personal pre-existence with the Father.
So, according to John 17:3, how many true Gods are there? Both CDs & JWs will have to admit there is only one - even if they don't want to admit that we have proved that Jesus is also God. So we ask - would you agree that whatever is not true must be false? If there is only one true God, all other gods must be false gods, right? Well then, is Jesus a true god or a false god? He can't be a false god, can he, since that would mean the apostle John was guilty of falsely honouring Jesus as a god? Therefore he must be a true God. But "Yahweh" is the only true God. Therefore, Jesus must be "Yahweh."
We should emphasize that the phrase "only true God" in John 17:3 - in both grammar and context - is not intended to contrast the Father and the Son, but rather the one true God's nature with that of false gods. The Greek word for "true" (alethinos) in this verse carries the meaning "real" or "genuine." Hence, Jesus in this verse is simply saying that the Father is the "only true God" - the only real or genuine God - as opposed to the many false gods and idols (see 2 Chr 15:3; Isa 65:16; 1 Thess 1:9; 1 John 5:20; Rev 3:7). John 17:3 does not take away from Christ's deity in any way. And John firmly establishes Christ's deity (as the true God) elsewhere in his gospel (John 1:1; 8:58; 20:28). Remember Palmer said: 'even the little children can understand what those verses say. You don't need to be a professor of theology to work those out.' Apparently straightforward verses don't always say what you want them to say, do they?
1 Corinthians 8:6 -- "One God, the Father ... One Lord, Jesus Christ"
The CDs & JWs argue that since there is "one God" ("Yahweh") who is distinct from "one Lord" (Jesus), then Jesus cannot be God. This verse presents the Father as being in a "class" distinct from Jesus Christ. According to their teaching this verse indicates that "Yahweh" is utterly unique, with no one else sharing His exalted position. "Yahweh" stands in clear contrast to all other alleged objects of worship.
The Biblical Teaching - Though the Father is called 'one God' and Jesus Christ is called 'one Lord' in 1 Corinthians 8:6, it is illegitimate to conclude that Jesus is not God just as it is illegitimate to conclude that the Father is not Lord. After all, there are many places throughout Scripture where the Father is called Lord and the Son is called God. We must obviously carry this logic to the end. Indeed, if the reference to the Father being the "one God" proves that Jesus is not God, then by that same logic we must conclude that the reference to Jesus Christ as the "one Lord" means that the Father is not Lord. And nobody reading the whole Bible will be willing to concede that the Father is not Lord. You cannot sidestep this issue and interpret the first part of this verse one way and the second part another way.
The faulty logic of CDs & JWs here is the assumption that the use of a title for one person in one context automatically rules out its application to another person in another context. Instead of making such a faulty assumption, the proper policy would be to consult what all of Scripture has to say about the Father and Jesus Christ and then come to one's conclusion. From Scripture we know that the Father is called God (1 Peter 1:2) and Lord (Matthew 11:25), and we know that Jesus Christ is called God (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8) and Lord (Romans 10:9). When we let Scripture interpret Scripture, it becomes clear that the CD & JWs interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is in gross error.
1 Tim. 2:5 - CDs & JWs argue that since 'there is one God and one mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus' it is clear that Jesus cannot be viewed as God. But read it through again - it simply does not say that 'Jesus is not God' - it means exactly what it says but it in no way excludes Jesus from being the one God. Using the same reasoning as before we only have to look at ALL the Scriptures and we find that Christ is clearly called God, e.g. John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8, so we know He cannot be excluded by this passage. If it read "only the Father is God" then it would raise questions about Christ's deity - but it doesn't!
The cults sometimes claim Christ is not God since, by definition, a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation, it would be a contradiction for Jesus to be one entity with either of the parties he is trying to reconcile. That would be pretending to be something he is not. Their conclusion, then, is that Christ as a mediator cannot be viewed as God. How could Jesus mediate between God and man if He Himself was God?
The Biblical Teaching. The folly of this reasoning is at once evident in the fact that if Jesus as mediator cannot be God, then, by the same logic, He cannot be man either! Obviously, if Christ as a man can be a mediator between God and man, then can't Christ as God also be a mediator between God and man? The fact is clearly that Jesus can mediate between God and man precisely because He is both God and man - as the Trinitarian doctrine makes clear! Indeed, humankind's redemption was completely dependent upon the human-divine union in Christ. If Christ the Redeemer had been only God, He could not have died, since God by His very nature cannot die. It was only as a man that Christ could represent humanity and die as a man. As God, however, Christ's death had infinite value sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of all people. Clearly, then, Christ had to be both God and man to secure man's salvation (1 Timothy 2:5).
This is related to the Old Testament concept of the kinsman-redeemer. In Old Testament times, the phrase kinsman-redeemer was always used of one who was related by blood to someone he was seeking to redeem from bondage. If someone was sold into slavery, for example, it was the duty of a blood relative - the next of kin - to act as that person's kinsman-redeemer and buy him out of slavery (Leviticus 25:47,48).
Jesus is the Kinsman-Redeemer for sin-enslaved humanity. For Jesus to become such, however, He had to become related by blood to the human race. This indicates the necessity of the incarnation. Jesus became a man in order to redeem man (Hebrews 2:14-16) and, because He was also fully God, His sacrificial death had infinite value (Hebrews 9:11-28). Related to Christ's role as Mediator is his role as Saviour. A study of the Old Testament indicates that it is only God who saves. In Isaiah 43:11, God asserts, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no Saviour" (emphasis added). This is an extremely important verse, for it indicates that 1) a claim to be Saviour is, in itself, a claim to deity; and 2) there is only one Saviour - God. And because the New Testament refers to Jesus Christ as the Saviour, we can be certain that He has a divine nature. Following His birth, an angel appeared to shepherds and said, "Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). John's Gospel records the conclusion of the Samaritans: Jesus "really is the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42).
In Titus 2:13, Paul encourages Titus to await the blessed hope, the "glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ." An examination of Titus 2:10-13, 3:4, and 3:6 reveals that the phrases "God our Saviour" and "Jesus our Saviour" are used interchangeably four times and the Granville-Sharp law (which cults wish did not exist!) states that, in Greek, one article before two nouns connected by and (kai) means that both nouns refer to the same person. This is also true in English so that if I say that I met 'the editor and president' I met one person; but if I say I met 'the editor and the president' then I met TWO persons. Thus Paul is saying that Jesus is both 'our great God and Saviour' in Titus 2:13. The parallel truths that only God is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:11) and that Jesus Himself is the Saviour constitute a powerful evidence for Christ's deity. In the incarnation, God the Saviour became a human being - and this enabled Him to fulfill His role as Mediator between God and man (since He Himself was both God and man).
John 14:28 - "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I." The CDs & JWs conclude from this that because "Yahweh" is the "greater" of the two, Jesus cannot be God Almighty. The fact that Jesus is lesser than "Yahweh" proves that He cannot be God in the same sense that "Yahweh" is God. Indeed, they say, on numerous occasions Jesus expressed his inferiority and subordination to his Father. Even after Jesus' ascension into heaven his apostles continued to present the same picture.
The Biblical Teaching. It is critical to recognize that in John 14:28, Jesus is not speaking about His nature or His essential being (Christ had earlier said, "I and the Father are one" in this regard [John 10:30]), but rather about His lowly position in the incarnation. The Athanasian Creed affirms that Christ is "equal to the Father as touching his Godhood and inferior to the Father as touching his manhood." In becoming incarnate and tabernacling among men, Christ had greatly humiliated Himself, by choosing to descend into shame and suffering in their acutest forms. In view of this, Christ was now contrasting His situation with that of the Father in the heavenly Sanctuary. The Father was seated upon the throne of highest majesty; the brightness of His glory was un-eclipsed; He was surrounded by hosts of holy beings, who worshipped Him with uninterrupted praise. Far different was it with His incarnate Son - despised and rejected of men, surrounded by implacable enemies, soon to be nailed to a criminal's cross.
Now, it is important that we notice the distinction between the Greek words for greater (meizon) and better (kreitton). Jesus specifically said, "The Father is greater than I" not, "The Father is better than I." The word "greater" is used to point to the Father's greater position (in heaven), not a greater nature. Had the word "better" been used, however, this would indicate that the Father has a better nature than Jesus. This distinction is made clear in Hebrews 1:4, where "better" (kreitton) is used in regard to Jesus' superiority over the angels. The word "better" in this verse indicates that Jesus is not just higher than the angels positionally; rather, He is higher than the angels in His very nature. Jesus is different (better) in kind and in nature from the angels. 'Better' is a term of comparison between natures in Heb. 1:4 while 'greater' is a term of comparison relative to positions (cf. Heb. 2:7-9). This distinction between "greater" and "better" can be illustrated from Genesis 39:9 where Joseph is tempted by his master's wife: "There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?" Joseph was not a superior being to the rest of the household; his greatness consisted of position. Our Prime Minister is in a higher position than the rest of us and therefore greater (meizon) than the rest of us. However, he is still just a human being - and thus he is not better (kreitton) than the rest of us. Notice that Jesus never used the word "better" regarding His relationship with the Father, for He is not inferior or lower in nature than the Father. Rather, Jesus used a word ("greater") that points to the Father being higher in position only. During the time of the incarnation, Jesus functioned in the world of humanity, and this necessitated Jesus being lower than the Father positionally.
We can confirm this simply by looking at other places in the New Testament that this word "greater" (meizon) is used - and we don't have to look far: John 14:12 - "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater (meizon) works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father." If you believe the word should be used in the way the cults suggest then you will have to admit that the disciples will do better (superior etc.) works of miracles etc. than our Lord and God Jesus Christ! How can we do greater (numerically or positionally) works than Christ - because there are more of us - Christ was fully human and fully divine but on earth He was limited by His human flesh and did not employ the omnipresence of Godhood!. He told the disciples: "If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I." Why should they rejoice? Two reasons - first, because He is returning to the "glory which He had with the Father before the world began" (John 17:5) and would no longer be "the man of sorrows acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3); secondly, because He had promised the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26) who would empower them and teach them "all things."
Notice this second important example in John 10:28-30:28: 'I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater (meizon) than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. "I and the Father are one." Jesus pre-emptively claims that no one can snatch His sheep from His hand, emphasises that the Father is in a greater position of strength in heaven and no one can snatch them from the Father's hand - and then makes it absolutely clear that He is claiming to be everything that the Father is: "I and My Father are One!" And the Jews do NOT mis-understand but take up stones because they have recognised that He has claimed equality with God (John 10:31-39).
And two final examples, first Luke 7:28 - "I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater (meizon) than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." I'm sure no CD or Jehovah's Witness will claim to be greater than John - but the least in the kingdom of God is positionally greater because they are in the presence of God in heaven (cf. Matt. 11:11). Now look at Luke 22:27 - "For who is greater (meizon), the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.' In the words of Jesus - who is speaking here - who is greater? The one who reclines! And who is taking His turn by sharing the serving with the disciples while some of them recline at the table - Jesus! So, according to the Bible interpretation of the CDs and JWs, Jesus is inferior to the disciples!
Palmer returned to two of his major claims: "....in the centuries past we have been the ones tied to the stake....the Word of God....is our touchstone - call us a cult for that if you will." We can see from the accumulated evidence above that these first statements remain unproven. The evidence shows clearly that CDs qualify as a cult! Notice this final evidence which should cause every seeker of the truth to cringe at the thought of who is leading their Bible studies:
"The crunch is this - it's my final remark, really. Rather than trying to browbeat, or manipulate, or influence, or brain-wash - or anything else. Do you know what our most successful preaching approach is? 'Learn to Read the Bible' - we ask nobody for money at any stage - we never ask for money. We don't charge entrance fees. We don't sell our literature. We don't sell our booklets. We're embarrassed when people give us voluntary contributions because we've got no organisation to deal with it. Somebody gave me £5 towards the cost of something to do with the seminar and I went to our treasurer and said, 'What do you want me to do with it?' But he didn't know - because we've got no methods. And we do not want people's money. We do not send plates around. We do not collect big collections at organised rallies. We fund things voluntarily, always secretly, from our own pockets - amongst the members of our organisation - our community. That's what we say - we say come, don't be browbeaten...listen to us, you're under no pressure. We would love you to learn to read the Bible for yourself. Because, if you do, we're sure you will be able to understand the things concerning salvation."
From the evidence we have just revealed, would you really want your family, your sons and daughters, to be trained by this cult. Certainly, they may be philanthropic where it suits them, and thus lead people to the surface conclusion that they are "good people" (who 'pay their taxes' etc.). But remember the apostle Paul's warning inspired by the Holy Spirit: false apostles, deceitful workers try to appear as true apostles - for 'Satan disguises himself as an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:13-15). So do not be surprised if they appear wholesome - remember the deceptive claims above and our warning - they are a "soul destroying cult."
If anyone recognises Palmer's next piece of "evidence" we would be grateful for verification of his claims about this church:
"....Parish Church of St Michael of All Angels, where the minister sent a letter to one of our members - this is what he said about the Bible: '....it belongs to the church, indeed the church was around for quite a time without the Bible...and it is only the church that can interpret the Word of God to reach generations....setting up the Bible as the literal and final Word to be said about anything....is perhaps the most subtle idolatry of all...' says an orthodox minister. If you accept what this says (referring to letter) you've got to go to men before you can know what the Bible says. That's the fundamental lie of the last 2,000 years. We say this - we say have a look at Acts Chapter 17 - have a look at the attitude of mind - the approach - that the apostles admired and encouraged....a little ecclesia in a town called Berea. Verse 10-11: 'and the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so.' And do you notice what was commended - they're commended because they would not accept what the apostle Paul told them, unless they first went home and searched it out for themselves. Now that's all that we're asking people to do. Search the Scriptures daily because in these Scriptures there is the power of God unto salvation (quoted) ' all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus that the man of God may be throughly (sic) furnished, perfect unto all good works. I hope that you come again.... and that we'll have a subject which is less controversial, less defensive, and much more interesting - in many ways. Because this (holding up Bible), dear friends, is the Word of Life."
We have seen that the Scriptures quoted by the CDs do not say what they would like them to say and that the claim that 'even a child can understand them' does not hold true for the whole of Scripture. Yes, much of the Bible can be taken at face value - enough for any child of reasonable reading ability to understand and be led by the Spirit to the truth and to be INSTANTLY saved (note: CDs do NOT believe this is possible). But it is possible to be deceived, particularly when cults like the CDs tell you that you do not have the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Palmer's quote of a source claiming that we need the church to define the word of God is only part of the truth: theologians are required to ensure consistent exegesis and wise hermeneutics - as we have shown in examining the Scriptures above. Read 2 Peter 3:16:
'....our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness.' Those who ignore such warnings, and study with them, finish up believing the diverse opinions of the cults who would like to be able to make it up as they go along - as we witnessed here.
Now we add the testimony of eye-witnesses who observed speaker Palmer declare in a previous meeting purporting to answer questions on the Trinity, 'I believe that when Thomas spoke to Jesus what he actually said was: 'My Lord and my elohim.' Read John 20:28 carefully and you will see that Thomas declared to Jesus: 'My Lord and my God.' The Greek is unequivocal and even JWs have not had the gall to try and wrest this Scripture. Palmer cannot admit that Jesus is called God because his theology commits him to a belief that makes it necessary for him to apply the Hebrew elohim (so other 'divine' beings can be incorporated - although this word could also be translated 'God'). We do not even have any evidence that Greek was not spoken in these circumstance - why would a speaker swap from one language to another? Only when your theology requires it! Experts declare that ho theos here can only be translated: 'my God.' We took careful note of the final announcement of the meeting:
"We've got a selection of literature which is available for you to have a look at. It's all entirely free, and we do ask one thing - that you read it in conjunction with your Scriptures.
This is the crux of the matter - every religion today produces literature apart from the writings they consider Scripture. It is a fact that whatever material you read apart from the Bible will influence your view of the Word of God - and there is an increasing tendency for people today to do the minimum reading necessary in all walks of life. We have read the CD material and it is clearly at odds with Bible truth - as we have shown in these few pages. We hope we have convinced the casual reader, as well as the firm adherent, that all is not well with many groups claiming to be Christian. We are sure that all of you will also see that the CDs have been dishonest with the truth and with Scripture and have in no way cast off their deserved title of cult which we defined earlier. Notice particularly that our tract detailed TEN things they would not want you to know! Which of these TEN things did Stephen Palmer tell you about? We repeat - all of these groups - and many others - present a "different gospel" from the historical gospel preached by the apostles (Galatians 1v6-9). The Christ they present is not "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13v8) but an anti-Christ who they present to people instead of the Christ of the Bible who is able to forgive us our sin (John 5v39-40 & Mark 2v5-10). The true gospel - which so many in the world are unaware of - teaches salvation by the grace of God (a FREE GIFT), not conditional on good works (Eph. 2v8-10 & Titus 3v5-7) but obtained by FAITH in the real Jesus who died for all mankind (1 Peter 2v24 & 2 Cor. 5v21) so that we can know that we ARE SAVED and have already passed from spiritual death to spiritual life (John 5v24 & 1 John 5v13). So make sure you find a Christian church preaching these vital truths!
References to the history of Rawlins White
1. The Dictionary of Welsh Biography Down to 1940 (Under the Auspices of the honourable Society of Cymmodorian) William Lewis (Printer's) Ltd., Cardiff, p.1154;
2. Records of the County Borough of Cardiff, Vol. I, p.213, 235 and Vol. V, p.475;
3. Central Library Records - blue folder containing the Rev. W.E. Winks pamphlet: 'Rawlins White, the Cardiff Martyr'and other material;
4. Cardiff - A History of the City by William Rees, 2nd Ed., Revised, Published by the Corporation of the City of Cardiff, City Hall, Cardiff, 1969, p.78-79;
5. The History of Nonconformity in Cardiff by J.A. Jenkins & R.E. James, Cardiff Wesleyan and General book Depot, 8-10 Castle Arcade, p.2-3;
6. Glamorgan County History, Vol. IV, Early Modern Glamorgan, edited by Glanmor Williams, published by Glamorgan County History Trust Ltd., distributed by University of Wales Press, 1974, pp.220-223