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Jehovah of the Watchtower
Theism Of Jehovah’s Witnesses: Possible or Impossible?
I intend to show that the God of the Watchtower is finite and is in the same metaphysical situation as the rest of his alleged creation and therefore could not be the Creator of all that exists. It is my opinion that the Anointed of the Watchtower have done what it states in Romans 1:22-23:
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man...
Historic Christianity has always taught that God is infinite. He has all-knowledge (omniscience), all power (omnipotence), and is non-spatial (omnipresent). Here are definitions for those terms:
“By this we mean that
God is all-powerful, that all power subsists in him.
We mean that God has complete control over all power and is the
author of all power. However,
god never utilizes his power to contradict any part of his nature.
For instance, God cannot lie, neither can he make a rock heavier
than he can lift. He can
make all things, and he can lift all weights.
If one of these abilities were restricted, then his nature would
be limited and contradicted” (Bob Passintino, The Nature and
Attributes of God, p. 4).
“By omniscience we mean
that he knows everything. God
has a perfect and eternal knowledge of all things.
Everything that is able to be known, is known by God.
The omniscience of God does not come in the same way that
knowledge comes to men. We
arrive at knowledge by learning. God
does not go through the learning process to know.
The omniscience of God does not come through reasoning,
inference, the senses, imagination, or induction or deduction.
His knowledge is direct, sharp and distinct, true to the reality
of things. Whatever can be
known, is known, by God” (Bob Passintino, The Nature and Attributes
of God, p. 5).
“By this we mean that God is present everywhere,
but we must be careful to define our terms precisely so that there can
be no confusion as to what we mean.
Everything that has been make is immediately in the presence of
God. This does not mean that
God is in everything.
The creator of all things (John 1:3, Hebrews 3:4) cannot be a
thing or a part of the things themselves.
For example, the builder of a box could have the box in his
presence without being a part of that box.” (Bob Passintino, The
Nature and Attributes of God, p. 6).
Next, we will establish
what the Anointed of the Watchtower officially teach about God.
In Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Twentieth Century, 1978,
page three they state:
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Almighty God, Jehovah, Creator of the heavens and the earth. The very existence of the intricately designed wonders in the universe surrounding us reasonably argues that a supremely intelligent and powerful creator produced it all.
In this statement, the
Anointed teach that God is almighty.
In their practical theology, individual Jehovah’s Witnesses
often emphasize this attribute of God over all others.
For example, some have told me that “God can do anything He
wants – even contradict Himself. That’s
because He has the power to do literally
In the Aid to Bible
Understanding, 1971, page 665 the Anointed state:
true God is not omnipresent, for he is spoken of as having a location.
(1 Ki. 8:49; John 16:28; Heb. 9:24) His throne is in heaven.
(Isa. 66:1) He is
all-powerful, being the Almighty God.
According to the
Watchtower, Jehovah God has a physical location.
This doctrine is closely associated with its view that God has a
“body of spirit.” Jehovah’s
influence may reach to all corners of the universe, but He is confined
to a spirit body in a specific location within His creation.
In this same text, page 595, the Anointed present their view of God’s knowledge:
Similarly, if, in certain respects, God chooses to exercise his infinite ability of foreknowledge in a selective way and to the degree that pleases him, then assuredly no human or angel can rightly say: “What are you doing?” (Job ; Isa. 45:9; Dan. 4:35) It is therefore not a question of ability, what God can foresee, foreknow, and foreordain, for “with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26) The question is what God sees fit to foresee, foreknow, and foreordain,…”
have often expressed to me that God knows everything He wants to know,
but He choose not to know everything.
They ground this belief in what they see as the Bible’s
teaching that humans make real choices with real outcomes.
But, they say, if God knows everything from the beginning, humans
cannot make “real” choices. I
will examine this belief in more detail later in this paper.
As can be read from these
statements, the Anointed teach that God is almighty.
But they also teach that God chooses to limit his knowledge and
is local/spatial just as all created things are.
The belief that God is all-powerful is one that we share.
An infinite God must be all-powerful.
We do not agree, however, that God’s infinite power means that
He can literally do anything imaginable. For
example, a Jehovah’s Witness may argue that God can lie, because He is
all powerful; He just chooses not to.
The problem with this view is that it presupposes a “truth”
apart from God by which we may determine if God is lying.
In the view of historic Christianity, God is the foundation of
Truth. We cannot determine
truth apart from God. Therefore,
whatever God says is true. This
is not a limitation of His power, because lying is not a matter of
power, but of moral character. God
enjoys a perfect moral character, and indeed is the very foundation of
“truth” itself. He
lie – not because He chooses not to – but because He is the definition of truth in the first place.
The beliefs that God is local and ignorant (even if by His own choice) present even more philosophic and theological problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses. This study will concentrate on the Anointed’s claim that God has limited knowledge. I will demonstrate that this belief makes God finite. Of course, it is hard to deal with just one attribute of God in that all His attributes are linked, for God is simple (one). When one limits one of God’s attributes, all the attributes are affected.
What are the logical consequences of these beliefs?
the perfect Adam and Eve sinned in the in the garden of Eden there was
not need for God to purpose the ransoming of the world of mankind by a
perfect human sacrifice. But
as soon as that first human pair sinned God knew it or learned it,
because now they felt guilty and hid themselves from sight.
God extracted their confession of sin.
Immediately he formed his purpose of ransoming the world of Adam
and Eve’s descendants (Watchtower,
1/15/64, p. 52).
being an individual, a Person with a spirit body, has a place where he
resides, and so he could not be at any other place at the same time (Watchtower,
2/15/81, p. 6);
cannot think without a body. God
Himself has a body—a spirit body; it is an organism, of the divine
nature (Golden Age, 1/16/24, p. 253).
group Pleiades. And the
reasonable suggestion has been made that that center may be the heaven
of heavens, the highest heaven, the throne of God (Watchtower,
5/15/1895, p. 121);
Bible seems to show that God’s throne in heaven is in what we call the
north, very likely near the stars called the Pleiades (Job 38:31) (Golden
Age, 5/16/28, p. 540);
evidence that heaven is a place and at a distance from the earth, and
that it requires time to go and come,…” (Golden Age, 8/26/25,
some few days would be required to make the journey from heaven
to earth (Watchtower,
2/1/1896, p. 291);
some few days would be required to make the journey from heaven to earth
(Watchtower, 7/31/31, p. 203).
However, he has a
distribution system, his power by which he sustains the universe, as
well as his active force and his angelic hosts by which he accomplishes
his purposes (Awake, 8/22/63, p. 28);
God is in heaven, yet by his spirit He is everywhere present and
cognizant of all that occurs (Golden Age, 5/19/37, p. 542).
can be read, the Jehovah’s Witness God is not omnipresent. God is in
our universe or space-time continuum.
But in the traditional view, God can only be limited by
his nature. If his nature is
not limited, he is infinite. An
infinite being has what philosopher's call "necessary
existence," not a contingent existence.
"Necessary existence" is defined as follows:
necessary existence is one that cannot not exist...a necessary
existence would be pure actuality with no potentiality
whatsoever. If it had any potentiality with regard to its existence,
then it would be possible for it not to exist.
But this is precisely what a necessary existence cannot do; it is
not possible for a necessary existence not to exist
Therefore, a necessary existence would be pure actuality with no
potentiality in its being whatsoever...would be changeless...would have
to be a nontemporal and nonspatial existence...would have to be
eternal...There can be only one...would have to be simple and
undivided...would have to be infinite in whatever attributes it
possesses….The reason for this is simple enough: only what has
potentiality can be limited. Limitation
means that which differentiates the sphere of one thing from another.
Pure actuality is being pure and simple; everything else only has
being in one form or another depending on its limiting potential.
Pure actuality would be unlimited by any potential in and of
itself...must be an uncaused being” (Norman Geisler, Christian
Apologetics, Baker, 1976, pp. 239 - 241).
Jehovah of the Watchtower is limited in His physical location and
knowledge, He is – by definition – not infinite in His being.
He therefore must be finite.
finite being has contingent existence.
“Contingent existence” means that existence is caused by something or someone else.
Contingent means dependence.
It is antithetical to necessary existence.
If a being is contingent on anything, it is limited and changing,
and finite; therefore, it must have a cause.
But the Watchtower teaches that God does not have a cause.
It must then prove that a finite being can exist necessarily,
which it cannot do.
as we have seen, the Jehovah’s Witness God is not omniscient.
Jehovah of the Watchtower is potentially
omniscient, but chooses not to
know all things. As
Cornelius Van Til and others have demonstrated, God is the pre-condition
for the intelligibility of knowledge and experience.
This precondition can only be met if God is in a position to know
– not just potentially, but actually.
(For more on this please see Van Til’s Apologetic Readings
& Analysis by Greg L. Bahnsen, Presbyterian and Reformed
Publishing Co., 1998.) That
is, if God chooses not to know certain things, He cannot know what
knowledge is necessary to convey to humanity, so that humans can think,
reason, and “know.” He
can make a ‘best guess,’ but He cannot know with certainty.
The Witness may say, “God just has to exercise His power to
know everything necessary to pass on to humanity.”
But this presupposes that there is a body of knowledge outside
of God from which He draws upon at will.
It further requires that God know in advance what pieces of this treasure trove to
extract and which ones to leave “unknown” so as to preserve human
choice. But since He cannot
know in advance what He does not know, it would seem impossible for Him
to selectively “learn” all that is necessary.
God is only in a position to know if he is infinite in his nature
and attributes, including his knowledge.
By limiting God, knowledge is destroyed.
Such a God cannot satisfy the preconditions for knowledge and
if God has not always existed as an infinite being, he can never become
one and therefore He is not God. The
further away you move from an infinite God, the more unintelligible your
The only conclusion I can come to by these statements of the
Anointed is that they believe that God is temporal.
If God is in time, he would have to be finite.
Beings in time are limited and changing, therefore contingent:
a God would be local and learn empirically. If God learns empirically,
then his knowledge is finite. If
his knowledge is finite, he is contingent, because he is gaining
There are some major problems that face the Anointed’s teaching that historical Christianity does not face:
that God can choose to know p with certainty is not going to help because
He still has only limited and probable knowledge.
God can only choose to know everything about something if He
already knows how much He needs to know to know everything.
The logical absurdity of this view is, I hope, apparent.
The reason given for limiting
God’s foreknowledge is that if man is to be “really free,” then God
cannot know the future absolutely. Thus
he chooses not to know what men will do in the future.
The main problem with this argument is that in order for God to choose
what future events He wants to know and what events He does not want to know,
he has to know everything at the beginning.
For example, given that events A-Z will happen in the future, how can
God choose to know A, F, K, J, L, P, R, O and choose not to know B, C, D, E,
G, I, M, N, etc., if He does not know why not to know them?
The only alternative is to think that God “rolls the dice” in some
kind of gigantic cosmic crap game and lets chance decide what He should and
should not know. The attempt to
solve the problem of evil by claiming that God choose not to know all the
details of the future solves nothing. Who
would argue that someone who turned on his car, put it into gear, then jumped
out with the doors and window locked, letting it run down the road until it
ran over and killed thirty people, is ‘innocent”
because he did not know all the details of what would happen and was powerless
to do anything about it even if he knew? The
Watchtower’s argument is worse than no argument at all (Robert Morey, Battle
of the Gods, p. 68)
There are also logical problems with affirming that God is temporal. This would mean that time is either inside God, that is part of his nature, or else outside God. If inside, then how can God be without a beginning, since an infinite number of temporal moments appears to be incoherent (as proponents of the Kalam argument for the existence of God have shown)? For if there were an infinite number of moments before today, then today would never have come (since in infinite cannot be traversed). But today has come. Therefore, there were not an infinite number of moments before today but only a finite number. That is, time had a beginning. But if God were temporal, then he would gave had a beginning (Norman Geisler, Creating God in the Image of Man, Bethany House Publishers, 1997, p. 118).
For if God is temporal, then he must also be spatial, since space and time are held to be correlative. As mentioned earlier, contemporary science speaks of the space-time universe, i.e., there is no time without space and not space without time. If this is true, then logically a temporal world would also be spatial (Norman Geisler, Creating God in the Image of Man, Bethany House Publishers, 1997, p. 129).
This God cannot exist because
he destroys the intelligibility of knowledge and experience.
He cannot be the reference point for meaning because he needs a
I now want to deal with the misinterpretation of some passages that Jehovah’s Witnesses quote to prove that God is not omniscient. There is an assumption that the Jehovah’s Witness will have in bringing up these passages. It will be that a ‘straightforward, literal, or face value’ understanding is the right way to interpret these texts. Now, this is an important hermeneutical principle unless there is a compelling reason not to use this principle. Some compelling reasons for not using this principle would be if using it makes the passage unintelligible, logically absurd, or contradicts obvious teachings. Another reason is that these texts that give God human features are anthropomorphic. On page 86, Bruce Ware (God’s Lesser Glory, Crossway Books, 2000) defines this as, “A given ascription to God may rightly be understood as anthropomorphic when Scripture clearly presents God as transcending the very human or finite features it elsewhere attributes to him.” I am not going to deal with every verse that a Jehovah’s Witness can bring up. I am only going to answer representative passages from certain categories such as God learning inductively, God’s ignorance, and God’s repentance. I will be quoting from Bruce Ware a lot, for he says it a whole lot better than I can.
I will now give positive evidence of an omniscient God from Scripture. Consider Ephesians 1:3-11:
Notice here that God is said to be able to ensure the salvation of His people because He "works out everything in conformity" to His will. His entire plan of salvation, from the choosing of His own before creation, to the coming of the Messiah, the bringing together of all things under Christ "when the times will have reached their fulfillment," all of this is guaranteed because God knows everything will work out according to His divine will and foreknowledge.
Contrast this passage to the Anointed’s belief that that God did not know Adam and Eve were going to fall. God fully anticipated (knew) all future factual and counterfactual events. Let’s look at a scriptural example of this concept:
Here David is asking God about the future. God gives him a definite answer. He doesn’t give a possible or probable answer. Here God knows what free moral agents will do in the future.
If God is contingent on anything, the passage cannot be true.
These questions expect a ‘no' answer! This passage demonstrates that God depends on no one for knowledge nor does he learn empirically. These passages give a very strong case for the omniscience of God.
In conclusion, Jehovah of the Watchtower is a finite being, contingent upon His creation. He is limited in His knowledge and is confined to a specific location. He cannot satisfy the preconditions for human knowledge, for He cannot know that everything He needs to communicate to humanity has been communicated - because He Himself may not have chosen to know all that He needed to. Jehovah of the Watchtower exists in a cosmos in which some knowledge may exist outside and apart from Him, some things that He has chosen not to know, and therefore (potentially) forever unknown to Him. But if God does not know something, how is it possible for humans to know it? "Knowledge" obtained apart from God that He does not know cannot be verified in any meaningful sense. Jehovah of the Watchtower therefore inhabits a universe in which some knowledge - that which He lacks - is fundamentally relative, unverifiable and ultimately meaningless.
Such a God is logically incoherent. He cannot be
what God must be in order to be God - the necessary Being upon which all
reality is grounded and given meaning. He is not the God revealed in the
Bible - all powerful, all knowing, and fully present throughout and beyond His
Note:Some other verses teaching the God's omniscience are: Psalm 139; Isaiah 41:21-29; 42:8-9; 43:8-13; 44:6-8; 44:24-28; 45:20-23; 46:8-11; 48:3-8; 48:14-16.
Note: For the best book on this subject
related to Jehovah’s Witnesses, please see The Heavenly Weather Man
by Duane Magnani, Witness Inc.,
For a general book dealing with Open Theism, please see God’s
Lesser Glory by Bruce A. Ware, 2000, Crossway Books. This book was of
great help to me in writing this study!