A Christian Response To - Should You Believe in the Trinity?
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's 31 page booklet, "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" is a popular and effective tool for JWs to hand out, when someone questions their doctrinal position on this topic. Should you believe in the Trinity? They will say, No! The booklet's attack on the Trinity doctrine starts early in its writings and continues all the way to the end.
How do they attack the Trinity doctrine?
You will find quotes from a variety of sources throughout the booklet that will trouble the average reader. These quotes (from encyclopedias, dictionaries, early Church Fathers, etc.) paint an ugly picture of the Trinity doctrine, and gives the reader the idea that to believe such a doctrine is to dishonor God. By the time the reader gets to the end of the booklet, they bring out their big guns:
"Soon, when God brings this present wicked system of things to its end, Trinitarian Christendom will be called to account. And she will be judged adversely for her God-dishonoring actions and doctrines... It is (Satan the Devil) who promotes such a false doctrine to 'blind the minds of unbelievers.'" [Should You Believe in the Trinity, page 31]
If I were to take the quotes and reasonings in "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" at face value, I would agree with the Watchtower Society and run away from the Trinity doctrine as fast as I can. But I suggest (plead is a better word) that you do not be so hasty. It would be a good idea if you check the quotes they print in the booklet for accuracy first. Did the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society quote their sources accurately? Or are there misquotes in this booklet, and if so, are they intentional? If they are found to be accurate, then it would be wise to reconsider whether or not to believe in the Trinity doctrine. But if they misquoted their sources intentionally, then the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is guilty of misleading their readers into not believing the Trinity doctrine.
We will view some quotes taken from "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" and check to see if the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society had faithfully recorded them accurately. Let's look at one from page 5:
A PROTESTANT publication states: "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible... It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century." (The Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
This quote makes it appear that the publication admits the Trinity doctrine did not develop until the 4th century. But was the above quoted accurately? Did the Watchtower leave anything out that we should know about? Let's read it again... but this time we'll add the missing pieces. The blue texts are what the booklet quoted, the red texts are what they did not want you to see. Here is the actual quote:
"The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, and though used by Tertullian in the last decade of the 2nd century, it did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century. It is, however, the distinctive and all-comprehensive doctrine of the Christian faith. It makes three affirmations: that there is but one God, that the Father, the Son and the Spirit is each God, and that the Father, the Son and the Spirit is each a distinct Person. In this form it has become the faith of the church since it received its full formulation at the hands of Tertullian, Athanasius and Augustine."
Notice that the quote from the booklet left out a crucial point. Why? Because it argues that the Trinity doctrine was developed in the 4th century, and was not believed by the early Church Fathers. If the doctrine of the Trinity was believed by them (the early Church Fathers) prior to the 4th century, then the Watchtower's claim of later developement is false.