Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
What are the resources you provide for God’s people to aid in their evangelistic endeavors with Jehovah Witnesses, the modern day Arians? How do you refute their belief that “there was a time when Jesus was not?”
It is also helpful to hear first-hand from Jehovah Witnesses what they use to prepare their people for their door-to-door “evangelism.” Below are 28 questions from one such aid prepared for JWs, calling into question the deity of Jesus. It is their attempt to validate their own position denying the eternality of the second person of the Godhead, the Son, and to call into question the orthodox belief that Jesus is fully God (and fully man).
The Arian, and subsequent Jehovah Witness, view denying the full deity of Christ was condemned as a heresy at the Council of Nicea (325). In the words of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (381):
[We believe in one God . . . And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all time, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not created, of the same essence as the Father, through Whom all things came into being, Who for us men and because of our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became human.
For a bit of history, and using a reference in Evangelical Convictions, we refer to the orthodox truth regarding the Trinity (p. 43): “Our God is a triune God – one God in three Persons.” And the intra-trinitarian relationship is explained in this way(p. 42, n. 28): “Theologians through the centuries have spoken of the Father as ‘unbegotten,’ the Son as ‘eternally begotten of the Father,’ and the Spirit as “proceeding from the Father and the Son.’”
Here is the tool to which we ought to be able to respond. How well did you do?
Good Points For Field Service
IF JESUS IS GOD
Cf. Phil Johnson, “A Practical Example Showing Why Doctrine Is Important"
Kevin Watters: "I really like the Athanasian Creed. Its much better than the Apostles Creed and even better than the Nicene Creed in its clarity of explaining the Trinity. Non-Trinitarians like the musical group Phillips Craig & Dean, can say (tongue in cheek) that they agree with the Apostles Creed but as far as I know they wont say they agree with the Athanasian Creed."
Greg Strand: "Thank you for your comment, Kevin. This is a good example of how and why biblical and doctrinal matters need to be clarified in time, as key doctrinal issues are questioned, undermined and/or denied. It is necessary at that point to clarify, which often requires explicit expressions and expansions of what previously had been implicitly affirmed. I often say these creeds are necessary but not sufficient. What I mean by that is that as good and right as they are in what they include, creeds and confessions are also statements made in historical contexts. Thus, a creed or confession is an affirmation/articulation (or defense of, stated more negatively) of the essentials of the faith at that time. But because times change and challenges to the faith once for all entrusted to the saints happen historically and contextually, it will entail and require new statements to be made. However, it is made in a contemporary context, grounded in the previous historically written and affirmed statements, confessions and creeds. And all of these are affirmed and grounded in sola Scriptura, the absolute and supreme and final authority of the Word of God. The Word of God alone is the norma normans, the norming norm of all else. Creeds and confessions are the norma normata, the normed norm, important and necessary statements to be made, but historical statements normed by the Word of God."