I’ve probably mentioned before that dishonesty in research really bugs me.
In preparing a book on the Council of Nicea that I’m working on—and progressing well!—I decided to hunt down a Jehovah’s Witness booklet called Should You Believe in the Trinity. I wanted to point out that because we don’t really know what the Council of Nicea was about, nor what the early Christians believed about the Father and his Son—or, more precisely, about God and his Logos—we leave a wide open door for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accurately quote the early church fathers, but twist their meaning into Jehovah’s Witness/Arian doctrine.
Not content with twisting their meaning, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do violence to their very words. I have to suppose they didn’t think they’d be exposed by anyone who actually understood the beliefs of the early Christians because so few do.
You see, right now if you confront a Jehovah’s Witness about their misquoting, they could take you to the section that they’re misquoting, and most Christians would be bewildered by what they read. Unprepared, the Jehovah’s Witness would tear them apart or get them to accuse the early church fathers of heresy.
I guess the fortunate part is that the Watchtower doesn’t acknowledge where they get these quotes, so the average Witness would never be able to find them anyway.
I can find the quotes, or something similar, so let me take a moment to expose their open, rampant dishonesty. These quotes might as well be completely made up because the words of the original authors are twisted so far from what they say, not only in meaning, but even in the actual wording.
Just one more proof that the Watchtower is a corrupt, dishonest organization.
Like most religious organizations that aren’t allowed to be questioned.
The Most Egregious Misquote
Egregious means "conspicuously bad or offensive."
I’m putting a picture of the offending portion of their page below so you can see what they’ve done.
Note the quote box in the picture. (I’m sorry that my blog’s column is only 400 pixels wide. That’s the biggest I can make it for you! Just follow the link above to their page if you want to see it larger.)
First note that the quote in the text box is attributed to "The Triune God."
I thought they didn’t think the Triune God existed! I am certainly surprised they have some direct quotes from him!
I suspect they must be referring to a publication (of theirs?) called The Triune God.
Anyway, the quote says that there is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a Trinity within the Godhead.
Note that their text box is right next to a quote from Origen. I’m pretty certain that, in context, Origen and everyone else on that page constitute the "sacred writers" to whom they’re referring.
So let’s address both the quote from Origen, and, while we’re there, the assertion of the Triune God that no one had ever even imagined the Trinity back then.
A Very Small Light
Now, they don’t give a reference for this supposed quote from Origen in which he supposedly says that the Son is a very small Light compared to the Father. However, since Origen has a huge section right at the beginning of De Principiis that is singularly focused on what it means that the Son of God is the Light, that seems a good place to look for the quote the Watchtower references.
There, rather than reading that the Son is a "very small light," we read:
The only-begotten Son, therefore, is the glory of this light, proceeding inseparably from [God] Himself, as brightness does from light, and illuminating the whole of creation. (De Principiis I:2:7)
What a strange small light this is that can illumine the whole of creation!
What a strange small light this is that proceeds "inseparably" from God himself!
I can only think that the Watchtower was purposely twisting Origen’s explanation that in being "the express image of the invisible Father" the Son presented himself "gently and softly to the frail and weak eyes of mortals," so that as they got used to it, he would "render them capable of enduring the splendor of the light" (ibid.).
Suspicion That There Might Be a Trinity
What’s of note is that if they’d just read a little further, to see what Origen might have to say about the Holy Spirit when he got done talking about the Son, they might have read:
From all [the Scriptures Origen had just quoted] we learn that the person of the Holy Spirit was of such authority and dignity that saving baptism was not complete except BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE MOST EXCELLENT TRINITY OF THEM ALL, i.e., BY THE NAMING OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, and by joining to the unbegotten God the Father and to his only-begotten Son the name also of the Holy Spirit. (ibid. I:3:2)
Now I may not be the most insightful person there ever was, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Origen suspected there was a Trinity in the Godhead.
Even if he had not specifically mentioned the Trinity, called the Holy Spirit a person, and named the 3 persons of the Trinity, I think we could have proved that he at least suspected there was a Trinity in another way.
Notice the places I got the quotes from.
I got the quotes about the Son from I:2:7 of De Principiis. Those first two numbers mean Book one and Chapter two. I got the second quote from I:3:2, which is Book one and Chapter 3. (The third number is the paragraph.)
The reason they are numbered like that is because chapter one is about God, chapter two is about the Son, and chapter three is about the Holy Spirit. These are in Book one of his multiple-volume treatise, De Principiis, which means "Concerning Beginning Principles."
Thus, what does he consider the very first beginning principle?
A Free Added Quote
Chapter 4 of the first book of De Principiis is about falling away. In the second paragraph of that very short chapter, he explains why he’s covering falling away so early:
In our desire to show the divine benefits bestowed upon us by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity that is the fountain of all holiness, we have fallen … into a digression, having considered the subject of the soul, which accidentally came before us.
So, just in case the Watchtower, or anyone else, couldn’t figure out that Origen started De Principiis with a chapter each on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he states it explicitly. He wanted to begin his work by addressing the Trinity that is the fountain of all holiness.
I guess if I was going to be as dishonest as the Watchtower, I wouldn’t reference my sources, either.