Thursday, March 13, 2008

Did Russell Deny the Deity/Divinity of Jesus?

One of the first charges that is usually leveled against Russell is that he denied the divinity or deity of Jesus Christ. Actually this is not so, although he did deny the trinity doctrine, or that Jesus is the Supreme Being.
Here are some quotes from Russell's writings that show that he did not deny the divinity/deity of Jesus:

Quote 1:
DIVINITY--Does Pastor Russell Deny Christ's?
Q226:2:: QUESTION (1913)--2--Do you deny the divinity of Christ?

ANSWER.--By no means, dear friends. It is a very remarkable thing that there are some who seem to greatly misunderstand what we have to say. You will find in this city and in every great city I suppose scores who will deny that Jesus ever had a virgin mother; scores who will deny that He had any prior existence. No one says anything about their denying the divinity of Jesus. I do not accuse them. Do we not claim that Jehovah was His Father? Do we not deny that Joseph was His Father? We certainly do claim the divinity of Christ; that the divine Father was His Father; that He was begotten and specially born of a virgin, and therefore, was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Do we claim he was the Heavenly Father when a man? No, we do not claim He was His own father. That would not be Scriptural. If anyone thinks He was His own father, and His own son, he does not know what he is talking about.

As to what He is now. We believe He is divine now. The Bible says so. "Him hath God exalted and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." Already the angels are bowing to Him, and by and by every knee on earth will bow. Moreover, Saint Peter says the church is begotten to the divine nature. While it does not say Jesus is a partaker of the divine nature, we understand him to teach that thought.
++++++++What Pastor Russell Said, page 226
Quote 2:

(1) Ho Theios is rendered Godhead in Acts 17:29 whereas it should be "the Deity,"--"We ought not to think that the Godhead [ho Theios--the Deity] is like unto gold or silver or stone." The same word is translated divine in the only two other instances of its occurrence in the New Testament; viz., 2 Pet. 1:3,4.

(2) Theiotes is rendered Godhead in Romans 1:20; whereas it should be translated Divinity or Deity,--"God hath showed it unto them,...even his eternal power and godhead [Theiotes--Deity]." This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.

(3) Theotes is rendered Godhead in Colossians 2:9; whereas it should be translated Deity,--"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [Theotes--Deity] bodily." This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.

In the glorified Christ, who is the head of the Church, dwells all fulness; plenitude of wisdom, grace and power, not only to guide all the affairs of the Church, his body, but also as the Father's representative to do any and every thing necessary to be done in carrying forward to successful completion the great divine plan committed to his care. ++++++++++The Atonement Between God and Man, page 71.
Quote 3:

Appellations of Deity in the Old Testament

(1) The name Jehovah is properly rendered only four times, where it seemed impossible to do otherwise (Exod. 6:3; Psa. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; 26:4); it is rendered God 298 times, and Lord over 5,000 times.
Footnote Regarding "Jehovah":

The appearance is that the Trinitarians who translated our Common Version Bible feared to render the name Jehovah as a proper name in every instance, lest the people should realize the fact which theology denies--that the title Jehovah belongs only to the great "I AM," the Father. Similarly Leeser's English translation made for the Jews covers the word; possibly because of fear that some of the Jews might stumble over some of the few uses of the word reviewed preceding.

The Jew prefers and uses the word Lord, possibly in the hope that fellow Jews will recognize the word Lord as applicable only to Jehovah and therefore feel a resentment toward those who speak of Jesus as "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"--thinking this blasphemy.

The Trinitarian translators probably preferred to use the word Lord instead of Jehovah, in order that Christians accustomed to use the word Lord as a title for our Savior, Jesus, might in reading the Old Testament think that he, and not the Father, Jehovah, is usually referred to.

Page 66

(2) The title Adonai, generally properly rendered Lord, is once rendered God.

(3) The title Adon is rendered Sir, Master, Lord.

(4) The word elohim, with its modifications eloah, elah and el, occurs over 2,500 times. These most frequently refer to Jehovah; but in many instances with evident propriety are applied to others: hence the connections must determine who is referred to. We will give Scripture illustrations which will make the matter perfectly clear, and prove beyond a doubt that elohim signifies mighty. It is properly applied to Jehovah, because he is All-mighty, all-powerful. It is properly applied to any angel, for they are mighty, powerful, and in their visits to man recorded in the Old Testament they were specially mighty because representatives of Jehovah, the All-mighty. Great, influential men were also properly described as elohim--mighty. Like our English word "sheep," elohim is used either in the singular or plural as occasion may require.

These are facts, and our quotations from the Common Version Bible will substantiate them thoroughly; and thus will demonstrate the Scriptural propriety and consistency in referring to our Lord Jesus Christ as God [elohim] and as Adon [Master, Lord] and as Adonai [my Lord], and yet never as Jehovah.

Page 67

Elohim [Mighty] Translated "Angels"

Psalm 8:5--"Thou [Jehovah, vs. 1] hast made him a little lower than the angels [elohim], and hast crowned him with glory and honor."

That this is a proper rendering of elohim is proven by the fact that the inspired Apostle translated it thus into the Greek, angelos--when, referring to how our Lord humbled himself, he says--"Thou madest him a little lower than angels." Heb. 2:7,9

Elohim [Mighty] Translated "Gods"

In referring to false gods of the heathen, the word elohim [mighty] is used 196 times; and quite properly, too, for they were mighty or influential to their devotees.

Jehovah the [All-Mighty] Elohim Contrasted With Other Elohim [Mighty Ones]

Psalm 86:6-8--"Give ear O Jehovah unto my prayer....Among all the gods [elohim--mighty ones] there is none like unto thee."

Psalm 95:3--"Jehovah is a great God [el--mighty one] and a great King above all gods [elohim--mighty ones]."

Psalm 50:1--"The mighty God [lit. God of gods--el elohim--the mighty of the mighty], Jehovah, hath spoken."

Psalm 29:1--"Give unto Jehovah O ye mighty [el--gods], ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength. Give unto Jehovah the honor of his name; and worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness."

Genesis 17:1--"Jehovah appeared to Abraham and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [el]."

Exodus 15:11--"Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah, among the gods [el--mighty ones]." See margin.

Genesis 14:22--"Abraham said, I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, the most high God [el], possessor of heaven and earth."

Page 68

Psalm 96:4--"Jehovah is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods [elohim--mighty ones.]"

These instances suffice as samples: others may be found by those who desire and seek them.

Elohim Applied to Men

In the aforementioned 196 translations of elohim by the word gods, probably fully one-half refer to men--mighty ones--kings, princes, nobles, etc., but now we notice a few instances in which elohim is applied to the Lord's people.

Genesis 23:6--Abraham is styled elohim, the word being translated mighty in our Common Version Bible. "Thou art a mighty [elohim] prince among us."

Exodus 7:1--Moses is denominated the god [elohim] of Pharaoh. "I have made thee a god [elohim] to Pharaoh."

Exodus 21:6--The judges [rulers, mighty ones] of Israel were styled elohim. "His master shall bring him unto the judges [elohim]."

Exodus 22:8,10--"If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought into the judges [elohim].... Both parties shall come before the judges [elohim]; and whom the judges [elohim] shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor."

Exodus 22:28--"Thou shalt not revile the gods [elohim--margin, judges]." Note the Apostle's sanction of this translation. Acts 23:5

The Saints Called Elohim

Psalm 82:6,7--"I have said, Ye are gods [elohim--mighty ones], all of you sons of the highest, ye yet shall all die like [other] men, falling like one of the princes [heads]." The saints must all die, but like Christ Jesus their "head," sacrificially, and not as Adam for his own sin.

This passage was quoted by our Lord Jesus, and applied to those who received the word of God at his lips--those

Page 69

having ears "to hear": and it applies still to the same class.
Footnote regarding Psalm 82:

This entire Psalm (82) seems to refer to our Lord Jesus as the divinely appointed Deliverer and Judge of Christendom, now, in the time of his parousia. To Him we apply the words, "God [elohim, Christ appointed by the Father to judge the world now] standeth in the assemblage of the mighty [amongst the financial, political and ecclesiastical princes]; he judgeth among [these] gods [elohim--mighty ones]." He is represented first as reproving these princes and calling for equity, but "They heed not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness [respecting what will be the result of their policy]: all the foundations of the earth [the social world] are out of the course"; is his decision: it is useless to attempt to patch present institutions; they must all be "dissolved," that the new heavens and new earth--the new social world--may come instead. Then verses 6 and 7 are addressed to his faithful "little flock." When they are gathered--when all the "elect" Church by dying shall have passed beyond the veil--then Christ will be called upon, "Arise, O God [elohim], judge the earth: for thou hast inherited all nations." It will be to establish his Kingdom that he will let loose the judgments which in "a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation," shall abase the proud and exalt the humble and usher in the "times of restitution" long promised by all the holy prophets. Acts 3:19-23
-------end of footnote

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God," reckonedly, hoping by divine grace to "become partakers of the divine nature." John 10:34,35; 1 John 3:2; 2 Pet.1:4

Elohim Rendered "Great," "Strong," Etc.

This word is sometimes rendered strong, power, great, etc., in connection with inanimate things; as "Great [elohim-- mighty] tremblings" (1 Sam. 14:15); "Great [elohim--mighty] wrestlings" (Gen. 30:8); "Great [el--mighty] mountains" (Psa. 36:6); "The strong [el] among the mighty" (Ezek. 32:21); "It is in the power [el] of my hand." Gen. 31:29

"God" and "Lord" in the New Testament

In the New Testament the matter is simplified by the use of fewer words; but it may be said that nothing whatever in the words used distinguishes the Father from the Son in the

Page 70

words rendered Lord and God. The matter is left entirely to the judgment of the reader, and indicated only by the construction of the sentence--except that where the word Theos is used twice in the same clause the Greek Prepositive Article is sometimes used, so as to give the effect of the God in contrast with a God. An illustration of this is found in John 1:1--"The Word was with the God [ho theos] and the Word was a God [theos]." But the careful student (freed from prejudice) will generally have no difficulty in determining the thought of the Apostle. Indeed, the language is so explicit that the wonder is that we were heedless of it so long.

The word God in our New Testament, whether in referring to our Heavenly Father or to his Heavenly Son, our Lord Jesus, or to false gods, is almost invariably the translation of the Greek word Theos. Exceptions are that the word kurios is once translated God when it should have been rendered Lord or Master, namely in Acts 19:20; and in Acts 17:18 daimonion is rendered gods, and should be demons.
+++++++++The Atonement Between God and Man, pages 66-70
Quote 4:

THOSE WHO OPPOSE our teaching are given to misrepresenting it. They do not wish to speak untruthfully, but desire to hinder our work, which they fail to recognize as the Lord's work. It is difficult to answer the arguments of our opponents in a few words, when they misunderstand our presentations of more than three thousand pages. If they cannot understand a detailed account, we have no hope of making a brief one satisfactory to them. However, we give here a synopsis:--

I. We affirm the humanity of Jesus and the deity of Christ.

II. We acknowledge that the personality of the Holy Spirit is the Father and the Son; that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both, and in turn from all who are begotten
by it.
++++++++++++++The Watch Tower, January 15, 1912, page 28, Reprints 4955
Thus we show the proof of what Russell did teach concerning Jesus' divinity/deity.

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