You probably don’t know this, because I didn’t mention it, but I just got back from South Korea.
Now, I’ve got A LOT of cool stories to share with you and I’ll get there but I wanted to mention one thing that really made me kick myself for not learning more Korean:
Jehovah’s Witnesses were EVERYWHERE in Korea
Anyway, I love refuting Jehovah’s witnesses because to me it is evidence that an apologist has “made it” when it comes to giving a Biblical case for Christ’s Divinity. JW’s are very tricky and deceptive with their tactics. They like to try and blow people over with technical jargon that they’ve been trained to parrot but rarely understand.
These guys often train 7+ hours a week to learn how to make a superficially compelling case against the divinity of Christ or the Trinity. In reality, their arguments are bunk but their pseudo-scholarship tends to really blow most ordinary Christians out of the water.
If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you’re not one of those people who is easily taken in.
At one time though, I was close and I had a devil of a time refuting JW arguments against the Divinity of Christ. So, what did I do?
I got a master’s degree in theology, of course, and specialized in Biblical Christology to boot…
So, since I didn’t get a chance to take on these warmed-over Arian heretics in Korea, I thought that I’d share with you my one of favorite pieces of Biblical evidence for the Divinity of Christ that always outsmarts and confounds Jehovah’s witnesses.
Who Calms the Sea?
Like I said, the favorite logical fallacy used by the JW religion is something called “blinding with science” where they throw out technical terms, Greek words and grammar, or confused criticisms of true Christianity in order to overwhelm and convince their hapless victims.
I don’t intend to approach the issue like that here, I could, but it’s not necessary here nor is it usually fruitful. Instead, I will show you how the Bible teaches that Jesus is God in no uncertain terms...even if they aren’t terms we’re used to using.
For this task, I want to turn to the Gospels but not the Gospel of John where the texts are replete with attractive proof-texts for the Divinity of Christ. The problem is…
Jehovah’s witnesses are ready for those texts, or more prepared than your average Christian anyway.
Now, passages like John 8:58 or John 1:1 do demonstrate that Jesus is God but citing these texts will generally lead to a more extended and highly technical argument.
When I set out to refute JW’s on the Divinity of Christ, I prefer to hit them with arguments so powerful that their organization hasn’t even the power to imagine a rebuttal.
So, one of my favorite passages to prove Christ’s Divinity is in Mark 4:35-41 which is the story of Jesus calming the storm.
We’re all familiar with this story but we may not be familiar with the robust background present in the minds of the disciples and the readers of Mark.
Obviously, a person calming the sea is astonishing but the whole scene would have evoked something astonishing both to the disciples and the early Jewish readers of the Gospels. In the first century, the Jewish people were immersed in their scriptures but most especially the Psalms.
What’s that background?
You can read the passages for yourself but here’s a handy table comparing the two passages side by side:
|Passage||Psalm 107:23-32||Passage||Mark 4:35-41|
|107:23||Sailors in ships||4:35-36||Disciples in their |
|107:25||Stormy winds and waves||4:37||Stormy winds |
|107:26-27||The courage of the sailors melts away||4:38,40|| The Disciples |
|107:28||Sailors Cry out to Yahweh||4:39||Disciples cry out |
|107:29a||Yahweh stills the storm||4:39a||Jesus stills |
|107:29b||Waves of the sea are |
|4:39b||Waves of the sea are made quiet|
|107:30||There was a great calm||4:39b||There was a |
|107:30-32||Sailors exalt the wonders of God||4:41||Disciples marvel at |
A few years ago, well-known Christ-Skeptic Bart Ehrman appeared on the Colbert Report where he had a short debate with Stephen Colbert on the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels.
I can’t say that it was the most riveting or scholarly debate but Colbert, a Catholic, did make one remarkably relevant argument:
“If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and raises the dead like a duck… then Jesus is God.”
Behind Colbert’s joke is a mountain of truth that relates directly to what I just laid out in the above table.
For a first-century Jewish mind steeped in the the Old Testament Scriptures and the Psalms, the calming of the storm catches Jesus claiming for himself what can only be claimed for God…
Not through his words, but his actions…
Note he passage from Psalms 107:23-32 refers to God as LORD with all capital letters. What this means is that the Hebrew behind the English translation is using the Divine name “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”. This is crucial for the argument because Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on using the name “Jehovah” to refer to God.
The fact that Jesus chose that time and place to reveal His Divine Nature to His disciples but instead of telling them directly, because words are cheap, Jesus DEMONSTRATED His Divinity by taking on the role of Yahweh and claiming it for Himself. There is no other conclusion one can draw fromMark 4:35-41 other than Jesus is making a Divine claim for himself.
When Mark relays this story to his audience, he is simply telling us Who Jesus is in the same way Jesus revealed himself to the disciples. This man who calms the sea and raises the dead is no mere man but is the God of the very Scriptures that they have known their whole lives now present with them in the flesh.
Despite all of their bluster and posturing, Jehovah’s Witnesses arguments are really paper tigers— they appear very threatening but ultimately cannot wound the true Catholic Faith handed down by Christ 2000 years ago. The same tired arguments JW’s use have been thoroughly refuted throughout the centuries and their bizarre and novel way of approaching Scripture blinds them to the way that the Holy Spirit guided the Sacred authors to teach the faith given to them by the Holy Spirit.
There is no reason to fear these guys and perhaps I’ll write more on this later, if you guys want, but to be honest: most of the work in refuting Jehovah’s witnesses is simply understanding the Catholic faith well and in its whole context….
Jonathan L. Stute, M.A.