"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Has Anyone Seen God? The Confusion of Atheists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons
In John 6:46, we have the words of Jesus: "No one has seen the Father except He Who is from God; He has seen the Father." We also have commentary from the same Gospel-writer in John 1:18: "No one has ever seen God; the only God, Who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known." And again in I John 4:12: "No one has ever seen God..." I bring these three verses together because they are subject to the most juvenile scripture-twisting imaginable.
Atheists like to refer to these verses, together with Exodus 33:18-23, where Moses is said to see Jehovah's back. Such atheists shout, "Aha! Here is a contradiction! One place says that Moses saw God's back, while another says that no one has ever seen God." I will deal with that below.
The other abuse I have seen is from Jehovah's Witnesses, when they try to deny the deity of Christ. They argue that the words of John prove that Jesus isn't God, because God is invisible (as the Bible indeed says, e. g., Col. 1:15 and I Tim. 1:17), but people could see Jesus.
The answer to both arguments, as inane as they are, is in the verses themselves.
The word "God," when it is otherwise undefined in the New Testament, usually refers to the Father. Jesus says that "no one has seen the Father." But Who did Moses see? Jehovah, the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity (though I would describe the experience as an anthropomorphism). The verses at the top of this page say that no one has seen the Father (or "God" undefined), i. e., the First Person of the Trinity. Thus, I say to the atheist, there is no contradiction. To the Jehovah's Witnesses, your error regarding the Person of Christ also causes you to err in your understanding of these Scriptures, the logical fallacy of begging the question. Of course people could see Jesus in His human nature; but not in His deity. Yet, even if they (or we) could see His deity, that would not conflict with these verses.
These verses also address one of the errors of Mormonism. Mormons believe that the Persons of the Godhead have literal, physical bodies, comparable to our own. How can that be if the Father is invisible? In the two verses cited above, Paul explicitly refers to God as invisible. Would a Mormon therefore claim that He has some sort of ghostly body, with all the physical attributes of ours, but somehow transparent? I think that the absurdity of the Mormon doctrine is evident.
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43