Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Has Anyone Seen God? The Confusion of Atheists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons
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.