Friday, 6 February 2015

Jesus as the First Creature

The Impossibility and Irrationality of the Arian Position

Sam Shamoun

Muslim apologists are fond of quoting anti-Trinitarian groups that claim to be Christian in order to disprove that the Holy Bible affirms the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Often these polemicists will reference Arian cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs for short) to show that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is not God but the first creature of God.

One such Islamic apologist who loves to appeal to the arguments of the JWs is
Shabir Ally. In his booklet, Is Jesus God? The Bible Says No!, Ally writes that,

The Gospel of John was completed to its present form some seventy years after Jesus was raised up to heaven. This Gospel in its final form says one more thing about Jesus that was unknown from the previous three Gospels — that Jesus was the Word of God. John means that Jesus was God’s agent through whom God created everything else. This is often misunderstood to mean that Jesus was God Himself.
But John was saying, as Paul had already said, that Jesus was God’s first creature. (What John Says – Evidence from the Fourth Gospel; bold emphasis ours)

It is clear from his statements that Ally has been influenced by and is relying upon the assertions of the JWs.

Therefore, because Muslims rely on the arguments of Arian cults (as well as Unitarian groups) to deny the Deity of Christ we have decided to write this article in order to show that not only is the assertion that Jesus is the first creature unbiblical it is also irrational.

Before we precede any further it is important to reiterate the point that according to Arian groups like the JWS Jesus is the first creature, which means that Jesus existed before the heavens and the earth were made. These groups also believe that God employed Jesus to create everything else, i.e. God created the entirety of the heavens and the earth and all that exists within them by the agency of Christ.

For instance, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’s publication Let God be True says of Jesus that,

He is not the author of the creation of God; but, after God had created him as his firstborn Son, then God used him as his working Partner
in the creating of all the rest of creation. (Ibid., Brooklyn, NY 1952, p. 33; bold emphasis ours)

They further say in another publication that,

1. Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit person before he came to earth. He was God's first creation, and so he is called the "firstborn" Son of God. (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) Jesus is the only Son that God created by himself. Jehovah used the prehuman Jesus as his "master worker" in creating all other things in heaven and on earth. (Proverbs 8:22-31; Colossians 1:16, 17) God also used him as His chief spokesman. That is why Jesus is called "the Word."—John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:13. (What Does God Require of Us?
Lesson 3. Who Is Jesus Christ?)

Elsewhere they write:

Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s first creation. (Colossians 1:15) There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16) Then, too, Jesus is called “the Word.” (John 1:14) This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human.

Is the firstborn Son equal to God, as some believe? That is not what the Bible teaches. As we noted in the preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. (Psalm 90:2) The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the Son. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) Therefore, he has no equal.

Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close association for billions of years—long before the starry heavens and the earth were created. How they must have loved each other! (John 3:35; 14:31) This dear Son was just like his Father. That is why the Bible refers to the Son as “the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Yes, even as a human son may closely resemble his father in various ways, this heavenly Son reflected his Father’s qualities and personality.
(What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Chapter Four. Who is Jesus Christ?; bold emphasis ours)

With that said there are two main problems with this view. In the first place it is simply a matter of logic (as well as science) that creatures by their very nature are bound by the dimensions of time and space. Created entities are a part of the time-space continuum which means that they must have places where they live in or dwell. In other words, a creature cannot simply exist in nothingness but must have a place that s/he/it occupies.

This leads me to my second point. The Holy Scriptures teach that God created the heavens and all of their hosts:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.” Genesis 2:1
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Psalm 33:6
It should be noted at this point that the NT teaches that the Lord Jesus is the Divine Agent who is responsible for creating the heavens and the earth, and that it was through his agency that all created things were brought into existence:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men… He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 10-11, 14
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live
.” 1 Corinthians 8:6
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven… And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God's angels worship him.’ In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ He also says, ‘In the beginning, O Lord [the Son], you laid the foundations of the earth, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 6-12

These verses emphatically and unambiguously affirm that Jesus cannot be a mere creature since he existed before creation was brought into being. However, for the sake of argument we will set that aside and simply focus on the fact that these texts establish that Jesus existed before the creation of the heavens. It is vitally important to keep that in mind since we shall revisit it shortly.

With that said we can now return to the issue at hand.

According to the Holy Bible these heavenly hosts which Yahweh created include spirit creatures such as the angels that worship God:
You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.” Nehemiah 9:6
Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!  Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.” Psalm 103:20-21
“Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!” Psalm 148:2

The inspired Scriptures further attest that these are the hosts that stand in service before Yahweh, ready to carry out his will, and even have a Commander in charge of them:
Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?” And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.” The LORD said to him, “How?” And he said, “I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” Then He said, “You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.” Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.’” 1 Kings 22:19-23
“It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.” Daniel 8:10-11

In light of this it isn’t surprising that the Holy Bible teaches that angels dwell in heaven and come down from there:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels IN HEAVEN continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:30
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down FROM HEAVEN and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’ When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’” Luke 2:8-15
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Luke 22:43
He then added, ‘I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” John 1:51
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:8
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews 12:22-24
And there was war IN HEAVEN, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer A PLACE FOUND FOR THEM IN HEAVEN. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens AND YOU WHO DWELL IN THEM. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.’” Revelation 12:7-12
Another angel came out of the temple IN HEAVEN, and he too had a sharp sickle.” Revelation 14:17
“I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God's wrath is completed.” Revelation 15:1
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.” Revelation 18:1
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.” Revelation 20:1

This only makes sense since these spirit beings are part of the host of heaven and were therefore created to dwell there, much like man was created to live on the earth.

We thus have the Holy Bible and science agreeing on this point, namely that creatures by their very nature occupy time and space and need a place to dwell.

This now brings us to the dilemma which Arian cults such as the JWs necessarily face because of their unbiblical view.

If Jesus is the first creature then he is a being who by his very nature is bound by the dimensions of time and space, which means that he must have somewhere to dwell. Moreover, since he is supposed to be a spirit creature his dwelling place would naturally be heaven.

However, Arians like JWs teach that Jesus existed before the heavens were made since Yahweh created all other things through the agency of Christ. This means that Jesus in his prehuman existence was alive even before there was any place for him to live in, which is an impossibility!

In light of this dilemma we have the following questions to ask any Arian who believes that Jesus is the first creature.

How can Jesus be the first creature without having a place to dwell?
And if he didn’t have a place to dwell wouldn’t this mean that he is not bound by time and space?
But if he isn’t bound by them wouldn’t this mean that he is timeless and spaceless?
However the only Being that is both timeless and spaceless is God since God alone existed before the creation of time, space and matter. Therefore, doesn’t this actually prove that Jesus is not a creature but the eternal, immaterial Creator of all things?
And since the Holy Bible says that the name of this eternal, immaterial Creator of all things is Yahweh or Jehovah wouldn’t this further mean that Jesus must be Yahweh (Jehovah)?

Hopefully, Muslims will be able to see why appealing to the beliefs of Arians like the JWs doesn’t help their tirade against the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ since their views are both unbiblical and irrational.

Is Jehovah a Being who is bound by time and space?
There are additional problems with the beliefs of JWs. According to them Yahweh or Jehovah has a spiritual body and is not omnipresent:

3. Jehovah has a body, but it is not like ours. "God is a Spirit," says the Bible. (John 4:24) A spirit is a form of life that is much higher than ours. No human has ever seen God. Jehovah lives in heaven, but he can see all things. (Psalm 11:4, 5; John 1:18) What, though, is the holy spirit? It is not a person like God. Rather, it is God's active force.—Psalm 104:30. (What Does God Require of Us?
Lesson 2. Who Is God?)


Spiritual Bodies. While there are physical bodies, visible and palpable, there are also spiritual bodies, invisible to human eyes and entirely beyond human senses. (1 Co 15:44) The bodies of spirit persons (God, Christ, the angels) are glorious. “At no time has anyone beheld God.” (1 Jo 4:12) Man cannot see God and live. (Ex 33:20) When the apostle Paul had only a glimpse of the manifestation of Jesus Christ after Jesus’ resurrection, he fell to the ground and was blinded by the brilliance, a miracle being required to restore his sight. (Ac 9:3-5, 17, 18; 26:13, 14) Likewise, angels are far more powerful than men. (2 Pe 2:11) They are glorious, brilliant ones and have appeared as such in physical manifestations. (Mt 28:2-4; Lu 2:9) These spirit sons of God have vision strong enough to see and endure the brilliance of the Almighty God.– Lu 1:19

Because we cannot see God with physical eyes, he uses certain anthropomorphic expressions to help us to understand and appreciate things about himself. The Bible speaks of him as having eyes (Ps 34:15; Heb 4:13); arms (Job 40:9; Joh 12:38); feet (Ps 18:9; Zec 14:4); heart (Ge 8:21; Pr 27:11); hands (Ex 3:20; Ro 10:21); fingers (Ex 31:18; Lu 11:20); nose, nostrils (Eze 8:17; Ex 15:8); and ears (1 Sa 8:21; Ps 10:17). It is not to be supposed that he literally possesses these organs in the way that we know them... (Insight on the Scriptures [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn NY 1988], Volume 1. Aaron–Jehoshua, Body, p. 348)


His attributes. The true God is not omnipresent, for he is spoken of as having a location. (1 Ki 8:49; Joh 16:28; Heb 9:24) His throne is in heaven. (Isa 66:1) He is all-powerful, being the Almighty God. (Ge 17:1; Re 16:14) “All things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him,” and he is “the One telling from the beginning the finale.” (Heb 4:13; Isa 46:10, 11; 1 Sa 2:3) His power and knowledge extend everywhere, reaching every part of the universe.–2 Ch 16:9; Ps 139:7-12; Am 9:2-4 (Ibid., God. The True God Jehovah, p. 969)

It is only logical that JWs deny that God is omnipresent in light of their belief that God has a spirit body since a body presupposes size and shape which confines a person to space limitations. Such a being cannot be present everywhere, and hence, God cannot be omnipresent if he has a spiritual body.

However, this view of God is wrought with logical problems.

For instance, if JWs are saying that God must have a spiritual body since he is a spirit person then this body must be uncreated. If it is uncreated then God has always been bound by space since bodies require space as well as a place to dwell. This means that God needed a dwelling place to live in. However, if God requires a place to dwell then that dwelling place must be eternal as well. Yet since God’s dwelling place is not identical to God this means that God is not the only eternal Being since his dwelling place is eternal also. Therefore, we have two distinct entities that are eternal! This would also mean that God didn’t create everything that exists since there are at least two things that exist which God didn’t create, namely his spiritual body and his dwelling place!

But there is more! Since God’s body occupies space this means that it has size and shape.

Logically speaking God’s dwelling place must be larger in size than his body otherwise how could his body fit inside there? However, if God’s dwelling place is larger than his body then this means that there is something that is actually bigger and more immense than God himself!

Now someone may interject and say that the Holy Bible teaches that God’s dwelling place is in heaven and that the prophets such as Isaiah saw God seated on a throne in heaven (cf. Isaiah 6:1-7, 66:1-2; 1 Kings 22:19-23; Psalm 123:1).

The problem with appealing to such passages is that these verses do not claim that God has always lived in heaven since the Scriptures clearly affirm that the heavens were created. What these texts are saying is that after God had created the heavens he chose to manifest his presence visibly to those dwelling there, much like God revealed his glory to the inhabitants of the earth by appearing to them in various ways and manifestations.

Thus, it is one thing to say that God entered into his creation and manifested his presence to the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. It is quite a different thing altogether to argue that God has always had a spiritual body which requires him to have a dwelling place since bodies by their very nature need space and place.

Besides, the Holy Bible is clear that nothing is able to fully contain God, not even the heavens!
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27
“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” 2 Chronicles 2:5-6

This also refutes any attempt of arguing that God situated Jesus in his very own abode after creating him since God does not have an eternal dwelling-place but is a Being that doesn’t require space or place.



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