The Trinity: God Manifested
Is There Evidence for the Trinity in the New Testament?
In the New Testament, we find the clear teaching of one God (I Tim. 2:5), and at the same time we are told that the Father is God (Romans 1:7), the Son is God (John 20:28), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). However, the New Testament writers do not give a systematic definition of how the Three are One. Augustus Strong's Systematic Theology on page 304 says of these writers, ""They held it, as it were in solution; only time, reflection, and the shock of controversy and opposition caused it to crystallize into definite and dogmatic form.''
Looking back from our vantage point today we would naturally give greater importance to the writings of those men who received their instruction directly from the Apostles. The farther one gets away from the source, the more potential there is for error. This is exactly the claim made by the Watchtower. They teach that orthodoxy was taught by the Apostles, but as time passed the heresies so corrupted the faith that by the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., the heretics had enough strength to enforce their views. To the Watchtower Society the Trinity was the heresy, Athanasius was an enemy of truth, and Arius of Alexandria was a champion of God.
If the Jehovah's Witnesses were correct in their view we would expect such men as Polycarp and Ignatius, who were pupils of the Apostle John, to agree with the Watchtower in its claims that Jesus is not God. But, both men stronly affirmed the full deity of Jesus. Polycarp called Jesus ""our Lord and God'' (The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot, p. 99). And Ignatius said, ""For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb of Mary'' (ibid, p. 67). Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp, wrote his Five Books Against Heresies in which he defended Christian doctrine against the major heresies of the day, said that Jesus is ""...our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King...'' (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 330). Many other such quotes by these men, and others, could be produced.
When the Watchtower Society says the Trinity did not become official Church dogma until the fourth century, they are making a clever use of words to create the impression that it was not the true belief of the Church until then. This is why Polycarp, Ignatius, and Irenaeus are important witnesses against these False Witnesses.
It is a study in contrasts to see the open debate among the early Church Fathers which is recorded for us in their writings, and compare it with the suppression of free discussion which the Watchtower practices today. The Watchtower magazine (8-15-81, pp. 28-29) made a very telling statement in this regard. It said that some Witnesses were saying "...that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such 'Bible reading', they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching 100 years ago...!'' This is a left-handed admission that the Bible teaches what ""Christendom'' teaches!
The Watchtower's ""truth'' could not stand exposure to the light of Scripture, and true history, which Jehovah's Witnesses were learning in their unsanctioned private Bible studies.
In another vein, it is inconsistent with God that He would not preserve His truth when Satan attacks it. Was he who was in the world greater than He who was in the hearts of His people during those early years? Would God by great display of His power and sovereignty establish His Church and then let it die? The Trinity has survived intact to the present, but all the heresies in the early church have come and gone. They have not shown the viability of this central truth of the Christian faith, the Trinity.