Have you ever gotten inside someone’s head and then wondered, where in the world did you come up with that idea? It happens with my kids at times, but rarely with adults. This subject–the idea that the angel Michael and Jesus are the same–blew my mind. I mean, really, where in the Bible would you come up with that idea?
Yet this is a Jehovah’s Witness teaching that adherents strongly believe. It’s one of the things they don’t tell you on your doorstep, and no wonder. Anyone familiar with church teachings or the Bible would have a hard time with it. And for them, I think it’s more like a footnote. In the Watchtower’s book, What does the Bible really teach? [emphasis theirs], the subject is covered as one question of many in an appendix. So why am I covering it here, my friends? Because who we believe Jesus is, and how He relates to the Father, is the heart of our faith. The CHRISTian faith.
Teaching that Jesus was someone other than who He is was a problem the people of Corinth had. They strayed from what Paul taught, and believed some false “super-apostles” instead.
But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough! ~2 Corinthians 11:3-4
I don’t want to belabor it, but let me briefly summarize their view: Because archangel means “chief angel,” because the Bible only names one archangel, because in 1 Thess 4:16 the Bible says “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God…” because both Jesus and Michael are mentioned in Scripture as the leader of angels, and because people in the Bible were sometimes known by two names (Saul/Paul, Simon/Peter), they put all of these together to argue that Jesus must be Michael. That Jesus is His human name, but Michael is His heavenly name.
They do it, I think, to undermine the Trinity. If Jesus is just an angel, albeit the chief one, then he clearly isn’t God, right?
This subject isn’t new. Believers in the early church struggled with heavenly hierarchy too. The first chapter of the book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus is superior to the angels. In fact, in Hebrews 1:6, the Father commanded ALL the angels to worship His Son.
And if you look closely at Scripture related to the angel Michael, in Daniel 10:13, we see that Michael is really only “one of ” the leading princes/chief princes/chief angels/archangels, pick your translation. So if Michael is merely one of the chief angels/princes, then he clearly isn’t above all the angels, and clearly isn’t the one and only Son of God.
Another important difference between Jesus and Michael is that Michael could not rebuke Satan in His own power (Jude 9), while Jesus could and did (Matthew 4:10).
But I’m probably preaching to the choir here. I don’t think any of you reading this are confused about the Michael/Jesus controversy. If you are and want to read more, let me point you to a fantastic resource. A book I’m reading right now that I find very helpful and enlightening. Reasoning From The Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses by Ron Rhodes.
So, why this post? Why these series of posts on the Trinity?
Churches really don’t teach the Trinity much anymore, do they? It’s a hard topic, and it seems that hard topics are often out-of-fashion in our churches today where we are more focused on conversions than discipleship. You have to admire the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their Sunday and Tuesday night gatherings focus on how to use Scripture to support their views. How to respond if someone challenges one of their beliefs. They are out there going door to door proclaiming what they believe while many of us aren’t even sure what we believe much less how to support it from Scripture.
I know I’m guilty of that. I wanted to take a class on the Trinity because I couldn’t understand how God could be 1 and 3 at the same time. I had the misconceived idea that God was sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, at other times the Spirit, almost like He was a shapeshifter and took on different forms to suit His purpose. (I now know that this idea of the Trinity is called modalism, and was rejected by the church years and years and years ago). In truth, there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three different persons sharing the same divine nature, the “Godness” of God, what makes God divine. I won’t rehash that here, as I’ve posted on the topic before.
So I continue these posts hoping that someday they might help someone. I’m not afraid to talk to the JW’s. I don’t mind admitting that I don’t know something and then go and research it. Actually, that’s one of the things I like best (if you couldn’t tell). And I feel burdened to help these women that come to my door. I pray that something I might say will plant the seed to help them see the truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me His words, because I know there is no argument I would make in my own power that will sway them. They are fully indoctrinated in their wayward theology. In fact, they go through two years of training and are tested before they can even be baptized. I can’t imagine.
So, reader, I think I got way off topic, or maybe not. Tell me, what do you do when JW’s or Mormons come to your door? Do you talk to them? To you feel the need to witness to them? Do you pretend like you’re not home? Don’t worry, I’ve done all of the above. I’m not going to judge you one way or the other. Do you think we should/should not try to convert them? Why?