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WTS Dishonesty About Ignatius

Article Index
WTS Dishonesty About Ignatius
The Article
Ignatius on the Deity of Christ
To the Smyrneans he wrote
Examination and Refutation

Historical Dishonesty and the Watchtower Society

A Review of the Watchtower's Comments Concerning the View of Ignatius of Antioch and the Deity of Christ

by James White, B.A., M.A.
Adjunct Professor Teaching Church History,
Grand Canyon University


During the summer of 1989, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society distributed, through its District Conventions, a new pamphlet entitled "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" This booklet was sub-titled, "Is Jesus Christ the Almighty God?" The booklet was interesting for many reasons, one being the fact that it contained no footnote references for its many supposedly scholarly claims. Another aspect of the booklet that caught the attention of many Christian reviewers was its attempted treatment of the writings of the early Fathers of the Christian faith, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and Origen ("Should You Believe in the Trinity?" p. 7). The statements made by the Watchtower Society regarding the views of these men were so far removed from the truth that entire books began appearing on the market, all easily refuting, directly from the writings of the Fathers, the claims made by the booklet

One early Father conspicuous by his absence from the "Trinity" booklet was the bishop of Antioch, Ignatius. The reason seemed fairly obvious: the statements by Ignatius regarding the deity of Christ are clear and legion, and hence Ignatius did not fit into the purpose of the Society's publication. Admitting that such an early Father as Ignatius (he died around A.D. 107) spoke often of "our God, Jesus Christ" would not suite the Society's position. Hence, no mention was made of him in the booklet

We were quite surprised, then, to learn that the February 1, 1992 Watchtower magazine contained an article that attempted to deal with the teachings of Ignatius of Antioch regarding the Deity of Christ. We knew that a series of articles had begun in the November 1, 1991 Watchtower entitled "Did the Early Church Teach That God is a Trinity?" We felt that this series was an attempt to buttress the tremendously flawed material that had appeared in the "Trinity" booklet two years earlier. In the second part of this series, which is to be found in the February 1, 1992 edition of the Watchtower, pages 19-23, we find an attempt to deal with The Didache, Clement of Rome's letter to the Corinthians, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Hermas, and Papias. The article shows unconstrained bias in its dealing with each of these patristic sources, but we will focus our attention in this article upon the comments that take up all of page 21, those comments that deal with Ignatius of Antioch