Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Was Michael the archangel really Jesus?

Many questions about Michael and Jesus
By D. Adams January 23, 2012

         What do you do when a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) knocks at your door? Do you invite them into your home or do you slam the door on their face? Why not invite them into your home, listen to them with compassion, and then continue with a dialogue asking them questions about their faith. This venue will not be intent to be another repertoire of exchanges of scripture verses but rather an exchange of the true nature of Christ. This approach may be familiar to you or perhaps it may be a new way to start a discussion and get a true dialogue between the JW and yourself. Always remember to keep the focus on the questions and do not let them stray away from these questions unless they concede that they do not know the answer, it is then that you can answer each of these questions within the confines of the Trinitarian view.

There are lines of questioning that should be asked of the JW’s either when they knock at your door or coming into contact with them regarding this issue of Michael and Jesus. We know that the JW’s have a punch list of questions for us. Patiently wait until they are finished and then ask them a few of these questions to see how deeply rooted their theology and faith is within their beliefs. It isn’t to ridicule them but to put them on the defensive as they do us, surely the JW is also a critical thinker and should have asked these questions and be able to answer them as best as they can (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). Be sure to keep them on the topics and do not accept any red herring tactic to lead astray or deflect from the questioning on their part, when they bring up Trinitarianism, clearly tell them this is not about the Trinity, but about their beliefs. You waited patiently through their battery of questions, if they are honest and compassionate, they will have the courtesy to listen to you and answer your questions. This is how foundations are built, on solid ground with honest well-thought-out responses while engaging questions about your faith (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

             First and foremost, Trinitarians have been asked or have reasoned through such questioning and have had responses to these very questions, very early on. This line of questioning will be directly related to Michael the archangel and how he, and when he became Jesus. In the OT there were anthropomorphisms (where angels appeared in human form) but in the sense of Michael and Jesus we have the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary. She gives birth to Jesus who was a human by birth from the womb of a human. Of course we also should ask to which creedal statement, canon, catechism shall we reference these questions and answers within the JW theology or Watchtower society? If there is no creedal statement, is there a lack of unity about such beliefs? Would any of the answers to any of these questions determine an orthodox JW versus and un-orthodox JW? Perhaps some people have become Jehovah’s Witnesses because the Trinity seemed too complex for them, but in all honesty leaving orthodoxy to convert to a view that is much more complicated is clearly not to be understood as rational. The JW convert still leaves many of the same questions about Jesus unanswered, in which there are no real answers accepted by the Jehovah’s Witness sect.

50/50 split?

So we begin with the question of; is Jesus a union of Michael and if so to what degree? Is this a 50/50 union or is it fully/truly Jesus, fully/truly Michael as we view the hypostatic union of Jesus and the Word. The JW may suggest that such a question is unreasonable for a non-Trinitarian, but this has nothing to do about a unity in the sense of the Trinity, but a unity between Jesus and Michael.  Would one believe that Michael was replaced by Jesus? If so, where did Michael go? The JW may object to these lines of reasoning, stating it is more in line with a Trinitarian view only. However, if there is no replacement or dissolution of Michael then there is a unity of some sort. And clearly, Mary gave birth to a son.

Again, this isn’t like the OT anthropomorphism where the angels would appear as human form instantly, deliver a message then disappear. In this case Jesus was in the womb, birthed as a true human with the exception to the virginity of Mary. Jesus clearly, grew in knowledge, ate, drank, felt pain, and was able to function in society as a human. Trinitarians do believe that Jesus was truly human, not a sub-human, what would the JW’s really define Jesus as, truly human or sub-human? I suppose one could hold to a modalistic view of Jesus and Michael within the JW group, but would it be orthodoxy? By definition; modalistic implies that Michael would become Jesus, but again we must not forget about the birth by a human (Mary). Is this merely a possession of Jesus by Michael and where does it lead the JW mindset, which leads us to the next question.

Was Michael in the womb of Mary?

                So the next question we ask is; was Michael in the womb of Mary? Some may answer; yes, and some no, or possibly not sure. Another possible scenario could be an adoptionalist view where Michael entered Jesus during his Baptism, but again we also know that God never called any angel his son (cf Hebrews 1:5-14). It is also a fair assumption to believe that an archangel is still classified as an angel. So perhaps the adoptionalist view may not work in that sense. So we ask; can a mere woman give birth to an angel? What is the purpose of this birth of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, Mary, and Michael?

Is Mary the Mother of Michael?

                If Mary did carry Michael, is she the mother of Michael? Is there a sense of the prototokos; meaning that Mary is the Mother of the human nature of Jesus? To which creedal statement, canon, and catechism shall we reference this question within the JW theology or Watchtower society? If there is not any creedal statement, is there a lack of unity about such beliefs? Would any of the answers to any of these questions determine an orthodox JW versus and un-orthodox JW?

Does Jesus have a soul?

                Assuming that Jesus is truly/fully human of a mixture (of some sort) by the JW’s, is Michael the soul of Jesus, and does Michael merely control the body of Jesus? So the reasoning is; does Michael have control over his thoughts or is it the shared thoughts with Jesus assuming if this is truly a union. So is Jesus subordinate to Michael in the sense that Jesus has two natures? This leads us to the next question.

Does Jesus have one or two natures?

                Does Jesus have the nature of both human and archangel? Does Jesus have any access to the nature of an archangel in abilities? If so which abilities would Jesus have? Could it be a co-mingling ending up with such as the Eutychianism view? This would imply that the human nature of Christ was overcome by the nature of Michael.  Could Jesus take other forms other than human, or could he revert back into an angelic nature at any time? Can an archangel be tempted and fail? What about the personhood of Jesus? How would this affect the nature of the archangel?

Is Jesus one or two persons?

                Is Jesus two persons; in the sense of Jesus and Michael remain distinct and yet separate in their personhood? Or do they become one person? Do they still have a parallel nature (or lacking ability) that will not allow them to become one person?

Did Jesus ever claim to be Michael?   

                Surely the old tried and true interrogate is; did Jesus ever claim to be God, or a similar line of questioning is… the word Trinity is not in the Bible. By the same token; using the same rhetoric as the JW, one can honestly ask: did Jesus ever claim to be Michael, directly, and was there a fulfilling prophecy of Michael to become Jesus? The JW may respond by stating (people in the Bible) some names did change, like Jacob becoming Israel (cf Gen 32:28), but that is an equivocation error on their part. We clearly know that Jacob was first Jacob then became known as Israel, and we know that Saul became Paul. The distinction here is that we know from scripture the names before and after and why there was a name change. There is no scripture that makes such claim for Michael becoming Jesus; it has to be read into the scriptures by the JW (whilst using a single verse for this theology). The concept is not repeatable for Michael and Jesus, so their line of reasoning is a non sequitur fallacy.

Does Jesus have two wills?

                Seeing that clearly there is some sort of amalgamating (mixing, or a union) between Michael and Jesus (Michael not being replaced by Jesus), does Jesus have a will? Does Michael still maintain his will or does Jesus take over the will of Michael, vice versa?  Is there a subordination of the wills between Jesus and Michael that works continually or are there times when Jesus’s will takes precedence, or Michael’s will taking precedence? If so, when would either apply?

Does Jesus remain as Jesus?

                So the JW’s believe that Michael was created before the world, and became Jesus in some aspect through the womb of Mary. So after Jesus’s death on the cross and ascension into heaven (as they believe Jesus is now a spiritual being), does he become Michael again to complete the verses in Revelation 12:7? If so, where does Jesus go, and where did Jesus’ body go after the resurrection during this ascension into heaven? If it is not a bodily resurrection is it merely a spiritual resurrection then what happened to the body of Jesus that no one has found? Where was Jesus’ soul during this whole process of being in the womb of Mary, to birth, then death, and resurrection? Did Jesus have a corporeal body during any time or just after the resurrection? Why?

Did Michael die on the cross?

                When Jesus died on the cross, did Michael die as well? Did Michael leave Jesus before, during, or after the crucifixion, or did he also die? If so, clearly Michael needed to be resurrected as well. Can Michael have the ability to leave Jesus at any time, as in the Book of Revelation 12:7? Was it Jesus or Michael that felt the pain, can angels feel pain?  Could an angel or archangel die upon a cross? Was it the efficacy of Jesus or Michael that forgave sins, and atonement?

Did the Early Church Fathers believe Michael was Jesus?

                Hermas is often quoted from within the JW sect as believing Michael was Jesus. Often there is a quote used from the book of JND Kelley, Early Christian Doctrines (page 95). But they fail to recognize that JND Kelly also states that Christ’s pre-existence was taken for granted. There were creative functions assigned to wisdom in later Judaism. If we explore page 94 of this same book, we find that Hermas clearly envisages three distinct personages—Master i.e. God the Fathers, his beloved son; i.e. the Holy Spirit, and the son of God Jesus Christ. Two divine persons, Father and Holy Spirit, the third the savior or Lord. This was an amalgam of binitarianism and adoptionism. So clearly Hermas believed the Son (Michael) as the Holy Spirit. Was the Holy Spirit a created angel?

What is the voice of the Archangel?

                1Thessalonians 4:16  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
This is one of the main verses that the JW’s utilize to prove Jesus is the archangel. But first we acknowledge that Jesus (or Michael) is referred to the Lord himself, so Jesus is Lord. But is this a verse that is prose or poetic, is there any imagery? Some Bibles will ether state the voice of an archangel or voice of the archangel.

Zechariah 9:14 Then the LORD will appear above them, and his arrow will shoot forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet and will sally forth on the southern storm winds.
Using scripture to interpret scripture we see the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet and will sally forth on the southern storm winds. Basically, if we read Zechariah chapter 9 it is about the day the LORD their God will deliver them as the flock of his people (cf verse 9:16). This is the same meaning in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 regarding the flock of his people. Clearly the terms voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God are metaphorical in nature as would be the arrow like lightning in Zechariah 9:14. The resurrection would not be metaphorical. As noted In Zechariah it is the Lord GOD, in 1Thessalonians 4:16 it is referenced as Lord, but not Lord GOD. The JW should ask why the change in the nature of GOD if he is Lord GOD with the trumpet and then it is Michael with the trumpet of God.

Is this a mystery?

                Surely you have heard the JW state the Trinity as a mystery, and they go on to use God is not the author of confusion (cf 1 Corinthians 14:33). However, we know that God did confuse languages during the tower of Babel in Genesis 11:7. At first glance these two verses 1 Corinthians and 14:33 seem at odds; however, 1 Corinthians 14:33 is about prophecy, tongues used within the Church at Corinth. This verse is not about the confusion of the nature of God, but the interpretation of tongues and prophecy. The same with the confusion of language, it is not that God is confusion himself, but allows for confusion of their languages during the tower of Babel setting.

Besides, the terms: mystery and confusion are not the same. A mystery is something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained; while confusion is [an act] causing a disorderly combination of elements with identities lost and distinctions blended. Clearly there is a distinction between the two definitions, one is something that baffles understanding, and the other is an act causing a disorderly combination of elements with lost identities. Therefore, the Trinity may be a mystery of sort that baffles understanding but can be explained within its terms. Clearly the Trinity is not an act to create lost identities and distinctions, but this knowledge of Trinity is acquired after an abductive reasoning of all scriptures. We expect the same of the JW’s to reach a basis of knowledge based upon abductive reasoning of all the scriptures to define their view and answer these question as Trinitarians have.

So basically, with so many questions about the nature of this union of Jesus and Michael, it truly seems to be a mystery for the JW’s. So, one must ask, is it not their beliefs that have a mysterious content about Jesus and Michael concerning this union and occurrence of the reasoning behind the two becoming intertwined? Besides, the Trinity, being suggested as a mystery, is still articulated clearly and Trinitarians are able to answer many of these same questions posed in this article, so who really has the mystery here? Can the act of confusion be ascribed with the identity of Michael being lost and the distinctions of Jesus and Michael being blended? Can the Bible explain this JW theology? Is this morphing of Jesus by Michael being clearly taught within scripture? If not, then the JW argument against the use of terminology of the Trinity (is not in the Bible) fails.