“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ”
—John 20:28, RSVCE
St. Thomas' proclamation baffles anti-Trinitarians, such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Their argument ranges from an expression of surprise to Thomas' unbelief. They argue that Thomas was in a state of error or unbelief when he proclaimed this. This is expressed by their apologist's statement:
“Take note of what the Lord Jesus Christ said to Thomas before he made the statement recorded in John 20:28. Jesus said to him, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. DO NOT BE UNBELIEVING, but believing.’… Remember that when Thomas made the statement recorded in John 20:28 he was not in the act of preaching and he was from a state of unbelief, thus it is not surprising if he committed mistake.”
1.) DOUBTING THOMAS
The Iglesia Ni Cristo argues that St. Thomas' statement must not be taken as a proclamation due to the preceding verses (Jn. 20:27). They contend that this was a expression given by an unbelieving apostle. However, the contrary is given by Jesus. Indeed Thomas was in a state of doubt prior to his encounter with the Resurrected Lord. However, St. Thomas did not continue in his disbelief. If we read the following verse, we come to understand that what St. Thomas expressed in verse 28 was a result of belief.
“Jesus said to him, ‘You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’”
—John 20:29, RSVCE
It is very clear that what Thomas said was in the state of belief. Christ affirmed what Thomas said by saying, "You have believed." It is very clear that it was not out of doubt that Thomas said such thing, but out of belief. And this Christ blessed.
2.) MY LORD AND MY GOD
καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου.
(kai apekrithē thōmas kai eipen autō o kurios mou kai o theos mou)
—ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 20:28, Greek Orthodox Church 1904
Thomas' statement from Greek is “Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου” (o kurios mou kai o theos mou). What is interesting that the text, if translated literally, gives a much more powerful effect on St. Thomas' statement. St. Thomas' statement given in Greek is, “The Lord of me and the God of me."
3.) TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD
“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
—John 20:17, RSVCE
The INC apologist argues, “THOMAS’ STATEMENT CONTRADICTED JESUS’ STATEMENT… Take note that the Gospel that wrote that Thomas stated 'My Lord and my God' was also the Gospel that wrote that the Lord Jesus Christ explicitly stated, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God,' also 'My Father is greater than I,' and 'Father…this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God…' Obviously, Thomas failed to remember these words of his Master. Thus, Thomas statement in John 20:28 contradicted what His Master has taught Him.” They argue that Christ's statement in John 20:17 contradicts Thomas' statement in verse 28. Making Thomas in a state of ignorance and error in his statement.
Such statement shows complete ignorance of who Christ is. Christ was not only Divine, but also fully human. Part of being human is to acknowledge God and to worship Him. Christ, in His human nature, here recognized the Father and praises Him. What is interesting is that Christ did not say "our Father" and "our God", rather He said "my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” What Christ implies is that God's Fatherhood towards the apostles and the disciples is not the same as Christ's relationship with the Father. In our sense we are the Father's adopted children (Romans 8:15), children of God by grace (John 1:12). Jesus is the Son of God by nature (John 1:18). Jesus clearly put a distinction between Mary Magdalene and the apostles. This suggests that there is a different sense between the relationship of the Father and Son and ours with the Father. It also suggests that there is a different sense of how God is related to Christ and us.
Whenever a person was in error in the Scripture, they are reprimanded right away. For example, when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra they showed them that they were not the gods Zeus and Hermes, but only humans and commanded them to worship the true God who made Heaven and Earth (Acts 14:14-15). In Revelation 19:10, the angel rebuked John's show of worship. In Acts 12:22-23 we read that Herod Agrippa received the praises of the crowds as a god and not give it to God, "he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:23). Yet Jesus did not correct Thomas. It suggests then that Thomas was not in error as the Iglesia Ni Cristo insists. Rather, Thomas was accurate in his statement.