Historical Accounts of How The Doctrine of the Early Church Was Changed By The “Church Fathers” (Catholic) Of the Third Century
By O. F. Fauss
Many, who are not satisfied to take the Scriptures for their only authority, go to the “Church Fathers” and “Church History” to try and prove their argument. They fail to remember that to do so they must refer back down through the channels of the Roman Catholic Church to base their claims.
From the best authority we can find, the first genuine account of the using of the words of Matthew 28:19, as a formula in water baptism, is found in Justin’s First Apology. This was written about ninety years after the death of Paul, about 153 A.D.
To know the truth of the matter, as to when the early church got away from the “old paths” laid down by the Apostles, let us remember the warning of the Apostles, that after their departing, grievous wolves were sure to come, and departing from the faith and doctrines of devils would prevail. We will trace the real cause of the leaving off the practice of “baptism in the name of Jesus,” in spite of the fact that this was the only way any of the Apostles every baptized. The record in the Book of Acts speaks without contradiction, that this is true.
We have not been discussing the Godhead, but it will be necessary for us to investigate the origin of the doctrine of the “Trinity” or “Three distinct Persons in the Godhead,” for us to see how it ever became involved in the formula of baptism.
All will admit that the doctrine of the holy Trinity is the very heart and soul of Catholicism, and the Catholic Church is the outcome of the falling away, following the death of the Apostles. Inasmuch as the terms: “Trinity,” “Triune God,” “Second” or “Three Persons in the Trinity,” are not found in Scripture, we will refer to the best authentic Encyclopedias available.
On the subject of the “Trinity,” we quote from The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, p. 7270. “The doctrine is a development of Christian theology not being taught in the Old Testament, but capable of being deducted from passages in the New Testament. The first authoritative statement of belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (as separate persons) was made by the earliest general council of churches, held at Nice in 325 A.D., which also declared the Son to be equal substance with the Father. With regard to the Holy Spirit, the East and West subsequently divided.”
Let us remember the calling of this council at Nice in 325 A.D., was made by the Roman Emperor Constantine, to settle the dispute by ballot, of one or three persons in the Godhead. Hence the fathers of the Catholic Church thereafter branded all heretics who dared to oppose them and hold to the original teaching and practice of the Apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts.
On the same subject let us look into the American Encyclopedia Dictionary, p. 4189, “The word Trinity is not found in the Scriptures, and is said to have been first used by Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, in the second century; but from texts quoted the early church recognized that the sacred writings taught (1), that there is ONE God; (2) that Christ was called God; and (3), that the Holy Ghost was also called God: and from the combination of these truths the doctrine of the Trinity was deducted…. The Council of Nice (325 A.D.) by affirming the Divinity of Christ, and that of Constantinople (381 A.D.) by affirming the divinity of the Holy Ghost, while insisting on the unity of God; declared the “doctrine of the Trinity in unity” to be the doctrine of the Church. From that time it was never called in question (by the Catholic fathers) except by a few obscure sects, until the Reformation.”
In the New International Encyclopedia, Vol. XIX, Page 474, we read in part, “The most elaborate statement of the doctrine (trinity) is to be found in the Athanasian Creed which asserts that ‘we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity–neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance–for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost….the doctrine is not found in its fully developed form in the Scriptures…. it is generally conceded, however, that the Christian of the second and even the third centuries, did not treat the subject with the same definiteness and accuracy of expression as later writers. They were consent for the most part to use scriptural expressions in speaking of the Father and of the Son, and of the Spirit without defining articulately their relations to one another.”
Let us look into the New Practical Reference Library, Vol. V. “Trinity, a Theological name given to the doctrine which declares the union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three persons and one God. The Doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere expressly taught in the Scriptures: but in parts of the New Testament it is implied and is often indicated in the Old Testament. The definition of the Trinity adopted by the Catholic Church and generally accepted by Orthodox Christians, is that there is in the Godhead three persons who are in one substance co-eternal and equal in power…. The term persons is not applied in the Scripture to the Trinity, but some analogous to the conception of personality seems to be implied in the Apostolical arguments of the epistles.”
The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 27, page 69, also states, “. . .the doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere expressly taught in the Old Testament. The doctrine in regard to the divine nature which is most strongly insisted on throughout the Old Testament, is the unity of God as opposed to polytheism (more gods than one), and by the names by which God revealed Himself to Moses, (Exodus 3:14, 15, and other passages) it is implied that the divine nature is inscrutable to human intelligence….among the definitions which resulted from the conflict of opinion in the early Church with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, that which was adopted by the Catholic Church and is generally accepted by orthodox Christians, fairly claims the merit of the fullest harmony and most comprehensive consistency is with the various statements of Scripture. It is that there are in the Godhead three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It was only, however, after a severe and protracted conflict that the definition came to be generally accepted, and as soon as the definition proceeds one step further a wide schism again separates the Church, The Eastern Church holds that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father; the Western, throughout all its divisions, adopting the amended form of the Nicene Creed, holds that He proceeds from the Father and Son. . .the word ‘TRINITY’ is not in the Scripture; the term ‘persona ‘ is not applied in Scripture to the Trinity. ”
Adam Clark in his Commentary concerning John 1:1-14, makes it very clear that there can only be one omnipotent or Almighty. There is no such thing as more than one person in the Godhead co-eternal; co-equal in power, there cannot be two or three Almighty’s.
Some have dared to quote the works of the very fathers of the Roman Catholic church, of the second, third and fourth centuries as a decisive proof of their claims. Those resorting to the “Church Fathers” can only find their claims dated back as early as about the middle of the second century.
Even in Paul’s day, he was accused of heresy, and if the teaching and practice of those condemned by the originators of Catholicism as heretics were examined, you will find them condemned for holding firm to the “old paths” as taught in the Book of Acts. Even those who oppose baptism in Jesus’ name must admit there was a strong controversy over the subject in the early centuries of the Christian era. Let us remember the words of Jesus, “And ye shall be hated of
all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). And also the words of God through the prophet Isaiah, “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy and they shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 66:5).
The above material was published by Word Aflame Press, 1985, pages 287-292.
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