History of the Trinity, Part 1

History of the Doctrine Concerning the nature of God in the Early Centuries of Christianity

Part 1

INTRODUCTION AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

The general trend of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity is almost unanimously agreed upon by secular historians and professors of church history. To get an accurate concept of how and why it was
conceived, however, one needs to obtain a relatively complete picture of the problems and reactions that the Post-Apostolic Church was involved in — and this can be done only by a full, unbiased treatment of the facts. We can have no truly objective story of the Trinitarian controversy, however, for the following reasons:

First, history is not impeccable, but as its name implies is “his story,” and is usually colored by prejudice whenever controversy is involved.

Secondly, it is impossible for a historian to present an objectivereview, for to do this, he has to present equal testimony from both sides and this is not available.{1} When all anti-trinitarians were anathematized by the council of Nicea, their works were burned. Our knowledge of them comes mainly from hard-core Trinitarians, who wrote with great vehemence during the heated years of theological battle.{2} Moreover, nearly all theologians and historians since, have imbibed this Catholic doctrine and are more than willing to defend it. When, however, Trinitarians admit the weaknesses of their own system, the late date of their theology, and details that are embarrassing to their own cause –we may be sure that they are revealing the truth.

This brief history is, therefore, a history stripped of the glorification’s of the Trinity — all of which are opinions, not facts. The acknowledgements of Trinitarian problems have been made a part of this history, for without it the account would be even more one-sided, for we have no testimony from opposing sources.

History is often inaccurate and contradictory to itself; the reader may, therefore, find information at variance with some of the quotations of this account as the author has also found. Some of these discrepancies are not real, they are the result of an incomplete history — no one can include all the details. A review of several sources is necessary to obtain even a relatively accurate picture.

For the sake of simplicity and brevity, I have woven together thepertinent data from a number of respected authorities into one short history. I have not undertaken to rewrite that history in my own words — I have, instead, arranged the information as a compilation of quotations.

So that the reader may be fully informed, I have printed the quotations in capital letters and have included [sub-numbers] after each quotation, referring to the source of information. Words in small letters are either connecting words or are a rearranged condensation of quotations. Words in small letters in parenthesis, are my comments. Key words have been to draw them more forcibly to the attention of the reader.

In the interest of brevity, I have often left out less pertinent sections of quotations. To keep from breaking up the continuity of the history, I have not indicated these omissions by the usual signs of ellipses. I have also rearranged some data, in order to make a complete and comprehensible thought without using all the words the writer used, which oftentimes involves several paragraphs.

Sub-numbers refer to the following sources of information.

[1] – THE ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA, Vol. 27, p. 67, 1948.

[2] – Ibid, Vol. 6.

[3] – THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, Vol. 1, 1939.

[4] – Ibid, Vol. 5.

[5] – HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, by W. Walker, Prof. of Ecclesiastical History at Yale.

[6] – A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, by K.S. Latourette, Prof. of OrientalHistory at Yale.

[7] – WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY, 1964.

[8] – ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, Vol. 3, p. 82, 1950.

[9] – PENTECOSTALISM, by Dr. John Thomas Nichol, 1966.

[10] – STORY OF THE WORLD’S WORSHIP, by F.S. Dobbins (former Prof. of Lit. at Yale; President of the American Bible Society, Associate of the Am. Oriental Society and the London Society of Biblical Archeology, etc.), 1901.

[11] – HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, by Schaff, Vol. 11.

[12] – HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT, by McGiffert, Vol. 1.

[13] – GROVER UNIVERSAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1965.

[14] – COLLIERS ENCYCLOPEDIA.

[15] – THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, by Abbe Duchesne, Vol. 1.

[16] – THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION AND ETHICS, by James Hastings.

[17] – THE NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY, by Douglas.

[18] – BUTLERS WORKS, 1887.

[19] – THE NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, by McGraw Hill.

[20] – HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, by K.S. Latourette – Sterling Professor ofMissions and Oriental History and Fellow of Berkeley College in YaleUniv., 1953.

[21] – EARLY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES, by J. Kelley, Oxford Univ.

[22] – DICTIONARY OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, Scribners.

[23] – THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME, by John Peterson.

[24] – TRUTHS ON WATER BAPTISM, by Ernest G. Moyer.

[25] – THE TRINITY AND CHRISTIANITY, by Dr. Charles Lowry – quoted by God in Three Persons, by Carl Brombeck.

[26] – COMPENDIUM OF CHURCH HISTORY, by Dr. Andrew Zenos, Prof. of Biblical Theology in the McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago.

[27] – A SELECT LIBRARY OF NICENE AND POST NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, vol. IV by St. Athanasius – The Christian Literature Company,Oxford and London, Parker and Co., 1892.

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Footnotes:

{1} – The principle source of information of Monarchianism is the work ofHippolytus (who was bitterly opposed to it) and Tertullian’s “AdversusPraxean”; , by Ayer; and <theHistory of Christian Thought>, by McGiffert. “None can at this date say what precisely were Sabellius’s opinions” – Ethics>, by James Hastings.

{2} – “Tertullian met Praxeas and sarcastically charged him with havingexecuted at Rome two commissions of the devil, having driven away the HolyGhost and having crucified the Father (Praxeas thought the Catholic doctrine tritheistic).” – , by Phillip Schaff. “Hippolytus… calls Callistus ‘An unreasonable and treacherous man, who brought together blasphemies from above and below, only to speak against the truth, and was not ashamed to fall now into the error of Sabellius.'” -, by Phillip Schaff.

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