Poisoned Wells, Empty Cisterns

Poisoned Wells, Empty Cisterns How Trustworthy Were the Theologians Who Produced the Trinity? Is There a Conspiracy of Silence? What Really Happened at the So Called Ecumenical Councils?
By Ross Drysdale

Martin Luther, the Great Reformation Champion, had as his battle cry -“Scripture and Scripture Only.” He viewed the Catholic Church as Babylon the Great, mentioned in Revelation 17, and placed little confidence in her Councils, decrees, and dogmas. He wasn’t concerned with the confused peeps and mutterings of Catholic Church “fathers” – The Bible and the Bible Only! He abhorred the idea that the church was the infallible”interpreter of the Bible,” or that we are “to follow” the church as she explained to us what the Bible really meant to say. For this stand he was excommunicated (and glad of it!)

It therefore seems strange to Protestant ears, especially that segment known as Pentecostal, to hear such statements as these:

“The Trinity, the church has always held, is not inconceivable by analogy” (Boyd, p. 173).

A far wiser methodology has been followed by church throughout the ages, however” (Boyd, p. 51).

“When we, following the church, do this we discover that God can be truly one…” (Boyd, p. 52).

“There is only one problem with this portrayal of the Trinity: It has little to do with what the church has traditionally believed…� (Boyd,p. 171).

“The traditional doctrine of the Perichores is or mutual indwelling…”(Boyd, p. 171).

“They were the first to stand up behind church tradition” (Boyd, p. 162).

“This is, in fact, what the church has always done.” (Boyd, p.162).

“For good reason the church has always interpreted the Father/Son distinction.., as being at the very heart of New Testament proclamation”(Boyd, p. 182).

“As a number of the church’s best thinkers have seen throughout the ages” (Boyd, p. 191).

“And rather than tell Scripture what the deity of Christ must imply, the church has allowed Scripture to tell us what this truth in fact implies”(Boyd, p. 52).What is all this talk about the church and church tradition? “The church has always held;” “wiser methodology has been followed by the church;” “when we, following the church,” “What the church has traditionally believed;” “the traditional doctrine;””church tradition;” “church has always interpreted;” “the church has allowed Scripture to tell” etc., etc. What church is this that we are “to follow” because she has “always held,” and “traditionally believed” “the traditional doctrine,” “throughout the ages?”

All this has an odd ring to evangelical ears (or it should!). One expects to find this type of appeal to church authority and church tradition in Catholic Apologetic works, not in evangelical writings. Perhaps we get an idea of what church Dr. Boyd has in mind by the statement on Page 212: “The great saints of the church – Augustine, Thomas Acquinas, Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa…” To what church do they belong? The Roman Catholic of course! A church which believes authority for doctrine springs from the church and church tradition, as well as the Bible. Immediately after citing the aforementioned “saints of the church,” Dr. Boyd adds: and the great Protestant Reformers: John Calvin, Martin Luther…”(Boyd, 212). Subconsciously, or perhaps consciously, he has distinguished between “the church,” to which he often appeals to as an authority, and Protestantism. The “church” ends with Mother Teresa, and Protestantism begins with Calvin!

Oneness Pentecostals will never follow Neo -Trinitarians in that direction. Our sights are set “homeward,” not “Romeward.” We have no intention of exchanging our Biblically based Oneness-Revelation, which emerged from the spiritual fire of the greatest Holy Ghost Revival since Pentecost, for Esau’s mess of pottage, no matter how many centuries he cooks it. Our doctrine was revealed to God-fearing, holy living men, who took the Bible at face value. There were no bone worshipers or necromancers among them. The light they received in 1914 came as a fulfillment of Christ’s promise: “for when the Spirit of Truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth (John 16:13). And he did not guide into “consubstantiality,” or “Perialloresis” or “Co-equal, Co-eternal Persons.” Neither did He lead us to “eternal generation theories,” “Psychological models of the Trinity” or “Mother of God doctrines.” And the Spirit’s guidance certainly never revealed to us any “manners of subsistence” or “personally distinct fashions!” What we did get however, was what was promised, a revelation of the Father, in the Son, and Christ in us! (John 14:20).

However, in Dr. Boyd’s book, Catholic “saints” and “fathers” are constantly appealed to for support, such as the Cappodocian Fathers (St. Basil and the Two Gregories), St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Origin and Justin Martyr. (Boyd, p. 173, 161).

Now of course it is going to be argued that these are not really “Catholic” in the sense of holding “Roman Catholic” dogmas and practices. Is that so?


Let us take Origin for a starter. Boyd says of him that he had an “unqualified Trinitarianism” that “structured everything about his Faith.” Origin, along with others, “understood himself to be simply
passing on the faith that had been handed down by the apostles. When anything new was purposed…they were the first to stand up behind the Church tradition” (Boyd, 161-162). If he was so good at “handing down” the apostles’ faith, why did the church find it necessary to excommunicate him for false doctrine? He also taught the “pre-existence of human souls,” as well as the “Apocatastasis doctrine,” which states that everyone, including the devil, will be saved in the end! He also has to his credit the invention of purgatory, his “ascensiones in corde” in which souls are purified after death. Is this what happens when you “structure everything” around your “unqualified” Trinitarian Faith? Where did the Apostles teach salvation of the devil, pre-existence of souls, and purgatory? And these are the men Dr. Boyd tells us “were the first to stand up behind the church tradition” when anything “new” was proposed! They would have done better to remain seated!


St.Athanasius, another theologian of the Trinity (Boyd, p.179), in his “Life of St. Anthony” did much to promote monasticism. Think about it! Christ said: “Go ye into all the world!” and Athanasius, founder of Trinitarianism says: “Hide in a cave!” An advocate of a totally masochistic life-style! And yet he is supposed to be “handing down” the original faith! He also was one of the first to believe in transubstantiation, the Roman practice of Worshiping the wafer as Christ. Should we follow him in this wafer worship also? Why not?


Now we come to St. Basil, one of the Cappodocian Fathers we hear so much about, and whom Dr. Boyd cites on page 173. He was a founder of nunneries and monasteries. Is that Catholic enough? Pre-adolescent boys were forced into unnatural existences, thanks to him. “Boys at puberty were not allowed to sleep in beds beside one another; there was always an older monk in a bed between them.” (Robert Payne, The Christian Centuries, p.177). Joy and happiness were out of the question for Basil’s inmates: “Under no condition must monks give way to laughter” (Payne, p. 177). He had an UnChristlike, arrogant spirit:

“Be mindful of the last day, and if you please, do not think of teaching me! We know more than you, and we are not so choked up by thorns, nor do we have the advantage of being able to mingle a few virtues with ten times as many vices” (Payne,p.178). Basil’s “charitable” spirit lampooned those who disagreed with him as: “lizards and toads,” “animals of the springtime,” “unclean,” “women-mad,” “effeminate,” “slaves of their bellies,” “money hunters,” and “coarse oafs.” (Basil, Epistoloe 95; Payne, 178). And it was this pleasant soul who was the “first to fix the accepted formula of the Trinity: one substance (ousia) and three persons (hypothesis)” (H. Dermott McDonald, Basil the Great, p. 167).


Then there is Gregory of Nyssa, another Cappodocian Father who had such marvelous insights into the Trinity. He became a Universalist (like Origin) who believed that all men and demons would be saved. And of course, this included his friend the devil. If we follow him in that “tradition” we will eliminate the need for preaching the gospel entirely!

Let us read about Gregory’s “Conversion,” so called. “Gregory woke up weeping, and made his way remorsefully to the garden, where the pickled bones of the martyrs, gathered together in an immense urn, were being worshiped by the faithful. A contrite Gregory watched the proceedings to the end. He became a practicing Christian” (Payne, p. 182) Practicing what, we wonder? Yet it is from this “bone bag” believer we are to be instructed on such deep Godhead revelations as the Perichoresis Theory, and the “mutual indwelling of the three persons.”

He hated the God given institution of marriage and believed “mortality and marriage were bedfellows; death brooded over the marriage bed”(Payne, 183). Truly a morbid and sick individual. He said the only way one could hope for “blessedness” was to live in solitude and have “no human entanglements”(Payne, 18). Is that not deranged? Something is definitely wrong here. He did get into financial entanglements however!

He was finally accused of embezzling Church funds and Gregory, the Bishop of Nyssa, “was bound in chains and led off to meet his accusers, and at the same time during the journey managed to escape”(Payne, 184).

And of such Dr. Boyd writes: “Indeed, the frequent Oneness Portrayal of the early church fathers as sinister philosophers preaching a ‘seductive philosophy,’ and therefore seeking to corrupt the apostolic faith with pagan ideas, could not be further from the truth”(p.60).

In addition to these “fathers,” the Trinitarian understanding receives an additional boost from “a great number of philosophers throughout history” who recognized “that the very idea of an absolute or undifferentiated unity is incoherent”(Boyd, p.176). And who might these “philosophers” be who take it upon themselves to tell God how he must exist? For Jehovah tells us that He was “alone” and “by himself” in eternity past (Isa. 44:24). But these great thinkers have concluded that He must be mistaken, for such “absolute unity” is incoherent to them! So they invent “company” for Him, and waste reams of paper writing about it!

Two, to whom Dr. Boyd refers us, are St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Much can be learned from examining both of these leading Trinitarian theologians.


Of St. Augustine we read: “His mind was a crucible in which the New Testament was most completely fused with Platonic Tradition of Greek Philosophy (Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume II, p.754). Of course Plato, the pagan philosopher of Greece, was famous for his “Platonic Trinity” invention. Now we see exactly what it was St. Augustine “fused” to New Testament religion. This is exactly what Paul warned us about in Colossians 2:8 -“philosophy,” “vain deceit,” and “tradition of men.” Things which would “spoil us” and lead us away from Christ, “in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Isn’t it more than passing strange that the things which Paul warns us against, namely “Philosophy” and “tradition” are the very things Neo-Trinitarians recommend to us in order to understand Christ better?

Aside from his philosophical infatuation with Plato, Augustine had other beliefs which bear mentioning. He was an extreme predestinationist, believing only the elect were given grace to be saved. He believed in purgatory naturally, and prayed for the repose of his mother’s soul on every altar where he offered up the “most holy and acceptable sacrifice of the mass.” He believed in baptismal regeneration for infants, and linked original sin with human sexuality! (St. Gregory would have liked that). “To be sure” Dr. Boyd writes, “one might even follow the lead of such great thinkers as Augustine and C.S. Lewis…”(Boyd, p.61). And where is it that Augustine and these other “great” thinkers wish to lead us? To a concept of God or ultimate reality as possessing a ‘certain threeness’…”(Boyd, p.61). And should we also follow them into baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, purgatory and celibacy? Isn’t it amazing how these great Church thinkers get everything wrong, except the Godhead doctrine? At least it seems that way. For nobody but Catholics seem disposed to follow their “lead” into these other teachings. Neo Trinitarians use them like taxis; they get out at the stop they want, and then let them drive on!

If these were the only nightmares that Augustine was guilty of bringing into the world it would have been enough. But there is more. “One woe is past; and behold, there come two woes more hereafter.”

Augustine was so eager to get heretics, like the Pelagians and the Donatists, back in the arms of Rome, that he invented a theological justification for physical persecution that has over the centuries resulted in the deaths of millions! He is virtually dripping in the blood of martyrs!

“It was one of the darkest hours in the whole history of Christian thought when Augustine…set forth the terrible principle: ‘Cogite intrare – ‘compel them to enter’. The greatest of the Fathers of the Church had almost committed treason against the gospel…the sword had been drawn from the sheath. All those instrumental in the ferocious suppression of the heretics in the Middle Ages could call upon the authority of St. Augustine – could and did. The violence and cruelty unleashed by this one man was beyond measure (Walter Niggs, The Heretics, p. 116-117).

While giving the Church of Rome a justification for “making martyrs” out of disbelievers, he simultaneously fostered the pagan cult of worshiping the bones and corpses of Catholic martyrs!

“Competition for saintly corpses soon degenerated into a superstitious search for relics…the cult arose among the people, but was approved by the Great Christian leaders of the age – Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine” (Richard A Todd, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p.67). And yet we hear: “The earliest Christian fathers cared about nothing more than preserving intact, without any alteration, ‘the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’…”(Boyd, p.61). Did that “preserving intact” include pickled bones and festering cadavers? It seems so.


We have saved the worst till last (although that would be difficult to judge in this “leper pageant”) – St. Thomas Aquinas. Dr. Boyd conjures up this saint also for our edification on page 173 of his book. But he could have spared us; for this thorough going Papal stooge can add nothing to our understanding of God. Aquinas’ fort was mixing Aristotle’s pagan philosophy with the Romanism of his day. Naturally he gave it all a unique turn and “developed his own conclusions from Aristotilian premises” (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. II, p.162).

Is it any wonder that a church which “mixes and matches, and picks and patches” would come up with such a doctrinal oddity as the “Three Person” Godhead?

Aquinas was a Catholic, a Dominican, and a loyal subject (read “lackey”) of the Pope. Mariolatry, Transubstantiation, Papal Primacy, Purgatory etc. were all staple fare in his theological diet. But even that was not enough for this dean of saints; he had to dabble into spiritism! “On another occasion St. Paul came quietly into his room to explain a problem of interpretation. Toward the end of his life he spoke frequently of seeing the Virgin” (Payne, 370). Who are these “spirits” that are impersonating Paul and Mary? We shall soon see. “When he described the appearance of the Virgin in his cell, he said she was like the brightest of bright mirrors, more polished and pure than the Seraphim, of such purity that nothing purer can be imagined, except it were God” (Payne, 371). The Bible itself explains these “visitors” in II Corinthians 11:14, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.” One can only imagine how many Trinitarian insights Aquinas received in this manner from his “spirit visitors,” insights that Dr. Boyd and other Neo Trinitarians want to pass on to us, second hand, from the “great beyond” (Boyd,212).


The best we can hope for is that Aquinas’ addled brain suffered from dementia, rather than “spirit concourse.” The whole thing degenerates into outright sances, with Aquinas seeing all kinds of shades and specters. “He spent the remaining years of his life at Naples…seeing visions and talking to the dead. He once saw the devil as a negro…A more convincing vision occurred when he saw Father Romanus, the man to whom he had vacated his chair at the University of Paris. Romanus was dead. Seeing him, Thomas said, ‘How do I stand with God, and are my works pleasing to him?’ ‘Thou art in good state’ Romanus replied, ‘and they works are pleasing to God”(Payne, 371).What a busy night that was!

What does God think of such a person, who makes contacts with the supposed spirits of the dead? “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:31). Who were these spirits Aquinas entertained nightly? Paul calls them “seducing spirits,” to whom, those who have “departed the Faith,” will give heed (I Tim. 4:1-3). The result of this consorting with spirits is always the same – the issuing forth of doctrines of devils! So when our Trinitarian friends recommend insights from “teachers” like Aquinas, or use reasoning’s he developed, we must keep in mind God’s warning: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto God?” (Isaiah 8:19).

Pentecostal people will never be impressed with arguments drawn from such “authorities” as we have just surveyed. And evangelicals should not be either. No enlightenment can come from those who worship bones, kill with the sword, embezzle money, and consult familiar spirits. How could these men develop a true doctrine of the Godhead while advocating just as vigorously, Purgatory, Mariolatry, Wafer Worship, and a host of other bizarre and blasphemous teachings? “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”(James 3:11).


Would Dr. Boyd, or any Trinitarian, please explain to us how a church which has gotten every other doctrine of Christianity wrong, managed to deliver the central most important truth, namely The Godhead, in perfect purity and accuracy? They are wrong as to baptism, for they “regenerate” infants through sprinkling, pouring and even spitting! Wrong as to salvation, for it is works from the first rosary bead to the last lighted candle. Wrong as to the Virgin birth, for they have Mary, their “Mother of God” also miraculously conceived and sinlessly pure. They distort Christ’s resurrection with the fantastic doctrine of Mary’s bodily assumption, as “Queen of the Universes) into heaven (without even having to wait three days!). The work of the cross is diminished horribly, because Mary is also Co-Redemtrix and Co-Mediatrix, even ordering her Son around in heaven! Their doctrine of the Bible is wrong due to the addition of the uninspired, non canonical Apocrypha, with its stories of lying angels. And yet with a track record like this, we are asked to trust their teachers like Augustine, Aquinas, Basil, Gregory, Athanasius, as they unfold the Trinity to us.

The Trinitarians will have to excuse us if we decline to drink from these wells. They are polluted and poisoned. So they have hewn out Neo Trinitarian cisterns to relieve the situation, but these are alsouse less. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the Fountain of Living Waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). Though they insist the cisterns’ broken pieces are all “co-equal” and of the “same substance,” they still will not hold water.

For the more eclectic minded among their readers, Neo-Trinitarians have something special to offer additional light on the Trinity, but this time from India and other heathen domains. For they too have things to say, useful things, pertaining to the Trinity. Neo-Trinitarians venture timidly into this perilous water at first, for they know how turbulent it can become. But once in, they begin to splash about quite giddily.”I’m not presently arguing that this view is or is not correct” writes Dr. Boyd, “I am only maintaining that the presence of trinitarian parallels outside of Christianity certainly has no negative bearing on the truthfulness of this doctrine. If anything it supports its truthfulness” (Boyd, p.61-62). This comes on the heels of a discussion in which Dr. Boyd denies that Christianity incorporated any Trinity
concepts from the Pagans. “The claim is simply false” he says. Yet on page 150 he quotes Ignatius (Mag.7:2) who describes the Father as “The One”. This word, “the One,” was the pagan Platonic name for the first Person of their Trinity, which consisted of: The One, the Logos, and the Wisdom. If Ignatius is not incorporating a pagan trinity, why is he using their vocabulary? Dr. Boyd might have been afraid that we would catch this “one”, so he writes later on: “Hence they employed Stoic and Platonic categories when possible to help express their faith” (Boyd,161). We see. Something like transporting the Ark of God in a Philistine Cart. That’s fine as long as you don’t try to steady it!

St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis, whose lead “one might even follow,” were not so timid as Dr. Boyd on this question. They thought the prevalence of pagan trinities was a further evidence that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was true. As far as the Oneness claim that these pagan trinities of Greece, Babylon, and India have a causal link to the Catholic Trinity, Dr. Boyd feels we have “never substantiated” that contention (Boyd,45).

We will save ourselves some energy and let the Trinitarians themselves substantiate it.

I have before me as I write a popular polemic against the Oneness Doctrine by Charles Wm. Walker, D.D., entitled “The Jesus Only Theory.” On page 21 to 22 he writes: “Using material in the pagan world would not necessarily convince us of the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity, but, like Paul, we would use this as an argument ad hominen…Hence we refer to the fact that even the heathen believed in a Trinity as set forth in the following paganistic religions of the ancient World:

A. The Greek Triad: Zeus Athena Apollo

B. The Egyptian Triad: Osiris Isis Horus

C. The Trinity of the Vedas: Dyaus Indra Agni

D. The Brahman Trinity: Brahma Vishnu Siva (source) (supporter) (the end)

What next! How desperate must Trinitarians be to seek support for their theory from Fire Walkers, Rope climbers, and Snake Charmers of darkened India! These Fakirs are politely asked to contribute their trinities to the common cause. How far afield Trinitarians are willing to go. They have now crossed the Indian Ocean and are plundering the temple records of that sad, benighted land in hopes of finding some trinitarian gems that might have been overlooked. “Brethren, these things ought not to be!” How empty must the Trinitarian arsenal be that they have to forage around in long exploded shells of Hinduism for additional fire power. God have mercy on them and return them to the Bible!



Trinitarians often cite for support the creeds and doctrines that resulted from the early church ecumenical councils. Dr.Boyd, while mentioning that Paul arrived at the “essence” of the Trinity doctrine, remarks that: “It would, of course, take several hundred years of believers and opponents asking questions to iron out all the implications of this belief. This is what ultimately produced the fully developed doctrine of the Trinity in the early fourth century.” (Boyd, 122). My! “The very inner being of the eternal God” took four hundred years of “ironing” before it was “fully developed” as a doctrine. And
what “ironing” it was!


The Council of Nicea is often pictured by Trinitarians as an illustrious gathering of persecuted Bishops, replete with scars and wounds, calmly reasoning with each other over the nature of the Godhead. Carl Brumback even remarked that we owe a great debt to these early Fathers who defined so carefully for us the doctrine of the Trinity (Brumback, p. 197).

This idealistic picture couldn’t be further from the Truth. The assembled bishops probably inflicted as many wounds as they brought with them! The historian H.G. Wells informs us that a fist fight broke out
between Arius and another bishop right before the astonished eyes of the Emperor Constantine (H.G. Wells, Outline of History, p. 552). At one point the delegates plugged their ears with their fingers and ran out of the building screaming like spoiled children. (Wells, p. 552). The Emperor Constantine presided and controlled the whole council, even though he was unbaptized and not even eligible to take communion! Not a single Bishop protested this usurpation!

“Diplomacy was wielded like a weapon and intrigues often replaced intelligence. There were so many ignorant bishops that one participant bluntly called the Council ‘a synod of nothing but blockheads.’ Constantine who treated religious questions solely from a political point of view, assured unanimity by banishing all the bishops who would not sign the new profession of Faith. It was altogether unheard of that a universal creed should be instituted solely on the authority of the Emperor, who as a Catechumen was not even admitted to the mystery of the Eucharist. Not a single bishop said a single word against this monstrous thing” (Walter Nigg, Heresies, p. 127).

The delegates were about as “intelligent” as they were calm. “The conference was now open and at once it became evident that the Arians and the Orthodox were at each others throats. Denunciations and angry accusations flew across the hall. Everyone was suddenly arguing, ‘it was like a battle in the dark,’ wrote the historian Socrates. Hardly anyone seemed to know the grounds on which they culminated one another! Constantine did his best to restore order, regarding himself as the presiding judge empowered to intervene. In all the debates, he rebuked those who spoke too angrily and sternly silenced those where arguments seemed to him fallacious ” (Robert Payne, The Christian Centuries, p. 109). And it is to this fist-fighting, ear-plugging, screaming match that we owe such a “debt” for “ironing out” the Trinity doctrine!


Shall we take a trip to another Trinitarian Council? This one was dubbed “The Council of Robbers.” I am quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia: “The assembly turned into a riot. Imperial troops and bands of fanatical Egyptian monks attempted to force the 135 bishops present to sign a condemnation of the doctrine of the two natures in Christ. Bishop Falvian, severely beaten in the melee, died a few days later. The Papal legates, though managing to escape, had also been badly mistreated. The Pope annulled the proceedings at Ephesus describing it as a Council of Robbers ” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1965 ed., Volume VII, p. 312).

Quite an “ironing”, wouldn’t you say!! If this is the tree, how corrupt is the Trinitarian fruit which hangs from its branches? Of course, Apostle Paul, though not having the benefit of these “Councils” did arrive at the “essence of this doctrine” according to Dr. Boyd (p. 122). Too bad poor Paul could not have lived four hundred years longer so he could have enjoyed the “fully developed doctrine” that these theologians “ironed out” for us! (Or perhaps Paul was spared all this, having had enough beatings from the Jews!)

Oneness Pentecostals are quite satisfied that Christ himself brought to earth the “fully developed doctrine” of the Godhead. It was without spot or wrinkle, and therefore needed no “ironing out” in order to be perceived more clearly. What can four hundred years of fist-fighting add to the revelation of God’s nature contained in Christ’s words: “He that= bath seen me, hath seen the Father.” Paul didn’t feel a need for any further development of the “essence” he had “arrived at!” For he boldly proclaimed: “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). And that included his doctrine, “fully developed;’ I might add, that in Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. 2:9). I’d rather have Paul’s “counsel” than Nicea’s “Council.