Tag Archive | History of the Trinity

History of the Trinity, Part 16

History Of  The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity
Part 16
The Biblical Concept Of God
The Concept In Brief
——————–
The Scriptures declare that there is one God and that God is One. His Old Testament name was Yahweh, better known as Jehovah.

God is an infinite, eternal Spirit who made Himself known to man in Old Testament days through prophets, angels, the tabernacle and miracles. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, from a cloud, from the tabernacle, and from Mt. Sinai. He manifested Himself many times in angelic form; sometimes in the form of a man — as when He appeared to Jacob.

The Scriptures make it very clear that Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament, in flesh. The Deity in the Son of God was none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the eternal Creator of all things.

BIBLICAL CONCEPTS WITH SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES
——————————————–
The Scripture declares that God is a Spirit {1}, filling heaven and earth. {2} No man has or can see God {3}, except as He wishes to reveal Himself in material forms that man’s eyes can fix upon. God has manifested {4} Himself in many ways:

1) To Moses in a burning bush. {5}

2) To Moses in a cloudy pillar. {6}

3) To Moses in veiled glory on Mt. Sinai. {7}

4) To Jacob as an angel in human form. {8}

5) To Manoah as an angel. {9}

6) To Abraham in human form. {10}

7) To Nebuchadnezzar in what seemed to his heathen mind to be a son of the
gods. {11}

God’s name was known in the pre-Christian era as Jehovah {12} (more
correctly “Yahweh”). {13}

The Scriptures make it very plain that Jesus, as to His Deity, was Jehovah {14} of the Old Testament.

The New Testament declares that God manifested Himself in flesh and dwelt among us {15}, speaking to us in a son {16}. The child was the everlasting Father {17}, dwelling in Jesus {18}, who being the God {19} of the Old Covenant, was the Saviour of Israel {20}, although many would not accept Jesus as their Creator {21}.

God emphatically declared that He was One {22}, the only Creator {23}, and Saviour {24}.

Jesus was both Lord (Deity) and Christ {25} (humanity — “the anointed One” — not “the Annointer”). He was, as man, both “the Son of God” {26} and “the Son of Man.” {27} Jesus, possessing a dual nature, spoke from two different planes of reference: sometimes as God, sometimes as man. As God, He spoke as the Father {28}; as man, He spoke as the Son {29}.

As Deity, Jesus said:

1) “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” {30}

2) “I am the Alpha and Omega.” {31}

3) “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” {32}

4) “Before Abraham was, I AM.” {33}

As a son (humanity), Jesus said:

1) “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” {34}

2) “I thirst.” {35}

3) “He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son.” {36}

The same God of the Old Testament that dwelt in Christ {37}, reconciling the world unto Himself {38}, was the same God who has filled us with His Holy Spirit {39}. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is called “The Promise of the Father.” {40} Jesus is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit {41} — He promised that He would not leave His disciples Comfortless {42}, He would come unto them {43}. As man, He would pray the Father to send the Comforter {44}, the Holy Ghost {45}; whereas, as God, He, Himself, would come unto them {46}.

Jesus (Jehovah the Savior) is the name of the one God of the Old and New Testaments, who manifested himself in many ways, chiefly as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God in three manifestations; NOT One God in three persons!

============================
FOOTNOTES:

1 – John 4:24

2 – Jer 23:24

3 – John 1:18

4 – “revealed, made visible.”

5 – Ex 3:4

6 – Ex 13:21,22; 33:9-11

7 – Ex 33:18-23
8 – Gen 32:24,30 with Hos 12:24

9 – Jud 13:13,22

10 – Gen 18:1-3

11 – Dan 3:25,28. The KJV has: “the Son of God” but most translators render it: “a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of the Son of God who was yet unborn — neither did the Jews. The KJV translates “Elah”  as “God” 78 times; as “god” 16 times. The context must decide. See Dan. 5:23 where the context demands “gods”, rather than “God” for “Elah”.

12 – Ex 6:3

13 – See Part 4.

14 – Compare the following Scriptures, bearing in mind that in the KJV “LORD”is the translation of “Jehovah”, whereas “Lord” is the translation of the Hebrew “Adonai” (lord,master). All of the following O.T. passages have LORD (Jehovah):

Isa 40:3 with Mtt 3:3
Ps 24:8 with 1 Cor 2:8
Zech 12:8,10 with Jn 19:18 and 1:11
Isa 44:6 with Rev 1:8, 2:8
Isa 43:10,11 with Titus 1:4 (Mtt 1:21)
Isa 52:6 with Jn 17:6,11,12; 5:43
Isa 3:13,14 with 1 Peter 2:6-8

15 – 1 Tim 3:16

16 – Heb 1:2. The Greek has “in”, not “by” as the KJV has. Some of the translations that have “in” are: Darby, Wuest, Phillips, Goodspeed, Concordant, Amplified, Youngs, ASV, ERV, Living Scriptures, Centenary, Berkeley, New English Bible, and Worrels.

17 – Isa 9:6

18 – Jn 14:9,10

19 – Mtt 1:23

20 – Isa 43:10,11; Mtt 1:21; Titus 1:4

21 – Jn 1:10,11

22 – Ja 2:19; Jn 10:30

23 – Isa 42:5; (see Jn 1:3,10,11)

24 – Isa 43:10,11 (see Titus 1:4)

25 – Acts 2:36

26 – Mark 1:1

27 – Mtt 9:6 – “Man”, here, is not “aner” (male), but “anthropos” (“mankind”). A generic term for either man or woman.

28 – Deity, who begat “the man Christ — Jesus” (1 Thes. 2:5).

29 – He who was born of a virgin (Mtt 1:22) and therefore had a beginning. Being flesh, He had both Father and mother.

30 – Mtt 18:20

31 – Rev 1:11

32 – Jn 2:19

33 – Jn 8:58

34 – Mtt 27:46

35 – Jn 19:28

36 – Jn 19:26

37 – 1 Tim 3:16

38 – 2 Cor 5:19

39 – Joel 2:28 with Acts 2:4,16,17

40 – Acts 1:4,5

41 – Mtt 1:11; Jn 16:7. This He did after He went away and was given by Him as Deity, not humanity.

42 – Greek: orphanos (orphans; fatherless)

43 – As God, the Holy Spirit; not in flesh

44 – Jn 14:16

45 – Jn 14:26

46 – Jn 14:16-

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 15

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 15

The Confusion — By Don Barnett

In short, Trinitarianism and Monarchianism have both conflicted and overlapped in their doctrines. The picture is confusing because the term “Trinity” did not mean to Tertullian what it meant to Athanasius, and to him it did not mean what it did to Augustine. Calvin’s concept was not the same as Luther’s neither was it identical to Augustine’s. Even today there are several concepts under the heading of “Trinity” — many even holding Oneness views and denying three persons in the Godhead. Athanasius, whose name is identified with the Nicean Creed of the Trinity, not only admits confusion of the subject, but makes Modalistic statements contrary to Trinitarianism, such as:

“The divinity of the father is identical with that of the son”: and even that the son’s divinity is the father’s divinity. “The son”, he argues, “is of course other than the father as offspring, but as god he is one and the same. The godhead is a unique, indivisible monad.” [20]

Some are arguing that Christians should keep the term “Trinity” but return to the biblical, Monarchian view of God. Some feel that they are caught in the wedge of tradition on the one side, and the Scriptures on the other side -and they are. The majority of non-scholars today are quite ignorant about the entire subject. Most ministers graduate from Bible Schools, parroting Trinitarianism, but know little about its history and problems — few have examined the other side; they attack it on the grounds that they have been warned against it. The terms “Oneness,” “Monarchianism,” and “Sabellianism” have not only erroneously been termed the “Jesus Only” doctrine, but have become known as the devil’s lie and heresy — whereas Trinitarianism is the deviate. It is even common to hear or read that Monarchianism denied the Holy Trinity — as though the doctrine of the Trinity was the established doctrine when Monarchianism was invented. The truth, as shown by history, is that the Trinity doctrine, when formulated, denied Monarchianism, which came first.

No wonder people are confused, neither knowing what they affirm nor what they are against — blindly following Catholic tradition, and labelling the teachings of the Apostles: “heresy” and “a cult”!

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 14

History of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature of God In The Early Centuries of Christianity

Part 14

Anti-Trinitarians In The Later Christian Centuries

Michael Servetus (1511-1553), a scholar, physician, and scientist of note; deeply religious and devoted to Christ, wishing to restore what he called true Christianity, would not conform to the accepted doctrine of the trinity. He also denounced predestination and infant baptism. He was arrested, presumably at Calvin’s insistence. Servetus was condemned on the charge that he denied the trinity and rejected infant baptism, offenses punishable by death under the Justinian code. [20] (Luther and Calvin consented to his death). In spite of Calvin’s plea for a more merciful form of execution, Servetus was burned at the stake. Henceforth, Calvin’s position in Geneva was not to be seriously contested. [20] (the reformed church later put up a monument, repenting).

(Trinitarians are usually quite silent about such things — the reformers, being classed as heretics for dissenting from the roman catholic church and being hunted down and murdered — should have been sympathetic to those, who in all good conscience, differ from them).

Some who found refuge at Geneva sympathized with Servetus, and to the distress of Calvin, tended toward anti-Trinitarians. Similar trends disturbed the reformed churches in Bern and Zurich. Anti-Trinitarians had a marked development in Poland, called Socinianism from lelio sozini who was courtly in manner, modest, deeply religious, of irreproachable morals. His spiritual pilgrimage never led him to a formal break with the Swiss and Geneva reformers. However, he deplored the burning of Servetus.

Others of the reformation were inclined to be anti-Trinitarians. Some of the Italian Anabaptists (those who rebaptized after conversion people who were sprinkled while infants) began to develop anti-Trinitarian convictions and multiplied having congregations and pastors, and holding a council in Venice in 1550.

Another center of anti-Trinitarian views was in the Grisons, a republic between Italy and Switzerland. In 1553 the synod of the Grisons attempted to impose a Trinitarian faith; by 1575 anti-Trinitarian ministers had been largely rooted out.

In Transylvania, an anti-Trinitarian form of Protestantism was making rapid progress. In Poland (in the end of the 15th c.) The reformed churches were anti-Trinitarians, to which Socinus gave leadership (called Socinian’s). The Socinian’s had opportunity in Russia and the Ukraine. Many others had similar views, including the remonstrant and some of the Mennonites in Holland. In 1659 the Socinian’s were banished from Poland by decree of the diet. The anti-Trinitarian’s chief gains on the continent were among the reformed; in England it was from the Presbyterians; in the u.s.a. from the puritans.

In the 1780’s the oldest congregation in the church of England, in new England, officially abandoned belief in the trinity. [20] (some of these anti-Trinitarians held moralistic monarchial views, some dynamic monarchian views, and others the modern unitarian views of a completely human Christ.) For example, in 1815 e. Channing became an exponent of arian views and he accepted the name unitarian for the movement. (the term “unitarian” had been applied earlier to the szklers in transylvania and to others, even those believing in the deity of Christ). [20] the campellites or disciples of christ of the 1800’s were an undenominational fellowship of devout christians who were anti-trinitarian but who believed in the deity of jesus.

Congregationalists were deeply stirred by the great awakening which began in 1790 and some of the clergy as well as the laity were affected by Armenians and Socinianism. Some of the general Baptist moved in that direction, as did a new anglican clergymen. [20]

(nor was the oneness doctrine confined to the late middle ages; in 1115 a.d., abelard canon of notre dame was charged with sabellianism. [5] he was possessed of a rapier-like intellect, was charming, keen, a stimulating teacher; a sincere Christian. He went to various centers, in some places, worsting his teachers, and eventually became the most popular of the lecturers in paris. Abelard antagonized many. His enemies had him hailed before the council at soissons in 1211 for heresy. In 1140 he was condemned by a council at sins because his views on the trinity and other subjects were regarded as subversive to the faith. [20]

About the time of World War 1, a doctrinal controversy swept through the heartland of the united states. The “new issue”, oneness, contended that true baptism must be “in the name of Jesus” only, rather than employing the traditional formula. Furthermore, the proponents of this view denied that there are three persons in the godhead. For a time, this teaching threatened to topple the assemblies of god, because many of its leaders — men like h.g.rodgers, eudorus n. Bell, howard a. Goss, and Daniel c. O. Opperman –submitted themselves for rebaptism in “Jesus’ name.” the ministerial roll of the assemblies of god was decreased by more than 150. Its general council inst. Louis (1916) prepared a “statement of fundamental truths.” the right to draft such a statement was challenged by the “oneness” contingent on the grounds that the formative scriptures were to be the “all-sufficient rule for faith and practice,” and here was a man made creed being proposed. They argued that this was a departure from the liberty which had characterized earlier Pentecostalism. The assemblies of god withstood the challenge and articulated a position that was staunchly Trinitarian. Men like j. Roswell flower and john w. Welch remained staunchly Trinitarian, criticizing the new revelation on the ground that it was too dependent upon the subjective feelings of the individual and not enough on theological> principles. 156 ministers withdrew from the assemblies of god, and a new Pentecostal body was organized — the Pentecostal assemblies of the world. [9]

 

The United Pentecostal Church is the largest “oneness” group of Pentecostals. In 1965 it numbered 200,000 (spirit filled, adult) members. [9]

(many times a division, or split, develops when one preaches the truths of god’s word that are in opposition to that of the established church teachings.in such cases, those who reject the truth of the bible, substituting instead the traditions of men, would be held accountable for the division in the church — not those who are faithful and bold enough to reinstate the truths of scripture.) For example, it was the Jews that refused the truth that Jesus was the messiah, that were to blame for the split in the synagogues that Paul preached in, not paul — they should have accepted it! The same holds true, to a lesser degree, between the reformers and the roman catholic church. The assembly of god ministers who were honest and open enough to search the scriptures to see if the oneness is true, and found it to be so, should not be castigated by those who are not open enough to search out these things. (after) Pentecost, the Christians continued to believe in one god, but they also believed that in Jesus they had seen god, that Jesus was god himself become flesh. They likewise were convinced that the power which they found at work within them was also god. Christians nurtured on the great central affirmation of Judaism, “hear, o Israel, the lord thy god, the lord is one,” were constrained to think of god as father, son, and holy spirit, three in one.

Solved> to the satisfaction of all who bear the Christian name, is that of the. . Most of them were also convinced that in some unique way, in Christ was both man and god and that the holy spirit was from god and is god. [20]

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 13

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 13

The Roman Catholic Admission

The New Catholic Encyclopedia, after discussing the “doctrinal evolution and theological elaboration of the mystery of the Trinity,” says:

“There is the recognition of the part of exegetes and biblicalt heologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics, that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel recognition on the part of historians of dogma and systematic theologians that when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins, to say, the last quadrant of the fourth century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma “One God in three Persons” became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought.

Herein lies the difficulty. On the one hand, it was the dogmatic formula “one God in three Persons” that would henceforth for more than fifteen centuries structure and guide the Theological essence of the Christian message, both in the profession of faith and in theological dialectic. On the other hand, the formula itself does not reflect the immediate consciousness of the period of origins; it was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development.

… Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective; among the second century Apologists, little more than a focusing on the problem as that of plurality within the unique Godhead.”

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 12

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 12

Trinitarianism, An Outgrowth Of Idolatry

In 451, the celebrated council of chalcedony disciplining euthychas, formulated the orthodox doctrine of the trinity which has ever since been regarded as the limit of human wisdom of this subject. [2]

The doctrine of the trinity did not form part of the apostles preaching. in its final form it is a product of many factors. some of these are biblical — on the other hand, there are considerations at least partly philosophical. the reformers retained the view that the doctrine of the trinity describes the essence of the godhead, but later protestant theologians have argued this point. [13]

The theory received its classic form from St. Thomas Aquinas [14] (a roman catholic philosopher; 13th century a.d.). after it received further elucidation at the hands of John Calvin (a noted 16th century theologian), it passed into the body of the reformed faith. [17] triads of divinities occur in nearly all polytheistic religions – the Egyptian triad of siris, isis, and horus: the hindu triad of brahma, vishnu, or shiva, etc. it was no more than was to be anticipated that one or more of these triads should now and again be pointed to as the original of the Christian doctrine of the trinity. (the so-called “Christian” doctrine of the trinity bears a close resemblance to the older hindu verse): “in those  ‘three persons’ the was shown — each first in place, each last – not alone: of siva, vishnu, brahma, each may be among the blessed three.” [10]

(Christians unanimously agree that hinduism is polytheism and yet they regard the trinity doctrine in christianity as being monotheistic, in spite of the fact that both doctrines acclaim three persons in one god.)

A trinity of deities is common to all nations. the emperor of china offers once each year a sacrifice to the spirit of trinity and unity. lao-tse (600 b.c.) says: “tao is by nature one; the first begat the second; both together brought forth the third; these three made all things.” we are more familiar with the indian trimurti: brahma, vishnu, and siva, who are represented and worshipped as three persons, although the original divine principle brahm is but one. in a commentary on the rig veda it is said: “there are three deities, but there is only one godhead, the great soul.” the so-called chaldean oracle says: “the unity brought forth the duality which dwells with it and shines in intellectual light: from these proceeded the trinity which shines in all the world.” the names of the chaldean trinity are: anos, illinos, aos; the phoenicians: ulomus, ulosurus, eliun; the egyptians: kreph (or ammun), pithah, osiris; the irish: krissan, biosena, jiva; the scandinavians: thor, woden, fricco. the ancient prussians, pomeranians, wends, the old americans, and the babylonians, all had their trinities. the divinities of Greece were grouped by mythologers both in a successive: uronas, chrondos, zeus; and a simultaneous trinity: zeus, poseidon, aldoneus. [18]

== conclusions ==

(Butler concludes): do not all these coincidences serve as indirect proof to compel us to acknowledge that schelling was right when he said “the philosophy of mythology proves that a trinity of divine potentialities is the root from which have grown the religious ideas of all nations of any importance… this idea does not exist because there is such a thing as Christianity; on the contrary, Christianity exists because this idea is the most original of all.” [18]

(It must be admitted that the heathens knew of a trinity, long before Christ, and therefore, Christians. if god is a trinity, it is incongruous that the heathens knew of it long before the Christian era, when the prophets of Israel did not!)

(Phillip Schaff defends the heathen concept in these words): “the deeper minds of the heathen ambiguity showed a presentiment of a three fold distinction in the divine essence, which like all the deeper instincts of the heathen mind, serve to strengthen the Christian truth.” [18] (as though the instincts of darkness can help illuminate the light of god’s revelation!)

(i.s.b.e. justifies the trinity with its definitions that are closer to heathen idolatry than the bible, thusly: “the definition of a biblical doctrine in such unbiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of the scripture than the words of scripture.” [4] (as though the truth of the bible can not be taught by using biblical terms!) many modern scholars, however, are admitting that the doctrine of the trinity is indefensible. There is even a change of attitude toward a more biblical definition of the trinity:

It might be well if the term “trinity” were employed to designate the threefold self-manifestation of god. the first Christians had with St. Paul a saving experience of the grace of the lord Jesus Christ and of the love of god and of the communion of the holy ghost, and the theologians were led, inevitably, to effect an alliance between the gospel of their salvation and the speculative philosophy, and more especially the Platonism, in which they had been trained, while, in making room for the Christian gospel within the world — not altogether hospitable — of the
Greek philosophy, they found themselves translating their empirical knowledge of god — the god of the father of the lord Jesus Christ – into a doctrine of diversity and multiplicity, as distinguished from merely abstract unit, within the divine nature itself. in other words, in thinking out the trinity they arrived at the trinity. the greatest and most influential of the Christian fathers, origen, Athanasius, basil, the gregories, Augustine, all acknowledged that the divine nature remained for them a mystery.

In the system of Christian theology, the doctrine of the trinity does not usually fit well into the general doctrine of god, and often bears the character of a doctrine apart.

In short, god himself is the father revealed; god himself is the Christ revealing; god himself is the holy spirit abiding. it should be remembered that there was no word “person” in the vocabulary of the Greek- speaking theologians who shaped the doctrine of the trinity to the authoritative form it assumed in the Nicean-Constantinopolitan creed. through origin’s influence it came to be employed in the theological terminology as the designation of a member of the trinity.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 10

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 10

Arianism And The Council At Nicea

By the 4th century, THE WEST, THANKS TO THE WORK OF TERTULLIAN AND NOVATIAN, HAD REACHED PRACTICAL UNANIMITY REGARDING THE UNITY OF SUBSTANCE BETWEEN CHRIST AND FATHER (in a more or less modified or restyled “Logos- Christology”). [5] THE EAST, where MUCH MORE INTELLECTUAL ABILITY and INTEREST in SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY WAS TO BE FOUND, WAS DIVIDED. ORIGEN, who taught that Christ WAS A SECOND GOD, GENERATED by the Father, was very influential. SABELLIANISM WAS TO BE FOUND predominant IN EGYPT, and in numbers elsewhere. [5,6]

The Arian struggle BEGAN IN ALEXANDRIA, ABOUT 320, IN A DISPUTE BETWEEN ARIUS AND HIS BISHOP, ALEXANDER. MONARCHIAN INFLUENCES IMBIBED IN ANTIOCH LED HIM TO EMPHASIZE THE UNITY AND SELF-CONTAINED EXISTENCE OF GOD [5] — Yet his basic doctrine found its SEED in the LOGOS-CHRISTOLOGY teaching. [4] He also WAS A FOLLOWER OF ORIGEN, in that HE believed that CHRIST WAS A CREATED BEING, MADE OF NOTHING. CHRIST WAS A LOWER GOD than THE FATHER. IN THE INCARNATION, THE LOGOS ENTERED A HUMAN BODY, TAKING THE PLACE OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT. TO ARIUS’ THINKING CHRIST WAS NEITHER FULLY GOD NOR FULLY MAN, BUT A “TERTIUM QUID” BETWEEN. [5]

THE FIRST CHRISTIANS WERE ALL OF ONE MIND WITH REGARD TO THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST. “THEY SING HYMNS, SAID PLINEY, TO THE CHRIST WHOM THEY HONOR AS GOD.” [15]

BISHOP ALEXANDER WAS INFLUENCED BY THE OTHER SIDE OF ORIGEN’S TEACHING. TO HIM, THE SON WAS ETERNAL, LIKE IN ESSENCE TO THE FATHER, AND WHOLLY UNCREATED.

IN 321, ARIUS was CONDEMNED. ARIANS FOUND A REFUGE IN THE POWERFUL BISHOP, EUSEBIUS OF NICODEMIA. Both parties WROTE WIDELY TO FELLOW BISHOPS, defending their position. THE QUARREL THREATENED THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH THAT the new Emperor, CONSTANTINE, DEEMED ESSENTIAL. [5] CONSTANTINE ATTEMPTED TO RECONCILE THE PARTIES, BUT FAILING, CONVENED THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL AT NICEA (A.D. 325). [26]

THE ARIANS PRESENTED A STATEMENT OF THEIR POSITION, BUT THIS AROUSED VIOLENT OPPOSITION (chiefly because Christ was said to be divested of Deity prior to His baptism). EUSEBIUS OF CAESARIA, WHO TOOK A MIDDLE POSITION BUT WAS AGAINST ANY LEANING TOWARDS SABELLIANISM AND HENCE WAS INCLINED TO FAVOR THE ARIANS, SUGGESTED AS A STATEMENT TO WHICH ALL MIGHT AGREE THE CREED WHICH WAS IN USE IN HIS OWN SEE (church). [6] IT WAS, however, WHOLLY INDEFINITE AS TO THE PARTICULAR PROBLEMS INVOLVED, DATING FROM BEFORE THE CONTROVERSY. [5] THIS SEEMED TO WIN THE GENERAL ASSENT, INCLUDING THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE EMPEROR Constantine. IT BECAME, THEREFORE THE OF WHAT HAS BEEN KNOWN AS THE NICEAN CREED. THIS CAESARIAN CREED WAS NOW AMENDED MOST SIGNIFICANT [5] by a number of changes that rid the creed from wording which could be interpreted as Arianism and added elaborate definitions to support the new trend.

THE BISHOPS KNEW THAT THE TEST for orthodoxy presented WAS NOT IN SCRIPTURE, THAT IT HAD A SUSPICIOUS HISTORY IN THE CHURCH. BUT THE FATHERS WERE REMINDED OF THE PREVIOUS unresolved DISCUSSIONS AND OF THE FUTILITY OF THE SCRIPTURAL TESTS. WITH A GREAT REVULSION OF FEELING THE COUNCIL CLOSED ITS RANKS AND SIGNED. EUSEBIUS OF NICOMEDIA SIGNED EVERYTHING, EVEN THE CONDEMNATION OF HIS OWN CONVICTIONS, JUSTIFYING HIS SIGNATURE BY A MENTAL RESERVATION. SECUNDUS AND THEONAS refused to SIGN and were EXILED. [27]

Constantine, ESSENTIALLY A POLITICIAN, NATURALLY THOUGHT THAT A FORMULA THAT WOULD FIND NO OPPOSITION IN THE WESTERN HALF OF THE EMPIRE (Northern Italy, the Balkans, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Bohemia, etc.), AND WHICH WOULD RECEIVE THE SUPPORT OF A PORTION OF THE EAST, MORE ACCEPTABLE THAN ONE WHICH, WHILE HAVING ONLY A PART OF THE EAST IN ITS FAVOR, WOULD BE REJECTED BY THE WHOLE WEST. (The East comprised southern Italy, Greece and Asia Minor – the areas that Paul labored most in.)

THE ADOPTION OF THE NICEAN Creed DEFINITELY WAS DUE TO CONSTANTINE’S INFLUENCE. THAT HE EVER UNDERSTOOD ITS SHADES OF MEANING IS MORE THAN DOUBTFUL: BUT HE WANTED TO UNITE EXPRESSION OF THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH to cement his Empire together. [5]

(The original Nicean Creed had one predominate purpose: to defend the Deity of Christ against Arianism, and does not demand a Trinitarian concept, unless the phrase “God from God” is intended to imply an eternal generation. The formula adopted is as follows):

WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, FATHER, ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE; AND IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF GOD, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, ONLY-BEGOTTEN, THAT IS FROM THE SUBSTANCE OF THE FATHER, GOD FROM GOD, LIGHT FROM LIGHT, TRUE GOD FROM TRUE GOD, BEGOTTEN, NOT MADE, OF ONE SUBSTANCE WITH THE FATHER, THROUGH WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE, BOTH THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND THINGS OF EARTH: WHO FOR US MEN AND FOR OUR SALVATION CAME DOWN AND WAS MADE FLESH, WAS MADE MAN, SUFFERED, AND ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY, ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND COMETH TO JUDGE QUICK AND DEAD; AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. BUT THOSE WHO SAY ‘THERE WAS ONCE WHEN HE WAS NOT’, AND ‘BEFORE HIS GENERATION HE WAS NOT’, AND ‘HE WAS MADE OUT OF NOTHING’; OR PRETEND THAT THE SON OF GOD IS OF ANOTHER SUBSISTENCE OR SUBSTANCE, OR CREATED OR ALTERABLE OR MUTABLE, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ANATHEMATIZES. [12]

CONSTANTINE BANISHED ARIUS and those who would not SIGN the creed.

ARIUS PRESENTED TO CONSTANTINE A CREED CAREFULLY INDEFINITE ON THE QUESTION AT ISSUE. TO CONSTANTINE’S UNTHEOLOGICAL MIND THIS SEEMED A SATISFACTORY RETRACTION AND A WILLINGNESS TO MAKE HIS PEACE. HE DIRECTED ATHANASIUS TO RESTORE ARIUS TO HIS PLACE IN ALEXANDRIA. Athanasius refused and so was BANISHED TO GAUL. ARIUS was to be restored, but died THE EVENING BEFORE THE FORMAL CEREMONY.

THE NICEAN FAITH WAS PRACTICALLY UNDERMINED WHEN CONSTANTINE DIED ON MAY 22, 337, SHORTLY AFTER HE WAS BAPTIZED.

DOCTRINAL DISCUSSIONS THAT EARLIER WOULD HAVE RUN THEIR COURSE WERE NOW POLITICAL QUESTIONS OF THE FIRST MAGNITUDE now that THE EMPEROR HAD ASSUMED A POWER IN ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS. [5]

THE ORIGINAL NICEAN SUCCESS HAD BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY IMPERIAL INTERFERENCE. THEODOSIUS, IN 380, ISSUED AN EDICT THAT ALL SHOULD HOLD THE FAITH WHICH THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER GAVE TO THE ROMANS, WHICH HE DEFINED MORE PARTICULARLY AS THAT TAUGHT BY THE EXISTING BISHOP, DAMACUS OF ROME, AND PETER OF ALEXANDRIA. HENCEFORTH THERE WAS TO BE BUT ONE RELIGION IN THE EMPIRE. ONLY THAT FORM OF CHRISTIANITY WAS TO EXIST WHICH TAUGHT ONE DIVINE ESSENCE IN THREE PERSONS. Arianism and Sabellianism were forbidden.

YET EVEN WHEN THE SYNOD OF 381 MET, THE NICEAN CREED ADOPTED IN 325, FAILED TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE VICTORIOUS PARTY. A new CREED CAME INTO USE, AND BY 451 WAS ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL council.  KNOWN AS THE “NICEAN” TO THIS DAY.> [6]

(The new creed adds several clauses which make it definitely Trinitarian, namely):

1. To the original clause: “The only-begotten Son of God” was added: “who was begotten of the Father before all the ages.”

2. To the clause: “the Holy Spirit” was added: “the Lord, the life-giver, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.”

The amended creed is as follows:
WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH AND OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE; AND IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD,  AGES, LIGHT FROM LIGHT, TRUE GOD FROM TRUE GOD, BEGOTTEN NOT MADE, OF ONE SUBSTANCE WITH THE FATHER, THROUGH WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE; WHO FOR US MEN AND FOR OUR SALVATION CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND WAS INCARNATE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND MARY THE VIRGIN, AND WAS MADE MAN AND WAS CRUCIFIED ON OUR BEHALF UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, AND SUFFERED AND WAS BURIED, AND ROSE ON THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, AND COMETH AGAIN WITH GLORY TO JUDGE QUICK AND DEAD, OR WHOSE KINGDOM THERE SHALL NOT BE AN END; AND
IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE LORD, THE LIFE-GIVER, WHO  FATHER, WHO , WHO SPOKE THROUGH THE PROPHETS; IN ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. WE CONFESS ONE BAPTISM FOR REMISSION OF SINS; WE EXPECT A RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD AND THE LIFE OF THE AGE TO COME. [12]

IN THE STRUGGLE THE IMPERIAL CHURCH CAME INTO EXISTENCE, AND A POLICY OF IMPERIAL INTERFERENCE WAS FULLY DEVELOPED.  HAD BECOME A CRIME.

CYRIL, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA, 412-444 APPLIED TO THE VIRGIN MARY “THEOLOKOS”, “GOD BEARING”, OR AS USUALLY TRANSLATED, “MOTHER OF GOD” A TERM WHICH WAS TO BECOME AS SHARP AND BITTER A THEOLOGICAL CONFLICT AS THE CHURCH HAD KNOWN. IN 340 A SYNOD AT ROME ORDERED NESTORIUS, bishop of Constantinople, EITHER TO RECANT OR BE EXCOMMUNICATED for saying “Mother of Christ” instead of “Mother of God”. NESTORIUS WAS PUT IN EXILE, OFTEN IN GREAT PHYSICAL DISTRESS. [6]

IF THE STOIC METAPHYSICS HAD BEEN DOMINANT INSTEAD OF THE PLATONIC, AND THE IMMANENCE OF GOD, OR THE ONENESS OF THE DIVINE AND HUMAN NATURE, HAD BEEN RECOGNIZED BY THE NICENE THEOLOGIANS, THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY WOULD HAVE BEEN UNNECESSARY; THE RELIGIOUS INTEREST — TO FIND GOD IN CHRIST – COULD THEN HAVE BEEN CONSERVED, AS IT WAS BY THE MODALISTS WITHOUT DISTINGUISHING THE PRE-EXISTENT SON OF GOD FROM THE FATHER.

THE NICENE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY CONTAINS BOTH A RELIGIOUS AND A PHILOSOPHICAL ELEMENT, THE FORMER ROOTED IN CHRISTIAN FAITH, THE LATTER THE PRODUCT OF METAPHYSICS. [12]

(Is there any question that our only hope of recovering the truth rests in the Word of God, alone? All post-apostolic traditions contrary to the Bible must be cast aside if we wish to know the God of the scriptures.)

DIONYSIUS POINTED OUT THAT IN OPPOSING SABELLIUS, MANY DIVIDE AND CUT TO PIECES AND DESTROY THAT MOST SACRED DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, THE DIVINE MONARCHY, MAKING IT AS IT WERE THREE POWERS.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 9

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 9

Montanism And The Opposing Catholic Church

Montanism originated in Asia minor about the middle of the second  century where Paul and his pupils had planted congregations. Scenes  took place similar to those under the preaching of the first Quakers,  and the glossolalia and prophesying in the irvingite congregations. They called themselves spiritual Christians in distinction from the carnal catholic church.

The spread of the movement threw the church into commotion. The bishops and synods of Asia minor, though not with one voice, declared the new prophecy the work of demons, and cut off the montanists from  the fellowship of the church. All agreed that it was supernatural — a  natural interpretation of such psychological phenomena being then  unknown — and the only alternative was to ascribe it either to god or  to his great adversary. Prejudice and malice invented against them.  Charges of immorality, madness, and suicide, which were readily believed. [11]

 

(In the mind of Phillip Schaff), the Montanists were not,

Originally, a departure from the faith, but a morbid overstraining of the practical morality and discipline of the early church. It was excessive supernaturalism and puritanism against gnostic rationalism  and catholic laxity. It is the first example of an early and well  meaning, but gloomy and fanatical hyper-Christianity and hyper- spiritualism. Montanism sought a forced continuance of the miraculous  gifts of the apostolic church, which gradually disappeared as  Christianity became settled in humanity.

 

The Montanistic prophecy related to the approaching heavy judgements of god, persecutions, etc. The catholic church mistrusted them all the more for their proceeding, not from the regular clergy,  but in great part from unauthorized laymen and fanatical women. The Montanists asserted the universal priesthood of Christians, even of  females, against the special priesthood in the catholic church, which  from the time Ignatius had more and more monopolized all ministerial  privileges and functions. The Montanists found the true qualification and appointment for the office of teacher in direct endowment by the  spirit of god. The Montanists were regarded by some orthodox, by others heretical, in the doctrine of the trinity [11] (some being anti-Trinitarians).

 

(there seems to be little question but that this spiritual group did fall into excesses. False teaching, and legalism, but tried to preserve the heart of Christianity, and many were martyred for their faith.)

 

(it is important to see that the forced ecumenicism by constantine resulted in a roman catholic church — which opposed the charismatic gifts of the spirit and the teaching that god is one person in three  manifestations. The theologians of this system were courted by Rome while the montanists, monarchians, and other followers of Christ were  hunted down by imperial decree. Historians talk about “the church” and “the church fathers”, but they mean, for the most part, the  ecclesiastical system that Rome allowed to remain above ground {out of  the catacombs and off of the stakes in the arenas}. Are we to defend  the doctrines of this carnal church against the plain truths of the  bible? Shall we accept their teachings of the trinity, infant baptism,  papal infallibility, the adoration of Mary, celibacy, lent, limbo,  purgatory, penance, and other non-scriptural doctrines?

 

Surely, we must be willing to reinvestigate our concepts — this time from the bible, without the help of those schooled by the grandsons of Rome!)

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 8

History of the Doctrine Concerning the Nature of God
In the Early Centuries of Christianity

Part 8

Sabellius

Monarchianism was also called sabellianism, from sabellius, its mostfamous exponent [6] who was teaching in rome during the later part of hislife, about 215 a.d. [5]

God appeared to men and made himself known as father, as son, as the holyspirit. Both things being true, the obvious solution is that the trinity isone of manifestation. God is like an actor on a greek stage; he is able totake different parts at different times by putting on a new mask or face (thisis the literal and original meaning of the greek word for person, “prosopon”,which was applied by sabellius to the roles of father, son and spirit). Hewas influenced, i believe, at this point by noting (a) that according to thefourth gospel the holy spirit does not come until the son is glorified.

Sabellius used analogies, commonly employed by trinitarians todemonstrate how three can be one, to prove that the three manifestations are,in reality, one person. The one sun has roundness, heat, and light; but thereis only one sun. The one man has body, soul, and spirit; but there is onlyone person. So god might manifest himself as father, son,and holy spirit,
But still be only one person.

Dr. Lowry acknowledges that the sabellian view “left a permanent impressupon subsequent trinitarian theology. It taught that the persons of the trinity were entirely equal and that Christ is fully god.” [25]
The dominant sabellian tendency battled to defend itself against thenewer logos-christology doctrine. Sabellius said that father, son, and Holy Spirit are each a “prosopon” (manifestation) of one god. Sabellius, thoughsoon excommunicated at rome had a very large following. His absolute identification of father, son, and holy spirit was rejected by the roman

Bishop, but it implied an equality which ultimately, as in augustine,triumphed over the subordination of son and spirit, characteristic of thelogos-christology both of tertullian and athanasius. [5]
(notice that the doctrine of the trinity (“as in augustine”) accepted theimplied equality of the father and son of monarchianism instead of the logos-christology theory of subordination of the son to the father, of tertullian –and even athanasius, whose name is associated with the original nicean creedof the trinity!)
Kallistos had excommunicated Sabellius, the strong defender of monarchianism, and strong pressure was being brought to bear by government and church officials to wipe out the teaching that God was one person in three manifestations. Dionysius, head of Catechetical school in Alexandria, and Bishiop of that city around the middle of the 3rd century still founds a bellianism very influential in his diocese and preached against it. In fact monarchianism continued until the 6th century, being the only viewpointallowed in the country that Sabellius had fled to, in earlier days.

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 7

History of the Doctrine Concerning the Nature of God

In the Early Centuries of Christianity

Part 7

The Monarchian split

 

(y 190 a.d., the logos-Christology doctrine had made enough of an Impact upon the Christian world, to influence some, who were otherwise Monarchians, to believe that Christ was only a man until he was anointed at his baptism. This later theory was called “dynamic Monarchianism.”)

The first dynamic monarchian of prominence was the odotus. He came To Rome about 190 a.d. and there taught that Jesus was a man, born of the virgin, of holy life, upon whom the divine Christ (or the Holy Spirit) descended at his baptism.

Much more numerous (and much earlier) than the dynamic monarchians were the modalistic monarchians who made an appeal to the many that in the presence of heathen polytheism, the unity of god seemed a prime article of the Christian faith.

Cyprian coined for these modalistic monarchians the nickname”patripassians” (the teaching that the father suffered, along with the Son on the cross). The first prominent advocate of patripassianism was Praxeas (190 a.d.). True, he would not be understood as speaking directly of a suffering (pati) of the father, but only of a sympathy (copati). He conceived the relation of the father to the son as like That of the spirit to the flesh. [11]

(The controversy regarding patripassianism seems somewhat obscured at this late date. Cyprian and others claimed these modalists were Patripassians); sabellius denied that he was a patripassian. [16] (schaff admits that the patripassians did not mean a real suffering but Only a sympathy. Would any trinitarian claim that god the father had No sympathy with his own son as he hung upon the cross? The modalists Never used the term of themselves.)

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

History of the Trinity, Part 6

History of the Doctrine Concerning the Nature of God

In the early centuries of Christianity

Part 6

Logos-Christology, the root of Arianism and Trinitarians

In the second century, at Alexandria, Egypt, with its great Universities, libraries, learned professors and throngs of eagerly Inquiring and active-minded students — where the Hebrew philosophy of Philo and the greek teaching of Plato had blended with the doctrine of Moses and the prophets for a modified teaching of contemporary thought — the first serious attempt was made by Christians to adjust the facts And truths of the gospel and the relations of Christian doctrine to Reason and philosophy. [2]

This modified philosophy which resulted in a concept of a human Christ, called “logos-Christology,” ran to seed in what is known as “arianism”  and was in opposition to the dominant sabellian Tendencies. [4] and yet logos-Christology was also to be defined as a Doctrine of the trinity — not the anathanastan, Trinitarians, to be Sure, but the forerunner of it. [5]

The historic doctrine of the trinity contains two elements, Representing two and interests: the pre-Existence of the son of god incarnate in Jesus Christ, and the full Deity of this pre-existent son of god. The former is known as the Logos-Christology and by the end of the third century (in the form of Arianism) had overcome monarchianism [12] (which emphasized that the Deity of the messiah was the one true god, the Jehovah Elohim of the Old testament, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).

Tertullian’s most influential work was the definition of the : “all are of one, by unity of substance; while the Mystery of the dispensation is still guarded which distribute the unity Into a , placing in their order the three, the father, the Son, and the holy spirit…”[5]

The great advocate of logos-Christology was Hippolytus, 167-235, The most learned Christian writer then in the city, a highly reputed Commentator, chronicler, calculator of the Easter dates, apologist, and Opponent of heretics.

Hippolytus vigorously opposed the monarchians, whose chief tender Was noetus of smyrna. The fight in rome waxed so hot that bishop Zephyrinus (198-287) hardly knew what to do, though he leaned toward The monarchian side. His successor, kallistos (calixtus) (217-222), The most energetic and assertive bishop that rome had yet seen, Excommunicated sabellius (who continued monarchianism previously Defended by noetus). He also charged hippolytus with being a Worshipper of two gods. Kallistos, formula>, asserted that father, son, and logos are all indivisible spirit>. Yet son is also the proper designation of that Which was visible; Jesus, while the father was the spirit in him. This

Presence of the father, after he had taken unto himself our flesh, Raised it to the nature of deity, by bringing it into union with Himself, and made it one, so that the father and son must be styled one God.

This compromise won the majority in Rome, and opened the door for The there. From the pen of Tertullian (213-218), with its clear definition of an three persons

How completely this Christology won its way in western Christendom Is shown by the treatise on the trinity, written by the roman presbyter Novatian, between 240 and 250 a.d. [5]

Tertullian, a converted stoic lawyer, was the first to apply the Word “trinity” to the conception or revelation (from human life) of the Triune godhead. [2] he declared that in his substantia, or substance, God is one. “father, son, and holy spirit”, so Tertullian said, “are Three personae or persons. In “personae” Tertullian seemed to have in Mind the use of that word in roman law where it meant a party in a Legal action. [6] Tertullian said that the father, the son, and the Holy spirit were three, not in substance but in form: not in power but In appearance, for they are of one substance and essence and one power, Inasmuch as he is one god from whom these and Are reckoned son, and of the holy spirit>. He describes these distinctions of the Godhead as “persons”, of personalities, but forms of manifestation>. [5] the difference is Not in being or person but in function or activity… “prosopon”, the

Greek word of which the Latin translation is persona. The word means not person but face, and was used of a mask worn by actors in the theater for the part they played. [12] this doctrine was to remain until the time of Augustine [5], a century later, when it received its most complete elaboration and most carefully grounded statement — until a real doctrine of the trinity at length came into expression, particularly in the west. [4]

Tertullian said that the majority of believers are startled at the dispensation of the three in one, on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the one only true God. It was difficult for them to see in Trinitarian conceptions aught else but an assertion of tri-theism (three gods). [5]

To Tertullian, these personae (persons), or parties, have their place in the “oikonomia” (economy), or administrative activity of god, since god is rational, there was in him reason, the Greek logos. This Reason was god’s own thought. The reason expressed itself in the word,

Word which consists of reason. Yet, there was a time when the reason had not yet expressed itself in word, when, namely, the son was not. [6] the son was conceived by Tertullian as being subordinate to the Father, and the holy spirit proceeded from the father through the son. [5]

Tertullian, once a stoic and for a while a montanist, was not an Advocate of logos-Christology, for he admitted that Jesus was god. He Was not a Trinitarian of the later Nicaean school of thought, for he Admitted that there were not three personalities but rather three Manifestations in the godhead. He was not a monarchian because he Taught that the son and the holy spirit emanate from the father by an Eternal process of generation. It seems that he welded the teaching of Logos-Christology and Monarchianism together and remolded them toward a Stepping stone toward Trinitarians. He is regarded by many

Historians as holding of Trinitarians. [11]

Although he founded the nomenclature of the orthodox doctrine, he knew

As little of an ontological trinity as did the apologists. [16]

Tertullian employed terms with which he was familiar in the law courts. He was polemical and, like an advocate (lawyer), not always fair to his opponents. He was at times betrayed into inconsistencies. His ideas were sometimes molded by stoic thought. Like the monarchians, whom he attacked, Tertullian believed in the monarchia, or sole government of god. As to the monarchians, so to him, god is one. [20]

Tertullian bluntly calls the father the whole divine substance, and the son a part of it, illustrating their relation by the figures of The fountain and the stream, the sun and the beam. He would not have two suns he says. The sunbeam, too, in itself considered, may be called sun, but not the sun a beam. [11]

Posted in AD - Apostolic Doctrine, ADGH - Godhead/ Oneness, AIS File Library0 Comments

Log in / Logout

Subscribe Today!

Options

CLICK TO VIEW ISSUE 30-10

Archives