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Saturday, September 5, 2009

CREEDS

Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the following information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.
 

CREEDS

(From the RDB Files)

Earliest Christian Creeds and Writings


The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses) published a brochure attacking the validity of the trinity doctrine: Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989. Like other brochures the JWs publish, it was limited to 32 pages. This, obviously, isn’t enough to cover such a large subject in great detail. Much had to be left out or severely condensed. Nevertheless, an excellent job was done in presenting the basics of this subject. On pp. 6-9 of this brochure an examination was made of the history of the development of the trinity doctrine. This included an examination of the actual writings and creeds of the earliest Christians (those who lived before the trinity doctrine was actually adopted by the Roman Church in the 4th century A. D.).

Robert M. Bowman, Jr. has written a 157-page book which attempts to reply to the JW brochure. It was published by the Baker Book House in 1989 under the title Why You Should Believe in the Trinity. Mr. Bowman had no such 32-page limit as the JWs set for themselves in their brochure and was able to write in as much detail as he wished. He strongly attacked the honesty and the accuracy of the JWs and their brochure.

One area he focused on concerns the writings of the first (“Ante-Nicene” or “before the Nicene Council of 325 A. D.”) Christians. He quoted portions of writings by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen. He ignored the many anti-trinity portions of these ancient Christian writings and produced, instead, portions which seem (as translated by modern trinitarians, at least) to show a “Jesus is God” understanding. For all of these, Bowman quoted from the trinitarian-translated The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF) edited by trinitarians Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, published by the trinitarian Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989 reprint.

Before we examine these earliest writings of individual Christians, however, let's examine something which clearly reveals the understanding of the church itself in this three hundred year period before the Nicene Council: the confession of his faith required of each believer before he could be baptized as a Christian. These are the all-important beliefs that the Church itself says each Christian must have!


 
Earliest Christian Creeds

 
Cardinal Newman was “one of the most influential English Catholics of all time ... universally revered at the time of his death.” - The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia, 1968, v. 2, p. 758.

Cardinal Newman wrote that the Christian creeds before Constantine’s time (he was Emperor from 306 to 337 A.D.) did not make any mention of a trinity understanding.
 

“They made mention indeed of a Three; but that there is any mystery in the doctrine, that they are coequal, co-eternal, all increate, all omnipotent, all incomprehensible, is not stated, and never could be gathered from them.” - The Development of Christian Doctrine, pp. 15-16.
The Apostles’ Creed (and other very early creeds) grew out of very early baptismal questions. Trinitarian Church historian Dr. H. R. Boer writes:
 
Around the year A.D. 200, the candidate for baptism answered questions before being baptized as follows:
[1] Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? [Answer:] I believe.

[2] Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and died, and rose the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father [Ps. 110, Acts 2:32-36], and will come to judge the living and the dead? [Answer:] I believe.

[3] Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh? [Answer:] I believe.

This form of questioning the candidate began in Rome. In the course of time, questions were changed into a statement or declaration. The beginning of the Apostles’ Creed is found in this development. For a long time the creed that came into being in this way was known as the Roman Creed. [This earliest Roman Creed was still in substantial agreement with the above Baptismal Questions even as late as 341 A. D. - see The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. 1, p. 204, Eerdmans, 1984.]

As need arose, other beliefs were added. The form in which the Apostles' Creed exists today dates from about the fifth century. - A Short History of the Early Church, Dr. H. R. Boer (trinitarian), pp. 75-76, 1976, Eerdmans Publishing Co. (trinitarian) - Cf. p. 280, Augustus to Constantine, Robert M. Grant (trinitarian), Harper & Row, 1990.


An Encyclopedia of Religion confirms the above and adds that
 
 
“in the fourth century, the myth of composition by the twelve apostles appears.” And, “The final form of the Apostles’ Creed was reached in Gaul whence it returned to Rome in the eighth century. The traditional text [the one commonly used today in Christendom] can hardly be traced beyond the sixth century”. - pp. 33, 208, 1945 ed.

We can see, then, that the modern form of the creed which is called the Apostle’s Creed actually derived from the Roman Creed. And, in fact, the Roman Creed itself was developed long after the death of the Apostles.

Here then, is the true confession of the earliest Christian congregations in Rome itself. These are the beliefs one must have before he can even be baptized!
 
Number one, of course, is the answer to that most essential question: ‘Who is the God you worship?’ It is “God the FATHER Almighty”!


If there had been any thought in the Christian community of this city (that over 100 years later would forcefully impose the teaching of a newly-developed trinity concept upon the entire church) that God was really three persons, the question would have been something like “Do you believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who are Almighty?” or “Do you believe God is one and God is three: The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit?” !! But there is no suggestion of such a thing. God is “the Father Almighty” - period!!

Then we go to question #2 in these essential baptismal questions. It is entirely about Jesus but in no way even implies that he is God or even, somehow, equal to God! In fact, it clearly designates him as separate from God (“Son of God”) and, of course, separate from the Father, who is God (Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father). Certainly, if Jesus were thought to be God, it would have been as clearly stated in this question as was the other necessary knowledge concerning Jesus that a candidate must answer correctly before being baptized!

Then we go to question #3. Do we see even a hint of the essential knowledge of a 3-in-one God: that the Holy Spirit is a person who is equally God? No! In fact, we see a question dealing with important things!


 
Question number one, then, deals with the most important belief about the individual who, alone, is the God we must worship. He is identified as the Father.

Question number two is a question about the second most important belief (and about the second most important person in existence). This is Jesus.


And question number three is about the next most important beliefs: The holy spirit, the holy church, and the resurrection. That these three things are lumped together is highly significant!


 
A trinitarian might say (although clearly false from context alone) that each of the three questions deals with one aspect of the Trinity. But question number three alone shows the falsity of such a statement. If this question were truly speaking of believing in the Godhood of the Holy Spirit, it certainly would not include the church and the resurrection equally in that very same statement. [1]


Now notice this admission by another trinitarian scholar and church historian:
 
 
Besides Scripture and tradition one finds at the end of the second century another entity of FUNDAMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE for the doctrine of the church, namely the creed .... One of the oldest creeds to be canonized in a particular church was the old Roman baptismal creed, which is generally designated as Romanum (R) .... an early form of this confession read as follows:
I believe in God, the Father, the Almighty;
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
And in the Holy Ghost, the holy church, the resurrection of the flesh.

In this form the old Roman confession probably originated not later than the middle of the second century. [Toward the end of the 2nd century the additional information about Jesus (‘who was born of the Holy Spirit, etc.’ as found in the quote from trinitarian Boer above) was added to R]. More or less similar creeds were extant in most of the Christian congregations of the West .... Later the wording of R became generally accepted in the West.

The same trinitarian authority also admits that the East (the original home of Judaism and Christianity) had a slightly different form. The original Eastern Creed, he tells us, read as follows: [2]
I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, of whom everything [else] is,
and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, through whom everything [else] is, and in the Holy Ghost.

.... Hence the formula of faith was intended primarily for the instruction of candidates for baptism. This leads to a further point, namely, that the creed functioned as a formal summary of the Christian faith. It was the criterion of faith upon which catechetical instruction was based. - pp. 33-35, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernhard Lohse (trinitarian), Fortress Press (trinitarian), 1985.


Please notice that this first “summary of the Christian faith” of all Christians one hundred years after the death of Jesus affirms one God only: the Father only! (See the TC study pp. 4-7 [1 Cor. 8:6].) There is no greater testimony (and no further evidence required) that the Christians of the first two centuries did not believe in nor teach a multiple-person God!

There is another book of Christian history which has received high praise from many sources including Publishers Weekly (which called it: “a book whose honesty, scholarship and general attractiveness commend it”) and the highly trinitarian-influenced Christianity Today (“If you have only one church history book, this should be it.”). This trinitarian book, The History of Christianity, a Lion Handbook, Lion Publishing, 1990 Rev. ed., strongly confirms the above information:
 
Before the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) all theologians viewed the Son as in one way or another subordinate to the Father. - p. 114.
Christians Summarize Their Beliefs
.... One important outline of basic Christian beliefs in the late second and early third centuries was the ‘Rule of Faith’. Origen described it as: ‘the teaching of the church preserved unaltered and handed down in unbroken succession from the apostles.’ ....
Irenaeus [writing ca. 160-200 A. D.] is the first writer to record a clearly identifiable Rule. Its main content was as follows: ‘...this faith: in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who [or which] made known through the prophets the plan of salvation ....’ - p. 115.

.... Hippolytus's account of baptism at Rome at the outset of the third century [ca. 200 A.D.] is very important: ‘When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him shall say:
“Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?”
And the person being baptized shall say: “I believe.” Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say:
“Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?”
And when he says: “I believe,” he is baptized again. And again he shall say:
“Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and the resurrection of the body?”
The person being baptized shall say: “I believe,” and then he is baptized a third time.’
.... Creeds in statement form (‘I believe ...’) developed from the mid-third century by adaptation of the question-and-answers. They were originally used in the closing stages of the instruction of converts prior to baptism. - pp. 116, 117.

Instruction Before Baptism
At the birth of the church, converts [Jewish only at first] were baptized with little or no delay. But a course of instruction prior to baptism soon became customary, especially for non-Jewish converts. Justin explained that before baptism: ‘All those who are convinced and believe the things which are taught by us and said to be true, and promise to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to call on God with fasting.’
Hippolytus of Rome [wrote ca. 200-230 A. D.] again provides valuable evidence. A convert’s occupation and personal relations were scrutinized, and then came pre-baptismal instructions which took three years (even longer in Syria!). [How many in Christendom take their worship that seriously today?] - p. 117.

So, (1), the complete lack of any single clear statement of a trinity idea for the all-important knowledge of God (Jn 17:3) in the entire Bible shows that the Bible writers did not believe any such thing.

And (2), the complete lack of any clear, undisputed statement of God as a trinity in the writings and teachings of the very first Christians also shows that they hadn't been taught this “knowledge” of God by the Apostles nor did they understand that the inspired writings of the scriptures themselves taught any such a thing. The very first Christians were considered a sect of Judaism (see the ISRAEL study paper), and the Jews would not have allowed anyone who was a Jew to proclaim a God other than the one who has always been the Jewish God: The Father alone, Jehovah!
The first Christians were all Jews. They had come to believe the apostles’ message that Jesus was the promised Saviour of God’s people. ‘Jesus is the Messiah (Christ)’ summed up all that the Jews were called upon to accept. .... But all early Christian theology was Jewish - pp. 101, 102, The History of Christianity (trinitarian), Lion.
Consequently, the Early Church was primarily Jewish and existed within Judaism. - p. 59, Christianity Through the Centuries, Cairns (trinitarian), Zondervan Publ. (trinitarian), 1977 ed.

In [the first century] churches were still regarded as synagogues, whose members .... professed monotheism in the same terms as did the Jews. They used the Hebrew Scriptures, and they took messianism, the eschatology (even angelology), and the ethics of Judaism for granted... - pp. 121-122, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), Fortress Press (trinitarian), 1985.


The leaders of Judaism simply did not allow those within their religion to teach or believe in any other God. If Christians had believed this most blasphemous trinitarian (or even “binitarian”) “knowledge” of God, the Jews would have killed them immediately. At the very least they would have been driven out at once. And, if they miraculously had been allowed to exist along with the other Jews, there would have been nothing that would have been more emphatically written and taught during that period than the blasphemous “God” of the Christians (and the equally loud defense of a “trinity” God by the Christians themselves)! But there were no such teachings, writings, or defenses by the Jews or by the Christians. And there was not even a mention of such a thing by the contemporary pagan writers who wrote about those Christians and those Jews!


 
And (3), the complete lack of even a hint of a trinity teaching in the baptismal questions and earliest creeds confirms this non-trinitarian understanding for the very first Christians for the first 200 years of the Christian Church. Remember, these are the statements of the most important, basic beliefs of a Christian for at least 100 years after the last book of Scripture had been written.

Earliest Christian Writings


It is true that apostasy set in quickly. We find varied teachings and speculations beginning to creep into the writings of early Christians about 120 years after the death of Christ. It seems that many writers about this time were developing some favorite hypotheses of their own that were not shared by other Christian writers. The more educated the writer, the more likely he was to be affected by the most respected “science” (Greek philosophy) and religions of that day. (Even Bowman admits that citations from the Ante-Nicene Fathers - about 150 to 325 A.D. - 


“need to be treated with some caution. In many cases they reflect not the general theological beliefs of common Christians in their day, but the often brilliant, often wrong-headed, speculations of intellectuals trying to take seriously the new faith.”- p. 28, Bowman.) 

“Moreover, It may be questioned whether any Ante-nicene father distinctly affirms either the numerical Unity or the Coequality of the Three Persons; except perhaps the heterodox Tertullian, and that chiefly in a work written after he had become a Montanist” - pp 17-18, Cardinal Newman, The Development of Christian Doctrine.

 
And as even many trinitarian scholars and historians of today admit, the very first writers (the “Apostolic Fathers” who wrote from the time of the Apostles up to about 150 A. D.) made no changes in the understanding of God. In fact, even when changes began to be made in the latter half of the second century, Christ was still not considered equal to God (who was the Father alone). And the trinity concept wasn’t developed until the 4th century (325) when in Nicaea a partial such doctrine [3] was first forced upon the church by a Roman Emperor. The completed doctrine was further forced upon the church in the late 4th century (381) by another Roman Emperor (see the HIST study paper) and has completely dominated Christendom ever since.


Of all the thousands of NT manuscript copies which still exist today there are only a very small number (mostly fragments) which are not from this completely trinitarian-dominated time period (381 A.D. to present). Any changes made by copyists in this time period would, obviously, be trinitarian changes! And it is well known that from 325 A. D. (when the emperor, who presided over the Nicene council, and his trinitarian advisors had the anti-trinitarians banished and persecuted and their anti-trinitarian writings burned - see the HIST study paper) onward the Roman church began systematically destroying (and changing) writings and manuscripts which were considered non-trinitarian or otherwise “heretical”!

There are other problems associated with the existing copies of the writings of these very early Christians.

First, unlike the writings of Holy Scripture, there are very few existing manuscripts of the writings of the first Christians. For many of these writers there are only one or two manuscripts available, and they are often of relatively late date (many hundreds of years after the original was composed). In other words, instead of having the original words of the ancient writers themselves, we have copies of copies, etc. many times over. Justin Martyr’s important ‘Dialogue with Trypho,’ for example, exists only in a copy made over a thousand years after the original was written.

Second, the copyists very often did not take the same care or have the same reverence for these manuscripts as they did for the scriptures themselves. They would sometimes change the wording and even add their own thoughts and beliefs to the original writings in order to provide greater authority for these beliefs in an attempt to persuade others (for example, see the “Rufinus” note at the end of the Origen study below).
 
“Furthermore, the manuscripts of the Church Fathers have suffered the usual transcriptional modifications to which all ancient manuscripts were subject; this was especially true for Biblical passages where the tendency of scribes was to accommodate readings to the Byzantine textual tradition.” - p. xxxvi, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies (1971 ed.) [The Byzantine textual tradition is of relatively late date and very trinitarian. - RDB]

We find that there have been many changes which were intended to advance trinitarian ideas even in copies of the scriptures over the many centuries (since 381 A. D. at least) of copying and recopying by the scribes of trinitarian Christendom. Words that were not in the originals have been added (e.g., 1 Jn 5:7 as rendered in KJV - See 1JN5-7 study and Insight, Vol. 2, p. 1019) and changed (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:16 as rendered in KJV - See MINOR study) in later copies.

Of course, the best copyists were used in copying manuscripts of scripture itself. More care was taken to assure the accuracy of these copies of copies of the original inspired scriptures than with the writings of other early Christians. But even in copies of scriptural manuscripts we find a great amount of purposeful changes made by the copyist himself.

For example, the copyist of the very early papyrus manuscript known as p66 (copied ca. 150 - 200 A. D.), which is a copy of much of the Gospel of John,
 
“was quite free in his interaction with the text. He produced several singular readings that reveal his independent interpretation of the text. .... This leads to another phenomenon in the manuscript p66, that of omissions. .... Thus, it is more likely that the shorter text in p66 is not original but redactional, the work of the scribe attempting to trim the text of whatever he perceived to be unnecessary.” [italic emphasis added - RDB] - pp. 373-374, The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, Baker Book House, 1999 by trinitarian scholar Prof. Philip W. Comfort and trinitarian editor David P. Barrett.
Why, even the copyist who is considered “the best of all the early Christian scribes” (the copyist of p75) , did not resist the temptation to make changes in his copies of earlier manuscripts of inspired Scripture!

“... when he did deviate from his exemplar [the earlier ms. he was copying], he did not go in the direction of simplifying the text (as did the scribe of p45) ; rather he elevated it.” Some of his numerous changes and additions are then listed. - pp. 494-496, Comfort and Barrett.

Fortunately, there are thousands of manuscripts of NT Scripture remaining today (some of quite early date) which can be compared. This helps greatly in the process of determining what the original writings most likely were.

It should be no surprise, then, that there are a great number of changes, additions, deletions, etc. to be found in the very few remaining (mostly late date) manuscripts of the non-scriptural writings of the earliest Christian writings, and they are almost impossible to isolate and positively identify because of the extreme rarity of still existent manuscripts for comparison.

Third, since trinitarians have ruled the world of Christendom in every way, politically, economically, numerically (99% of all professing Christians even today are trinitarian), etc. for over 1600 years now, it should not be too surprising that trinitarians are the ones who have written the modern translations of the existing manuscript copies of these ancient writers. And these trinitarian translators have written their translations for trinitarian publishers who publish for a trinitarian market! Surely we wouldn’t expect them to translate an ambiguous or vague passage (and the trinitarian translators themselves have admitted that these writings are full of such passages) in a non-trinitarian way if they could find another (even if much less probable), trinitarian, interpretation. (They even admit that they have purposely done so. See Preface, Vol. 5, ANF)

Fourth, the terminology used by these early Christians has been redefined in later years. Terms translated today as “person,” “substance,” “nature,” “begotten,” “of the same substance [homoousios],” etc. often had a different meaning for these first Christians. But early trinitarians began REdefining them starting in the 4th century.

For example, early Christian Heracleon [c. 160 A. D.] taught that those who worshiped God in spirit and truth were themselves “of the same nature [homoousios] as the Father”! - p. 394, note #111, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), Fortress Press, 1985. 


 
Some trinitarian historians today will even admit that the Son being homoousios (“one substance/essence”) with the Father merely meant to Origen (and other early Christians, such as Heracleon above) that the Son was UNITED IN WILL with the Father! But, starting around the time of the Nicene Council in the 4th century,[4] trinitarians began insisting that this very influential Christian writer of the 2nd century had meant by homoousios that the Son and the Father were equal in absolute essence and were, therefore, both equally God. Most trinitarian writers and translators of today continue this trinitarian redefinition tradition. - See the HIST and REDEF studies.


Even more important is the redefinition by later trinitarians of “a god(theos - a term used in Scripture for angels and even certain men who REPRESENTED God - see the BOWGOD study) into “God” (ho theos - a term used in Scripture for the only true Most High God - see the DEF and PRIMER studies). Even the following respected trinitarian reference work reluctantly admits this:
 
 
“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Christian theologians of the second and third centuries, even theologians of the rank of Origen...came to see the Logos [the Word, Christ] as a god of second rank.” - The Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan Publ., 1987, Vol. 9, p. 15.
But when trinitarian translators find Jesus called theos (“a god”) in these earliest writings, they most often translate it as “God” instead!

So, after more than 1500 years of trinitarian dominance, redefinition, rewording, and selective translating, it should not be surprising that the trinitarian translations of the existing copies of the manuscripts of those early Christian writers will at times appear trinitarian. (See the sections on Origen and Hippolytus below for examples.) What would be very surprising would be, given the above conditions, that there would be any support for a non-trinitarian doctrine still left in modern trinitarian translations of the writings of these earliest Christians!

We can see from the very early creeds quoted above that the churches of that time were not trinitarian. Now let's see if any of that truth still remains in the trinitarian-reworked letters of the Apostolic Fathers and the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

Trinitarian scholar, minister, and missionary, H. R. Boer admits: The very first Christians to really discuss Jesus’ relationship to God in their writings were the Apologists.
 
“Justin and the other Apologists therefore taught that the Son is a creature. He is a high creature, a creature powerful enough to create the world, but nevertheless, a creature. In theology this relationship of the Son to the Father is called Subordinationism. The Son is subordinate, that is, secondary to, dependent upon, and caused by the Father.” - p. 110, A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans (trinitarian), 1976.
Other respected trinitarian scholars agree.
 
 
“Before the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) all theologians viewed the Son as in one way or another subordinate to the Father.” - pp. 112-113, Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity (trinitarian), 1977; and p. 114, The History of Christianity, A Lion Handbook, Lion Publishing, 1990 revised ed.
“The formulation ‘One God in three persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian Dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers [those very first Christians who had known and been taught by the Apostles and their disciples], there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective.” - New Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 299, v. 14, 1967.

Alvan Lamson is especially straightforward:
 
 
“The modern popular doctrine of the Trinity ... derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr]: and this observation may be extended to all the ante-Nicene Fathers; that is, to all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ. It is true, they speak of the Father, Son, and ... Holy Spirit, but not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One, in any sense now admitted by Trinitarians. The very reverse is the fact.” - Alvan Lamson, The Church of the First Three Centuries.

Clement of Rome
 
(wrote c. 96 A.D.)

The writing of Clement of Rome (c. 96 A. D.) to the Corinthians (1 Clement) is:
“the earliest and most valuable surviving example of Christian literature outside the New Testament” and “was widely known and held in very great esteem by the early Church. It was publicly read in numerous churches, and regarded as being almost on a level with the inspired scriptures.” - pp. 17, 22, Early Christian Writings, Staniforth, Dorset Press, New York.
Clement, St., Pope of Rome (ca. 92-101) .... St. Clement is looked upon as the first of the ‘Apostolic Fathers.’ - p. 177, An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945.

So what did this famous Apostolic Father tell us about the essential knowledge of God?
 
 
[In the early days of Christianity] one believed in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, but no tie was available to unite them together. They were mentioned separately. Prayers were addressed, for example, to the Father who alone, according to Clement of Rome, ‘was God.’ - Revue d’ Histoire et de Litterature Religieuses (Review of History and of Religious Literature), May-June, 1906, pp. 222, 223.
Yes, Clement of Rome wrote:
 
 
“And we will ask, with instancy of prayer and supplication, that the Creator of the universe may guard intact unto the end the number that hath been numbered of His elect throughout the whole world, through his beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom He called us from darkness to light, from ignorance to the full knowledge of the glory of His Name.
“[Grant unto us, Lord {Jehovah, Father}] that we may set our hope on Thy Name {Jehovah - Ps. 83:18, KJV, Ex. 3:15, NEB, LB, MLB} which is the primal source of all creation ... that we may know thee, who alone abides Highest in the lofty, Holy in the holy ... Let all the Gentiles know that Thou art God alone, and Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.” - 59:2-4, The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, noted trinitarian scholars. [Information in special brackets { } added by me.]

“Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order.” - 42:1, 2, Lightfoot and Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers.
………………………………………..


Not only is this the earliest and most important of the early Christian sources, but the earliest existing manuscript for it is probably the oldest of any of the other early Church writers.
 
 
The text [for 1 Clement] is mainly due to three sources. (1) The famous Alexandrian uncial MS of the New Testament [A] in the British Museum, belonging to the fifth century, to which it is added as a sort of appendix .... (2) The Constantinopolitan or Hierosolymitan MS [C] .... This MS is dated A.D. 1056 (3) The Syriac translation .... bears a date corresponding to A.D. 1700. - pp. 3, 4, The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, Baker Book House (trinitarian), 1984 reprint.
We see, then, that the witness of the very first and most important of the Apostolic Fathers is clearly not trinitarian! But what about the later Ante-Nicene Fathers (ca. 160-300 A.D.)?

 
 
Justin Martyr
 
(c. 100-165 A.D.)

Justin, whom the trinitarian The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (p. 770) called “the most outstanding of the ‘Apologists,’” wrote:
 
God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, and therefore He is God, but all other things after him are created and corruptible {Justin has just concurred that the world was begotten by God} .... take your stand on one Unbegotten, and say this is the Cause of all. - ANF 1:197 (‘Dialogue’).
But,
 
 
Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten - ANF 1:170 (‘Apology’).
And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son - ANF 1:167 (‘Apology’).

Nevertheless, in Justin’s picture, as later in Tertullian’s, the generation of the Logos takes place only with a view to the world’s creation. The Son, therefore, is not co-eternal with God; Moreover, he exists to provide a mediator between God and the cosmos in creation and revelation, as the language of John 1:3 and 1:18, not to mention 1 Corinthians 8:6, seemed to suggest. Thus, the Logos theology appeared to introduce a ‘second God’ {deuteros theos ‘a second god’ was the well-known term used by Philo and many of the second century Christian writers - see the LOGOS study} inconsistently with the principle of monotheism; and further, it suggested that the Logos represented a secondary grade or kind of divinity. It ‘subordinated’ the Son to the Father. - p. 84, A History of the Christian Church, Walker (trinitarian), Scribner’s, 1985 printing.


The trinitarian The Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987, tells us:
 
 
“ ... another sentence from {Justin Martyr} ... ‘There is, as has been said, another god and lord {the Son of God} below the Creator of the universe’ ” - Vol. 9, p. 15.
Justin Martyr (c. 100 - c. 165) in a dialogue with the Jew Trypho says:
 
 
God begat before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an angel, then God {'a god,' anarthrous theos}, and then Lord and Logos .... For He can be called by all those names, since he ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will .... The Word of Wisdom ... speaks by Solomon {Prov. 8:22-30} the following: ‘.... The Lord {‘Jehovah’, original Hebrew manuscripts - cf. ASV} made me the beginning of His ways for His works.’ ANF 1:227-228 (‘Dialogue’).
And later in the same dialogue with Trypho Justin again relates the words of Wisdom, the pre-existent Son of God,
 
 
‘The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works ...’ You perceive, my hearers, if you bestow attention, that the Scripture has declared that this Offspring was begotten by the Father before all things created... - ANF 1:264 (‘Dialogue’).
A saying of Justin Martyr indicates what lack of clarity there was with regard to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity as late as the middle of the second century .... He admits that Christians indeed reject the false pagan gods, but, he goes on to say, they do not deny the true God, who is the Father of justice and chastity and of all other virtues, and who will have nothing to do with that which is evil. He then says, ‘Both him {The Father, God alone} and the Son who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of other good angels who follow and are made like to Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, because we honor {them?} in reason and truth.’ As if it were not enough that in this enumeration angels are mentioned as beings which are honored and worshiped {but see the WORSHIP study} by Christians, Justin does not hesitate to mention angels before naming the Holy Spirit. The sequence in which the beings that are worshiped are mentioned (God the Father, Christ, the {OTHER} angels, the Spirit) is noteworthy. - pp. 43, 44, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Lohse (trinitarian), Fortress Press, 1985.

Respected church historian, Robert M. Grant (trinitarian), likewise notes concerning the above:
 
 
“[Justin] ... identifies the God whom Christians worship as ‘most true and Father of justice.... And he goes on to speak of reverencing and worshiping ‘the Son who came from him and taught us these things, and the army of other good angels who follow and resemble him, as well as the prophetic spirit.’” - p. 59 [quoting from “The First Apology of Justin,” Ch. VI]. “This is why Justin could place the ‘army of angels’ ahead of the ‘prophetic spirit,’ as we have seen: for him the Spirit was not ... personal [in fact Grant calls the Spirit ‘it’ - p. 63].” - p. 62, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, The Westminster Press, 1988.
Notice how worship (or ‘obeisance’) is given to the Son “and the host of other good angels.” Again Justin Martyr calls the Son, the Word, an angel! - See the REAPS study.

Trinitarian scholar Dr. H. R. Boer tells us that the very first Christians to really discuss Jesus' relationship with God in their writings were the Apologists,
 
Justin and the other Apologists therefore taught that the Son is a creature. He is a high creature, a creature powerful enough to create the world but, nevertheless, a creature. In theology this relationship of the Son to the Father is called Subordinationism. The Son is subordinate, that is, secondary to, dependent upon, and caused by the Father. - p. 110, Boer, A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans (trinitarian), 1976.
“The modern popular doctrine of the Trinity ... derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr]” - Alvan Lamson, The Church of the First Three Centuries.

Justin Martyr’s ‘Apology’ and ‘Dialogue {With Trypho}’ “are preserved but in a single ms (Cod. Paris, 450, A.D. 1364)” - Britannica, 14th ed.
 

 
Irenaeus


(c. 140-203 A.D.)

The trinitarian New Bible Dictionary teaches us: “Irenaeus and Origen share with Tertullian the responsibility for the formulation [of the trinity doctrine] which is still, in the main, that of the Church .... - p. 1222, Tyndale House Publ., 1982. Since most trinitarian historians give the blame to these three writers for beginning the development of Christendom’s trinity doctrine, let’s examine them first.

Trinitarian scholar H. R. Boer writes:
 
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in Gaul from 178 to his death in about 203, had the most biblical approach of the early theologians in his discussion of Christ.
Boer then quotes Irenaeus:
 
 
‘But there is only one God, the Creator ... He it is ... whom Christ reveals .... He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: through His Word, who is His Son, through Him He is revealed.’ - pp. 110, 111, A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans, 1976. (Ellipses were provided by Boer. Irenaeus quote by Boer is from ANF, 1:406.)
And noted trinitarian scholar Robert M. Grant tells us the following:
 
 
Irenaeus cited Justin [Martyr]...: “Justin well says in his work Against Marcion that he would not have believed the Lord [Jesus] himself if he had preached another God besides the Creator.” - p. 84, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, The Westminster Press, 1988.
Trinitarian Grant admits that Irenaeus agrees with Justin Martyr in his statement showing there is no other God than the Creator and that it is not Jesus! Justin (and Irenaeus) certainly would never say that they would “not have believed” Jesus under any circumstances if they really believed he was equally God with the Father!

Yes, Irenaeus actually teaches the following concerning the Christian doctrine of God and Jesus:
 
“The Church ... [believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit ...” (1:330, Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], by the trinitarian Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Eerdmans Publ..)
* * * *
“... neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme .... the Lord Himself handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all; it is incumbent on us to follow ... their testimonies to this effect.” (ANF, 1:422, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“Such, then, are the first principles of the Gospel: that there is one God, the Maker of this universe; He who was also announced by the prophets ... which proclaim the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ignore any other God or Father except Him.” (ANF, 1:428, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“And that the whole range of the doctrine of the Apostles proclaimed one and the same God ... That He was the Maker of all things, that He was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He was the God of glory, - they who wish may learn from the very words and acts of the Apostles, and may contemplate the fact that God is one, above whom is no other.” (ANF, 1:434, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“Those, therefore, who delivered up their souls to death for Christ's Gospel .... To the Jews {who already knew the one true God of the Bible, Jehovah, the Father}, indeed, [they proclaimed] that the Jesus who was crucified by them was the Son of God, the Judge of quick and dead, and that He has received from His Father an eternal kingdom in Israel, as I have pointed out; but to the Greeks {who did NOT yet know the one true God of the Bible} they preached one God who made all things, and, Jesus Christ His Son.” (ANF, 1:435, ‘Against Heresies’) Material within special brackets { } supplied by me.
* * * *

Notice that Ireneaus, above, teaches us that the very first Christians did not teach a new understanding of God to the Jews. Why? Because they already knew the God of the Bible was the Father. But to the Greeks, who did not know the God of the Bible, they also had to teach that the one God is the Father!
 
 
“For faith, which has respect to our Master, endures unchangeably, assuring us that there is but one true God, and that we should truly love Him for ever, seeing that He alone is our Father.” (ANF, 1:399-400, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“If, for instance, anyone asks, ‘what was God doing before He made the world?’ we reply that the answer to such a question .... remains with God, and it is not proper for us to aim at bringing forward foolish, rash, and blasphemous suppositions [in reply to it] .... For consider all ye who invent such opinions, since the Father Himself is alone called God ... since, moreover, the Scriptures acknowledge Him alone as God” - (ANF, 1:400, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“... no one is termed God by the Apostles when speaking for themselves, except Him who truly is God, the Father of our Lord.” - (ANF, 1:553, ‘Against Heresies’)
* * * *
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and all other things in succession; .... Now, that this God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul the apostle also has declared, [saying] “There is one God, the Father, who is above all {Eph. 4:6; cf. 1 Cor. 8:6}, ...” - (ANF, 1:362)
* * * *
“It is easy to prove from the very words of the Lord [Jesus], that he acknowledges one Father and Creator of the world, and Fashioner of man ... and that this One is God over all” - (ANF, 1:370)


Like most, if not all, Ante-Nicene Fathers Irenaeus taught that “Wisdom” speaking at Prov. 8:22-30 is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Word. In fact, the very trinitarian writers of ANF admit also:
 
 
Prov. viii 22-25. This is one of the favourite Messianic quotations of the Fathers, and is considered as the base of the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. - ANF 1:488, f.n. #10.

Here, then, is what Irenaeus taught about the Son of God, Wisdom, the Word, speaking at Prov. 8:22-25:
 
 
‘The Lord {“Jehovah” in original OT Hebrew manuscripts} created me the beginning of His ways in His work ... before all the hills, He brought me forth ... when He made the foundations of the earth strong, I was with Him preparing [them].’ .... There is therefore one God, who by {through} the Word and Wisdom created and arranged all {other} things. - ANF 1:488.
Only fragments of manuscripts containing the original Greek remain. Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” exists today in full only in a single Latin translation from the original Greek language. It is thus not surprising that trinitarian-supporting “evidence” may be found in the single trinitarian-recopied, trinitarian-translated, trinitarian-redefined manuscript available today. But certainly this respected early Christian writer whom today's trinitarian scholars “credit” with the very “formulation” of the trinity doctrine would not have made the many clear non-trinitarian statements recorded above if he had really believed in or taught a trinity (or “Binity”)! Obviously the many trinitarians who handled (and mishandled) Irenaeus’ writing down through the centuries could (and did) change some non-trinitarian thoughts into trinitarian thoughts.* But they would certainly never change trinitarian thoughts into non-trinitarian thoughts. Therefore, those many non-trinitarian concepts still remaining must be Irenaeus’ original teaching (as a study of the very first Creeds of this time also proves)!



______________
 
* The very trinitarian translators of ANF wrote in their Introductory Note to Irenaeus’ Against Heresies: “The text [of Against Heresies] ... is often most uncertain. .... After the text has been settled according to the best judgment [trinitarian, of course] which can be formed, the work of translation remains; and that is, in this case, a matter of no small difficulty. Irenaeus, even in the original Greek, is often a very obscure writer. .... And the Latin version adds to these difficulties of the original, by being itself of the most barbarous character. In fact, it is often necessary to make a conjectural retranslation [trinitarian, of course] into Greek, in order to have some inkling of what the author wrote. .... We have endeavoured to give as close and accurate a translation of the work as possible, but there are not a few passages in which a guess [trinitarian, of course] can only be made as to the probable meaning.” - ANF 1:311-312. Obviously, if a trinitarian, even a scrupulously honest trinitarian, makes a “conjectural retranslation” or a “guess ... as to the probable meaning,” it will be a trinitarian guess or “conjectural retranslation”!


But notice what Irenaeus himself wrote about such contrivances:
 
 
It does not follow because men are endowed with greater and less degrees of intelligence, that they should therefore change the subject matter [of the faith] itself, and should conceive of some other God besides Him who is the Framer, Maker, and Preserver of this universe, (as if He were not sufficient for them).... - ANF 1:331.
And, as already noted:
 
 
Irenaeus cited Justin [Martyr]...: “Justin well says in his work Against Marcion that he would not have believed the Lord [Jesus] himself if he had preached another God besides the Creator.” - p.184, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, Robert M. Grant, The Westminster Press, 1988.
Origen

(c. 185-254 A. D.)

Again, as we saw above, the trinitarian New Bible Dictionary teaches:
 
Irenaeus and Origen share with Tertullian the responsibility for the formulation [of the trinity doctrine] which is still, in the main, that of the Church .... - p. 1222, Tyndale House Publ., 1982.
Not only do most trinitarian scholars credit Origen as being one of the co-founders of Christendom’s trinity doctrine, but most historians also credit him for his great scholarship, intellect, and Christian integrity.
 
 
Origen was the greatest scholar and most prolific author of the early church. He was not only a profound thinker but also deeply spiritual and a loyal churchman. - p. 107, The History of Christianity, A Lion Handbook.
Origen, the greatest and most influential Christian thinker of his age, whose work won him the grudging respect even of such a radically anti-Christian philosopher as the Neoplatonist Porphyry. - p. 89, A History of the Christian Church, Williston Walker, Scribners, 1985.

Origen was the greatest scholar of his age, and the most learned and genial of all the ante-Nicene fathers [‘the greatest divine and one of the noblest characters of his age’ - The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. II, p.21].” - Prof. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, I, p. 54.

Origen was probably the most accomplished Biblical scholar produced by the early Church - p. 6346, Vol. 17, Universal Standard Encyclopedia (Funk and Wagnalls), 1956.
The character of Origen is singularly pure and noble; for his moral qualities are as remarkable as his intellectual gifts. - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 229, Vol. IV, Eerdmans.

Origen was a great scholar as well as a great theologian. …. His work on the words of Scripture has a value quite independently of his theological views. Some of the most important qualifications of the worthy interpreter of Scripture he possesses in a supreme degree. His knowledge of Scripture is extraordinary both for its range and its minute accuracy. He had no concordance to help him; but he was himself a concordance. Whatever word occurs he is able to bring from every part of Scripture the passages in which it is used. …. a knowledge of all parts of the Bible as is probably without parallel. It has to be added that he is strong in grammar, and has a true eye for the real meaning of his text; the discussions in which he does this often leave nothing to be desired. – p. 293, Vol. 10, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans, 1990 printing.


Yes, even respected trinitarian scholars admit not only the stellar scholarship and knowledge of Origen, but also his outstanding moral qualities and pure character. This man simply would not lie nor distort.

Origen actually taught:
 
The agent of redemption as of all creation is the Divine Logos {‘the Word’} or Son of God, who is the perfect image or reflection of the eternal Father. Though a being distinct, derivative, and subordinate. - p. 551, An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945. Origen believed that
 
 

‘the Son can be divine only in a lesser sense than the Father; the Son is qeoV (god), but only the Father is autoqeoV (Absolute God, God in Himself).’ - p. 1009, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (trinitarian), ed. F. L. Cross (trinitarian), Oxford University Press, 1990 printing.
Ardent trinitarian Murray J. Harris likewise admits:
 
 
‘Origen, too, drew a sharp distinction between qeoV and oJ qeoV. As qeoV, the Son is not only distinct from ('numerically distinct') but also inferior to the Father who is oJ qeoV and autoqeoV (i.e. God in an absolute sense).’ - p. 36, Jesus as God, Baker Book House (trinitarian), 1992.
The trinitarian The Encyclopedia of Religion says:
 
 
“Origen himself will downgrade the Logos [‘downgraded’ in relation to God only] in calling it ‘second god’ (Against Celsus, 5.39, 6.61, etc.) or again in writing ‘god’ (theos) without the article, whereas he calls the Father ho theos [oJ qeoV], ‘the God’ [with the article].” - p. 15, Vol. 9, Macmillan Publ., 1987.
In fact, Origen specifically commented on John 1:1c which modern English-speaking trinitarians often translate as: “And the Word was God.” Yes, Origen, whose knowledge of NT Greek (“the language of the New Testament was his mother tongue”) was probably greater than any other Bible scholar (and certainly quantum levels above the speculations of any modern scholar), shows us that this verse should be properly rendered: “And the Word was a god.” ! - ANF, 10:323. (A thirteenth manuscript seems to be the earliest extant source of Origen’s Commentary on John.)


Remember, this man is not only the best expert on NT Greek, but his great honesty and Christian character are not questioned even by his severest opponents!

Trinitarian Latourette also says that “Origen held that God is one, and is the Father” - p. 49, Christianity Through the Ages, Harper ChapelBook, 1965.

Trinitarian Bernhard Lohse also concedes that Origen taught
 
that ‘the Son was a creature of the Father, thus strictly subordinating the Son to the Father’ and, ‘Origen is therefore able to designate the Son as a creature created by the Father.’ - pp. 46, 252, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Fortress Press (trinitarian), 1985.
For example, Origen writes:
 
 
there are certain creatures, rational and divine, which are called powers [spirit creatures, angels]; and of these Christ was the highest and best and is called not only the wisdom of God but also His power. - ANF 10:321-322. Yes, Origen calls the Son of God a created angel, the highest of the angels, the Angel of God. He calls Jesus, the Word:
 
 

“the Angel of God who came into the world for the salvation of men”- p. 568, vol. 4, ANF. These creatures were also called gods (in a proper, scriptural sense but clearly subordinate to God himself - see the BOWGOD study)! - ANF, 10:323.

Like Irenaeus (and most, if not all, Ante-Nicene Fathers), Origen considered “Wisdom” speaking at Prov. 8:22-30 to be Christ, the Son of God. He wrote:
 

“we have first to ascertain what the only-begotten Son of God is, seeing He is called by many different names, according to the circumstances and views of individuals. For He is termed Wisdom, according to the expression of Solomon:
“‘The Lord {“Jehovah” in the ancient Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts} created me {Wisdom, ‘the only-begotten Son of God’} - the beginning {see Rev. 3:14} of His ways, and among His works, before He made any other thing; He founded me before the ages. In the beginning, before He formed the earth, before He brought forth the fountains of waters, before the mountains were made strong, before all the hills, He brought me forth.’ {Prov. 8:22-25}    “He is also styled First-born, as the apostle has declared: ‘who is the first-born of every creature.’” {Col. 1:15} - ANF 4:246, ‘De Principiis’.


So once again we find clear non-trinitarian statements in Origen's writings.
 
It’s obviously not unexpected that the trinitarian re-copyists, translators, and re-definers would have caused original non-trinitarian statements to now read as trinitarian statements,[5] but they certainly would never have allowed any non-trinitarian changes or additions to Origen's work! These non-trinitarian statements that still remain, therefore, must be original. Certainly Origen did not teach a trinity (or binity) even though trinitarian scholars have “credited” him with formulating the trinity doctrine!
De Principiis, the foremost treatise on systematic theology in the ancient Church, has survived in the main only in Rufinus'* largely emended Latin translation. - p. 551, An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm, 1945.
_________________________________________
 
* RUFINUS ... (c. 345-410), monk, historian and translator .... He also studied for several years in Alexandria under Didymus the Blind [St. Didymus, a staunch Nicene trinitarian - p. 402], and was deeply influenced by his Origenism [Didymus tried to ‘prove’ that Origen had taught a trinity doctrine in his De Principiis - p. 1010] .... [Rufinus’] free translation of Origen’s De Principiis, the only complete text now surviving, was intended to vindicate Origen’s [‘trinitarian’] orthodoxy, and involved Rufinus in bitter controversy with his former friend, St. Jerome, who criticized the tendentious character of his rendering.” - p.1207, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Revised, 1990 printing, Oxford University Press.


“It is much to be regretted that the original Greek of the De Principiis has for the most part perished. We possess it chiefly in a Latin translation by Rufinus. And there can be no doubt that he often took great liberties with his author. So much was this felt to be the case, that [Roman Catholic “Saint”] Jerome [342-420 A.D.] undertook a new translation of the work; but only small portions of his version have reached our day. He strongly accuses Rufinus of unfaithfulness as an interpreter, while he also inveighs bitterly against Origen himself, as having departed from the Catholic Faith, specially in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity.” - ANF, 4:233.


 
In other words, Rufinus did not translate literally, but, instead, intentionally changed (or ‘corrected’) De Principiis so as to make people believe that Origen had taught the trinity! And this is the text that has been used by trinitarians ever since to “prove” that Origen taught the trinity! Furthermore, the famed trinitarian St. Jerome (ca. 400 A.D.) who accused Rufinus of dishonestly mistranslating Origen’s work noted with great bitterness that Origen DID NOT TEACH THE TRINITY!!!!


To illustrate Rufinus’ corruption of Origen’s original Greek text we have a few pages of Book IV of Origen’s De Principiis still existing in the original Greek. Here are two passages of the Greek with Rufinus’ Latin “translation” of them alongside as published in the trinitarian The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, pp. 362, 363, Eerdmans Publ.:

 
 
Translation of Origen’s Original Greek:

“through the Word who was in the beginning with God, illuminated the ministers of truth, the prophets and Apostles”

….

“the (doctrines) belonging to God and His only-begotten Son are necessarily laid down as primary”


Translation of Rufinus’ Latin Translation of Origin's Original Statement Above:
 


“through the power of His only-begotten Word, who was in the beginning God with God, enlightened the ministers of truth, the prophets and apostles”

….

“Accordingly, it is of God, i.e. of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that these men, filled with the Divine Spirit, chiefly treat”

 

 

 
 
 
 
Tertullian

(c. 160-220 A.D.)
 
 
Irenaeus and Origen share with Tertullian the responsibility for the formulation {of the trinity doctrine} which is still, in the main, that of the Church.... - p. 1222, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publ., 2nd ed., 1982.
Even though Tertullian (c. 160 - c. 220) is often “credited” with being the first to apply the term ‘trinity’ to the Christian God, he wrote (c. 200 A.D.):
 
 
It is this philosophy which is the ... rash interpreter of the divine nature and order. In fact, heresies are themselves prompted by philosophy. It is the source of ‘aeons,’ and I know not what infinite ‘forms’ and the ‘trinity of man’ in the system of Valentinus {about 140 A.D.!}. - pp. 5-6, Documents of the Early Church, Bettenson (trinitarian), Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1963.
Not only did he condemn the interpretation of divine nature by philosophy, but he shows his familiarity with another heretical use of the term ‘trinity’ (as applied to man) years before he is “credited” with first applying that same philosophically-derived term to God (and the divine nature)!
 
 
The most influential answer given in the west was proposed by Tertullian. Indeed, it provided the foundation for the answer that the Catholic Church was to give to the problem at Nicaea in 325 {over 100 years later} and again at Constantinople in 381 {when the Holy Spirit was finally included as a person who was equally God}. Tertullian taught that there is one divine nature {substantia}. The Father and the Son have this one nature in common. They are separate and distinct, however, so far as their persons are concerned. Therefore, there is one divine nature, but there are two divine persons. Each of these has a specific function. At the same time, Tertullian gave a distinctly subordinate place to the Son. The Son is not eternal. The eternal God became Father when he begot {or ‘generated’ or ‘produced’} the Son, just as he became Creator when he made the world. On this point Tertullian is one with the Apologists. Later theology united Tertullian’s teaching of one nature {substantia} and two persons {persona} with Origen’s teaching of the eternal generation of the Son to give the Catholic answer to the question of the relationship of the Son to the Father .... thus Tertullian {about 215 A.D.} provided the main outline for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. - pp. 112-113, Boer (trinitarian), A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans (trinitarian), 1976.
Trinitarian Boer (as do most trinitarians) wants us to believe that Origen’s and Tertullian’s doctrines of God and the Son of God were actually leading to trinitarianism. But is this true? What did Tertullian actually intend? What about Tertullian’s “one nature (substantia in Latin) and two persons (persona in Latin)”? Did it really mean what later Church “scholars” wanted it to mean? Well, here is the admission of another highly-respected trinitarian scholar:
 
 
{Tertullian} therefore proposed to say that God is ‘one substance {substantia in Latin - compares to homoousios in Greek} consisting in three persons {persona}.’ The precise meaning of the Latin words substantia and persona is not easy to determine in Tertullian’s usage. {‘In Tertullian substantia could be used in the sense of character or nature [among other things].’ - p. 90, Chadwick.} - p. 89, The Early Church, Prof. Henry Chadwick (trinitarian), 1986 ed., Dorset Press, New York.
And the trinitarian, Catholic work Trinitas - A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity notes that, even though later writers used some of Tertullian’s terminology (e.g., substantia) to describe the Trinity, it appears that Tertullian did not use them in that sense:
 
 

“hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from [Tertullian’s] usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology.”
For example, even many trinitarian NT Greek language experts admit that since John used the neuter form of the word “one” at John 10:30, he intended the meaning of “one in will or purpose”! That this is true is proved by the same usage at John 17:11, 22 (see the study entitled ‘ONE’). Tertullian, when making the same point, tells us that John writes at Jn 10:30 -
 
 
‘We are one thingUnum, not ‘one personUnus. .... He accordingly says Unum, a neuter term, which does not imply singularity of number, but unity of essence, likeness, conjunction, affection on the Father’s part, who loves the Son, and submission on the Son’s, who obeys the Father's will. - ANF, 3:618, ‘Against Praxeas.’
Here we see Tertullian using “one” in “essence” (as did Origen above) to mean both individuals having the same will or purpose. And that will is the Father’s which the Son obeys perfectly. They are “one” then in “essence” (will) only because one of them is completely, perfectly subordinate to the will of the other! But over 100 years later trinitarians began insisting that the renowned Tertullian and Origen had stated trinitarian truths by their uses of “substance/essence,” etc.
 
 
From the very beginning {of the proposal of the trinitarian creed at the Nicene Council, 325 A.D., which used such terms as homoousios}, however, people like Eusebius of Caesarea {renowned scholar and historian who headed the majority of bishops at the Nicene council - and a non-trinitarian!} had doubts about the creed, doubts that focused on the word homoousios. This was, to be sure, a vague and non-technical term which was capable of a fairly wide range of senses. .... the term was non-Scriptural, it had a very doubtful theological history, and it was open to what, from Eusebius’s {non-trinitarian} point of view, were some dangerous misinterpretations indeed. - p. 135, A History of the Christian Church, Williston Walker (trinitarian), Scribner’s, 1985.
Tertullian, too, like the other Ante-Nicene Fathers, taught that Prov. 8:22-30 relates the words of the Son of God, Christ (speaking as “Wisdom”):
 
 
“‘At first the Lord {Jehovah} created me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works, before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled; moreover, before all the hills did He beget me;’ that is to say, He created and generated me in His own intelligence.” - ANF, 3:601, ‘Against Praxeas’.
And,
 
 
Scripture in other passages teaches us of the creation of the individual parts. You have Wisdom {the Son of God} saying, ‘But before the depths was I brought forth,’ in order that you may believe that the depths were also ‘brought forth’ - that is created just as we create sons also, though we ‘bring them forth.’ It matters not whether the depth {like Wisdom itself} was made or born, so that a beginning be accorded to it - ANF, 3:495, ‘Against Hermogenes.’
Of course the eternal, only true, Most High God had no beginning. (Rev. 3:14)

So we see that even though later trinitarians have “found” the beginnings of the “formulation [of the trinity doctrine]” in the writings of Irenaeus, Origen, and Tertullian, these ancient Christian writers had no such intention. They may have begun speculating about certain unscriptural elements from popular Greek philosophy. Their writings may have been “doctored” by an army of trinitarian copyists through the centuries. Their words may have been “redefined” by trinitarian interpreters through the centuries. And some of their ideas may have been translated into trinitarian-supporting ideas by modern trinitarian translators. But, amazingly, in spite of it all, their non-trinitarian knowledge of God still comes through clearly in their writing and bolsters the even more significant testimony of all the earliest Creeds: God is the Father alone!

But there are other Ante-Nicene Fathers whom Bowman and other trinitarians have appealed to for “trinitarian” support.



 
Clement of Alexandria

(c. 150-213 A.D.)
 
 
“Clement himself was undoubtedly the most significant Alexandrian apologist” – p. 179, Robert M. Grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, Westminster Press, 1988.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - c. 213), wrote, in a discussion of God:

 
“This discourse respecting God is most difficult to handle. For since the first principle of everything is difficult to find out, the absolutely first and oldest principle, which is the cause of all other things being and having been, is difficult to exhibit. …. No one can rightly express Him wholly. For on account of His greatness He is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of Him For the One is indivisible.” – pp. 463-4, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], Eerdmans Publishing, 1989.

Clement, as with most (if not all) of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, also believed and taught that Prov. 8:22-30 presented the words of the Son of God (speaking as “Wisdom”) in his pre-human existence. He wrote:


Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God. (Cf. Rev. 3:14) - ANF 2:465, ‘The Stromata.’
And to make it perfectly clear, Clement writes:

 
To know God is, then, the first step of faith [see the early baptismal questions above] .... But the nature of the Son, which is nearest to Him who is alone the Almighty One, is most perfect ... which orders all things in accordance with the Father's will - ANF 2:524, ‘The Stromata.’

The Ante-Nicene Fathers recognized the Scriptural use of the terms elohim and theos which could be understood as either “a god” or “God” and applied to both the Most High (“God”) and to men and angels (“gods” - see the BOWGOD study). This is one of the areas where trinitarian translators may choose the meaning that best brings out their trinitarian interpretation in both scripture and the early writings. For example, when Clement writes: “I say, the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God {theos}” - ANF 2:174, ‘Exhortation to the Heathen’ - it is clear that the trinitarian translators of ANF have mistranslated “God” for “a god” (possibly because they don't wish to point out other, even more important, mistranslations when theos has been similarly applied to the Christ). But the very context of this writing tells us that Clement must mean “man may become a god {theos}” since he simply cannot become God!

Even the Encyclopedia Britannica has rendered this statement by Clement as “a god”: Clement of Alexandria taught that the object of Christ's incarnation and death


 
“was to free man from sin ... and thus in the end elevate him to the position of a god.” - p. 799, Vol. 5, Britannica., 14th ed.


 
 
Hippolytus

(c. 160-235 A.D.)

Hippolytus, “the most important 3rd century theologian of the Roman Church” (p. 652, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, F. L. Cross, Oxford University Press, 1990 reprint) wrote:
Chapter xxviii - The Doctrine of the Truth
The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval {‘of the same age or duration’} with Himself .... But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them ....

Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos {the Word, the Son of God} first ....{Prov. 8:22, 24, 25}

For simultaneously with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor's first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation, thus pleasing God. .... God, who is the source of all authority, wished that the Logos might render assistance in accomplishing a production of this kind. - ANF, 5:150, 151, ‘The Refutation of All Heresies’.

Such is the true doctrine in regard of the divine nature .... in order that you may hasten and by us may be taught who the true God is .... And by means of this knowledge you shall escape the approaching threat of the fire of judgment {2 Thess. 1:7-9} - ANF 5:152, 153, ‘Refutation’.

There is a translation of another statement by Hippolytus on p. 153 of this work (The Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF]) where this trinitarian translator has rendered: ‘For Christ is the God above all...’, which obviously contradicts the quoted portions above. The footnote admits an alternate translation of ‘For Christ is He whom the God above all has ordered to wash away sin ...’ - f.n. #7, ANF 5:153. (Bowman quotes this same trinitarian translation, but, of course, fails even to mention the significant footnote.)

 
We need to be aware that this trinitarian work (ANF), like so many others, consistently uses such trinitarian translations (but only very rarely, as above, admits the more likely alternate, non-trinitarian renderings). The same thing is the rule in most trinitarian Bible translations, too (cf. Ro 9:5, KJV vs. RSV). Another example is where Hippolytus states that the Logos is a god (which is the proper understanding of the Logos concept of that time - see the LOGOS study). - ANF 5:151[6], ‘Refutation’. And yet, when this term was used in other places for the Word (Logos), this trinitarian work translates “God” instead of “god” or “a god,” thereby giving a trinitarian meaning where none was intended by Hippolytus.[7] This was also done in a few places where a man was clearly called “a god,” but this translation renders “God” (5:153, for example). Here are some other early Christians (in addition to Hippolytus) who used “a god” or “god” even for men and angels - John 10:34; Clement of Alexandria (ANF, 2:206, 215, 271, 524, 528, & 574); the Christian writer of the Epistle to Diognetus (ANF, 1:29); Tertullian (ANF, 3:275); Origen (ANF, 10:323).
Against Sabellius, Hippolytus reiterated eloquently the view that the Logos is a prosopon {not persona, notice} (in Tertullian’s language, ‘person’) distinct from the Father, but created by God for the carrying out of his will. - p. 86, A History of the Christian Church, Williston Walker (trinitarian), Scribner’s, 1985 ed.
Equally trinitarian and highly respected The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church admits that we cannot honestly say that Hippolytus definitely taught that the Logos (the pre-existent Christ) was even a person before being born on earth. This, of course, would mean that Hippolytus certainly didn't consider him to be the always-existent, second Person of the orthodox trinity doctrine. This trinitarian publication also tells us that Hippolytus did not even consider the Holy Spirit as a person (let alone a person who is God!). So much for the trinity doctrine being taught by “the most important 3rd century theologian of the Roman Church”! - p. 652, F. L. Cross, Oxford University Press, 1990 reprint. - - Also see the PHIL study (f.n. #13).
 
http://www.ccel.org/w/wace/biodict/htm/iii.viii.xxxiv.htm -


"Hippolytus (2) Romanus. Though so celebrated in his lifetime, Hippolytus has been but obscurely known to the church of subsequent times. He was at the beginning of the 3rd cent[ury] unquestionably the most learned member of the Roman church, and a man of very considerable literary activity .... A century after his death Eusebius evidently knew nothing of him beyond what he could infer from such works of his as had reached him. These works were soon superseded by those of other more able and learned writers. Scarcely one has come down to us without mutilation, and the authenticity of almost every work assigned to him has been disputed. Yet his celebrity survived, and various legends, not always carefully distinguished from the authentic history of the saint, arose. It has been disputed whether Hippolytus was a presbyter or a bishop; and if a bishop, of what see; whether he laboured in Italy or Arabia; whether he was orthodox or a schismatic; whether he was a martyr, and if so, by what death he died. At length the recovery of the work on heresies, now by general consent attributed to him, cleared away some obscurities in his personal history, though many questions can still receive only doubtful answers.

Theophilus

(c. 115-181 A.D.)
 
 
“Theophilus occupies an interesting position, after Ignatius,[8] in the succession of faithful men who represented Barnabas and other prophets and teachers of Antioch [f.n. refers to Acts 13:1]” - ANF 2:87.
It is odd that Bowman did not refer to Theophilus also. Many trinitarians (most of whom should know better) claim that Theophilus (2nd century A.D.) was the first to apply the term “trinity” to the “Godhead”! They have interpreted and translated a single passage from Theophilus’ second letter to a non-Christian acquaintance (Theophilus to Autolycus, Book 2, Ch. 15) to read: “the three days which elapsed before the creation of the Luminaries are a type [symbol] of the Trinity....” - (Rendel Harris, The Origin of the Prologue to St. John).

Here is the passage as it is rendered in the trinitarian-translated, trinitarian-edited, and trinitarian-published The Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF]:
 
CHAP. XV. - OF THE FOURTH DAY.
On the fourth day [of creation] the luminaries were made; .... For the sun is a type [symbol] of God, and the moon of man. .... In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types [symbols] of the trinity [triados], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the Fourth [day] is the type [symbol] of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. - p. 101, Vol. 2, Eerdmans.

The trinitarian translators and editors of this passage have translated this one-time-only use of triados by Theophilus as “Trinity” to make it appear that the actual Greek word for “triad” means “Trinity.” But instead of this “trinity” being defined as “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,” we find that it is actually defined as “God [not ‘the Father’ or even ‘God the Father’], the Word, and wisdom”! Of course “the Word” and “wisdom” are, in reality, both well-known titles of the Son,[9] so this “Trinity” is two persons! Not only that, but one person only in this “trinity” is actually called God! The other person (in two different aspects) is not called God!


Furthermore, even today “triad” does not mean “trinity”! A triad is merely a group of three things (Webster's New World Dictionary, The World Publishing Co., 1973). It is no different from “tetrad”: “a group or arrangement of four.” So “triad” does not necessarily have the meaning of “three things which are all equally and completely one thing” (even though they may well be related in some sense)!

Notice the triad found at Rev. 1:4, 5:
 
Grace to you and peace from [1] him who is and who was and who is to come, and [2] from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and [3] from Jesus Christ... - RSV.
Never mind (as in Theophilus' statement) that only one of them is God, and one other is apparently 7 different persons or things, and the third is the Son. Nevertheless, this is a heavenly triad (Trinity?): all three are united in the sense of being the heavenly agent appealed to by John as the provider of grace and peace! (Also see the triad which is united in the glory in which Jesus will return - Luke 9:26; cf. 1 Tim. 5:21.)

Theophilus was replying to some charges his non-Christian acquaintance had made. He replied in three separate letters. Part of his first reply concerned the “Nature of God” and “The Attributes of God” - Book I, Ch. 3, 4. And yet, during that detailed description of his concept of the Christian God, he never mentioned “three,” “triad,” etc. Instead God is the Father! Since Theophilus is actually defending his concept of the Christian God at that point, that is the place he would have mentioned “Trinity” or a clear description of such an understanding (IF he really had such an understanding)!

If Theophilus were truly dropping such a bombshell here (in a completely inappropriate place in his second communication with Autolycus: “The Fourth Day”), there certainly would have been explanations, justifications, repetitions, emphases of this new concept! The importance of such a knowledge of God, whether new or old, would have been clearly brought out in his first book concerning who the Christian God is, his nature, attributes, etc. (It is not even mentioned.) And it would be frequently referred to in subsequent writings. (Certainly as much as “Father,” “Lord,” “Most High,” “Creator,” etc.!) But he merely mentions it in passing, in this second book, in a context that actually indicates otherwise, and never again uses this incredibly important ‘knowledge of God’ by name (“triados”) or by description! To claim to find the Trinity in this passage is ridiculous! It is proof of the desperation of many trinitarian scholars who are grasping at straws in an attempt to justify a false teaching.

Notice how Theophilus does explain his knowledge of God:
 
ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. ... He is unbegotten; and He is unchangeable,.... And He is called .... Father, because he is before all things... the Highest, because of His being above all; and Almighty - ANF 2:90.
Theophilus is describing God - and pointing out that only God is unbegotten in every sense of the word. He has also pointed out that the Son IS begotten! The Son has gone through many changes, but God is unchangeable! Only the Father is ever described as Most High! The Son is not Most High! Only the Father is ever described as Almighty! These descriptions of God do not fit the Son in Theophilus' list of the attributes of the Christian God!

 
“God is uncreated, and the Father and Maker of all things” - p. 95.

Again God is the Father alone. On p. 103 Theophilus writes that if someone asks how God could walk in Paradise (Gen. 3:8), he would reply:
 
 
“The God and Father of all” could not do so, “but [1] His [God’s] Word, through whom He [God] made all things, being [2] His power [a term commonly applied to God's angels] and [3] His wisdom, [impersonating (see ANF footnote)] the Father and Lord of all, went to the garden [impersonating] God, and conversed with Adam.” - p. 103. Obviously, like all other Christians of this time, Theophilus considered the Father alone to be God! And the Word/Power/Wisdom [the Son] who impersonates (“the word is used in its original meaning, and with reference to an actor taking up a mask and personating a character” - ANF footnote) God is certainly not God!

A much more appropriate rendering of Theophilus’ “Trinity” statement would be: “the three days which were before the luminaries are symbols representing the triad (the group of three) of (1) God, and (2) His Word, and (3) His wisdom. And the fourth [day] is the symbol representing man, who needs light, so that there may be [the tetrad? (group of four)] of (1) God, and (2) the Word, and (3) Wisdom, and (4) man.”[10]


Simply because triados, the word for “group of three” or “triad” (not “trinity” or “tri-unity”), happened to be used in this one-time-only instance does not even remotely justify the conclusion that Theophilus was calling three (actually two) persons the only true God (particularly when one of them was already specifically called God and the others were not)!

Two of them were really alternate titles for one person (the Son) who had been created or begotten! We would be equally justified in concluding that Theophilus was proclaiming the Quadrinity when, in the very next breath (and parallel in context), he announced the four (or three) to be: God, the Word/wisdom, and man! This was in a parallel sense to what he had done with the previous three (or two) and likewise cannot honestly be considered some “four-in-one” absolute-equality Quadrinity any more than the parallel description of the “triad” can be considered a trinity!

This whole argument that Theophilus was the very first to call the “Godhead” a “Trinity” is so incredibly poor that it emphatically demonstrates the desperation of trinitarians who are unable to find true proof of a trinity!

* * * * *

So how much of the developing new “Knowledge” (speculation) concerning God and the Word found in modern translations of these ancient writers is really the work of the Ante-Nicene Fathers themselves and how much is the work of later trinitarian copyists, trinitarian translators, etc.?

Well, obviously, the trinitarians who handled, copied, and translated these works for over 1500 years would have made trinitarian changes much as they did in many still-existing manuscripts of Scripture itself. But one thing is certain, they would never have made anti-trinitarian changes in those manuscripts, translations, etc. Any objective student would be forced to admit that the numerous instances of anti-trinitarian statements concerning God and Christ must have come unchanged from the Ante-Nicene writers themselves.

We find, then, no clear, honest proof for a trinity-God in the Holy Scriptures. We find absolutely no honest evidence for a ‘trinity-God’ understanding in the Creeds of the first two centuries: God, instead, is clearly the Father only. And we find proofs of a non-trinitarian God understanding in the writings of the Christian writers of the first 200 years of Christianity:

The Father, alone, is God. It wasn't until the 4th century that a “Three-Persons-in-One-God” Doctrine began to be preached and forced upon a reluctant Church (see the HIST study).

- - - - - - - -
 
Speculative thought began to analyze the divine nature until in the 4th century an elaborate theory of a threefoldness in God appears. In this Nicene or Athanasian form of thought God is said to consist of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally eternal, powerful and glorious. - Encyclopedia Americana, 1944, Vol. 6, p. 619.
At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian ... It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages [from time of the Apostles to about 165 A.D.], as reflected in the NT and other early Christian writings. - Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Hastings (trinitarian).

The very first Christians to really discuss Jesus’ relationship to God in their writings, according to Dr. Boer, were the Apologists.
 
 
Justin and the other Apologists therefore taught that the Son is a creature. He is a high creature, a creature powerful enough to create the world, but nevertheless, a creature. In theology this relationship of the Son to the Father is called Subordinationism. The Son is subordinate, that is, secondary to, dependent upon, and caused by the Father. - p. 110, A Short History of the Early Church, H. R. Boer (trinitarian), Eerdmans (trinitarian), 1976.
Before the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) all theologians viewed the Son as in one way or another subordinate to the Father. - pp. 112-113, Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity (trinitarian), 1977; and p. 114, The History of Christianity (trinitarian), A Lion Handbook, Lion Publishing, 1990 revised ed.

Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, .... The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies .... It was not until the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons. - The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1985, Micropedia, Vol. 11, p. 928. [11]

The dogma of the Trinity is of relatively recent date. There is no reference to it in the Old Testament .... One can even say that it is a conception foreign to primitive [first century A.D., at least] Christianity. - Professor Louis Reau of the Sorbonne (France’s leading university), in Iconographie de l’ Art Chretien, p. 14., Vol. 2, Book 1.

...the doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; that it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian scriptures; that it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers; that in the time of Justin [c.100-165 A.D.], and long after, the distinct nature and inferiority [in comparison to the Father (God alone) only, of course] of the Son were universally taught; and that only the first shadowy outline of the Trinity had then become visible. - The Church of the First Three Centuries, p. 34.


Famous U. S. Founding Father, scholar, and U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, restates the above in even stronger terms - pp. 631-632, 693-694. He sums it up in a Dec. 8, 1822 letter:
 
 
No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded [a single person only], was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the ancients, sickened by the absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity [one person only] of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government [Constantine’s Rome], wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God ... with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.... - pp. 703-704, The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Koch and Peden, The Modern Library (Random House, Inc.), 1944.
Yes, by the end of the fourth century A.D. the trinitarians had completely taken over the Roman Church (which controlled Christendom for more than a thousand years) and have dominated Christendom ever since. By wielding the power of the secular government (starting with the Roman Emperor Constantine) and enforcing terrible persecutions on those who attempted to retain the original non-trinitarian teachings they have ruthlessly stomped out non-trinitarian opposition until very recent times.
 
 
... the council [of Nicaea, 325 A.D.] anathematized - cursed - those who held to the [non-trinitarian] position, and Constantine ... ordered the death penalty for those who did not conform, and commanded the burning of the [non-trinitarian] books - pp. 50-51, Christianity Through the Ages, Prof. K.S. Latourette (trinitarian), Harper ChapelBooks, 1965. - See HIST study.
The council of Nicaea, which ... formulated the [trinitarian] creed upon which all the existing Christian churches are based, was one of the most disastrous and one of the least venerable of all religious gatherings. - H. G. Wells, author and historian, God, the Invisible King.

The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of ‘person’ and ‘nature’ which are Gr[eek] philosophical terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible. The trinitarian definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which these terms and others such as ‘essence’ and ‘substance’ were erroneously applied to God by some theologians. - Dictionary of the Bible (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1965), p. 899.

Christian thought had early [long before the Nicene controversy of the 4th century] learned to express its monotheistic stance by insisting that God is the sole agennetos (‘underived,’ ‘ungenerated’ [‘unbegotten’]): that is, the unique and absolute first principle. By contrast with God, all else that exists - INCLUDING THE LOGOS [‘The Word’, Jesus Christ], GOD’S SON - was described as generated. This implied, of course, not only that the Logos was subordinate to God (as any ‘image,’ even an exact image, is secondary to the reality it represents), but also that the Logos had something in common with creatures which God did not - some quality of ‘generatedness’. - p. 132, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Williston Walker (trinitarian), Scribners, 1985.

The formulation ‘One God in three persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian Dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective. - New Catholic Encyclopedia (trinitarian), p. 299, Vol. 14, 1967.

Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word ‘trinity’ appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely PAGAN. - Paganism in our Christianity, pp. 197, 198, Arthur Weigall.

If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians (who differed from their fellow Jews only in the belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah) was changed by the Church at Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief. - The History of Christianity, Peter Eckler.

Christianity did not destroy Paganism; it adopted it .... From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity. - The Story of Civilization: Part III, by historian Will Durant.


.................................................................................................
 
NOTES

1. In fact, it would be even more ‘reasonable’ to conclude that all the three things found in question #3 above are a ‘trinity’ than that some of the things found in three separate questions represent a trinity. But, of course, even though the three things in question #3 are all in the same question (and even connected by “and” in the very same breath)## and are necessarily related in some respect, there is absolutely no proper reason to claim they are a trinity: co-equal, co-eternal, of equal power, authority, and importance. It is even less proper to insist on some trinity connection for the three separate questions (or statements) of the earliest creeds!


For a scriptural comparison, let’s look at the “three-in-one” aspects of 1 John 5:8. It would be best to use most modern Bible translations here since the King James Version (and the very few modern Bibles based on it) has been proven to have spurious material added at 1 John 5:7 (even trinitarian scholars freely admit this). - See the 1JN5-7 study.

If the three separate statements of the earliest Creeds really add up to three things being equally one God, then 1 John 5:8, which includes the Spirit, is a much more certain proof of a three-in-one God! There’s only one slight problem: the two other “persons” who are equally one with the Spirit have unexpected “names”!

“And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth.” - 1 John 5:7 ASV. The Spirit IS God, trinitarians say, and, being a person, He can bear witness here. But let’s read on:

“For there are three who bear witness [this is the only place in the entire Bible where we find a ‘trinitarian’ formula that even mentions the word three’!], The spirit [which is God according to trinitarians], and the water, and the blood: and the THREE [are] in ONE.” - ASV.

This is by far the clearest “trinitarian” statement in the entire Bible!! It is the only one that even mentions “three” (although by using trinitarian-style “evidence” we could easily work in “seven” at Rev. 4:5 or “four” at Rev. 4:6 which has 4 living creatures “in the midst of” God’s throne). And to top it all off it says “THE THREE ARE IN ONE”. (The ASV renders “agree in one,” but the word “agree” is not really found in the Bible manuscripts here. It literally says “the three are in one.” - Compare the MLB: “the three are one.”)

And who are these three equal “persons” (who bear witness) who are equally God himself (since, trinitarians insist, the holy spirit is God and the three are all “in one”)? Why these three “persons” who are equally God are the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood! (Notice how verse 9 also shows that these three are “really” God: the witness of these three is really the witness of God!)
Obviously this scripture is really saying that three things are “witnesses” to (or “testify to”) Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God: “the Spirit (Greek, τὸ πνεῦμα: singular, neuter - a thing) and the water (Greek, τὸ ὕδωρ: singular, neuter - a thing) and the blood (Greek, τὸ αἷμα: singular, neuter - a thing).” And these three things are “one” (Greek, ἕν, singular, neuter - ‘one thing’) in that they all “witness” to the same fact that Jesus is Christ. The Spirit “testified” to Jesus being the Christ by visibly descending upon him at his baptism. “Water symbolizes Jesus’ baptism, and the blood symbolizes his death” (NIVSB f.n.) These 3 things, then, all “testified” to the same thing. But they are all things! This is why trinitarian copyists in earlier centuries actually added the words of 1 John 5:7 as found in the KJV to the inspired words of John in the translations and copies of manuscripts they were making. They were desperate to find actual scriptural evidence of the trinity concept. And since it didn’t honestly exist, they had to manufacture it!

Of course an honest, clear statement of a trinity would be: “For there are three persons who are the only true God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the three are the One [εἷς, singular, masculine] God.” (You see, it isn’t a difficult statement for anyone to write, let alone an inspired Bible writer. Even “God is three” would be honest, clear evidence, but you will never see even that in the inspired scriptures. In fact, “three” is never used in any description concerning God. And the number “three,” in strong contrast to such numbers as “one,” “seven,” “twelve,” and “forty” has little or no importance in the religious content of the Bible! - pp. 565, 566, Vol. 3, A Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, ed., Hendrickson Publ. - - -and see the IMAGE study, f.n. #8.) But 1 John 5:8 is, by far, the closest the Bible ever comes to such a statement!


Therefore, this clearest of trinitarian “proofs” (1 John 5:8) shows “conclusively” that if the Holy Spirit is God, His two equal partners are not Jesus and Jehovah, but the “persons” of “the Holy Water” and “the Holy Blood”!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ## Here is the highly significant credal statement of St. Clement of Rome (ca. 90 A.D.): “Have we not one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace (which was poured out upon us) and one calling in Christ?” - 1 Clement 46:6 (see original Greek text). Clement lists four things, and only one of them (the first listed, of course) is God, and, in fact, God cannot be Christ, the Spirit, or the Calling which are all listed in addition to God!

2. Another early Eastern Creed, which is dated variously between 280 A.D and 350 A.D., and “originated probably in Antioch” translates as:
We believe and baptize in one unbegotten only true Almighty God, the Father of the Christ.... And [we believe and baptize in] the Lord Jesus the Christ, His only-begotten Son, the firstborn of all creation... And we [believe and] baptize in the Holy Spirit, that is, the Paraclete, which acted in all the holy ones from the beginning... - from Greek text of “The Creed of the Apostolical Constitutions” on p. 39, Vol. II, The Creeds of Christendom, Schaff (trinitarian), Baker Book House (trinitarian), 1998 reprint.

3. The Nicene Creed was developed at this time in this form:
‘We believe:  
- In one God, the Father Almighty Maker of all things visible and invisible.

- And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the same essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

- And in the Holy Ghost.’ - See pp. 28, 29, The Creeds of Christendom, Vol.1, Schaff, Baker Book House.

Bracketed material above contains material not found in the Received Text.

This was only a partial statement of the still-developing trinity doctrine for the Church because the Holy Spirit was not described as God in any sense, let alone as a person who was equally God. This statement, however was finally completed 60 years later at the Council of Constantinople where the phrase “the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified....” was added after “And in the Holy Ghost.” - p. 29, The Creeds of Christendom.

4. Apparently even as early as 268 A.D. this term had come to have different meanings for different Christians. Noted scholar (and trinitarian) Robert M. Grant tells us that the Bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, “seems to have been willing to speak of the Logos [the Word] as homoousios with the Father; this notion too was condemned at the final synod of 268.” Grant tells us that this same Council or Synod of 268 A.D. also excommunicated Paul! - Augustus to Constantine, p. 218, Harper and Row, 1970.


It would be strange indeed if those Christians who condemned this doctrine believed that homoousios meant what it did for Origen (and other early Christians). They surely would not disagree with the statement that the Word (Logos) was united in will [homoousios] with the Father as Origen and others taught.

Therefore these Christians must have known that the heretical Bishop was intending a new meaning that God and the Word were of one substance in a more literal sense that suggested that Jesus was equally God (and they most emphatically denied that teaching!). At any rate, it is certainly significant that this council so strongly condemned the concept that the Logos was homoousios in a literal sense with God as late as 268 A.D.!

5. Lohse also tells us that Origen used the concept of homoousios to describe a unity and harmony of will (p. 46). In fact, Origen also wrote: “The Father and Son are two substances ... two things as to their essence.” - Should You Believe in the Trinity? - p. 7. So the “unity of ‘substance’” (homoousios) concept which was used by those who much later developed the “orthodox” trinity doctrine apparently meant merely a unity of will for Origen. “The term Homoousios had begun to become current with Heracleon [c. 160 A.D.] who had claimed that those who worshiped God in Spirit and in truth were themselves spirit and ‘of the same nature [homoousios] as the Father’.” - p. 394., note #111, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), Fortress Press, 1985.

 Obviously homoousios, as it was first used within Christendom by Heracleon, did not have the same meaning as later trinitarians made it seem!

And as for Origen's development of the “Eternal Generation” of the Son - it is true that existing manuscripts today indicate that he used the term, but it is apparent that it did not mean to him what those later trinitarian developers insisted that it did. Lohse tells us: “It has thus an entirely different foundation from that of a similar idea found in the later theology of the Trinity .... It is immediately apparent that this second feature [‘eternal generation’] is considerably more problematical than the first.” (p. 47.) 

In fact Origen apparently even considered all creation as ‘eternally generated.’ At least he thought that Logos and the world, were coeval {‘of the same age or duration’} with God. Furthermore he did not believe anything that was “eternally generated” could actually be God!

 “The ‘eternal generation’ of the Logos did not for {Origen} imply that the Logos is God’s equal; being ‘generated’ or ‘begotten’ entailed being secondary - i.e., subordinate.” - p. 93, A History of the Christian Church, Williston Walker (trinitarian), Scribners, 4th ed.

 So, since being “generated” connotes “being secondary” and “subordinate” to God, then his being “eternally generated” likewise connotes Jesus’ being eternally secondary and subordinate to God!

6. "(d) The Tract against Noetus. … On comparing this tract with the exposition of the troth given at the end of the Refutation, the identity of doctrine, and sometimes of form of expression, decisively proves common authorship. The same doctrine is found, that the Logos, Which had from eternity dwelt in the Deity as His unspoken thought, afterwards assumed a separate hypostatic existence; differing from created things not only in priority but also because they were out of nothing, He of the substance of the Godhead; and being the framer of the universe according to the divine ideas (in the Platonic sense of the word) which had dwelt in Him from the first. That the Son's personal divinity was not by the original necessity of His nature, but given by an act of the divine will, is stated more offensively than in the earlier tract. He says to his reader, 'God has been pleased to make you a man, not a god. If He had willed to make you a god He could have done so; you have the example of the Logos [the Word of John 1:1.]' - [“The Refutation of all Heresies”, Ch. xxix. (p. 151, Vol. 5, ANF.)]" - http://www.ccel.org/w/wace/biodict/htm/iii.viii.xxxiv.htm

7. Another such example found in trinitarian translations of Hippolytus’ writing concerns the probable intended meanings of ὑπάρχων (huparchon) (see PHIL study) and ek (or ex). The trinitarian mistranslation of the commentary on Gen. 49:21-26 by Hippolytus where he paraphrases Phil. 2:6 (see the PHIL study paper) is “For as the only begotten Word [Logos] of God, being God of God [theos huparchon ek theou], emptied himself, according to the Scriptures, humbling himself of his own will to that which he was not before, and took unto himself this vile flesh, and appeared in the ‘form of a servant,’ and ‘became obedient to God the Father, even unto death,’ so hereafter he is said to be ‘highly exalted’...” - ANF, 5:167.


ek (and ex) literally mean “from” or “out of” and is used to denote the source of a thing. The phrase ek theou is used frequently in the Bible and means “from God.” It shows that God is the source of something.

Although “of God” was understood in the Elizabethan English of the 400-year old KJV as “from God” (the correct meaning of ek theou), it is usually misunderstood in modern English. That is why most modern Bible translations often translate it differently to make sure the proper meaning of ek is brought out for modern readers. For example 1 Cor. 11:12 b (literally, “but all [is] ek tou theou”) is translated as follows:

“God is the source of all” - NEB; REB.

“All things originate from God” - NASB; CBW.

“They all have their origin from God” - MLB.

“It is God who brings everything into existence” - GNB.

“both man and woman, like everything else, owe their existence to God” - Phillips.

“Both come from God” - JB.

“both men and women come from God their creator” - LB.

“all comes from God” - NIV; NJB; TEV; and Beck (NT).

“All things are from God” - RSV; NRSV; NAB.

So, just with the proper translation of ek theou alone, we should read Hippolytus’ words describing the only-begotten Word as “being a god whose source is God;” or “being a god who owes his existence to God;” or “being a god who originates from God;” or “being a god who comes from God his Creator;” etc.

But there is also the misunderstood huparchon (ὑπάρχων) to be considered. It literally means “to make a beginning (hupo, ‘under’; arche, ‘a beginning’)” - W. E. Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 390.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines it as “to begin under (quietly), i.e. COME INTO EXISTENCE” - #5225. So even though it may be translated as “being;” “existing;” “was;” etc., it nevertheless must also be understood as something that has come into existence. (It is important that you also examine the study paper PHIL which examines this term and others used at Phil. 2:6.)


We can see that with the actual literal (and most probable) meaning of huparchon and the actual literal (and most probable) meaning of ek, this trinitarian interpretation (like Phil. 2:6 itself) actually becomes anti-trinitarian: “The only-begotten Word of God, a god [theos without the article - see the PRIMER study] who came into being [huparchon] from [ek] God....” And, as we have already seen, these very same trinitarian translators had previously admitted that Hippolytus taught that God had made the Word “a god” - ANF, 5:151.



8.
 
 
“Ignatius of Antioch [who died in 107 A.D.] writes as follows: ‘There is only one God, who makes himself known to us through Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Logos....’” - p. 14, vol. 9, The Encyclopedia of Religion.
Ignatius also wrote “But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word before time began” - [long version] - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume I, page 52 (Ephesians ch. 7, Long Version).

Also see Ephesians ch. 3 and 6 (long version); Magnesians (end of ch. 8 - both versions); Trallians, ch. 1 (short and long) - Lightfoot.

9. Even the trinitarian editors of Theophilus’ work have noted that he has already identified wisdom as Christ in this very same work (as did most other Ante-Nicene Fathers) - note 3, p. 101, Vol. 2, ANF. However, even if we insisted on interpreting Theophilus’ statement as describing God, Jesus (the Word), and the holy spirit (wisdom) as some trinitarians want to do, we must still admit that this is describing God as one entity and Jesus and the holy spirit as two other separate entities! Yes, there is a threeness here all right, but it is a threeness in which God is not Jesus (nor the holy spirit)! The “triads” of the other early Christians are typified by the earliest Creeds quoted above and the quote from Irenaeus above (quoted from ANF, 1:330).


Consider any other triad. For example, the triad of some families would be: father, mother, and only child. If we were to use the trinitarian method of describing Theophilus’ triad above (“God, Word, and Wisdom are all equally God”), we would have to say that in this family the father, mother, and only child are all equally the father! This is clearly not what was intended by the original writer!

10. Notice how distinguished trinitarian NT scholar Robert M. Grant renders this passage by Theophilus:
“the three days prior to [the creation of] the luminaries are prefigurations of the triad, God and his Logos and his Sophia [wisdom]. For a fourth prefiguration there is man, who needs light, so that there might be God, Logos, Sophia, Man.”

Dr. Grant continues by comparing this to other early writings including Ptolemaeus’ teaching
“that two tetrads were revealed in Gen. 1:1, 2: [1] God, Beginning, Heaven, Earth, and [2] Abyss, Darkness, Waters, Spirit .... Theophilus’ triad and tetrad are different but contain very similar elements.” - pp. 159-60, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, The Westminster Press, 1988.

Granted, Grant grants that Theophilus’ triad and tetrad are different from Ptolemaeus’ in that they are composed of different things. Nevertheless, the important points here are (1) the fact that trinitarian Grant properly renders the word as “triad,” not “trinity,” (2) that he acknowledges that the fourth day of creation contains a “tetrad” for Theophilus, and (3) that the intended meanings of the words “triad” (triados) and “tetrad” used by the contemporary Ptolemaeus are not what certain trinitarians would want them to be.

Obviously Ptolemaeus used the word “tetrad” in the same way Theophilus uses “triad” - a group made up of that number of different things. Ptolemaeus most certainly did not mean that the tetrad of God, Beginning, Heaven, and Earth were all equally God. He would have been shocked if anyone could have possibly distorted the obvious meaning to such an extent. He would think you the worst of fools if you interpreted him to mean, for example, the Earth was God!

In exactly the same way do we know that Theophilus’ triad of God, Wisdom and Word are not a trinity wherein, for example, Wisdom is equally God!

11. This particular quote, with its ellipses, is often attacked by trinitarian critics. They say that the writer has left out important portions of the original quote [as shown by the ellipses (....)] which prove the original writer believed just the opposite of what was quoted "out of context." So for their benefit, here is the entire quote with their ‘important’ trinitarian content:

"Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The earliest Christians, however, had to cope with the implications of the coming of Jesus Christ and of the presumed presence and power of God among them—i.e., the Holy Spirit, whose coming was connected with the celebration of the Pentecost. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19); and in the apostolic benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Thus, the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. [emphasis added]

"The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. Initially, both the requirements of monotheism inherited from the Old Testament and the implications of the need to interpret the biblical teaching to Greco-Roman religions seemed to demand that the divine in Christ as the Word, or Logos, be interpreted as subordinate to the Supreme Being. An alternative solution was to interpret Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three modes of the self-disclosure of the one God but not as distinct within the being of God itself. The first tendency recognized the distinctness among the three, but at the cost of their equality and hence of their unity (subordinationism); the second came to terms with their unity, but at the cost of their distinctness as “persons” (modalism). It was not until the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons."


It should be reasonably obvious to readers that the portion (in blue here) which was left out by me, deals with the trinitarian writer's biased opinions. Citing Matt. 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 certainly does not comprise "proof" nor even appropriate evidence for the writer's conclusion that "Thus, the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity." And none of it denies the factual information quoted by me (in black here). Whether this trinitarian criticism is a straw man argument or a red herring isn't important. Whatever it is, it has no bearing on the way I quoted the relevant portions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

Great stuff! The WT august 15th 1956 Pg 504, about the ANF has taken a hammering by Trinitarian's online because of supposed dishonesty. This article exsposes how many of the Greek and Latin source texts of the ANF certainly have been re-doctored by so-called "Orthodox Revisers" like Rufinus. There is not many which have not escaped revisers hands. Clement of Rome, Polycarp, need I say the three versions of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Origen, Clement of Alexandria was re-doctored by Casiodorus see Photius comments! Novation, Hypolitus have all been corrected at later dates to conform to the trinity.