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Monday, September 14, 2009

History of the 'Christian' Trinity - HIST (part 3)

The History of the Development of the Trinity Doctrine
(page 3 of 7)  View Entire File

1 About 318 A. D., Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria, had a private sermon for his presbyters concerning "The Unity of the Trinity." One of the presbyters, Arius, because he knew this new teaching of the old pagan trinity concept was blasphemously false,[94] attacked this private teaching of his Bishop. The controversy became so intense that Bishop Alexander had Arius condemned. Arius fled to non-trinitarian territory.[95]

"Sozomen [early 5th century Church historian of Constantinople] (l.i.c.15) represents Alexander as indifferent, and even ignorant, in the beginning of the controversy; while Socrates [early Roman Church historian: 380-450 A.D.] (l.i.c.5) ascribes the origin of the dispute to the vain curiosity of [Alexander's] theological speculations." - Gibbon, p. 683, f.n. # 45, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, Modern Library, Random House Publ.


"The central issue in this [Alexander/Arius] debate as it opened up was, then, that of the Logos [the Word, the pre-incarnate Christ]. This issue hinged in turn on interpretation of the Greek term gennetos as that was applied to the Son. [Although] traditionally translated 'begotten,' in Greek philosophical terminology [as well as Scriptural terminology: Luke 7:28; John 3:5; 1 John 5:1; Ps. 90:2; Prov. 8:25] it had a broader and hence vaguer sense. It denoted anything which in any way 'came to be' and hence anything 'derivative' or 'generated.' Christian thought had early 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, 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, Scribners, 1985.

"A large majority of the bishops of Asia [generally that area outside Palestine which first received Christianity] appeared to support or favour [Arius'] cause; and their measures were conducted by Eusebius of Caesarea, the most learned of the Christian prelates; and by Eusebius of Nicomedia, who had acquired the reputation of a statesman without forfeiting that of a saint. Synods in Palestine and Bithynia were opposed to the synods of Egypt [Alexandria]." - p. 683, vol. 1, Gibbon.

2 Constantine, still a pagan emperor,[96, 97, 98] was concerned not with religious truth, but about the unity of his empire.[99, 100, 101, 102] He wanted the great rift between the extremely influential Alexandria (and its Western "satellites") and the entire Eastern portion of Christianity (the original home of Christianity) to be healed at once! Furthermore, "he detested Judaism" (p. 75, When Jesus became God and see p. 499. Rise of Christianity, Frend) and, of course, the God which Judaism, including the first Christians, had always worshiped. He therefore called a council of the bishops of the Church to work out a solution that would benefit his empire.

"This council met at Nicaea in the early summer of 325. Three hundred bishops of the Church were present .... The [pagan] Emperor presided [more often his own personal religious advisor, Bishop Hosius, actually presided] over the council and paid its expenses. ['At Nicaea the emperor provided lodging for the bishops in his palace. It was there, too, that the discussions took place, and in the presence of the emperor at that. .... It is understandable if the bishops showed their gratitude by generous efforts to oblige the emperor.' - p. 52, Lohse, Short Hist.] For the first time the Church found itself dominated by the political leadership of the head of the state."[103, 104]

3 Three views were advocated at this council. (Actually, the real question to be decided at this council was only the first step by Alexandrian philosophizers [and their Roman sympathizers] toward establishing a new doctrine of God. The question was only, "Is Jesus absolutely equal to the Father: all-powerful, always existing, and of the very same substance, or not?" The introduction of a "third person" as being equal to God was not yet being attempted officially.)

(1) Basically, Athanasius, the trinitarian from Alexandria, said,

"Yes, Jesus is absolutely equal to the Father. He has always existed beside the Father. He is of the very same substance or essence (Homoousios) [105, 106, 107] as the Father. He is absolute God and must be worshiped as God."

There was a very small minority of Western Bishops at the council who agreed with him (those most influenced by Alexandria and Neo-Platonism, including the trinitarian Bishop Hosius).[108]

(2) There was another (much larger) minority of Bishops at the council who were led by Arius. Basically, Arius said,

"Jesus is not God, although he could be called 'divine.' He was made by God (the Father alone) so there was a time when he did not exist! He was made out of nothing and is, therefore, of an entirely different substance (or Essence) from that of God. He must not be worshiped as the One True God."

(Apparently Arius also believed that in his heavenly pre-existence Jesus had been the highest of angels. But this was not an invention of Arius. It was a much earlier Christian tradition which Arius was upholding - p. 50, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, Fortress Press, 1985 - but the more recent trinitarians had rejected it.

"Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this 'angel' [the Angel of Jehovah] was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God's Messenger-Servant." - Gen. 16:7 footnote, NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1985.)

(3) The vast majority (more than 200 bishops) of those at the Council of Nicaea were led by Eusebius of Caesarea. These were the Semi-Arians (see The American People's Encyclopedia, 1954, p. 8-207). They strongly agreed with the Arians that Jesus was not God[109, 110, 111118] and must not be worshipped as God! They believed that Jesus did not always exist. Basically, they said,

"The Father (God alone) generated Jesus (not out of nothing as Arius believed, but) from a substance similar (Homoi ousios) to His own. He is not equal to God, but is subordinate to Him, [118] even though he is above all the rest of creation. Jesus must not be worshiped as the One True God."

"By contrast [with the Arians and semi-Arians], the strongest anti-Arians experienced their present as a sharp break with the past. It was they who demanded, in effect, that Christianity be "updated" by blurring or even obliterating the long-accepted distinction between the Father and the Son.

"For young militants like Athanasius, however, ... Judaism was an offensive, anti-Christian faith." - p.74, When Jesus Became God, Harcourt, 1999.

4 Notwithstanding the vast majority of bishops' unshakably strong insistence upon a non-trinitarian view of God, the determination and power of the Emperor- supported (and Alexandrian and Neo-Platonist-influenced) bishops of the West prevailed after months of stormy debates.

Eusebius of Caesarea presented the baptismal creed of his own Palestinian community to the Nicene Council. It did not satisfy the trinitarians.

"Accordingly, they [Constantine and Hosius primarily] took another baptismal creed, of much the same type as Eusebius's, and altered its text to serve their purpose, in the process creating a new, non-liturgical type of confession. .... In the text itself, they inserted the significant expressions 'true God from true God,' 'begotten not made,' 'from the substance [ousia] of the Father,' and - most important of all, as it turned out - 'of one substance [homoousios] with the Father.' .... From the very beginning, however, people like Eusebius of Caesarea 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. [According to historian Gibbon it was a mysterious term "which either party was free to interpret according to their peculiar tenets." - p. 686, vol. 1, Random House.] It could in principle be taken to mean exact sameness of being, but it could also be taken to suggest no more than a significant degree of similarity between Father and Son [Origen, in fact, used the term to show merely a 'unity of will' between the Father and the Son [88] - p. 46, Lohse.] - which, of course, everyone was glad to affirm. On the other hand, the term was non-Scriptural, it had very doubtful theological history, and it was open to what, from Eusebius' point of view, were some dangerous misinterpretations indeed [including the one that was finally adopted and enforced by the Roman Church]." --- The trinitarians, however, assured Eusebius (and the large majority of other Bishops opposed to them) that homoousios in this new creed would not be interpreted in the way they feared.[105] - pp. 134, 135, Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Scribners, 1985.

5 After Eusebius failed to get a compromise (concerning "substance" or "essence," but which still rejected any concept promoting any equality for Jesus with God)[111, 112] and the Emperor backed the trinitarians with all his secular power, it was forcefully put to the vast majority of bishops present: sign the trinitarian statement or be exiled and treated as heretics.[113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119] It is not too surprising, therefore, that the majority of them signed (although most of them renounced it afterward).[120, 121, 122] It is surprising, in fact, that, after escaping from the Emperor's presence, so many remained faithful to their Arian and Semi-Arian beliefs. As trinitarian Christian historian Kenneth Latourette describes the situation:

"Constantine banished Arius, ordered the death penalty for those who did not conform, and commanded the burning of the books composed by Arius..." - pp. 50-51, Christianity Through the Ages, 1965, Harper ChapelBooks.

But the small minority of Western trinitarian bishops had won.

"The [new, non-Scriptural Nicene] creed achieved the aim of excluding Arianism and providing the eastern church with a formula to which all could assent in one sense or another [because of the many different meanings possible with such terms as homoousios]." - Williston Walker, History, p. 135.

"The decisions of Nicaea were really the work of a minority, and they were misunderstood and disliked by many [even those] who were not adherents of Arius. In particular the terms ['out of the substance' - exousia] and homoousios ['of the same substance'] aroused opposition, on the grounds that they were unscriptural, novel, ... and erroneous metaphysically." - p. 41, Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., Bettenson, 1967, Oxford University Press.

"But [the Council of Nicaea's] formula of the Son's 'consubstantiality' [homoousios] with the Father was slow to gain general acceptance,[148] despite [Emperor] Constantine's efforts to impose it." - p. 72, The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, John McManners, Oxford University Press, 1992.


“Before the assembling of the council of Nice, Constantine had been persuaded that the Arian doctrine contained a blasphemy against the divinity of Christ, and that the [homoousian] was absolutely required, in order to maintain the dignity of Christ’s person. …. It was nothing but the influence of the emperor Constantine which induced the eastern bishops at the council of Nice to suffer the imposition of a doctrinal formula which they detested and from which, indeed, they sought immediately to relieve themselves.” - Neander’s History of Christianity, Vol. 3, p. 189, Bohn.  


"The Council of Nicaea, then, was not universal. Nevertheless, it is everywhere considered the first ecumenical (or universal) council of the Catholic Church. Several later gatherings would be more representative of the entire Church; one of them, the joint council of Rimini-Seleucia (359), was attended by more than five hundred bishops from both the East and West. If any meeting deserves the tilte "ecumenical," that one seems to qualify, but its result - the adoption of an Arian creed - was later repudiated by the Church. Councils whose products were later deemed unorthodox not only lost the "ecumenical" label but virtually disappeared from the official Church history." - p. 75, When Jesus Became God, Harcourt, 1999.

6 In contrast to the conduct of the trinitarians we find the conduct of the Arians and Semi-Arians during the Nicene Council (which we must read in the extremely biased accounts of the Athanasians since their opponents' accounts, records, and doctrinal evidence were destroyed by the prevailing Athanasians) to be a much more proper example for those professing to be Christian:

"The Arians .... recommended the exercise of Christian charity [love] and moderation, urged the incomprehensible nature of the controversy, disclaimed the use of any terms or definitions which could not be found in the Scriptures, and offered, by very liberal concessions, to satisfy their adversaries without renouncing the integrity of their own principles. The [trinitarians] received all their proposals with haughty suspicion and anxiously sought for some irreconcilable mark of distinction, the rejection of which might involve the Arians in the guilt and consequences of heresy. A letter was publicly read and ignominiously torn [by the trinitarians], in which [Arian] Eusebius of Nicomedia ingenuously [honestly, openly, honorably, with a superior character - Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary] confessed that the admission of the homoousion,[105, 106, 107, 108, 110] or Consubstantial [a non-Biblical, paganistic term], a word already familiar to the platonists, was incompatible with the principles of their theological system. The fortunate opportunity [for the trinitarians] was eagerly embraced by the [minority group of Western, trinitarian] bishops, who governed the resolutions of the Synod, and, according to ... Ambrose, they used the sword, which heresy itself had drawn from the scabbard, to cut off the head of the hated monster [Arianism and semi-Arianism]." - pp. 685-686, Gibbon, vol. 1, Random House.

7 In other words, trinitarian Gibbon, who admittedly dislikes the non-trinitarian Arian teaching, tells us that the Arians wished to keep peace and unity by compromising as much as they honestly could. They wanted to confine the discussion to the Scriptures alone and not introduce any philosophic and paganistic teachings.[15, 79, 107, 108, 143] And they wanted to conduct this Council or Synod in the spirit of Christian Love. But the trinitarians would have none of it and actually searched for a way to have the non-trinitarian majority persecuted as heretics! And when the Arian spokesman, in the spirit of Christian honesty and openness, wrote that one thing they simply could not compromise with was the use and potential meanings of the pagan non-Biblical term ("Homoousious" or "of equal substance" - a term introduced at the council by Emperor Constantine himself), the trinitarian bishops immediately and publicly tore up the letter and started the proceedings for heresy!

8 Which side seems more in line with the teachings of Christ and his Apostles to you? (Compare Matt. 5:5-12; 5:39; 6:14-15; Gal. 5:19-24.) Don't we find the trinitarian Athanasians - even DURING this most significant Council - more like those the Apostles warned us about at 2 Tim. 4:3-5 and 1 John 3:10-12? Don't we find the more humble, peace-loving Arians and Semi-Arians more in line with 1 John 4:17, 20, 21? Who is more like the self-righteous ones in religious authority in these scriptures: Matt. 12:9, 14; 22:15; 23:23, 34 - the Athanasians? The Arians and Semi-Arians?

"Nicaea cost the Church its independence, however, for the Church became imperial from this time and was increasingly dominated by the Emperor."[123]

"Nevertheless ... Constantine's unification of state and church did not please everyone. .... it had indeed required a mental and spiritual turnabout to belong to a church which, instead of being perpetually proscribed ["outlawed," persecuted - see 2 Tim. 3:12, John 15:19-20] was subsidized and directed from the lateran palace under the guidance of the Emperor."[124]

9 Up to this point Christians had been persecuted by those around them, including the government itself - just as foretold by Christ and the inspired Bible writers, but they would not persecute in return (also as commanded by Jesus). Then at this single stroke a new God was to be worshiped by all Christians, and these newly-proclaimed "orthodox" (trinitarian) Christians were no longer persecuted, proscribed. Those being persecuted in accord with Christ's prophecy were still the non-trinitarians who continued on the narrow road (Matt. 7:13-14) as commanded by their Lord and Savior.

"The Bishop of Rome (Pope) was given the royal palace of the Laterni [the Lateran Palace] and magnificent new churches. The liturgy borrowed imposing features from official and court ceremonial." Even "episcopal [bishops'] courts were given jurisdiction in civil cases." - Grant, pp. 220, 221.

10 St. Jerome's doubts about the desirability of such a position for the church echoed a feeling of disgust that went wide and deep among the members of the church:

"This feeling had ancient roots. Before official recognition of the church, many Christian writers had detested not only the Roman state but the whole Greco-Roman and particularly Greek philosophical culture in which the Alexandrians and other apologists had tried to dress the Jewish doctrines of Christianity."[125]

11 Yes, the religion which Christ himself had said was no part of the world (Jn 17:16; compare 1 Jn 2:15-17) was now gladly fusing itself wholly with that world. Protestant Church historian Neander noted,

"the consequence would be a confusion of the church with the world ... whereby the church would forfeit her purity, and, while seeming to conquer, would herself be conquered." - General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 2, p. 161.

She herself had become a large part of the adulteress (or the Harlot - Rev. 17:1-6; 18:2-3) which she had been so clearly warned against.

"Ye adulteresses [ASV footnote: 'That is, who break your marriage vow to God'], know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God." - James 4:4, 5, ASV.

Back to Page 2

Next Page  (Part 4)

Trinity Index


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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

It is claimed that the TRINITY was taught by them from the very beginning!

(ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Α΄ 1st John 3:11 Greek NT): Westcott & Hort: Ὅτι αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς

"...this is THE MESSAGE [that] was heard from [the] beginning..." - Translated by Matt13

Does the EVIDENCE and THE FACTS OF HISTORY back this claim up? Dissapointingly for Trinitarians, the FACTS and HARD EVIDENCE show something completely differen't!

To be continued!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

1.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in ANY RESENCION OF IGNATIUS - Long, Short or Middle!
2.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Polycarp anywhere!
3.) The word "TRINITY" is not found in quotations of Papias anywhere!
4.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in the Didache anywhere!
5.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in 1st Clement or 2nd Clement anywhere!

To be continued!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

6.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in the Shepard of Hermas anywhere!
7.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Barnabas anywhere!
8.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in the apology of Arestides anywhere!
9.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Mileto of Sardis anywhere!
10.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Justin Martyr anywhere!

To be continued!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

"This is getting boring isn't it? Lets take a break."

"On with the show!"


11.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Irenaeus anywhere!
12.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Tation anywhere!
13.) The word "TRINITY" is not MENTIONED in Athenagoras anywhere!

Remarkable!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

The word TRINITY is not even MENTIONED in the Apostles Creed!
The word TRINITY is not even MENTIONED in the Nicene Creed!
The word TRINITY is not even MENTIONED in the Chanceldon Creed!

Absolutely ASTONISHING!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

If the "TRINITY" was official Church teaching ALL-THE-WAY-ALONG from Jesus to the Apostles right the way until our day, is it not remarkable that its NOT EVEN MENTIONED BY NAME in the 13 EARLIEST Christian writers and three OFFICIAL DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS about God up to the year 381?

From Clement of Rome to Irenaeus there is a gap of 130 years while the biggest preaching campaign in history up to that time was going on, no Christian teacher or writer thought it was important enough to EVEN MENTION IT BY NAME!

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

Ever thought about ths similarities between Hitler and Constantine?

They both wanted to rule the world. They systematically murder or had murdered all rivals including family members. They both hated the Jews. Instigated religious persecution and anihilation of dissenters. Both proclaimed Christian belief but still involved in pagan worship and rituals.

That's just a few to get the ball rolling, see how many you can think of!

Elijah said...

Here are some of the difficulties I've had with the first few comments on HIST part 1, Matt:

The first comment in SIMON MAGUS.... (which I'll call #1) is not from Justin Martyr. It is from Irenaeus' 'Against Heresies,' Ch 23:1,3. It can be found in Roberts (not Alexander) and Donaldson, ANF, Vol. 1, p. 348.

#2 seems ok. ANF, Vol. 1, p. 348, renders it as "as if he were a god".

#3 I found this at "A Treatise on the Soul," ANF, Vol. 3, p. 215. It's in Ch. 34 only, not '34, 36.'

#4 I found at ANF, Bk 6, Ch. 14 (not 19), "Refutation of All Heresies"

#5 I haven't found this yet.

#6 seems OK. I found the first paragraph at "Origen Against Celsus," Bk. 5, Ch. 62, (ANF, Vol. 4, p.570.) and Bk 6, Ch. 11 (ANF, Vol.4 Ch. 11). The second paragraph I found at ANF, Vol. 4, pp. 421-422.

#7 I haven't found yet

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

Hi guy's! Hey sorry about my inaccurate references and causing you to spend so much time doing research. The truth is I got the information posted about Simon Magus off the internet about three years ago and didn't take any note of the source. At the time I did not know I was going to use it online, or as in this case, or come under such close scrutiny. Anyway! I found the actual source of those first references about Simon Magus again. They come from the following:

http://www.gnosis.org/library/grs-mead/grsm_simon_magus.htm

THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY: Simon Magus An Essay On The Founder Of Simonianism Based On The Ancient Sources With A Re-evaluation Of His Philosophy And Teachings. by G.R.S. Mead.

I hope this is more helpful.

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

Sorry about confusing Justin Martyr with Irenaeus. These should be the actual references to Simon Magus and his followers in Justins writings:

Justin Martyr 1st Apology Chap's 26 & 56; see also 2nd Apology Chapter 15:1 = a breif mention, Dialouge with Trypho A Jew Chap 120.

As for "Philastrius Episcopus Liber De Haeresibus" I don't actually know who he is. I have searched but can't find any reference to him, except in Meads essay on Simonianism in the Gnosis Library article.

Sorry I couldn't be of any more help there.

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

Reference #5 (Epiphanius of Salamis) An English translation is not available online, nor do I have a copy in my own library - digital or print. BUT! I do have the GREEK TEXT for this passage from Patrologia Mingne. Here it is (just the essentials):

Panarion † Adversus haereses 1.238 Κατὰ Σιμωνιανῶν πρώτη μετὰ τὴν εἰς Χριστὸν πίστιν τὴν μόνην οὖσαν, τῆς δὲ ἀκολουθίας ˉκˉα.
1. Σίμωνος γίνεται τοῦ μάγου πρώτη αἵρεσις ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ … ἔλεγεν δὲ ἑαυτὸν εἶναι τὴν μεγάλην δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἄνωθεν καταβεβηκέναι. Τὸν πατέρα δὲ ἔλεγεν ἑαυτὸν τοῖς Σαμαρείταις, Ἰουδαίοις δὲ ἔλεγεν ἑαυτὸν εἶναι τὸν υἱόν, παθόντα δὲ μὴ πεπονθέναι, ἀλλὰ δοκήσει μόνον.

Anonymous said...

Matt13weedhacker

#5 I could give an English translation of my own if you want one, but I don't have time at the moment, maybe later.

Are there any other things I've missed? Does that help?

Elijah said...

Thanks, Matt. I'll try to find the time to check out your new information.

Elijah said...

A repost of Matt's comment:

Matt13weedhacker

Epiphanius Of Salamis ( 3rd/4th Centuries): “It took place [that] [Σίμωνος ... τοῦ μάγου] Simon the magician [being] the first heresy from Christ, stretching forth until now, this (one) being ascociated with the name of Christ, but [certainly] not (one) of [the] faithful, pure, or upright, worked busily in [amoung] these (ones) causing coruption … but saying about himself that he was [τὴν μεγάλην δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ] “The Great Power of God” that had “stepped down from on High!” [Also] he was saying that he was [Τὸν πατέρα] “The Father” to the Samaritans, but to Jews he said he was [τὸν υἱόν] “The Son”...” - Panarion † Adversus haereses: 1.238 Translated by Matt13weedhacker

cornyh said...

I have found some sites, including Wikipedia, giving a very different versión of the histury. According to them, Nicea was a peaceful gathering where a vast mayority with no influence whatsoever from Constantine banished Arius for his antiscriptural "new heresy" about Christ beginning and not being God. What historians describe fully and accurately exactly what happened? Considereing that trinitarians have dominated the world stage afterwards, how did the details unfavorable to them survive? It are 1690 years!!

Also I would like to know more about the "semi arians". Where they binitarians as the old WCG and their offspring groups want us to believe?

tigger2 said...

I have carefully noted all my sources in over 160 endnotes and numerous references within the text. I believe they are honest sources. Have you read all 6 parts of this study (and clicked on all the numbered endnotes within the text)?

The beliefs concerning God that the large majority of bishops present at Nicaea (the Semi-Arians) had are explaine3d in the study (Part 3).