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Monday, September 14, 2009

HIST - Part 5

The History of the Development of the Trinity Doctrine
(page 5 of 7)  View Entire File

1 It must be made perfectly clear that the original Nicene Creed, as formulated in 325 A. D. and forced upon the Church, did not yet attempt to include the holy spirit as an equal member of a “Godhead.” The Nicene Council was just the first step in the Alexandrian process of making an official trinity for Christendom.

“...the early Church did not forthwith attain to a complete [trinity] doctrine; nor was it, in fact, until after the essential divinity [‘deity’] of Jesus had received full ecclesiastical sanction [325 A.D. or later] that the personality of the Spirit was explicitly recognized, and the doctrine of the Trinity [fully and officially] formulated. .... It is better to regard the spirit as the agency which, proceeding from the Father and the Son, dwells in the church as the witness and power of the life therein.” - Encyclopedia Americana, v. 14, p. 326, 1944-1957 (at least).

2 The Council of Constantinople (381 A. D.) was the first official decree concerning “the personality of the Holy Spirit”. - Cairns, pp. 142, 145, and Encyclopedia Britannica, v. 6, p. 22, 1985 ed..

Famed trinitarian Church historian Neander notes in History of Christian Dogma:

“Though Basil of Caesarea [famed late 4th century trinitarian bishop - one of the ‘Three Cappadocians’ who were instrumental in further developing the trinity doctrine to the final form adopted at the council of Constantinople in 381 A. D. - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 794; and p. 237, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1990 printing] wished to teach the divinity [deity] of the holy spirit in his church, he only ventured to introduce it gradually.”

3 There was a very good reason for the reluctance of the early Christians to accept this new doctrine of the Spirit:

And “In the N[ew] T[estament] there is no direct suggestion of a doctrine of the Trinity. The spirit is conceived as an IMPERSONAL POWER by which God effects his will through Christ.” - An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945, p. 344.[138, 139, 140, 141, 142]

In fact, Gregory of Nazianzus (one of the ‘Three Cappadocians’ whom trinitarian Lohse praises as being essential to the final defeat of the Arians at the Council of Constantinople),

“declared that it was the destiny of his time [381 A. D.] to bring to full clarity the mystery which in the New Testament was only dimly intimated.” - p. 64, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, Fortress Press, 1985.

Trinitarian Gregory also had to admit,

“But of the wise men amongst ourselves [Christians], some have conceived of him [Holy Spirit] as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him, out of reverence for Scripture, they say, as though it did not make the matter clear either way. And therefore they neither worship Him nor treat Him with dishonor, but take up a neutral position, or rather a very miserable one, with respect to Him. And of those who consider Him to be God, some are orthodox in mind only, while others venture to be so with the lips also.” - “The Fifth Theological Oration,” section 5, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series. 

  4 It is important to realize that a Christian must be many things. It is not enough to have all the faith in the world, for instance, and not have real and abundant Christian Love (1 Cor. 13:1-3; James 1:14-17). Nor is sincerity alone (though it is important) a proof of truth. People can, and do, most sincerely believe in the speculations, traditions, and myths of men as being of equal (and even greater) importance to the Bible. The trinitarians at the Nicene Council (and after) clearly took that approach, whereas the Arians attempted to keep Scripture as their ultimate source of doctrine. (Matt. 15:3, 7-9; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 1:3, 4; 2 Tim. 4:3-5)

Likewise, although you must have the true knowledge of God (Jn. 17:1, 3; 2 Thess. 1:8) that is not enough in itself.

5 In other words, although a man may have love, faith, and many other admirable (and essential) Christian qualities, he still may not know God. And, similarly, just because a man may really know and believe the essential and required truth about the Only True God, does not, in itself, make him a Christian unless he also possesses the other required qualities and knowledge. So it is not necessarily true that Hosius, or Athanasius, were wrong in all aspects of Christianity (or conversely, that Arius or Eusebius of Caesarea were right in all aspects of Christianity).

Nevertheless, we must look at their “fruits” as Jesus told us (and as we did for Hosius earlier in this paper) - Matt. 7:16. And if their “fruits” betray them as “false prophets,” we must ask ourselves, to be honest, in what sense they are “false prophets.”

We have seen the rotten fruit that Hosius bore even before the Nicene Council. After that council Hosius violently opposed the Arians and Semi-Arians.

“Hosius presided [at the Council of Sardica], which showed itself so hostile to Arianism, and afterwards he supported Athanasius in such a way as to bring upon himself a sentence of banishment...” - Britannica, 1956, v. 11, p. 790.

Yes, Hosius’ “fruits” were so vile and violent that even though he was Constantine’s favorite (Gibbon, p. 674, vol. 1) and had so much persuasive influence over the emperor that others complained that he must use magic (Gibbon, p. 651, vol. 1), he was nevertheless banished!

6 Athanasius had a violent spirit unlike that of the gentle, scholarly Eusebius of Caesarea and Arius.

“[Arius’] most implacable adversaries have acknowledged the learning and blameless life of the eminent presbyter, who, in a former election, had declined, and perhaps generously declined, his pretension to the episcopal throne.” - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, p. 374, Dell, 1963 ed.

Although he was offered the position, the humble Arius declined to become Bishop of Alexandria, and, instead, Alexander eagerly snatched at and became bishop and started the whole trinitarian debate which finally led to the Council of Nicaea. After that council, when passions had cooled somewhat (at least the Emperor’s had), Arius was recalled from exile (exiled because he had refused to sign the Nicene Creed).

Upon his return “Arius himself was treated by the whole court with the respect which would have been due to an innocent and oppressed man. His faith was approved by the Synod of Jerusalem; and the emperor seemed impatient to repair his injustice, by issuing an absolute command [because of the violent objections of Athanasius and his followers] that he should be solemnly admitted to the communion in the Cathedral of Constantinople. On the same day which had been fixed for the triumph of Arius, he expired; and the strange and horrid circumstances of his death [not to mention the highly improbable timing of this “coincidence”] might excite a suspicion that the orthodox saints [Athanasius, et. al.] had contributed more efficaciously than by their prayers to deliver the [trinitarian] Church from the most formidable of her enemies. The three principal leaders of the Catholics, Athanasius of Alexandria, Eustathius of Antioch, and Paul of Constantinople, were deposed ... and were afterwards banished into distant provinces by [Constantine], who, in the last moments of his life received the rites of baptism from the Arian bishop of Nicomedia.” - Gibbon, pp. 380-381, Dell.

7 Trinitarian Gibbon, who had no sympathy for the “odious” doctrines of Arius, obviously concluded from his studies that someone had poisoned the gentle, humble Arius to prevent him from taking communion and that the probable perpetrators of this terrible deed included the violent Athanasius. Clearly the Emperor believed he had proof of Athanasius’ involvement also. It appears that among the violent “fruits” of Athanasius there literally may have been a poisonous fruit.[143]

"Athanasius argues that God the Father is also God the Son. He says God actually became Jesus despite the fact that, throughout the Gospels, the Son describes himself as being other than the Father and less than Him. He ransacks the New Testament for evidence to support his position, but the only texts he can find are two lines from the Book of John: "I and the Father are one," and "He who has seen me has seen the Father." But it is perfectly clear from the context of these statements that Christ is talking about representing God, not about being him. .... so, although he claims to believe that the New Testament is the word of God, he simply ignores the words that are inconsistent with his theory! In fact, since he cannot find any basis in Scripture for his conception, he and his friends borrow a word from Greek philosophy - homoousios - to express it." - pp. 117-118, When Jesus became God, Harcourt, 1999.

8 Eusebius of Caesarea is generally recognized as not only one of the greatest scholars of the age but also as a truly gentle spirit who genuinely sought peace.[144, 145] It was this love for peace that led him to propose the compromise creed that was rewritten by others into a trinitarian form and forced on the bishops at the Council by Constantine himself. Eusebius’ unhappy decision finally to sign that reworked creed was also a result of his gentle nature and “dislike of controversy.” He later greatly regretted his choice and worked diligently to repair the damage it had done.

9 We have already seen the pagan “fruits” of Constantine. We have also seen that when he finally did become a Christian, he became an Arian Christian.

I’m not entirely certain where all this “fruitage” leads us. It’s even possible that none of these people (nearly 300 years after the death of Jesus) were true Christians.[146] And yet, from what records [mostly trinitarian, of course] we have today of their “fruits,” it is obvious that a real Christian would rather be associated with Arius or Eusebius of Caesarea than Hosius or Athanasius (whether before, after, or during the Council of Nicaea)!

We must also examine the “fruits” of the man who finally restored the power of the Athanasians and their trinitarian Nicene Creed after it appeared as though they were both a lost cause: Theodosius the Great.

“A second great autocrat who presently contributed to the stamping upon Catholic Christianity of a distinctly authoritative character was ... Theodosius the Great (379-395). He forbade the unorthodox to hold meetings, handed over all churches to the Trinitarians."[149]

10 In other words, the Arians (and Semi-Arians), who had been the “orthodox” Church (at least here in the capital city and in the eastern empire) for about 50 years, were now declared “heretics” again, not by the Church but by the Emperor, Theodosius, and their churches were turned over to trinitarian control by the Emperor!

“Theodosius I in 380 issued an edict that made [trinitarian] Christianity the exclusive religion of the state. Any who would dare to hold any other form of worship would suffer punishment from the state."[150]

In 381 A.D. trinitarian Emperor Theodosius

"invited about 150 selected Eastern bishops to come to the capital to take part in the Council of Constantinople. This council plays a critical but somewhat odd role in the history of the Arian controversy. Although the creed it adopted ... is generally considered to have terminated the controversy, attendance at the council was far from universal, it was wracked by bitter internal disputes, and its overall importance was not immediately recognized.

".... Not long after this the advocacy of Arian views (at least of the radical sort) and the possession of Arian writings would become crimes punishable by death." - pp. 222, 223, When Jesus Became God, Harcourt, 1999. (Emphasis added)

And so the persecution of the Jews and various Christian sects (especially Arian and Semi-Arian) reached new heights.

“The Council [of Constantinople] of 381 was called by Theodosius the Great (379-395), and its chief claim to fame is that it terminated the struggle over the Nicene Creed by the approval of a version of it which is in substantial agreement with that adopted at Nicaea (325)."[151]

This council officially established the Holy Spirit as a person equal to the Father and the Son and thereby completed the official acceptance of this pagan doctrine into the Roman Church.

Besides forcing the Church to follow his own will and personal doctrinal preferences, what kind of “fruitage” can we see from Theodosius?

Theodosius [in 390 A. D.] had gathered the people of Thessalonica [at least 7000 men, women, and children], whose governor had been slain, into the circus in that city and had ordered their massacre.” - p. 156, Cairns

11 In an incident highly similar to that perpetrated by Hitler (another professed “Christian” world leader) in WWII, the Christian citizens were ordered massacred by the absolute ruler of the Empire. The “orthodox” trinitarian Church, however, sternly “disciplined” him:

“When he came to Church to take the Communion, [Bishop] Ambrose refused him admission to the Lord’s Supper until he humbly and publicly repented of this deed."[152, 153, 154]

WOW! I guess that really taught him a lesson, huh?

12 To show the degree to which the political state had come to control “orthodox” Christendom it is significant that this “terrible” penance “enforced” upon the Emperor Theodosius is “regarded by the Church as one of its greatest victories over the temporal power."[155]

I think we can clearly see the “fruits” of the man (Theodosius “the Atrocious” is a more apt title) who single-handedly (and permanently) restored the Athanasians and restored (and completed) their Alexandrian trinity doctrine to the “mother” Church (and, ultimately, to all the many churches or “daughters” that sprang from her).

We can also see that to a large degree the state had become the master of the Church. (“You cannot serve two masters” - Matt. 6:24, Ro. 6:16, Acts 5:29.) Remember who controls and manipulates the governments of the world! - Luke 4:5-6; 2 Cor. 4:4; John 18:36.

Isn’t it extremely significant that it was the state that first forced the Trinity Doctrine on a reluctant church in 325 A.D.? And it was the state that permanently restored that doctrine to the church when it had nearly died out? -

“We know that we are children of God and that all the rest of the world around us is under Satan’s power and control.” - 1 John 5:19, LB.

13 But even with the great power of the Roman Empire dominating the Church and the dire consequences of being branded “heretical” (non-trinitarian) by that power, most Christians resisted the new official “knowledge of God,” and it remained for the great trinitarian “scholars” and “saints” to promote the trinity doctrine among the people to cement it in both mind and heart.

Of the great “saints” who finally ingrained this pagan-inspired doctrine from within (as compared to the external forces from the Emperor and pagan philosophies) the three “greatest” and most influential were Athanasius, Augustine, and Cyril of Alexandria.[156]

14 So what were the “fruits” of Cyril of Alexandria? Besides being a very active promoter of heresy (“he was a zealous advocate of veneration of the Virgin Mary” - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 214),

“... he was patriarch of Alexandria from 412, when he succeeded his uncle Theophilus in that station, till his death [June 444 A. D.]. .... so intemperate was his zeal for orthodoxy and for the extermination of dissent from the Creed of Nicaea ... that it has brought down the animadversion [censure] of some modern Church historians .... Among modern Protestant writers Dean Milman in his History of Latin Christianity presses against him charges of barbarity, persecution and bloodshed, on account of which Cyril, though styled saint, must be esteemed ‘one of the worst heretics against the spirit of the gospel.’ He is charged with ... having with an armed rabble wrecked the synagogues and driven Jews in thousands out of the city.” - Encyclopedia Americana, v. 8, pp. 371-372, 1944.

“Often in open conflict with the civil authorities of the city and province, he may be held responsible, at least indirectly, for riots and even massacres in the city, including Jewish pogroms and persecutions of the heathen and schismatics [various Christian sects including non-trinitarians].” - Encyclopedia Americana, v. 8, p. 371, 1957.

“A nephew of the same Theophilus who had brought about the exile of John Chrysostom, Cyril had succeeded his uncle as bishop in 412 and shared not only Theophilus’s jealousy of the church of Constantinople, but also the lack of scruple in the pursuit of power which had marked the patriarchs of Alexandria since Athanasius.”

“... Cyril of Alexandria, the most powerful Christian theologian in the world, murdered Hypatia, the most famous Greco-Roman philosopher of the time. Hypatia was slaughtered like an animal in the church of Caesarion .... Cyril may not have been among the gang that pulled Hypatia from her chariot, tearing off her clothes and slashing her with shards of broken tiles, but her murder was surely done under his authority and with his approval. .... Cyril’s fame arose mainly from his assaults on other church leaders, and his methods were often brutal and dishonest. - p. 19, Bible Review, Feb. 1997.

15 But such was the “spirit” of the Roman Church in those days that throughout the 32 years that he promoted the murder and persecution of Christians, Jews, and pagans he retained his high office in that Church and, in fact, later even became canonized as a “saint” and even, in 1882, received the highest accolade by being declared a “Doctor of the Church.” Only “saints” may receive this high honor because of their learning and “holiness of life”! Throughout the long history of the Roman Church only 32 “saints” have been so honored! - The Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 170, 1976 ed.; Collier’s Encyclopedia, p. 612, v. 7, 1975 ed.

As we have seen already in this study, the highest authority among the “saints” and “Doctors” of the Church, Augustine, was one of the greatest borrowers from paganism and pagan philosophy.[76, 77, 78] Augustine became, by far, the most influential interpreter and defender of the newly adopted trinity doctrine.

“Augustine, St. (354-430), .... his teaching has been a dominant influence in subsequent Christian thought.” And “Augustine’s philosophy is Neoplatonic in inspiration. He had fallen under the spell of Plotinus prior to his conversion, and certain permanent elements in his thought ... must be attributed to Plotinus’ influence.” - Encyclopedia International, p. 194, v. 2, 1966 ed.

“Augustine, who was born and lived in North Africa [very much Alexandria-influenced], was not a clear and systematic philosopher [he frequently contradicted his own writings]; but he was a writer of genius, essentially modern in spirit, trying to find the philosophical foundations of a personal faith in an analysis of his own consciousness; he was deeply influenced by Neo-Platonism.” - Encyclopedia Americana, p. 779, v. 21, 1957 ed.

16 It is noteworthy that Augustine (like Hosius) supported the “forbidding of marriage” (or celibacy) rule. Also “He helped to develop the [pagan-originated] doctrine of purgatory with all its attendant evils."[157]

“In the writings of Augustine ... there is a recognition that theology can draw on all three sources: philosophy, Scripture, and tradition.” [But when Augustine actually, on occasion, “draws on” Scripture, notice how he uses it:] “Augustine’s acceptance of the allegorical interpretation of Scripture meant that the latter could be treated with a certain measure of freedom.” - p. 79, Encyclopedia International, Grolier, Inc., vol. 18, 1966 ed.

(See trinitarian Church historian Cairns’ comment on “the allegorical system of interpretation” developed in Alexandria which “resulted in absurd and, often, unscriptural theological ideas.” - pp. 119-120, Christianity Through the Centuries, 1977 ed.)

How much Augustine was devoted to the authority (and traditions) and its already established doctrines of the 5th century Roman Church over and above the actual inspired scriptures can be shown by this statement from his writings,

“I should not believe the Gospel, did not the authority of the Catholic Church move me thereto."[158]

17 So the fact that the “mother” Church had declared (as “encouraged” by Emperor Constantine) the new doctrine that Jesus is equally God with the Father to be true in 325 A.D. (and reaffirmed it, with the addition of the Holy Spirit, in 381 through the “encouragement” of Emperor Theodosios) was enough for Augustine! No other proof was necessary for him no matter what the scriptures might say! And so this Neo-Platonist “Christian” writer of genius became the greatest authority of the Roman Church in defense (and promotion of) its newly-established trinitarian doctrine.

The Nicene Council itself has been shown to be in complete opposition to the Spirit of God.

“The adoption of a non-Biblical phrase at Nicaea, constituted a landmark in the growth of dogma; it is true [say the ‘orthodox’], since the Church - the Universal Church speaking by its bishops [a tiny minority, as we have seen, who, through a pagan emperor, forced their will upon the majority of bishops] - says so; though the Bible does not!” - Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., v. 7, pp. 501-502.

It is also generally recognized that the Council of Nicaea led directly to many non-Biblical “fruits” such as the doctrine of “veneration” for “Mary, the Mother of God,” the “Queen of Heaven,” “more prayed to than Christ himself."[147, 148] An Encyclopedia of Religion, for example, tells us that the “veneration” of Mary “The Mediatrix” derived “from the church’s desire to safeguard the orthodox doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ [established, of course, at the Nicene Council] and to maintain a human mediator before the Godhead, as well as from pagan goddess-worship [Isis and other Mother Goddesses].” - pp. 473, 814.

18 And, of course, as we have already seen (McCollister), a declaration of the scripture-denying celibacy (marriage-forbidding) doctrine was one of the “fruits” of the Nicene Council of 325 A. D. and clearly shows how “pleasing” to God this highly esteemed (by trinitarians) Council really is! People enforcing such a thing are clearly identified in the Bible as those who “abandon the faith”:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons [paganisms].” - 1 Tim. 4:1, NIV

And how can we identify such God-defying apostates? Among other things which are “taught by demons” they “forbid people to marry...” - 1 Tim 4:1, 3, NIV.

Author and historian H. G. Wells was not so subtle in his criticism of the Nicene Council:

“the Council of Nicaea, which ... formulated the 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.” - God, The Invisible King.

19 Wells is referring, among other things, to the trinitarians’ hateful treatment of the Arians and Semi-Arians during the council (and through its decrees). The trinitarians in this very council were the first to give pagan, non-Biblical terms and concepts critical importance, the first to formally, officially curse their brother Christians, and have them actively and severely persecuted.[148]

Wells went on to say:

“The systematic destruction by the [Western church trinitarians] of all [opposing Arian and Semi-Arian] writings, had about it none of that quality of honest conviction which comes to those who have a real knowledge of God ...."[159]

Trinitarian Robert M. Grant writes:

“The books of Arius ... were to be burned; the discovery of such writings if concealed was to result in the application of the death penalty.” - p. 243, Augustus to Constantine, Harper and Row, 1990.

Constantine (and the triumphant, hate-ridden western bishops) even made sure that the canons of the Nicene Council would elevate Alexandria, which, as we have seen, already had great influence over the western church, to a position of control over the eastern church.

“The [Nicene] council ... granted papal authority in the east to the Bishop of Alexandria.” - p. 6149, vol. 17, The Universal Standard Encyclopedia (An abridgment of The New Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia), 1956 ed.

20 A final observation concerning the Nicene Council has to do with an event that may (or may not) indicate a higher judgment. We know that, upon occasions of great significance in the relationship of mankind with its God, God has shown approval or condemnation through acts often considered to be “acts of God” or “acts of nature.” For example,

“The earthquake was figurative of divine judgment.” - New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., Tyndale House Publ., 1982.

The earthquake that hit Jerusalem when Jesus was killed (Matt. 27:51, 54) was obviously a sign of God’s displeasure with the unfaithfulness of His people. And Rev. 6:12-17 shows the great day of wrath of God and of the Lamb will begin with a “great earthquake."

Why would God bring destruction upon a land or a city that claims to be worshiping Him?

“Even all the nations shall say, ‘Wherefore hath Jehovah done thus unto this land? What meaneth the heat of this great anger?’ Then men shall say, ‘because they forsook the covenant of Jehovah, the God of their fathers ... and went and served other gods, and worshipped them [along with Jehovah], gods ... that he had not given unto them.” - Deut. 29:24-26, ASV. (Compare Matt. 7:21-23.)

“I will also stretch out My hand on Judah, and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. …. those who bowing, swearing to Jehovah yet [also] swearing to Malcham [Molech], and those drawing back from [following] after Jehovah, and those who have not sought Jehovah, nor asked of Him.” - Zephaniah 1:4-6, KJIIV. [The footnote for verse 1:5 in NIVSB reads: “swear by the LORD ... by Molech. Syncretism (worship of one's own god along with other gods).”]

21 As for the fate of the city where a church claiming to serve the God of the Bible (Jehovah - Psalm 83:18, KJV; Ex. 3:15, NEB; ASV; Living Bible; MLB; Young’s; etc.) first began to proclaim that God was three persons (“gods ... that he had not given unto them” to worship equally with Him!): there was barely enough time for the bishops and their retinues to leave the area and for Constantine to declare his decision as “the judgment of God”
before Nicaea was completely destroyed by an earthquake![160]

“Constantine declared that ‘the decision of 300 bishops [at Nicaea] must be considered none other than the judgment of God.’ The judgment of God was perhaps more obvious later in the same year when an earthquake toppled the city.” - p. 87, Safari for Seven, Thea B. Van Halsema, Baker Book House, 1967.

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