108. "The [trinitarians] under the leadership of Athanasius fought for the dogma of the divinity [absolute deity] of the Son (Logos) with the conviction that in it the very essence of the Christian faith was expressed. It must be noted, however, that in attributing divinity [absolute deity] to Jesus Christ, they proceeded on the basis of the question what he must have been in view of their doctrine of salvation and not what the Gospels described him as having been. The same abstract and artificial approach ... was also that of the controversy which followed almost immediately...." - p. 166, An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945.
Yes, Athanasius and his followers believed Jesus was God simply because they needed him to be God in order to satisfy their own non-scriptural concepts which were based on Neo-Platonic philosophy and paganistic Egyptian traditions:
"Intellectually, Athanasius was a Platonist like Basil ['the Great'], but he was also a populist, as much in sympathy with the ideas of Coptic monks as he was with those of his fellow Alexandrians. He tended, like the monks, to see salvation in terms of salvation from death and destruction by demonic powers, and as his Life of Antony shows, these were stark realities [terrors] to him. The abyss and the river of fire that the soul must cross were as vivid in Egyptian [including, of course, Alexandrian] Christian conscience as similar terrors had been to the beholders of the [ancient pagan Egyptian] Book of the Dead in the tombs of a former age. Heaven, therefore, could be gained only by a soul infused with the power of Christ, and that of necessity must be divine power. Nothing less than God could save." - p. 633, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), Fortress Press, 1989 printing.
Most Christians today would quickly acknowledge the Mormon [LDS] doctrine of 'man becoming God' ("as God is, man may become" - The Gospel Through the Ages, Hunter, pp. 105, 106, Salt Lake City, 1945-1946) as a clearly non-scriptural false doctrine. However, this is said to be the very doctrine that Athanasius and his trinitarian followers desperately wanted to be true. Athanasius wrote and taught: "He [Christ] was made man that we might be made God." - p. 13, Christianity Through the Ages, 1965, Latourette (trinitarian), Harper ChapelBooks (Harper and Row).
So Athanasius (and his few but highly influential trinitarian followers) believed he not only needed a Savior who was God in order to sufficiently combat the terrible demonic powers that would otherwise surely bring about the hideous, unthinkable destiny of men, but, even more importantly, if men were to "become God" as he is said above to have falsely believed, surely the only one able to save them and be King over them would, himself, also have to be God. Hence, the desperate, never-ending drive to promote a false doctrine making Jesus equally God was in turn based on other false and unscriptural doctrines!
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