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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Note (25.) to "History of the 'Christian' Trinity - HIST"

25. The Apostles' Creed (and other very early creeds) grew out of very early baptismal questions. "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.] 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. (Cf. p. 280, Augustus to Constantine, Robert M. Grant, Harper and 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 can hardly be traced beyond the sixth century". - pp. 33, 208, 1945 ed.

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 that most essential question: `Who is the God you worship?' It is "God the Father Almighty"!

Certainly, if there had been any thought in the Christian community of this city (that over 100 years later would force the teaching of a trinity concept upon the entire church) 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 "God 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 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 were the other required beliefs about Jesus in this question that a candidate must answer 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 deals with the most important belief about the individual who, alone, is the God we must worship.

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

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.

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 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 East (the original home of Judaism and Christianity), however, had a slightly different form. The original eastern creed read as follows:

"`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, Bernard Lohse, Fortress Press, 1985.

Please notice that this "summary of the Christian faith" hundreds of years after the death of Christ affirms one God only: the Father only!

So, just as 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, so does the complete lack of such a suggestion in the baptismal questions about the most important, basic beliefs of a Christian 100 years after the last book of Scripture had been written also show that these early Christians (even in Rome at that time) had no concept of a three-in-one (or even a two-in-one) God!!

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