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Friday, May 27, 2011

Note (88.) to "History of the 'Christian' Trinity - HIST"

88. The very trinitarian New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publ., 1982, p. 1222, admits:

“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....” It further admits that “scripture does not give us a formulated doctrine of the Trinity”, but that “theology has constructed the doctrine.” And, “the necessity to formulate the doctrine was thrust upon the church by forces from without.”

But even these three pagan-influenced church writers (who are usually blamed for introducing the elements of the trinity doctrine) taught that Jesus Christ is not equally God (which denies the “essential belief” of the trinity doctrine for 99% of Christendom today)! - See note #26 (Irenaeus); note #85 (Tertullian), and the CREEDS study. And Origen also believed that the Son was not God nor equal to God, but a person who was subordinate to and lesser than God. He wrote: “compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.” - quoted in Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 7.

Origen also wrote: “The agent of redemption as of all creation is the Divine Logos or Son of God, who is the perfect image or reflection of the eternal Father though a being distinct, derivative, and subordinate.” - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 551. Origen believed that “the Son can be divine only in a lesser sense than the Father; the Son is theos (god), but only the Father is autotheos (absolute God, God in himself).” - p. 1009, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. F. L. Cross, Oxford University Press, 1990 printing. [Trinitarian Murray J. Harris likewise writes: “Origen, too, drew a sharp distinction between [theos] and ho theos. As theos, the Son is not only distinct from (‘numerically distinct’) but also inferior to the Father who is ho theos and autotheos (i.e. God in an absolute sense). - p. 36, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.] And trinitarian Latourette admits that “Origen held that God is one, and is the Father” - p. 49, Christianity Through the Ages, Harper ChapelBook, 1965.

“It was possible, for instance, for Origen to say 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, by respected trinitarian (Lutheran?) Professor of Church History, Bernard Lohse, 1985, Fortress Press. 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 later developed the “orthodox” trinity doctrine apparently meant merely a unity of will for Origen.[15] One example of this can be found in Origen De Principiis, Book IV, ch. 1, v. 36: “Everyone who participates in anything, is unquestionably of one essence and nature with him who is a partaker of the same thing. For example, as all eyes participate in the light, so accordingly all eyes which partake of the light are of one nature.” - p. 381, vol. 4, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans Publ., 1989 printing. (“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, Fortress Press, 1985. Obviously homoousios, as it was used by Heracleon, did not have the same meaning as later trinitarians made it seem.)

Apparently even as early as 268 A.D. this term had begun to have different meanings for a few 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 very same Council or Synod of 268 A.D. also excommunicated Paul of Samosata! - 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 of Antioch 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 new teaching!). At any rate, it is certainly significant that this council so strongly condemned the concept that the Logos was homoousios in any new literal sense with God as late as 268 A.D.!

And as for Origen’s development of the “Eternal Generation” of the Son - it is true that Origen used the term, but it is apparent that it did not mean to him what those later trinitarians used it to mean. 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 considered all creation as ‘eternally generated.’

“Did this mean, though, that Logos and world, since each in its different way is coeval [’of the same age or duration’] with God, are therefore equally primordial with 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. - See OBGOD study (f. n. #4).

Origen was,

“the greatest and most influential Christian thinker of his age” and, “in the Arian controversy ... one side espoused Origen’s subordinationism, and the other, his idea of the eternal generation of the Logos, while neither seems to have understood what these notions meant in Origen’s system.” - pp. 89, 93, Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, Scribners, 4th ed.

It is ironic that Origen (and the other very early Christian writers) have been “credited” with the beginning of the development of the trinity doctrine. It is clear that he had no such concept, and, in fact, clearly taught that the Word (Logos), Jesus, was separate from, inferior to, and created by God!

The same holds true for the renowned first century A.D. Jewish scholar, Philo. He, too, clearly taught that God was a single person only, the Father and that the Word (Logos) was an angel (or ‘a god’), intermediary between God and man. And yet their teachings have been distorted by early “Christian” philosophers into a trinity-supporting teaching! - See CREEDS and LOGOS studies.

“... it is the influence of Philo’s theological and philosophical model (mediated through Clement and Origen to the bishops who met at the great councils), combined with the very speculative allegorical interpretation of scripture under the influence of Neoplatonism (typical of the outlook in Alexandria), that explains the theological move of the councils from a Jesus who was filled with the Logos to a Christ who was the being [essence] of God.” - J. Harold Ellens, p. 28, Bible Review, Feb. 1997.

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