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The Origin of the Trinity

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by dan, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Where do you think the Trinity comes from? Consider the theology of the earliest Fathers:

    Clement

    Clement represents some seeds of trinitarian thought, but can't really be called a trinitarian. Observe an oath and a question: "As God lives, and the Lord Jesus Christ lives, and the Holy Spirit;" "have we not one God, and one Christ, and one Spirit of grace poured upon us?" He sees Christ as the "instrument" through which God exercises His sovereignty - the "sceptre of majesty" - the one who spoke through the Spirit in the Psalms, and the way by which we have found salvation; but Clement never addresses the relationship of the three with each other. He tells us to think of Jesus Christ "as of God". We know the "Father of truth" through him. Clement's most telling expression concerning the relationship of the Father to the Son is this: "being first of all spirit, Christ the Lord, Who saved us, became flesh and so called us."

    Barnabas

    Christ's body is the "vessel of the Spirit" according to Barnabas, but Christ's preexistence is the focal point of his work. It was Christ that cooperated with God in the Creation. "Let us make man in our image" is addressed to Christ. He received His mandates from the Father before the incarnation and it was He that spoke with Moses. Of Christ' glory he says that "all things are in Him, and unto Him." No explanation of their unique relationship.

    Ignatius

    Here we see a little more Trinitarianism. Ignatius declares that "there is one God, Who has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, Who is His Word emerging from silence." According to Ignatius, Christ is the Father's "thought" (gnoma, gnwmh)
    and God incarnate. The problem lies in his idea that the divine Sonship begins with the incarnation. It's a hard statement to reconcile with his other ideas of the independence of the Son prior to His birth, but it can probably be attributed to his wanting to avoid all appearance of polytheism. While it can hardly be said that Ignatius teaches the Son began to exist separate from the Father, the only hint we have as to the nature of the Father/Son relationship in the divine Spirit is that Christ was the Father's "thought." No clear indication of Trinitarian teaching, but a clear determination not to compromise his monotheism.

    Hermas

    Hermas is a different story altogether. Hermas never even mentions the name of Jesus and when he refers to the Son of God it is the SPirit that he refers to, assigning the position of "servant" to Christ. He gets promoted to "partner" with the Holy Spirit as a result of His cooperative nature. The preexistent Son of God is later identified by Hermas with the Spirit in a Similitude, describing the Church as a tower. The Spirit is He who accompanied the Father in the Creation, and is now revealed to us. Before the incarnation, apparently, the only players are God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Michael is the one apparently embodying the premortal Messiah.

    Justin

    According to the Martyr, reason is what united men to God and gave them knowledge of Him. According to Justin, Pagans that lived "with reason" were, in a sense, Christian before Christianity. "Before all creatures God begat, in the beginning, a rational power out of himself." This reason is a gift of God, and with the birth of Christ this reason was manifested incarnate. Justin compares Him to the light of the sun, completely independent, but completely inseparable. He and Tatian argued that the Son was like a fire kindled from another, involving a "distibution, but no severance."

    Theopilus

    Theophilus felt much the same way, but here the babbling starts to lose meaning. "God having His Word immanent in His bowels, engendered Him along with His Wisdom, emitting Him before the universe. He is not the Son in the sense in which poets and romancers relate the birth of of sons to gods, but rather in the sense in which the truthspeaks of the Word as eternally immanent in God's bosom."

    All of these teachings share common chords that don't agree with post-Nicene theology. They only distinguish the Son from the Father when He is created as an assistant for creation, and they greatly subordinated the Son to the Father. Justin calls him a "second God in a secondary rank." This is seen (by some) not so much as a subordination, but as a protection of the monotheistic views that must be safeguarded above all else.

    In later years, with Iranaeus and others, the definitions were honed and polished until they could stand up to the neo-Platonic scrutiny that would shape the church through Augustine and Aquinas and on.

    To me these men took upon themselves the task of defining for the philosophical world a God that would fit inside the parameters they themselves had established. To simplify it, they were all given criteria (i.e. montheism, the scriptures, natural law) and told to create a God that can fit inside all of it and still fill all creation. I don't see any revelation or authority in the process. I see men trying to think of a way to make it all work. I'll continue later with the arguments of the 3rd and 4th centuries, when the bickering got really bad.
     
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  2. Cordoba

    Cordoba Well-Known Member

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    That's a good question, Dan.

    I would like to add:

    Did Jesus, peace be upon him, ever mention the word trinity?
     
  3. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Not that I know of, He made allusions that He and the Father were one, but my own personal belief is that He was one in purpose with the Father.
     
  4. Cordoba

    Cordoba Well-Known Member

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    Hello Becky:

    Do you think "allusions" are enough on such an important issue, especially when they are misunderstood by those who came many years after him?
     
  5. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I believe Jesus had nothing to do with this mysterious metaphysical nightmare. I believe they misinterpreted the term "one" and searched for years for a way to validate it to skeptics in the philosophic community. They were trying to gain real estate in the Greek community this whole time, after all.
     
  6. Super Universe

    Super Universe Defender of God

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    The bible tricks us into believing that the universe is a very simple place and that the only spirits are God, the Holy Spirit, the Son, and some angels.

    And supposedly that's it other than a few mysterious references to the Melchizedeks, Nephilim, and the Elohim.

    But there are many, many, beings involved in running the universe, many millions. At the center is God/Holy Spirit/Eternal Son trinity. Then there are seven archtypes of God, one each over the seven separate universes.

    Of the other millions maybe half of them are of some order of created being (Sons of God, angels) that perform certain specific tasks (universal court judges, aids to Sons of God, messengers, transporters, energy monitors...) the rest are ascended beings who came from mortal existance to do universal work (geneticists, recorders, teachers, mentors...).

    Did you really think everything was on automatic?
     
  7. Cordoba

    Cordoba Well-Known Member

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    The Creator is One.

    Angels, prophets, mankind ... etc are all God's creation.

    He is The First without a begining, The Last without an end.

    He is The Eternal Creator.

    There is to Him no equivalent.

    "He neither begets, nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent." (The Qur'an, 112:3-4)

    This is the same teaching of Monotheism of all of God's Prophets (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad), peace be upon them all.
     
  8. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Extracts from: http://www.letusreason.org/Trin13.htm

    Emperor Constantine's Nicene council is usually pointed to as the source for the doctrine of the Trinity, yet the Trinity was present in the church long before Constantine. The idea that the doctrine of the Trinity is of a pagan source from the Emperor Constantine is wrong.
    ...................................................................................................
    The term Trinitas was popularized by Tertullian almost 100 years before the Nicene council in his debate against Praxeas. However, he was not the first to use the term, a man Theophilus Bishop of Antioch in 160 was the first to use the term (that we have in writing), many years before in his epistle to Autolycus The 2nd,xv..We can assume it was used prior to Theophilus and was held as a common church belief with the many quotes that are left to us in history by the early church pastors. Athenagoras representing the whole Churches belief wrote, that, "they hold the Father to be God, and the Son God, and the Holy Spirit, and declare their union and their distinction in order."(A plea for the Christians.10.3) The term was used to simply describe the three that simultaneously exist as the one God. A man named Praxeas promoted what is called Monarchianism, which held a strict form of monotheistic progression. That the Father became the Son, and the Son became the Spirit.

    This is what is called modalism in it's simplest form, What is better termed Oneness today. Despite the accusation's of the Church inventing and promoting the Trinity. We find the Church in Rome and elsewhere falling prey to numerous heresies that they tried to keep out.
    ..................................................................................................
    It was around the year 318 that attention was focused on a man named 'Arius who began teaching in opposition to bishop Alexander located in Alexandria Egypt. Arius wrote to his friend Eusebius Bishop of Nicodemia, "…how grievously the bishop attacks and persecutes us , and comes full tilt against us, so that he drives us from the city as atheists, because we do not concur with him when he publicly preaches, ’God always, the Son always; at the same time the Father, at the same time the Son; the Son co-exists with God, unbegotten; he is ever begotten, he is not born by begetting; neither by thought nor by any moment in time does God precede the Son; God always, Son Always, the Son exists from God himself’…."And before he was begotten or created or appointed or established, he did not exist; for he was not unbegotten. We are persecuted because we say the Son had a beginning, but God is without beginning" (letter to Eusibius 321 AD Theodoret. Bishop of Cyrus 423-458 H.E.I.v)
     
  9. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    The word Trinity may appear in Theophilus' writings, but the doctrine established at Nicea is not the same Trinity. I never said the Nicene council was the source of the pagan attributes of the trinity. It was neo-Platonized long before that.
     
  10. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Not at all, IMO.
     
  11. joeboonda

    joeboonda Well-Known Member

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  12. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Joeboonda, this is a little more then a biased website


    Found that within the first three sentences. You'd actually be suprised how many of us 'anti-trinitarians' have had a good, ture, factual and deep presentation of Christianity. From observation, this site is telling what religions and ideas are wrong, instead of focusing on their own doctrine.
     
  13. joeboonda

    joeboonda Well-Known Member

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  14. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Joe, Joe, Joe, you always try to sneak that little bit of anti-not-your-belief in their don't you?

    I found the first page to be fine and answer the question with suprising coherency, but alas, when I reached the bottom of the second page, look what I found

    And by following the link that leads me to a page entitled "Mormonism-Is it Christian?" Personally, these sites are full of bias, the first one was the only one that had no appeareance of bias, but since the first and second come from the same place, it's a biased site. How about go with something called Wikipedia or Encylopedia Britannica? Those are extremley non-biased.
     
  15. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    So your doctrine is that Mormonism is wrong and evil and not Christian then? :rolleyes:
     
  16. joeboonda

    joeboonda Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, Becky, I did not see that. I was just trying to find some sources that explained my beliefs in the Trinity. I guess most 'mainline' sites do have differences with Mormon theology, I was not trying to go there, BELIEVE ME!!!!!!!! I don't even want to discuss ANYTHING that is LDS, period. Or I be banned. So, sorry, if that was there, I was making the link about the Trinity, that is all.
     
  17. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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  18. joeboonda

    joeboonda Well-Known Member

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    No, I highly respect Mormons and I have been forbidden to post anything contrarywise on this forum.
     
  19. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Okay, Forgive me then, I was being a bit harsh, but since the site you usually post are like that, and then you get into how we aren't Christians, it's a bit hard to not go into it.

    Sorry.:cover:
     
  20. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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