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Trinity between Religion and History

Trinity between Religion and History

Trinity

Trinity is a false creed and Trinitarians are seen as polytheists and disbelievers.

Needless to say, trinity is one of the most controversial creeds, over which the three divine religions disagree. It is ironic that even Christians themselves did, do and will continue to differ about such a creed.

According to Judaism, the belief that Jesus is God, the son of God, or a person of the Trinity, is incompatible with Jewish philosophical tenets. The same applies to belief in Jesus as the Messiah or a prophet of God: those beliefs are also contrary to traditional Jewish views. The idea of the Jewish Messiah is different from the Christian Christ because Jews believe Jesus did not fulfill Jewish Messianic prophecies that establish the criteria for the coming of the Messiah. Authoritative texts of Judaism reject Jesus as God, Divine Being, intermediary between humans and God, Messiah or even saint. The belief in the Trinity is also held to be incompatible with Judaism, as are a number of other tenets of Christianity.1

In Judaism, the idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical — it is even considered polytheistic by some rabbis. According to Judaic beliefs, the Torah rules out a trinitarian God in Deuteronomy (6:4): “Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

On the other hand, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”.2

According to this central mystery of most Christian faiths, there is only one God in three persons: while distinct from one another in their relations of origin (as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, “it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds”) and in their relations with one another, they are stated to be one in all else, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and “each is God, whole and entire”.3 Accordingly, the whole work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons, in which each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are “from the Father”, “through the Son” and “in the Holy Spirit”.4

In the synoptic Gospels, the baptism of Jesus is often interpreted as a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: “And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” [Mt 3:16–17] Baptism is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” [Mt 28:19]

According to Islam, trinity is a false creed and Trinitarians are seen as polytheists and disbelievers. Allah says in the Qur’an:

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. Never would the Messiah disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor would the angels near [to Him]. And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant – He will gather them to Himself all together. (An-Nisaa’ 4:171-172)

Allah also says:

They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘Allah is the third of three.’ And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. (Al-Ma’idah 5:73)

Trinity: Historical Background

Scripture does not expressly contain a formulated doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine did not take its definitive shape until late in the fourth century.5 During the intervening period, various tentative solutions, some more and some less satisfactory were proposed.6 Trinitarianism contrasts with non-trinitarian positions which include Binitarianism (one deity in two persons, or two deities), Unitarianism (one deity in one person, analogous to Jewish interpretation of the Shema and Muslim belief in Tawhid), Oneness Pentecostalism or Modalism (one deity manifested in three separate aspects).

The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (although not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch in about 170. He wrote:7

In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man.8

Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited as being the first to use the Latin words “Trinity”,9 “person” and “substance”10 to explain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “one in essence—not one in Person”.11

The first of the early church fathers to be recorded using the word “Trinity” was Theophilus of Antioch writing in the late 2nd century. He defines the Trinity as God, His Word (Logos) and His Wisdom (Sophia)12 in the context of a discussion of the first three days of creation. The first defense of the doctrine of the Trinity was in the early 3rd century by the early church father Tertullian. He explicitly defined the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and defended the Trinitarian theology against the “Praxean” heresy.13

Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds,14 or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs,145 all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies, however, were great and many, and took some centuries to be resolved.

In 325, the Council of Nicaea adopted the Nicene Creed which described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”. The creed used the term homoousios (of one substance) to define the relationship between the Father and the Son. After more than fifty years of debate, homoousios was recognized as the hallmark of orthodoxy, and was further developed into the formula of “three persons, one being”.

Athanasius, who was present at the Council as one of the Bishop of Alexandria’s assistants, stated that the bishops were forced to use this terminology, which is not found in Scripture, because the biblical phrases that they would have preferred to use were claimed by the Arians to be capable of being interpreted in what the bishops considered to be a heretical sense.16

The Confession of the Council of Nicaea said little about the Holy Spirit.17 The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life.18 He defended and refined the Nicene formula.19 By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.20

Footnotes:

1 Rabbi Shraga Simmons, “Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus”. Retrieved 2006-03-14., “Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus”, Ohr Samayach – Ask the Rabbi, accessed March 14, 2006; “Why don’t Jews believe that Jesus was the messiah?”, AskMoses.com, accessed March 14, 2006.
2 Definition of the Fourth Lateran Council quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 253
3 Coppens, Charles, S.J. (1903). A Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion. St. Louis: B. HERDER.
4 “Catechism of the Catholic Church, 253-267: The dogma of the Holy Trinity”.
5 McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction Blackwell, Oxford (2001) p.324
6 Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines A & G Black (1965) p. 88
7 Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, II.XV (retrieved on 19 December 2006).
8 W.Fulton in the “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics”
9 Aboud, Ibrahim (Fall 2005). Theandros an online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy. 3, number 1.
10 “Against Praxeas, chapter 3”. Ccel.org. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
11 Against Praxeas, chapter 2 and in other chapters
12 History of the Doctrine of the Trinity. Accessed 15 September 2007.
13 Theophilus, Apologia ad Autolycum, Book II, Chapter 15
14 Tertullian Against Praxeas
15 Bingham, Jeffrey, “HT200 Class Notes”, Dallas Theological Seminary, (2004).
16 The Encyclopedia Americana (1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L
17 Nouveau Dictionnaire Universel (Paris, 1865–1870), Vol. 2, p. 1467.
18 “Athanasius: De Decretis or Defence of the Nicene Definition, Introduction, 19”. Tertullian.org. 6 August 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
19 “Trinity”. Britannica Encyclopaedia of World Religions. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
20 On Athanasius, Oxford Classical Dictionary, Edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. Third edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
21 “Trinity”. Britannica Encyclopaedia of World Religions. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
22 “Trinity”. Britannica Encyclopaedia of World Religions. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.

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History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)

By Editorial Staff

Controversy rages between Christians and non-Christians, including Muslims and the followers of the other faiths, and among Christians themselves over the issues of monotheism and the Trinity.

Monotheism

The Holy Trinity never existed in Jesus’ lifetime

Though the Trinity has become a prevalent Christian doctrine recently and the monotheists have become a minority compared to the other Christian denominations, history tells us that the doctrine of the Trinity was not the prevalent Christian doctrine in the past, but it was rather such a doctrine which found favor with the idolatrous Roman Empire which newly converted to Christianity.

Pure monotheism had been and remained the very basis of the Christian creed until it was overshadowed by the doctrine of the Trinity which was supported by the idolatrous authority. However, monotheism continued to exist and be professed by considerable fellowship until Prophet Muhammad came up with the final monotheistic message of Islam and asserted monotheism as the doctrine explicitly preached by Jesus, and disowned all forms of Trinity, polytheism, and paganism which were introduced into the genuine Christian faith.

Therefore, monotheistic Christians embraced Islam for they found out that it is exactly identical to the previous divine messages of both Moses and Jesus as well as the revelations sent down to them.

Monotheism during Jesus’ Prophetic Mission

The Qur’an often harmonizes with the Bible, especially the New Testament, over the reported statements and acts of Jesus, as well as the incidents which took place, the quotations which were cited and the controversy which broke out during the period of time Jesus was sent.

The Qur’an tells us that the disciples believed in God as the Deity, as well as in the revelation He sent down and in Jesus as the prophet and messenger of God. For example, God says:

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] God?” The disciples said,” We are supporters for God. We have believed in God and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].

Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger [Jesus], so register us among the witnesses [to truth].”(Aal `Imran 3:52-53)

God also says:

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger [Jesus].” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to God].” (Al-Ma’idah 5:111)

The verses of the New Testament concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard. Jesus is unequivocally described as “God’s messenger” in the New Testament. We read: “And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” (Hebrews 3:1-2)

The Qur’an quotes Jesus as asserting that God is his lord and God and as commanding the worship of God alone. For example, we read:

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “God is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with God – God has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

The verses of the New Testament also concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard. There are several positions in the New Testament quoting Jesus as asserting that God is his God and as commanding the worship of God alone.

For example, in the New Testament, we read: Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

We also read: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

We further read: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

According to the above verses from the Qur’an and the Bible, it becomes crystal clear that Jesus admitted that God is his God and he commanded His worship and that the followers of Jesus believed in God as the Lord and the Deity and in Jesus as a prophet and messenger of God.

That is the pure monotheism which Muslims have professed up to date. That is to say, the message of Jesus was preaching monotheism like all other messages conveyed by all other prophets and messengers of God.

Ascension of Jesus & Its Impact on Monotheism

Someone may wonder: Where have the divinity and worship of Jesus along with God come from? Where has the alleged Trinity come from? What are its historical origins?

It is quite safe to say that the Ascension of Jesus was not less controversial than his miraculous birth. Just as people disagreed over his birth, they also disagreed over his Ascension. The verses of both the Qur’an and the Bible indicate how considerable and bitter was the controversy over the Ascension of Jesus and consequently his very nature.

For example, in the Qur’an, we read:

That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute. It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. [Jesus said], “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.” Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved – from the scene of a tremendous Day. (Maryam 19:34-37)

The Bible conveys to us the disagreement over the Ascension of Jesus and highlights the state of doubt and uncertainty which prevailed among even his disciples following his Ascension. In the Gospel of Mark, we read: “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

In the Gospel of Luke, we read: As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24:36-41)

In the Gospel of John, we read: Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:24-27)

Thus, it has become quite evident now that the Ascension, not to mention the miraculous birth of Jesus, led to bitter controversy over his very nature. Therefore, history proves to us that the few centuries following the Ascension of Jesus marked an atmosphere of deep and sharp division in the Christian circles between monotheists who believed in God as the Only One God, polytheists who believed in Jesus as God and worshiped him along with God and other factions that were somewhere in between.

First Council of Nicaea & Establishment of the Doctrine of Trinity

The above-mentioned division lasted even after the Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to and profession of Christianity as the official faith of the Roman Empire.

Such division impelled Emperor Constantine to convene the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to discuss the disagreements within the Church of Alexandria, settle dogmatic differences and unify the Christian creed. This was the first ecumenical council.

This council was attended by about 318 bishops, including 16 bishops supporting Bishop Arius and 22 bishops supporting St. Alexander of Alexandria. The other bishops had not made up their mind yet.

Presbyter Arius argued for the supremacy of God, the Father, and maintained that the Son of God was created as an act of the Father’s will, and therefore, that the Son was a creature made by God.

It is noteworthy that when Arius got up to explain his belief, loud noise was made and a deaf ear was turned so that his argument would not be heard.

It is also reported that Emperor Constantine allowed Athanasius, the 25-year-old assistant of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, to speak, though he was not entitled to do. He was just a young deacon at the time.

It is also reported that reaching a resolution by the Council was not something easy, but rather required considerable effort. At the conclusion, the Council formulated the (Nicene) Creed from: “We believe in one God” to “and his kingdom will have no end”.

At the same council, the feast of Easter was set to a Sunday in the lunar month of Nisan. The Easter computation was separated from the Jewish calendar.

The attending bishops pronounced clerical judgment by excommunicating Arius and his followers from the Church. Seeing the threat of continued unrest, Constantine also pronounced civil judgment, banishing Arius and his followers into exile.

The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed. Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the Empire.

Bishop Alexander had already convened a synod of about a hundred Egyptian and Libyan bishops at Alexandria, which excommunicated and defrocked Arius and his followers.

Questions

How did Emperor Constantine profess Christianity though he could not ascertain the nature of Jesus and if he was a just prophet or God? How can there be difference within a certain faith among the clergy over the nature of God Himself, Who He should be and if He is only one or three?

How can any such difference last without resolution for more than three centuries? If the Council of Nicaea was actually attended by 318 bishops, how could there be difference between 16 bishops on the one hand and 22 bishops on the other hand? How come “the other bishops had not made up their mind yet?”

Were they (numbering 318-38=280) ignorant of their faith and their God and if Jesus was a prophet or God? If the clergy were so ignorant like that, what about the public at the time?

Was there not a sort of equilibrium between the two sides: 16 vs 22 though the latter included the bishop of Alexandria himself? Is it not logical that the supporters of the bishop of Alexandria should have been much larger in the face of an ordinary bishop who was excommunicated and defrocked like Arius? Did the attending bishops wait to know the side which the Emperor would choose and then they joined it?

All of those questions need convincing answers!

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

3- Wikipedia

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History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (4/4)

Roman Emperors’ Role in the Establishment of Contemporary Christianity

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History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

By Editorial Staff

In this article, I will deal with the bitter conflict which took place between monotheism and the doctrine of the Trinity and their followers after the convention of Council of Nicaea and before the prophetic mission and even the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

First Council of Constantinople

History of Christianity

Conflict between monotheism and the Trinity lasted even after the Council of Nicaea.

The most conclusive evidence for the fact that monotheism existed, had strong presence and was even widespread since the dawn of Christianity is its multiform re-emergence shortly after the bishop of Alexandria supported by the pagan Roman Empire stood up to Arius’ teachings which were closer to monotheism.

After Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, had fought against Arius’ teachings for many years, other similar beliefs emerged towards the end of the fourth century of the Christian era, specifically during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Therefore, the second ecumenical council was convened in Constantinople in 381 A.D.

Those beliefs included that of the Macedonians or the Pneumatomachi. They denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, hence the Greek name “Pneumatomachi” or “Combators against the Spirit”.

They also regarded the substance of Jesus Christ as being of “similar substance” (homoiousios) but not of the “same essence” (homoousious) as that of God the Father.

The Pneumatomachi were denounced in 374 by Pope Damasus I. In 381 A.D., the Pneumatomachian concept that the Holy Spirit was a creation of the Son, and a servant of the Father and the Son, prompted the First Council of Constantinople (also termed the Second Ecumenical Council) to add, “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is equally worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets,” into the Nicene Creed. As a result of the Second Ecumenical Council, homoousios has become the accepted definition of Christian orthodoxy. Thereafter, the Macedonians were suppressed by the emperor Theodosius I.

Another belief is that of Apollinaris. It appeared to him that the union of complete God with complete man could not be more than a juxtaposition or collocation. Two perfect beings with all their attributes, he argued, cannot be one. They are at most an incongruous compound, not unlike the monsters of mythology. Inasmuch as the Nicene faith forbade him to belittle the Logos, as Arius had done, he forthwith proceeded to maim the humanity of Christ, and divest it of its presumably noblest attribute, and this, he claimed, is for the sake of true Unity and veritable Incarnation.

He failed to submit even to the more solemn condemnation of the Council of Constantinople, 381, whose first canon entered Apollinarianism on the list of heresies.

At the close of this council Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree (30 July) declaring that the churches should be restored to those bishops who confessed the equal Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who held communion with Nectarius of Constantinople and other important Oriental prelates whom he named.

First Council of Ephesus

Only a few years after the convention of the Council of Constantinople, the Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 A.D. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, “Birth Giver of Christ” but not the Theotokos, “Birth Giver of God”.

Nestorius’ doctrine, Nestorianism, which emphasized the distinction between Christ’s human and divine natures and argued that Mary should be called Christokos (Christ-bearer) but not Theotokos (God-bearer), had brought him into conflict with other church leaders, most notably Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius himself had requested that the Emperor convene council, hoping to prove his orthodoxy, but in the end his teachings were condemned by the council as heresy. The council declared Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer).

Nestorius was requested to recant his position or face excommunication. Nestorius was removed from his see, and his teachings were officially anathematized.

This precipitated the Nestorian Schism, by which churches supportive of Nestorius, especially in Persia, were severed from the rest of Christendom and became known as Nestorian Christianity, the Persian Church, or the Church of the East, whose present-day representatives are the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Syrian Church, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius himself retired to a monastery, always asserting his orthodoxy.

Questions

Had the doctrine of the Trinity been the predominant belief since of the dawn of Christianity and had monotheism not been a deep-rooted belief which had strong presence, would such bitter controversy have taken place over the very nature of God in Christianity?
Had the Trinity been a clear-cut, evident and generally accepted in the sight of all Christians from the very beginning, is it logical that the greatest patriarchs and bishops would have disagreed over it throughout history as we have just read?

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References:

1- Wikipedia

2- newadvent.org

 

Read Also

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (4/4)

Roman Emperors’ Role in the Establishment of Contemporary Christianity

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History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

By Editorial Staff

In this article, we will spotlight the early monotheistic Christian denominations. We do not mean by “monotheistic” that all of those denominations believed in pure monotheism just as Muslims do, but that they were generally closer to monotheism and farther away from the Trinity.

The Early Monotheistic Christian Denominations

Ebionitism

History of Christianity

There were monotheistic Christian denominations since of the dawn of Christianity

It is a Jewish Christian movement that existed during the early centuries of the Christian era. They regarded Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah while rejecting his divinity and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites. The Ebionites used only one of the Jewish Gospels, revered James the Just, and rejected Paul the Apostle as an apostate from the Law.

There is possible reference to Ebionite communities, existing some time around the 11th century, in northwestern Arabia, in Sefer Ha’masaot, the “Book of the Travels” of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, a rabbi from Spain. These communities were located in two cities: Tayma and Tilmas, possibly Sa`dah in Yemen.

The majority of Church Fathers agree that the Ebionites rejected many of the precepts central to Nicene orthodoxy, such as Jesus’ pre-existence, divinity, and atoning death.

The Ebionites are described as emphasizing the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus, who by virtue of his righteousness, was chosen by God to be the messianic “prophet like Moses” (foretold in Deuteronomy 18:14–22) when he was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism.

Paulianism

It is a 3rd-century belief concerning the nature of Christ, denying his divinity by asserting that he was inspired by God and was not a person in the Trinity. It is ascribed to Paul of Samosata who denied a distinction of persons in God and maintained that Christ was a mere man raised above other men by the indwelling Logos.

Monarchianism

Monarchianism is a set of beliefs that emphasize God as being one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being.

Various models of resolving the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God were proposed in the 2nd century, but later rejected in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity as expounded at the First Council of Constantinople, which confirmed the concept of God as one being consisting of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Two models of Monarchianism have been propounded:

• Modalism (or Modalistic Monarchianism) considers God to be one person appearing and working in the different “modes” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The chief proponent of modalism was Sabellius, hence the view is commonly called Sabellianism. It has also been rhetorically labeled Patripassianism by its opponents, because according to them it purports that the Person of God the Heavenly Father suffered on the cross.

• Dynamic Monarchianism holds that God is one being, above all else, wholly indivisible, and of one nature. It reconciles the “problem” of the Trinity (or at least Jesus) by holding that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father.

Arianism

Arianism in Christianity is the Christological (concerning the doctrine of Christ) position that Jesus, as the Son of God, was created by God. It was proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius and was popular throughout much of the Eastern and Western Roman empires, even after it was denounced as a heresy by the Council of Nicaea (325).

Arianism is often considered to be a form of Unitarian theology in that it stresses God’s unity at the expense of the notion of the Trinity, the doctrine that three distinct persons are united in one Godhead. Arius’ basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone Self-existent (not dependent for its existence on anything else) and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot therefore be the self-existent and immutable God. Because the Godhead is unique, it cannot be shared or communicated. Because the Godhead is immutable, the Son, who is mutable, must, therefore, be deemed a creature who has been called into existence out of nothing and has had a beginning. Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father, since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence.

The Council of Nicaea, which condemned Arius as a heretic and issued a creed to safeguard “orthodox” Christian belief, was convened to settle the controversy. The creed adopted at Nicaea states that the Son is homoousion tō Patri (“of one substance with the Father”), thus declaring him to be all that the Father is: he is completely divine. In fact, however, this was only the beginning of a long-protracted dispute.

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References:

1- Wikipedia

2- The Free Dictionary

3- Merriam-Webster

4- britannica.com

 

 Read Also:

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (4/4)

Roman Emperors’ Role in the Establishment of Contemporary Christianity

Soucre Link
Trinity between Paganism and Christianity

Trinity between Paganism and Christianity

By Editorial Staff
Trinity

The Capitoline Triad as evidence of the Roman belief in the Trinity before Christianity

Though Christianity was supposed to have come to complement the previous heavenly messages, combat and replace the polytheistic paganism, we observe that the contemporary Trinitarian Christianity in its current form and since the Council of Nicaea held in 325 A.D. up to date is nearer to the polytheistic paganism and farther from the monotheistic heavenly messages, including the previous ones, mainly Prophet Moses’ message (Judaism), and the final message of (Islam) brought by Prophet Muhammad.

 

The Heavenly Messages’ Attitudes towards the Trinity

We do not come across any origins of the contemporary doctrine of the Trinity in the divine messages of the previous prophets or the subsequent message of Prophet Muhammad in the light of the Jewish scriptures, especially the Hebrew Bible called “Tanakh”, the Muslim holy book, namely the Qur’an and even the Christian scriptures called the “Bible” including the Old Testament and the New Testament.

This false doctrine is foreign to the true religion of God as introduced by prophets every time and everywhere according to the current scriptures despite the distortion caused to the Jewish and Christian scriptures. In the Tanakh, the Qur’an and the Bible itself, we only find out a clear-cut, explicit call to pure monotheism. The examples of such a frequent call is even too numerous to be enumerated here.

However, about pure monotheism in the Tanakh, for example, we read: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

About pure monotheism, in the Qur’an, for example, we read:

And your god is one God There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful (Al-Baqarah 2:163)

About pure monotheism, in the Bible itself, for example, the New Testament quotes Jesus as saying: “Get thee hence, Satan! For it is written: ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Accordingly, it becomes clear that the alleged doctrine of the Holy Trinity has no scriptural basis either in Judaism, Islam or Christianity itself. It originates only from the blind Christian tradition which derived this false creed from the Council of Nicaea and the subsequent ecumenical councils.

Regardless of the scriptural basis, this bizarre doctrine contradicts the simplest axioms of logic and reason. The following are the most basic questions to be asked in this regard:

Does it sound reasonable that God did not tell His servants from Adam to Jesus that He has three persons, including Jesus himself, and that those three persons deserve worship?

Does it sound logical that humanity remained ignorant of the alleged three persons until the First Council of Nicaea was held in 325 A.D.?

How come the Christian clergymen differ at all early ecumenical councils over the divinity of those three persons?

Is it palatable that God dropped the two persons of “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” from the final message of Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad?

What about the millions of human beings who lived and died before the advent of Jesus’ message and did not know that God allegedly has three persons, including Jesus himself, and that they had to worship those three persons?

What about the millions of human beings who have come after the advent of the final message of Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad and found out that the alleged three persons have no basis except in the sight of the followers of only one heavenly message, namely the contemporary Christianity, out of numerous heavenly messages, none of which makes any mention of those persons?

Let’s plunge into the depths of history in order to explore the historical roots of the alleged doctrine of the Holy Trinity, of which the three main heavenly messages are devoid, in the light of their current scriptures despite the distortion caused to most of them.

The Historical Roots of the Trinity

Jesus’ message was preached in time and space polarized by two main theistic belief systems, one of them is monotheistic and heavenly, namely Judaism, which is a mixture of the heavenly messages revealed to the prophets of the children of Israel, especially Prophet Moses. The other was polytheistic and idolatrous, namely the paganism with which the earth, including the Roman Empire itself, was rife at the time.

Jesus’ message was supposed to be such a monotheistic extension of the previous heavenly messages which was expected to alleviate the materialism which characterized the children of Israel and, at the same time, combat the polytheistic paganism which was dominant on the earth at the time.

However, unfortunately, the universal norm of change on earth applied. Thus, Jesus’ message was subject to the corruption and alteration to which the previous messages were subject. But, in this time, several factors played a very dangerous distortive role which brought Jesus’ message out of its monotheistic context and aligned it with the false polytheistic, pagan faiths.

The stated factors include the miraculous factor which beset Jesus’ life both upon his birth without a human father and his Ascension without the end of lifetime.

Those factors also include the figurative factor which characterized his statements and his message in general. This caused his followers to misunderstand many of his statements and misinterpret many of his acts.

The last factor is that of the polytheistic pagan environment which was predominant during and a long time after Jesus’ mission.

However, the true shift from the original monotheistic Christianity to the polytheistic Trinitarian paganism took place only when the Roman Empire under Constantine I’s command procured the last factor, that is, the environment factor as represented by the milieu supporting the polytheistic Trinitarian paganism in its war against the original monotheistic Christianity in the Council of Nicaea held in 325 A.D.

Up to that point of time, there was strong presence of such Christianity which was closer to monotheism and of believers in the same. However, from this time on, such Christianity began to lose ground, whereas the pagan Trinitarian Christianity began to gain ground, thanks to the pagan background of the Roman Empire at the time.

The Roman Empire was a polytheistic pagan realm which never professed monotheism in most if not all of its times. Such an idolatrous dominion used to embrace polytheism, as this was a prevalent belief in most of the Roman territories, as well as the neighboring and contemporaneous countries and civilizations both in the East and the West.

No wonder, this belief was bequeathed by the past empires and civilizations. Therefore, monotheists, mainly the Jews, were very few in number vis-à-vis multitudes of polytheists including pagans and idolaters as represented by most of the then peoples, civilizations and cultures.

In particular, belief in a triad rather than tetrad, pentad or the like has deep historical roots in the Roman heritage. Historical evidence for the Roman belief in a triad is uncountable.

Ancient Trinitarian temples still exist in Rome, the historical metropolis of the Roman Empire, as conclusive evidence for the dogmatic plagiarism and the religious shift which took place from the original monotheistic Christianity to the contemporary Trinitarian Christianity.

The most prominent historical evidence which may be given here is the “Capitolia” (singular Capitolium) and other older temples which were established to worship holy triads in the Roman history. Some Capitolia were demolished and turned into churches when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, while others survived and still exist up to date like the Capitolium which still stands at the Capitoline Hill in Rome, the Capitolium of Brixia, and the Temple of Jupiter, Capitolium or the Temple of the Capitoline Triad in Pompeii.

There is no denying that such Capitolia used for the worship of pagan triads were widespread across the Roman domain. No wonder, the Trinity was a predominant belief in the Roman Empire for long stretches of time, including the timespans preceding and coinciding with the profession of Christianity by the Roman Empire, not to mention the fact that belief in the Trinity was commonplace in neighboring, contemporaneous and even past cultures and civilizations.

Instances of the Trinity in the Roman History

The Romans did not believe in the Trinity in only one point in their history, but at several, successive points of the Roman history as follows:

The Archaic Triad

The earliest known triad in which the Romans believed was “the Archaic Triad” which consisted of: 1- Jupiter: the king of gods, 2- Mars: the god of military prowess and a war deity, and 3- Quirinus: the enigmatic god of the Roman populus (“people”).

This triad antedated the establishment of the Roman Empire. The exact time this triad was worshipped is unknown.

The Capitoline Triad

The Capitoline Triad was a group of three deities who were worshipped in the ancient Roman religion in an elaborate temple on Rome’s Capitoline Hill (Capitolium).

This triad consisted of: 1- Jupiter: the king of gods, 2- Juno: a goddess believed to be Jupiter’s wife and sister, and 3- Minerva: a goddess believed to be Jupiter’s daughter and the goddess of wisdom.

Jupiter, Juno and Minerva were honored in temples known as Capitolia, which were built on hills and other prominent areas in many cities in Italy and the provinces, particularly during the Augustan and Julio-Claudian periods. Most had a triple cella.

Instances of the Trinity before the Roman Republic

The Trinity was not something innovated by the Roman Empire. Rather, it was inherited from the past cultures and civilizations. The following are just instances of the ancient cultures and civilizations from which the Roman Empire borrowed their belief in the Trinity:

The Umbrian Triad

Umbria was a region located in Central Italy. The regional capital was Perugia. This region was named after the Umbri people who settled in this region in the 7th century BC.

According to Georg Wissowa in his manual of the Roman religion, the Umbri people had a holy triad that they used to worship in Iguvium (Gubbio). This triad was: “love, Marte and Vofionus”.

The Etruscan Triad

The Etruscan civilization is the modern name given to a powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, Western Umbria, and northern Lazio in the 7th century BC.

In the beginning, the Etruscan civilization worshipped the following triad: “Aritimi (Artemis), Menrva (Minerva) and Pacha (Bacchus)”. In the course of time, the above triad was changed to: “Tinia, Uni and Menrva”, which is equivalent to the Roman triad: “Jupiter, Juno and Minerva”.

The Ancient Greek Triads

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (c. 600 AD). Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era.

Classical Greek culture had powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered the cradle of Western civilization.

The ancient Greeks were such polytheistic people who used to worship numerous gods in the form of triads. The neighboring, both contemporary and subsequent, civilizations, like the Roman civilization, borrowed the Trinity from the ancient Greeks in different forms and names.

Click this link to review the numerous triads the Greeks had worshipped before conversion to Christianity.

Comments

We observe that the Romans borrowed the Trinity from the ancient civilizations with slight changes in names. In the beginning, the Romans worshipped the triad consisting of “Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus”.

Then, they retained Jupiter and replaced the other two gods with Jupiter’s family, including Goddess Juno, Jupiter’s sister and wife, and Goddess Minerva, his daughter. So, the new triad became “Jupiter, Juno and Minerva”.

The Roman Empire continued to worship this triad until it converted to Christianity. Thereupon, they replaced “Jupiter” as the king of gods with “Father” and replaced Jupiter’s family, including Juno and Minerva, with a new family, including the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Thus, the Romans worshipped a new, albeit old, triad consisting, as usual, of a king of gods and his family. So, the Christian triad was formed as follows: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

This may decipher the Roman Catholic Church’s exaggerated sanctification of Lady Mary, the Virgin, as it believes, inter alia, that she is Jesus’ partner in salvation. Before conversion to Christianity, they used to believe in a king of gods as well as his wife and the mother of his children.

That is why the Roman Catholics sanctify Mary after conversion to Christianity and give her some divine attributes though it is not included in the new triad.

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References:

  1. The Glorious Qur’an
  2. The Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible)
  3. The Holy Bible
  4. st-takla.org
  5. Georg Wissowa’s manual of the Roman religion
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The Holy Trinity between the Sacred Texts and the Nicene Creed

The Holy Trinity between the Sacred Texts and the Nicene Creed

By Editorial Staff

While the Holy Trinity underlies the contemporary Christianity, we do not come across this doctrine in clear terms in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

So many people do not know that the Holy Trinity is mainly attributable to the First Council of Nicaea held in 325 A.D. rather than any earlier sacred scriptures. So let’s trace the origins of the Holy Trinity to find out where it exactly sprang from.

Watch this video to know more about the true origins of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity between the Bible and the Nicene Creed!

Read Also: 

Trinity between Paganism and Christianity

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (4/4)

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