The Trinity: Genesis of a doctrine

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Thomas, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Elsewhere @muhammad_isa said:
    This is factually wrong on three points:

    The first is that the conflict was not about the Trinity – not once in his writings does Arius mention the Trinity, nor indeed the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. Nor is he castigated for such – it's all about Christology, that if begotten, there was a time when he (the Son) was not, and that the Son is not of the same order of substance as the Father, even though Arius declares the Son is God ...

    The second is that the Doctrine of the Trinity was declared long before Roman state patronage of the church, and long before Nicea. Listed below is something of a doctrinal timeline. It's a matter of note that Go is Three and God is One was declared at least 125 years before Nicaea.

    The Third is that there was no theological construct of the Trinity declared at Nicaea (nor indeed any Council under Roman rule)

    IN THE APOSTOLIC ERA:
    A Trinitarian formula is evident in the very earliest Christian Scriptures:

    57AD: "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God (pneuma theos), saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost (hagios pneuma)" (1 Corinthians 12:6)

    58AD: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:13)

    85AD: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19)

    THE PRE–NICENE ERA
    Theologians defend the three-fold baptismal confession and the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such a manner as to counter accusations of tritheism.

    70-97AD: "Do we not have one God, and one Christ, and one gracious Spirit that has been poured out upon us, and one calling in Christ?" (Clement of Rome, 1 Epistle to the Corinthians 46:6)

    96AD: "... baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Didache)

    110AD: "Study, therefore, to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles ... in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit."
    (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians, XIII)

    100-150AD: "the primal Father and his Beloved Christ, and the Holy Spirit" (pseudonymous Ascension of Isaiah)

    155AD: "I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now (and ever) and for the ages to come." (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:3)

    155/7AD: "in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit" (Justin Martyr, First Apology, LXI)

    195AD: "(baptism) ... in the name of God the Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was incarnate and died and rose again, and in the Holy Spirit of God" (Irenaeus Demonstration of the Apostolic Teaching, iii)

    ... for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God is through the Holy Spirit" (ibid, vii)

    180-185AD: "In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word (Logos), and His Wisdom (Sophia)." (Theophilius of Antioch, to Autolycus, II, 15)

    Note: First use of the word Trinity, in Greek. Its use suggests it is not a novel term, but one known to his audience)

    200AD: "and praising thank the Alone Father and Son, Son and Father, the Son, Instructor and Teacher, with the Holy Spirit, all in One" (Clement of Alexandria, Pedagogy, III, 12.)

    205AD: "God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man ... and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power is one" (Hippolytus of Rome Against Noetus, VIII)

    For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit... The economy of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit... And by this He showed (the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19), that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth." (Hippolytus of Rome Against Noetus, XIV)

    205-215AD Tertullian Against Praxeas
    The first use of the term 'Trinity' in Latin. The whole document is a defence of the Doctrine of the Trinity in 31 chapters against the Monarchianism of Praxeas.
    Chapter 2. The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity and Unity ... the Personal Relations of the Godhead
    Chapter 3. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Unity Rescued from These Misapprehensions

    and so on...
    Chapter 8. Though the Son or Word of God Emanates from the Father, He is Not, Like the Emanations of Valentinus, Separable from the Father. Nor is the Holy Ghost Separable from Either.
    Chapter 9. The ... Unconfused Distinction of the Several Persons of the Blessed Trinity
    Chapter 25. The Paraclete, or Holy Ghost. He is Distinct from the Father and the Son as to Their Personal Existence. One and Inseparable from Them as to Their Divine Nature.


    225AD: "This is most clearly pointed out by the Apostle Paul, when demonstrating that the power of the Trinity is one and the same ... From which it most clearly follows that there is no difference in the Trinity, but that which is called the gift of the Spirit is made known through the Son, and operated by God the Father." (Origen, De Principiis, I, 7)

    "For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds every sense in which not only temporal but even eternal may be understood. It is all other things, indeed, which are outside the Trinity, which are to be measured by time and ages... (salvation) has need of both Father and Son and Holy Spirit and (he) will not obtain salvation apart from the entire Trinity, and why it is impossible to become partaker of the Father or the Son without the Holy Spirit. In discussing these points it will undoubtedly be necessary to describe the activity which is peculiar to the Holy Spirit and that which is peculiar to the Father and Son." (ibid, IV, 28)

    262AD: "But some treat the Holy Trinity in an awful manner, when they confidently assert that there are not three persons ... we clear ourselves of Sabellius, who says that the Father and the Son are the same (person) ... we believe that three persons – namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – are declared to possess the one Godhead: for the one divinity showing itself forth according to nature in the Trinity establishes the oneness of the nature” (Gregory the Wonderworker, A Sectional Confession of Faith 8).

    “But if they say, ‘How can there be three persons, and how but one divinity?’ we shall make this reply: That there are indeed three persons, inasmuch as there is one person of God the Father, and one of the Lord the Son, and one of the Holy Spirit; and yet that there is but one divinity, inasmuch as . . . there is one substance in the Trinity” (ibid., 14).

    305AD: "For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one ... we worship the one deity in three persons." (Methodius, Oration on the Psalms 5).

    313AD: The Edict of Milan grants Christianity — as well as most other religions — legal status. It does not constitute a replacement of traditional Roman beliefs.

    325AD: Nicea affirms Father and Son are of the same substance. Nothing is said regarding the person or substance of the Holy Spirit, Arianism being purely Christological, nor is the word 'Trinity' declared or defined.

    380AD: The Edict of Thessalonica makes (Nicene) Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Only now can one talk of 'The Roman Church', and the above demonstrates the Doctrine of the Trinity had been established long before ...

    381AD: The Council of Constantinople confirms the Creed of Nicaea and adds, regarding the Holy Spirit: "the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets".
    Again, Nothing is said regarding the person or substance of the Holy Spirit, nor is the word 'Trinity' declared or defined.

    A Doctrine of the Holy Trinity was never dogmatically defined at Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381) nor Chalcedon (451).

     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Shortcut of the above:

    70-97AD: Clement of Rome: Statement of Father, Son and Holy Spirit

    195AD: Irenaeus: The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God

    180-185AD: First use of the word 'Trinity' (in Greek)

    205AD: Hippolytus of Rome: God is One and God is Three

    205-215AD Tertullian: A Defence of the Doctrine of the Trinity, first use of the word 'Trinity' in Latin

    225AD: Origen: There is no difference in the Trinity regarding their deity

    313AD: The Edict of Milan grants Christianity — as well as most other religions — legal status. It does not constitute a replacement of traditional Roman beliefs.

    325AD: Nicea affirms Father and Son are of the same substance.

    380AD: The Edict of Thessalonica makes (Nicene) Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Only now can one talk of 'The Roman Church', and the above demonstrates the Doctrine of the Trinity had been established long before ...
     
  3. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Thankyou. You have my attention ;)

    Without doubt, it is.

    I'm not disputing that at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  4. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I'm sorry .. we can use this thread if you like, as we are on the subject of the trinity..

    That is contradictory. If 'the Father' gives Himself "utterly and entirely to the Son", then 'the Father' cannot be greater. Claiming that Arius, for example, believed that the Father is greater than the son because the Father gives to the Son is incorrect.

    Arius was saying that "the Son" was created by "the Father".

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arianism

    We can talk about Arius believing the Son "fully God" etc. but that doesn't change the above.
    You already mentioned the concept of "hierarchical degrees of divinity". So I don't see
    why you would wish to continue arguing along those lines.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's your right to think so. Common sense to me ...

    And yet, without the Father, there would be no Son.

    Where does Arius say that?

    Scripture says "only begotten" (Gk monogenes), different thing entirely ... so Arius is well off the mark there ...
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not, I was answering your question: 'Do you think that being "fully God" and also "created by God" is theologically credible?'
     
  7. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    That's obviously correct, but in the context of what the Arians believed, the argument was one between
    the Son being subordinate to God the Father in nature and being .. or being equal and not subordinate.

    I don't personally see why "only begotten son" could only be interpreteted as non-created. He would still be begat :)
     
  8. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I know you were, but why is it inconceivable that Arians in general could not view the relationship between the three in this way?

    "..Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father, since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence."
    - Encyclopaedia Brittanica -
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  9. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    It appears that Arius did not like that, and had his own ideas which others clearly thought to be credible.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you.

    How do you know what Arius believed?

    I never have, you expressed doubts about the credibility of such an idea.

    "..Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father, since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence."
    - Encyclopaedia Brittanica -
    And you believe that?
     
  11. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Err .. through all that I've read about him in reasonable sources? :)
    There are apparent contradictions, I would agree .. nevertheless..

    Have I? I apologise if I have or you misunderstood me.

    I believe that in more ways than one.

    1. God is unique and Jesus was the chosen Messiah [ Prophet ]
    2. I believe it to be from credible sources

    Do you believe this?

    — Socrates Scholasticus (Trinitarian)

    Interesting to note that it starts off with "That God was not always the Father"..
    I think it means "That the Son was not always the Father"?
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    What, wiki or Britannica? and where did they get their data from?

    I would need to know what sources to accept that without skepticism.

    I know! That implies change, unknowing, etc, within God, and that God is subject to some order of temporal duration, etc., etc... a whole raft of issues!
     
  13. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Well .. what am I supposed to do .. quote 'youtube'? :)

    ..and that is where we came in. When I suggest that I am skeptical of something, I am derided.

    It is unfortunate that we don't have Origin's original Greek writings "On the First Principles"
    Perhaps we need to go back to the "origin" ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oooh, :eek: God forbid!

    I'm not deriding, I'm just pointing out your skepticism seems somewhat partisan, that's all.

    You 'edit' Arius in the same way Tyrannius Rufinus edited Origen! :D
     
  15. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    It seems to me that your view hinges on the beliefs of Alexander being similar to what Origin taught.
    i.e.
    That is clearly what orthodox Christianity became established as.
    ..so what did Origin really believe, and who is right about what Arians believed?

    One can only speculate as the Romans burnt so much of the history of "heretics"
    and established their own version.
     
  16. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    What's wrong with it? The water in your bucket is of the same nature (or rather Spirit) as the water of the well from which it came? Jesus Christ was sinless, of virgin birth, the perfect vehicle -- unlike ordinary nature which is tainted by original sin -- in that way Christ not just fully nature, but fully Spirit also.
    If you keep banging on, it still doesn't make it true -- just speculation, as you correctly observe.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Not really. I never read him until researching this thread. Origen I admire, but I don't treat him as infallible, and he can be quite complex. My views follow the general trend of mainstream of Christian theological development.

    I know! When it comes to skepticism, where do you draw the line?

    LOL, a bit of hyperbolic, I'd say ... I mean, 'so much' was burnt, and yet 'so much' survived! Constantine's version didn't last long, did it?

    Emperors and their ilk like to think their commands are carried out to the letter. History teaches us they rarely were ... On the other hand, thoroughly orthodox works were lost, so the loss of original materials is no sign of anything, really, other than copying was a long, laborious business dependent on the vagaries of fame, favour and patronage.

    If the Qumran finds teach us anything, it's to hope that one day a copy of On First Principles will turn up in some dusty library somewhere.
     
  18. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    It IS the sign of something. The destruction of "the teachings of scholars" is not done without reason.
    If the original "On First Principles" was available we would see EXACTLY what "heresies" he believed in.
    The whole "early church" beliefs of orthodox Christianity hinges on Origins beliefs to a great extent..
    ..it's all about appeal to authority .. no?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, short answer: No. My influence can be traced through the citations offered above ...

    In your own words, that's 'very vague' – you haven't established what was destroyed when, and by whom. One might be seeing signs where no such thing exists ...

    OK, short answer: No. Not Alexander. See above.

    Indeed. If we could understood EXACTLY what he was saying.

    Influential, yes, whether anything 'hinges' on Origen, is another matter. I'm skeptical.
     
  20. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I was primarily referring to the burning of 'heretical' teachings by Justinian I in 543.
    ..it also applies to 'the great persecution' around the time Origin died too.


    ..but we can both claim to know what Arius was saying? ;)


    I would say that the Arian controversy is VERY important when it comes to the validity of the trinity.
    It was a substantial number of early Christians who believed in subordination.

    Your quote from Origen is not reliable, but you quoted it .. why?
    ..then we have Irenaeus .. he didn't teach the orthodox trinty either.

    ..and you mention Tertullian..

     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021

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