The Trinity: Genesis of a doctrine

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

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Might have been. Seems Lucian was someone Arius and Eusebius had in common.

    But can we know for sure his – Lucian's – theology, d'you think?
     
  2. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    He was martyred, and canonised .. he was a Christian :)
    I think it highly likely that he was "an Arian".
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK.

    It would appear:
    We cannot know what Lucian's theology was,
    We cannot know what Origen's theology was.
    (Therefore we cannot know whether Arius' theology diverged from Origen's or anyone else's.)​
    We cannot know what influence Middle Platonism had, if any.

    By the same rule ...

    We cannot know what Arius' theology was.

    +++

    To be frank, I think you've argued yourself into a corner ...
     
  4. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I had a feeling you were going to say something like that..
    What was the argument, again? :)

    Let's see..
    There are apparently 2 competing philosophies

    1. Nicene
    2. Arian

    Nicenes believe in the blessed trinity
    Arians believe that the son was not eternal

    That much we DO know for sure, don't we?

    https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/History/World_History/Book:_World_History_-_Cultures_States_and_Societies_to_1500_(Berger_et_al.)/07:_Western_Europe_and_Byzantium_circa_500-1000_CE/7.05:_Successor_Kingdoms_to_the_Western_Roman_Empire

    ..you should really look at that ref. it has a lovely map of 500 AD (Age of Justinian) with it, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Well you've had enough indicators ... :D

    According to you, no, we DON'T.
     
  6. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    No, on the contrary, it's according to you :D
    The label "Arian" is coined from "what Arius believed".
    ..and then we get all the different types etc.

    What did they all have in common? I claim that Arians believed that the son was not eternal.
    How do I know? Do I know purely from partisan Nicene sources about Arius? No !
    Why have you ignored the ref. ?

    Are you really trying to tell us that we have no idea of what the Arians believed
    other than from Nicene sources?

    There MUST have been a difference in opinion between their creeds.
    You and I both believe that the Arians did not believe the son was eternal.
    From your first post in the thread "Arian Christology" :-

    What was contended then, was that "there was a time when He was not" and this became something of a mantra for the Arians.

    How could that most important fact be "hidden"? How could it be erased from history?
    Generating confusion was the best way to hide reality.
    Like all "magic illusions", they are not foolproof.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Is it playground tactics, now ... is that what this has reduced to?

    You can't, Muhammed_isa, that's the point. You're pre-disposed to denial, because apart from your 'partisan Nicene sources', there is no other evidence

    You have stated:
    Unless we have got original, radiocarbon-dated manuscripts that we can determine beyond reasonable doubt are authored by him (Origen), it is pure speculation imo.

    Then your entire thesis is speculation, conformed to your religious inclination.

    You state:
    They have not been erased, you choose not to disallow them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  8. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Really???
    Do all historians accept that Arians believed that "the son is not eternal" .. or not?
    Can you find me one who doesn't accept that?

    This really isn't about winning or losing the argument.
    I take my faith in God seriously, as do you.
    I'm interested in truth, not point scoring.

    Clearly, either the son is eternal or he is not .. they can't both be right.
    I haven't categorically proved that one or the other is right.
    What my thesis shows is that there are serious inconsistentcies.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    According to your post #214:
    "Unless we have got original, radiocarbon-dated manuscripts that we can determine beyond reasonable doubt are authored by him, it is pure speculation imo."

    As we don't have "original, radiocarbon-dated manuscripts that we can determine beyond reasonable doubt are authored by" Arius, or indeed any Arian, what else can we do but speculate upon what they might or might not have believed?

    The point is you DON'T accept the sources which they DO accept.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Documents of the Early Arian Controversy

    Extracts:
    Most of what is known about the early development of what is called "Arianism" comes from the sources given below.

    Patristic scholars today warn against lumping together as "Arians" all the early theologians who had reservations about granting the Son full equality with the Father. They argue that it was the opponents of Arius who created this persona of Arius as the leader and arch-heretic of this theological tendency. Even his role as originator of the open controversy has been questioned, with men such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Asterius the Sophist and Lucian of Antioch offered as the true instigators. Arius and those with similar ideas are seen as continuing an already existent theological trajectory which emphasized the Son as "substantially different" than the Father.

    +++

    The Fourth Century Christianity site gives a comprehensive list of materials. As none of these exist as carbon-dated, first-hand originals – @muhammad_isa's requirement for veracity – his skepticism with regard to their "partisan Nicene" content, and his incredulity and lack of knowledge with regard to theological and philosophical currents of the day generally, means he will not allow the main players, nor their antecedents, to speak for themselves, nor can he, in all honesty, say anything with regard to their theology beyond his own speculation.

    When one starts to describe theology as "mumbo jumbo", as something that "makes no sense ... It's just "an illusion" playing on the word "God" .. word salad .. it is not serious theology" (#174) then we have someone who regards his opinion as fact.

    +++

    As ever, I tend to side with the scholars – and rely on their knowing it is necessary to filter their findings through the lens of predispositions and prejudice. This they tend to do quite well on the whole, and excerpts from Rowan Williams' book I've read go to some lengths to demonstrate it. That is what scholarship is – piecing together the past – it is a discipline and not mere speculation. When scholars speculate, they usually say so.

    In that light, a process still ongoing, we have recast the characters of Constantine as perhaps (and to my mind most definitely not) the saint the Eastern Church hold him to be, that Arius was not quite the villain his commentators would have us believe, that there are elements in the character of Athanasius, who at some points 'stood alone against the world', that one would not like to bump into down a dark alley!

    Whether, as Gregory of Nyssa is supposed to have said, one couldn't even go to the market to buy groceries without being accosted by someone seeking your opinion on whether or not "There was a time when he was not", is a matter of coffee-table debate. We do however have sufficient materials from an albeit limited diversity of sources to piece together the theology of Arius, and indeed his departure from the theology of Origen on that point.

    But within all that we can, by careful sifting and analysis, piece together the strands of history.

    On a final note, Williams seems inclined to suggest that Arius owes more to Lucian than he does Origen, and that even his fellow Arianists were not entirely happy with his formulation ... but that's another book for another day ..
     
  11. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Thankyou for your posts, Thomas.
    Contrary to what you might think, I do have great respect for you.
    + + +

    I don't accept them as reliably informing us of every detail, no.
    That doesn't mean that I think they are TOTALLY wrong.
    It is when we have schism, that both parties might well accuse each other of things that are untrue.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    And I you.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Clearly.

    Quite so.

    Well, that's a matter of opinion.
     
  14. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Err .. no :)

    My whole argument rests on thinking that it is not reasonable that:-

    1. the Arians believed that the son is not eternal AND
    2. the Arians believed that Jesus is God

    It has to be one or the other for me, I'm afraid.
    A document that states that they believed both simultaneously, is highly suspicious.
    These people were theologians, not laymen. It is SURELY obvious to most theologians that
    an eternal God cannot be the same as a non-eternal son.

    ..hence it is totally contradictory.
    Any type of platonism cannot explain it.

    It is not unreasonable that the Arians believed that Jesus was divine [ godly ]
     
  15. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    @RJM Corbet quoted your post..

    I said that was mumbo-jumbo.
    The question that an atheist asks is "who created God?" .. and the answer is God is eternal.
    ..but an Arian's answer would be God created God? :D

    That's pretty much nonsense to me!
    Infinite regression?
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK, I can see that.

    All I can offer is that was not the case for them. If we're to understand the debate, we have to try and see as they did, not through the lens of our own opinions.

    In your opinion.

    Quite, and we are laymen, not theologians. We have to get our minds round their concepts.

    Quite :) That's why the Arians were wrong!

    I know! Tell it to them! :D

    Actually, that's exactly what it does.

    Platonism can be used to 'explain' the theologies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – doesn't mean it is right, or that they are derivative, though.

    Actually, I have huge respect for those Philosophers who were reaching towards the Infinite ... and I would not write off the idea that some of them were divinely inspired.

    Jewish, Christian and Moslem philosophers owe and acknowledge a massive debt to Greek Philosophy.

    "It is in the nature of the Good to communicate Itself" derives from Platonism, and the Hadith:
    کنت کنزاً مخفیاً فأحببت أن أعرف فخلقت الخلق لکی أعرف
    "I was a hidden treasure; I loved to be known. Hence I created the world so that I would be known"
    can be said to be straight out of the Platonist playbook! Not by me, mind. ;)
     
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  17. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    To be fair, I wouldn't accuse Arius of theological mumbo-jumbo... but yes, another example of how the Arians got it wrong.
     
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  18. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Well, we will have to agree to differ. I refuse to accuse Arius and the vast amount of clergy
    who followed him of such incompetence.
    If that's what you think, carry on..
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    As I said, if you understood the prevailing theological and philosophical currents, you might not jump to such conclusions.
     
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  20. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    That's an illogical argument !
    It suggests that the Nicene Christians just happened to be right, but all the rest understandably were in error due to "currents" :rolleyes:
    I suppose the book burning that went on was to protect people from these "currents" as well.

    In my opinion, God doesn't need our help to protect others in that way, and deny them the right of deciding for themselves what is true and false.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021

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