Did Most Early Christians Believe The Divinity of Christ?

RJM

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@Thomas @muhammad_isa @juantoo3 @Tone Bristow-Stagg others ...
At risk of repetition, and trying to start with a clean slate:

This is spin-off from recent threads about the Arian movement and the Nicean Council, trying to focus in upon the central issue, which seems to be whether or not Christian belief in the divinity of Christ the Son, was already THE mainstream belief amongst early Christians, long before the ‘trinity’ as most today understand it, was officially rubber-stamped at Nicea?

Prior to Nicea, did most early Christians accept the divinity of the Son? Or did they not?

Was the belief in the divinity of the Son already mainstream with early Christians, before the Nicea Council in AD 325? Or was Rome responsible for basically imposing upon early Christians a belief in the divinity of Christ?
 
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muhammad_isa

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Prior to Nicea, did most early Christians accept the divinity of the Son? Or did they not?

Simple answer, yes. :)
It is crystal clear that they had different opinions on the relationship between Father and Son.
One cannot define "divinity" as being the eternal God.

The root of the word divine is literally godly (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus)

If you mean did most of them believe that Jesus is the One eternal God, then no, they didn't.

..was Rome responsible for basically imposing upon early Christians a belief in the divinity of Christ?

Roman Emperors were responsible for a lot of things. If you mean did they force people to believe the Nicene creed by knifepoint, no, not really.
 
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RJM

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Did they petition Jesus Christ as an intermediary to take their prayers onward to God? Did they pray to Jesus to intercede with the Father, in the same way Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary to intercede with the Son -- or in the same way they pray/petition to saints to mediate for them before God?

Or did they pray directly to Jesus/Christ, as God?
 
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muhammad_isa

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Let me think about it, please. . . . . . . . .

Maybe, like Rowan Williams, they didn't care .. they were more interested in praising The One God :D
 
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RJM

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. . . . . . . . .still thinking. . . . . . . . .
There's no need to hurry. Better to take time, imo ...

There can be no branch but that begotten of the unbegotten vine. Yet the branch is inherent to the vine, and without the branch, the vine is useless to produce fruit?
 
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muhammad_isa

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What about the gospel of truth from the Nag Hammadi library..

The text says that ignorance caused the formation of the world by the aeons. It then describes Jesus as having been sent down by God to remove ignorance from humans and the aeons, to perfect them and restore union with the Father and correct the error that was the creation of the world.
Jesus was a teacher confounding the other scribes and teachers, and asserted they were foolish since they tried to understand the world by analyzing the law. But Error grew angry at this, and nailed Jesus to a cross. It also proceeds to describe how it is knowledge of the father that grants salvation, which constitutes eternal rest, describing ignorance as a nightmare.

Mmm, ignorance is most certainly a nightmare :)
It is interesting to note how so-called gnostics were "swept away" by tarring them all with one brush.
 

muhammad_isa

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...
53. Wherefore let the remainder understand in their places that is not appropriate for me, having been in the realm of repose, to anything further. But it is within his heart that I shall be--forever devoted to The Father of the totality, together with those true Brothers upon whom pours the Love of The Father and among whom there is no lack of him.
These are they who are genuinely manifest, being in the True and Eternal Life and speaking the Perfect Light which is filled with the seed of The Father, and who are in his heart and in the fullness and in whom his Spirit rejoices, Glorifying him in whom they exist. His good and his Sons are perfect and worthy of his Name. For it is children of this kind that he The Father desires.
+++ THE END +++

- gospel of truth -

I don't know .. I'm not an expert.
Lots of people pray (or ask for intercession) to other than the Father.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think most of the early Christians did.
 
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RJM

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The ancient Jesus Prayer says: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Jesus forgave sins.

IMO it is clear that, whether or not they have always done so -- Christians do pray directly to Jesus, in expectation that Christ has the power to answer prayer. However, when they pray to Jesus, it is with the understanding that it is the Father who answers prayer, however that the Father has granted Christ complete authority. Jesus Christ does not have to intercede or mediate with the Father for authority, because He already has been granted that -- Before All Ages?

Jesus in earliest Christian prayer
(edit: I've only scanned the above pdf, but offer it for deeper reading)
 
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muhammad_isa

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..IMO it is clear that, whether or not they have always done so -- Christians do pray directly to Jesus, in expectation that Christ has the power to answer prayer. However when they do pray to Jesus, it is with the understanding that it is the Father who answers prayer, but that the Father has granted Christ complete authority. Jesus does not have to intercede or mediate with the Father for authority, because He already has been granted that -- Before All Ages?

I have no doubt that the early church was involved in "praying to Jesus", particularly after the destruction of the temple
when Jews were no longer allowed in Jerusalem.
To use @Thomas' words when referring to so-called Jewish Christians,
"who knows what those crazy dudes got up to?"

The phrase "before all ages" effectively means that both Father and Son are outside of time.
This might make sense to trinitarians, but if we use Occam's razor.. [ not that I'm fond of that ],
it becomes a complicated description of what God is.
It might be OK for an expert, but not the layman, I would have thought.

Does the "One God" expect us all to be expert trinitarian theologians? :D

People prayed to Moses in the past .. does that make it correct?
 
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Thomas

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Worth a note also, RMJ, is the word 'Lord' - Kyrios – used in reference to Jesus.

The use of kyrios in the New Testament has been the subject of debate among modern scholars, and three schools of thought exist on that topic:

The first is the designation to Jesus of the Old Testament attributes of God.
The reasoning is that the Septuagint was written using the word 'Kyrios', but when reading aloud the Jews pronounced Adonai, the Hebrew word for 'Lord' when they encountered the name of God. As the early Christians were primarily Greek or Aramaic speaking Jews, they would be familiar with this Septuagint implication.

The second school is that as the early Church expanded, Hellenistic influences resulted in the use of the term.

The third is that it is a translation of the Aramaic title Mari applied to Jesus. In everyday Aramaic, Mari was a very respectful form of polite address, well above "teacher" and similar to rabbi. In Greek this has at times been translated as kyrios.

Christians eventually came to interpret the Greek kyrios as representing lordship over the world.

Kyrios is a key element of the Christology of Paul. Most scholars agree that the use of kyrios, and hence the Lordship of Jesus, predated the Pauline Epistles, but Paul expanded and elaborated on that topic. More than any other title, kyrios defined the relationship between Jesus and those who believed in him as Christ: Jesus was their Lord and Master who was to be served with all their hearts and who would one day judge their actions throughout their lives.

-- wiki --
 
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RJM

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People prayed to Moses in the past .. does that make it correct?
I think perhaps God heard and responded to their sincere prayers? I think perhaps God did not ignore their prayers as 'incorrectly' directed?
Christians eventually came to interpret the Greek kyrios as representing lordship over the world.
Ok. Thank you. The world as in this earthly realm of nature, time and death, perhaps?
 
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RJM

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The phrase "before all ages" effectively means that both Father and Son are outside of time.
This might make sense to trinitarians, but if we use Occam's razor.. [ not that I'm fond of that ],
it becomes a complicated description of what God is.
It might be OK for an expert, but not the layman, I would have thought.
Any attempt to talk about a 'God' outside of time and space is going to get complicated?
(Occam's Razor proposes the simplest explanation as most usually the correct one?)
 
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muhammad_isa

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Any attempt to talk about a 'God' outside of time and space is going to get complicated?

It can do, I agree.
However, if one says that God is eternal, it implies that He existed before He created the universe.
..most people can grasp that quite easily.
It is only when one starts to talk about Fathers and Sons that it becomes complex.

(Occam's Razor proposes the simplest explanation as most usually the correct one?)

You got it :D
It is quite understandable, imo, that the layman [ non-philosopher ], might consider a person to be God.
Having to concoct a complicated trinitarian doctrine to substantiate it is something else. IMO
 

muhammad_isa

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I think perhaps God heard and responded to their sincere prayers?

Quite possibly.
..but there again, such things can get out of hand.
That is why we have the first commandment.

Most of the prayers I remember in the C of E were along
the lines of "through Jesus Christ our Lord".
It doesn't have to be interpreted as praying directly to Jesus, as I think you
might have been pointing out.
 

RJM

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Quite possibly.
..but there again, such things can get out of hand.
That is why we have the first commandment.

Most of the prayers I remember in the C of E were along
the lines of "through Jesus Christ our Lord".
It doesn't have to be interpreted as praying directly to Jesus, as I think you
might have been pointing out.
Islam does not assume authority as arbiter of God and prayer?
 
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muhammad_isa

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Islam does not assume authority as arbiter of God and prayer?

The Qur'an "assumes authority" .. if you believe that it was dictated to Muhammad by the One God
through Angel Gabriel, that is.
If not, it has no authority whatsoever. The same goes for the Christian Bible.

Personally, I'm not in favour of an atheist society .. are you?
 
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