ORIGINS OF TRINITY
A HISTORICAL NOTE ON THE MESSAGE OF JESUS
AND ITS METAMORPHSIS INTO TRINITY
BIBLE : JOHN 10:22-42 NLT?: JESUS CLAIMS TO BE THE SON OF GOD? SEE BELOW AND ALSO WHEN THE BIBLE WAS PRODUCED?
ACCORDING TO CHISTIAN TRADITION (IN ARAMAIC), WHEN PLACED ON THE CROSS =: JESUS IS REPORTED TO HAVE WAILED IN ARAMAIC
“ELOI ELOI LAMA SABACHTHANI (MATTHEW 27:46; MARK 15:34); ABBA
(MARK 14:36), Psalm 22:1.
OR SAME AS=
ELAHI, ELAHI MALA SEBASTINI= O’GOD, O’GOD!! WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?! IN OTHER WORDS, JESUS DID NOT BELIEVE HE WAS GOD, OR SON OF GOD!!, OTHERWISE WHY WOULD HE APPEAL TO GOD IN ANGUISH?????
ORIGIN OF TRINITY OR “GOD, THE SON AND THE HOLY GHOST”: Mithraism, the worship of Mithra, was the Iranian god of the Sun, Justice, Contract, and War in pre-Zoroastrian Iran. Known as Mithras in the pre-Christian Roman Empire, during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, this deity was honored as the patron of loyalty to the Roman Emperor. After the acceptance of Christianity by Emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, Mithraism rapidly declined.
Perhaps the most interesting of all the Roman cult gods, was Mithra: or The Soldier’s God. Mithraism, or the Mithraic mysteries, was a Roman mystery religion centered around the god Mithra. It was popular among the Imperial Roman army from around the 1st century to the 4th century AD.
Before the ancient Persian religious reformer Zarathustra (Greek name: Zoroaster) gained influence in the region during the 6th century BC, the Iranians had a polytheistic religion, and Mithra was the most important of their gods. First of all, it was the god of contract and mutual obligation. In a cuneiform tablet of the 15th century BC that contains a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Mithra is invoked as the god of Oath. Furthermore, in some Indian Vedic texts the god Mitra (the Indian form of Mithra) appears both as “friend” and as “contract.” The word Mitra may be translated in either way, because contracts and mutual obligation make friends.
In short, when Rome was the dominant power, Mithra signified as any kind of interpersonal communication and whatever establishes good relations between people. Mithra was called the Mediator, THE GOD OF THE SUN, of THE SHINING LIGHT THAT BEHOLDS EVERYTHING, and, hence, was invoked in Oaths. The Greeks and Romans considered Mithra as a Sun God. He was probably also the god of kings. god of mutual obligation between the king and his warriors and, hence, the god of War. In addition it was also the god of Justice, which was guaranteed by the king. Whenever people observed justice and contract, they venerated Mithra.
CEREMONY OF SACRIFICING THE BULL
The most important Mithraic ceremony was the sacrifice of the bull. Opinion is divided as to whether this ceremony was pre-Zoroastrian or not. Zarathustra denounced the sacrifice of the bull, so it seems likely that the ceremony was a part of the old Iranian paganism.
This inference is corroborated by an Indian text in which Mitra reluctantly participates in the sacrifice of a god named Soma, who often appears in the shape of a white bull or of the moon. On Roman monuments, Mithra reluctantly sacrifices the white bull, who is then transformed into the Moon. This detailed parallel seems to prove that the sacrifice must have been pre-Zoroastrian. Contract and sacrifice are connected, since treaties in ancient times were sanctioned by a common meal.
DARIUS THE GREAT
Beginning with Darius the Great (522–486 BC), the Persian King of the Achaemenid Dynasty were Zoroastrians. But Darius and his successors did not intend to create political difficulties by attempting to eradicate the old beliefs still dear to the heart of many nobles. Thus, the religion of Zarathustra was gradually contaminated with elements of the old, polytheistic worship. Hymns (the Yashts) were composed in honor of the old gods.
There is a Yasht dedicated to Mithra, in which the god is depicted as the all-observing god of Heavenly light, the Guardian of Oaths, the Protector of the righteous in this world and the next, and, above all, as the arch-foe of the powers of evil and darkness—hence, the god of battles and victory.
There is little notice of the Persian god in the Roman world until the beginning of the 2nd century, but, from the year 136 BC onward, there are hundreds of dedicatory inscriptions to Mithra. This renewal of interest is not easily explained.
The most plausible hypothesis seems to be that Roman Mithraism was practically a new creation, wrought by a religious genius who may have lived as late as 100 BC and who gave the old traditional Persian ceremonies a new Platonic interpretation that enabled Mithraism to become acceptable to the Roman world.
Roman Mithraism, like Iranian Mithraism, was a religion of loyalty toward the king. It seems to have been encouraged by the emperors, especially Commodius (180–192), Septimius Severus (193–211), and Caracalla (211–217). Most adherents of Mithra known to us from inscriptions are soldiers of both low and high rank, officials in the service of the emperor, imperial slaves, and freed-men (who quite often were very influential people)—persons who probably knew which god would lead them to quick promotion.
In the mixed religion of the later Achaemenid period, however, the Zoroastrian aspects clearly dominate the heathen aspects. The sacrifice of the bull, abhorred by every Zoroastrian, is never mentioned. When Alexander conquered the Persian Empire about 330 BC, the old structure of society appears to have broken down completely, and about the worship of Mithra in Persia no more was heard.
Local aristocrats in the western part of the former Persian Empire retained their devotion to Mithra. The kings and nobles of the border regions between the Greco-Roman and the Iranian world still worshipped him. When Tiridates, King of Armenia, acknowledged the Roman emperor Nero as his supreme lord, he performed a Mithraic ceremony, indicating that the god of contract and of friendship established good relations between the Armenians and the mighty Romans.
The kings of Commagene (southeast of Turkey) venerated Mithra. Mithradates VI of Pontus may have been a worshipper of the god, and his allies. The Cilician pirates, are known to have performed Mithraic ceremonies (67 BC). The worship of Mithra, however, never became popular in the Greek world, because the Greeks never forgot that Mithra had been the god of their enemies; the Persians.
SOURCE: MITHRAISM , THE PERSIAN RELIGION: Franz Cumont, (Born Jan. 3, 1868, Aalst, Belg.—died Aug. 25, 1947, Brussels), Belgian Archaeologist.
ADDITIONAL NOTES ON MITHRAISM
From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
The Image of Mithras killing the bull is commonly used in any text explaining who Mithras was (c. 150 BC; Louvre-Lens)
Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries or the Cult of Mithras, was a Roman mystery religion centered on the god Mithras. Although inspired by Iranian worship of the Zoroastrian divinity (yazata) Mithra, the Roman Mithras is linked to a new and distinctive imagery, with the level of continuity between Persian and Greco-Roman practice.[a] The mysteries were popular among the Imperial Roman army from about the 1st to the 4th-century BC.
Worshippers of Mithra had a complex system of seven grades of initiation and communal ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those “united by the handshake”.[b] They met in underground temples, now called Mithraea (singular Mithraeum), which survive in large numbers even today. The cult appears to have had its center in Rome, and was popular throughout the western half of the empire, as far south as Roman Africa and Numibia, as far as Roman Dacia, as far north as Roman Britain,: 26–27 and to a lesser extent in Roman Syria in the east.
Mithraism is viewed as a rival of early Christianity.: 147 In the 4th century, Mithraists faced persecution from Christians, and the religion was subsequently suppressed and eliminated in the Roman empire by the end of the century.
Numerous archaeological finds, including meeting places, monuments and artifacts, have contributed to modern knowledge about Mithraism throughout the Roman Empire. The iconic scenes of Mithras show him being born from a rock, slaughtering a bull, and sharing a banquet with the god Sol (the Sun). About 420 sites have yielded materials in Northern Europe related to the cult of Mithra!!!
Among the items found are about 1000 inscriptions, 700 examples of the bull-killing scene (tauroctony), and about 400 other monuments.: xxi It has been estimated that there would have been at least 680 Mithraea in the city of Rome. No written narratives or theology from the religion survive; limited information can be derived from the inscriptions and brief or passing references in Greek and Latin literature. Interpretation of the physical evidence remains problematic and contested.[c]
The term “Mithraism” is a modern convention. Writers of the Roman era referred to it by phrases such as “Mithraic mysteries”, “Mysteries of Mithras” or “Mysteries of the Persians“. Modern sources sometimes refer to the Greco-Roman religion as Roman Mithraism or Western Mithraism to distinguish it from Persian worship of Mithra.
Etymology of Mithras: Main article: Mithras (name)
There is a Bas-relief of the tauroctony of the mysteries, in Metz, France.
The name Mithras (Latin, equivalent to Greek “Μίθρας”) is a form of Mithra, the name of an old, pre-Zoroastrian, and, later on, Zoroastrian, god[d] — a relationship understood by Mithraic scholars since the days of Franz Cumont.[e] An early example of the Greek form of the name is in a 4th century BC work by Xenophon, the Cyropaedia, which is a biography of the Persian King Cyrus the Great. (کورش نامه)
The exact form of a Latin or classical Greek word varies due to the grammatical process of declension. There is archaeological evidence that in Latin, worshippers wrote the nominative form of the god’s name as “Mithras”. Porphyry’s Greek text De Abstinentia (Περὶ ἀποχῆς ἐμψύχων), has a reference to the now-lost histories of the Mithraic mysteries by Euboulus and Pallas, the wording of which suggests that these authors treated the name “Mithra” as an indeclinable foreign word.
RELATED DEITY-NAMES IN OTHER LANGUAGES INCLUDE:
Vedic Sanskrit Mitra, “friend, friendship,” as the name of a god praised in the Rigveda. In Sanskrit, Mitra is a name of the Sun god, mostly known as “Surya” or “Aditya”. the form Mi-it-ra-, found in an inscribed peace treaty between the Hittites and the kingdom of Mitanni, from about 1400 BC.
IRANIAN MITHRA AND SANSKRIT MITRA ARE BELIEVED TO COME FROM AN INDO-IRANIAN WORD MITRÁS, MEANING “CONTRACT, AGREEMENT, COVENANT“.
THE SURPRISING ORIGINS OF THE TRINITY DOCTRINE
Posted on Jul 22, 2011 by United Church of God Listen Estimated reading time: 18 minutes
FEW UNDERSTAND HOW THE TRINITY DOCTRINE CAME TO BE ACCEPTED – THREE CENTURIES AFTER THE BIBLE WAS COMPLETED! YET ITS ROOTS GO BACK MUCH FARTHER IN HISTORY.
The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, while himself not really a Christian, convened and played a major role in the Council of Nicaea, which laid the groundwork for acceptance of the Trinity Doctrine.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
MOST PEOPLE ASSUME THAT EVERYTHING THAT BEARS THE LABEL “CHRISTIAN” MUST HAVE ORIGINATED WITH JESUS CHRIST AND HIS EARLY FOLLOWERS!!?? BUT THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS LOOK AT THE WORDS OF JESUS AND HIS APOSTLES TO SEE THAT THIS IS CLEARLY NOT TRUE.
Historic records show that, just as Jesus and the New Testament writers foretold, various heretical ideas and teachers rose up from within the early Church and infiltrated it from without. Jesus Himself warned His followers: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name . . . and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).
You can read many similar warnings in other passages (such as Matthew 24:11; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 1 John 2:18-26; 1 John 4:1-3).
Barely two decades after Christ’s death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote “that many believers were already “turning away . . . to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He wrote that he was forced to contend with “false apostles, deceitful workers” who were fraudulently “transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). One of the major problems he had to deal with was “false brethren” (2 Corinthians 11:26).
Late in the first century, as we see from 3 John 9-10, conditions had grown so dire that false ministers openly refused to receive representatives of the apostle John and were excommunicating true Christians from the Church!
Of this troubling period Edward Gibbon, the famed English historian, wrote in his classic work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of a “dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church” (1821, Vol. 2, p. 111).
It wasn’t long before true servants of God became a marginalized and scattered minority among those calling themselves Christian. A very different religion, now compromised with many concepts and practices rooted in ancient paganism (such mixing of religious beliefs being known as syncretism, common in the Roman Empire at the time), took hold and transformed the faith founded by Jesus.
Historian Jesse Hurlbut says of this time of transformation: “We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., ‘The Age of Shadows,’ partly because the gloom of persecution was over the church, but more especially because of all the periods in the [church’s] history, it is the one about which we know the least. We have no longer the clear light of the Book of Acts to guide us; and no author of that age has filled the blank in history . . .
“For fifty years after St. Paul’s life, a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (The Story of the Christian Church, 1970, p. 33).
THIS “VERY DIFFERENT” CHURCH WOULD GROW IN POWER AND INFLUENCE, AND WITHIN A FEW SHORT CENTURIES WOULD COME TO DOMINATE EVEN THE MIGHTY ROMAN EMPIRE!
By the second century, faithful members of the Church, Christ’s “little flock” (Luke 12:32), had largely been scattered by waves of deadly persecution. They held firmly to the biblical truth about Jesus and God the Father, though they were persecuted by the Roman authorities as well as those who professed Christianity but were in reality teaching “another Jesus” and a “different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9).
DIFFERENT IDEAS ABOUT CHRIST’S DIVINITY LEAD TO CONFLICT
This was the setting in which the doctrine of the Trinity emerged. In those early decades after Jesus Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection, and spanning the next few centuries, various ideas sprang up as to His exact nature. Was He man? Was He God? Was He God appearing as a man? Was He an illusion? Was He a mere man who became God? Was He created by God the Father, or did He exist eternally with the Father?????????????????????
All of these ideas had their proponents. THE UNITY OF BELIEF OF THE ORIGINAL CHURCH WAS LOST AS NEW BELIEFS, MANY BORROWED OR ADAPTED FROM PAGAN RELIGIONS, PERSIAN MITHRAISM AND REPLACED THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND THE APOSTLES.
Let us be clear that when it comes to the intellectual and theological debates in those early centuries that led to the formulation of the Trinity, the true Church was largely absent from the scene, having been driven underground. (See the chapter “The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity” in our free booklet The Church Jesus Built for an overview of this critical period.).
For this reason, in that stormy period we often see debates not between truth and error, but between one error and a different error—a fact seldom recognized by many modern scholars yet critical for our understanding.
A classic example of this was the dispute over the nature of Christ that led the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, to convene the Council of Nicaea (in modern-day western Turkey) in A.D. 325.
Constantine, although held by many to be the first “Christian” Roman Emperor, was actually a sun-worshiper who was only baptized on his deathbed. During his reign he had his eldest son and his wife murdered. He was also vehemently anti-Semitic, referring in one of his edicts to “the detestable Jewish crowd” and “the customs of these most wicked men”—customs that were in fact rooted in the Bible and practiced by Jesus and the apostles!!
As emperor in a period of great tumult within the Roman Empire, Constantine was challenged with keeping the empire unified. He recognized the value of religion in uniting his empire. This was, in fact, one of his primary motivations in accepting and sanctioning the “Christian” religion (WHICH, BY THIS TIME, HAD DRIFTED FAR FROM THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES AND WAS CHRISTIAN IN NAME ONLY).
But now Constantine faced a new challenge. Religion researcher MS. Karen Armstrong explains in A History of God that “one of the first problems that had to be solved was the doctrine of God . . . a new danger arose from within which it split Christians into bitterly warring camps” (1993, p. 106)
DEBATE OVER THE NATURE OF GOD AT THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 AD as much for political reasons—for unity in the empire—as for religious ones. The primary issue at that time came to be known as the Arian controversy.
“In the hope of securing for his throne the support of the growing body of Christians he had shown them considerable favor and it was to his interest to have the church vigorous and united. The Arian controversy was threatening its unity and menacing its strength. He therefore undertook to put an end to the trouble. It was suggested to him, perhaps by the Spanish bishop Hosius, who was influential at court, that if a synod were to meet representing the whole church both east and west, it might be possible to restore harmony.
“Constantine himself of course neither knew nor cared anything about the matter in dispute but he was eager to bring the controversy to a close, and Hosius’ advice appealed to him as sound” (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, 1954, Vol. 1, p. 258).
Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Christ, because He was the Son of God, must have had a beginning and therefore was a special creation of God. Further, if Jesus was the Son, the Father of necessity must be older.
OPPOSING THE TEACHINGS OF ARIUS WAS ATHANASIUS, A DEACON ALSO FROM ALEXANDRIA. HIS VIEW WAS AN EARLY FORM OF TRINITARIANISM WHEREIN THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT WERE ONE BUT AT THE SAME TIME DISTINCT FROM EACH OTHER.
The decision as to which view the church council would accept was to a large extent arbitrary. Karen Armstrong explains in A History of God: “When the bishops gathered at Nicaea on May 20, 325, to resolve the crisis, very few would have shared Athanasius’s view of Christ. Most held a position midway between Athanasius and Arius” (p. 110).
As emperor, Constantine was in the unusual position of deciding church doctrine even though he was not really a Christian. (The following year is when he had both his wife and son murdered, as previously mentioned).
Historian Henry Chadwick attests, “Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun” (The Early Church, 1993, p. 122). As to the emperor’s embrace of Christianity, Chadwick admits, “His conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear” (p. 125).
Chadwick does say that Constantine’s deathbed baptism itself “implies no doubt about his Christian belief,” it being common for rulers to put off baptism to avoid accountability for things like torture and executing criminals (p. 127). But this justification doesn’t really help the case for the emperor’s conversion being genuine.
Norbert Brox, a Professor of Church History, confirms that Constantine was never actually a converted Christian: “Constantine did not experience any conversion; there are no signs of a change of faith in him. He never said of himself that he had turned to another god . . . At the time when he turned to Christianity, for him this was Sol Invictus (the victorious Sun God)” (A Concise History of the Early Church, 1996, p. 48).
When it came to the Nicene Council, The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination” (1971 edition, Vol. 6, “Constantine,” p. 386).
With the emperor’s approval, the Council rejected the minority view of Arius and, having nothing definitive with which to replace it, approved the view of Athanasius—also a minority view. The church was left in the odd position of officially supporting, from that point forward, the decision made at Nicaea to endorse a belief held by only a minority of those attending
THE GROUNDWORK FOR OFFICIAL ACCEPTANCE OF THE TRINITY was now laid—but it took more than three centuries after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for this un-biblical teaching to emerge! after much debate, mayhem, and Christians killing Christians.
NICAENE DECISION DIDN’T END THE DEBATE
The Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy. Ms. Karen Armstrong explains: “Athanasius managed to impose his theology on the delegates . . . with the emperor breathing down their necks . . .
“The show of agreement pleased Constantine, who had no understanding of the theological issues, but in fact there was no unanimity at Nicaea. After the council, the bishops went on teaching as they had before, and the Arian crisis continued for another sixty years. Arius and his followers fought back and managed to regain imperial favor. Athanasius was exiled no fewer than five times. It was very difficult to make his creed stick” (pp. 110-111).
The ongoing disagreements were at times violent and bloody. Of the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, famous Historian Will Durant writes, “Probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome” (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 4: The Age of Faith, 1950, p. 8). Atrociously, while claiming to be Christian many believers fought and slaughtered one another over their differing views of God!
Of the following decades, Professor Harold Brown, cited earlier, writes: “During the middle decades of this century, from 340 to 380, the history of doctrine looks more like the history of court and church intrigues and social unrest . . . The central doctrines hammered out in this period often appear to have been put through by intrigue or mob violence rather than by the common consent of Christendom led by the Holy Spirit” (p. 119).
DEBATE SHIFTS TO THE NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Disagreements soon centered around another issue, the nature of the Holy Spirit. In that regard, the statement issued at the Council of Nicaea said simply, “We believe in the Holy Spirit.” This “seemed to have been added to Athanasius’s creed almost as an afterthought,” writes Karen Armstrong. “People were confused about the Holy Spirit. Was it simply a synonym for God or was it something more?” (p. 115).
Professor Ryrie, also cited earlier,writers, “In the second half of the fourth century, three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor [today central Turkey] gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity” (p. 65). They proposed an idea that was a step beyond Athanasius’ view—that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit were co-equal and together in one being, yet also distinct from one another. VERY IMPORTANT!!
These men—Basil, bishop of Caesarea, his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus—were all “trained in Greek philosophy” (Armstrong, p. 113), which no doubt affected their outlook and beliefs (see “Greek Philosophy’s Influence on the Trinity Doctrine”).
In their view, as Karen Armstrong explains, “the Trinity only made sense as a mystical or spiritual experience . . . It was not a logical or intellectual formulation but an imaginative paradigm that confounded reason. Gregory of Nazianzus made this clear when he explained that contemplation of the Three in One induced a profound and overwhelming emotion that confounded thought and intellectual clarity.
“‘No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendor of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Three than I am carried back into the One. When I think of any of the Three, I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me’” (p. 117). LITTLE WONDER THAT, AS ARMSTRONG CONCLUDES, “FOR MANY WESTERN CHRISTIANS . . . THE TRINITY IS SIMPLY BAFFLING” (IBID.).
ONGOING DISPUTES LEAD TO THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE
In the year 381, 44 years after Constantine’s death, Emperor Theodosius the Great convened the Council of Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey) to resolve these disputes. Gregory of Nazianzus, recently appointed as Archbishop of Constantinople, presided over the council and urged the adoption of his view of the Holy Spirit.
Historian Charles Freeman states: “Virtually nothing is known of the theological debates of the council of 381, but Gregory was certainly hoping to get some acceptance of his belief that the Spirit was co-substantial with the Father [meaning that the persons are of the same being, as substance in this context denotes individual quality].???????????????????????????????
“Whether he dealt with the matter clumsily or whether there was simply no chance of consensus, the ‘Macedonians,’ bishops who refused to accept the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, left the council . . . Typically, Gregory berated the bishops for preferring to have a majority rather than simply accepting ‘the Divine Word’ of the Trinity on his authority” (A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State, 2008, p. 96)
Gregory soon became ill and had to withdraw from the council. Who would preside now? “So it was that one Nectarius, an elderly city senator who had been a popular prefect in the city as a result of his patronage of the games, but who was still not a baptized Christian, was selected . . . Nectarius appeared to know no theology, and he had to be initiated into the required faith before being baptized and consecrated” (Freeman, pp. 97-98).
Bizarrely, a man who up to this point wasn’t a Christian was appointed to preside over a major church council tasked with determining what it would teach regarding the nature of God!
THE TRINITY BECOMES OFFICIAL DOCTRINE
The teaching of the three Cappadocian theologians “made it possible for the Council of Constantinople (381) to affirm the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, which up to that point had nowhere been clearly stated, not even in Scripture” (The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, “God,” p. 568).
The council adopted a statement that translates into English as, in part: “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages . . . And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets . . .” The statement also affirmed belief “in one holy, catholic [meaning in this context universal, whole or complete] and apostolic Church . . .”
WITH THIS DECLARATION IN 381, WHICH WOULD BECOME KNOWN AS THE NICENE-CONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED, THE TRINITY AS GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD TODAY BECAME THE OFFICIAL BELIEF AND TEACHING CONCERNING THE NATURE OF GOD.
Theology professor Richard Hanson observes that a result of the Council’s decision “was to reduce the meanings of the word ‘God’ from a very large selection of alternatives to one only,” such that “when Western man today says ‘God’ he means the one, sole exclusive [Trinitarian] God and nothing else” (Studies in Christian Antiquity, 1985,pp. 243-244).
Thus, Emperor Theodosius—who himself had been baptized only a year before convening the Council—was, like Constantine nearly six decades earlier, instrumental in establishing major Church Doctrine. As historian Charles Freeman notes: “It is important to remember that Theodosius had no theological background of his own and that he put in place as dogma a formula containing intractable philosophical problems of which he would have been unaware. In effect, the emperor’s laws had silenced the debate when it was still unresolved” (p. 103).
OTHER BELIEFS ABOUT THE NATURE OF GOD BANNED
Now that a decision had been reached, Theodosius would tolerate no dissenting views. He issued his own edict that read: “We now order that all churches are to be handed over to the bishops who profess Father, Son and Holy Spirit of a single majesty, of the same glory, of one splendor, who establish no difference by sacrilegious separation, but (who affirm) the order of the Trinity by recognizing the Persons and uniting the Godhead” (quoted by Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God, 1999, p. 223).
ANOTHER EDICT FROM THEODOSIUS WENT FURTHER IN DEMANDING ADHERENCE TO THE NEW TEACHING: “LET US BELIEVE THE ONE DEITY OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, IN EQUAL MAJESTY AND IN A HOLY TRINITY. WE AUTHORIZE THE FOLLOWERS OF THIS LAW TO ASSUME THE TITLE OF CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS; BUT AS FOR THE OTHERS, SINCE, IN OUR JUDGEMENT, THEY ARE FOOLISH MADMEN, WE DECREE THAT THEY SHALL BE BRANDED WITH THE IGNOMINIOUS NAME OF HERETICS, AND SHALL NOT PRESUME TO GIVE THEIR CONVENTICLES [ASSEMBLIES] THE NAME OF CHURCHES.
“THEY WILL SUFFER IN THE FIRST PLACE THE CHASTISEMENT OF THE DIVINE CONDEMNATION, AND THE SECOND THE PUNISHMENT WHICH OUR AUTHORITY, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WILL OF HEAVEN, SHALL DECIDE TO INFLICT” (Reproduced In Documents Of The Christian Church, Henry Bettenson, Editor, 1967, P. 22).
THUS WE SEE THAT A TEACHING THAT WAS FOREIGN TO JESUS, AND NEVER TAUGHT BY THE APOSTLES AND UNKNOWN TO THE OTHER BIBLICAL WRITERS, WAS LOCKED INTO PLACE AND THE TRUE BIBLICAL REVELATION ABOUT THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS LOCKED OUT. ANY WHO DISAGREED WERE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EDICTS OF THE EMPEROR AND CHURCH AUTHORITIES, BRANDED HERETICS AND DEALT WITH ACCORDINGLY.
TRINITY DOCTRINE DECIDED BY TRIAL AND ERROR
This unusual chain of events is why Theology Professors Anthony and Richard Hanson would summarize the story in their book Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith by noting that the adoption of the Trinity Doctrine came as a result of “a process of theological exploration which lasted at least three hundred years . . . In fact it was a process of trial and error (almost of hit and miss), in which the error was by no means all confined to the unorthodox . . . It would be foolish to represent the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as having been achieved by any other way” (1980, p. 172).
They then conclude: “This was a long, confused, process whereby different schools of thought in the Church worked out for themselves, and then tried to impose on others, their answer to the question, ‘How divine is Jesus Christ?’ . . . If ever there was a controversy decided by the method of trial and error, it was this one” (p. 175).
Anglican Churchman and Oxford University lecturer K.E. Kirk revealingly writes of the adoption of the doctrine of the Trinity: “The theological and philosophical vindication of the Divinity of the Spirit begins in the fourth century; we naturally turn to the writers of that period to discover what grounds they have for their belief. To our surprise, we are forced to admit that they have none . . .
“This failure of Christian Theology . . . to produce logical justification of the cardinal point in its TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE is of the greatest possible significance. We are forced, even before turning to the question of the vindication of the doctrine by experience, to ask ourselves whether theology or philosophy has ever produced any reasons why its belief should be Trinitarian” (“The Evolution of the Doctrine of the Trinity,” published in Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation, A.E.J. Rawlinson, editor, 1928, pp. 221-222).
WHY BELIEVE A TEACHING THAT IS NOT BIBLICAL???????
This, in brief, is the amazing story of how the Doctrine of the Trinity came to be introduced—and how those who refused to accept it came to be branded as heretics or unbelievers.
But should we really base our view of God on a doctrine that isn’t spelled out in the Bible, that wasn’t formalized until three centuries after the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, that was debated and argued for decades (not to mention for centuries since), that was imposed by religious councils presided over by novices or nonbelievers and that was “decided by the method of trial and error”?
Of course not. We should instead look to the Word of God—not to ideas of men—to see how our Creator reveals Himself!
SOURCE: UNITED CHURCH OF GOD, 07-22, 2011 –BEYOND TODAY, 10-06-2022
NOTES: 1. CAESAR AUGUSTUS, WAS THE 1ST ROMAN EMPEROR WHEN JESUS WAS BORN.
2. JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED DURING THE REIGN OF EMPEROR TIBERIUS ,(2ND EMPEROR) BY PONTIUS PILATE, GOVERNOR OF JUDEA, AD 30 OR 33??
3. ROMAN EMPEROR CONTEMPORARY OF PAUL : TIBERIUS JULIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS; AD 14 TO AD 37. 2ND ROMAN EMPEROR.
MY CONCLUSIONS: 1. The Principle of Trinity originated from Persian Mithraism. 2. The Romans, especially the Roman Legions, believed in and practiced Mithraism for 220 years. 3. They built and gathered for prayer-meetings in their vast empire in Western Europe right up to the Northern parts of Britain in rooms made of building material benches facing each other and a water canal separating their benches. (Archeologists still find such prayer-rooms in Britain!!) 4. AS STATED ABOVE, THE CHRISTIAN IDEA OF TRINITY ORIGINATED FROM MITHRAISM, WHICH WAS THE PROFESSED RELIGION OF ROMAN EMPERORS AND THE ROMAN LEGIONS, FOR 220 YEARS. 5. AFTER 300 YEARS OF BLOODY BATTLES THE PRINCIPLE OF TRINITY IN CHRISTIANITY WAS FINALLY ACCEPTED AND ADOPTED OFFICIALLY AT THE CONFERENCE OF NICEA, CONVENED BY AND PRESSURED ON THE GATHERING BY EMPEROR CONTANTINE, BUT WHO, THOUGH BAPTISED WHILE DYING, REMAINED A BELIEVER IN MITHRAISM REPRESENTED BY THE SUN (LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!). 6. FINALLY, AS STATED BY THEOLOGY PROFESSORS ANTHONY AND RICHARD HANSON (SEE PAGE 14 ABOVE), CREATING AND FORCING A SYSTEM OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS BASED ON HUMAN DEBATE AND DISCUSSIONS, RATHER THAN BY REVELATIONS BY JESUS, COMPROMISES THE AUTHENTICITY OF SUCH DOCTRINE!!!
SOURCES & NOTES USED FOR ARTICLE ON TRINITY
NOTES USED FOR THE ARTICLE ON TRINITY
How Ancient Trinitarian Gods Influenced Adoption of the Trinity
Posted on Jul 22, 2011 by United Church of God Listen Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
MP3 Audio(15.17 MB)
Many who believe in the Trinity are surprised, perhaps shocked, to learn that the idea of divine beings existing as trinities or triads long predated Christianity. Yet, as we will see, the evidence is abundantly documented.
Gold figurines of Egyptian gods Osiris, Horus and Isis Wikimedia
These gold figurines represent one of the Egyptian trinities of gods—Osiris (center), flanked by Horus (left) and Isis.
Marie Sinclair, Countess of Caithness, in her 1876 book Old Truths in a New Light, states: “It is generally, although erroneously, supposed that the doctrine of the Trinity is of Christian origin. Nearly every nation of antiquity possessed a similar doctrine. [The early Catholic theologian] St. Jerome testifies unequivocally, ‘All the ancient nations believed in the Trinity’” (p. 382).
Notice how the following quotes document belief in a divine trinity in many regions and religions of the ancient world.
“The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu’s share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods” (The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, 1994, pp. 54-55)
“The ancient Babylonians recognized the doctrine of a trinity, or three persons in one god—as appears from a composite god with three heads forming part of their mythology, and the use of the equilateral triangle, also, as an emblem of such trinity in unity” (Thomas Dennis Rock, The Mystical Woman and the Cities of the Nations, 1867, pp. 22-23).
“The Puranas, one of the Hindoo Bibles of more than 3,000 years ago, contain the following passage: ‘O ye three Lords! know that I recognize only one God. Inform me, therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my adorations.’ The three gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva [or Shiva], becoming manifest to him, replied, ‘Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us. What to you appears such is only the semblance. The single being appears under three forms by the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, but he is one.’
“Hence the triangle was adopted by all the ancient nations as a symbol of the Deity . . . Three was considered among all the pagan nations as the chief of the mystical numbers, because, as Aristotle remarks, it contains within itself a beginning, a middle, and an end. Hence we find it designating some of the attributes of almost all the pagan gods” (Sinclair, pp. 382-383).
“In the Fourth Century B.C. Aristotle wrote: ‘All things are three, and thrice is all: and let us use this number in the worship of the gods; for, as the Pythagoreans say, everything and all things are bounded by threes, for the end, the middle and the beginning have this number in everything, and these compose the number of the Trinity’” (Arthur Weigall, Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, pp. 197-198).
“The Hymn to Amun decreed that ‘No god came into being before him (Amun)’ and that ‘All gods are three: Amun, Re and Ptah, and there is no second to them. Hidden is his name as Amon, he is Re in face, and his body is Ptah.’ . . . This is a statement of trinity, the three chief gods of Egypt subsumed into one of them, Amon. Clearly, the concept of organic unity within plurality got an extraordinary boost with this formulation. Theologically, in a crude form it came strikingly close to the later Christian form of plural Trinitarian monotheism” (Simson Najovits, Egypt, Trunk of the Tree, Vol. 2, 2004, pp. 83-84).
Many other areas had their own divine trinities. In Greece they were Zeus, Poseidon and Adonis. The Phoenicians worshipped Ulomus, Ulosuros and Eliun. Rome worshipped Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. In Germanic nations they were called Wodan, Thor and Fricco. Regarding the Celts, one source states, “The ancient heathen deities of the pagan Irish[,] Criosan, Biosena, and Seeva, or Sheeva, are doubtless the Creeshna [Krishna], Veeshnu [Vishnu], [or the all-inclusive] Brahma, and Seeva [Shiva], of the Hindoos” (Thomas Maurice, The History of Hindostan, Vol. 2, 1798, p. 171).
“The origin of the conception is entirely pagan”
Egyptologist Arthur Weigall, while himself a Trinitarian, summed up the influence of ancient beliefs on the adoption of the Trinity doctrine by the Catholic Church in the following excerpt from his previously cited book:
“It must not be forgotten that Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon [the Trinity], and nowhere in the New Testament does the word ‘Trinity’ appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan . . .
“The ancient Egyptians, whose influence on early religious thought was profound, usually arranged their gods or goddesses in trinities: there was the trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, the trinity of Amen, Mut, and Khonsu, the trinity of Khnum, Satis, and Anukis, and so forth . . .
“The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognized the mysterious and undefined existence of the Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One . . .
“The application of this old pagan conception of a Trinity to Christian theology was made possible by the recognition of the Holy Spirit as the required third ‘Person,’ co-equal with the other ‘Persons’ . . .
“The idea of the Spirit being co-equal with God was not generally recognised until the second half of the Fourth Century A.D. . . . In the year 381 the Council of Constantinople added to the earlier Nicene Creed a description of the Holy Spirit as ‘the Lord, and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified.’ . . .
“Thus, the Athanasian creed, which is a later composition but reflects the general conceptions of Athanasius [the 4th-century Trinitarian whose view eventually became official doctrine] and his school, formulated the conception of a co-equal Trinity wherein the Holy Spirit was the third ‘Person’; and so it was made a dogma of the faith, and belief in the Three in One and One in Three became a paramount doctrine of Christianity, though not without terrible riots and bloodshed . . .
“Today a Christian thinker . . . has no wish to be precise about it, more especially since the definition is obviously pagan in origin and was not adopted by the Church until nearly three hundred years after Christ” (pp. 197-203).
James Bonwick summarized the story well on page 396 of his 1878 work Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought: “It is an undoubted fact that more or less all over the world the deities are in triads. This rule applies to eastern and western hemispheres, to north and south.
“Further, it is observed that, in some mystical way, the triad of three persons is one. The first is as the second or third, the second as first or third, the third as first or second; in fact, they are each other, one and the same individual being. The definition of Athanasius, who lived in Egypt, applies to the trinities of all heathen religions.”
Sam O’Neal, Christianity Expert, M.A., Christian Studies, Union University, B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College
Sam O’Neal is the co-author of “Bible Stories You May Have Forgotten” and “The Bible Answer Book.” He is a former editor for Christianity Today and LifeWay Christian Resources.
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Updated on January 28, 2019
Determining when the Bible was written poses challenges because it isn’t a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over more than 2,000 years.
So there are two ways to answer the question, “When was the Bible written?” The first is to identify the original dates for each of the Bible’s 66 books. The second, the focus here is to describe how and when all 66 books were collected in a single volume.
The Short Answer
We can say with some certainty that the first widespread edition of the Bible was assembled by St. Jerome around A.D. 400. This manuscript included all 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament in the same language: Latin. This edition of the Bible is commonly referred to as The Vulgate.
Jerome wasn’t the first to select all 66 books we know today as the Bible. He was the first to translate and compile everything into a single volume.
In the Beginning
The first step in assembling the Bible involves the 39 books of the Old Testament, also referred to as the Hebrew Bible. Beginning with Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible, these books were written over the centuries by prophets and leaders. By the time of Jesus and his disciples, the Hebrew Bible had already been established as 39 books. This was what Jesus meant when he referred to “the Scriptures.”
After the early church was established, people such as Matthew started writing historical records of Jesus’ life and ministry, which became known as the Gospels. Church leaders such as Paul and Peter wanted to provide direction for the churches they established, so they wrote letters that were circulated throughout congregations in different regions. We call these the Epistles.
A century after the launch of the church, hundreds of letters and books explained who Jesus was and what he did and how to live as his follower. It became clear that some of these writings weren’t authentic. Church members began to ask which books should be followed and which ignored.
Finishing the Process
Eventually, Christian church leaders worldwide gathered to answer major questions, including which books should be regarded as “Scripture.” These gatherings included the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and the First Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381, which decided a book should be included in the Bible if it was:
Written by one of Jesus’ disciples, someone who was a witness to Jesus’ ministry, such as Peter, or someone who interviewed witnesses, such as Luke.
Written in the first century A.D., meaning that books written long after the events of Jesus’ life and the first decades of the church weren’t included.
Consistent with other portions of the Bible known to be valid, meaning the book couldn’t contradict a trusted element of Scripture.
After a few decades of debate, these councils largely settled which books should be included in the Bible. A few years later, all were published by Jerome in a single volume.
By the time the first century A.D. ended, most of the church had agreed on which books should be considered Scripture. The earliest church members took guidance from the writings of Peter, Paul, Matthew, John, and others. The later councils and debates were largely useful in weeding out inferior books that claimed the same authority.
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DATED: OCTOBER 24TH, 2022