A PATRISTIC STUDY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRINITY
By Juan Baixeras
Names to know
The Church Fathers
A Brief History of the Church After Nicaea
The purpose of this paper is to show that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not something that was taught by Jesus and the Apostles, but that it was, in fact, a doctrine that slowly developed throughout several centuries due to the heavy influence of Greek philosophy. It is also intended to show the early Christian leaders’ beliefs on the nature of Jesus, the kingdom of God, and what happens to Christians when they die. Finally, it is for the reader to see the gradual change in Christian theology (for the worse) on these topics as time wore on.
One of the oldest and least credible arguments that proponents of the Trinity try to pass off as fact is that the Apostles taught the Trinity in the New Testament.
The Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD., made "Jesus of the same substance as God." This is not the Trinitarian doctrinewe know of today, but it was a start. Fifty-six years later, at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD., the Holy Spirit was added to the formula, bringing to life the modern day Trinity. One can easily see that even at Nicaea the Trinity was not an established doctrine by the absence of the Holy Spirit. Trinitarians will argue that the belief in a triune God was there from the Apostles, and that it was formalized as dogma at Nicaea and Constantinople. But the fact is that the New Testament does not anywhere teach the doctrine of the Trinity. The Doctrine of the Trinity, as we shall see, was not an established doctrine from Apostolic times, but a slowly developing idea that took over three hundred years to formalize.
Just to clear up the claim that the Apostles taught the Trinity in the New Testament, we will conduct a careful analysis of Patristic writings from the days of the Apostles all the way to Nicaea. The logic is, that if the Apostles did indeed teach the Trinity, then it would stand to reason that the early Christian leaders of the church would also be Trinitarians, and their letters should reflect that teaching. The problem that Trinitarians will find is that these early Christian leaders (until the late second century) had no idea of any Trinity. The latter part of the second century is when we start hearing for the first time of a Trinity of any kind, and even then, it is not very similar to the Trinity that Christianity has today. If the Apostles had actually taught the Trinity, then the Doctrine of the Trinity should be a constant teaching from the Apostles all the way to Nicaea. The problem with this thought is that the Christian leaders which came right after the Apostles, and who in some cases were appointed by the Apostles, are strangers to the thought of a triune God. As we get farther and farther away in time from the Apostles, we begin to see changes in the writers’ Christology and their overall theology. This is almost completely due to the incredible influence of Greek philosophies such as Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Stoicism, and Gnosticism on early Christianity. There are probably a few more isms, but these are the major culprits. Greek philosophy not only created the Doctrine of the Trinity, but it was also responsible for several more near fatal changes to true Christianity which we will also be examining.
You must realize that in those days Greek philosophy was the major thought pattern of the civilized world. Anyone who was anyone was educated in Greek philosophy. Another reason why these philosophies were so quick to influence early Christianity is that in the beginning of the church, the leaders were for the most part Jewish, with the Jewish concept of God.
"The Jews conceive God as an absolutely simple unity (inferring absolutely no constituent divisions)." (Jewish Thought 6/12/96)
When Christianity started spreading, the leaders of the churches were now Gentiles who had converted to Christianity. These people, for the most part, had been educated in Greek philosophies in their schools and universities. As educated persons, they of course wanted to find a place for their new religious beliefs within the philosophical framework they had already acquired. So when they read Hebrew Scriptures, they could not help injecting Greek philosophical meanings into them. The Encyclopedia Britannica says concerning Christian Platonist:
"They did not believe that truth could conflict with truth and were confident that all that was rationally certain in Platonic speculation would prove to be in perfect accordance with the Christian revelation. Their unhistorical approach and unscholarly methods of exegesis of texts, both pagan and Christian, facilitated this confidence."
There was also the felt need of some Christians with Greek philosophical training to express Christianity in those terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.
What is needed today is to remove all the Greek influence from what is called modern day Christianity, and return to the Christianity that was preached by Jesus and his Apostles.
This paper will cover almost all the major Patristic writings leading up to Nicaea. Some writings have been left out because they had nothing to contribute to the topics at issue.
The study of the writings of the so-called "Fathers" (patres) of the Church" is called "patristics." Do not be confused. "Fathers" in this sense does not mean "priests," although many of these individuals were priests. It also does not exactly mean "fathers" in the sense of "founding fathers." It means "teachers." This was a standard usage in ancient and early Christian times. In the first few centuries, the term "father" was primarily applied to the bishop, who had the primary teaching role within the church. Gradually, the word was extended to include all early Christian writers who were taken as representing the authentic tradition of the church. We will be concerned only with the Church fathers up to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
This group of "fathers" will be divided up into what are known as the Apostolic Fathers, and the Church Fathers. Apostolic Fathers does not mean the Apostles. These are individuals who are considered to be the disciples of the Apostles, or of their immediate disciples. They are about as close as you can get to the Apostles. As you will see, their theology for the most part, has not been corrupted. Their writings basically continue the preaching tradition of the Apostles. There is little theoretical speculation. (History of Philosophy, Vol. 2, Chapter 2.)
The ideal thing would be for a person to actually read the original letters in this study. But since that is almost impossible for most people due to time constraints and other reasons, I have written down all the verses in these writings that pertain to the three most important subjects that the influence of Greek philosophy has corrupted.
1. The nature of Jesus Christ. (Who do the writers think that Jesus is?)
2. The kingdom of God. (Do the writers think that the kingdom of God is an earthly kingdom that is to come in the future at the return of Christ, or do they think that it is a kingdom of the heart?)
3. The nature of death and afterlife. (Do the writers think that you go to heaven or hell when you die, or do they believe in the resurrection of the dead upon Christ’s return?)
This paper is structured in the following manner:
1. I will briefly define the major Greek philosophies so that the reader can have a working understanding of each philosophy and see its influence in certain writings.
2. I will list a short biography of each writer before reviewing his writings.
3. I will list all the verses dealing with the topics mentioned above and a commentary for each verse.
4. I will summarize what I believe to be the writers' opinions on those topics mentioned from only the verses listed in the paper. The reader will be able to draw his or her own conclusions based on the same verses.
In these definitions I will list only the points that have a direct relationship to our topic. The purpose of this paper is not to get a full understanding of these philosophies, but to see how and in what capacity they have affected Christian theology.
These philosophies are not religions. In some regards they do differ significantly, but in others they are very similar. In other words, you could believe several of them to be correct at the same time without any major conflict. You could also pick and choose what you liked and disliked from each one. It would be similar to being a registered voter in the U.S. and believing in the social programs of the Democrats and also the foreign policy of the Republicans. Some of the writers that we will be studying were influenced by more than one philosophy.
Pythagoreans - A group of early Greek scientist and religious thinkers influenced by Pythagoras of Samos. Pythagoreans believed that the soul is immortal and separable from the body. (Greek Background to Medieval Philosophy)
This is where the concept of the Transmigration of Souls began. This concept influenced Plato and later led to the belief that when Christians die, their souls separate from their bodies and go to either heaven or hell. It is bizarre for a Christian to believe that his soul goes to heaven or hell after death, when judgment comes only after Jesus’ return. Very Greek, but definitely not Hebrew.
Platonism - Platonist believed that our physical world is far from perfect. However , the ideal world is another world that is separate and distinct from the physical one. Our minds or souls must therefore be capable of existing in that separate realm. We must be capable of existing apart from the physical body. The flesh is evil. It is bad for the soul to be in the body. The body is a prison. Death is a liberation. It allows us to reach the realm where things are the way they ought to be. (Radical Reformation Vol. 1, No.4, 1992)
You can obviously see how this way of thinking will ultimately influence Christianity and change the goal of a Christian from being at the first resurrection to heaven going.
Platonist also believe in the Doctrine of Recollection, according to which, learning is the remembering of a wisdom that the soul enjoyed prior to its incarnation.
This view suggests the immortality and pre-existence of the soul, and the soul then becoming incarnate. Sound familiar? It should. This is probably 99% of Christianity’s view of Jesus.
Neo-Platonism - This philosophy incorporates all the Platonist framework and then adds a few twists of its own. It has a different view of God. This is probably the most important difference between them, and the most damaging to Christianity.
The Neo-Platonist view of God is as follows: there is the highest principle, which is called the One. The One produces the Intelligence, and from it comes the Soul. This process is called emanation. It would benefit us to get a visual picture of this thought.
One / Intelligence / Soul
God / Word / Holy Spirit
This concept of God, that realities derive from higher essentialities, was devastating to Christianity and essential to the development of the Trinity. They also believe that the goal of the human soul is to escape from the body and return to the One. (Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia)
Stoicism - One of the most influential traditions in the philosophy of the Hellenistic world, Stoicism claimed the following of a large portion of the educated persons in the Greco-Roman world. It had considerable influence on the development of early Christianity. (The Ecole Initiative)
Stoic philosophy insisted that the DIVINE principle of life "logos" gave order to the world and could be found in all creatures and substances. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg. 183) You can imagine what happens when someone who has been educated in this philosophy, who believes that the logos is the divine principle of life (which is basically a definition of God) reads John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the word (logos) etc. He is off to the races in the wrong direction. The worst part is that it would make all the sense in the world to Stoic Christians. They would inevitably end up with divine pre-existent logos, which, of course, must be Jesus.
Stoic thought was extremely popular among Christian theologians of Alexandria in Egypt. Egypt is where logos Christology developed. And wouldn’t you know it, all the major theologians who wrote about the logos being God were from Egypt. What a coincidence!
Gnosticism - This philosophy has, in my opinion done more harm to Christianity than all the rest of the Greek philosophies put together. It is the most bizarre and complicated philosophy I have ever read. I will try my best to explain this belief, but I suggest that you have some aspirin nearby.
I have read Irenaeus Against Heresies in which he goes into great detail about this philosophy, but it is still very confusing. If you can get someone to accept this philosophy, you can get them to do anything. Well, here we go. First, the formal definition, and then I will attempt to explain their beliefs.
Gnosticism is a term derived from a Greek word for knowledge (gnosis) and applied to a philosophical and religious movement that influenced the Mediterranean world from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. Gnostics claimed that salvation comes from a secret knowledge or understanding of reality possessed only by its spiritually elite devotees.
This saving knowledge was revealed to them by transcendent messengers from the spirit world. Gnostics believed that there were many mediators who brought this gnosis between whom they consider their perfect, pre-existent Aeon, whom they call Proarch, Propator, and Bythus, and describe as being invisible and incomprehensible, and man. Jesus was just one of those mediators. Jesus, to a Gnostic was not a human being at all, but a spirit being. This problem of dehumanizing Jesus was a problem even as early as the Apostle Paul, and John’s time. Both of these authors wrote against this problem, as in 2 Corinthians 11:3, and 2 John v 7, and later Christians, such as Ignatius, also wrote to stress the humanity of Jesus for much the same reason.
Now we will begin a more specific, working description of Gnosticism. First, let me start with the fact that there are many variations of Gnosticism. There is the kind taught by Valentinus, and by Ptolemy, and by Marcus, and by Simon, and by Saturninus, and by Basildes, just to name a few. Gnosticism was based on a certain knowledge, so consequently, each leader wanted to prove that he possessed this hidden knowledge. Therefore, each one put his own twist to it.
The two most popular versions were the ones taught by Valentinus and by Basildes. Of these two, Valentinus was the most influential. Most of the others have similarities to these two. I will be explaining Valentinus’ Gnosticism. This is the Gnosticism Hippolytus of Rome and Irenaeus refuted in their writings. Fasten your seat belts!
Gnostics maintain that there is a perfect, pre-existent Aeon, whom they call Proarche, Propator, and Bythus. There existed along with him Ennoea, whom they also called Charis and Sige. At last, this Bythus determined to send forth from himself the beginning of all things, and deposited this production (which he had resolved to bring forth) in his contemporary Sige. She became pregnant and gave birth to Nous, who was both similar and equal to him who had produced him. And was alone capable of comprehending his father’s greatness. This Nous they also call Monogenes, and father, and the beginning of all things. Monogenes perceiving for what purpose he had been produced also sent forth Logos and Zoe. After a few more births, there is what is called the first-begotten Ogdad, the root and substance of all things, and it is called by four names, Bythus, Nous, Logos, and Anthropos.
First, we see Bythus impregnate Sige, and she then gave birth to Nous who was equal to the one who had produced him, and alone was capable of comprehending his father’s greatness. This is a very close parallel to how Trinitarians explain the relationship of Jesus (the second person in the Trinity) to God the Father. Nous, who is also called father, the beginning of all things, who also sends forth Logos, which is also a name for the root and substance of all things.
If you have ever read Origen or Tertullian trying to explain how the word (logos) proceeded from the Father (which is called logos Christology), you can see exactly how Gnosticism influenced their thinking. It is almost identical to how Nous sends forth Logos. Trinitarians claim that the logos proceeded from the Father and then became incarnate as Jesus. You can see this is clearly a Gnostic explanation of John 1: 1-14. Logos to a Gnostic is a personal name of one of the Aeons. But that is not what logos means. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, "logos - as embodying a conception or idea. The expression of thought." I suggest you look it up for yourself. I think it is fairly easy to see how someone with a Gnostic influence would read John 1:1-14 and take it completely out of context. But wait, it gets
worse. When you finally add up all the Aeons, there are thirty. These thirty are called a Pleroma. Gnostics claim that their Pleroma is a tripartite, being divided into an Ogdad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. Does that ring a bell? Then Monogenes (aka Nous) gave origin to another pair, namely Christ and the Holy Spirit. Then, out of gratitude for the great benefit which the Propator (aka Bythus) had conferred on them, the whole Pleroma of the Aeons, with one design and desire, and with the concurrence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, their father also approving , brought together whatever each one had in himself of the greatest beauty and preciousness, and uniting all these contributions so skillfully to blend the whole, they produced, to the honor and glory of Bythus, a being of most perfect beauty, the very star of the Pleroma, and the perfect fruit of it, namely Jesus. (Aspirin break) Him they also speak of under the name of Savior, and Christ, and patronymically, Logos. Then by way of honor, angels of the same nature as himself were simultaneously produced to act as his bodyguards. (Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia and Irenaeus Against Heresies)
No, I have not been drinking. There was a Christ and a Logos who were not Jesus. Later, it is explained how the spirit of this Christ enters the body of this Aeon created Jesus. It is very Docetic (see next definition).
To a Gnostic, Jesus was not human at all. He was a spirit being. Since he was not really human, he only appeared to suffer on the cross.
I have briefly covered what I consider to be the essential parts of this most illogical philosophy in its relation to modern-day orthodox Christianity. If you have a large supply of aspirin, I suggest you read all of Irenaeus Against Heresies. Irenaeus does a wonderful job explaining all the different forms of Gnosticism. They get much more complicated.
It is quite easy to see how logos Christology developed out of Stoicism and Gnosticism. Logos Christology would have completely baffled a Hebrew or a Gentile Christian who was not educated in one of these philosophies. And as we shall see later on in Tertullian’s writings, it did do just that.
One more point: take a wild guess where Valentinus and Gnosticism in general was most popular. That’s right, Alexandria, EGYPT! Which is where logos Christology came from. What a great place for a Christian education. I think not!
Docetism - Based upon a Greek word meaning "to seem," this prominent third century heresy taught that the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth was only apparent and not real. The early church debated this issue vigorously, since such claims denied that Jesus had truly suffered and died as a human being. Docetism, a primary feature of the early Gnostic theologies, persists today in the popular mind-set of Christianity. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg. 175)
Dualism - The view that reality may be divided into two essential forces. There are two forms of this understanding. From a cosmic perspective, the world struggles between two opposing forces -- typically, one of evil and one of good. From a philosophical approach, the essence of a person is divided between two incompatible natures -- that of the body and that of the soul. Early Christianity incorporated both views from those religions and philosophies with which it came in contact. (Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia)
This is the exact definition that Trinitarians have used for Jesus: He has two natures. He is fully God and fully Man. This is stated in the Chalcedon Creed of 451 AD.
Logos Christology - This is not a Greek philosophy, but a result of the influence of Greek philosophy. I will list it here because it is crucial in understanding the development of the Trinity.
Logos Christology came out of Alexandria Egypt, in the second and third centuries. Philo of Alexandria laid the foundations for it when he substituted the Logos, or "divine word," for the Demiurge of Plato’s Timaeus (more on this in the next chapter).
Logos Christology theologians believed that the logos in John 1:1-14 was a reference to Jesus. On this basis, they were led into a series of false conclusions that formed the building blocks for the Trinity.
This was an idea that developed in Alexandria, Egypt. In Alexandria, before Christianity arrived, the main educators were Gnostics. Alexandria was known for its great universities, libraries, learned professors, and throngs of eagerly inquiring and active-minded students. It is here that the first serious attempt was made by Christians to adjust the truths of the gospel and the relations of Christian doctrine to reason and philosophy.
NAMES TO KNOW
These are brief biographies collected mostly from encyclopedias and a few books that are footnoted. These biographies are of two individuals whose writings will not be discussed in this paper because their importance on the influence of Christianity is fairly low. However, having said that, Philo of Alexandria has had a devastating indirect effect on Christianity because of his direct effect on Judaism. These names do appear here and there, and it would benefit the reader to have a working knowledge of them. After the facts, I will list some of my own conclusions about the individuals from what is written.
Philo of Alexandria, 20 BC-50 AD, was the greatest Jewish philosopher and theologian of the Greco-Roman period whose writings still survive. Their preservation was largely due to their influence on early Christian thought, especially the theologies of Clement and Origen, both Alexandrines. Philo was a significant figure in the development of Middle Platonism, a philosophy that included elements of Stoicism in a matrix largely derived from Plato. His principle contribution was his allegorical interpretation of the Bible within this philosophical context, one of the first attempts to reconcile Greek philosophy with the Hebrew Scriptures. He was convinced that Judaism and Greek culture could be successfully welded into a coherent view of the world, a view that was endorsed by the hidden meanings of the Hebrew Scriptures. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
According to Aspects of Monotheism, while Philo insisted that "He is that is truly God is one," he also recognized other divine entities, such as the Logos, that existed under God. In Philo’s Questions on Genesis, Philo states:
"For nothing mortal can be made in the likeness of the Most High One and Father of the Universe, but only in that of the second "God," who is His Logos."
This is not the only passage in Questions on Genesis that he gives the title "god" to the Logos. For the Demiurge (an intermediary god in Greek philosophy) of Plato’s Timaeus, Philo substituted the LOGOS, or "divine word," as both the actual creator and the intermediary between a God (all spirit) and a world (all matter). Philo’s writings became a source of inspiration and study in early Christian Egypt. (Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia and Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.181)
Philo comes from an area that is heavily influenced in Stoicism and Gnosticism. Notice that it says that he welded Judaism with Greek philosophy. The only possible outcome is disaster. Philo’s method of interpretation only made things worse. The allegorical method assumes that what is written is not really what is meant by the Scripture. It assumes there are hidden truths behind every text. People using this method usually found three or four ways to interpret a specific text.
Philo already has the LOGOS as the actual creator (God) and as the intermediary between God and man. This concept is very Gnostic. It is also exactly how the second person of the Trinity (the logos) is thought of in the later writings of Origen, Tertullian and the other logos Christology theologians who shaped the theology of the orthodox church. The logos in Trinitarian Christianity is thought to be God himself, but also the mediator between God and man. It also mentions that his writings became a source of inspiration and study in early Christian Egypt. You can almost visualize how this hybrid teaching spread throughout the early church. People were actually studying this Stoic-Gnostic view of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Now imagine how someone who has these beliefs will interpret John 1: 1-14. That’s right, they will make logos (God), and also the mediator between God and man (Jesus). Ready or not, here comes the Trinity.
Pantaenus of Alexandria ( late second century AD) - Pantaenus is the founder of the famous catechetical school at Alexandria. He attempted to link Christian principles with Greek philosophy, a task which continued to develop in his most famous pupil-Clement of Alexandria. Pantaenus believed that religious knowledge, or gnosis, prepares one for the stage of ecstasy in which perfect identity with God can be achieved. He held that only true gnosis, however, was to be found in the Christian faith. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.181)
Pantaenus was an outright Christian Gnostic. He linked Christianity with Greek philosophy. Clement succeeded Pantaenus as the head of the catechetical school of Alexandria. This catechetical school was the mixing bowl of Christianity and Greek philosophy. Pantaenus was influenced by Philo’s writings. Pantaenus in turn taught Clement of Alexandria, Who in turn taught Origen of Alexandria.
THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS
In this section we will be concerned with the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. I will list them in chronological order for the most part, the problem being that scholars are divided and unsure about the exact date of most of these letters, although they can give us a pretty accurate range of when they think the letter was written. It is not important for this study to have an exact date, an approximation will do just fine. The exception will be Polycarp and Ignatius who will be inverted for a specific reason. The Shepherd of Hermas has been intentionally left out because it is too symbolic. You cannot come to strong conclusions from this type of writing. The best you can arrive at is an educated guess. That is not the goal of this paper. We are trying to come to solid conclusions on the views of these authors, and in most of these letters it is very possible to achieve just that.
In this chapter I will list a brief biography of the author and some basic information about the writing, and then we will proceed into the study of the material. This will include the verse in italics, and a brief comment underneath it. At the end I will give you my overall conclusions based on what was covered.
I hope you read these letters as they were intended to be read. These were letters, just like the letters in the New Testament that were written for instruction, or to clarify a certain situation. When a person writes letters of this kind, they try very hard to be as simple, and as clear as possible in order for their message to be understood the way it was meant. You do not write a letter to clarify something and then put hidden meanings behind it. These letters are very easy to read and understand, just as they were meant to be. What you see is what you get.
THE FIRST LETTER OF CLEMENT OF ROME TO THE CORINTHIANS
Clement of Rome was the bishop of Rome, or pope, from AD 92 - 101. This letter to the Corinthians is considered the earliest piece of Christian literature other than the New Testament writings. The high esteem in which Clement was held is evident from the fact that until the 4th century his letter was accepted by some as Scripture. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.98)
This letter was composed probably between AD 81 - 96. It was written in Rome.
1:3 "To them which are called by the will of God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
This implies a clear separation between God and Jesus. Notice that it says, "the will of God," not Father. This is important to note because in this sentence, Jesus is not included in the term "God." It is the equivalent of someone saying, by the will of the President through an act of Congress. You can see that Congress is not considered to be the President, and just as Congress is not the President, Jesus is not God.
1:4 "Grace and peace from Almighty God through Jesus Christ be multiplied."
There is a clear separation between Almighty God and Jesus Christ. Same conclusion as for verse 1:3.
14:6 "The good shall be dwellers in the land, and the innocent shall be left on it; but they that transgress shall be destroyed utterly from it."
This verse indicates Clement’s view on where the kingdom of God will be. Right here on the land, not in heaven.
16:2 "The scepter of God, our Lord Jesus Christ came not in the pomp of arrogance or pride..."
It states that Jesus is the scepter of God, not God. The scepter of royal authority has symbolized the power of earthly rulers since antiquity. In the mind of Clement, Jesus as the scepter of God represents the power and authority of God. But a representative is not the same person as the one he represents, or else he would not be called a representative.
18:18 "Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me."
Clement believes that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God. This is correct. There is no indication of him believing it to be a separate person of a triune God.
19:4 "And let us look steadfast unto the Father and Maker of the whole world."
Clement is specific on creation. The Father is the Maker of the world. Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with creation, either directly, or as an agent. In Genesis 1:1 it says when God created the heavens and the earth. To Clement, Father = God.
26:1 "Do we think it to be a great and marvelous thing, if the Creator of the universe shall bring about the resurrection of them that have served Him with holiness in the assurance of a good faith."
The author believes in the resurrection of the dead, not in going to heaven. Resurrection means to be raised from the dead. If your soul is in heaven, then you are not dead and you cannot be resurrected.
2:5-6 "By a word of His Majesty He compacted the universe; and by a word He can destroy it."
Read this passage several times. The definition of word (logos) was discussed earlier. This is the correct usage of this word before its meaning was corrupted. Clement has no idea whatsoever that logos is a reference to Jesus, because it is not supposed to be. That idea came out of Egypt in the next century. Clement considers "word" to be an expression of thought.
36:6 "through him (Jesus) the Master willed that we should taste of the immortal knowledge."
One can see that the Master and him are not the same being. Same concept as 1:3-4.
36:11-12 "Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession."
Clement is quoting Psalms 2:7-9 that is a description of the Messianic kingdom. That Messianic kingdom is just as it says in Psalm 2:7-9, on earth. Clement believes in the kingdom of God here on earth.
42:2-3 "Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ."
This is an excellent verse in order to see that to Clement, Jesus is by no means God. If you somehow force the implication that Clement thinks that Christ is God, then in this verse it stands to reason that Clement must also think that the Apostles are Christ. Not very Biblical.
42:6-7 "They (Apostles) went forth with glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town."
This verse not only shows that he believes in the kingdom of God, but it proves that the kingdom of God is a kingdom that will come in the future, and not a kingdom of the heart. He says that the Apostles went forth preaching the kingdom of God should come. The Apostolic journeys took place after Pentecost. If Pentecost was the arrival of the kingdom of God, then why are the Apostles after Pentecost preaching that the kingdom should come?
46:9 "Have we not one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace that was shed upon us?"
One God and one Christ. You cannot get much more separation between two individuals than this.
Obviously, the one Christ is not considered to be the one God.
49:13 "For the love which He had toward us, Jesus Christ our Lord has given His blood for us by the will of God."
Here again, Jesus is not considered in the term God. Jesus gave his blood by the will of someone other than himself, which is God. If Jesus is God, then this sentence should end as, Jesus Christ our Lord has given his blood for us.
50:4-8 "All the generations from Adam unto this day have passed away: and they shall be made manifest in the visitation of the kingdom of God. For it is written; Enter into the closet for a very little while, until Mine anger and My wrath shall pass away, and I will remember a good day and will raise you from your tombs."
Clement believes that when a person dies, he dies completely. He believes that the dead will be raised from their tombs in the visitation of the kingdom (when the kingdom of God comes). People will be raised from their tombs, they will not come back from heaven. The kingdom also is a thing of the future, it has not come yet.
50:13 "This declaration of blessedness was pronounced upon them that have been elected by God through Jesus Christ."
Again, Jesus is not considered in the term "God."
59:28 "Let all the Gentile know that Thou art God alone, and Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture."
Jesus is the Son of the being who is God alone. If you try to include Jesus in the term "God," then by rule, you will also have to include Thy people in the term "God." Doesn’t work, does it?
62:4 "Even as our fathers, of whom we spake before, pleased Him, being lowly-minded towards their Father and God and Creator and towards all men."
This author considers the Father = God = Creator. Jesus is nowhere considered in this equation. He is neither God nor the Creator. Only the Father is. This verse agrees perfectly with 1 Corinthians 8:6 – "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father."
Conclusion - One can see why this letter until the 4th century was considered by some to be Scripture. It is completely in agreement with the New Testament. Clement does not believe Jesus to be anyone but the Son of the only God. He does not consider Jesus to be God. On the contrary, he distinguishes between them completely. He believes in the dead being dead until the coming of the kingdom of God in the future. I find absolutely no evidence at all of any Trinitarian concept in his theology, which would have been evident had he believed in that doctrine. At this stage in time, Jesus’ Christianity was still intact. I give Clement of Rome an A+ in theology.
THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP TO THE PHILIPPIANS
Polycarp AD 69 - 155, was the bishop of Smyrna. The date of the letter is probably from AD 105 - 110. According to Irenaeus, Polycarp is considered to have been a disciple of the Apostle John. Furthermore, John was purported to have appointed Polycarp to be bishop at Smyrna. Historically he formed a link between the apostolic and patristic ages (Encyclopedia Britannica). Also according to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
"Polycarp was the beloved friend of Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch."
Polycarp wrote against Gnosticism, especially against Marcion.
Prologue:1 " mercy unto you and peace from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Savior be multiplied."
Polycarp distinguishes Almighty God from Jesus Christ. Peace from God Almighty AND Jesus Christ. According to Webster’s Dictionary the word "and" means - also, in addition, plus.
Polycarp does not consider Jesus to be the Almighty God. If he did, why would he offer peace from the same person twice? Just read it the way you would read anything else.
1:1 "That be truly chosen of God AND our Lord."
Same conclusion as in prologue.
1:2 "Unto our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God raised, having loosed the pangs of death."
Emphasis on whom God raised. Obviously, who ever God raised is not God. This sentence states that Jesus was raised by God, therefore, Jesus cannot be God. Acts 9:41 is where Peter raises Tabitha from the dead. it reads, He gave her his hand and raised her up. No one would argue that Tabitha who was raised is Peter who raised her. Read 1:2 the same way.
1:3 "But by the will of God through Jesus Christ."
Jesus Christ is not considered in the term "God." Go to 1 Clement 1:3 for explanation.
2:1 "That ye have believed on Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave unto him a throne on His right hand."
Distinguishes between Him that raised Jesus from the dead and gave him a throne at His right hand, and from Jesus. There is no other way to read this, unless you think that the same person who raised himself, then gave himself a throne next to himself, so that he himself could sit next to himself. This is exactly how a Trinitarian has to interpret this verse. Extremely unlikely, to say the least!
3:3 "While hope followeth after and love goeth before--love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor."
There is a distinction between God AND Christ AND our neighbor. If we claim that Christ is God, then our neighbor must also be God.
5:2 "For if we well pleasing unto Him in this present world, we shall receive the future world also, according as He promised us to raise us from the dead, and that if we conduct ourselves worthily of Him we shall also reign with Him."
Polycarp believes that we will be raised from the dead and we will receive the kingdom of God in the future (it has not yet come). We will also help the Messiah reign. In complete agreement with Revelation 5:10 and 20:6.
7:1 "For everyone who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist."
This verse echoes 1 John 4:2 and 2 John verse 7. Polycarp is in agreement with John that anyone who does not confess that Jesus was truly a human being , is the antichrist. According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, flesh - Human being. The Trinitarian definition of Jesus according to the Council of Chalcedon is:
"That he is fully God and fully man undivided, inseparable."
Someone with that makeup is not truly a human being. Obviously the Chalcedon Creed is not the definition of Jesus that Polycarp believes in.
7:2 "Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from the beginning."
Polycarp is urging the people to turn away from false teachings and turn unto the word. His usage of word is very Jewish, and identical to the way John the Apostle uses it. This is fitting because Polycarp was a disciple of John, and one would expect his views to coincide with John’s, which they do. Polycarp is saying , turn away from false teachings and turn unto the word (plan, or will ) of God which was delivered unto us from the beginning (from the time of the Patriarchs). Polycarp has no idea of "the word" being Jesus. He even says that the word was delivered unto us in the beginning. Jesus was not delivered unto us in the beginning, Hebrews 1:2 states:
"In these last days He spoke to us through a son."
Ignatius who was a contemporary of Polycarp and a fellow bishop says in his letter to the Magnesians in verse 6:2, Christ...
"And appeared at the end of times."
But God’s plan, or will, was delivered unto us in the beginning through the Patriarchs and the Prophets. This is a direct parallel to John 1: 1-14. Polycarp would never have read all that logos Christology into
John 1:1-14, as is evident by this verse.
11:2 "That the saints shall judge the world."
This shows his belief in the saints judging (administering) the world when the kingdom of God comes.
12:2 "Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest Himself the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth."
This is the clearest verse that shows who Polycarp thinks Jesus to be. He thinks Jesus to be the Son of God, not God. Polycarp says, the GOD and Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus has a God. Jesus cannot have a God and be God at the same time because that would mean that there are two Gods. Two God’s are an impossibility for Christianity. Polycarp’s view that Jesus has a God is in agreement with Jesus’ view in John 20:17, Matthew 27:46, and Revelation 3:12, with Paul’s view in Ephesians 1:3, 1:7, and Corinthians 1:3, and with Peter’s view in 1 Peter 1:1.
Conclusion - As one can easily see, Polycarp is in theological agreement with Clement of Rome. Polycarp believes that Jesus has a God, the Almighty. Jesus is not God. Polycarp believes in the future coming of the kingdom of God and the resurrection of the dead. There is no going to heaven. I found absolutely no sign of any kind that would suggest that Polycarp had even heard of the concept of a triune God. His letter is completely contrary to that thought. Christianity is still in good shape. I give Polycarp an A+ in theology.
THE SEVEN LETTERS OF IGNATIUS
Ignatius (?-108 AD) was the bishop of Antioch. He wrote these letters after he had been arrested and was being transported to Rome for trial. These letters were probably written around AD 105 - 110. Ignatius is also said to have known the Apostle John. He considered Polycarp to be his beloved friend. (Encyclopedia Britannica and Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.53)
Ignatius’ letters stress especially Jesus Christ’s humanity and warn about false teachings.
His letters have been considered by some to be of dubious value because they contradict themselves on one important point, the person of Jesus Christ.
These seven letters are almost split right down the middle. Three of them distinguish completely between Jesus and God, three of them call Jesus "God," and the last one has two versions of the same letter that are in opposition to each other.
Some people claim that Ignatius is very confusing to understand because of these opposing views. Others claim that maybe he was influenced by Greek philosophy. I do not think he is neither hard to understand, nor was his theology influenced by Greek philosophy.
After much research, my conclusion is that one of these sets of letters were forged by people trying to prove their own theology. There is no logical explanation of how someone could write a letter with definite opinions on certain topics, and then write another letter at almost the same time, and completely contradict himself. It would be the equivalent of reading a letter on Abraham Lincoln which said, Abraham Lincoln was a great man. He freed the slaves, and kept the rebellious South from destroying the Union. Then, reading another letter that said, Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant. He violated the Southern States Constitutional rights, stole our property, and forced us into a war that we did not want. You would never think that the same author had written both, and so it is with Ignatius.
The next question is, which group is the forged set? You will have to do a little detective work, and use a lot of common sense, but it will be quite obvious which group has been tampered with.
My opinion is that the group of letters that claim that Jesus is God are the ones that have been altered. You might then ask, do you have any proof of this? Yes, I do. First, I would like to state, that apart from the literary evidence that I have found to be convincing, several outside sources state that Ignatius’ letters were forged. They do not however, say which one.
Clayton Jefford, author of Reading the Apostolic Fathers writes:
"Unfortunately for modern scholars, however, some of the manuscripts were edited and reshaped by copyists of devout faith who wanted the writings to represent their own theological perspectives or the doctrinal positions of the institutional church. Perhaps the best illustration of this process is found in the letters of Ignatius, which became expanded and corrupted by scribes over the years."
The Encyclopedia Britannica writes:
"In the 4th century these letters were corrupted by the heavy insertions of an interpolator, and the collection was augmented by six letters forged under Ignatius’ name."
Ignatius stressed especially the humanity of Jesus. This does not agree with someone who thinks Jesus to be God. The Encyclopedia Britannica also states that Ignatius and Polycarp were "beloved friends." They both had known John the Apostle. During his journey to Rome, Ignatius stayed in Smyrna with Polycarp for a sufficiently long time. Ignatius while on his journey, asked Polycarp to write to the churches in his name. Later, Polycarp made a collection of Ignatius’ letters, and along with his own letter, sent them to the church in Philipi. This last fact is stated in Polycarp’s own letter to the Philippians in verse 13:2. Here is where common sense begins.
Both of them had known John the Apostle, so their theology would probably be very similar. They both shared the same views on the resurrection of the dead and the future coming of the kingdom of God. While the jury is still out on Ignatius’ view of Jesus, it is in on Polycarp. Polycarp most definitely does not think Jesus to be God. In fact, He believes that Jesus has a God, just as the New Testament states that he does. Polycarp distinguishes from Almighty God and Jesus over and over again in his letter. If we allege that the unaltered letters are the ones that say that Jesus is God, then Ignatius and Polycarp’s view of Jesus are 180 degrees of each other. It is highly unlikely that in that scenario they would be as helpful to each other as they were. Both of these men wrote against false teachings. If their views were so opposed to each other, I do not think that Ignatius would ask Polycarp to write to the churches in his name. I also do not think that Polycarp would have made a collection of Ignatius’ letters (which he would have considered false teachings) and then attached his own letter to it, and sent them out to Philipi for them to be read and studied. Notice how Polycarp in his letter to the Philippians in verse 7:1, refers to people who do not share his view of Jesus as, "Of the devil... that they are the firstborn of Satan." Ignatius also states when speaking about false teachers in his letter to the Smyrnaeans in chapter 7, "It is proper, therefore, to avoid association with such people." Yet, Polycarp and Ignatius are beloved friends. Ignatius mentions Polycarp warmly in several of his letters. Ignatius associated with Polycarp on his journey, and I do not think that Polycarp considered Ignatius of the devil. Here are a few quotations from Ignatius on Polycarp:
Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp 1:2 – "Welcoming thy godly mind which is grounded as it were on an immovable rock."
7:3 – "It becometh thee, most blessed Polycarp to call together a godly council..."
Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 15:3 – "And they have comforted me in all things, together with Polycarp bishop of Smyrna."
These reasons have lead me to believe that Ignatius shared the same view of Jesus as did Polycarp, that he was not God, but the Son of God. This is why I believe that the group which consists of the letters to the Romans, Smyrnaeans, and the Ephesians to be corrupted. In his letter to the Ephesians there is a middle version and a long version. In this letter you will see exactly where they have been altered, because the middle version and the long version are almost identical, except in the areas of the nature of Jesus. Of the same verse, one will say, "Jesus our God," and the other will say "Jesus our Lord and Savior." The letters that I believe to be corrupted also contradict each other, while the other group does not.
I will first list those letters that I believe to be corrupted except for Ephesians. Then I will list the non- altered letters followed by Ephesians with both versions listed next to each other.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE SMYRNAEANS
0:1 "To the Church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ the beloved."
This sentence states that the only God is the Father. Jesus is not considered in the term "God" or "Father." He is neither God, nor the Father.
1:1 "I extol Jesus Christ, the God who has granted you such wisdom."
He refers to Jesus as God. Contradicts verse 0:1.
1:1 "He is really of the line of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God by the will and power of God."
Ignatius states that Jesus is a human being from the line of David. This contradicts the verse above that he is God. He also says that Jesus is the Son of God by the will and power of God. Jesus is His Son because of God’s (someone other than Jesus) will and power. It does not say "Father," it says "God." This means that Jesus is not God. If I said, Abel is the son of Adam by the will and desire of Adam, you would not take that sentence to mean that Abel and Adam are the same person. This is the same sentence structure.
2:1 "And he suffered really, as he also really raised himself from the dead."
This verse seems to say that Jesus raised himself up from the dead. If this letter has not been altered, then he contradicts himself in this same letter in 6:2 in which he writes," and which the Father in His loving kindness raised from the dead." He also says the same thing in his letter to the Trallians in 8:1, "his Father having raised him." The Father raising Jesus is vastly different from Jesus raising himself. That would be the Son raised the Son.
10:1 "Ye have done well in that ye have received as servants of Christ, who is God, Philo and Rheus Agathopus."
This verse states Jesus is God. Contradicts verse 0:1 and 1:1
Conclusion - This letter contradicts itself. It states that Jesus is God, but it also distinguishes between God and Jesus. It states that the Son raised himself, and then says that the Father raised Jesus. Even if we assume that the writer believes Jesus to be God, there is still no evidence of a triune God. My opinion is that this letter has been tampered with.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE ROMANS
0:1 "Majesty of the Father Most High and of Jesus Christ, His only Son."
The Father is considered Most High. Since the Father is the Most High, the Son must therefore be subordinate. It is apparent that this author does not consider the Father and Jesus to be equal. The Doctrine of the Trinity does consider the Father and Son to be equal.
0:2 "Good wishes for unimpaired joy in Jesus Christ our God."
Considers Jesus to be God.
3:3 "Nothing visible is good. For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly seen."
This is a very Platonic view of the world, that all matter (everything visible) is evil. This verse stands apart from all of the other writings of Ignatius. Ignatius considers Jesus to be flesh, of the line of David. Jesus is definitely visible, and I do not think that Ignatius would consider Jesus to be not good.
6:3 "Permit me to be an imitator of my suffering God."
This author considers God to have suffered on the cross. This is a Modalist view of God, it is not Trinitarian.
Conclusion - In this letter Ignatius considers Jesus to be God. There is still no mention of any Trinity, or even of the third member of the Trinity. As a matter of fact, this view that the Father is above the Son is not even Trinitarian. This letter shows signs of Greek philosophy. In my opinion, this letter has been altered.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO POLYCARP
1:1 "Who hath for his bishop God the Father and Jesus Christ."
A clear distinction between God the Father AND Jesus Christ. Only the Father is God in this sentence.
3:7 "The eternal, the invisible, who became visible for our sake."
It sounds as if he thinks that Jesus pre-existed.
Conclusion - From this letter I do not think Ignatius thinks that Jesus is God. I do however, think he is hinting at pre-existence, which is a very Gnostic concept. Although his view of Jesus and God as being separate beings is correct, I am suspicious of his implication of pre-existence. It is possible that this letter has been altered.
EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE MAGNESIANS
1:2 "Blessed through the grace of God the Father through Jesus Christ our Savior."
As you will see repeatedly in this letter, is the fact that Ignatius considers only the Father to be God. Jesus is never mentioned in any way as to imply that he is God. This verse states that God’s blessings come to us through His Son Jesus Christ. This is identical to Genesis 12:3 where God tells Abram , "All the communities of the earth shall be blessed through you." The communities of the earth will be blessed because of Abram, and likewise, we are blessed because of Jesus Christ. In these sentences it is important to notice that Abram is not the communities, and likewise, Jesus is not God the Father.
1:3 "And I wish her abundant greeting in God the Father and in Jesus Christ."
There is a definite distinction between God the Father AND Jesus Christ.
6:2 "Having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the worlds, and appeared at the end of times."
This verse might appear to give the impression that Jesus pre-existed in heaven, but this is just a way of writing that was common in those days. Take for example Revelation 13:8. It says, "In the book of life of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world." In Matthew 25:34 it says, "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Obviously, Revelation 13:8 does not mean that Jesus was crucified before the world was created. It means that the plan of salvation had been prepared by God before the foundation of the world. It is the same concept with Matthew 25:34, and also in this verse 6:2. Ignatius is saying that the role of Jesus Christ as the Messiah was planned by the Father before the worlds even existed.
8:5-6 "That there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His word that proceeded from silence."
Jesus is again not included in the term "one God." Jesus came to reveal God and His plan of salvation to us. In John 17:6 Jesus says, "I have manifested thy name ( your real self ) to the men whom thou has given me out of the world." Jesus is His word (the embodiment of God’s plan). He is not "The Word," the second member of the Trinity. Ignatius in his letter to the Romans says in 2:2, "I am the word of God." He does not mean that he is the second member of the Trinity, he means that he reveals the will of God. This must be kept in consideration when reading John 1:1-14 because Ignatius and Polycarp both knew John, and I am sure their usage of the word logos is identical.
Conclusion - Ignatius distinguishes between God the Father and Jesus Christ at least four times. He definitely does not consider them to be the same person. I find no evidence or any trace of the concept of the Trinity at all in this letter. I do not believe this letter has been altered, and I also believe this letter reflects Ignatius’ true beliefs.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE TRALLIANS
1:1 "Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that is beloved by God the Father of Jesus Christ."
To Ignatius, God = Father. Very similar to Philippians 1:2, "peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."A clear distinction between God and Jesus.
1:6 "Polybius your bishop informed me, who by the will of God and of Jesus Christ visited me."
There are two wills. One will is God’s, and the other is Jesus’. Notice that it says that by the will of God AND of Jesus Christ. It does not say Father and Jesus Christ. Therefore, God does not equal Jesus. This verse is in agreement with Luke 22:42 where Jesus says, "Still, not my will but yours be done."
8:8 "Jesus Christ, who was of the race of David, who was the son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died.."
Ignatius is stressing the full humanity of Jesus. He is in complete agreement with his mentor John the Apostle who says in 2 John vv. 7, "Those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; (human being) such is the deceitful one and the antichrist."
12:5 "And to the honor of Jesus Christ and of the Apostles."
I wrote this verse to make an obvious point. When a writer uses and, he means - also, in addition to. Just as God and Jesus are not the same being in verse 1:6, the Apostles and Jesus are not the same being in this verse.
Conclusion - In this letter Ignatius separates God and Jesus repeatedly. There is absolutely no hint of Jesus being God, or any idea of a Trinity. On the contrary, their wills are not even the same will. I find this letter to be representative of Ignatius’ true beliefs on God and Jesus.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE PHILADELPHIANS
1:2 "To the church of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
We have already mentioned the meaning of AND. God the Father does not equal Jesus in this sentence.
1:9 "But by the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Same explanation as above.
3:3 "Surely, all those that belong to God and Jesus Christ..."
3:6 "If a man runs after a schismatic, he will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Ignatius believes a person will inherit the kingdom of God, not heaven. To me, when I use the word inherit, it is something that will happen in the future. An example; when my rich uncle passes away, I will inherit his estate. It’s a morbid example, but it illustrates the point. I believe Ignatius is using it in the same way.
Conclusion - This letter shows no conception of Jesus being God or of any concept of a triune God. On the contrary. From what he writes, we must come to the conclusion that he considers them to be separate beings. He believes the goal of an individual is to inherit the kingdom of God.
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS
This is the letter in which we will be able to actually see the letter has been physically altered.
I will list what is known as the middle version, identified by an M, and the long version that will be identified by an L.
M 0:1 "Of God the Father."
L 0:1 "Of God the Father."
Both think of God as the Father.
M 0:2 "By the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ our God."
L 0:2 "By the will of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ our savior."
Version L coincides with verse 0:1 above.
M 1:1 "Being imitators of God, and having your hearts kindled in the blood of God."
L 1:1 "Being imitators of the love of God, and having your hearts kindled in the blood of Christ."
Version L agrees with what he wrote in his epistle to the Trallians in verse 8:2. Ignatius in his letters always refers to the blood of Christ, never of God. Nobody in the New Testament ever used this phrase, the blood of God. All the New Testament writers always used the blood of Christ. Are the Apostles wrong? Not likely.
M 7:8 "There is only one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passable and then impassable, Jesus Christ our Lord."
L is the same. The reason I wrote this verse is to show you how he says, God in man, and not God is man. If Jesus is God, than God is man. The Messiah is supposed to be a man anointed by God’s Spirit, which is God in man.
M 9:5 "Prepared beforehand for a building of God the Father, being hoisted up to the heights through the engine of Jesus Christ."
L version is the same. Ignatius is distinguishing between the two, God the Father and the engine, Jesus. It fits version L, but it contradicts version M.
M 16:1 "Corrupters of houses shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
L is the same. Ignatius believes in the future kingdom of God.
M 20:2 "In one faith and one Jesus Christ, who after the flesh was of David’s race, who is the Son of Man and the Son of God."
L version is the same. Ignatius is very adamant about the humanity of Jesus. This is totally contrary to someone who thinks that Jesus is God. This sentence fits L, but disagrees with M.
M 21:9 "Fare ye well in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our common hope."
L version is the same."
God = Father. Jesus is not included in the term "God the Father." This statement contradicts M to a point where it becomes very confusing to understand Ignatius’ view of Jesus. On the other hand, it fits in perfectly with L.
Conclusion - The conclusion that this letter has been tampered with is unmistakable. The question you must ask yourself is which one? For me, the matter is easy. Apart from the view of Jesus, version M is in conflict with the other letters of Ignatius in other matters, such as the blood of Christ. It also contradicts itself in the same letter. In one instance it says that Jesus is clearly God, and it then turns around and separates God the Father from Jesus. It is very inconsistent and confusing. L on the other hand, does not contradict itself in this letter, and neither is it in conflict with his other letters in related topics. In my opinion the true version of this letter is L. Version M has been highly tampered with.
Final Conclusion - After a careful study of Ignatius’ letters, I find him to be in complete agreement with his contemporaries Polycarp, and 1 Clement. I do not think that Ignatius considered Jesus to be God as some have suggested for the reasons that I mentioned earlier. Ignatius is also very clear that the goal of a Christian is to inherit the kingdom of God, and not to go to heaven. He does not know or believe in the concept of souls separating from the body at death. The only difference that I noticed was in his epistle to Polycarp in which there is a hint of the notion of pre-existence. Whether this was altered is unclear, but I suspect it was.
There is absolutely no indication in any of his letters that Ignatius knew anything of a Trinity. His thoughts of God actually contradict that doctrine.
When you separate the altered letters from the originals, I think Ignatius’ theology is very similar to his beloved friend Polycarp’s theology. I give Ignatius an A- in theology.
THE TEACHING OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES
(THE DIDACHE )
The Apostles did not write this letter as the title suggests. It was written by a group of unknown Christian authors probably around 80 -120 AD. in Antioch. It was written to provide specific Christian instruction for community leaders. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.48)
3:12 "The meek shall inherit the earth."
This shows a belief in the future kingdom of God on earth.
10:4 -5 "Thou, Almighty Master, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake... but didst bestow upon us spiritual food and drink and eternal life through Thy Son."
In this sentence Almighty Master and Thy Son are not the same being.
10:9 "And (the church) gather it together from the four winds, even the church which has been sanctified, into Thy kingdom which Thou has prepared for it."
The authors believe in the future kingdom of God. They speak of gathering the church and entering the kingdom. In other words, it has not been gathered yet, which means they have not entered the kingdom either.
16:14 -16 "First a sign of a rift in heaven, then a sign of a voice of a trumpet, and thirdly a resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it was said: The Lord shall come and all his saints with him."
This is very specific about the coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the just first, (conditionalist view) and then at the second resurrection the rise of everyone else for judgment. It is in agreement with Revelation 21:4-15.
Conclusion - It is clear that these writers believed in the meek inheriting the earth. This is a correct understanding of the future kingdom of God in which the Messiah will rule the world with his saints (his followers). There is no conception of going to heaven. The writers do not believe the Son to be the Almighty Master. There is no mention of any triune God. I give them an A+ in theology.
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
This letter was written by a non-Jewish Christian who applied the name of Barnabas for authority. It was probably written around 96-100 AD in the city of Alexandria in Egypt (Reading The Apostolic Fathers,, pg.11). There are some signs of a Gnostic influence in the letter, which would not be surprising because of the fact that Alexandria was the home for the early Gnostic movement.
5:5 "Onto whom (Jesus) God said from the foundation of the world, let us make man in our image and likeness."
This is a clear belief in the pre-existence of Jesus. The belief in pre-existence is a very Gnostic concept.
5:10 "For if he had not come in the flesh neither would men have looked upon him and been saved."
The author believes that Jesus was fully human. He repeats this in 6:9. Although, how a pre-existent spirit can become a truly human being is perplexing.
6:16 "For the Lord said again, For wherein shall I appear unto the Lord my God and be glorified?"
This clearly states that the writer knows that Jesus has a God, (God the Father). They are not the same being. There can only be one God, and if Jesus is God and he has a God, that would mean that there are two Gods.
6:17 "So in like manner we also, being kept alive by our faith in the promise and by the word, shall live and be lords of the earth."
This indicates a belief in the followers of the Messiah inheriting the earth. This is the concept of the kingdom of God.
7:11 "They that desire to see me, and to attain unto my kingdom, must lay hold on me through tribulation and affliction."
To attain implies something to be accomplished in the future.
9:2 "Hear O Israel, for thus saith the LORD (YHWH) thy God, " who is he that desireth to live forever, let him hear with his ears the voice of My servant."
This verse shows a definite distinction between the LORD and His servant (Jesus).
21:1 "For he that doeth these things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God... For this cause is the resurrection."
This implies glorification as something that will happen in the future. It also mentions the resurrection of the dead.
Conclusion - The writer of Barnabas does not believe Jesus to be God, but in fact acknowledges that Jesus has a God. He believes in the future kingdom of God and the resurrection of the dead. He also believes that Jesus pre-existed before coming to earth. There is no mention of any triune God or in going to heaven. There can be no doctrine of the Trinity if you believe that Jesus has a God. It is an impossibility. I give the writer of Barnabas a B+ in theology. Christianity for the most part is still intact.
This letter was written by an unknown author who attributed the letter to Clement of Rome for authority. It was probably written in Rome, Corinth, or Alexandria in about 120-140 AD. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.117)
1:1 "Brethren, we ought to think of Jesus Christ, as of God."
This does not mean, to think Jesus is God. It means to think of Jesus as if he were God, because Jesus represents God’s authority on earth. It is the same as if the President of the U.S. is taken ill, and the Vice President takes over. We will think of the Vice President as the President because he now possesses the authority of the President, but he is not in reality the President.
In 15:3 of this letter it says, that we with boldness as of God. This is the same sentence structure, and this obviously does not mean that we are God.
9:6 "Let us therefore love one another, that we all may come unto the kingdom of God."
A definite futuristic kingdom.
12:1 "Let us therefore await the kingdom of God betimes in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of God’s appearing."
You cannot be any clearer on the kingdom of God being in the future. It is not of the heart. It has not happened yet. They acknowledge that they do not know the day when it will happen.
14:1 "If we do the will of God our Father."
God = Father.
17:5 "And they will be amazed when they see the kingdom of the world given to Jesus."
Clearly the Messianic kingdom of the future that Christ will inherit.
19:3 "They will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection."
He believes in the resurrection of the dead.
19:4 "He (the godly) shall live again in heaven with our fathers."
This implies a Gnostic belief in heavenly rest with the One. It does not make sense with the writer’s belief in the kingdom of God on earth, as is mentioned in 17:5.
20:5 "To the only God invisible, the Father of truth, who sent forth unto us the Savior and Prince of immortality."
The only invisible God is the Father of truth. This being sent the Savior. They are distinct beings.
Conclusion - This writer does not believe Jesus to be God, nor does he have any idea of a triune God. Jesus has the kingdom given to him. This implies subordination, which is not possible in the Doctrine of the Trinity. He strongly believes in the future kingdom of God and in the resurrection of the dead. He then at the end implies a belief about going to heaven. There might be more to this verse than I can gather. It makes no sense at all for a person to write what he wrote in verses 12:1 & 17:5 and then to say that we go to heaven. Those two beliefs are opposed to each other.
According to this letter, Christianity is still in good shape, except for the heaven comment. I give second Clement a B+ in theology.
FRAGMENTS OF PAPIAS FROM THE EXPOSITION OF THE ORACLES OF THE LORD
Papias (80-155 AD) was the bishop of Hierapolis in Anatolia and is said to have been a disciple of John the Apostle and a companion of Polycarp. His explanations of the Sayings of the Lord, a work in five books that survives only in fragments preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea and Irenaeus of Lyon is important because it contains many oral traditions of apostolic times (Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia). These fragments were probably written between 80-155, although I think it is more likely to be toward the latter part of this time frame, due to his view of heaven, which started to infiltrate Christianity around that time.
V.2 "For the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in Paradise, and the last will inhabit the city, and on this account the Lord said, "In my Father’s house there are many mansions."
This is a middle of the road approach to the afterlife. It says that some will go to heaven, some to paradise, (it does not specify if it is on earth) and some to the city which is on earth. This is probably a good indication of when the Platonic concept of going to heavenly rest with the One started to creep into the church. One thing to notice is the fact that as of yet, there are still people who are not going to heaven but are here on earth. Later, that would be removed completely, and everyone would go to either heaven or hell. It was around this time that Justin Martyr in 150 AD wrote in Dialogue with Trypho, "If you meet some who say that their souls go to heaven when they die, do not believe that they are Christians." He wrote this in order to warn his fellow Christians of a strange doctrine that was creeping into the church.
This verse is confusing because Papias as you will read, believes the kingdom of God to be here on earth. Maybe there is another meaning to this verse that I am missing.
V.2 "For in the times of the kingdom the just man who is on the earth shall forget to die."
This implies that the kingdom is here on earth.
V.2 "But when He saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
Papias is quoting 1 Corinthians 15:25 which shows that he is in agreement with Paul. This verse shows Papias’ belief that the Son and God are not the same being. It also shows a belief in the Son being subordinate to God, which according to the Doctrine of the Trinity they are said to be equal.
VI.10 "Amongst these he says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth."
This verse shows Papias to believe that the kingdom of God, ruled by the Messiah is here on earth, and commences after the resurrection of the dead and lasts for a millennium (symbolic for a long period of time).
X.6 "Mary mother of the Lord."
I just wrote this to show you the view of Mary before it was altered. She was the mother of Jesus. Later, because of Trinitarian theology, she became the mother of God.
Conclusion - Papias distinguishes between the Messiah Jesus and God. He believes in the millennium kingdom of Christ here on earth. His views are contrary to any form of a Trinitarian formula, and he shows no signs of even being aware of any such thought. I give Papias a B+ in theology.
THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP
This letter was written by Christians of Smyrnea who witnessed the martyrdom of Polycarp. It was written around 155-160 AD (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.84). This letter has not been listed with the usual chapter and verse, so I will just list them numerically.
Prologue – "peace and love from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ."
A clear distinction between God the Father AND Jesus Christ.
1. "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ."
God Almighty = Father. Jesus is not included in this term by any normal rules of language.
2. "And glorifieth the Almighty God and Father, and blesseth our Lord Jesus Christ."
Same as 1.
3. "Through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ."
"But in the reign of the Eternal King Jesus Christ."
"Lord Jesus Christ."
"Son of God."
Jesus is referred to by several different titles, but he is never referred to as God. Only the Father is considered God. This agrees with 1 Corinthians 8:6 where it says, yet for us there is one God, the Father.
4. "In whose footsteps may it be our lot to be found in the kingdom of God." This verse shows the writers’ understanding and belief in the kingdom of God.
Conclusion - This letter shows an obvious distinction between Almighty God and Jesus Christ. The writers show no knowledge of Jesus being God, or a triune God of any sort. Their writings make that thought impossibility. They mention the kingdom of Jesus, (the Messianic kingdom). These writers were students of Polycarp and it shows. Their theology is (from what I can tell from this short letter) identical to their bishop’s. I give them an A+ in theology.
THE EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS
This letter was written by an unknown non-Jewish Christian probably around the middle to late second century, although some scholars place it as late as 310 AD. It is constructed from two separate documents. One is an apology of the faith, and chapters 11-12 are a homily for a specific event of Christian worship. Chapters 11&12 show signs of being from a much later time period than the first 10 chapters. Its setting is unknown. (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg.159)
6:8 "The soul though immortal dwelleth in a mortal tabernacle."
This is a very Neo-Platonic view of the soul. The Bible states that only God is immortal.
7:2 "By whom he made the heavens... him He sent unto them."
This verse is very long, but its main theme is that All Mighty God made the universe through His Son whom he sent to us in meekness. It shows a belief in pre-existence. It sounds Arian in belief.
7:4 "Not so. But in gentleness and meekness has he sent him, as a king might send his son who is a king. He sent him, as sending God, He sent him, as a man unto men."
This writer does not believe the Son to be God. He says that God sent him with the authority as if he were God. He further states that the Son was a man.
8:5 "No one has either seen or recognized Him (God), but he revealed Himself. And He revealed Himself by faith."
The author acknowledges that no one can see God, which rules out Jesus as God.
8:8 "And He (God) alone is good."
This author is quoting Luke 18:19 where Jesus says to the rich official, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God."
Jesus considers only God to be good and not himself. Jesus in that verse does not include himself in the term "God," and this is what the author in this verse means also.
9:1 "And having made clear our inability to enter into the kingdom of God of ourselves."
This verse shows that we have to enter into the kingdom of God, not that the kingdom of God enters into our hearts.
9:5 "That the iniquity of many should be concealed in one righteous man."
He stresses the humanity of Jesus. Jesus to this writer is not part God and part man.
10:2 "He sent His only begotten Son to whom He promised the kingdom which is in heaven."
This sort of implies that the kingdom is in heaven, but God’s treasures are said to be in heaven waiting to be given to us, much like your money is in the bank, but you do not plan to live in the bank. It is just being stored there. 1 Peter 1:4, "to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you."
11:5 "This Word, who was from the beginning, who appeared as new and yet proved to be old."
This verse is implying the pre-existence of the Word. This train of thought is from the third century, and is used later in time to imply that Jesus is God. This would be in conflict with what the writer wrote in 8:8.
11:5 "He, I say, who is eternal, who today was accounted a Son."
This says that the Son is eternal. This is in opposition to everything that was written in chapters 1-10.
Conclusion - Chapters 1-10 imply that Jesus is not God but His representative on earth. Only God is good. They do imply pre-existence and Jesus as the craftsman of the universe. The soul is immortal to the author. Chapters 11&12 now have the "Word" (which in the first 10 chapters was always referred to as Son) as eternal. These two sources are definitely from different time periods. Word (logos) Christology was a primary concern of the third century theologians. There is still no mention of a triune God. This writer does not mention the Holy Spirit. He is in my opinion, from a time period which should not include him as an apostolic writer. Chapters 1-10 shows the influence of Platonism, and later Arianism. I give those chapters a C in theology. Chapters 11&12 are full of Gnosticism, and I give them a D-.
Conclusion of the Apostolic Fathers - From what we have covered, it should be quite obvious that the Apostolic Fathers did not have any knowledge of a triune God. They unanimously consider only the Father to be Almighty God, just as the Apostle Paul and all the other writers of the New Testament do. They are all in agreement about the Christian goal of entering into the kingdom of God. Their theology reflects the New Testament theology of the Apostles, and it should, because some of them did know at least one of the Apostles. They represent the Christian thought that existed right after the Apostles. I think for the most part, the Apostles would be in agreement with most of their views, except of course the Epistle to Diognetus, which some scholars do not believe to be from the same time period as the rest of the Apostolic Father’s writings. The fact that the Doctrine of the Trinity is completely missing should be of great concern for those that claim that the Apostles taught the trinity in the New Testament.
If the Apostles had taught the Trinity in the New Testament, then these writers should have been familiar with it, and their writings should have been reflective of that fact as it is in the writers of the late 3rd and 4th centuries. But it is not present in any shape or form. Their views actually contradict the Doctrine of the Trinity.
You will see that as we get further away in time from these writers, the more corrupted Christianity becomes.
THE CHURCH FATHERS
Justin Martyr (100 - 165 AD) is considered one of the most important Greek philosopher - Apologists in the early Christian Church, whose writings represent the first positive encounter of Christian revelation with Greek philosophy, and laid the basis for a theology of history. Justin considers himself a philosopher, his whole motivation in life, he says, was to find the true philosophy. He was reared a pagan and studied Stoic, Platonic, Pythagorean, and other Greek philosophies, and then became a Christian (Encyclopedia Britannica). According to Steve Mason of York University,
"Justin’s somewhat innocent identification of Christianity with a philosophical school was a radical departure from earlier Christian views. Few of his contemporaries and none of his predecessors would have felt at all comfortable with such an understanding of Christianity."
Although a Christian, Justin unfortunately brought with him a lot baggage from his pagan days. This lead to his Stoic interpretation of logos. He was martyred in Rome for his faith in 165 AD.
THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN
V. "For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians (Christians) were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ."
Excellent example! Justin is comparing logos in John’s gospel to the divine Logos of the Stoics. Justin believes that the divine pre-existent logos became man because just about anyone with his background would read John’s gospel in that manner. It would make all the sense in the world to them.
VIII. "We seek the abode that is with God, the Father and Creator of all."
For Justin God = Father, and He is the creator of all. This is different from later Trinitarian belief that the Father planned creation and the Son created it.
XI. "And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God."
This verse shows that Justin knows about the kingdom of God. It does not however, give us enough information to determine if he believes it to be here on earth.
XII. "And that you will not succeed is declared by the Word, than whom, after God begat him."
Justin believes that God created Jesus. Jesus is not eternal like modern Trinitarians believe.
XIV. "And follow the only unbegotten God through His Son."
God does not equal Son. Only God is unbegotten. Verse XII states that Jesus was begat, and this verse says that God is unbegotten. Therefore, Jesus cannot be God to Justin.
XIIL . "He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove, for they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all."
In this verse Justin distinguishes between the Son and true God, the unchangeable and eternal God, the creator of all. If you follow the simple rules of language, you can see the difference. He says Son OF the true God. The Son is not the true God. Justin also believes in a hierarchy; God is above all, in second place is Jesus, followed by the Spirit. This is not in accordance with post Nicene Trinitarians (which is what exists today) where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal.
XIX. "And like seeds resolved into earth, should in God’s appointed time rise again and put on incorruption."
Justin believes in the resurrection of the dead in the future.
XXXII. "And the first power after God the Father and Lord of all is the Word, who is also the Son."
To Justin, the Son is the pre-existent Word, but he is after the Father.
XXXIX. "Strive to escape the power of God the Father and Lord of all, and the power of Christ himself."
God the Father does not equal Christ.
XXXIX. "Tho art My Son; this day I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give you Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as thy possession."
This verse shows his belief in the future kingdom of God with the Messiah as King.
LII. "He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by his angelic host, when also he shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality."
Justin believes in the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead.
LV. There is not one particular verse in this chapter that I would like to single out. What I would like to point out however, is the thought of the whole chapter. It is too long to write out, so I will do my best to paraphrase it.
Justin believes that everything worthy in Greek philosophy was stolen by the Greeks from Moses and the prophets. This is an old and common view, going back at least to Philo of Alexandria. Justin gives certain examples to try and prove this theory. The reason I even mention this is to try and show you Justin’s logic and how it is going to lead him in the wrong direction concerning the logos. If he believes that Greek philosophy stole some concepts from Judaism, it is going to be much easier for him to fit Greek ideas into Christianity.
LXI. "For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water."
This verse is obviously referring to Matthew 28:19. As you can see, Justin does not imply in any way that these three are one, in fact, he says that the Father and Lord of the universe is God the Father, not the Son. Jesus is our Savior. There is no Trinity in this verse. On the contrary, it is very anti-Trinitarian.
LXIII. "And the Angel of God spoke to Moses, in a flame of fire out of the bush...Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels."
Justin believes the angel of the Lord to be Jesus before he came to earth as a man. He obviously never read the first chapter of Hebrews, or Matthew 2:19.
LXIII. "And that which was said out of the bush to Moses, "I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the God of your fathers," this signified that they, even though dead, are let in existence, and are men belonging to Christ himself."
This verse shows that he believes that when you die you are dead, your soul does not go to heaven when you die. The goal is resurrection. Combine this verse with what he said in LII.
FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST WORK OF JUSTIN ON THE RESURRECTION
I. "And God, the Father of the universe, who is the perfect intelligence, is the truth...And this is Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord."
God = Father, Jesus = Savior. God does not equal Jesus.
VIII. "And God has called man to life and resurrection, He has called not a part, but the whole, which is the soul and the body."
Justin believes in the resurrection of the soul and body. He does not agree with the Pythagoreans’ view of the soul departing from the body.
IX. "That it is not impossible for flesh to ascend to heaven" (as he has said that our dwelling place is in heaven).
This verse claims that when you are resurrected in the flesh, you will then go to heaven. This kind of thought will erase the teachings of Jesus on the kingdom of God on earth.
X. "We are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this; that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from the Pythagoreans and Plato, even before we learned the truth."
Justin is actually telling us where the false Doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls came from.
OTHER FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF JUSTIN
II. "That he (Justin) would not have believed the Lord himself if he had announced any other God than the Fashioner and Maker of the world, and our nourisher."
Justin believes that the Lord Jesus came to announce God. He states that if Jesus had announced any other God besides the maker of the world he would not have believed him. Therefore, Jesus cannot be God.
XVII. "As the good of the body is health, so the good of the soul is knowledge, which is indeed a kind of health of soul, by which a likeness to God is attained."
This is about as good a definition of Gnosticism as you are going to find. Knowledge (gnosis) is how you attain a likeness to God.
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO
IIL. - IL. "Jesus may still be the Christ of God, though I should not be able to prove his pre-existence as the Son of God who made all things."
Justin admits he cannot prove Jesus’ pre-existence, and without pre-existence there can be no Doctrine of the Trinity.
LXXX. "If you meet some who say that their souls go to heaven when they die, do not believe that they are Christians!"
Justin is very adamant about refuting the Pythagorean and Platonic idea of the transmigration of souls at death.
Conclusion - Justin believes the only unbegotten God, the Creator of the universe to have begat His Son, the Word. He believes the Son to have pre-existed, although he admits that he cannot prove it. He also believes that the Son is created, not eternal. The Son is in second place, and the Spirit is in third place, they are not co-equal as they are thought of today. There is no concept of the Trinity in Justin’s writings. He mentions the three of them, but that by no means implies that they are one. Justin believes in the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. He mentions treasures being stored in heaven for us, and he always quotes Matthew’s way of saying kingdom of God as kingdom of heaven. Unfortunately, I think he makes a distinction between the two. He seems to believe in the whole person going to heaven, not just the soul. This is confusing since he mentions the return of Jesus. Maybe he thinks that Jesus is returning to collect his people and take them to heaven.
The main point of reading Justin is not to judge him on what he believes, but to see that there was no concept of any modern day Trinity in his theology. After having said this, I will give Justin a C- in theology.
Irenaeus was born 140-160 AD in Asia Minor, probably Lyons. Later he served as the bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul. He is most famous for his efforts in combating Gnosticism, and his great work (Against Heresies), was written for this purpose. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
3:6 "Lead away from the truth those who do not retain a steadfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
This is a clear separation of the two. Only the Father is God.
9:3 "That Jesus who suffered for us, and who dwelt among us, is himself the Word of God."
This is definitely a leap from the belief of the Apostolic Fathers. None of them ever mentioned this theory. The Apostolic Fathers never considered the "Word" in John 1:1-3 to be a reference to Jesus.
10:1 "She believes (the church) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Jesus Christ, our Lord, and his future manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one," and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race."
Irenaeus believes in the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns from heaven. He again equates the Father Almighty as God. He mentions the dispensations of God proclaimed through the prophets, but he has not elaborated on that yet.
1:1 "For in no other way could we have learned the things of God, unless our Master, existing as the Word, had become man."
Irenaeus believes the Word to be Jesus.
1:1 "And bestowing upon us at his coming immortality."
Irenaeus believes in immortality at the coming of Jesus and not at death, as Greek philosophy does.
2:3 "But he refers to the dispensation by which the Lord became an actual man."
Irenaeus’ dispensation differs from other people who describe the dispensation in that to him it just refers to the way the Word became a man. There is nothing said about the Holy Spirit.
6:1 "For that flesh which has been molded is not a perfect man in itself, but the body of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the soul itself, considered apart by itself, the man; but it is the soul of man, and part of a man. Neither is the spirit a man, for it is called the spirit, and not a man; but the commingling and union of all these constitutes the perfect man... he was aware of the future reintegration and union of the three, and that they should be heirs of one and the same salvation?"
Although Irenaeus is using the Greek definition of soul and not the Hebrew definition, he still believes that all three parts of man will be resurrected at the coming of Christ and not separately, as the Pythagoreans and Plato believed about the soul separating from the body at death.
3:2 "For they possess the Spirit of the Father, who purifies man."
This verse describes the Spirit as the Spirit of the Father. This view is anti- Trinitarian. The reason is that the Father and the Holy Spirit are supposed to be equal and separate, but in this case, the Spirit belongs to the Father, it is not separate. Irenaeus might believe in the Word being God, but he is not a Trinitarian in the post Nicene tradition.
3:4 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall posses the earth by inheritance; as if in the future kingdom, the earth, from whence exists the substance of our flesh, is to be possessed by inheritance."
Irenaeus is explaining the verse about the meek inheriting the earth. You can see he believes in a future kingdom on earth for the believers.
18:2 "And thus one God the Father is declared, who is above all, and through all, and in all. The Father is indeed above all, and he is the head of Christ."
Irenaeus’ dispensation is hierarchical. The Father is above all, including Christ. This is in major conflict from today’s Doctrine of the Trinity that claims that all the members are equal.
20:1 "Since all receive one and the same God the Father, and believe in the same dispensation regarding the incarnation of the Son of God, and are cognizant of the same gift of the Spirit."
The dispensation to Irenaeus has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. Irenaeus is not a Trinitarian in any sense of the word, if anything, he is a binatarian. The Holy Spirit to him is a gift from the Father.
20:1 "And await the same salvation of the complete man, that is, of the soul and body."
He clearly believes in the salvation of the complete man and not just of the soul.
21:3 "Who then, is this Lord God to whom Christ bears witness, whom no man shall tempt, whom all should worship, and serve Him alone? It is, beyond all manner of doubt, that God who also gave the law."
This is puzzling. Irenaeus asks a very good question. Who is this God whom Christ refers to as God? But then, he just says that it is the same God who gave the law. But according to Irenaeus
Jesus (the Word) is God. In chapter 17:3 of this same book he says, "He was himself the Word of God made the Son of Man, receiving from the Father the power of remissions of sins; since he was man, and since he was God." This is a contradiction for Irenaeus, one I do not think he would have been able to answer. According to Irenaeus, there are two Gods, Jesus and the one whom Jesus bears witness to.
25:2 "Now I have shown in the third book, that no one is termed God by the Apostles when speaking for themselves, except Him who is truly God, the Father of our Lord."
Now I am really confused. Now, the only true God is the Father of our Lord. God = Father. This contradicts 17:3.
31:2 "It is manifest that the souls of his disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose."
He is very clear hear about how the resurrection takes place. You are dead until the resurrection day, when you are resurrected in your entirety. To Irenaeus there is no going to heaven at death.
32:1 "And of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the earthly kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake."
His belief is very clear about the kingdom of God on earth, and the resurrection of the just.
33:3 "The predicted blessing, therefore belongs to the times of the Kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead."
Irenaeus believes in the just reigning with Jesus in the kingdom of God.
36:3 "John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first "resurrection of the just," and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth.... the same God the Father is manifested, who fashioned man, and gave promise of the inheritance of the earth to the Fathers."
You cannot be any clearer than this. To Irenaeus the kingdom is here on earth.
FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS
VIII. "For as the ark of the covenant was glided within and without with pure gold, so was the body of Christ pure and resplended; for it was adorned within by the Word, and shielded without by the Spirit."
This is plain and simple dualism, and although Irenaeus was very much against the Gnostics, one has to wonder is after all the exposure he had to Gnosticism, if some of it did not rub off on him. This sounds very much like the Gnostic Logos when it descended on the Aeon created Jesus.
LIV. "God of God; Jesus Christ our Savior."
He believes Jesus to be God.
Conclusion - Irenaeus believes the Word to be the will and reason of God, thus the Word is God. He also believes that the Father is above Christ. Although he believes Jesus to be God, he never mentions the Spirit as a separate member of a triune God. He refers to it as the Spirit of the Father that is given to us as a gift. This is not the present day belief of the Trinity, which proves that the Doctrine of the Trinity was not yet worked out, but in the process of development. With Irenaeus, it is more like a binity.
Irenaeus is a definite believer in the resurrection and reigning of the just in the kingdom of God on earth at the return of Jesus. He does not believe in the soul going to heaven and speaks out against that idea.
My conclusion of how Irenaeus arrived at his logos Christology is that from his in-depth studies of Gnosticism, some of it unfortunately crept into his theology. I heard someone say once, "if you handle manure long enough, no matter how much you dislike the smell, some of it is going to rub off on you." This is what I think happened to Irenaeus. Apart from his logos Christology, Irenaeus is on track about the kingdom of God and death. I give Irenaeus a C in theology.
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
Clement of Alexandria (AD 160-215) - was an early Greek theologian who made an early attempt to synthesize Platonic and Christian thought. Clement is one of the founders of the typically Egyptian logos Christology. He was also one of the first to use the allegorical method of interpretation on the New Testament. He was a pupil of Pantaenus and regarded him with the greatest praise, "the deepest Gnostic." One of his most famous works is the Paedagogus (Tutor), an explanation of the world in terms of the LOGOS, or mind of God. Clement has sometimes been called a Christian Gnostic (Reading the Apostolic Fathers, pg.173 and Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia). He is considered one of the FATHERS OF THE CHURCH.
It is amazing to me that someone who has been called a Christian Gnostic is considered to be one of the fathers of the church.
COMMENTS ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER
1:3 "But that in the resurrection the soul returns to the body, and both are joined to one another according to their peculiar nature."
This view is a mixture of Platonism and Christianity. The soul departing the body is pure and simple Platonism. The concept of bodily resurrection is Christian. Clement simply fused the two together. He has the soul departing, and then later on it returns for the resurrection. To return from being with God in heaven to this earth would be to me a step backwards. Why would I look forward to the resurrection of the dead if I am already with God?
COMMENTS ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JUDE
1:1 "There was; then, a Word importing an unbiginning eternity; as also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreated."
This is exactly what Origen will say in his writings, probably because Clement was his teacher. It is also the formula that will be formulated as doctrine at Nicaea.
FROM THE BOOK ON THE SOUL
MAXIMUS AND ANTONIUS MELISSA
1. "Souls that breath free of all things, possess life, and though separated from the body, and found possessed of a longing for it, are borne immortal to the bosom of God."
The Pythagoreans would have been proud of Clement. This is exactly where this philosophy comes from. Plato learned it from them.
1. "All souls are immortal."
Same conclusion as the verse above.
Conclusion - Clement of Alexandria is a Christian Gnostic to say the least. He believes that the Word and the Father are of the same substance, and in the Pythagorean concept of the immortal transmigration of souls. His greatest pupil was Origen who held almost all the same views and was probably the most destructive influence on early Christianity.
Origen was born in 185 AD in Alexandria, the cradle of Gnosticism. He is considered the greatest and most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Eastern church. He was a pupil of Clement of Alexandria, and succeeded him as head of the catechetical school in Alexandria. According to Porphyry, Origen attended lectures given by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neo-Platonism.
Origen attempted to synthesize Christian scriptural interpretation and belief with Greek philosophy, especially Neo-Platonism and Stoicism. His theology was an expression of the Alexandrine reflection on the Trinity, and prior to Augustine, he was the most influential theologian of the church. His writings helped to create a Christian theology that blended biblical and philosophical categories. He claimed that a philosophical mind has a right to think within a Christian framework. Origen sought to gather the fragments of pagan philosophies and unite them to Christian teachings so as to present the gospel in a form that would not offend, but rather ensure the conversion of Jews, Gnostics, and cultivated heathen. (History of Philosophy and Encyclopedia Britannica)
Christian theology and Greek philosophy do not mix together very well. Actually, they are in complete opposition to each other. By mixing the two you will get a hybrid that is neither Christianity nor Greek philosophy.
Dr. Strouse of Maranatha Baptist Graduate School of Theology says on the influence that Origen had on the early church:
"When we come to Origen, we speak of him who did the most of all to create and give direction to the forces of apostasy down through the ages. In fact, it may be said that he had a greater corrupting influence on the early church and on the Bible itself than any man." Dr. Strouse goes on to say, "Origen was given to wild allegorizing of Scripture," saying - "The Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written."
With this view, why even bother to read the Bible, lets just make it up as we go along. According to the church historian Eusebius, Origen as a young man allegorized Matthew 19:12 and castrated himself so he could work freely in instructing female catechumens. Imagine if someone came up to you and told you they had castrated themselves because of Matthew 19:12, what would you think of his ability to interpret the Bible? What would you think of their mental stability?
Origen believes in the pre-existence of souls and in souls departing to be with the One (God) after death. Another one of his well thought out views was that he thought that John the Baptist had a special relationship to God because of works done before this life, or that he was an angel sent on a special mission, like Gabriel. He was also influenced by a semi-Gnostic writing, The Acts of John, and thought that Jesus’ body appeared differently to different observers according to their spiritual capacities.
Origen believed that pre-existent souls had fallen by varying distances, some to be angels, some descending into human beings, and the most wicked becoming devils. One soul had not fallen but had remained in adoring union with the Father. Uniting himself with this soul, the divine Logos, (who is the second person of the triad) became incarnate in a body derived from the Virgin Mary. So intense was the union between Christ’s soul and the Logos that it is like the union of body and soul, of white-hot iron and fire (Encyclopedia Britannica). You cannot get much more Gnostic than this. Remember the Aeon Christ descending into the Jesus they had created.
He claims that redemption restores fallen souls from matter to spirit. This is clearly a platonistic view. The Platonist considered matter (the body) to be evil, it was a prison for the soul. It was the goal of an individual to have his soul released from this prison and to return to the One.
The Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins says the following about Origen:
"In his opinions about material things he played the Greek, and introduced Greek ideas into foreign fables. For he was always consorting with Plato, and was conversant with the writings of Numenius, and Cronius, Appolophanes and Moderatus, Nichomachus and the distinguished men of the Pythagoreans, and he used also the books of Chaermon the Stoic and Cornutus, from whom he learnt the figurative interpretation, as employed in the Greek mysteries, and applied to the Jewish writings."
Keep his association with the Pythagoreans in the back of your mind, this is where he will get his idea of the transmigration of souls. He did not believe in the resurrection of bodies.
Origen’s basic conception of God is taken over from Neo-Platonism as it was understood in 2nd and 3rd century Alexandria. Remember the Neo-Platonist view of God, One/ Intelligence/Soul, this triad obviously suggests the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, which was just starting to get worked out.
Let me explain the Neo-Platonist view of this triad God and see if you can find any similarities to the teaching of the Trinity. Observe, that Origen is going to try and explain John’s gospel using this philosophy, remember, he believes a philosophical mind has a right to think within a Christian framework.
The One is above being. The One then generates Intelligence which contains the exemplars (the Platonic Forms) of all creatures, in imitation of which creatures are fashioned in creation. The Platonic Forms are now in a mind which is Intelligence, and are now thought of as divine ideas.
Now, Origen’s interpretation of John 1: 1-3. The logos (Intelligence) "belches forth" from the heart of God. It is thus with God and in all that he does. Logos later becomes flesh, and since it was generated from God as a divine idea, it is divine. The Soul is the Holy Spirit. Origen however, believes that the Word and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God. This will be in conflict with later Trinitarian thought.
If this sounds complicated and bizarre, it’s because it is. Maybe you have to be castrated to get it’s full meaning, but notice the similarities between the two, he is trying to explain John’s gospel using his Neo-Platonist philosophy. Outcome? Disaster!
Origen used the Valentinian Gnostic concept of "homoousia" to explain the relationship between the Father and the Logos-Son. Homoousia means, "Of the same substance." Origen concluded that since the logos had been eternally generated from the Father, he must be of the same substance. Now, when you make a claim such as "of the same substance," this of course will lead you to several conclusions that as you will see, will lead you down the path to the Trinity.
First, if God is eternal, and since Jesus is of the same substance, then Jesus must also be eternal. Second, Since the logos took on flesh, and he is also of the same substance as the Father, then only his human side can suffer, be tempted, or die. This of course is the Gnostic concept of Dualism, which today is the Christian description of Jesus’ nature.
Origen’s concept of "homoousia" was canonized at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Two thirds of the Trinity was in place, one more to go. It is amazing to me that Trinitarians claim that the Apostles taught the Trinity and yet, at this council, it did not even occur to the participants who sided with Athanasius to include the Holy Spirit.
This is the man who is considered to be the most important theologian until Augustine. Origen was instrumental in the development of the Trinity, his Gnostic ideas are the foundation of the modern-day Trinity. He also played a crucial role in determining how to interpret the Bible. The only problem was that he was a Neo-Platonist, and believed that somehow the two could be fused together and not be in conflict. His method of allegorizing the Bible the way the Greeks interpreted their fables was disastrous for Christianity. I do not think that the majority of Christianity has ever fully recovered.
BOOK 1 ON GOD
5. "God, therefore, is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as an uncompounded intellectual nature, admitting within Himself no addition of any kind."
This statement makes the Trinity as we know it today impossible, it says that God allows no addition within Himself of any kind.
6. "For we human beings are animals composed of a union of body and soul."
This is a purely Greek philosophical way of explaining human beings. To a Jew, the whole being is considered a soul. In Genesis 2:7 it says, "And YHWH God formed the man out of dust from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit); and man became a living soul."
9. "According to the words of Solomon, "You will find a divine sense." For he knew that there was within us two kinds of senses: the one mortal, corruptible, human; the other immortal and intellectual, which he now termed divine."
This view of human nature is called Dualism, it was a primary feature of early Gnostic theologies. As you can see, this is how they later tried to explain Jesus, and for that matter still do. This is basically the Trinitarian explanation of Jesus’ nature. Unfortunately, it is a Gnostic explanation. Also note his concept of the immortal soul.
1. "In the first place, we must note that the nature of that deity which is in Christ in respect of his being the only-begotten Son of God is one thing, and that human nature which he assumed in these last times for the purpose of the dispensation (of grace) is another."
This is simple Gnostic Dualism.
2. "It is once rightly understood that the only-begotten Son of God is His wisdom hypostatically existing... derives from Him what he is, but without any beginning."
Origen believed the Son to be the pre-existent Wisdom and Word of the Father which had always been with the Father and which the father belched forth and thus created.
8. "The Son of God, divesting himself of his equality with the Father."
This is in complete opposition to the Doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine states that the Father and Son are co-equal. According to the Chalcedon Creed, the Son cannot divest himself of his deity, he is fully God and fully man at all times, inseparable, and undivided. Origen does not believe that to be the case.
ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
2. "From all which we learn that the person of the Holy Spirit was of such authority and dignity, that saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all, by the naming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
You can see the Doctrine of the Trinity starting to take shape. It is starting to develop, but the key word is starting, it was not an already present teaching in Christianity as Tertullian will so graciously point out. Origen’s Trinity is vastly different from what is in place today. In fact, Origen centuries later was condemned by the church for his views since they did not stress equality for one thing.
Conclusion - We could spend an entire book on Origen and his views, however, that is not the purpose of this paper. These are only a fraction of the verses in which we can show that Origen has no concept of the Trinity as it is taught today. He does not consider the Son to be equal with the Father, and in Origen Against Celsus he will speak of the Son as a "second god." He will also say, "The Son is theos (god), but only the Father is autotheos (absolute God, God in Himself)." Origen believes in pre-existent and immortal souls.
We can say many things about Origen’s views, that they were Gnostic, Stoic, Platonic, and definitely not Christian as Jesus and the Apostles defined Christianity. But one thing is certain, although Origen’s thoughts laid down much of the foundation for later Trinitarian dogma, he is not a Trinitarian according to the orthodox view of the Trinity.
Unfortunately, Origen was a very prolific author. Epiphanius estimates the number of his writings at six thousand. Jerome assures us that his writings contained nearly two thousand works. Even two thousand writings are an incredible amount of work. An idea of the magnitude of his work can be seen from the fact that an explanation of John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word," furnished material for a whole roll.
Origen’s influence can be traced to two factors. First, is the incredible amount of literature which
he produced. Second, is that he knew and convinced a lot of important people in his time, and even after his death his works were still being studied.
The following is a list of a few of these people and who they were. I will include the term "St." as Catholics use it, just to show that these people were influential people in their times, and for no other reason. The term saint in the Bible refers to all followers of Jesus, "Christians."
When he was expelled from Alexandria, Origen fled to Caesarea and founded a new school there. He then resumed his commentary on John’s gospel and was soon surrounded by students. One of these students was St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, later bishop of Neocaesarea, who with his brother Apollodorus attended Origen’s lectures for five years.
Heracles, his disciple, and colleague, and who was also the leader of the catechetical school in Alexandria and then became Patriarch of Alexandria was a close friend of Origen.
Origen visited his friend St. Firmilian, the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia who regarded himself as a disciple of Origen and made him remain with him for a long time to profit from his learning
St. Alexander of Jerusalem was his fellow pupil at the catechetical school in Alexandria and his intimate faithful friend according to Eusebius, as was Theoctistus of Caesarea in Palestine who ordained him.
He was a friend of Theoctistus of Caesarea and St. Alexander of Jerusalem who invited him to preach though he was still a layman.
Beryllus of Bostra was deeply attached to him.
St. Anatolus said praises of him.
St. Dionysius was his pupil and successor at the catechetical school. When he was Patriarch of Alexandria, he wrote praises of him when he learned of his death.
Origen visited St. Hippolytus in Rome and according to St. Jerome, he highly appreciated his talents.
The learned Julius Africanus consulted him.
Even after his death people were still studying his works. St. Pamphilus composed an "Apology for Origen." The directors at the catechetical school in Alexandria continued to walk in his footsteps.
St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and defender of the Trinity at the Council of Nicaea, does not hesitate to praise him.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus gave significant expression to his opinions. In collaboration with St. Basil, they published "Philocalia," a Volume of selections from the "master."
St. Gregory of Nissa called Origen the prince of Christian learning.
St. Jerome thought very highly of Origen’s work. According to St. Jerome, the principal Latin imitators of Origen are St. Eusebius of Verceil, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and St. Ambrose of Milan; St. Victorinus had set them the example. (St. Jerome"Adv. Rufin.", Ad Augustine. Epistle. cxii, 20)
I am now going to list a very brief biography on a few of the most prominent of these individuals so you can see how they influenced Christian theology. Keep in mind that in Origen’s time the concept of Jesus and God being of the same substance is in the extreme minority, and will remain in the minority until around the fifth century.
First of all, we have to notice all the people who I will not write a biography on that were listed previously, some of which had the tittle of St. These people were leaders of their Christian communities, and when they fell in line with Origen’s teachings, they did a lot of harm by spreading this new theology to their congregation and to new believers.
Hippolytus of Rome (170-235 AD), was a leader in the Roman Church from 199-217 AD. He was considered the most learned Christian writer in the city. He was visited by Origen and is considered to be part of the Logos sect. Hippolytus created such a stir in Rome with his logos Christology that Kallistos, the bishop of Rome, excommunicated Sabellius who was a Monarchist and charged Hyppolitus with being a worshipper of two gods. Hyppolitus wrote many liturgical treatises throughout his life. In 217 AD Hippolitus was passed over for pope, he was so angered by that decision that he left Rome and started his own religious anti-pope community outside of Rome. (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia)
Comment - Notice, if you are considered to be part of a sect, then you are not part of the mainstream. The Trinity was in the process of forming itself and spreading, this is why it created such a stir in Rome. If it had been the norm, the bishop would not have accused him of worshipping two gods, he would have known what he was trying to say. But he didn’t. Which is why he accused him of worshipping two gods. Why? Because by making Jesus "God," you are worshipping two gods. The bishop in Rome could see that clearly.
Athanasius of Alexandria (290-373 AD), regarded by many as the most important theologian of the fourth century. He began his career in 325 AD when he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. During that same year he accompanied Alexander to the council of Nicaea as his secretary and deacon. In 328 AD he was named bishop of Alexandria until his death in 373 AD. However, of his 45 years of reign, Athanasius spent almost 16 years in exile because of his unpopular Nicene position. While in exile he wrote several works, many which stress the significance of the incarnation of God in the person of Christ. (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia)
Comment - First, he comes from that great line of Alexandrian Gnostics, second of all, it says he was exiled for his unpopular Nicene position. It was not the norm, it was actually unpopular.
Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 AD), one of the Cappaddocian Fathers. He was educated broadly in Christian writings, especially those of Origen, and in Greek philosophy. He and Basil assembled the Phiocalia, an anthology of Origen’s works. From 379-381 AD he served the Nicene minority as bishop of Constantinople. His rhetorical skill and defense of the Nicene position, as shown in his five Theological Orations, earned him the tittle "The Theologian." (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia)
Comment - He was greatly influenced by Origen and Greek philosophy (which is the same thing). Again, we see the Nicene minority. The Cappadocian Fathers are well known for their Trinitarian theology. They wrote many works, and were very influential in spreading this doctrine.
Gregory of Nyssa (330-395 AD), one of the Cappadocian Fathers, he was the brother of Basil. He became bishop of Nyssa in 371 AD. He was deposed in 376 AD. He attended the Council of Constantinople in 381. During a trip to Jerusalem, he was forced to defend his Christology, although he was then well-known for his Trinitarian theology. (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia)
Comment - He was in attendance in Constantinople. One has to wonder how much influence he had in making the Holy Spirit the third member of the Trinity. Probably a lot. If the Doctrine of the Trinity was the norm, why would he be forced to defend his Christology? The answer is, because it was not the norm.
Basil the Great (330-379 AD), one of the Cappadocian Fathers, was the bishop of Caesarea. He became the Father of Greek Monasticism. He fought to uphold the Nicene Creed. (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia)
Comment - Why would you have to fight to uphold something that Jesus and the Apostles taught? The answer is, because they did not teach it, it was a new way of looking at Scripture.
Ambrose of Milan (339-397 AD), was the provincial governor of Rome. He was made bishop of Rome. He later converted Augustine (who according to The Encyclopedia Britannica, "was greatly influenced by Plato") and baptized him.
All these men contributed vastly to the spreading of the doctrine of the Trinity. How? The reasons for combining Christianity with Greek philosophy were covered earlier, and this is one reason why it spread. A modern day hypothetical situation can help us to illustrate the process.
Suppose that I am the leader in Miami of a relatively new religion called Christianity. Bob is the leader of a similar group in Tampa. Mike is the leader in Orlando. David is the leader in Naples. And Tim is the leader in Jacksonville. None of us are above the others. We together, are the church. Now, Bob is a graduate of a highly prestigious university called Gnostics R Us. After much consultation with his professors at the university, Bob thinks he has found the true meaning of a certain verse. It was probably not discovered earlier because according to his professors, what is written is really not what is meant. Bob is considered to be a very intelligent guy, and he is very devoted to the faith. He then starts teaching this new idea to his group, some believe him, and some do not. He visits all the other leaders to show them what he has found, and some agree with him, but most do not. Bob fortunately, has a member of his group who loves to write, and he produces thousands of works and circulates them to the other groups. Bob creates a web site, and also does a little traveling, promoting this new idea. After a few years this idea has caught on a little, and there are small groups of people within their congregations who agree with Bob, but they are still in the minority, They are a sect within Christianity.
Tim who has always looked up to Bob, agrees with Bob. Tim is a very good speaker and he teaches this idea to his congregation, and the idea continues to spread. David, who was a student of Bob’s also agrees with him, and tries to convince his group of this new insight into the Scriptures. Bob even appears on the Opra Show to discuss his findings.
Now the issue comes to the forefront and the leaders start to fight among themselves as to who is right.
The Governor of Florida who likes Christianity but at the same time worships the sun, tries to help settle the matter and decides to have a meeting to settle this problem once and for all. The Governor presides over this meeting, and when it seems that nothing will be settled, he decides (for no specific reason) in favor of Bob. All he is interested in is that there be peace in Florida. Later, when he sees that the other view is more popular, he reverses his decision. Years later, when his grandson is Governor, he decides grandpa was wrong and reverses his decision, and then creates a law that makes any view other than Bob’s illegal and punishable by death. At first, a lot of people protest against it, but they are brutally suppressed and their writings are burned. After a few centuries, due to the swift punishments and suppression, it is uncontested and has now become the norm. This explanation is very simplistic, but I think it you can get an overall picture of how this doctrine spread.
Conclusion: Origen due to his Greek influence and his method of allegorizing Scripture has every major point in Christianity incorrect. I give Origen an F in theology.
Tertullian (155/160-220 AD), was is considered one of the greatest Western theologians and writers of Christian antiquity. He is considered the Father of Latin Christianity. He was instrumental in shaping the vocabulary and thought of Western Christianity and the creation of Christian ecclesiastical Latin. He was born in Carthage, Egypt, an area (like Alexandria) which was very much influenced by Gnosticism and Stoicism. He received an excellent education in grammar, rhetoric, literature, Greek philosophy, and law. Tertullian was a Stoic lawyer who in 195 converted from paganism to Christianity. About 207 he broke with the church and joined the Montanist. Soon after, however he broke with them and created his own party known as the Tertullianists. He was considered to be an extremist by nature.
His writings had a lasting effect on Christian thought, especially through those who, like Cyprian considered him a "master" (Encyclopedia Britannica and Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia). Tertullian’s most influential work was the definition of Logos Christology:
"All are of one, by unity of substance, while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded which distribute this unity into a trinity, placing in their order the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Logos Christology, The Root of Arianism and Trinitariansim)
Tertullian was the first Christian writer to use the term trinitas. He uses the term Dispensation to describe the relations of the Godhead. In Chap. 2 of Against Praxeas he says:
"The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity and Unity, sometimes called the Divine Economy, or Dispensation of the personal relations of the Godhead."
Tertullian is definitely a logos Christology theologian. He differs slightly with Origen in that he is not thinking in a purely static threeness. For Tertullian the second and third persons proceed from the unity because they have a function to fulfill. Only the Father remains completely transcendent. (Development of Trinitariansim by Mark Mattison)
For Tertullian the Son has not always existed. He is subordinate to the Father. The Son is also not omniscient. He considers the Father the whole divine substance, and the Son a part of it. To explain his views, he uses illustrations of the sun and it’s beam, "He would not have two suns he says. The sunbeam, too, in itself considered, may be called sun, but not the sun a beam."
These three views are in opposition to the Doctrine of the Trinity. Tertullian was not a Trinitarian in the modern day sense, but he was instrumental in the development of the Trinity.
This is an incredible document in its testimony of where this concept of God as a triune being was at during this point in time. Was it the established teaching, or was it a developing idea?
This letter was written to combat another view that was also spreading called Modalism or Sabellianism. It argued that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all just manifestations of God. In other words, God came to earth as Jesus, and when He comes into our hearts, He comes as the Holy Spirit. This might almost sound as Trinitarian, and most people describe the Trinity as such, but this is not the definition of the Trinity. Modalism argues that God suffered and died on the cross. This creates an immense problem since everyone knows that God cannot die. This is one reason the Trinity describes God as three separate persons and yet one. In this way the Son as a separate person can die. Of course, is you consider Jesus to be true God of true God as Trinitarians do, then God was still the one who was crucified and died on the cross. Very confusing to say the least. This is why it is referred to as a mystery. An example of the difference between the two doctrines can best be illustrated by a simple explanation. In the Trinity, it is possible for the three of them to be present at the same time and to have a conversation. For the Modalist, it is not possible. God just becomes Jesus or the Holy Spirit when it is necessary.
Tertullian will intensely argue that the Father and Son are separate persons, unlike Modalism which argues that they are all the same person. It is an excellent Unitarian argument. He uses almost all the same verses that a Unitarian would use to show you that Jesus is not God. He argues that the Father and Jesus are not the same person, but when he comes across 1 Corinthians 8:6, "Yet for us there is one God, the Father," he says that in this case the Son is included in the term "Father." What reason does he give for this exception? None whatsoever. He just dismisses it so that he can justify his arguments. Just consider this, only God = Father, and then listen to his arguments. They are fantastically Unitarian!
Chap. III. vv. 1. "The majority of believers, are STARTLED at the Dispensation (of the Three in One)...They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods...While the Greeks actually REFUSE to understand the oikonomia, or Dispensation (of the Three in One)."
These are incredible statements! Tertullian is acknowledging that the majority of believers did not agree with the Doctrine of the Trinity. They accused him of being a polytheist. The Greeks refused altogether to believe him. These statements are probably the best proofs that the Doctrine of the Trinity was not taught by the Apostles. If it had been taught by them, the majority of believers would have known about the Dispensation and would not have been startled by it, neither would they have accused him of worshipping two gods. This doctrine was something new, it was not the established belief of Christianity as you can see. It was starting to work itself out, and at the same time some people were trying to spread this new teaching to other Christians. But it was not in the majority, in fact, it was very much in the minority.
Chap. III. "How comes it to pass that God should be thought to suffer division and severance in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, who have the second and third places assigned to them."
Tertullian’s trinity is definitely hierarchical. The Son is in second place, and the Holy Spirit is third. This is completely different from today’s trinity which insists on them being equal.
Chap. VII. "And while I recognize the Son, I assert his distinction as second to the Father."
Tertullian considers the Son subordinate to the Father.
Chap. IX. "Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son."
The Son is Subordinate.
Chap. X. "In order to be a father, I have a son, for I never can be a son to myself; and in order to be a son, I have a father, it being impossible for me ever to be my own father."
Tertullian will now start to show us that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons. The only problem with that is that he ignores 1 Corinthians 8:6, yet for us there is one God, the Father, and all the other verses which say "God the Father." You will never see one verse that says God the Son. In the Bible, only Father = God.
Chap. X. "That He who speaks; and He of whom He speaks, and to whom He speaks, cannot possibly seem to be One and the same. So absurd and misleading a statement would be unworthy of God, that, widen it was Himself to whom He was speaking, He speaks rather to another."
Remember, I consider only Father = God, so from now on, in these type of verses, I will just say, "I agree."
Chap XV. "Speaking of God, he says, "whom no man hath seen, nor can see," because the man indeed would die who should see Him. But the very same Apostle testifies that they had both seen and "handled" Christ. Now, if Christ is himself both the Father and the Son, how can he be both the visible and the invisible?"
Chap. XXI. "Everyone who saw the Son, and believed on him, should obtain the life (everlasting) and the resurrection at the last day."
It seems that he believes in the resurrection at the last day, and not in going to heaven.
Chap. XXII. "You are not ignorant whence I came, and I am not come of myself, But He that sent me is true, whom ye know not; but I know Him, because I am from Him. He did not say, Because I myself am He; and I have sent mine own self; but his words are, "He hath sent me."
Chap. XXII. "Now, if he were one, being at once both the Son and the Father, he certainly would not have quoted the sanction of the law, which requires not the testimony of one, but of two."
Chap. XXII. "When he was asked by the Jews if he were Christ, meaning, of course, the Christ of God; for to this day the Jews expect not the Father Himself, but the Christ of God, it being nowhere said that the Father will come as the Christ."
Chap. XXIV. "For in all these passages he had shown himself to be the Father’s Commissioner, through whose agency even the Father could be seen in his works, and heard in his words, and recognized in the Son’s administration of the Father’s words and deeds."
Chap. XXVI. "He is also ignorant of the last day and hour, which is known only to the Father."
Tertullian does not consider Jesus to be omniscient, as the Doctrine of the Trinity does today.
Chap. XXVIII. "For if Christ is God the Father, when he says, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God," he of course shows plainly enough that there is above himself another Father and another God."
Chap. XXVIII. "Paul in like manner everywhere speaks of "God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Chap. XXIX. "It plainly follows that the divine nature is immortal, and that which is human is mortal, it is manifested in what sense he declares "Christ died"... In short, since he says that it was Christ (that is, the Anointed One) that died, he shows us that that which died was the nature which was anointed; in a word, the flesh."
This is classic Gnostic Dualism. Tertullian believes Jesus to have two natures, and only the human side died on the cross. But if this were true and only the human side of Jesus died and not the divine side, then did Jesus really die on the cross?
Chap. XXXI. "But "whoever shall confess that (Jesus) Christ is the Son of God" (not the Father), "God dwelleth in him, and he in God."
I agree! Remember, Father = God.
Conclusion - Due to the strong influence that Stoicism had on him, Tertullian believes in logos Christology, just as his neighboring Alexandrians did.
Tertullian does a wonderful job of showing how the Son is separate from the Father. His main problem is that he ignores the fact that only the Father is God. He believes Jesus to be subordinate, not eternal nor omniscient. This is vastly different from today’s Trinity, which shows how it was not an established teaching of the church.
Tertullian admits that the majority of believers do not believe in the Dispensation. That statement should give you a pretty clear picture of where the Trinity was at in that time period. He considers Jesus to have a dual (Gnostic) nature. He mentions the resurrection of the dead at the last day, so for now I think he might believe in the kingdom of God on earth.
4:2 "That the will of God be done in us on earth, in order that it may be done (by us) also in heaven."
Tertullian is commenting on the verse in the Lord’s prayer, "Thy will be done in heaven and on earth," as he quotes it. He seems to believe in going to heaven, although I am not sure how he combines this with his belief in the resurrection of the dead on the last day that he mentioned in Against Praxeas.
5:1 "Thy kingdom come," also refers to the same end as "Thy will be done," namely, (May Thy kingdom come) in ourselves, for when does God not reign?.... if the realization of our Lord’s kingdom has reference to the will of God and to our uncertain condition, how is it that some ask for an extension of time, as it were, for this world, since the kingdom of God--for the coming of which we pray tends toward the consummation of the world? Our hope is that we may sooner reign, and not be slaves any longer."
5:2 "Even if it were not prescribed to ask for in prayer for the coming of His kingdom, we would, of our own accord, have expressed this desire in our eagerness to embrace the object of our hope."
5:4 "It is for the coming of this kingdom that we are harassed now, or rather, it is for this coming that we pray."
I combined these three verses because they must be read together in order to come to some sort of a conclusion. He starts by implying that the kingdom of God is in ourselves, but then he talks about the coming of His kingdom as the object of our hope. This part implies something in the future, if one has hope for something it means that that something has not yet happened. He mentions that we are harassed now for the kingdom that is to come.
It could be that he believes that the kingdom of God is in the future, but that in a sense, it is in ourselves, in that God is already reigning in our hearts. I cannot come to a definite conclusion from these verses on his view of the kingdom of God.
Final Conclusion - Tertullian is not clear on the subject of death and the kingdom of God. He makes statements that can suggest both going to heaven or resurrection at the last day. His view on the kingdom is just as vague. Tertullian believes in a Trinity, but a much different Trinity than we have today. Tertullian’s trinity is hierarchical, with the Father first, the Son second, and the Holy Spirit third. They are not co-equal. The Son is not eternal, nor is he omniscient.
Many historians regard Tertullian as having a primitive form of Trinitarianism. His theological language will be used to carve out the orthodox position in the Christological and Trinitarian controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries.
From reading Tertullian one can come to two major conclusions. First, is that the Trinity was not the established belief of the majority of believers. Second, is that you can tell that the Doctrine of the Trinity was something relatively new and just starting to develop. This is suggested by the fact that Tertullian’s Trinity is vastly different from the Doctrine of the Trinity that was established as the orthodox position over the next few centuries. If the Apostles had taught the Doctrine of the Trinity, it would have been a solid teaching of the church and would not have changed as drastically as it did.
Tertullian was very much influenced by Greek philosophy, especially Stoicism. He was a Stoic lawyer who found Christianity and became a Stoic Christian. With his Stoic background it is easy to understand how he reached his views. The area in which he was born did not help matters at all. The earliest teachers in Egypt before Christianity arrived were the Gnostics.
Due to the fact that I am inconclusive on his view on death and the kingdom of God, I give Tertullian a D- in theology.
Athanasius (290-373 AD), he received a classical and theological education in Alexandria, where he was also ordained deacon and appointed secretary to the bishop Alexander. As a theological expert he accompanied the bishop Alexander to the Council of Nicaea. Athanasius explained how the logos, the Word of God, was united with human nature. He was the main proponent at Nicaea of the concept of homoousios which was developed earlier by another Alexandrian, Origen. Origen argued that Jesus and God were of the same substance. In 328 Athanasius was named successor of Alexander, becoming the bishop of Alexandria. However, because of his unpopular Nicene position, he spent 15 years and 10 months in exile. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Comment - Notice how he was considered a theological expert in Alexandria, Gnostic wonderland. It is here that he received his theological education. It is expected that he would have the same views as his fellow Alexandrian theologians, but his views were not the norm in Christianity at that time, which is why he was exiled for his unpopular Nicene position. His position at Nicaea did not take into account the Holy Spirit as the third member, it only dealt with Jesus. I have to ask myself why? If it was the established belief of the church, why did they have to wait until the Council of Constantinople fifty six years later to include the Holy Spirit as a member? The reason is because it was not the established teaching, it was a doctrine that was trying to come into its own. It was making a power grab at Nicaea.
If at Nicaea the church had just formalized the belief that was already established by the church,
(as Trinitarians will argue) then there should have been no further disputes after Nicaea. But this is not what happened as we shall see in the next chapter.
I am going to cover Athanasius very briefly. Only his work On the Incarnation. He is obviously a proponent of at least a binity, so to speak, maybe even a trinity, although I have not seen that thought reflective in his work, On the Incarnation.
ON THE INCARNATION
1:1 "We also, by God’s grace, briefly indicated that the Word of the Father is Himself divine, that all things owe their being to His will and power."
Athanasius is an adherent to logos Christology, just like his predecessors in Alexandria.
1:1 "That mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore."
Athanasius is saying something very significant here. He is talking about the mystery of the dispensation of the three in one. The Jews one would expect to traduce, because they do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, but the Greeks that are mentioned as deriding the mystery are Greek Christians. According to Webster’s Dictionary, deride means; to laugh at in scorn; ridicule. This is very similar to Tertullian’s statement in Against Praxeas that says:
"While the Greeks actually refuse to understand the oikonomia, or the Dispensation (of the Three in One)."
Even Athanasius admits that there were a lot of people who did not accept this belief. As a matter of fact, the majority did not believe this doctrine to be true.
1:6 "And after it the assurance of immortality in heaven."
Athanasius believes in going to heaven. This is basic Platonism.
4:1 "Christ is revealed as God and Son of God."
Do I even have to comment on this verse? Recall how Philo substituted the Logos for the Demiurge of Plato’s Timaeus, thus making the Logos the actual creator and intermediary between God and man.
4:9 "He re-opened the road to heaven."
He is very clear on his belief in going to heaven.
8:1 "And by taking refuge with Christ; and by worshipping him as God they come through him to know the Father also."
Not one person in the New Testament ever worshipped Jesus as God. I guess Athanasius knows more than the Apostles.
Conclusion - Athanasius believes in going to heaven. He does not believe or know about the kingdom of God on earth. He believes Jesus to be God and the Son of God. If I believed this concept, I would have absolutely no way of explaining it to someone. I guess I would also say that it is a mystery.
He believes Jesus and the Father to be of the same substance, and he will be the proponent of this idea at Nicaea. I give Athanasius an F in theology.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AFTER NICAEA
325 AD - Constantine convenes the Council of Nicaea in order to develop a statement of faith that can unify the church. The Nicene Creed is written, declaring that "the Father and the Son are of the same substance" (homoousios). Emperor Constantine who was also the high priest of the pagan religion of the Unconquered Sun presided over this council. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
"Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions and personally proposed the crucial formula expressing the relationship of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council. "of one substance with the Father."
The American Academic Encyclopedia states:
"Although this was not Constantine’s first attempt to reconcile factions in Christianity, it was the first time he had used the imperial office to IMPOSE a settlement."
At the end of this council, Constantine sided with Athanasius over Arius and exiled Arius to Illyria.
328 AD - Athanasius becomes bishop of Alexandria.
328 AD - Constantine recalls Arius from Illyria.
335 AD - Constantine now sides with Arius and exiles Athanasius to Trier.
337 AD - A new emperor, Contantius, orders the return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
339 AD - Athanasius flees Alexandria in anticipation of being expelled.
341 AD - Two councils are held in Antioch this year. During this council, the First, Second, and Third Arian Confessions are written, thereby beginning the attempt to produce a formal doctrine of faith to oppose the Nicene Creed.
343 AD - At the Council of Sardica, Eastern Bishops demand the removal of Athanasius.
346 AD - Athanasius is restored to Alexandria.
351 AD - A second anti - Nicene council is held in Sirmium.
353 AD - A council is held at Aries during Autumn that is directed against Athanasius.
355 AD - A council is held in Milan. Athanasius is again condemned.
356 AD - Athanasius is deposed on February 8th, beginning his third exile.
357 AD - Third Council of Sirmium is convened. Both homoousios and homoiousios are avoided as unbiblical, and it is agreed that the Father is greater than His subordinate Son.
359 AD - The Synod of Seleucia is held which affirms that Christ is "like the Father," It does not however, specify how the Son is like the Father.
361 AD - A council is held in Antioch to affirm Arius’ positions.
380 AD - Emperor Theodosius the Great declares Christianity the official state religion of the empire.
381 AD - The First Council of Constantinople is held to review the controversy since Nicaea. Emperor Theodosius the Great establishes the creed of Nicaea as the standard for his realm. The Nicene Creed is re-evaluated and accepted with the addition of clauses on the Holy Spirit and other matters. (History of Arian Controversy)
If you believe that Nicaea just formalized the prevalent teaching of the church, then there really should not have been any conflicts. Why should there be? If it were the established teaching of the church, then you would expect people to either accept it, or not be Christians. It would be like me being a member of the Communist Party. I would join it knowing that they do not believe in the ownership of private property, no conflict. But now, say after I have been a member of the party for a few years, someone decides to introduce a proposal that we allow the ownership of private property, not everyone in the party is going to agree, the result is conflict. This is similar to what happened in the church. It was not the established teaching, and when some faction of the church tried to make it official, the result was major conflict.
It was mainly a theological power grab by certain factions of the church. The major complication throughout all this was that the emperors were involved. At Nicaea it was Constantine that decided the outcome. Then as you can see, we have the flip-flopping of opinion with the result that Athanasius is exiled and recalled depending on who is in power. We even have in 357 AD the declaration that homoousios and homoiousios are unbiblical, and that the Father is greater than His subordinate Son. This is 180 degrees from Nicaea. It is definitely not the Trinitarian formula.
In 380 AD Emperor Thedosius declares Christianity the state religion. One can come to the conclusion that whichever way Theodosius favors, is the way in which it is going to end. This is exactly what happened next. In 381 AD the struggle was finally ended by the current emperor, Theodosius the Great, who favored the Nicene position. Just like at Nicaea, the EMPEROR again decided it. The emperors were dictating the theology of the church. The big difference now was that there was not going to be any more changing sides. It was now the state religion. You cannot make Christianity the state religion and then change its beliefs every few years, it would undermine its credibility as the true faith. The Trinity was now the orthodox position, and the state was willing to back it up. Debates however, would continue for years to come.
From the writings of these authors it is evident that the Doctrine of the Trinity was not an established teaching set forth by Jesus and the Apostles. The Apostolic Fathers had absolutely no knowledge of a triune God. Even if you disagree with my conclusions about Ignatius, he still did not know of any triune God. He only stated that Jesus was God. It seemed to be more of a Modalist view if anything. One would also then have to wonder what he meant by the word "God." Back in the first century it had more meanings than it does today. It was used as a term for the Hebrew king, or rulers to whom the word of God had come to. But Ignatius by no means was a Trinitarian. He never once mentioned the Holy Spirit as a part of anything, especially a part of a triune God.
The theology of the Apostolic Fathers is right on track. They were all in agreement on God, His Son, the kingdom, and death. They were one. The trouble really started even in the Apostles time. Paul and John wrote against the Gnostics in their epistles. It was kept in check by the Apostles and later on by the men they had placed to lead their Christian communities. As time went on and Christianity spread, the leaders of the church were no longer Jews but gentiles. These gentiles brought to Christianity the strong influence of Greek philosophy that they had been educated in. They all tried to explain Christianity in the framework of Greek philosophy. The major push came in the late 2nd and 3rd century. Most of the damage originated in Egypt, and mostly out of Alexandria.
Philo of Alexandria laid the groundwork for the coming disaster.
Clement of Alexandria, Egypt, 155-220 AD.
Origen of Alexandria, Egypt, 185-254 AD.
Tertullian of Cartage, Egypt, 160-220 AD.
Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, 298-373 AD.
Hippolytus of Rome (he knew Origen), 170-236 AD.
As you will notice, the main contributors to the concept of a triune God are all from the same time period. They were all members of the logos Christology sect. Loofs, a historian of Christology remarks:
"That the transference of the conception of Son to the preexistent Logos by the Alexandrian theologians was the most important factor in the establishment of the pluralistic character of Christian doctrine." (The Doctrine of the Trinity by Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting)
Here are a few more quotes from experts in this field:
The Encyclopedia Americana: "Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching."
A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge: "Many say that the trinity is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith."
The Paganism in Our Christianity: "The origin of the trinity is entirely pagan."
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: "The doctrines of the Logos and the trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy. That errors and corruptions crept into the church from this source cannot be denied."
The Church of the First Few Centuries: "The Doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation. It had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers."
Outlines of the History of Dogma: "Church doctrine became rooted in the soil of Hellenism (pagan Greek thought). Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians."
Logos Christology was a stepping stone to the Doctrine of the Trinity. Yet, even these men were not Trinitarians in the modern sense. One has to ask themselves why not? If it was the established teaching of the church, there should not have been any difference from the 2nd to the 4th century, or for that matter to the present. But there was a great deal of difference between their views. The reason being was that it was not the established teaching of the church, but a new idea, a new way of interpreting the Scriptures. It was in its developing stage. This is why there was so much conflict. This is why Tertullian said, "The majority of believers are startled at the dispensation (of the three in one)." It must have been just that, STARTLING! I am still startled today.
I do not claim that these men spread a false doctrine on purpose. I think they really thought that that they were correct. Most of these men were persecuted because of their faith. Origen was tortured and eventually died from his injuries. I think they were good men that were not able to separate their Greek philosophical views from their new Christian faith.
After the Doctrine of the Trinity was established as the orthodox position, it was then maintained through the years by suppression and fear.
A FINAL PLEA FOR RESTORATION
All this has led to a near fatal blow to the Christianity that Jesus and his Apostles preached. In order to restore Christianity to its original form, we have to willing to remove all the Greek philosophy from Christianity. We have to be willing to challenge the status quo. We have to be willing to read God’s instruction book, the Bible, and not let others tell us what we should believe. We have to be willing to invest a little time in order to find the truth, and we have to be willing to share our findings with other Christians.
Satan’s lie is very well packaged, but it is very shallow.
I hope this paper has been of some use to you. May God Bless you with the truth.