time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around
them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears
want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth
and turn aside to myths." (2 Tim. 4:3, 4, NIV)
the Church lost the pristine vision which it held in the beginning,
these last two creeds were formed. The Athanasian, or Trinitarian
Creed, became the largest and most confusing creed of all. It
became necessary for salvation to believe this creed—making
this a threatening theological statement. Please notice the
unitarian concept of God was a statement of belief without threatening
overtones. Notice how the Creed becomes more foggy and "incomprehensible"
as it endeavors to incorporate Trinity concepts. Additionally,
as it swells to more than a statement of belief, it then threatens
any not accepting this foggy concept with perishing "everlastingly."
Jesus rendered his final report to his Father, it only required
three words—"It is finished" (John 19:30). Nothing
more needed to be said. Notice, however, when the one-talented,
unfaithful servant rendered his report, it required 43 words,
and he was just as much a failure after his explanation (Matt.
25:24, 25). The Unitarian Creed required only 115 words to make
itself known; the Nicene Creed required 230 (twice as many words
to make God and Christ one); and the Athanasian Creed required
702 words to explain the "incomprehensible" Trinity.
If the number of words used proved the case, the latter is clearly
the winner. But it is not by much speaking that we shall be
Illustrated Bible Dictionary states: "The word Trinity
is not found in the Bible. . . . It did not find a place formally
in the theology of the church till the fourth century. . . .
Although Scripture does not give us a formulated doctrine of
the Trinity, it contains all the elements out of which theology
has constructed the doctrine."1 That is partially correct.
Theology indeed is responsible for constructing the doctrine.
But we firmly believe that the "elements" of Scripture
alluded to here were never intended to provide a framework for
such a dogma.
following is found in The Book of Common Prayer on Three Creeds
of the Church of England:
Apostles’ or Unitarian Creed Being the Creed of the first
two Christian centuries.
believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
in Jesus Christ, his only son our Lord: who was conceived by
the holy ghost (spirit), born of the virgin Mary, suffered under
Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, he descended
into hell (the grave); the third day he rose again from the
dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand
of God, the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge
the quick and the dead:
believe in the holy ghost (spirit); the holy catholic (general)
Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the
resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."
Nicene, or Semi-trinitarian Creed:
drawn up by the Council of Nice in A.D. 325, the clause concerning
the Holy Ghost in brackets [ ] having been affixed to it by
the Council of Constantinople, in A.D. 381, except the words
[and the son], which were afterwards introduced into it."
believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and
earth; and of all things visible and invisible."
in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; begotten
of his Father before all worlds; God of (or from) God; Light
of (or from) Light; Very God of (or from) Very God; begotten,
not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all
things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came
down from heaven; and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the
virgin Mary; and was made man; and was crucified also for us
under Pontius Pilate, he suffered, and was buried, and the third
day he rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended
into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father: and
he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the
dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. "And I believe in
the Holy Ghost, [the Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth
from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the son
together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets]."
I believe one catholic and apostolic church: I acknowledge one
baptism for the remission of sins: and I look for the resurrection
of the dead; and the life of the world to come. Amen."
Athanasian, or Trinitarian Creed
ascribed to Athanasius, a theologian of the fourth century,
but now generally allowed not to have been composed until the
fifth century, by some other person. "Whosoever will be
saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic
Faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. "And the Catholic
Faith is this: that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity
in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and
another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal,
the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son,
and such is the Holy Ghost, the Father uncreate, the son uncreate,
and the Holy Ghost uncreate; the Father eternal, the Son eternal,
and the Holy Ghost eternal; and yet they are not three eternals,
but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles,
nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the
Holy Ghost Almighty; and yet they are not three Almighties,
but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and
the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but
one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the
Holy Ghost Lord; and yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For
like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge
every person by himself to be God and Lord; so are we forbidden
by the Catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three
Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made
nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father,
not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost,
not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or
after another, none is greater or less than another; but the
whole three persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. So
that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and
the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He, therefore, that
will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that he also believe
rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right
faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, is God and man; God of the substance of the
Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of the substance
of his mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect man;
of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to the
Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father,
as touching his manhood; who, although he be God and man, yet
is he not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the
Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God. One
altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and
man is one Christ: who suffered for our salvation; descended
into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; he ascended
into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God
Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the
dead; at whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies,
and shall give account for their own works. And they that have
done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have
done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic faith,
which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved. Glory
be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As
it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without
three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that
which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly
to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most
certain warrants of Holy Scripture."—Article VIII.
of the Church of England: taken from the Book of Common Prayer.
[In the Articles of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United
States of America, Article VIII. reads as follows: "The
Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’
Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they
may be proved by most certain warrants of Scripture."
philosophy was a serious threat to the early Christian Church.
Paul said, "Greeks seek wisdom" (1 Cor. 1:22, RSV).
To counter this, Paul said, "I did not come proclaiming
to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom" (1
Cor. 2:1, RSV). Apparently, there were those who did. Greek
philosophy was kept out of the Bible, but not out of theology.
As the church fathers strove for preeminence, they found the
high-sounding wisdom of Greek philosophy a cutting edge for
distinguishing themselves. When the religious debates spilled
over before the Roman emperors, what better tool could be used
than Hellenistic philosophy interwoven with Christian doctrine?
Greek and Mid-eastern philosophies were pervasive, and when
someone like Constantine listened to the controversy between
Arius and Athanasius, the strong pagan influence was certain
to have an effect.
had ostensibly converted to Christianity, and he intended to
use the new religion to solidify the empire. Earlier he had
raised a symbol of Christ seen in a vision ("R" fixed
in the center of an "C"—the first two letters
of "Christ" [CRISTOS] in the Greek) as a new imperial
standard and used it to gain victory in a key battle against
pagan forces. He believed he had heard a voice from heaven saying,
"In this sign conquer."3 If the symbol (also called
a "Christogram") actually represented two gods, he
might have thought it all the better. If Christ were really
both man and God, flesh and spirit, that would be closer to
Greek philosophy and the pagan trinity models. It would make
the new religion all the more attractive to the masses.
Bruce L. Shelley, a writer for Christian History, we read:
Council of Nicea, (was) summoned by Emperor Constantine and
held in the imperial palace under his auspices. Constantine
viewed the Arian teachings—that Jesus was a created being
subordinate to God—as an ‘insignificant’ theological
matter. But he wanted peace in the empire he had just united
through force. When diplomatic letters failed to solve the dispute,
he convened around 220 bishops, who met for two months to hammer
out a universally acceptable definition of Jesus Christ."
expression homo ousion, ‘one substance,’ was probably
introduced by Bishop Hosius of Cordova (in today’s Spain).
Since he had great influence with Constantine, the imperial
weight was thrown to that side of the scales. . . . As it turned
out, however, Nicea alone settled little. For the next century
the Nicene and the Arian views of Christ battled for supremacy.
First Constantine and then his successors stepped in again and
again to banish this churchman or exile that one. Control of
church offices too often depended on control of the emperor’s
would anyone look to the fourth century for truth, particularly
in view of our Lord’s great prophecy covering the period
of his absence and return, saying, "Take heed that no man
deceive you" (Matt. 24:4)? Without a doubt, this was where
the Church had lost its way. It was shamelessly prostituted
before the ambitious Roman emperor. It is important to know
that while Constantine accepted Christianity and became the
Pontifex Maximus of the Church, he also continued to function
in all the pagan ceremonies, as paganism had deep roots in the
Roman Empire and would not pass away overnight. Julian succeeded
Constantine to the throne, and he was a devout pagan, although
a noble one. Rome became a melting pot of paganism and Christianity—not
a good mix.
conclusions are easily reached about the Nicaean Council. It
is easy to conjure up images of a united group of bishops with
only two in dissent, endorsing wholeheartedly the Athanasian
proposition uniting the Father and Son into two parts of one
deity. Nothing could be further from the truth. We quote the
rejected the formulae of Arius, and declined to accept those
of his opponents; that is to say, they were merely competent
to establish negations, but lacked the capacity, as yet, to
give their attitude of compromise a positive expression. . .
. True, at Nicaea this majority eventually acquiesced in the
ruling of the Alexandrians; yet this result was due, not to
internal conviction, but partly to indifference, partly to the
pressure of the imperial will—a fact which is mainly demonstrated
by the subsequent history of the Arian conflicts. For if the
Nicaean synod had arrived at its final decision by the conscientious
agreement of all non-Arians, then the confession of faith there
formulated might indeed have evoked the continued antagonism
of the Arians, but must necessarily have been championed by
all else. This, however, was not the case; in fact, the creed
was assailed by those very bodies which had composed the laissez-faire
centre at Nicaea; and we are compelled to the conclusion that,
in this point the voting was no criterion of the inward convictions
of the council. . . . For it was the proclamation of the Nicene
Creed that first opened the eyes of many bishops to the significance
of the problem there treated; and its explanation led the Church
to force herself, by an arduous path of theological work, into
compliance with those principles, enunciated at Nicaea, to which,
in the year 325, she had pledged herself without genuine assent."
tells us, in effect, the body of bishops who voted for this
Creed were not unanimously believers in it. Hence, the vote
testified to weakness of character and the human tendency to
get on the bandwagon for the sake of expediency. What else would
make one vote for something not truly believed and which would
later be assailed by them?
the Nicean Council ended on August 25, 325 A.D., Emperor Constantine
delayed the festivities of his twentieth anniversary until the
close of this council. We quote the following:
magnificent entertainment was provided by that prince, ‘for
the ministers of God’ . . . No one of the bishops was
absent from the imperial banquet, which was more admirably conducted
than can possibly be described. The guards and soldiers, disposed
in a circle, were stationed at the entrance of the palace with
drawn swords. The men of God passed through the midst of them
without fear, and went into the most private apartments of the
royal edifice. Some of them were then admitted to the table
of the emperor, and others took the places assigned them on
either side. It was a lively image of the kingdom of Christ(?),
and appeared more like a dream than a reality."
cannot help but contrast this event with the occasion when Satan
showed Jesus all the kingdoms of this world and their glory
and then said, "All these I will give you, if you will
fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:9, RSV). It seems the
Devil had more success with these bishops than he did with our
Lord. Yes, Constantine now had most of the bishops in his pocket,
and from there we see the church merged with the kingdoms of
this world, trying to make believe that this was the kingdom