Page I: General Overview

The Nicene Creed

We believe in One God, the Father all sovereign maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made; who for us men [all humans] and for our salvation came down from the heavens and was made flesh of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures, and ascended into the heavens, and sitteth on the right had of the father, and cometh again with glory to judge living and the dead of whose kingdom there shall be no end:

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Life-giver,that proceedeth from the Father, who with Father and Son is worshiped together, and glorified together, and who spake through the prophets;

In one Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church: we acknowledge one baptism unto remission of sins. We look for a resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.

Overview of the Doctirne

The Trinity is a doctrine of Church, that is, it developed over time (from about the second to the fourth centuries) in response to a continuing need. The first emergence of Trinitarian thinking was in response to the question of Christian identity. With Gnosticism infiltrating the church, the Bishops had to find a way of understanding who was a believer and who was not, and of demonstrating this in a clear and definite way. The Gnostic hearsay also forced the understanding of several difficult questions, such as the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. Since the Gnostics said that Jesus was just an ethereal being, a ghostlike wreath who only appeared to be flesh and blood, it became just as important to safe guard Jesus' humanity as to explain his deity.

Though the first aspects of the doctrine can be seen forming up in the New Testament, and in the very first extra-canonical Christian literature, at the end of the first century, the problems of Gnosticism forced a sharpened understanding. The Doctrine first took shape in the late second century (contrary to what many skeptics think, who argue that it didn't appear until the fourth). The first Christian theologians to coin the term "Trinity," Was Turtullian. But the doctrine can be seen shaping up as far back as 1 Clement in AD 95.

The Trinity is often misunderstood by many skeptics and anti-Trinitarians who think it calls for three gods. The Doctrine actually says that there is one God. But this one God exists in three persons who share in the same Divine essence. In order to understand this the early church fathers had to draw upon the Aristotelian concept of essence; the essence of a think determines what it is. A thing is the thing that it is because it contains the essence of what it is. Thus a dog is a dog because it exists as a dog, it has "doggedness." Thus, the three persons of the Trinity share the same divine essence. The term actually used by the Fathers was persona the term the Greek actors used for the masks they wore in tragedies. This means that we are actually talking about three identities through which the one divine essence is manifested. Thus one God, three persona; as the creed states (Athenasian creed) the persons are not to be confused, the essence not to be diluted.

Skeptics often quibble over the nature of this doctrine, thinking that its development over time and prescription by the church hierarchy means that it isn't valid. They reason that it must be stated openly in the New Testament to be valid. This they mistake for Luther's notion of Sola Scriptura. But the reformers were totally committed to Trinitarian doctrine. Sola Scriptura just means that Scripture is the final authority, it does not mean that the church has no teaching office. This is what the skeptics are always missing, especially the Christian "wannabe's" like the Christadelpians and Jehovah's Witnesses; that the church has a tradition, and the tradition is the guardian of the faith and the knowledge of the faith; the New Testament is a creature of the Tradition. The same people who chose what books went into the canon of the New Testament also drew up the creeds and developed the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. If we can trust one we have to trust the other. In dealing with the doctrine the church was only doing what theologians are supposed to do, to understand through sudsy of and participation in, the nature of a religious tradition.

Despite the fact that the Doctrine was formulated by the church over several centuries, the basic elements of it can be seen clearly in the New Testament. Several verses actually dipict the there persona of the Godhead working together at the time time, in concert but distinctively.In fact, a formula of the Trinity can be seen in many passages:

Matthew 28:19
Father, Son, holy spirit
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Spirit, Lord, God
2 Corinthians 13:14
Christ, God, holy spirit
Galatians 4:4-6
God, Son, spirit of his Son
Ephesians 4:4-6
Spirit, Lord, God
1 Peter 1:2
God, Spirit, Jesus Christ

Snapshots of the Trinity in the Gospels.

A. Mark 1: 10-11

"As Jesus was coming up out of the water he saw heaven being torn open and The Spirit decending upon him like a Dove, and a voice from Heaven saying "you are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased." [Here we see all three members of the Trinity acting in Concert. If the Spirit is merely God than why is it that God is speaking from Heaven while the Spirit takes the form of a dove and decends?]

B. Mattehw 28:19

"Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel, baptizing all nations into the name of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit." [This is probably an early baptismal formula. Why is the Spirit mentioned last in all of these formulamatic statements? If the Spirit is merely another word for God, why not metion the Spirit first sometimes? Why is the Formula here? And why baptize into Jesus' name as a well if he is just a secondary being? Now the JW's will argue that in no other case do we see anyone baptized into the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. But we also are not given an actual trasnscript of what was said when they did baptize. IN other situations it is merely reported that people were baptized, but here we see what is probably an ealry formula. Be that as it may, why is it here? Why do they say it this time?] Mt 12:18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

C. Why are both of these Associated with Baptism?

Both of these enstances are associated with baptism. Probably becasue the early baptizmal creed included this phrase. Baptism for the chruch became the initiation ceremony. This is seen in Acts 2 when Peter is asked by the crowd "what shall we do?" And he tells them "reprent, and be baptized." (Acts 2: 38) is probably there to explain the origin of Baptism as an initatiory rite. In the Jewish milieu it was a sign of repentence or a rite for pryosilaties. For the Qumran group it was a regular daily ritual, but they were unique. Now, with this initiatory rite in the infant chruch, one is baptized into the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, becasue they recognize that all three aspects of God. The include the Son in the Godhead. So when Mark depitcs Jesus' baptism he includes the three as befitting the baptismal formula. But why was this a formula? Why should one baptize into the name of all three? Because the three have a speicial relationship to each other and to the initiate who is committing his life to the faith; that faith is oriented toward all three.

Trinity in the Earliest Chruch Fathers.

Skeptics have been known to argue that the Trinity never existed until 325 AD when it was "made up" for the council of Neciea. Some, on discussion boards, have even gone so far as to calim that Contstantine made it up. But it is a commonplace to find anti-Trinitarians asserting that the doctirne was never in the chruch before this council. Yet all the council did was to ratify a statment, making a unified formally worded document, of a dcotrine that can be proven to have existed in Chrstiain thought as far back as the Gosples. We find this notion, or the deity of Christ, in all early Chruch fathers.

Clemet of Rome 95 AD

The First Epislte of Clement: "Jesus Chrsit the high preist of our offerings, the protector and helper of our weakness. Through him we fix our gaze on the heights in heaven, in him we see mirrored God's pure and transcendent face...through him the Master has willed that we should taste importal knowlege, or 'since he reflects God's splindor he is as supiror to the Angels as his title is to theirs,'* for it is written 'he who makes the angels winds and his ministers flames of fire..." (36:2-3, Richardson and Fairweather, Early Chruch Fathers,p260). [*quoting Hebrews 1.]" "...And so the Apostles, after recieving their orders and being fully convenced by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and assured by God's word, went out in the confidence of the Holy Spirit..." [Ibid,62]"

Ignatious of Antioch 110 AD

Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Ephesians states: "The Will of our Father, and of Jesus Christ, our God"[Ibid, p88]. Again he says "For Jesus Christ that life from which we can't be torn--is the Father's mind..." ( Eph. 3:2.Ibid.) [Ibid.] And again he gives a remarkable early formulation of a creedal statement: "There is only one physician --of flesh yet Spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnet, ginuene life in the midst of death, Sprung from Mary as well as God, first subject to suffering than beyond it,, Jesus Chrsit our Lord..." ( Ephieans 7:2, Ibid.90). (see also Ignatius 20: 2-3).[Ibid.] "For God was revealing himself as a man...." [Ibid, 193]

Justin Martyr. 121 AD

From the First Apology of Justin, Part I The Christian History Institute "Look at What You Give Credence to. We say the Word, the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union. We say that He, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, rose again and ascended into heaven." "When we say he was begotten of God as the Word of God in a unique manner...Jesus Christ alone was really begotten as son of God, being his Word, and First begotten, and Power, and becoming man by his will..."[in Richardson, p.257] "The Spirit and power from God Cannot rightly be thought of as anything other than the Word, who is also the first born of God...Those who prophesied were inspired by none other than the Divine Word...." [Ibid.263-264]

Second Letter of Clement

(So called) just piror to Mid Second century "...We ought to think of Jesus Christ as we do of God--as the judge of the living and the dead...." [Ibid.193] [Anonymous] Letter to Digognetus (124?) Second centruy "Now Did he [God] send him [Christ] out as a human mind might think to do? To rule by fear or terror? Far from it, he sent him by kindness and gentleness...he sent him as God, he sent him as a man to men..." [Ibid.219] "No man has ever seen God or made him known, but he has manifested, but he has manifested himself, and he manifested himself through faith, but which alone it has been made possible for us to see God.[Ibid] [the MS attributes it to Justin but this is thought to be impossible, better candidate is Quadratus of Asia Minor, who wrote an apology to the emperor in 123 -129]

Athenagora 177 AD

This Greek philsopher turned Christian has the Trinity almost developed into a full blown doctrine. "The Son of God is his Word in idea and in acutality; for by him and through him all things were made, the Father and the Son being one. And since the son is in the Father and the Father in the Son by the unity and power of the Spirit, the Son of God is the mind and Word of the Father...I do not mean that he was created, for , since God is eternal mind, he had his Word within homself from the beginning, being eternally wise. Rather did the Son come forth from God to give form and actuality to all material things...Indeed we say that the Holy Spirit Himself, who inspires those who utter prophecies, is an effluence form God, floweing from hin and teturning like a ran from the sun..." [Athenagora's Plea, Ibid.309]

Written by an Ausie Friend named Roger, from the "Godly Zone" Board

[The views in this message are taken from Systematic Theology, Grudem, >Inter-Varsity Press, 1994" and other reading material, and are not the >unique views of the writer. They reflect the teaching of all mainstream >Christian Churches, and have been settled theology since the time of Christ >and the Councils of the Church in the fourth century.]

The translation "the Word was God" has been challenged by the Jehovah'sWitnesses, who translate it "the Word was a god", implying that the Word was simply a heavenly being but not fully divine.They justify this translation by pointing to the fact that the definitearticle (Greek "ho", English "the") does not occur before the Greek wor"theos".The inconsistency of the Jehovah's Witnesses position can be seen in theirtranslation of the rest of the chapter. For various other grammaticalreasons the word "theos" also lacks the definite article at other places inthis chapter, such as verse 6 ("There was a man sent from God"), verse 12 ("power to become children of God"), verse 13 ("but of God") and verse 18 ("No one has ever seen God").

If the Jehovah's Witnesses were consistent with their argument about theabsence of the definite article, they would have to translate all of thesewith the phrase "a god", but they translate them as "God" in every case.

Further proof is obtained by reading in context the words of Thomas in John 20 where John by clear implication improves the statement of Thomas to the resurrected Christ (the Resurrection being itself a Divine event) ... "My Lord and my God!", to which Jesus immediately responds "Have you believedthese things because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seenand yet believe." (John 20:29).

That John is absolutely no doubt about the divinity of Christ is madeapparent in the very next verse, in which the declaration of Thomas isclearly seen by John to be the high point of his entire Gospel, because John says :-

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are

not written in this book; but these are written THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, AND THAT BELIEVING YOU MAY HAVE LIFE INHIS NAME." (John 20:30-31).

The only conclusions are that Jesus was God or he was an imposter, forno-one in the Jewish would be allowed to offer life in his own name withoutbeing charged with blasphemy and put to death.

Unless you believe that Christ was God, you must believe that Christ was thegreatest blasphemer in history, for seeking to offer eternal life in his ownname. This offer is only valid if it comes from God, and Christ's DivineStatus as God must be accepted if his offer of eternal life is accepted.There can be no half measures.

The Divinity of Christ must be accepted in its totality or you must believethat he was rightly crucified as a blasphemer and an imposter.

There is nowhere to hide. It is one or the other.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritu Sanctus.


Part 2: Johonnie Theology and The Triune God

The Religious A priori