Thursday, 8 December 2011

Who Invented the Trinity?

Who Invented the Trinity?

By Aisha Brown

The three monotheistic religions
- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all purport to share one fundamental
concept: belief in God as the Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer
of the Universe. Known as Tawhid in Islam, this concept of
the Oneness of God was stressed by Moses in a Biblical passage known
as the "Shema" or the Jewish creed of faith: "Hear,
O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." (Deuteronomy 6:4)

It was repeated word-for-word approximately
1500 years later by Jesus when he said:

"...The first of all the commandments
is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mark 12:29)

Muhammad came along approximately
600 years later, bringing the same message again:

"And your God is One God:
There is no God but He, ..." (The Qur'an 2:163)

Christianity has digressed from the
concept of the Oneness of God, however, into a vague and mysterious
doctrine that was formulated during the fourth century. This doctrine,
which continues to be a source of controversy both within and without
the Christian religion, is known as the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Simply put, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God
is the union of three divine persons - the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit - in one divine being.

If that concept, put in basic terms,
sounds confusing, the flowery language in the actual text of the
doctrine lends even more mystery to the matter:

"...we worship one God in Trinity,
and Trinity in Unity... for there is one Person of the Father, another
of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost is all one... they are not
three gods, but one God... the whole three persons are co-eternal
and co-equal... he therefore that will be save must thus think of
the Trinity..." (excerpts from the Athanasian Creed)

Let's put this together in a different
form: one person, God the Father + one person, God the Son + one
person, God the Holy Ghost = one person, God the What? Is this English
or is this gibberish?

It is said that Athanasius, the bishop
who formulated this doctrine, confessed that the more he wrote on
the matter, the less capable he was of clearly expressing his thoughts
regarding it.

How did such a confusing doctrine
get started?

Trinity in the Bible

References in the Bible to a Trinity
of divine beings are vague, at best.

In Matthew 28:19, we find Jesus telling
his disciples to go out and preach to all nations. While the "Great
Commission" does make mention of the three persons who later
become components of the Trinity, the phrase "...baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost" is quite clearly an addition to Biblical text - that
is, not the actual words of Jesus - as can be seen by two factors:

1. Baptism in the early Church,
as discussed by Paul in his letters, was done only in the name of
Jesus; and

2. The "Great Commission"
found in the first gospel written, that of Mark, bears no mention
of Father, Son and/or Holy Ghost - see Mark 16:15.

The only other reference in the Bible
to a Trinity can be found in the Epistle of I John 5:7, Biblical
scholars of today, however, have admitted that the phrase "...there
are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" is definitely a "later
addition" to Biblical test, and it is not found in any of today's
versions of the Bible.

It can, therefore, be seen that the
concept of a Trinity of divine beings was not an idea put forth
by Jesus or any other prophet of God. This doctrine, now subscribed
to by Christians all over the world, is entirely man-made in origin.

The Doctrine Takes Shape

While Paul of Tarsus, the man who
could rightfully be considered the true founder of Christianity,
did formulate many of its doctrines, that of the Trinity was not
among them. He did, however, lay the groundwork for such when he
put forth the idea of Jesus being a "divine Son." After
all, a Son does need a Father, and what about a vehicle for God's
revelations to man? In essence, Paul named the principal players,
but it was the later Church people who put the matter together.

Tertullian, a lawyer and presbyter
of the third century Church in Carthage, was the first to use the
word "Trinity" when he put forth the theory that the Son
and the Spirit participate in the being of God, but all are of one
being of substance with the Father.

A Formal Doctrine is Drawn Up

When controversy over the matter
of the Trinity blew up in 318 between two church men from Alexandria
- Arius, the deacon, and Alexander, his bishop - Emperor Constantine
stepped into the fray.

Although Christian dogma was a complete
mystery to him, he did realize that a unified church was necessary
for a strong kingdom. When negotiation failed to settle the dispute,
Constantine called for the first ecumenical council in Church history
in order to settle the matter once and for all.

Six weeks after the 300 bishops first
gathered at Nicea in 325, the doctrine of the Trinity was hammered
out. The God of the Christians was now seen as having three essences,
or natures, in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Church Puts Its Foot Down

The matter was far from settled,
however, despite high hopes for such on the part of Constantine.
Arius and the new bishop of Alexandria, a man named Athanasius,
began arguing over the matter even as the Nicene Creed was being
signed; "Arianism" became a catch-word from that time
onward for anyone who did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.

It wasn't until 451, at the Council
of Chalcedon that, with the approval of the Pope, the Nicene/Constantinople
Creed was set as authoritative. Debate on the matter was no longer
tolerated; to speak out against the Trinity was now considered blasphemy,
and such earned stiff sentences that ranged from mutilation to death.
Christians now turned on Christians, maiming and slaughtering thousands
because of a difference of opinion.

Debate Continues

Brutal punishments and even death
did not stop the controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity, however,
and the said controversy continues even today.

The majority of Christians, when
asked to explain this fundamental doctrine of their faith, can offer
nothing more than "I believe it because I was told to do so."
It is explained away as "mystery" - yet the Bible says
in I Corinthians 14:33 that "... God is not the author of confusion..."

The Unitarian denomination of Christianity
has kept alive the teachings of Arius in saying that God is one;
they do not believe in the Trinity. As a result, mainstream Christians
abhor them, and the National Council of Churches has refused their
admittance. In Unitarianism, the hope is kept alive that Christians
will someday return to the preachings of Jesus: "...Thou shalt
worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Luke

Islam and the Matter of the Trinity

While Christianity may have a problem
defining the essence of God, such is not the case in Islam.

"They do blaspheme who say:
Allah is one of three in a Trinity, for there is no god except One

(Qur'an 5:73)

It is worth noting that the Arabic
language Bible uses the name "Allah" as the name
of God.

Suzanne Haneef, in her book WHAT
(Library of Islam,
1985), puts the matter quite succinctly when she says, "But
God is not like a pie or an apple which can be divided into three
thirds which form one whole; if God is three persons or possesses
three parts, He is assuredly not the Single, Unique, Indivisible
Being which God is and which Christianity professes to believe in."
(pp. 183-184)

Looking at it from another angle,
the Trinity designates God as being three separate entities - the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God is the Father and also
the Son, He would then be the Father of Himself because He is His
own Son. This is not exactly logical.

Christianity claims to be a monotheistic
religion. Monotheism, however, has as its fundamental belief that
God is One; the Christian doctrine of the Trinity - God being Three-in-One
- is seen by Islam as a form of polytheism. Christians don't revere
just One God, they revere three.

This is a charge not taken lightly
by Christians, however. They, in turn, accuse the Muslims of not
even knowing what the Trinity is, pointing out that the Qur'an sets
it up as Allah the Father, Jesus the Son, and Mary his mother. While
veneration of Mary has been a figment of the Catholic Church since
431 when she was given the title "Mother of God" by the
Council of Ephesus, a closer examination of the verse in the Qur'an
most often cited by Christians in support of their accusation, shows
that the designation of Mary by the Qur'an as a "member"
of the Trinity, is simply not true.

While the Qur'an does condemn both
trinitarianism (the Qur'an 4:17) and the worship of Jesus
and his mother Mary (the Qur'an 5:116), nowhere does it identify
the actual three components of the Christian Trinity. The position
of the Qur'an is that WHO or WHAT comprises this doctrine is not
important; what is important is that the very notion of a Trinity
is an affront against the concept of One God.

In conclusion, we see that the doctrine
of the Trinity is a concept conceived entirely by man; there is
no sanction whatsoever from God to be found regarding the matter
simply because the whole idea of a Trinity of divine beings has
no place in monotheism. In the Qur'an, God's Final Revelations to
mankind, we find His stand quite clearly stated in a number of eloquent

"...your God is One God:
whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and,
in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner."

(Qur'an 18:110)

"...take not, with God, another
object of worship, lest you should be thrown into Hell, blameworthy
and rejected."

(Qur'an 17:39)

Because, as God tells us over and
over again in a Message that is echoed throughout All His Revealed

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