It must be noted as we begin that the view of the “Holy Trinity” is not a concept that is definitively taught in the Biblical scriptures. It was not until Gentiles entered the ranks of believers that the theology was seriously considered.
In fact, “church” leaders and authorities were still arguing its merits before and after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD where it was “officially” adopted by the majority. Until then, and to some extent even after then, it was a matter of legitimate debate.
>From this council originated what eventually became the Nicene Creed. After continuing controversy, it was later refined in the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. In that form it was adopted as “gospel” by the Roman Catholic Church.
The essence of this Creed is recited at most “high” masses by the officiating priest and repeated by the laity. For purposes of our discussion I will quote it here.
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true 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. He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven. He sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life: Who spake by the Prophets. And in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come.”
The above Nicene Creed was essentially fashioned from the creed of Caesarea, and was put forth mainly by Eusebius. It reads thus:
“We believe in one God, the Father All-sovereign, the maker of things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, Son only-begotten, Firstborn of all creation, begotten of the Father before all the ages, through whom also all things were made; who was made flesh for our salvation and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the Father, and shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; we believe also in on Holy Spirit.”
Eusebius’ creed was modified at the council, since it did not directly address the anti-Trinitiarian view of Arius. Phrases such as “true God of true God” and “for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man” were used to modify the creed of Caesarea.
In addition, a concluding portion was added which specifically attacked Arius’ beliefs. As Beecher said, a creed was made to keep out minority opinions.
There has been considerable Catholic literature concerning the essences of this Creed and the theology of the “Holy Trinity” contained therein.
It also must be noted here, however, that by the time this Creed was written many fundamental precepts of scripture had already been abrogated by unprincipled men in their quest for power.
In fact, many scriptural truths were disregarded to accommodate “traditions” by the time of the Nicene Council. The Catholic Church’s attitude toward scripture vs. tradition is described succinctly by the Catholic Brantl.
“Catholic theologians maintain that as a source of truth, tradition is superior to Scripture. Scripture is, after all, incomplete; it not only requires interpretation, but it required tradition in order that it might be recognized and established. Further, Scripture is not a textbook; in a sense, it is a dead word which must be brought to life in the living voice of tradition.”
It is easy to conclude from the above quote that the roman Catholic Church does not place their top priority on the biblical writing when it comes to faith and practice.
Regardless of their public posturing on the efficacy of Bible study in recent years, they believe that the scriptures are inferior (since tradition is superior), incomplete (since tradition is used at all), and dead (Brantl’s term, not mine).
Actually, Rome was forced into the above explanation as an answer to Luther’s challenge that the Roman Church’s theology contradicted a multitude of scriptures.
We can see, therefore, that challenges to Catholic orthodoxy are answered with the “infallibility of the Church” paradigm.
In this regard, John Henry Cardinal Newman declares that these “truths” must be accepted by all Catholics whether understood from the scripture or not. Commenting on FAITH AND THEOLOGY he pontificates thus:
“… why has not the Catholic Church limited her credenda to propositions such as those in her Creed, concrete and practical, easy of apprehension, and of a character to win assent? such as ‘Christ is God’; … and the like, as they are found in her catechisms. On the contrary, she makes it imperative on everyone, priest and layman, to profess as revealed truth all canons of the Councils, and innumerable decisions of Popes, propositions so various, so notional (subjective), that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them.”
As the reader can detect from the opinions of the Cardinal, if you want to be a part of the Catholic system you must “buy” the authority of the “powers that be” to decide what is truth and what is not.
It is not the scripture that decides but the “canons of the Councils and innumerable decisions of Popes” even though these decisions and traditions came about as “propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them.” The reader can deduce that the affirmations of the “Church” are indeed the claims of all encompassing authority.
The good Cardinal even proceeds to “ridicule” the confusing language of the Nicene Creed as something that does not have to be understood — just believed and accepted!
“What sense, for instance, can a child or a peasant, nay, or any ordinary Catholic, put upon the Trindentine Canons, even in translation?… Or again, consider the very anathematism annexed by the Nicene Council to its Creed, the language of which is so obscure, that even theologians differ about its meaning. It runs as follows: — ‘ Those who say that once the Son was not, and before He was begotten He was not, and that He was made out of that which was not…’ These doctrinal enunciations are de fide (lit. “of faith” — not subject to debate); peasants are bound to believe them as well as controversialists, and to believe them as truly as they believe that our Lord is God.”
There you have it! From this theology composed (by their own definition) from an “obscure … propositions so various, so notional” Creed emerged the now entrenched doctrine of the “Holy Trinity” — a theology that has endured the great Protestant Reformation of Europe and the restoration movements of Europe and America.
The reason that I have spent so much time here is because the roots of this theology need to be examined regardless of the conclusions that might be drawn. If a person denies the declaration of the Roman Catholic Church — that truth rest solely with them and that tradition is superior to the scriptures — he must press on without trepidation even though questioning the Trinitarian view places one among the heretics.
Robert Whitelaw states it well.
“There are some today taught to view with alarm any study, no matter how Biblical, that calls into question cherished religious traditions or creeds of any kind, and particularly those that touch on ‘established’ doctrines of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity.”
Whitelaw also writes his amazement that modern evangelical preachers and Bible students — those who do not believe the scriptures inferior, incomplete, and dead — have so readily accepted the edicts of papal councils. He writes:
“What is even more amazing is the veneration that leading evangelicals today continue to attach to the edicts of these ‘famous Councils’ (e.g.. Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon) made up for the most part of proud and worldly ecclesiastics far removed from the age of the apostles, infatuated with Greek wisdom and Papal authority.”
The challenge to the reader is to lay aside as best he can his paradigm and pre-conceived ideas and examine the scriptures for himself. For the entire work you can get it here http://biblemaverick.com/articles.html under the title, “There Is One God”.
About The Author
Mr Bland is 63 years old, the husband of one wife for 39 years and the father of 4 adult, well adjusted and productive children. http://bbiblemaverick.com
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