I Tim. 2. 5 |
Harmless error or principle heresy? It’s difficult to imagine the numerous assaults on the truth of the Christian religion in the 300 years before the Council of Nicea (325 AD)in Asia Minor, where the doctrine of the trinity was codified. For 300 years – 3 centuries – the church was in constant peril. The life of the Christian was fraught with danger — espoused with great sacrifice. Assaults by the Gnostics, that emanated from a combination of pagan mythology, Greek mythology, and Christianity itself were a constant vexation. The Jews themselves, as they tried to hold onto the Law of Moses with all its rules and regulations, were a great hindrance to the work of the apostles. Judaism of the Hellenistic period was awash in Greek teaching. Paul preached to the Colossians to beware, and See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition. (Col 2. 8 RSV).
What is the doctrine of the trinity anyhow? We all know the word ‘trinity’does not appear in scripture. Certain creeds evolved in the church in order to define for members their beliefs, written to distinguish between other religious and philosophical ideas, and to offer protection from pagan allegations. One of the earliest was an ancient Latin creed, The Old Roman Creed (c. 150 –
170 AD), which subsequently became known as The Apostles Creed. Later, the Nicene Creed (381 AD) was written by the church and used as a test of orthodoxy. It was a long and contentious battle by the church fathers before they reached the final conclusion that God was not One, but Three. But lest we forget, we dare not ignore what Moses preached; God’s words should not be taken lightly:
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul and with all thy might.
And these words which I command thee this day
Shall be in thy heart: and thou shall
teach them diligently to thy children, . . .
they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. . .(Deut 6. 4 – 8)
Much later in their history, when Israel was being brought to ruin by the Assyrians, God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, condemns a disobedient and unrepentant Israel. He points out, The leaders of my people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. (Is 9. 16) , led astray by the Elders and the prophets who speak lies. So too has the Christian church been led astray by the false doctrine of the trinity. Where did they go wrong? In a word, It was pride — epitomized in the wisdom of this world which God calls foolishness. The world’s wisdom is insidious. To make a present day application, every time we draw inferences from the scriptures, we run the risk of diluting the word with the wisdom of the world.
Today men fight battles with intolerance, crime, sickness, starvation and death. Do we need to harken back to Hellenistic meditations, retire to dusty medieval cloisters, trying to figure out the nature of a man who many believe never existed? Can this be important? Can simple folk be expected to understand? We’re not expected to understand theology, or called upon to decide who is accountable. The question that needs answering is, is life an end in itself? We only have a few years to figure what’s going on, but we can be certain of a few things. Faith is natural to man, and seeking the truth is important to him, and we don’t want to be waiting for the streetcar on the wrong street. Both life and the Bible argue for the necessity of believing the truth which is declared to be One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (Eph 4. 5), and it’s our calling to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. This faith never included belief in a triune god, a condition described by Isaac Newton in one place as a cult—“the cult of three equal Gods”. Apostasy, no less. The doctrine smacks of polytheism, the very sin that overtook Israel and was summarily condemned by God. This invention has slowly infiltrated the Christian church and, for the most part, taken hold. We have moved from the simple first century belief as expressed in the Old Roman Creed where no mention of a triune god is made, to singing hymns dedicated to the ‘Blessed Trinity”.
The doctrine of the trinity is not a harmless one. It is a principle heresy for the reason that it takes away the essential element of Christ’s life - the possibility of failure. It makes void and meaningless the following scripture, and words of similar might:
(Christ) who in the days of his flesh,
When he had offered up prayers and supplications
With strong crying and tears
Unto Him that was able to save him from death,
And was heard in that he feared.
Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience
By the things which he suffered:
And being made perfect, be became
The author of eternal salvation
Unto all them that obey him. (Heb 5. 7 – 9)
Note: Two worthy titles that explore the subject of the Trinity doctrine:
The Doctrine of the Trinity by Anthony Buzzard & Charles Hunting, International Scholars Publications, 1998, 4501 Forbes Blvd, Lanham, MD 20706 (1-800-462-6420);
The Trinity True or False? By James Broughton and Peter Southgate, Dawn Book Supply, 1995, 66 Carlton Road, Nottingham, NG3 2AP, England.