The teaching of the Trinity was established over time. Important dates were 325 CE, 381 CE, and 431 CE, at the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus.
The Emperor Constantine wanted a unified empire under a united religion. Concerning the Nicean Council, The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination” (1971 edition, Vol. 6, “Constantine,” p. 386).
From this time on, the group known as Arians, who opposed the Trinity, were labelled as heretics.
The role of Jesus as the mediator between God and man was eroded and traditional Church Bishops considered themselves mediators, the way to God. Ignatius – sometime between 88 and 107 AD said “your bishop presides in the place of God “. (Epistle to the Magnesians of St. Ignatius)
Church Fathers such as Irenaeus and Tertullian continued the idea of a Church hierarchy. Making God a Trinity suited their structure. How could Jesus be the mediator if He was in fact God ? They promoted a line of Bishops back to Peter and Paul in Rome who would mediate between God and the common people. They wanted house churches (where everyone was equal) closed down and the teaching of the scripture limited to authorised men only (no women) with apostolic connections.
The traditional church gave their leader the role of mediator and teacher. This should have been the role of Jesus,
Do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ. Matt. 23:9
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I Tim. 2:5
But the church claimed that Jesus was God – and they as mediators were needed. Irenaeus claimed the first Bishop of Rome after Peter was Linus.
It’s important to understand the influence Irenaeus had on the church. In 2005 Pope Benedict XV1 described him as the founder of Catholic theology
“In the second century, the founder of Catholic theology, St Irenaeus of Lyons, described very beautifully this bond between catholicity and unity”
AUTHORITY OF BISHOPS
The following passage by Irenaeus demonstrates his belief in the authority of church appointed bishops –
“Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church, – those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismaries puffed up and self-pleasing” (Against Heresies, Book 4, Ch. 26)
In response to the numerous groups of Christians, the Orthodox Church believed there should only be one group who could prove a holy lineage of male bishops.
These bishops were the only ones permitted to explain the scriptures or indeed have access to them. This type of thinking created a church where the common people were led in their thinking by church bishops who interpreted the scriptures for them. Tertullian was one such bishop who believed that heretics should not have access to the Scriptures:
“We are therefore come to (the gist of) our position; for at this point we were aiming, and for this we were preparing in the preamble of our address (which we have just completed),–so that we may now join issue on the contention to which our adversaries challenge us. They put forward the Scriptures, and by this insolence of theirs they at once influence some. In the encounter itself, however, they weary the strong, they catch the weak, and dismiss waverers with a doubt. Accordingly, we oppose to them this step above all others, of not admitting them to any discussion of the Scriptures. If in these lie their resources, before they can use them, it ought to be clearly seen to whom belongs the possession of the Scriptures, that none may be admitted to the use thereof who has no title at all to the privilege.” (The Prescription Against Heretics, Ch. 15)
Tertullian believed only certain men had the privilege of reading scripture. His opinion of women and their role in the church is evident from his writings below –
“And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert–that is, death–even the Son of God had to die.” (On the Apparel of Women, Book 1, Ch. 1)
These heretical women how audacious they are! They have no modesty: they are bold enough to teach, to engage in argument, to undertake cures, and, it may be, even to baptize” (Prescriptions Against Heretics, 41)
It’s apparent from their writings that certain Church Fathers were opposed to the equality of women in church and replaced Jesus as the mediator with Bishops. The doctrine of the Trinity which said that Jesus was the same as God, suited their own power base.
WRITINGS ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN
Church Fathers backed up their claims for a Trinity with passages from the 4th Gospel and the Epistles of John.
The traditional view has been that the apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel and extra letters. However none of the gospels have the name of the author within the text, they only have attributions of authorship that were added later. The earliest attestation we have that John wrote the Fourth Gospel is by Irenaeus –. In his book Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) c.180CE he said
“Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these. For that according to John expounds his princely and mighty and glorious birth from the Father, saying, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,’ and, ‘All things were made by him, and without him nothing was nothing made’ . Therefore this Gospel is deserving of all confidence, for such indeed is his person.”
Irenaeus was making the point that the Fourth Gospel was worthy of confidence. If John were the author it would bolster its credibility amongst the Orthodox Church with its apostolic connection. This Gospel and the letters of ‘John’ were used as the main evidence to support the idea of the Trinity. This was achieved by Church Fathers interpreting passages wrongly, and by the addition of extra words by translators.
WRONG INTERPRETATION BY BISHOPS
The Catholic (traditional) Church quoted passages like John 10:30 to show that Jesus was God – My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Yet a closer look at the 4th Gospel shows Disciples also being one with God
“I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23
This passage gives the context of the oneness between God and Jesus. It is a unity that Jesus wants disciples to have as well. It is not making Jesus to actually be God but to be one in purpose.
ADDITION OF WORDS
Additional words were added to the King James Bible to bolster the view of the Trinity. Compare the passages below from 1 John 5:6-8 (extra words are red & underlined)
|King James Version||Berean Study Bible|
|This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.||This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ—not by water alone, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies to this, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement.|
By the time of Isaac Newton it was a punishable crime to reject the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet Isaac Newton rejected it – although his thoughts were not widely known until some time after his death.
He also picked up on the corruption of texts to support the Trinity idea – in a letter to John Locke on 14 November 1690 and built on the textual work of Richard Simon and his own research. The text was first published in English in 1754, 27 years after his death. The account claimed to review all the textual evidence available from ancient sources on two disputed Bible passages: 1John 5:7 and 1Timothy 3:16.
According to Wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Historical_Account_of_Two_Notable_Corruptions_of_Scripture) Newton argued that 1 John 5:7 was first taken into a Greek text in 1515 by Cardinal Ximenes on the strength of a late Greek manuscript ‘corrected’ from the Latin. Finally, Newton considered the sense and context of the verse, concluding that removing the interpolation makes “the sense plain and natural, and the argument full and strong; but if you insert the testimony of ‘the Three in Heaven’ you interrupt and spoil it.” Today most versions of the Bible are from the Critical Text and omit this verse, or retain it as only a marginal reading…The shorter portion of Newton’s dissertation was concerned with 1 Timothy 3:16, which reads (in the King James Version):
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
Newton argued that, by a small alteration in the Greek text, the word “God” was substituted to make the phrase read “God was manifest in the flesh” instead of
“which was manifested in the flesh”.
He attempted to demonstrate that early Church writers in referring to the verse knew nothing of such an alteration.
God said to Israel that He is ONE. The Jews still rightly believe this and reject Christian doctrines which attempt to make God 3.
Also, the belief that Jesus was God takes away the harder sacrifice of God giving His Son for us. It is easier to give your own life than that of your child.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The doctrine of the trinity makes no sense of the many passages that say that God is greater than Jesus
I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.'” (John 14:28)
Jesus said plainly that He came to do His Father’s will, not His own will, He is separate to His Father but one in purpose.
“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 5:30
The Jews latched onto Jesus words in John 10 and accused him of claiming to be God. Jesus denied that charge and instead claimed to be the Son of God.
“We are not stoning You for any good work,” said the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because You, who are a man, declare Yourself to be God.” Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’ ? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— then what about the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse Me of blasphemy for stating that I am the Son of God? John 10:34-36
For the author of the 4th gospel see “Under the Banner of Love – Mary Magdalene Author of the 4th Gospel”