Myth Busting

It is often said that Trinitarian teaching was absent in the earliest, most ancient forms of Christianity, that it was a creation of the Council of Nicea. And yet, while you’ll never find an explicit articulation of Trinitianian teaching in the New Testament, there are more than a few implicit reflerences for those with an open mind. Take this line for example:

“For though him [that is, Christ Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:18

So, what’s your take on Trinitarian teaching?

8 thoughts on “Myth Busting

  1. I think that you are interpreting the fore-mentioned verse from a Trinitarian hermeneutic. I am not anti-trinitarian, I just think that this is one of those developed doctrines that have wrongly taken on in/out authority. If you believe it, your are in; if you don’t, you’re definitely out.
    The fact is that Paul, in the earliest writings we have in the Christian Canon, never came out and said – you must believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, I don’t think you can say that he had anything to say about the trinity without bringing the doctrine into the interpretation.
    And yet we have murdered fellow believers because they didn’t believe in the trinity – or believe in the trinity wrongly (need I mention ‘The Shack’?). I say, “Look at the fruit.”
    Personally, I think we can be faithful believers without believing in one particular version (if any) of the trinity – if we believe in it at all. I have been reading ‘AD 381’ (2009) by Charles Freeman and am coming to the conclusion that God ‘was/is and will be’ more glorified in a diversity of beliefs. After all, even orthodoxy cannot contain God.

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  2. Hi Mat,
    Although I do not think that the doctrine of the Trinity as expounded in the 4 great ecumenical councils of the 4th and 5th centuries (including the debates on the person of Christ) can be established from the bible, yet I think that the God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth is a personal, relational and social being whose nature is unconditional, others centred, self giving love. Thus I believe that the Triunity of God is not inconsistent with the NT as you claim.
    I remember spinning out of a lecture on the early church councils (some 14 years ago) thinking what has this had to do with Jesus of Nazareth and the biblical witness to him in the 4 canonical gospels?
    Is it not possible that some forms of the doctrine of the Trinity can obscure the nature and being of God as revealed supremely is the lowly Galilean(the crucfied and risen Messiah)?
    I am not suggesting that we pay no attention to the Council of Nicea and the other councils, But that we should obtain our view of God principally from Jesus of Nazareth.
    Shalom
    John Arthur

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  3. For me the Trinity makes a lot of sense of the Incarnation of Christ. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me without a Trinitarian interpretation of it.

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  4. Barry, in case I haven’t been clear enough, I am not suggesting Paul had a fully Nicene doctrine of the Trinity. That’s anachronistic. But what I am saying is, look, the Trinitarian doctrines of later Christianity did not spring up spontaneously in the third and fourth centuries, the foundations of it stretch back further than most people realise.
    And could I draw your attention at this point to Matthew 28:19? In it Jesus is recorded as instructing the disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” So, I must contradict you there and say it is linked to belief in the early documents.
    As for talk of killing, theologically I align with the Anabaptists, who weren’t really into that so much.

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  5. John, what part of the Nicene Creed can’t be established from the Bible in your estimation. I am genuinely curious to know.
    And where did I claim the Triunity of God is “inconsistent with the NT”? Or that we should not obtain our view of God principally from Jesus of Nazareth. You seem to be projecting quite a bit onto me.

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  6. When Christianity moved into the Greco-Roman world in one sense it had to engage in philosophy, the apologetic of its day… hence all the squabbling over the exact wording of the later creeds.
    The very earliest recorded “creed” in the bible is probably the one in Philippians 2:
    5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    6Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    7but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    8And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!
    9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
    This was probably written around 49 – 50, and Paul is fairly obviously quoting a familiar formula/creed of the church. A “high” Christology appears very, very early.

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  7. Hi Mat,
    Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I was not disagreeing with you on the trinity but agreeing with you. I think I badly worded my response. I agree with you that the triunity of God is not inconsistent with the NT.
    By the word “established” I meant proven directly in all its 4th century detail. I certainly do not see Nicea as inconsistent with the NT but sometimes think that Nicea is too complex.
    Thanks for responding to me above.
    Shalom
    John Arthur

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