The Trinity

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Heavenly Pilgrim, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Heavenly Pilgrim

    Heavenly Pilgrim
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    I have a question about the Trinity. I have not followed closely any threads concerning it that I can recall in particular, but did read part of DHK’s post about the necessity to hold to the belief of the Trinity in order to take part in this list.

    I have mentioned before that I have read more than one book in the past concerning the Trinity, but came away with more questions unanswered than answered. I also understand how important this issue is to some, being that Calvin demonstrated that by burning Servetus at the stake. Some even possibly have been banned from the list for their ideas concerning it.

    Can any on the list tell us just where the line is drawn in the sand on this issue and explain to us the ramifications of what believing differently genders? I mean is there some wicked notion that corresponds to understanding the Godhead in a different way than say Calvin did? Why would differing from Calvin’s view, what ever that might have been, have been seen as so wicked, so blasphemous that one believing such should be burnt at the stake?

    Where does this list draw the line. What must one faithfully repeat or beleive concerning the Trinity to be seen as ‘OK’ in their views upon the Trinity, and where does one begin to vary from the views that are ‘acceptable’ to the list?
     
  2. DHK

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    I have no idea what Calvin believed. He is not the one that shapes my beliefs. I believed in the trinity when I was a Catholic, and still do to this day. It is an orthodox Christian belief, well-defined long before Calvin was ever born.
    There are very good definitions out there, but in its very simplest form the trinity is one God in three distinct persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I know that definition can be expanded upon greatly, but I have purposely kept it simple.

    1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
     
  3. PrimePower7

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    1 John 5:7

    A highly suspect prooftext unless you hold the TR in high regard.
     
  4. DHK

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    And so I do. :)
     
  5. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: And I as well, I might add.

    Just the same, is there only way to explain the relationship that makes Three One? If so, what is it? Do you know what Servetus believed or how he explained the Godhead that Calvin was so angered by?
     
  6. Amy.G

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    This is my favorite Trinity passage. I used the NKJV because it capitalizes the pronouns.

    Isaiah 48:16 (New King James Version)
    16 “ Come near to Me, hear this:
    I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
    From the time that it was, I was there.
    And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit
    Have sent Me.”
     
  7. DHK

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    Matthew 3:16-17 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
    17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
    --Here are the three persons of the trinity all present at one time in one place.

    John 1:1,14 is Christ's claim to deity.
    Acts 5:4 Peter says to Anannias that he lied against the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit being God.

    Acts 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

    Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

    And of course the Father is God.
     
  8. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I believe I understand the importance of this belief. Would it be safe to assume that those that deny the Trinity would in effect be denying Christ’s Deity? Might there be some that simply have a different idea concerning the relationship that exists between the Holy Spirit and God the Father, yet still uphold the Deity of Christ?

    Does anyone on the list know what Servetus believed? Did he deny the Deity of Christ?
     
  9. TCGreek

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    Servetus subscribed to Arianism, denying both the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ (Robert L. Reymond, John Calvin: His Life and Influence, p. 111-12). This is just a start.
     
  10. DHK

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    Absolutely.
    If there is an attack on the trinity, then it is also on the Godhead or the very person of Christ who in part makes up that Godhead. If Christ be God, who is the God that He is? The answer is in the trinity which defines who God is. Thus an attack on the trinity is an attack on the deity of Christ.
    I hope that makes sense for you.
     
  11. Amy.G

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    This is what Wikipedia says about Servetus' beliefs:

     
  12. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Thanks DHK. I am thinking.

    Yes, I have read that which Amy posted, but thanks for posting it Amy. There is so much to consider on this subject I will have to simply meditate, read, study, and pray. So far, one thing again that I simply detest, is that we seem to be limited to knowing what Servetus really beleived by reading the writings of his detractors. It is obvious that the way Calvin perceived his attitude and the fact that Servetus stepped on the toes of those such as Calvin that held clearly to infant baptism that bothers me most. Knowing why Calvin held to infant baptism makes anything he believed concerning others suspect in my opinion.

    There is simply a lot about this issue of the Trinity that I have yet to formulate hard and fast points concerning. One thing I do not feel I could ever stray from is the fact that Jesus was indeed Deity, and yet somehow He became and was a man. Possibly that is simply enough to know.
     
  13. Doubting Thomas

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    1. Well, one must first believe there is only one God--as Scriptures continually affirm.
    2. One must believe that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, as the Scriptures in various places affirm all three.
    3. One must believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct "personalities" from each other that exist simultaneously (not merely different "roles" God takes at different "times")--see especially Christ's discourse in John 14-16 in which the three are clearly distinct and "interact" with the others(eg. the Son sends the Spirit from the Father; the Son prays to the Father; the Spirit is another Helper; the Spirit proceeds from the Father; etc)
    4. Yet the three share an intrinsic unity--we are baptized into the NAME (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28)

    The later technical formulas--that God is one ousia subsisting in three hypostases (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)--merely clarify in more precise terms these truths the Church had already believed as revealed in the Scriptures (in opposition to the distortions of the heretics)

    1. When one conflates the Persons--ie the Sabellians or modalists, some of whom went as far to imply the FATHER died on the cross (Patripassianists)
    2. When one separates the Persons--ie the Arians and Pneumatomachians who respectively taught that the Son (Word) and the Spirit were creatures (however exalted) and thus essentially separate from the Father

    These opposite errors were among the stimuli that led, in time, the Church to employ more technical terms to correctly express both the oneness and the "threeness" of God, both of which it had always believed.
     
  14. TCGreek

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    I'm there will you, for we can only go with what has been revealed to us (Deut. 29:29).
     
  15. TCGreek

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    1. Not because one holds to infant baptism that means that everything they teach must be suspect. That is quite a leap. You are engaging in logical fallacy.

    2. If you want to know what Calvin believed about Infant baptism read from his Institutes: Book Four, Ch. XVI.
     
  16. Eric B

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    Servetus' view was pretty much like the pre-Nicene fathers; particularly Irenaeus, Tertullian, and especially Hippolytus. (Especially after that last modification he made, as was mentioned). They did see the Son and Spirit proceeding forth from the Father in time (though existing ontologcally within Him from eternity), rather than so much the symmetric "three eternal equal persons" view. You can see this in Kelley's Early Christian Doctrines.

    After the Church decided that Athanasius' expression of the doctrine was the best (even with many bishops not liking it), any least deviation from that formula was rejected as outright "heresy". Even a person named Marcellus, who was apart of the Nicene party, expressed it in a way resembling the old view, and was condemned.
     
    #16 Eric B, Sep 29, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2007
  17. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: This makes me clearly suspect to the notion of what is and what is not heresy. It would appear to me from what you are saying is that ‘heresy’ is often defined as something contrary to the ‘powers that be’ at the time, NOT what was contrary to Scripture or other early Christian fathers.

    What is it about this issue of the Trinity that to say things in a different manner, it is automatically treated as heresy even today? Did Iranaeus, Tertillian and Hipppolytus deny that Jesus was in fact Deity at least in some sense? I am asking, not suggesting that I know.

    These are the issues so far with me. Scripture states that God never changes, but Christ did. He grew in stature and in favor with God and man. He was indeed stripped of His former powers to a large degree, and requested that he be restore to the place He once had, did He not? He was tempted, etc. He did become a man. He did not know on earth some things the Father knew. He was not everywhere at the same time as manifested in Christ. All these things IN A SENSE are contrary to what we know of God Himself. God never changes. God is omniscient, omnipresent, all powerful, etc. Although Christ did exhibit much power on earth, did He not say that those things which He did were granted to Him by the Father? What I am saying here is that if any within the Church feels that they have a perfect understanding of these matters, let him be the judge of the others. If not, should we not in charity allow for others to place their own words in describing the Godhead in ways they find Scriptural? If one wants to refer to Christ as the Eternal Son of God’ and another ‘God’s Only Begotten Son’ or another “the Second Person of the Trinity’ or yet another title. What real difference does it make?

    In the case of Sevetus and Calvin, was it really Servetus’s beliefs that warranted the fires Calvin built for him, or was it Calvin’s pride in that Servetus had the guts to confront him in that which he had wrong, (infant baptism for starters) and for that suffered his fate, not for really what he believed or that there was any inherent danger in any of his thoughts?

    Are we straining gnats and swallowing camels when we try and strip the other from using strict biblical language in regard to the person of Christ and his position in the Godhead, yet define sin in such broad terms as to include matters not even closely associated with morality or right and wrong, and in doing so conclude that nothing we have done or can do in any way will affect our standing before God? We have individuals on this list that clearly make God out to be the author of all evil, and little is ever said. Note, Scripture never once states OSAS or the word “Trinity” but it does warn us with the following admonition “Ga 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
    21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
     
  18. Eric B

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    No, but from the viewpoint of the later leaders, filtering everything through Nicaea, the earlier leaders' belief that the Son was generated at a point in time (such as the Incarnation, or at least the Creation) would consititute a denial of Christ's eternal deity, and thus be identical to Arianism or Adoptionism. But that is really not the case. But what they did is read the Nicene formula back into the Fathers, and of course the Apostles (as we see being done in other points of "Catholic" doctrine). For instance, just 2 Clement's mention of "We ought to think of Christ as of God" supposedly "proved" his "fullness of belief" in the Nicene conception of the Trinity. Likewise, Ignatius' frequent mentions of "christ our God". But these set forth only the deity of Christ, not a detailed formula of "three", or how they fit together (substance, homoosion, coequal, coeternal, etc). But that would be how all such references would be taken. So Calvin and Servetus likewise argued over Justin and others. (And what made it worse, is that there was a spurious copy of Justin called "Pseudo-Justin" that apparently articulated more than the real text, and this was what Calvin was reading). Calvin and the Catholics assumed "The entire, historic Christian Church has always understood unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity" (as Walter Martin once put it), in the way they were accustomed to expressing it. That left no other ground. You either accepted the Nicene formula whole, or you were a deity-of Christ-denying heretic.

    I have seen it pointed out that "The very earliest Christians did not even say directly that Jesus is God, or that God is Jesus, but rather expressed it in terms of Jesus does what only God can do. They did not think in the abstract, intellectual language of 'being'. They thought more concretely...in terms of action. Here is a man who acts like God, who does God's work." (Shirley C. Guthrie, Christian Doctrine). That would explain Clement's instruction to think of Him as they think of God. Here we see the method of expression changing, in order to clarify the issue, that yes, Jesus does what only God can do, and this is only possible if He is God. The doctrine will continue to develop from there. So when an apologist or anyone else claims "the Church has always believed this formula, so this proves you must express it exactly that way in order to be saved", they are not even accurate. That's why I agree that there should be more charity, especially when those so insistent on it always end up claiming you can't understand it anyway!

    Having read the whole story in Bainton's Hunted Heretic, Servetus' problem was that he had no tact. He was in that environment with both bloodthirsty Catholics and Protestants fighting each other, looking to catch each other in error and accuse each other's movement of harboring heresy, and ready to burn anyone they saw as a heretic; and he came out all belligerently against Calvin and the Catholics at times. Like calling the Trinity a "three headed Cerberus". This really angered everybody, and led them to really go after him. After all, their conception of God is the true one, so to call that a three headed "monster of hell" as they said, is outright blasphemy. Nobody thought about all of those drawing of the Trinity as a man with three heads; which I'm sure is what he was thinking of (and definitely were false unbiblical idols and not the true God). He should have pointed stuff like that out.
    So he should have stated his case better, and stuck to scripture more. (He also added some other strange teachings, also inherited from some of the Fathers). When Calvin and others accused him of blasphemy, he should have pulled out the Book and challenged the proof texts used to prove the formula, and he could have been more respectful at the same time as more forceful in scriptural argument. Instead, he often came across as sneaky, the way he went about things, and some answers he gave. So this became the ultimate case they used against him.

    http://members.aol.com/etb700/triune.html
     
  19. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Eric, you bring a lot to the table. I appreciate your willingness to aide this discussion. You have thought and studied this out far better than I it is obvious.



    HP: Is at least part of the issue over the word ‘Trinity?” This smacks of a few in power formulating words to depict a dogma and then holding everyone’s feet to the fire to either accept their unbiblical (in that it is not actually ever stated as a ‘Trinity’ or Triune God) word definition of the Godhead as fact, or be granted the title of heretic? For instance, if I was to take the position that I will only refer to the Godhead in strict Biblical terms, and refuse to say “I believe in the Trinity” am I at least suspect heretic in the eyes of say this list? Are we bound today to the precise words Calvin or any other used to refer to the Godhead, or can we today, on this list, limit our expressions to strict Biblical words used in conjunction or concerning the relationship Christ has to the Godhead, refusing to use words like ‘The Trinity” which is obviously not used in Scripture?

    Take this problem. Christ is seen sitting or standing on the right hand of God. What if one would raise this question, if Christ is God, how can He be seated on the right hand of Himself? I suppose what I am asking here is if we do not have the answers needed to fulfill questions that are raised, is not charity in order for those limiting themselves to only strict Biblical notations of the relationship between God and Christ, the “Trinity’ being excluded as not being one of them, or raising tough questions as to that relationship?

    It would seem to me that sin is the issue we need absolute and complete clarity upon due to the fact it is sin that separates us from our God, not simply verbalizing the relationship that exists between Christ and the Godhead as a “Trinity.”. Is it not enough to believe that Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, The Everlasting Father, etc, and leave the word ‘Trinity” completely out of the picture? When asked how Christ can be the Father, can I not simply say it is beyond me and my understanding so I simply accept it by faith that it is so and move on? How would such a view deny Christ His rightful place? Did Christ require His followers of any others to call Him God directly? Is it a condition of the faith to say the word “Trinity” in order to be saved from the title of heretic? If salvation does not hinge upon the word or the meaning that one places on the word, what emphasis should we place upon it in the Church?

    A heretic would be one outside of the church. If God accepts us by faith, are we rejected as heretical by the Church until we faithfully mouth the word “Trinity?” Are we outcasts if we limit our explanations of the Godhead to strictly biblical words?

    I am simply asking questions I feel are pertinent to this discussion, not suggesting in any way what the outcome of them should be. This is simply food for discussion.
     
  20. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    What is the meaning of this verse in light of Christ being one of the Godhead?
    Mt 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
     

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