Platonism and the Trinity

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the Watchtower booklet called “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” and looking at the question of how the Trinity developed according to the Watchtower. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the influence of Plato on the Trinity.

Something consistent with the Watchtower is that they think a triad is the same as a Trinity. It’s not. The triads have three separate beings, whereas in the Trinity, there is only one being who is revealed in three persons. (I find it extremely important to watch terminology when discussing the Trinity. We do not believe in three beings in one being for instance.)

The New Universal Dictionary is cited saying that the Platonic trinity appears to be what gave birth to the Christian idea. The problem is that for one, the Watchtower does not state what this Platonic trinity is. All that is asserted is that there is one. As for Plato’s God, Plato says very little about him. Timaeus is the dialogue that describes him the most and he is described as a demiurge that works with pre-existing matter.

Second, the Watchtower is citing a possible connection as if it must be actual. For those of us however that like our beliefs backed by evidence, we prefer to see how you get from A to B. It would be good to ask the average Jehovah’s Witness what the Trinity is in Plato and how that became the Christian Trinity.

Third, if we talk about triads, then the Watchtower is just as pagan! The Watchtower has the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as well. True, they’re not a Trinity of course, but they are a triad. By the standards they cite then, they are pagan, unless they want to admit that triads are not a problem and then when they say how the Trinity differs from a triad, we don’t have a problem either.

The Watchtower then says:

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge shows the influence of this Greek philosophy: “The doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who . . . were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy . . . That errors and corruptions crept into the Church from this source can not be denied.”

Yet when one goes to Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church” one finds nothing like this. Rather, Schaff says on page 282 that the doctrine arose from a Scriptural basis. On the very next page it says “The Socinian and rationalistic opinion, that the church doctrine of the Trinity sprang from Platonism and Neo-Platonism is radically false.”

Does the average follower of the Watchtower know this? Probably not. We could always say Schaff was wrong in what he said, but we cannot be wrong in that he believed what he said was true.

The next book cited is “The Church of the First Three Centuries” by Alvan Lamson. Again, what we have is an assertion and keep in mind that Lamson was a unitarian. The Watchtower does not mention this. It does not mean he is wrong, but the Watchtower shows no discrimination in sources. The same applies to Andrew Norton cited later also as he was a unitarian.

As for Harnack’s quote, it comes from page 194 of Harnack’s book “Outlines of the History of Dogma.” Unfortunately for the Watchtower, on the page before, Harnack says that the Christian church made no compromises with pagan religion. The doctrine not understood is not the Trinity but the Logos-Christology, which the Watchtower should hold to some form of since they believe that in the beginning was the Logos. There is no doubt Greek thought played some part, but only as an aid in understanding Scripture. It did not in any way act as the source of the doctrine.

We shall conclude this section tomorrow.

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20 Responses to “Platonism and the Trinity”

  1. Blake Says:

    Good stuff. Keep it coming.
    I tire of the “it was the Greek influence that ruined ‘true’ Christianity assertion whether from the Jehovah’s Witnesses or a myriad of other theologies. The post-moderns seem to have upped the ante on this mantra. It seems as if the specifics are often left wanting however.

  2. Joel Gonzaga Says:

    Huh…

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to see a subtle swing taken at the JW.

  3. Ron Krumpos Says:

    There are “trinities,” of sorts, in various faiths. My ebook on comparative mysticism, “the greatest achievement in life,” summarizes five of them.

    Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles of Buddhism speak of Trikaya, or three bodies: Nirmanakaya is the Buddha in human form, Sambhogakaya is celestial Buddha and Dharmakaya is the formless essence, or Buddha-nature. The Theravada primarily addresses the historic Buddha. The “Three Jewels” are the Buddha, the dharma (his teachings) and the sangha (the community of monks and nuns).

    Christianity has its Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit referring to God, Jesus Christ and their spiritual bond of unity (unlike the Nicene Creed). Interpretation of the essential nature of each, and their relationship, differed among the churches. In Christian mysticism, the three ways of the spiritual life are the purgative in being purified from sin, the illuminative in true understanding of created things, and the unitive in which the soul unites with God by love.

    Hinduism’s trimurti are the threefold activities of Brahman: in Brahma as creator, in Vishnu as sustainer and in Shiva as destroyer. Saccidananda are the triune attributes or essence of Brahman: sat, being, cit, consciousness and ananda, bliss. The three major schools of yoga are bhakti, devotion, and jnana, knowledge and karma, the way of selfless action. Raja yoga can apply to, and integrate, all three in mental and spiritual concentration.

    In Islam, nafs is the ego-soul, qalb is heart and ruh is spirit. Heart is the inner self [soul], hardened when it is turned toward ego and softened when it is polished by dhikr, remembrance of the spirit of Allah. This is a three-part foundation for Sufi psychology. Initiation guides them from shari`a, religious law, along tariqa, the spiritual path, to haqiqa, interior reality. It is a gradual unveiling of the Real.

    In the Kabbalah of Judaism, sefirot – sparks from the divine – have three fulcrums to balance the horizontal levels of the Tree of Life: Da`at (a pseudo-sefirot) is knowledge combining understanding and wisdom; Tiferet is beauty, the midpoint of judgment and loving kindness; Yesod is the foundation for empathy and endurance. They also vertically connect, through the supreme crown, the infinite and transcendent Ein Sof with its kingdom in the immanent Shekhinah.

  4. Nick Says:

    Would you care to explain the difference between a trio and a Trinity?

  5. Jual Says:

    Jual…

    [...]Platonism and the Trinity « Deeper Waters[...]…

  6. Gaul Says:

    I think you should have perhaps entitled your remarks: “Neoplatonism and the Trinity”. There, you would find more fertile ground for the influence of the philosophers upon the early architects of the Trinity doctrine. It has nothing to do with the fact that unitarians have dug some of the salient facts up. I would rather look up the information available upon men like Ammonius Saccas (some say originally a Christian who abandoned his faith for philosophy), Origen (who some have tried to disassociate from Ammonius), Amelius (who interpreted John’s Gospel Prologue in a “trinitarian” fashion).

    Look at Bishop Cyril of Alexandria (one of your own) says that Porphyrys wife Marcella was a Christian (re: George Redway, Porphyry: Letter To His Wife Marcella, London: 1896). I don’t think Porphyry was any friend of Christians, but the point is I think you should investigate the connections and the influence of the Neoplatonists upon the architects of the Trinity doctrine (e.g. Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, etc). It is a pipe dream to think that there is no tremendous influence from the philosophers upon the architects of the Trinity teaching. The original Jewish Christianity had no such doctrine and used none of its building block terms.

  7. apologianick Says:

    Would you care to demonstrate that you believe that Neoplatonism was an influence on the forming of the doctrine of the Trinity?

    • Gaul Says:

      It is a complicated subject. The Trinity Doctrine has many able defenders. My only point is one of honesty in looking at the history of the doctrine. The influence of Greek philosophy upon the formation of the Logos doctrine which developed into the Trinity doctrine ought to be admitted. There are a number of connections between the earlier teachers of the Logos doctrine, which led to the doctrine of the Trinity, and Neoplatonic philosophers and Neoplatonic philosophy. I mentioned some of the architects of the proto-Trinitarian teachinig above. I would suggest reading some historians like H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. 1964. Wolfson maintains that beginning with Justin Martyr down to Clement of Alexandria the discussion of the Christian Logos, or of the pre-existent Christ, shows the “unmistakeable evidence of the influence of the Philonic Logos”. These proto-Trinitarian church fathers “seem to have consciously transferred (Philo’s) twofold stage theory from the Platonic Logos to the Johannine Logos” (p.193). This “twofold stage” theory of the Logos meant that the Logos was in the mind of God the Father before he begot it.

      Origen, who, along with Plotinus, was a student of the Neoplatonic philosopher, Ammonius Saccas (said to have been a former Christian), in Wolf’s opinion, Origen obtained his idea of a single stage theory of the pre-existent begetting of the Logos from his fellow student Plotinus, who, in his Neoplatonic Philosophy conceived the idea of the generation of the Nous (the Mind) from the One. Clement of Alexandria obtained his idea of the twofold stage theory of the Logos from Philo, a forerunner of the Neoplatonic philosophers. The Neoplatonic philosophers actually considered themselves to be nothing more than Platonists. I think you might wish to look into Numenius of Apamea and Amelius who actually wove some explications of Scripture into their philosophies. That some of these ideas concerning the Logos influenced early Christian architects in their development of Trinity doctrine cannot be denied. I am not saying that they did not appeal to Scripture…but I am sure truth seekers must not ignore these things.

  8. apologianick Says:

    Gaul. I have no problem with a logos, but I think it has far more to do with Jewish Wisdom theology than it does with Platonism. I would really like to see some specific sources. You can say “X thinks that.” Good for them. Why do they think that?

    • Gaul Says:

      Apologianick: I

      Thank you for the reply. If you have no problem with the Logos doctrine, then you must know that it has a history in Greek philosophy and just from explication of John’s Prologue. You can see the transference of it into Christianity by philosopher Christians using their background in and knowledge of Greek philosophy. This is the point I am making.

      There are many specific sources. I have listed some secondary ones by scholars who have noted the influence of Platonism on the early architects of the Trinity doctrine. You may have a point of some influence coming from Jewish wisdom theology by means of Alexandrian Jews like Philo (who could be considered a forerunner of Neoplatonism), but the main thrust among the philosopher Christians who were Gentiles and educated in philosopher was not Jewish Wisdom but it was rather from Platonism or Neo-Platonism as it was termed.

      Men like Justin Martyr were saturated in Logos teaching before they even embraced Christianity. Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), for example from his First Apology considered philosophers like Socrates, Heraclitus and “men like them” to be Christians:

      “We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that he is the Logos of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived with the Logos are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them…First Apology, Chap. XLVI (see Nicene Fathers, Vol I)

      Another indication of the indirect influence of the philosophic Logos upon Justin:

      “And those of the Stoic school-since, so far as their moral teaching went, they were admirable, as were also the poets in some particulars, on account of the seed of the Logos implanted in every race of men-were, we know hated and put to death, -Heraclitus for instance, and, among those of our own time, Musonius and others”. -Second Apology, Chapt. VIII It is impossible that none of the philosophic teaching alluded to and actually praised had no influence upon Just and his construction of the Logos theory. And the Logos theory is implanted in the teachings of the Platonists, the Neo-Platonists.

      Justin again:

      “For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death…perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleassure.” Second Apology, Chap. XII

      “I confess that I both boast and with all my strength strive to be found a Christian; not because the teachings of Plato are different from those of Christ, but because they are not in all respects similar, as neither are those of the others, Stoics, and poets and historians. For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic Logos, seeing what was related to it.” Second Apology, Chap XIII

      The conclusion about Justin is that while he claimed to not use the influence of Greek philosopher and even condemned it, he was nevertheless influenced by it.

      There is so much evidence of philosophic influence upon the architects of the Trinity doctrine that I am surprised you do not see it. What did you think of H.A. Wolfson’s remarks?

      Do you therefore maintain that Greek philosophy played no role at all in the development and construction of the Trinity doctrine, or that the Logos theory has no roots at all in Greek philosophy but merely stems from John’s use of the Greek word “logos” in his Prologue?

  9. apologianick Says:

    Gaul: Thank you for the reply. If you have no problem with the Logos doctrine, then you must know that it has a history in Greek philosophy and just from explication of John’s Prologue. You can see the transference of it into Christianity by philosopher Christians using their background in and knowledge of Greek philosophy. This is the point I am making.

    Reply: Do you think the apostle John was also affected by Greek thought, or is it more likely he was affected by Wisdom thought, but used a word Greeks and Jews both would recognize? Jesus is described as the logos in John 1:1 remember.

    Gaul:There are many specific sources. I have listed some secondary ones by scholars who have noted the influence of Platonism on the early architects of the Trinity doctrine. You may have a point of some influence coming from Jewish wisdom theology by means of Alexandrian Jews like Philo (who could be considered a forerunner of Neoplatonism), but the main thrust among the philosopher Christians who were Gentiles and educated in philosopher was not Jewish Wisdom but it was rather from Platonism or Neo-Platonism as it was termed.

    Reply: Which is still your conclusion that you’re treating like a premise. I’ve read Justin Martyr’s writings that you’re quoting often. He cites Scripture far far more than Plato and has much in Plato that he condemns.

    Gaul: Men like Justin Martyr were saturated in Logos teaching before they even embraced Christianity. Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), for example from his First Apology considered philosophers like Socrates, Heraclitus and “men like them” to be Christians:

    “We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that he is the Logos of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived with the Logos are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them…First Apology, Chap. XLVI (see Nicene Fathers, Vol I)

    Reply: I’m still wondering how this shows that the Trinity came from pagan philosophy. I don’t deny that Justin was influenced, but I do affirm that he ditched Plato whenever Plato went against Scripture.

    Gaul: Another indication of the indirect influence of the philosophic Logos upon Justin:

    “And those of the Stoic school-since, so far as their moral teaching went, they were admirable, as were also the poets in some particulars, on account of the seed of the Logos implanted in every race of men-were, we know hated and put to death, -Heraclitus for instance, and, among those of our own time, Musonius and others”. -Second Apology, Chapt. VIII It is impossible that none of the philosophic teaching alluded to and actually praised had no influence upon Just and his construction of the Logos theory. And the Logos theory is implanted in the teachings of the Platonists, the Neo-Platonists.

    Reply: False. The logos theory is rooted in the NT and in Jewish Wisdom Theology. Again, Justin abandoned Plato when Plato went against Scripture.

    Gaul: Justin again:

    “For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death…perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleassure.” Second Apology, Chap. XII

    “I confess that I both boast and with all my strength strive to be found a Christian; not because the teachings of Plato are different from those of Christ, but because they are not in all respects similar, as neither are those of the others, Stoics, and poets and historians. For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic Logos, seeing what was related to it.” Second Apology, Chap XIII

    The conclusion about Justin is that while he claimed to not use the influence of Greek philosopher and even condemned it, he was nevertheless influenced by it.

    Reply: Of course he was, but that does not mean Trinitarianism was. Justin said Plato and others were grasping in the dark compared to the greater revelation of Christ.

    Gaul: There is so much evidence of philosophic influence upon the architects of the Trinity doctrine that I am surprised you do not see it. What did you think of H.A. Wolfson’s remarks?

    Reply: Not interested in them until I know why he thinks what he thinks.

    Gaul: Do you therefore maintain that Greek philosophy played no role at all in the development and construction of the Trinity doctrine, or that the Logos theory has no roots at all in Greek philosophy but merely stems from John’s use of the Greek word “logos” in his Prologue?

    Reply: If there was any role, it would be on the categories of how to reason and not on the doctrine itself. I invite you to come to TheologyWeb and go to the Deeper Waters section so we can more fully debate this.

  10. Gaul Says:

    Thank you for the invitation to Theology/Web. I’m afraid I do not know how to navigate there at this point.

  11. Gaul Says:

    To Apologianick:

    I think it is most interesting to see the connections between the architects of the Trinity doctrine (and the influence upon them) in Neoplatonism and Platonism. It is probably more appropriate to discuss these aspects in this particular forum since it is the history that is pertinent in viewing the influence upon the doctrine.

  12. apologianick Says:

    Fine. Then present your evidence. I don’t just want to know what some scholars think, but why they think it.

    • Gaul Says:

      My friend, I think you will find out what much of what scholars say is why they say it. This is at least the case in much of historical research. The influence of Neoplatonic philosophy upon the architects of the Trinity doctrine is not only seen in the historical examination of their writings by historians as reported, but it is evident in the writings themselves. I have already given several quotes from Justin Martyr above. That is not “what some scholars think”, but his writings are still extant for all of us to read. You see the evidence in the Logos theory itself which has nothinig to do with the statements of John in his Prologue other than the misinterpretation of the philosopher Christians.

      I will get back with you when I have occasion and give you more evidence on the influence of Neoplatonism on the doctrine of the Trinity.

    • Gaul Says:

      Philo of Alexandria was a precursor of the Neoplatonists. He reflects Stoic ideas, but Platonism is the main influence of his writings. As H.A.A. Kennedy (New College Edinburgh) wrote in Philo’s Contribution to Religion (NY: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919), “…it can scarcely be doubted that (Philo’s) particular differentiation of the Logos in the Supreme God had an exceptional influence on the subsequent Christology of the Church (pp.168-169). Kenney says Philo called lesser powers angels or logoi, and then he had a “divine Logos”. Philo sometimes identifies the Logos with Wisdom.

      Eusebius, the Catholic historian, was aware of Philo’s importance to Catholic Christianity. He gave a long list of Philo’s writings.

      As Rufus Jones wrote (The Church’s Debt to Heretics, London: James Clarke & Co, 1924), “Philo…fused the Greek and the Hebrew conceptions (of the Logos) into one single blend of immense importance and of momentous future influence” p.64

      As James Shiel wrote in his Greek Thought and the Rise of Christianity (NY: Barnes & Noble Inc, 1968) “Philo carried Jewish Hellenism a stage further by attempting a synthesis between the Bible and pagan philosophy. The Alexandrian master, Ammonius Saccas, regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism, though he wrote nothing, may have taken ideas from Philo, may indeed for a time have been a Christian. Plotinus was his pupil, though it was in Rome that Plotinus founded his own school in AD 244. Plotinus influenced Ambrose, Augustine. p.53

      As Frances Young wrote (Two Roots Of A Tangled Mess, in the Myth of God Incarnate, ed. John Hick, Phil: Westminister Press, 1977) “Philo’s writings were preserved and cherished by the church, and provided the inspiration for a sophisticated Christian philosophical theology…” p.115

      There are many more learned and scholarly witnesses to the influence of pagan philosophy (particularly the Neoplatonic variety) upon the teachinig of the Logos as a separate divine person from God the Father and a key element in the formulation of the Trinity doctrine. I am not interested so much in the doctrine itself here, but I am interested in being honest about its historical roots.

  13. apologianick Says:

    Gaul: Philo of Alexandria was a precursor of the Neoplatonists. He reflects Stoic ideas, but Platonism is the main influence of his writings. As H.A.A. Kennedy (New College Edinburgh) wrote in Philo’s Contribution to Religion (NY: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919), “…it can scarcely be doubted that (Philo’s) particular differentiation of the Logos in the Supreme God had an exceptional influence on the subsequent Christology of the Church (pp.168-169). Kenney says Philo called lesser powers angels or logoi, and then he had a “divine Logos”. Philo sometimes identifies the Logos with Wisdom.

    Reply: The problem first off is that your source goes back to 1919, as if nothing new has been learned since then. If this position is still held today, you should be able to find it in the latest scholarship. Why isn’t it?

    Second, an assertion is made, but where is the evidence? Do we have evidence from NT scholars that shows that John and others were dependent on Philo, or could they have been more dependent on Second Temple Judaism itself?

    Gaul: Eusebius, the Catholic historian, was aware of Philo’s importance to Catholic Christianity. He gave a long list of Philo’s writings.

    Reply: An assertion without evidence.

    Gaul: As Rufus Jones wrote (The Church’s Debt to Heretics, London: James Clarke & Co, 1924), “Philo…fused the Greek and the Hebrew conceptions (of the Logos) into one single blend of immense importance and of momentous future influence” p.64

    Reply: See above. When you go back this far, it would seem that you’re just cherry-picking.

    Gaul: As James Shiel wrote in his Greek Thought and the Rise of Christianity (NY: Barnes & Noble Inc, 1968) “Philo carried Jewish Hellenism a stage further by attempting a synthesis between the Bible and pagan philosophy. The Alexandrian master, Ammonius Saccas, regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism, though he wrote nothing, may have taken ideas from Philo, may indeed for a time have been a Christian. Plotinus was his pupil, though it was in Rome that Plotinus founded his own school in AD 244. Plotinus influenced Ambrose, Augustine. p.53

    Reply: Note the dating of the work. Furthermore, this “may’ is problematic. He “may” have been a Christian and he “may have taken ideas from Plato and Plotinus was his pupil and Plotinus influenced Ambrose and Augustine.

    Influenced? Perhaps. Determined? No. Do you really think Augustine was more influenced by Plato than Scripture?

    Gaul: As Frances Young wrote (Two Roots Of A Tangled Mess, in the Myth of God Incarnate, ed. John Hick, Phil: Westminister Press, 1977) “Philo’s writings were preserved and cherished by the church, and provided the inspiration for a sophisticated Christian philosophical theology…” p.115

    REply: In what way? Well we’re not told. They just did!

    Gaul: There are many more learned and scholarly witnesses to the influence of pagan philosophy (particularly the Neoplatonic variety) upon the teachinig of the Logos as a separate divine person from God the Father and a key element in the formulation of the Trinity doctrine. I am not interested so much in the doctrine itself here, but I am interested in being honest about its historical roots.

    Reply: Then I suggest you come back with up-to-date scholarship and more than just appeals to authority.

  14. Brian Hennessy Says:

    Here are a few quotes from credible reference sources that state the Trinity is not Scriptural, and is without doubt the result of Plato’s influence on certain Church Fathers who were predisposed to such philosophical speculation.

    The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia ,

    “The term ‘Trinity’ is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it…In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth which has never been discovered, and is in-discoverable, by natural reason” (Trinity, vol. 5, p. 3012)

    The Encyclopaedia Britannica,

    “The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies…The Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession that the ‘Son is of the same substance…as the Father’, even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit…By the end of the 4th century…the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.”

    The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, p. 299,

    “The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century…Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality of perspective.”

    The Noveau Dictionary Universal – Edited by M. Lachatre, (1856-1870), VOL. 2, PAGE 1467:
    “The Platonic trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of the older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave birth to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by Christian churches… This Greek philosopher’s (Plato) conception of the divine trinity… can be found in all the ancient (Pagan) religions.”

    Dictionary of the Bible – by John L. McKenzie S.J., (1965), PAGE 899:

    “The Trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of persons and nature which are GREEK PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS; ACTUALLY THE TERMS DO NOT APPEAR IN THE BIBLE. The Trinitarian definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which these terms and other such as essence and substance were erroneously applied to God by some theologians.”

    The Dictionary of the Bible – Edited by James Hastings (1963), PAGE 1015:
    TRINITY, THE: The Christian doctrine of God (q.v.) as existing in three Persons and one Substance IS NOT DEMONSTRABLE BY LOGIC OF BY SCRIPTURAL PROOFS,… The term Trias was FIRST USED BY THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH (c. A.D. 180),… NOT FOUND IN SCRIPTURE… The chief Trinitarian text in the New Testament is the baptismal formula in Mt. 28:19. Note: (No on was baptized in this spirit, every one in the bible was rather baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Trinitarians do not know the name of the one spirit (God). Mt. 28:19 says baptize in the NAME OF.

    The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
    “The term ‘Trinity’ is NOT A BIBLICAL TERM, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine ” (article “Trinity,” p.3012).

    The Encyclopedia Americana – 1956, VOL. XXVII, PAGE 294L:
    “Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was (and still is) strictly Unitarian (Oneness – believing that God is only one). The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Forth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early (Originally Apostolic) Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was on the contrary, and deviation from this teaching.”

    The New Catholic Encyclopedia – 1967, VOL. XIV, PAGE 299:
    “The formulation “one God in three Persons” was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, PRIOR TO THE END OF THE 4TH CENTURY. But it is precisely this formulation that first claimed to title “The Trinitarian Dogma. AMONG THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS, THERE HAD BEEN NOTHING EVEN REMOTELY APPROACHING SUCH A MENTALITY OR PERSPECTIVE.”

    The Noveau Dictionary Universal – Edited by M. Lachatre, (1856-1870), VOL. 2, PAGE 1467:
    “The Platonic trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of the older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave birth to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by Christian churches… This Greek philosopher’s (Plato) conception of the divine trinity… can be found in all the ancient (Pagan) religions.”

    Dictionary of the Bible – by John L. McKenzie S.J., (1965), PAGE 899:
    “The Trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of persons and nature which are GREEK PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS; ACTUALLY THE TERMS DO NOT APPEAR IN THE BIBLE. The Trinitarian definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which these terms and other such as essence and substance were erroneously applied to God by some theologians.”

    The Dictionary of the Bible – Edited by James Hastings (1963), PAGE 1015:
    “TRINITY, THE: The Christian doctrine of God (q.v.) as existing in three Persons and one Substance IS NOT DEMONSTRABLE BY LOGIC OF BY SCRIPTURAL PROOFS,… The term Trias was FIRST USED BY THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH (c. A.D. 180),… NOT FOUND IN SCRIPTURE… The chief Trinitarian text in the New Testament is the baptismal formula in Mt. 28:19. Note: (No on was baptized in this spirit, every one in the bible was rather baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Trinitarians do not know the name of the one spirit (God). Mt. 28:19 says baptize in the NAME OF.”

    The Trinity, Catholic theologian Karl Rahner
    confesses that theologians in the past have been “. . . embarrassed by the simple fact that IN REALITY the Scriptures DO NOT EXPLICITLY PRESENT a doctrine of the ‘imminent’ TRINITY “

  15. apologianick Says:

    Oh boy! Did you ever check to see what the …. says in these sources? Let’s look at the first one and see what it really says!

    “The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such unBiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assembled the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine.

    In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth which has never been discovered, and is indiscoverable, by natural reason. With all his searching, man has not been able to find out for himself the deepest things of God. Accordingly, ethnic thought has never attained a Trinitarian conception of God, nor does any ethnic religion present in its representations of the Divine Being any analogy to the doctrine of the Trinity.”

    What about the Encyclopedia Britannica?

    “Trinity, the doctrine of God taught by Christianity that asserts that God is one in essence but three in “person,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: “Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4). The earliest Christians, however, had to cope with the implications of the coming of Jesus Christ and of the presence and power of God among them-i.e., the Holy Spirit, whose coming was connected with the celebration of the Pentecost. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them mi the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19); and in the apostolic benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (II Cor. 13:14). Thus, the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. Initially, both the requirements of monotheism inherited from the Old Testament and the implications of the need to interpret the biblical teaching to Greco-Roman paganism seemed to demand that the divine in Christ as the Word, or Logos, be interpreted as subordinate to the Supreme Being. An alternative solution was to interpret Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three modes of the self-disclosure of the one God but not as distinct within the being of God itself. The first tendency recognized the distinctness among the three, but at the cost of their equality and hence of their unity (subordinationism); the second came to terms with their unity, but at the cost of their distinctness ‘as “persons” (modalism). It was not until the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons. The Council of Nicaea in 325 stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession that the Son is “of the same essence [homoousios] as the Father,” even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit. Over the next half century, Athanasius defended and refined the Nicene formula, and, by the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Trinity, Vol. X, p.126)”

    New Catholic Encyclopedia?

    “From what has been seen thus far, the impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th-century invention. In a sense, this is true; but it implies an extremely strict interpretation of the key words Trinitarian and dogma. Triadic Consciousness in the Primitive Revelation. The formulation “one God in three Persons” was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective; among the 2d-century Apologists, little more than a focusing of the problem as that of plurality within the unique Godhead. … From the vocabulary and grammar of the Greek original, the intention of the hagiographer to communicate singleness of essence in three distinct Persons was easily derived. … If it is clear on one side that the dogma of the Trinity in the stricter sense of the word was a late arrival, product of 3 centuries’ reflection and debate, it is just as clear on the opposite side that confession of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-and hence an elemental Trinitarianism-went back to the period of Christian origins. (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1965, Trinity, p299-300)”

    Nouveau Dictionary? Not only is it a source from the 1800’s but would you care to name this Platonic Trinity from the works of Plato? I have his complete works right here. I want to know where it is in there.

    For McKenzie, what else does he say?

    Without an explicit formula the NT leaves no room to think that Jesus is Himself an object of the adoption which He communicates to others. He knows the Father and reveals Him. He therefore belongs to the divine level of being; and there is no question at all about the Spirit belonging to the divine level of being. What is less clear about the Spirit is His personal reality; often He is mentioned in language in which His personal reality is not explicit. (Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, Trinity, p899)

    For Hastings, I would like a link to the full quote seeing as the others have been hideously mangled. Same for Rahner.

    What a shock that so many of these can be found on the web constantly misquoted the same way. Try looking for what the actual sources say. All you’ve confirmed is the way the Watchtower horribly misrepresents the other side.

  16. davidbrainerd2 Says:

    Read Joseph Priestley’s 4-volume work called An History of Early Opinions Concerning Jesus Christ: compiled from original writers; proving that the Christian church was at first unitarian which despite the title of being a history of opinions on Jesus Christs, its really more of a history of the development of the Trinity by the church fathers as demonstrated by quotations from their writings (at least in the first two volumes [I just barely started volume 3] although volume 1 does deal heavily with showing quotations more of the Platonic philosophers to build up an understanding of Platonism so that the constant references to it in the Nicene “fathers” found in volume 2 will make sense to the reader). All four volumes are on google books.

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