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Perspective On Trinitarian Terms

Rich Kelsey

blue fountains

 

One reading Trinitarian statements about the nature of God will find these sayings and terms in use:

Extra-Biblical Terms:

●  Co-create

●  Co-equal persons

●  Co-eternal persons

●  Co-exist

●  Composite God

●  Consubstantial persons

●  Co-rule

●  Distinct, but not separate

●  Distinct in subsistence

●  Distinct in their personhood

●  Divine Son

●  Divine son-ship

●  Dual Nature

●  Economic subordination

●  Equal in essence

●  Eternally Begotten

●  Eternal distinctions in the substance of God

●  Eternal Generation

●  Eternal Procession

●  Eternal Relationship

●  Eternal Son

●  Eternal Word

●  Full Equality of the persons

●  First, Second, and Third Expressions of the God-head

●  God of God

●  God-kind

●  God-man

●  God-ship

●  God the Holy Spirit

●  God the Son

●  God the Word

●  Hypostatic union

●  If deduced to a mathematical formulae: One times One times One equals One

●  Incarnate

●  Indivisible and unquantifiable

●  Light of Light

●  Members of the Godhead

●  Mutual Indwelling: each person dwells in the other two

●  One God in unity

●  One in unity and purpose

●  Ontological order

●  Ontological subordination

●  One substance with the Father: speaking of the Son of God

●  One what and three who's

●  Persons of the God essence

●  Plural unity

●  Pre-incarnate Christ

●  Pre-existent Christ

●  Pre-creational Generation

●  Relational subordination

●  Subordination in the Trinity

●  Subsistence’s within God essence 

●  The aspect of plurality in God

●  Three in One

●  Three distinguishable personages of God’s essential being

●  Threefold personality

●  Three inseparable persons

●  Three persons, equal in glory, majesty and power

●  Triadic formulae

●  Triadic nature

●  Trinity

●  Tripersonality of God

●  Triune Being

●  Triune God

●  Triunity

●  Unified one

●  Very God of very God

 

However, not one apostle, prophet, or king in the entire Bible used any of the 66 Trinitarian terms listed above; including Jesus Christ.

Example: When the Apostle Paul wrote:

“I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19 NIV).

He did so without using one of the terms in use today to describe the Trinity.

The problem: One needs to use at least one Trinitarian term to convey a Trinitarian concept of God.

Therefore, Paul clearly failed to support the Trinity in his writings.

Seeing that Paul preached the full gospel back in his day without using even one Trinitarian term, one might wonder if a minister could preach the full gospel today without using any Trinitarian terms?

If the answer is,

“Yes,”

this means that Christians can fully proclaim the gospel of Christ without even mentioning the word "Trinity" or any of the other 66 extra-biblical terms used to describe the doctrine.

If the answer is,

“No”

then the full gospel is not found in the Bible; even though Paul implied it could be found in his epistles.

In reality: The Christian churches of Paul's day were not using the term "Trinity"* to describe God's nature; neither were they using any of the other expressions spelled out in the above list of Trinitarian terms.  It was not until after Rome made Christianity the state religion that Trinitarian terms began to be used in the various statements of faith.

Before that, creeds were devoid of such terms.

Following is an example of an early creed entitled the Apostles' Creed:

"The Apostles' Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament. Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol. Because of the early origin of its original form, it does not address some Christological issues defined in the Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It thus says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus or of the Holy Spirit. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians. Nor does it address many other theological questions that became objects of dispute centuries later." (Apostles' Creed, Wikipedia — 3/6/2016)

 Apostles' Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of
God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Amen

Then, the once simple faith of the early church changed: 

UNITE THE EMPIRE

Because of a quarrel that threatened the unity of the church, the Roman Emperor Constantine demanded a statement of faith from his council to try to stabilize his empire. He ordered the bishops to come up with a statement on the nature of God that they could all agree to.  The parties involved organized the first ecumenical council of Nicaea. 

In the year 325 A.D. the council was opened by Constantine. He was clad in gold and covered with precious stones.  A chair of gold laid waiting for him.  Emperor Constantine addressed the council, expressing that religious peace should be re-established.  It was from this council that the original Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. was born, however it did not contain the words,

■ "Trinity"

■ "persons"

■ "coequal"

or

■ "coeternal."

It wasn't until much later that these terms were drafted as dogma in what is now known as the Athanasian Creed:

THE ATHANASIAN CREED

Origin: The most likely time frame is in the late fifth or early sixth century AD – at least 100 years after Athanasius. (Athanasian Creed, Wikipedia — 3/6/2016)  

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.

God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved. (New Advent.org, Catholic Encyclopedia)

Obviously, requirements were added to the Christian faith which go beyond what can be found in scripture. Example: Nowhere in the Bible is it demanded that

"we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance."

To stipulate that those who fail to do so

"cannot be saved"

is without a doubt an extra-biblical teaching.

Also: From the tables of the same councils which defined God's nature in the 4th and 5th Centuries came the Roman Church's foundational teachings on Mary:

During the Third Ecumenical Council in 431 A.D., the extra-biblical title,

"Mother of God,"

was formally bestowed upon Mary, and affirmed at, The Church of Mary in Ephesus.

"The competing view, advocated by Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, was that Mary should be called Christotokos, meaning 'Birth-giver of Christ,' to restrict her role to the mother of Christ's humanity only and not his divine nature."(First Council of Ephesus, Wikipedia)

Nestorius’ view was rejected and labeled as heresy by the council. The council then removed Nestorius from his position in the Church; and, his teachings were banished.

By labeling Mary the

 "Mother of God"

which is basically the same title Rome's pagan goddess Diana had before Christianity became the state religion, one might wonder if somehow pagan concepts** made inroads into the Christian faith.

 

And Now For Something Completely Different:

"All Christians believe the doctrine of the Trinity. If you do not believe this—that is, if you have come to a settled conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true—you are not a Christian at all. You are in fact a heretic. Those words may sound harsh, but they represent the judgment of the Christian church across the centuries... The Bible teaches this doctrine. Christians everywhere have always believed it." — Dr. Ray Pritchard*** Jesus.org / What Exactly Is the ... Trinity (3/6/2016)

 

While the above statement may garner a hearty "Amen" from countless believers, this short study has clearly proven that those holding this position, are about as far from the truth as one can possibly be. (sigh)

 

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." (Ephesians 1:17, NIV)

 

For more information on this subject:

■  Who is Jesus Christ? — A Biblical Case For The Real Jesus  < (Trinity refutation / Jesus Christ is not God the Son)

■  The Rise of Catholicism  < (a true history of Rome, before & during the time Christianity became Rome's official religion)

 Then Along Comes Mary  < (an eye-opening look into the veneration of Mary—as the Mother of God & Queen of Heaven)

 


*“Speaking of Trinitarianism in the ante-Nicene period is somewhat anachronistic, since the word Trinity (Lat. trinitas) was first coined by the Latin father Tertullian in the 2nd century, and the Trinitarian doctrine was not solidified as dogma until the early 4th century.” (Development of Trinitarian theology – Theopedia on-line)

**Triads of pagan gods:

Babylon: (1) Anu (2) Bel (3) and Ena
Egypt: (1) Osiris (2) Horus and (3) Isis
India: (1) Brahma (2) Vishnu and (3) Shiva
Rome: (1) Jupiter (2) Pluto and (3) Minerva
Greece: (1) Zeus (2) Hades and (3) Poseidon

***Dr. Ray Pritchard serves as president of Keep Believing Ministries. He has ministered extensively overseas in China, Bolivia, Columbia, Paraguay, Belize, Haiti, Nigeria, Switzerland, Russia, India and Nepal. He is a frequent conference speaker and guest on Christian radio and television talk shows.  For 26 years he pastored churches in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago. Most recently he pastored Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL, for 16 years. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.) and Talbot School of Theology (D.Min.).