Unitarianism and Church History

I was given this article by a Muslim. It is long. I don’t know enough about the time period to write a basic refutation. Can anyone else point out some errors the article makes? I think I saw one in his mention of Arianism and North African Christianity but I’m not sure. Thanks and God bless.

THE DIVINE UNITY : In any tradition the pure origin is to be found at its beginning, and follows is always a decline. It is from this perspective that the history of Christianity should be viewed. It began with the belief in one God but was then corrupted as the doctrine of trinity cme to be accepted. The result wa a confusion that led man away from reason.

According to Theodore Zahn, until 250 AD the article of faith was “I belive in God, the almighty.” Between 180 and 210 AD the word “Father” was added befor “Almighty”. (See Articles of the Apostolic Creed, pp. 3-37). This was bitterly contested by a number of Church leaders. Bishops Victor and Zephysius are on record as condemning this act. They regarded it an unthinkable sacrilege to add or subtract any words in the Scriptures. They also the tendency to regard Jesus as divine. They laid great stress on the unity of God as expressed in the original teachings of Jesus and asserted that although he was a prophet, he was essentially a man like other men, even if highly favored by his Lord.

The same faith was held by churches which had sprung up in North Africa and West Asia. As the teaching of Jesus spread, it came into contact with different cultures and into conflict with those in authority. It began to be assimilated and adapted by these cultures but also was alterered in order to diminish persecution by rulers. In Greece, especially, it became metamorposhed, both by its being expressed in a new language for the first time and by its realignment with the ideas anf philosophy of that culture.

It was multi-god viewpoint of the Greeks that largely contributed to the formulation of the doctrine of trinity together with the gradual elevation of Jesus by some Christians, notably Paul of Tarsus, from prophet to God. It was in 325 AD that the doctrine of trinity was declared to be the orthodox Christian belief.

Even then, some of those who signed the creed did not belive in it, as they could find no authority for it in the Scriptures. Athanasius, who is considered to be the father of this creed, was himself not very sure of its truth. He admits that whenever he forced his mind to mediate on the divinity of Jesus, his toilsome and futile effirts recoiled on themselves, and more he wrote, the less capable he was of expressing his thoughts. At one point he even wrote “There are not three but onr one God.” His assertion of the doctrine of trinity was not based on conviction but on policy and apparent necessity. That this historic decision was based just as much on political expediency as on the faulty reasoning of philisophy is shown in the part played by Constantine, the pagan emperor of Rome who presided over the Council of Nicaea.

The growing communities of Christians were a force whose opposition he feared. They could weaken his empire, but on the other hand, their support would be invaluable in strengthening it. By remodeling Chriatianity, Constantine hoped to gain the Church’s support and at the same time ened the confusion that had arisen within it, which was the source of yet more conflict within his empire.

The degenration of Jesus’ pure teachings never went unchallenged. When, in 325 AD, the doctrine of trinity was officially proposed as the orthodox Christian doctrine, Bishop Arius (one of the leaders od the Apostolic Church in North Africa) stood up against the combined might of Constantine and the Catholic (Pauline) Church and reminded them that Jesus had always affirmed the oneness of God. Constantine tried to crush the troublesome “one-God” people with all the force and brutality at his command, but he failed. Ironically, although Constantine embraced the belief that God is one before his death, the doctrine of trinity was eventually accepted officially as the basis of Christianity in Europe.

This doctrine caused much confusion among men, many of whom were told to believe without trying to understand it; yet, some people tried to prove and explain it intellectually. Broadly speaking, three schools of thought developed. The first is associated with St. Agustine, who lived in the 4th century and was of the view that the doctrine could not be proven but could be illustrated. St. Victor, who lived in the 12th century, believed that the doctrine could be both demonstrated and illustrated. The 14th century saw the growth of the third school, which taught that the doctrine of trinity could be neither illustrated nor proven, but should be blindly accepted and believed.

The effective abandonment of the teaching of Jesus was largely due to the complete obscuring of his historical reality. The Church had made religion not only independent of the Scriptures but independent of Prophet Jesus as well, so that the man Jesus bacame confused with a mythological Christ. Belief in Jesus does not necessarily mean belief in a resurrect Christ. Whereas the early followers of Jesus had based their lives on his example, Pauline christianity was based on a belief in Christ aafter his supposed crucifixion. The life and teachings of Jesus were no longer important. As the established Church to continued to distance itself from the teaching of Jesus, its leaders became increasingly involved in the affairs of those authority throughout the land. As the differences between what Jesus had taught and what those in authority desired became blurred, the Church, while asserting its separateness from the state, became in reality more and more identified with it and thus grew in power.

Why try to write a refutation? Concentrate on your own faith.The bible warns about senseless arguments.

Pick up some good catholic literature on the saints,read the catechism,and participate in the rich sacramental life of the Church

How about Christ’s use of the “I AM” or the beginning of John’s Gospel where the Word is shown to be co-eternal and co-equal to the Father? And if your conflict is with a Muslim, point out how Christ said that no one goes to the Father except through Him, so by default that would eliminate the prophet of Islam from being a valid source. With more time, I would be able to come up with a better list, but this was just what was at the top of my mind.

First of all this article is full of a bunch of assumptions. Few could be proven. For example, to say that the early Christians had to be “forced” by Constantine to accept the concept of the Trinity is utter nonsense. The whole treatment of Church history is pseudo history, sounding mostly like the the pathetic work of Lorraine Boettners anti Catholic tome which strings together a loose set of historical facts to come to bogus and un scholarly conclusions refuted by nearly all reputable church historians of all persuasions.

Regarding the scriptural veracity of the concept of the Trinity, while the word “Trinity” is not stated in scriptures, the bible clearly identifies Christ as God, the Father as God and the Holy Spirit as God! To say the Trinity is not biblical is both ignorant and illogical. To not be able to completely comprehend the mystery of three beings in one God is human, but it is not proof that it is in error. The Early Church Fathers by the second century were clearly in agreement about the Trinity and did not need Constantine to “enforce” such beliefs.

Also , this piece attempts to make the argument that Christianity has fallen away from the Scriptures, including the teaching on theTrinity. This makes sense that this article would come from a Muslim. They base their teaching on a strict adherence to the Quran. In a sense they respond to scripture similar to the way fundamentalist Christians do. They consider themselves a People of the Book and that the Quran was essentially dictated by Mohammed from God. Therefore there is NO truth outside the Koran, according to them. This is NOT Christianity despite what people who follow the heresy of Sola or Solo Scriptura say. Christianity is a Person, and that person, Jesus Christ left His Church , guided by the Holy Spirit who inspired the bible. Thus, the bible is not the pillar and foundation of truth! The bible even tells us that the CHURCH is! Therefore, while the Trinity is scriptural, the Church is the final authority to reveal who God is.

So the whole piece is an attempt to show how Church invented the Trinity and “corrupted” the true message of Christ by deviating from the scriptures. First of all , dont you find it ironic that a Muslim wishes to tell us what the true teachings of Christ are? But more importantly, Christs true message was revealed to His Apostles and to others inspired by the Holy Spirit through the Church. Christs message was NOT dictated to the Church and compiled in the bible. So it is only the Church that can reveal the true Gospel, not a Muslims or Protestants fallible interpretation of the scriptures, the very Scriptures that were vetted by the Church. It was the Church that approved the canon of the bible. The Church had and has authority over the bible since Christ, unlike Mohammed, IS God, and left not the dictation of Gods word, but the THE LIVING WORD, the Holy Spirit guiding His Church.

One should find it utterly incomprehensible when someone tries to interpret the supposed true meaning of the Christian Scriptures through the both clouded and completely near sighted lenses of either a 21st Century Muslim or fundamentalist Christian. Not only are these two groups temporally removed from the origin of the Church by 200 centuries, they are also removed by centuries of religious tradition that has only recently been invented relative to the Catholic Church. There is only one reliable source that was there there from the beginning to know the true message of Jesus Christ - the Catholic Church, the one true Church that started from the time of the teaching of Jesus Christ, given to the world by Christ Himself, and lives to this day.

Matthew 3:16-17
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

God the Father speaks from heaven, God the Son is baptized, and God the Holy Spirit descends upon Him like a dove.

This is the Trinity revealed long before Constantine and Arius.

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