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The Surprising Origins of the Trinity Doctrine
Is God a Trinity? ^ | Various | Various

Posted on 04/15/2013 5:06:15 PM PDT by DouglasKC

The Surprising Origins of the Trinity Doctrine

Few understand how the Trinity doctrine came to be accepted - several centuries after the Bible was completed! Yet its roots go back much farther in history.

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Most people assume that everything that bears the label "Christian" must have originated with Jesus Christ and His early followers. But this is definitely not the case. All we have to do is look at the words of Jesus Christ and His apostles to see that this is clearly not true.

The historical record shows that, just as Jesus and the New Testament writers foretold, various heretical ideas and teachers rose up from within the early Church and infiltrated it from without. Christ Himself warned His followers: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name . . . and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).

You can read many similar warnings in other passages (such as Matthew 24:11; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 1 John 2:18-19, 26; 4:1-3).

Barely two decades after Christ's death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote that many believers were already "turning away . . . to a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6). He wrote that he was forced to contend with "false apostles, deceitful workers" who were fraudulently "transforming themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13). One of the major problems he had to deal with was "false brethren" (verse 26).

By late in the first century, as we see from 3 John 9-10, conditions had grown so dire that false ministers openly refused to receive representatives of the apostle John and were excommunicating true Christians from the Church!

Of this troubling period Edward Gibbon, the famed historian, wrote in his classic work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of a "dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church" (1821, Vol. 2, p. 111). It wasn't long before true servants of God became a marginalized and scattered minority among those calling themselves Christian. A very different religion, now compromised with many concepts and practices rooted in ancient paganism (such mixing of religious beliefs being known as syncretism, common in the Roman Empire at the time), took hold and transformed the faith founded by Jesus Christ.

Historian Jesse Hurlbut says of this time of transformation: "We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., 'The Age of Shadows,' partly because the gloom of persecution was over the church, but more especially because of all the periods in the [church's] history, it is the one about which we know the least. We have no longer the clear light of the Book of Acts to guide us; and no author of that age has filled the blank in the history . . ."For fifty years after St. Paul's life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul" ( The Story of the Christian Church, 1970, p. 33).

This "very different" church would grow in power and influence, and within a few short centuries would come to dominate even the mighty Roman Empire! By the second century, faithful members of the Church, Christ's "little flock" (Luke 12:32), had largely been scattered by waves of deadly persecution. They held firmly to the biblical truth about Jesus Christ and God the Father, though they were persecuted by the Roman authorities as well as those who professed Christianity but were in reality teaching "another Jesus" and a "different gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9).

Different ideas about Christ's divinity lead to conflict

This was the setting in which the doctrine of the Trinity emerged. In those early decades after Jesus Christ's ministry, death and resurrection, and spanning the next few centuries, various ideas sprang up as to His exact nature. Was He man? Was He God? Was He God appearing as a man? Was He an illusion? Was He a mere man who became God? Was He created by God the Father, or did He exist eternally with the Father?

All of these ideas had their proponents. The unity of belief of the original Church was lost as new beliefs, many borrowed or adapted from pagan religions, replaced the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

Let us be clear that when it comes to the intellectual and theological debates in those early centuries that led to the formulation of the Trinity, the true Church was largely absent from the scene, having been driven underground. (See the chapter "The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity " in our free booklet The Church Jesus Built for an overview of this critical period.).

For this reason, in that stormy period we often see debates not between truth and error, but between one error and a different error— a fact seldom recognized by many modern scholars yet critical for our understanding.

A classic example of this was the dispute over the nature of Christ that led the Roman emperor Constantine the Great to convene the Council of Nicaea (in modern-day western Turkey) in A.D. 325.

Constantine, although held by many to be the first "Christian" Roman Emperor, was actually a sun-worshiper who was only baptized on his deathbed. During his reign he had his eldest son and his wife murdered. He was also vehemently anti-Semitic, referring in one of his edicts to "the detestable Jewish crowd" and "the customs of these most wicked men"—customs that were in fact rooted in the Bible and practiced by Jesus and the apostles.

As emperor in a period of great tumult within the Roman Empire, Constantine was challenged with keeping the empire unified. He recognized the value of religion in uniting his empire. This was, in fact, one of his primary motivations in accepting and sanctioning the "Christian" religion (which, by this time, had drifted far from the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles and was Christian in name only)

. But now Constantine faced a new challenge. Religion researcher Karen Armstrong explains in A History of God that "one of the first problems that had to be solved was the doctrine of God . . . a new danger arose from within which split Christians into bitterly warring camps" (1993, p. 106).

Debate over the nature of God at the Council of Nicaea

Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 as much for political reasons—for unity in the empire—as religious ones. The primary issue at that time came to be known as the Arian controversy.

"In the hope of securing for his throne the support of the growing body of Christians he had shown them considerable favor and it was to his interest to have the church vigorous and united. The Arian controversy was threatening its unity and menacing its strength. He therefore undertook to put an end to the trouble. It was suggested to him, perhaps by the Spanish bishop Hosius, who was influential at court, that if a synod were to meet representing the whole church both east and west, it might be possible to restore harmony.

"Constantine himself of course neither knew nor cared anything about the matter in dispute but he was eager to bring the controversy to a close, and Hosius' advice appealed to him as sound" (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, 1954, Vol. 1, p. 258).

Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Christ, because He was the Son of God, must have had a beginning and therefore was a special creation of God. Further, if Jesus was the Son, the Father of necessity must be older. Opposing the teachings of Arius was Athanasius, a deacon also from Alexandria. His view was an early form of Trinitarianism wherein the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were one but at the same time distinct from each other.

The decision as to which view the church council would accept was to a large extent arbitrary. Karen Armstrong explains in A History of God: "When the bishops gathered at Nicaea on May 20, 325, to resolve the crisis, very few would have shared Athanasius's view of Christ. Most held a position midway between Athanasius and Arius" (p. 110).

As emperor, Constantine was in the unusual position of deciding church doctrine even though he was not really a Christian. (The following year is when he had both his wife and son murdered, as previously mentioned).

Historian Henry Chadwick attests, "Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun" ( The Early Church, 1993, p. 122). As to the emperor's embrace of Christianity, Chadwick admits, "His conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear" (p. 125).

Chadwick does say that Constantine's deathbed baptism itself "implies no doubt about his Christian belief," it being common for rulers to put off baptism to avoid accountability for things like torture and executing criminals (p. 127). But this justification doesn't really help the case for the emperor's conversion being genuine.

Norbert Brox, a professor of church history, confirms that Constantine was never actually a converted Christian: "Constantine did not experience any conversion; there are no signs of a change of faith in him. He never said of himself that he had turned to another god . . . At the time when he turned to Christianity, for him this was Sol Invictus (the victorious sun god)" ( A Concise History of the Early Church, 1996, p. 48).

When it came to the Nicene Council, The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: "Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination" (1971 edition, Vol. 6, "Constantine," p. 386).

With the emperor's approval, the Council rejected the minority view of Arius and, having nothing definitive with which to replace it, approved the view of Athanasius—also a minority view. The church was left in the odd position of officially supporting, from that point forward, the decision made at Nicaea to endorse a belief held by only a minority of those attending.

The groundwork for official acceptance of the Trinity was now laid—but it took more than three centuries after Jesus Christ's death and resurrection for this unbiblical teaching to emerge!

Nicene decision didn't end the debate

The Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy. Karen Armstrong explains: "Athanasius managed to impose his theology on the delegates . . . with the emperor breathing down their necks . . .

"The show of agreement pleased Constantine, who had no understanding of the theological issues, but in fact there was no unanimity at Nicaea. After the council, the bishops went on teaching as they had before, and the Arian crisis continued for another sixty years. Arius and his followers fought back and managed to regain imperial favor. Athanasius was exiled no fewer than five times. It was very difficult to make his creed stick" (pp. 110-111).

The ongoing disagreements were at times violent and bloody. Of the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, noted historian Will Durant writes, "Probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome" ( The Story of Civilization, Vol. 4: The Age of Faith, 1950, p. 8). Atrociously, while claiming to be Christian many believers fought and slaughtered one another over their differing views of God!

Of the following decades, Professor Harold Brown, cited earlier, writes: "During the middle decades of this century, from 340 to 380, the history of doctrine looks more like the history of court and church intrigues and social unrest . . . The central doctrines hammered out in this period often appear to have been put through by intrigue or mob violence rather than by the common consent of Christendom led by the Holy Spirit" (p. 119).

Debate shifts to the nature of the Holy Spirit

Disagreements soon centered around another issue, the nature of the Holy Spirit. In that regard, the statement issued at the Council of Nicaea said simply, "We believe in the Holy Spirit." This "seemed to have been added to Athanasius's creed almost as an afterthought," writes Karen Armstrong. "People were confused about the Holy Spirit. Was it simply a synonym for God or was it something more?" (p. 115).

Professor Ryrie, also cited earlier,writes, "In the second half of the fourth century, three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor [today central Turkey] gave definitive shape to the doctrine of the Trinity" (p. 65). They proposed an idea that was a step beyond Athanasius' view—that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit were coequal and together in one being, yet also distinct from one another.

These men—Basil, bishop of Caesarea, his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus—were all "trained in Greek philosophy" (Armstrong, p. 113), which no doubt affected their outlook and beliefs (see "Greek Philosophy's Influence on the Trinity Doctrine," beginning on page 14).

In their view, as Karen Armstrong explains, "the Trinity only made sense as a mystical or spiritual experience . . . It was not a logical or intellectual formulation but an imaginative paradigm that confounded reason. Gregory of Nazianzus made this clear when he explained that contemplation of the Three in One induced a profound and overwhelming emotion that confounded thought and intellectual clarity.

"'No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendor of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Three than I am carried back into the One. When I think of any of the Three, I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me'" (p. 117). Little wonder that, as Armstrong concludes, "For many Western Christians . . . the Trinity is simply baffling" (ibid.).

Ongoing disputes lead to the Council of Constantinople

In the year 381, 44 years after Constantine's death, Emperor Theodosius the Great convened the Council of Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey) to resolve these disputes. Gregory of Nazianzus, recently appointed as archbishop of Constantinople, presided over the council and urged the adoption of his view of the Holy Spirit.

Historian Charles Freeman states: "Virtually nothing is known of the theological debates of the council of 381, but Gregory was certainly hoping to get some acceptance of his belief that the Spirit was consubstantial with the Father [meaning that the persons are of the same being, as substance in this context denotes individual quality].

"Whether he dealt with the matter clumsily or whether there was simply no chance of consensus, the 'Macedonians,' bishops who refused to accept the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, left the council . . . Typically, Gregory berated the bishops for preferring to have a majority rather than simply accepting 'the Divine Word' of the Trinity on his authority" ( A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State, 2008, p. 96).

Gregory soon became ill and had to withdraw from the council. Who would preside now? "So it was that one Nectarius, an elderly city senator who had been a popular prefect in the city as a result of his patronage of the games, but who was still not a baptized Christian, was selected . . . Nectarius appeared to know no theology, and he had to be initiated into the required faith before being baptized and consecrated" (Freeman, pp. 97-98).

Bizarrely, a man who up to this point wasn't a Christian was appointed to preside over a major church council tasked with determining what it would teach regarding the nature of God!

The Trinity becomes official doctrine

The teaching of the three Cappadocian theologians "made it possible for the Council of Constantinople (381) to affirm the divinity of the Holy Spirit, which up to that point had nowhere been clearly stated, not even in Scripture" ( The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, "God," p. 568).

The council adopted a statement that translates into English as, in part: "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages . . . And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets . . ." The statement also affirmed belief "in one holy, catholic [meaning in this context universal, whole or complete] and apostolic Church . . ."

With this declaration in 381, which would become known as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Trinity as generally understood today became the official belief and teaching concerning the nature of God.

Theology professor Richard Hanson observes that a result of the council's decision "was to reduce the meanings of the word 'God' from a very large selection of alternatives to one only," such that "when Western man today says 'God' he means the one, sole exclusive [Trinitarian] God and nothing else" ( Studies in Christian Antiquity, 1985,pp. 243-244).

Thus, Emperor Theodosius—who himself had been baptized only a year before convening the council—was, like Constantine nearly six decades earlier, instrumental in establishing major church doctrine. As historian Charles Freeman notes: "It is important to remember that Theodosius had no theological background of his own and that he put in place as dogma a formula containing intractable philosophical problems of which he would have been unaware. In effect, the emperor's laws had silenced the debate when it was still unresolved" (p. 103).

Other beliefs about the nature of God banned

Now that a decision had been reached, Theodosius would tolerate no dissenting views. He issued his own edict that read: "We now order that all churches are to be handed over to the bishops who profess Father, Son and Holy Spirit of a single majesty, of the same glory, of one splendor, who establish no difference by sacrilegious separation, but (who affirm) the order of the Trinity by recognizing the Persons and uniting the Godhead" (quoted by Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God, 1999, p. 223).

Another edict from Theodosius went further in demanding adherence to the new teaching: "Let us believe the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgement, they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles [assemblies] the name of churches.

"They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation, and the second the punishment which our authority, in accordance with the will of Heaven, shall decide to inflict" (reproduced in Documents of the Christian Church, Henry Bettenson, editor, 1967, p. 22).

Thus we see that a teaching that was foreign to Jesus Christ, never taught by the apostles and unknown to the other biblical writers, was locked into place and the true biblical revelation about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was locked out. Any who disagreed were, in accordance with the edicts of the emperor and church authorities, branded heretics and dealt with accordingly. Trinity doctrine decided by trial and error.

This unusual chain of events is why theology professors Anthony and Richard Hanson would summarize the story in their book Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith by noting that the adoption of the Trinity doctrine came as a result of "a process of theological exploration which lasted at least three hundred years . . . In fact it was a process of trial and error (almost of hit and miss), in which the error was by no means all confined to the unorthodox . . . It would be foolish to represent the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as having been achieved by any other way" (1980, p. 172).

They then conclude: "This was a long, confused, process whereby different schools of thought in the Church worked out for themselves, and then tried to impose on others, their answer to the question, 'How divine is Jesus Christ?' . . . If ever there was a controversy decided by the method of trial and error, it was this one" (p. 175).

Anglican churchman and Oxford University lecturer K.E. Kirk revealingly writes of the adoption of the doctrine of the Trinity: "The theological and philosophical vindication of the divinity of the Spirit begins in the fourth century; we naturally turn to the writers of that period to discover what grounds they have for their belief. To our surprise, we are forced to admit that they have none . . .

"This failure of Christian theology . . . to produce logical justification of the cardinal point in its trinitarian doctrine is of the greatest possible significance. We are forced, even before turning to the question of the vindication of the doctrine by experience, to ask ourselves whether theology or philosophy has ever produced any reasons why its belief should be Trinitarian" ("The Evolution of the Doctrine of the Trinity," published in Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation, A.E.J. Rawlinson, editor, 1928, pp. 221-222). Why believe a teaching that isn't biblical?

This, in brief, is the amazing story of how the doctrine of the Trinity came to be introduced—and how those who refused to accept it came to be branded as heretics or unbelievers.

But should we really base our view of God on a doctrine that isn't spelled out in the Bible, that wasn't formalized until three centuries after the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles, that was debated and argued for decades (not to mention for centuries since), that was imposed by religious councils presided over by novices or nonbelievers and that was "decided by the method of trial and error"?

Of course not. We should instead look to the Word of God—not to ideas of men—to see how our Creator reveals Himself!


TOPICS: General Discusssion; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: god; jesus; origins; trinity
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Note: This could be a controversial thread. Let's remember to act in a Christian manner and exhibit the fruit of the holy spirit to those who might be reading this.

2Ti 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
2Ti 2:26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will

Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Col 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

1 posted on 04/15/2013 5:06:15 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: DouglasKC

Actually, some conclude that the scriptural evidence goes back further than the New Testament. There is a 3.5 hour lecture on Youtube from Michael Heiser demonstrating the doctrine of the Trinity using only Old Testament sources. He concedes that a duality is easier to demonstrate, but concludes that the Trinity is there if you want to “see” it.

Heiser is a Hebrew instructor currently working for Logos Bible Software who is also an expert on ancient religions.


3 posted on 04/15/2013 5:18:47 PM PDT by the_Watchman
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To: F15Eagle
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

I believe that the first Christians understood this as a restatement of this verse:

Act 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Act 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

Note that Peter said in the name of Jesus Christ and then people would receive the gift of the holy spirit.

Also the book of Acts records many instances of baptism, but in none of them is the phrase in Matthew 28:19 uttered...at least in the sense that we think of it. For example:

Act 8:16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Those baptized are baptized in the name of Christ. To many Matthew 28:19 was a simple formula to remember the baptismal ceremony and it's effects and not statement of the nature of the Godhead.

4 posted on 04/15/2013 5:21:49 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: the_Watchman
Actually, some conclude that the scriptural evidence goes back further than the New Testament. There is a 3.5 hour lecture on Youtube from Michael Heiser demonstrating the doctrine of the Trinity using only Old Testament sources. He concedes that a duality is easier to demonstrate, but concludes that the Trinity is there if you want to “see” it.

Thanks...I'll check it out. I agree that duality is much more prevalent. The article though deals with the controversy and the history that went into the development of the trinity doctrine.

5 posted on 04/15/2013 5:23:35 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

God refers to Himself as a plurality in Genesis 1.

While we can’t know God perfectly, we knew Him enough as revealed to us, even in the beginning of time, to know Him in truth.

The trinity is not a new doctrine. The Son of Man walked with Daniel in the fiery furnace. Jesus teaches it Himself when expositing Psalm 2, “The LORD unto my Lord has said. . .”

What is new is our refined definition and expression of it, concretely, as opposed to our more shadowy understanding in earlier times.


6 posted on 04/15/2013 5:27:17 PM PDT by Persevero (Homeschooling for Excellence since 1992)
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To: F15Eagle; DouglasKC
Matthew 28:19 (KJV)
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

Excellent; I was thinking of all the mentions of the spirit in the Old Testament though.
Also, John 14:26 (NIV)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you

7 posted on 04/15/2013 5:30:31 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: Persevero
God refers to Himself as a plurality in Genesis 1.
While we can’t know God perfectly, we knew Him enough as revealed to us, even in the beginning of time, to know Him in truth.

As suggested by an earlier poster the concept of duality can account for the plurality...as in father and son. For example:

Dan 7:13 "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
Dan 7:14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

This glimpse of the Godhead in heaven does show the father and son...

8 posted on 04/15/2013 5:30:36 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

Oy.


9 posted on 04/15/2013 5:32:04 PM PDT by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
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To: DouglasKC

Very informative. Thanks. The interesting thing is how Medieval theologians merged the Trinity to classic Greek thinking whereby time and space could be reconciled with the eternal - the body of Christ (time and space), the spirit as the unifying force, and the Father as eternity. It got so far as many interpret the German philosopher Hegel with appropriating that same basic cosmology as a means for a final synthesis of the dialectic.

Having been brought up in a protestant religion that did not recognize the Trinity conception, it was fascinating to me that the Catholic Church and so many other strains of Christianity had adopted it. Which actually makes sense when you realize that the most learned of the early Church were obviously more attuned to the pitfalls and contradictions of post Platonic Greek thinking given their education level.

This day in age we should all stand as Christians, but the origins of various doctrine is a lifelong fascination of mine.


10 posted on 04/15/2013 5:32:11 PM PDT by GOPFlack
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To: DouglasKC

Give me one reason for believing the Bible is the “Word of God” other than that THE CHURCH SAYS IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.

There is not a single verse or chapter in Scripture that teaches that the Scripture is the ONLY repository of revelation. The claim that ONLY Scripture is to be consulted for knowledge of God and God’s will is a HUMAN TRADITION. It is not found in the Bible.


11 posted on 04/15/2013 5:32:26 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan (If you're FOR sticking scissors in a female's neck and sucking out her brains, you are PRO-WOMAN!)
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To: OneWingedShark; F15Eagle
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you

I think it's safe to say considering the controversy, history and time it took the trinity doctrine to develop that the early Christians had a much different picture of the Godhead then do many Christians today.

12 posted on 04/15/2013 5:33:07 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

The author mixes a lot of error in with the truth, with the point being to undermine the early Church’s understanding of the Trinity, and to make the doctrine a late addition to the faith.


13 posted on 04/15/2013 5:34:29 PM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: GOPFlack
Very informative. Thanks. The interesting thing is how Medieval theologians merged the Trinity to classic Greek thinking whereby time and space could be reconciled with the eternal - the body of Christ (time and space), the spirit as the unifying force, and the Father as eternity.

Thanks...I've seen others mention the influence of Greek thought on the development of the trinity doctrine but I've never really studies it myself. It sounds like a good project. :-)

14 posted on 04/15/2013 5:34:42 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: Arthur McGowan
There is not a single verse or chapter in Scripture that teaches that the Scripture is the ONLY repository of revelation. The claim that ONLY Scripture is to be consulted for knowledge of God and God’s will is a HUMAN TRADITION. It is not found in the Bible.

I fully agree that the trinity doctrine isn't readily discernible from scripture alone and needed tradition to fully flesh it out.

15 posted on 04/15/2013 5:36:46 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

In Genesis, “we made man in our image.” Who is “we”?

The Church Fathers interpreted this as evidence for the Trinity.

The Jews interpreted this as God and His angels, which is the only interpretation they could give. But obviously this “we” could only be figurative. And it’s hard to see how the angels could participate in creation from nothing, even in a figurative sense.


16 posted on 04/15/2013 5:36:58 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: kosciusko51
The author mixes a lot of error in with the truth, with the point being to undermine the early Church’s understanding of the Trinity, and to make the doctrine a late addition to the faith.

Thanks for your thoughts...

17 posted on 04/15/2013 5:38:36 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC
Mmm, mmm . . . historicists vs. restorationists.

It's lip-smacking good!

18 posted on 04/15/2013 5:39:43 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Ki-hagoy vehamamlakhah 'asher lo'-ya`avdukh yove'du; vehagoyim charov yecheravu!)
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To: Arthur McGowan

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

2 Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.


19 posted on 04/15/2013 5:40:26 PM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: Persevero
The basic structure of the universe according to the ancient Hindus was the here and now where we all live, the demon realm, and the heaven.

A single individual personality might well be manifest in any one of the three ~

Not to suggest that they are correct, but it would likewise be an error to imagine that God has not in past times communicated with them, and everybody else, one way or the other ~ such that even the least do have, in some way, an understanding of God and His universe(s).

The Buddhist structure of the universe is more complex. At the same time the Hindus get into some three dimensional structures. The Muslim view of heaven clearly derives in part from ancient Hindu beliefs (Which I believed Saudi archaeologists just recently demonstrated at the Kaaba).

Just to note that if you see the Trinity concept in the Old Testament it's probably not your imagination. We are to accept on faith that our beliefs stem back all the way to the revelation of Genesis, so why not!

20 posted on 04/15/2013 5:40:45 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: DouglasKC

Who needs all that pages of info? The idea came from the Word.


21 posted on 04/15/2013 5:40:49 PM PDT by Truth2012
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To: Arthur McGowan
There is not a single verse or chapter in Scripture that teaches that the Scripture is the ONLY repository of revelation. The claim that ONLY Scripture is to be consulted for knowledge of God and God’s will is a HUMAN TRADITION. It is not found in the Bible.

I believe you are right, for to assert that they are exclusively the repository of God's revelation is to repudiate John 14:26 (which I just looked up)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

To be taught indicates revealing what is not already known, though it might also be the transmission of a portion of the already-known body-of-knowledge to one who does not know it. To claim that the latter possibility excludes the former is to claim that the Bible contains the totality of the revelation of God to man... this is unsatisfying in that it strongly implies that the finite 66 books wholly describe the infinite. (That is if God is infinite, and if it is in God's nature to reveal Himself to his people, then that is very, very weak.)

22 posted on 04/15/2013 5:41:01 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas
In Genesis, “we made man in our image.” Who is “we”?
The Church Fathers interpreted this as evidence for the Trinity.
The Jews interpreted this as God and His angels, which is the only interpretation they could give. But obviously this “we” could only be figurative. And it’s hard to see how the angels could participate in creation from nothing, even in a figurative sense.

Thanks for your response...the "we" could also be the father and son as seen in the glimpse of the Godhead in Daniel 7:13,14.

23 posted on 04/15/2013 5:41:43 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Mmm, mmm . . . historicists vs. restorationists.

ha ha... :-)

24 posted on 04/15/2013 5:43:02 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: Truth2012
Who needs all that pages of info? The idea came from the Word.

I found it interesting about how much controversy there was and how long it took to get settled...not to mention the characters and intrigue!

25 posted on 04/15/2013 5:44:46 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

Yes. It only proves more than one Person in the Godhead.


26 posted on 04/15/2013 5:48:45 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: reed13

Bfl


27 posted on 04/15/2013 5:50:42 PM PDT by reed13k (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.)
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To: DouglasKC
Since the trinity doctrine wasn't drawn from the Scriptures it finds no support there leaving the fall back position that this makes no difference as it is a “mystery” incomprehensible to the human mind.

But search as we will the Son is always spoken of as being inferior to the Father in the Scriptures.

28 posted on 04/15/2013 5:51:36 PM PDT by count-your-change (you don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough)
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To: DouglasKC
You might want to read "Early Christian Doctrines" by JND Kelly.
29 posted on 04/15/2013 5:52:43 PM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: DouglasKC

“Any who disagreed were, in accordance with the edicts of the emperor and church authorities, branded heretics and dealt with accordingly. Trinity doctrine decided by trial and error.”

I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost - one in purpose but having individual personalities and functions. (I am a Mormon heretic.)

Thank you for posting this article. It was very enlightening.


30 posted on 04/15/2013 5:58:27 PM PDT by District13 (Obama scares me)
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To: Persevero

God refers to Himself as a plurality in Genesis 1.


Actually, when God speaks there he refers to himself using the “royal we”...it has nothing to do with Christian beliefs in the Trinity and is a common misunderstanding for Christian apologists. Check out...

http://www.outreachjudaism.org/articles/elohim.html


31 posted on 04/15/2013 6:00:47 PM PDT by martiangohome
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To: count-your-change
But search as we will the Son is always spoken of as being inferior to the Father in the Scriptures.

The son certainly seems to point toward the father in all things...maybe inferior isnt' the right word but certainly there seems to be a deference to the father.

32 posted on 04/15/2013 6:01:13 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: kosciusko51
You might want to read "Early Christian Doctrines" by JND Kelly.

Thanks...I'll put it on my reading list.

33 posted on 04/15/2013 6:02:00 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: District13
Thank you for posting this article. It was very enlightening.

Thanks...I'm glad you enjoyed it.

34 posted on 04/15/2013 6:03:03 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC; F15Eagle; the_Watchman; Persevero; OneWingedShark; wonkowasright; GOPFlack; ...

DouglasKC wrote: “Note: This could be a controversial thread. Let’s remember to act in a Christian manner and exhibit the fruit of the holy spirit to those who might be reading this.”


It’s important for everyone to note that the “church” DouglasKC represents is a non-Christian religious cult, which claims that they alone possess the Holy Spirit due to their rejection of the Trinity, their embrace of dietary laws and Jewish festival observance, their denial of everlasting torment in hell, their affirmation of the possibility of salvation after death, and their doctrine that the Holy Spirit must be passed on by right-believing ministers of the UCG by direct physical contact, amongst many other disturbing facts. IOW, they believe that they are the one true church of God, and we are all members of a counterfeit religion.

However, what is most relevant to this thread is their view of God and monotheism. They are not even dualists as he falsely seems to be implying in this thread (though that is bad enough); they are, in fact, polytheists. They do not believe there is only one God, but two Gods joined together in a collective sense in a “God Family.” Below is a long post I wrote to Douglas previously, which he never addressed, but nevertheless documents the UCG’s stance on this issue.

The first part is a quick review of Trinitarian scripture, followed by information on the UCG’s views of their “open” Godhead:

That the Trinity is in the scripture, that cannot be questioned:

Mat_28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

2Co_13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.

Isa_48:16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

That Jesus is literally God, there is no question of it:

Mat_1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

That the Father and Son are distinct, and yet one God, cannot be questioned:

Joh 8:17-18 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. (18) I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

Joh_10:30 I and my Father are one.

God Speaking in the Old Testament:
Isa_41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isa_44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Jesus Christ speaking in the new, calling Himself by the same name. Not two different gods who are made “one” by being in the same family, but One God:

Rev_1:17 ... Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Rev_22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Rev_1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

That the Holy Spirit is God, and not an inanimate “force,” cannot be questioned:

1Co_3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Act_13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

Joh_14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

At the center of all of this is the fact that Christianity is monotheistic. We believe in only one God, as clearly taught in the scriptures. Is YOUR religion monotheistic? Let’s find out:

According to the papers on the UCG website, their war with the Trinity actually centers on their rejection of God being limited to “only one being” (11). According to the UCG, God is one in the sense of collective unity, when 2 different beings are one in a collective sense, as sharing common goals, but not one in substance:

“This idea of collective unity is clearly demonstrated in Genesis 2:23-24, “And
Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be
joined to his wife, and they shall become one [echad] flesh.” Here two distinct individuals are
“one” flesh. This is not talking about one in number but one in collective unity, harmony, peace
and the sharing of common goals.” (10)

Thus, the idea of there being only one God, is changed to merely a devotion to but one God, but leaves the door open for many gods to exist, citing various scriptures to allege that they are “problematic if one concludes there
is only one being called God in the Old Testament” (14). And more:

“The purpose of Deuteronomy 6:4 is to show ancient Israel that their Elohim is the only
God and that all the pagan gods are to be rejected. Thus the purpose is not to explain the nature
of God but to show that He is unique and the only God to worship.” (11)

Due to the obvious problems of this theology, your religion uses the concept of the “God Family,” and the “collective unity,” in order to maintain the idea that they are yet “one” God, though there are actually two separate beings in the Godhead (the Holy Spirit is simply done away with, since His name does not fit the “Family” concept), as they say here: “God can be defined as a family—one God family, although currently consisting of two beings” (15).

The logic follows from hence, after they deny the idea of “adoption,” that we will partake of divinity and join with God in the God-Family, IOW, become “one” in the Godhead the same way their version of Jesus and the Father are one:

“Thus, the Godhead is not a closed Trinity, nor an absolute unity of only one God, but a dynamic family unity that allows for Spirit-born believers to become the very children of God.” (41)

http://members.ucg.org/papers/NatureofGod.pdf

Throughout those entire 40 something pages, not once were any of the scriptures addressed which refute their claims. What does the scripture really say of these ideas, in brief?

That there is only one God, not defined as a “family unit,” but having no other “God” beside Him:

Isa_44:8 ... Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

This unity utterly precludes the possibility of there being “two” separate beings who are merely “united” in the sense of cooperation. There is only one God, united in substance, and yet not contradictory to when Isaiah writes the phrase “The Lord GOD, and His Spirit hath sent me.”

Neither can there be any other gods formed. There are no other gods joining the godhead, no “open” trinity. It is utterly closed. There is, and always will be, and always has been, just one God:

Isa_43:10 ... before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

None formed before, none formed after.

The UCG’s view, therefore, is a thinly veiled polytheism, very similar to the Mormon concept which argues that they themselves are monotheistic, because there is one Godhead, but that the Father literally had sex with a goddess wife and produced the Son. They make the same argument against “strict monotheism,” and veil it with the same concept of strict devotion to just one God, but not that there are not any other gods.


35 posted on 04/15/2013 6:07:27 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: F15Eagle

That quote is believed to be a gloss by unitarians. (”Unitarians,” here, refers to those who deny the doctrine of the trinity, not necessarily from the Unitarian Universalist Association.)

It’s eventual inclusion into the bible demonstrates the necessity of apostolic authority throughout church history, to continue to assert the truth of Tradition, including the Tradition of what comprises the bible.


36 posted on 04/15/2013 6:08:29 PM PDT by dangus (Poverty cannot be eradicated as long as the poor remain dependent on the state - Pope Francis)
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To: martiangohome
Actually, when God speaks there he refers to himself using the “royal we”...it has nothing to do with Christian beliefs in the Trinity and is a common misunderstanding for Christian apologists. Check out... http://www.outreachjudaism.org/articles/elohim.html

Thanks...I enjoyed that article. Do you happen to know who or what the Jewish people think the "son of man" and the "ancient of days" is in these verses:

Dan 7:13 "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
Dan 7:14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

37 posted on 04/15/2013 6:10:14 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC
Given the Father has superior knowledge, authority and power to the Son and their relationship is described by both is father and son, I should think “inferior” is a suitable and accurate term.
38 posted on 04/15/2013 6:11:47 PM PDT by count-your-change (you don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough)
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

Thanks for the excellent response and the great links you provided my new friend!


39 posted on 04/15/2013 6:11:51 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: count-your-change
Given the Father has superior knowledge, authority and power to the Son and their relationship is described by both is father and son, I should think “inferior” is a suitable and accurate term.

Yes I agree...it's just that the word "inferior" conjures up such a negative image..at least for me!

40 posted on 04/15/2013 6:13:19 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: DouglasKC

Read the first 5 books of the bible. You’ll see that that god is addressed in 3 manners. Lord, Lord God, God.


41 posted on 04/15/2013 6:21:31 PM PDT by Usagi_yo
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To: Arthur McGowan

Yes, it’s very unfortunate that in order to believe and trust in God, one must first believe and trust in fellow man and nobody ever went to the poor house distrusting and disbelieving in fellow men.


42 posted on 04/15/2013 6:24:30 PM PDT by Usagi_yo
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To: kosciusko51

At the time timothy wrote...the only scripture was the old testament...the new testament didn’t exist...


43 posted on 04/15/2013 6:24:30 PM PDT by bike800
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To: Usagi_yo
Read the first 5 books of the bible. You’ll see that that god is addressed in 3 manners. Lord, Lord God, God.

Thanks! In hebrew there are many many different titles for our Lord in the old testament.

Check out this link for some of them...

44 posted on 04/15/2013 6:26:12 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: bike800

“At the time timothy wrote...the only scripture was the old testament...the new testament didn’t exist...”


Wrong. The Apostles and their close associates believed they were writing scripture, since they were inspired by the Holy Ghost as defined in Timothy. Here is Peter referring to Paul’s epistles as the scripture:

2Pe 3:15-16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Here is Paul quoting from the Gospel of Luke and calling it scripture:

1Ti_5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Luk_10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

The first part of that quote is from the Books of Moses, thus Luke is placed side by side the works of Moses and called “scripture.”

The Apostles literally believed they were creating a new canon of scripture as they wrote them down.


45 posted on 04/15/2013 6:32:53 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: DouglasKC

I understand. I tend to think of an army officer and his superior. Inferior is simp;y of rank.


46 posted on 04/15/2013 6:34:34 PM PDT by count-your-change (you don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough)
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To: DouglasKC

“Son of man” is regarded as a mistranlation...this is how chabad.org translates it...”Ancient of Days” just refers to God and his eternal nature.

Daniel 7:13. I saw in the visions of the night, and behold with the clouds of the heaven, one like a man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days and was brought before Him.

http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490

I enjoyed the article on the early days of the Christian Church as well...”the making of the sausage” is very interesting..


47 posted on 04/15/2013 6:35:28 PM PDT by martiangohome
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To: kosciusko51

Bingo.


48 posted on 04/15/2013 6:36:02 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.)
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To: martiangohome
“Son of man” is regarded as a mistranlation...this is how chabad.org translates it...”Ancient of Days” just refers to God and his eternal nature. Daniel 7:13. I saw in the visions of the night, and behold with the clouds of the heaven, one like a man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days and was brought before Him.

Okay, I get the mistranslation part, but do they think that the "man" is the future messiah going to be given in a kingdom in verse 14?

49 posted on 04/15/2013 6:39:56 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: bike800

“At the time timothy wrote...”


I just caught this. Paul wrote the epistle, not Timothy. Timothy was receiving it.


50 posted on 04/15/2013 6:47:49 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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