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Home » Forum » Early Christianity » Constantine, the Gnostics & the Early "Church"
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Name: Kurgan  •  Title: Constantine, the Gnostics & the Early "Church"  •  Date posted: 03/01/07 17:17
Q: Once more, I think an excellent presentation of this topic can be found at a website (that I had nothing to do with creating), written by an educated atheist with a background in Medieval studies.

It takes many of the claims about eary Christianity, the Bible (especially the canon and the role of the Council of Nicea), Constantine, Greco-Roman paganism, the power of the Vatican, etc and examines them in historical context using modern scholarly sources as reference.

Obviously, since the guy is a nontheist, he doesn't believe in miracles or God, so hopefully people won't get quite such a biased impression. He also discusses the non-canonical (so called "apocryphal") Christian books (like the Gospels of Philip, Mary, etc) and what they can tell us about the historical Jesus and other characters.

[a href="http://www.historyvsthedavincicode.com"]History Vs. the Da Vinci Code[/a] (don't let the title fool you, it covers a LOT of related material and has links to scholarly sources for further reading)

http://www.historyvsthedavincicode.com 
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Name: KRS  •  Date: 03/05/07 3:57
A: Actually, a non-theist is as biased as a theist is, since his belief requires him to explain accounts of miracles, etc., away. All of this material is built as much on supposition from philosophical conclusions as are Christian views. 
Name: NormDoering  •  Date: 03/06/07 12:28
A: Amazingly, to me, none of Simcha Jacobovichi's critics on Ted Koppel's panel brought up the fact that Jesus' tomb had supposedly been found hundreds of years ago. They built a church on the site called "The Church of the Holy Sepulchre," the "holiest" Christian site in Jerusalem and Israel. It was supposedly built on the location where Christ was crucified and buried. A church originally built by Constantine I the Great in 333 AD, after he supposedly became Christian, and then turned Christianity to the official religion of the Roman empire.

http://normdoering.blogspot.com 
Name: KRS  •  Date: 03/06/07 18:59
A: Norm, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre isn't relavent because its one of two sites associated with Joseph of Arimethea's tomb. The documentary is assuming that the body was stolen from this tomb and laid in the tomb they are presenting. 
Name: Achaney  •  Date: 03/09/07 7:54
A: In Christianity, as we know it today; and how it developed, expresses love (especially towards enemies). How can anyone believe that an Roman Emporer, was told to conquer in this sign? A cross that is more in resemblance to the ankh then a normal cross. I dont buy it one bit. I guess you could say it sounds, "fishy"! Pardon the pun. I also dont see how anyone would be buried near the holy temple of the jews in that period. It just seems more reasonable to bury your dead away from something considered to be holy. 
Name: voyager  •  Date: 03/13/07 23:12
A: Simcha Jacobovichi & the posts on this forum failed to consider the first century comments that the burial cloth was left in the new Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. after the resurrection of Jesus. Professor Paul L. Maier states that a proper translation from the Greek (for John 20:6-7) is that Jesus "with drew from the grave clothes without disturbing their arrangement." (First Easter, Harper & Row, 1973)
Current scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin by various tests & instruments also support this statement in that only the tips of individual fibers of the yarns & only where the image is seen are"shaded". There are no known ways that this image could have been transferred to the cloth. In our current time the closest formation of this type of image occurred when Hiroshima was bombed with the first atomic bombs. A man's image was left in a concrete wall & the man is believed to have been vaporized.
If the body of Jesus was vaporized by some process involving atomic radiation or by His physical body "exploding" by Atomic energy, there would be no bones to rebury. His image would/could be left on the burial cloth; may we consider that now by science & religion working with knowledge available to this time, Jesus & His Resurrection can be authenticated. Would a radiation test of the Garden Tomb or the other tomb believed by Catholics to be the burial tomb show signs of radiation? 
Name: Achaney  •  Date: 03/15/07 22:31
A: The turin shroud was discredited by the catholic church itself. 
Name: roy  •  Date: 04/02/07 23:49
A: Records of bible were not kept in order and deliberately distorted. However muslims believe the original is kept by God and it is true that it was given to Jesus.

Mohammad’s teaching were unlike any other books, memorized by hundreds of muslims systematicaly and diligently. The simple words of him Hadiths were forbidden to be written or recorded in order prevent mess up with revelations.

There are too many proofs that Bible was edited, added many false claims, manupulated according to politics, finally diverted from its true path. Muslims hadiths books were similar in their destiny. They were overly biased, lies alleged to Mohammad (sas) added, religion overburdened with unnecessary hardships, bigotry, bidat (added ruling, principles).

They took their toll to the extent that, they claimed Mohammad, as the imam of all prophets, for whom the earth was created for. In one hadith they claim he went several times between God and Moses to reduce repetition of prayer in a day from 50 times down to five times. It was claimed on some occasions inspired by christian faith, God had shank (God forbid! Never).

Early Christian belief was too much different than todays versions. I put down the historic events and different sects of Christians, some still in effect today, which have been very close to Muslim version of religion. It shows only one truth that God has sent several prophets, prescribing same religion at basic concepts ,ie.. pray one God only, give charity, not kill or commit adultry, etc.. I hope this will give a secular insight to our beliefs.

Roy’s script: Please bear in mind that the notes were written according to Biblical names, here Jesus was referred as son instead of prophet, many times. (it is misleading attribute as the true meaning should be God slave and Messenger according to muslim faith.)

NONTRINITARIANISM

Nontrinitarianism is any of various Christian beliefs that reject the doctrine that God is three distinct persons in one being, (the Trinity).

The notion of the Trinity is not of particular importance to most nontrinitarians. Persons and groups espousing this position generally do not refer to themselves affirmatively by the term, although some nontrinitarian groups such as the Unitarians have adopted a name that bespeaks of their belief in God as subsisting in a theological or cosmic unity. Modern nontrinitarian groups views differ widely on the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Various nontrinitarian views, such as Arianism, existed alongside what is now considered mainstream Christianity before the Trinity was formally defined as doctrine in AD 325. Nontrinitarianism was very rare for hundreds of years. It surfaced again in the Gnosticism of the Cathars and in the Enlightenment and Restorationism.

Forms of Nontrinitarianism
ALL NONTRINITARIANS ARGUE THAT THE DOCTRINE OF THE EARLIEST FORM OF THE CHURCH WAS NOT TRINITARIAN. Typically, nontrinitarians explain that the Church was altered as a direct and indirect consequence of the edicts of Constantine the Great, which resulted in toleration of the Christian religion, and the eventual adoption of Trinitarian Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Because it was at this time of a dramatic shift in Christianity's status that the doctrine of the Trinity attained its definitive development, nontrinitarians typically find the development of the doctrine questionable. It is in this light that the Nicene Creed is seen by nontrinitarians as an essentially political document, resulting from the subordination of Church to State interests by the leaders of Catholic Church, so that the Church became, in their view, an extension of the Roman Empire.
Although Nontrinitarian beliefs of a great variety continued to multiply, and among some people (such as the Lombards in the West) it was dominant for hundreds of years afterward, the Trinitarians now had the immense power of the Empire behind them. NONTRINITARIANS TYPICALLY ARGUE THAT THE PRIMITIVE BELIEFS OF THE CHURCH WERE SYSTEMATICALLY SUPPRESSED (EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH), AND THAT THE HISTORICAL RECORD, PERHAPS ALSO INCLUDING THE SCRIPTURES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, WAS ALTERED AS A CONSEQUENCE.
Nontrinitarian followers of Jesus fall into roughly four different groups.
• Some believe that Jesus is not God, instead believing that he was a messenger from God, or Prophet, or the perfect created human. This is the view espoused by modern day Unitarianism and ancient sects such as the Ebionites. A specific form of Nontrinitarianism is Arianism, which had become the dominant view in some regions in the time of the Roman Empire. Arianism taught the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but held that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father. However, Arians did not consider worship of Jesus as wrong.[citation needed] Another early form of Nontrinarianism was Monarchianism.
• Others believe that the one God who revealed himself in the Old Testament as Jehovah revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is a doctrine known originally as Sabellianism or modalism, although it is explained somewhat differently in the churches which hold these beliefs today. Examples of such churches today are Oneness Pentecostals and the New Church.
• Several denominations within Mormonism (including the largest, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) accept the divinity of Jesus, but believe the three persons of the Trinity to be separate. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically holds that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct individuals (D&C 130:22), but can and do act together in perfect unity as a single monotheistic entity (the "Godhead") for the common purpose of saving mankind, Jesus Christ having received divine investiture of authority from Heavenly Father in the pre-existence.
• Several denominations within the Sabbatarian Church of God and certain groups within Seventh-day Adventism accept the divinity of the Father and Jesus the Son, but do not teach that the Holy Spirit is a Being. The Living Church of God, for example, teaches, "The Holy Spirit is the very essence, the mind, life and power of God. It is not a Being. The Spirit is inherent in the Father and the Son, and emanates from Them throughout the entire universe". This view has historically been termed Semi-Arianism or Binitarianism.


kingdomready.org/topics/god.php
[ GOD IS 1 NOT 3 ]

Only the Father, Yahweh, is God. Jesus is the Son of God, His only begotten Son, the Messiah. The Bible emphatically and repeatedly sets forth Yahweh's supremacy and exclusivity. There are no other gods besides Him. God is all powerful, everywhere present, immortal, invisible, and all knowing. He did not become a man, His word (reason, intent, plan, self-expression) did. Jesus is the perfect human who always did what God wanted done and always spoke what God wanted said. In fact, it was Jesus who said that the Father is the only one who is truly God (John 17.3). Paul likewise confessed belief in a single deity when he said, "Yet, for us there is but one God, the Father...and one Lord, Jesus Christ..." (1 Corinthians 8.6). Below are resources that aim to describe what the Bible teaches not the philosophies of men.

Origins and basis for Nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarians claim the roots of their position go back farther than those of their counterpart Trinitarians. The biblical basis for each side of the issue is debated chiefly on the question of the divinity of Jesus. Nontrinitarians note that in deference to God, Jesus rejected even being called "good", that he disavowed omniscience as the Son,[1] and that he referred to ascending unto "my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, and to your God", and that he said "the Father is the only true God." Additionally, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4 when saying in Mark 12:29 "The most important one (commandment)," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."
Siding with nontrinitarians, scholars investigating the historical Jesus often assert that Jesus taught neither his own equality with God nor the Trinity (see, for example, the Jesus Seminar). Jesus Seminar is a research team of about 135 New Testament scholars founded in 1985 by the late Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan under the auspices of the Westar Institute.[1][2] The seminar's purpose is to use historical methods to determine what Jesus, as a historical figure, may or may not have said or done. In addition, the seminar popularizes research into the historical Jesus. The public is welcome to attend the twice-yearly meetings. They produced new translations of the New Testament plus the Gospel of Thomas to use as textual sources. They published their results in three reports The Five Gospels (1993),[3] The Acts of Jesus (1998),[4] and The Gospel of Jesus (1999).[5] They also run a series of lectures and workshops in various U.S. cities.
The text of the Nicene Creed and the Trinity state that the three are "coequal". This is the term actually used in the Doctrine. One might consider co-owners of a business as being equal owners but with different roles to play in operating the business. But nontrinitarians point to a very important statement by Jesus that contradicts the use of the term equal or "coequal". It is a simple passage where Jesus stated his explicit subordinance to the Father: "for my Father is Greater than I(John 14:28)."
In addition, the Trinity and the Nicene Creed were doctrines established over 300 years after the time of Christ on Earth as a result of conflict within the early Church. It is curious to note that Jesus had forewarned the reader in Matthew "beware the doctrines of men".
Some nontrinitarians accept that Scripture teaches Christ is divine in some sense, and the son of God, but deny the personality of the Holy Spirit.

Main Points of Dissent
1. The Trinity as being irrational
Criticism of the doctrine includes the argument that its "mystery" is essentially an inherent irrationality, where the persons of God are claimed to share completely a single divine substance, the "being of God", and yet not partake of each others' identity. It is also pointed out that many polytheistic pre-Christian religions arranged many of their gods in trinities, and that this doctrine may been promoted by Church leaders to make Christendom more acceptable to surrounding cultures.
2. Possible lack of Scriptural support
The New Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, says, "The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught [explicitly] in the [Old Testament]"[14], "The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established [by a council]...prior to the end of the 4th century"[15], and The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia adds, "The doctrine is not explicitly taught in the New Testament". The question, however, of why such a supposedly central doctrine to the Christian faith would never have been explicitly stated in scripture or taught in detail by Jesus himself was sufficiently important to 16th century historical figures such as Michael Servetus as to lead them to argue the question. The Geneva City Council, in accord with the judgment of the cantons of Zόrich, Bern, Basel, and Schaffhausen, condemned Servetus to be burned at the stake for this, and for his opposition to infant baptism.
3. Divinity of Jesus
For some, debate over the biblical basis of the doctrine tends to revolve chiefly over the question of the deity of Jesus (see Christology). Those who reject the divinity of Jesus argue among other things that Jesus rejected being called so little as good in deference to God (versus "the Father") , disavowed omniscience as the Son, "learned obedience" , and referred to ascending unto "my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, and to your God" .
They also dispute that "Elohim" denotes plurality, noting that this name in nearly all circumstances takes a singular verb and arguing that where it seems to suggest plurality, Hebrew grammar still indicates against it. They also point to statements by Jesus such as his declaration that the Father was greater than he or that he was not omniscient, in his statement that of a final day and hour not even he knew, but the Father , and to Jesus' being called the firstborn of creation and 'the beginning of God's creation,' which argues against his being eternal.
In Theological Studies #26 (1965) p.545-73, Does the NT call Jesus God?, Raymond E. Brown wrote that there are "texts that seem to imply that the title God was not used for Jesus" and are "negative evidence which is often somewhat neglected in Catholic treatments of the subject."
Trinitarians, and some non-Trinitarians such as the Modalists who also hold to the divinity of Jesus Christ, claim that these statements are based on the fact that Jesus existed as the Son of God in human flesh. Thus he is both God and man, who became "lower than the angels, for our sake" and who was tempted as humans are tempted, but did not sin .
Some Nontrinitarians counter the belief that the Son was limited only during his earthly life (Trinitarians believe, instead, that Christ retains full human nature even after his resurrection), by citing ("the head of Christ [is] God" [KJV]), written after Jesus had returned to Heaven, thus placing him still in an inferior relation to the Father. Additionally, they claim that Jesus became exalted after ascension to Heaven, and regarding Jesus as a distinct personality in Heaven, all after his ascension.
4. Possible un-Biblical terminology
Christian Unitarians, Restorationists, and others question the doctrine of the Trinity because it relies on non-Biblical terminology. The term "Trinity" is not found in scripture and the number three is never associated with God in any sense other than within the Comma Johanneum. Detractors hold that the only number ascribed to God in the Bible is One and that the Trinity, literally meaning three-in-one, ascribes a threeness to God that is not Biblical.
5. Many scriptural citations lack the Holy Spirit
It is also argued that the vast majority of scriptures that Trinitarians offer in support of their beliefs refer to the Father and to Jesus, but not to the Holy Spirit. This suggests that the concept of the trinity was not well-established in the early Christian community.
6. Whether it is truly monotheistic or not
The teaching is also pivotal to inter-religious disagreements with two of the other major faiths, Judaism and Islam; the former reject Jesus' divine mission entirely, the latter accepts Jesus as a human prophet just like Muhammad but rejects altogether the deity of Jesus. Many within Judaism and Islam also accuse Christian Trinitarians of practicing polytheism, of believing in three gods rather than just one. Islam holds that because Allah is unique and absolute (the concept of tawhid) the Trinity is impossible and has even been condemned as polytheistic. This is emphasized in the Qur'an which states "He (Allah) does not beget, nor is He begotten, And (there is) none like Him." (Qur'an, 112:3-4)
Scriptural texts cited as implying opposition
Among Bible verses cited by opponents of Trinitarianism are those that claim there is only one God, the Father. Other verses state that Jesus Christ was a man. Trinitarians explain these apparent contradictions by reference to the mystery and paradox of the Trinity itself. This is a partial list of verses implying opposition to Trinitarianism:

One God
• Matthew 4:10: "Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."'"
• John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
• 1Corinthians 8:5-6: "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live."
• 1Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"

The Son is subordinate to the Father
• Mark 13:32:"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
• John 5:19: "Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
• John 14:28: "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."
• John 17:20-23: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
• Colossians 1:15: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation."
• 1stCorinthians 15:24-28: "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all."
Jesus is not the old testament God
• John 2:16: And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
• Acts 3:13: The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up...
• John 20:17: Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God.
• Daniel 7:13: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
• Psalms 110:1: Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Ontological Differences Between "God" and Jesus
• John 17:1-3 Jesus prays to God.
• Hebrews 2:17,18 Hebrews 3:2 Jesus has faith in God.
• Acts 3:13 Jesus is a servant of God.
• Mark 13:32 Revelation 1:1 Jesus does not know things God knows.
• John 4:22 Jesus worships God.
• Revelation 3:12 Jesus has one who is God to him.
• 1stCorinthians 15:28 Jesus is in subjection to God.
• 1stCorinthians 11:1 Jesus' head is God.
• Hebrews 5:7 Jesus has reverent submission, fear, of God.
• Acts 2:36 Jesus is given lordship by God.
• Acts 5:31 Jesus is exalted by God.
• Hebrews 5:10 Jesus is made high priest by God.
• Philippians 2:9 Jesus is given aurthority by God.
• Luke 1:32,33 Jesus is given kingship by God.
• Acts 10:42 Jesus is given judgment by God.
• Acts 2:24, Romans 10.9, 1 Cor 15:15 "God raised [Jesus] from the dead".
• Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Acts 2:33, Romans 8:34 Jesus is at the right hand of God.
• 1 Tim 2:5 Jesus is the one human mediator between the one God and man.
• 1 Cor 15:24-28 God put everything, except Himself, under Jesus.

Alternate views to the Trinity
There have been numerous other views of the relations of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the most prominent include:
• Arius believed that the Son was subordinate to the Father, firstborn of all Creation. However, the Son did have Divine status. This view is very close to that of Jehovah's Witnesses.
• Ebionites believed that the Son was subordinate to the Father and nothing more than a special human.
• Marcion believed that there were two Deities, one of Creation / Hebrew Bible and one of the New Testament.
• Modalism states that God has taken numerous forms in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and that God has manifested Himself in three primary modes in regards to the salvation of mankind.
• Swedenborgianism holds that the Trinity exists in One Person, the Lord God Jesus Christ. The Father, the Being or soul of God, was born into the world and put on a body from Mary.
• The Urantia Book teaches that God is the first "Uncaused Cause" who is a personality that is omniscient, omnipresent, transcendent, infinite, eternal and omnipotent, but He is also a person of the Original Trinity - "The Paradise Trinity" who are the "First Source and Center, Second Source and Center, and Third Source and Center" or otherwise described as "God, The Eternal Son, and The Divine Holy Spirit".
• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka "Mormons," hold that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct individuals (Covenant 130:22), but can and do act together in perfect unity as a single monotheistic entity (the "Godhead") for the common purpose of saving mankind, Jesus Christ having received divine investiture of authority from Heavenly Father in the pre-existence.
• Docetism comes from the Greek: δοκηο (doceo), meaning "to seem." This view holds that Jesus only seemed to be human and only appeared to die.
• Adoptionism holds that Jesus was chosen on the event of his baptism to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and became divine upon resurrection.
• Rastafarians accept Haile Selassie I, the former (and last) emperor of Ethiopia, as Jah (the Rasta name for God incarnate, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible), and part of the Holy Trinity as the messiah promised to return in the Bible.
• Islam's Holy Book, the Quran, denounces the concept of Trinity (Qur'an 4:171, 5:72-73, 112:1-4), also in nonstandard forms, a Trinity composed of Father, Son and Mary (Qur'an 5:116). Inclusion of Mary in the presumed trinity may have been due to either a quasi-Christian sect known as the Collyridians in Arabia who apparently believed that Mary was divine, or use of the title "Mother of God" to refer to Mary.

Theory of pagan origin and influence
Nontrinitarian Christians have long contended that the doctrine of the Trinity is a prime example of Christian borrowing from pagan sources. According to this view, a simpler idea of God was lost very early in the history of the Church, through accommodation to pagan ideas, and the "incomprehensible" doctrine of the Trinity took its place. As evidence of this process, a comparison is often drawn between the Trinity and notions of a divine triad, found in pagan religions and Hinduism. Hinduism has a triad, i.e., Trimurti.
Some find a direct link between the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Egyptian theologians of Alexandria, for example. They suggest that Alexandrian theology, with its strong emphasis on the deity of Christ, was an intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.
Nontrinitarians assert that Catholics must have recognized the pagan roots of the trinity, because the allegation of borrowing was raised by some disputants during the time that the Nicene doctrine was being formalized and adopted by the bishops. For example, in the 4th century Catholic Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra's writings, On the Holy Church,9 :
Such a late date for a key term of Nicene Christianity, and attributed to a Gnostic, they believe, lends credibility to the charge of pagan borrowing. Marcellus was rejected by the Catholic Church for teaching a form of Sabellianism.
The early apologists, including Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Irenaeus, frequently discussed the parallels and contrasts between Christianity and the pagan and syncretic religions, and answered charges of borrowing from paganism in their apologetical writings.

Hellenic influences on Christian thought
Advocates of the "Hellenic origins" argument consider it well supported by primary sources. They see these sources as tracing the influence of Philo on post-Apostolic Christian philosophers - many of them ex-pagan Hellenic philosophers - who then interpreted Scripture through the Neoplatonic filter of their original beliefs and subsequently incorporated those interpretations into their theology. The early synthesis between Hellenic philosophy and early Christianity was certainly made easier by the fact that so many of the earliest apologists (such as Athenagoras and Justin Martyr) were Greek converts themselves, whose original beliefs had consisted more of philosophy than religion.

Controversy over Nontrinitarianism's Status
Most nontrinitarians identify themselves as Christian. In this regard The Encyclopedia Britannica states, "To some Christians the doctrine of the Trinity appeared inconsistent with the unity of God....They therefore denied it, and accepted Jesus Christ, not as incarnate God, but as God's highest creature by Whom all else was created....[this] view in the early Church long contended with the orthodox doctrine."This view (nonrtinitarian) “in the early church”, still supported by some Christians, generates controversy among mainstream Christians. Most members of mainstream Christianity considered it heresy not to believe in the Trinity.
Although some denominations require their members to profess faith in the trinity, most mainline denominations have taken a "hands-off" policy on the subject of the trinity, realizing that since personal study and free thought have been encouraged for years, it is not surprising that some of the conclusions reached would be nontrinitarian. The recognition here is that the trinity is tool for pointing to a greater truth. In other words, Christianity has historically sought to look beyond its doctrines (see Apophasis) to the greater truth they are intended to address, IE God. It is not uncommon for a Methodist, Presbyterian, or Anglican to profess non-trinitarian views, even among the clergy. The response from the governing bodies of those denominations is usually neutral, so long as the disagreement is voiced in respect.

Nontrinitarian Christian groups

• American Unitarian Conference
• Arian Catholicism
• Arianism
• Bible Students
• Christadelphians
• Christian Conventions a non-denominational group which publishes no dogmatic positions, but which a majority of observers classify as non-Trinitarian
• Church of Christ, Scientist
• Church of God General Conference (Abrahamic Faith)
• Church of the Blessed Hope (Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith)
• Creation Seventh Day Adventism
• Doukhobors
• Higher Ground Online
• Jehovah's Witnesses
• Living Church of God
• Living Hope International Ministries
• Molokan
• Monarchianism
• New Church
• Oneness Pentecostals
• Polish Brethren
• Socinianism
• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormon)
• The Way International
• Unification Church
• Unitarian Christians
• Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship
• Iglesia ni Cristo
• True Jesus Church


Nontrinitarian people

• Natalius, ~200
• Sabellius, ~220
• Paul of Samosata, 269
• Arius, 336
• Eusebius of Nicomedia, 341, baptized Constantine
• Constantius II, Byzantine Emperor, 361
• Antipope Felix II, 365
• Aλtius, 367
• Ulfilas, Apostle to the Goths, 383
• Priscillian, 385, considered first Christian to be executed for heresy
• Muhammad, 632, see also Isa
• Ludwig Haetzer, 1529
• Juan de Valdιs, 1541
• Michael Servetus, 1553, burned at the stake in Geneva under John Calvin
• Sebastian Castellio, 1563
• Ferenc Dαvid, 1579
• Fausto Paolo Sozzini, 1604
• John Biddle, 1662
• Thomas Aikenhead, 1697, last person to be hanged for blasphemy in Britain
• John Locke, 1704
• Isaac Newton, 1727
• William Whiston, 1752, expelled from University of Cambridge in 1710
• Jonathan Mayhew, 1766
• Emanuel Swedenborg, 1772
• Benjamin Franklin, 1790
• Joseph Priestley, 1804
• Joseph Smith, 1805
• Thomas Paine, 1809
• Thomas Jefferson, 1826
• James Madison, 1836
• William Ellery Channing, 1842
• Robert Hibbert, 1849
• John Thomas (Christadelphian), 1871
• Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1882
• Benjamin Wilson, 18??
• James Martineau, 1900
• Charles Taze Russell, 1916
• Neville Chamberlain, 1940
• William Branham, 1965
• Herbert W. Armstrong, 1986


UNİTARİANİSM
Unitarianism is the belief in the oneness of God opposed to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one God). Unitarians believe in the moral authority, but not the deity, of Jesus.

Unitarianism as a system of Christian thought and religious observance has its basis, as opposed to that of orthodox Trinitarianism, in the unipersonality of the Christian Godhead, i.e. in the idea that the Godhead exists in the person of the Father alone. Unitarians trace their history back to the Apostolic age, claim for their doctrine a prevalence during the ante-Nicene period. A small number of Unitarians claim a continuity through Arian communities and individual thinkers to the present time.

ARİANİSM
God the Father ("unbegotten"), always existing, was separate from the lesser Jesus Christ ("only-begotten"), born before time began and creator of the world. The Father, working through the Son, created the Holy Spirit, who was subservient to the Son as the Son was to the Father. The Father was seen as "the only true God."

Arianism refers to the theological positions made famous by the theologian Arius (c. 250-336 AD), who lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early 4th century. The controversial teachings of Arius dealt with the relationship between God the Father and the person of Jesus Christ, a relationship known as the doctrine of the Trinity.

While Arianism continued to dominate for several decades even within the family of the Emperor, the Imperial nobility and higher ranking clergy, in the end it was Trinitarianism which prevailed theologically and politically in the Roman Empire at the end of the fourth century. Arianism, which had been taught by the Arian missionary Ulfilas to the Germanic tribes, was dominant for some centuries among several Germanic tribes in western Europe, especially Goths and Longobards, but ceased to be the mainstream belief by the 8th Century AD. Trinitarianism remained the dominant doctrine in all major branches of the Eastern and Western Church and within Protestantism, although there have been several anti-trinitarian movements, some of which acknowledge various similarities to classical Arianism.

ANOMOEAN

In 4th century Christianity, the Anomœans, also known as Anomeans, Heterousians, Aetians, or Eunomians, were a sect of Arians who asserted that Jesus Christ (the Son) was of a different nature and in no way like to that of God (the Father).

The word is from Greek α(ν)- 'not' and όμοίος 'similar' i.e. "different; dissimilar".

In the 4th century, this was the name by which the followers of Aλtius and Eunomius were distinguished; they not only denied the consubstantiality of Jesus but even asserted that he was of a nature different from that of God. This was in contradistinction to the semi-Arians, who indeed denied the consubstantiality of Jesus, but believed at the same time that he was like the Father.


ARİANİSM İN THE EARLY MEDİEVAL GERMANİC KİNGDOMS
During the time of Arianism's flowering in Constantinople, the Gothic convert Ulfilas (later the subject of the letter of Auxentius cited above) was sent as a missionary to the Gothic barbarians across the Danube, a mission favored for political reasons by emperor Constantius II. Ulfilas' initial success in converting this Germanic people to an Arian form of Christianity was strengthened by later events. When the Germanic peoples entered the Roman Empire and founded successor-kingdoms in the western part, most had been Arian Christians for more than a century.

The conflict in the 4th century had seen Arian and Nicene factions struggling for control of the Church. In contrast, in the Arian German kingdoms established on the wreckage of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, there were entirely separate Arian and Nicene Churches with parallel hierarchies, each serving different sets of believers. The Germanic elites were Arians, and the majority population Nicene.

The Franks were unique among the Germanic peoples in that they entered the empire as pagans and converted to Nicene Christianity directly.


"ARİAN" AS A POLEMİCAL EPITHET

Like the Arians, many groups have embraced the belief that Jesus is not the one God, but a separate being subordinate to the Father, and that Jesus at one time did not exist. Some of these profess, as the Arians did, that God made all things through the pre-existent Christ. Some profess that Jesus became divine, through exaltation, just as the Arians believed. Drawing a parallel between these groups and Arians can be useful for distinguishing a type of unbelief in the Trinity.

Those whose religious beliefs have been compared to or labeled as Arianism include:

*Unitarians, who believe that God is one as opposed to a Trinity, and many of whom believe in the moral authority, but not the deity, of Jesus. Arianism is considered to be an antecedent of Unitarian Universalism.

*Jehovah's Witnesses, who do have some similar beliefs to Arius, namely, that Jesus had a pre-human existence as the Logos. However, Arius viewed the Holy Spirit as a person, whereas Jehovah's Witnesses do not attribute personality to the spirit. Jehovah's Witnesses also, unlike Arians, deny belief in a disembodied soul after death, eternal punishment in hell for the unrepentantly wicked, and episcopacy.

*Christadelphians, along with the Church of the Blessed Hope, believe that Jesus' pre-natal existence was a conceptual Logos, rather than a literal Logos.

*Mormons, followers of the various churches of the Latter Day Saint movement, who believe in the unity in purpose of the Godhead but that Jesus is a divine being distinct from, and created by, God the Father, but similar in every other respect (thus roughly Homoiousian rather than Anomoean). Thus, Jesus is literally (spiritually) the Firstborn of the Father. Also in line with Arianism, Mormons believe that the pre-incarnate Jesus (the Logos of John 1) created the Earth under the direction of the Father. In fact, they go further than most on this point, equating the pre-existent Jesus with Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament (perhaps as a spokesman for the Father, for whom they reserve the Old Testament title Elohim). Although the LDS Church views the doctrinal schisms of the late Roman Empire as a sure sign of the Great Apostasy, they do not officially claim any allegiance to Arius.

*Muslims, who believe that Jesus (generally called Isa), was a Messenger and Prophet of the one God, but not himself divine.

*Michael Servetus, a Spanish scholar and Protestant reformer, is viewed by many Unitarians as a founding figure. In 1553, he was sentenced to death and burned at the stake by his fellow reformers, including John Calvin, for the heresy of Antitrinitarianism, a Christology that may seem similar in some ways to Arianism. However, Servetus rejected Arius's teaching on the Son being a creature created by the Father, and his theology was actually closer to Sabellianism.

*Unpublished writings by Isaac Newton indicate that he held anti-Trinitarian beliefs and regarded the worship of Jesus Christ as God to be idolatrous.[2] He did not publicize these views, which could have cost him his fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has been described by modern scholars as a secret Arian.[3]

*Spanish liberation theologian Juan Josι Tamayo was accused in 2003 of defending "a renewed version of the old Arian error" which is "incompatible with the Catholic faith", by the Spanish Bishops' Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith, because of his theological positions published in several of his books about the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. Tamayo has up to now rejected the Bishops' demand to stop writing on this issue.[4]
THE THEOLOGİAN JUAN JOSE TAMAYO, ADMONİSHED BY İTS İNCOMPATİBLE İDEAS "WİTH THE CATHOLİC FAİTH"
ABC MADRID.
His book "God and Jesus", written by the secretary of the Association of Theologians and Theologians Juan XXIII, Juan Jose Tamayo Acosta, when considering that their conclusions "are incompatible with the catholic doctrine".
Frontal rejection of the tradition of the Church in its cristolσgicas definitions, arbitrary selection - not justified of passages of the New Testament with the express abandonment of others and interpretation of such according to confused criteria that do not specify ". In the same way,negation of the divinity of Jesus Christ, presentation of Jesus like a mere man, negation of the historical and real character of the resurrection, and this one like fundamental data of the Christian faith ".


THE THEOLOGICAL DEBATES REOPEN AFTER COUNCIL OF NICEA.

The Council of Nicea had not ended the controversy, as many bishops of the Eastern provinces disputed the homoousios, the central term of the Nicene creed, as it had been used by Paul of Samosata, who had advocated a monarchianist Christology. Both the man and his teaching, including the term homoousios, had been condemned by the Synods of Antioch in 269.

Hence, after Constantine's death in 337, open dispute resumed again. Constantine's son Constantius II, who had become Emperor of the eastern part of the Empire, actually encouraged the Arians and set out to reverse the Nicene creed.

Constantius used his power to exile bishops adhering to the Nicene creed, especially Athanasius of Alexandria, who fled to Rome. In 355 Constantius became the sole Emperor and extended his pro-Arian policy toward the western provinces, frequently using force to push through his creed.

As debates raged in an attempt to come up with a new formula, three camps evolved among the opponents of the Nicene creed.

The first group mainly opposed the Nicene terminology and preferred the term homoiousios (alike in substance) to the Nicene homoousios, while they rejected Arius and his teaching and accepted the equality and coeternality of the persons of the Trinity.

The second group also avoided invoking the name of Arius, but in large part followed Arius' teachings and, in another attempted compromise wording, described the Son as being like (homoios) the Father.

A third group explicitly called upon Arius and described the Son as unlike (anhomoios) the Father. Constantius wavered in his support between the first and the second party, while harshly persecuting the third.

The debates between these groups resulted in numerous synods, among them the Council of Sardica in 343, the Council of Sirmium in 358 and the double Council of Rimini and Selecia in 359, and no less than fourteen further creed formulas between 340 and 360, leading the pagan observer Ammianus Marcellinus to comment sarcastically: "The highways were covered with galloping bishops." None of these attempts were acceptable to the defenders of Nicene orthodoxy: writing about the latter councils, Saint Jerome remarked that the world "awoke with a groan to find itself Arian."

After Constantius' death in 361, his successor Julian, a devotee of Rome's pagan gods, declared that he would no longer attempt to favor one church faction over another, and allowed all exiled bishops to return; this had the objective of further increasing dissension among Christians. The Emperor Valens, however, revived Constantius' policy and supported the "Homoian" party, exiling bishops and often using force.

Valens died in the Battle of Adrianople in 378 and was succeeded by Theodosius I, who adhered to the Nicene creed. This allowed for settling the dispute.

Two days after Theodosius arrived in Constantinople, November 24, 380, he expelled the Homoian bishop. Theodosius had just been baptized, by bishop Acholius of Thessalonica, during a severe illness, as was common in the early Christian world. In February he and Gratian published an edict that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria (i.e., the Nicene faith), or be handed over for punishment for not doing so.

In 381, at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, a group of mainly Eastern bishops assembled and accepted the Nicene Creed of 381, which was supplemented in regard to the Holy Spirit, as well as some other changes, see Comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381. This is generally considered the end of the dispute about the Trinity and the end of Arianism among the Roman, non-Germanic peoples. 

Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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