Until recently most Christians held the doctrine of the trinity as sacred, but with the advent of the information age Christians are demanding more than vague explanations, they want the certainty of truth for their belief. On the Internet today, there are hundreds of uncensored sites devoted to the Trinity Doctrine pro and con. however after a careful study, the history of the doctrine of the trinity is not as favorable to Trinitarianís as they would like to think.
One of the most difficult tasks of any author is to read through the historic writings of the church to study the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Like reading the King James Bible, most of the trouble I had was to understand the vintage of the language and the archaic words that are no longer in use today. The dictionary has proven helpful to understand the words used by historians and commentators. What I found was the majority of the church fathers supported the trinity by consensus.
A number of commentaries supported their theories with excellent reasoning, some were intellectual and others were emotional and some obviously lack a scriptural foundation. In other cases, the arguments supporting their view were at their best cliffhangers letting you know that they believed in the trinity, but without supporting their reasoning. Some of the opposing positions to the trinity are held by some groups include Binitarianism (two deities), Unitarianism (one deity), the Godhead (Latter Day Saints) (three separate beings, one in purpose) and Modalism (Oneness). Well obviously something is wrong when the number of persons within the Godhead men can be hotly disputed and all three views are derived from the Holy Scriptures. How can anyone be absolutely sure of the proper number shy of seeing the Godhead in person? Hasnít God inspired the word of God so man is without excuse? Hasnít God given man an understanding into the divine nature through what God created? (see Romans 1:19.)
I hate to admit it, but I found comfort in the statements from a number of commentaries that supported my beliefs. That kind of support helps when you know you are not the only one questioning certain issues about God. Commentaries are supposed to give you new ideas to think over, but the majority of opinions left my questions unanswered. The one thing I know is that I will be deceived if I canít see the divine nature of God from his perspective. After examining several commentaries, I found a great deal of support for the trinity came within human reasoning of the scripture rather than what the Scripture said. Therefore, more study would be needed to find answers that were more reliable.
A former pastor asked me how could so many be wrong about the trinity for so long and I was not able to respond for several weeks. Although the answer was simple, the church taught their beliefs from the revelation they had at the time. However, they were also the authority that controlled and maintained the doctrine in its current state. They had the monopoly on the doctrine.
The gospel was preached after the death of Christ from memory by the apostles who personally knew Christ. These men saw, touched, heard his voice and had conversations with the Son of God. John was the last apostle who died around the end of the first century and the line of witnesses who had first hand knowledge of Christ died with him. God foresaw their death as a barrier that would block the knowledge about his plans for mankind. Before the Apostles died, God used them to write letters to the church to convey his message to mankind. This gave the person seeking God a first hand, accurate and historic account of God'sí involvement with mankind. During this time Jesus Christ answered the questions of life and explained the relationship God was seeking.
In the manuscripts written by the apostles of the New Testament era none of the writers referred to God as three persons or as a triune being. Somewhere between the death of the apostle John and 325 AD the doctrine of the Holy Spirit sprouted. Those who knew the apostles continued to preach the Gospel wherever they went, but they died in the normal course of time. The preaching of the gospel continued, but this is about the time the church began to divide into different sects and taught the word of God as they saw fit. However, the word of God passed through thousands of minds with the outcome of differing opinions.
God in his infinite wisdom instructed the prophets of the New Testament to write his word on parchment paper and send them to other churches as letters. What seem strange to me are the greetings the prophets used to define the message being sent through God. Paul greeted the churches in the name of God the father and Jesus Christ. James, John, Peter, and Jude greeted the church as servants of God and of Jesus Christ. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit was missing from their greetings and those who wrote the New Testament were completely unaware that the Holy Spirit was the third person of God or member of the divine nature.
Letís also consider the literacy level of the world at that time as very few in the congregation could read as people do today. The means to reproduce and print multiple copies of the New Testament had not yet been developed. Public schools did not exist and the majority of people were not taught to read or write. In some churches the inability to read God'sí word was limited to those who were taught to read from the parchments. At that time, the letters written to the churches by the Apostles had not been canonized to become the New Testament we are using today. Today the word of God has been reproduced on a large scale, but the traditional teachings are still around to confuse issues.
About a hundred and fifty years after the death of the Apostle John a man by the name of Tertullian came into prominence. Born the son of a Roman Centurion he was educated in the arts and sciences of his day. As an adult, he practiced law in Rome and after conversion to Christianity, used his passion for Greek literature to interpret scripture. Tertullian developed the love to study God's word and began to write his beliefs in a precise manner. Today, a large number of his writings have been established as tenets of the church. Tertullian gained fame in the church when he coined the Latin word "Trinitas" from which the word trinity is derived. In other words, the word we know as trinity had its origin at least a hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ and perhaps the last living Apostle. This is the primary reason the word trinity is not found in the bible.
Church history began to change when Constantine the Great emperor of Rome saw the need to unite his empire. Some say Constantine converted to Christianity while others say his deeds tell a different story. In time, Constantine developed the policy of tolerance towards Christians and by 311 AD, the church was splintered into several factions over who Jesus was. Constantine knew how to unify his empire and saw the need to unify the beliefs about Jesus Christ. The question being, was Christ created or did Christ exist at the beginning of time? The church was close to confusion and disarray over this issue.
The first ecumenical council was convened in 325 AD by Constantine the Great, emperor of Rome, primarily to settle the dispute concerning the nature of Jesus Christ. Constantine presided over the church council calling the 318 bishops in attendance to order. The keynote speaker was Eusebius the Bishop of Caesarea, who was held in high esteem and considered one of the most educated men of his time.
Amazing, as it was, Eusebius was unwilling to discuss the nature of the Trinity, but preferred the simpler language of the Scriptures to theories. The main purpose of council was to establish the deity of the Son, however, the council also chose to satisfy the Trinitarians attending with the following statement. "And (we believe) in the Holy Ghost." Note: The bishops that wrote the Nicaea creed simply declared their faith in the Holy Spirit, without defining his nature.
The second ecumenical council convened fifty-six years later that further developed the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The majority of bishops drafted a resolution stating the Son of God was "begotten not made," and consubstantial from the Greek word "homoousios" meaning "of the same substance or essential nature. However, the resolution contained words the group of Arians disputed as unscriptural. After long discussions and possible heated debates the ruling council of 381 AD finalized their discussions with this creed: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father. Together with the Father and the Son, he is adored and glorified." The doctrine of the Holy Spirit sprung to life by the majority vote of the Bishops present.
The ecumenical councils that followed developed the doctrine of the Holy Spirit further. The third Council of Toledo developed the filioque clause in 589 AD and added the phrase "and from the Son" to the Nicene Creed. The filioque clause changed the origin of the Holy Spirit by saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. This filioque clause determined the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the father and son, but opened other questions. Was the Holy Spirit created or was he from the beginning? If the Holy Spirit came from the Father and Son as this clause states than the Holy Spirit may be considered created. However, if the Holy Spirit is God, his origin has to be like the Father and Son, existing from the beginning of time.
The issues of the church about the doctrine of the trinity were discussed and added to the church tenets to unify the Church. The tenets helped the leadership of the Church to develop mission statements and policies or guidelines by which they operate and keep the church unified. In other words, with church tenets, the church in Atlanta, Georgia will teach the same doctrine as the church in Houston, Texas and the church in Eugene, Oregon etc.
Teaching carries a responsibility first to God then to the Church. Once the doctrines of the church are established, those in authority made decisions regarding how and what is taught based on their beliefs. The problem being, the Pentecostal theme is not taught in the same magnitude in a Holiness church nor would Holiness theme be taught in the same light that a Pentecostal Church would. Due to the denominational themes we can reason that there is no such thing as a full gospel church when any church is dominated by a theme.
When anyone deviates from the teaching the accepted tenants of the church, they can lose their teaching credentials or be deprived of membership. It seems as if those in authority donít want criticism or having anyone teaching anything other than the church doctrines. Excommunication is a powerful tool, but should anyone stray from the trinity doctrine, the term blasphemy of the Spirit is tossed in his or her face. Why is it when you do not conform to the church beliefs you suddenly change from a member of good standing to a heretic? If Christ can accept you the way you are why canít the church do the same?
Have we forgotten that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church? The church has God's best interest in mind but it also defends itself against those who stray from the tenants of the church. The church has unintentionally developed a powerful means to keep its members from the doctrines established by its denomination. The question was asked: Why has so many believed the doctrine of the trinity for so long? Have you ever been in a church that did not shun views that donít agree with theirs and have been ushered into a private room because your beliefs conflicted with theirs?
The author has no intention of degrading the church policies in general, but by reason of experience has been asked to leave one church, insulted before the congregation of another and has been excommunicated because of his beliefs. The fault may be with the author as he reveals the treasures of his heart (the word of God) without regard to what men think. Letís also remember that those chosen by God to carry messages to the people were,
They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- Hebrews 11:37
'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' Luke 11:49
The author has learned from personal study not to blindly follow the church doctrines, even though the church thinking they are doing God service will in that process persecute its members. The author has also learned to demand a verifiable explanation from the scriptures to establish his own beliefs. Just as you are not under an obligation I am not under the obligation to follow the crowd or the doctrine of the church. God is my commander and I have the responsibility to worship God in truth and in spirit. Verifying the truth is a moral obligation for anyone who teaches the word of God as what you teach affects the lives of your students and deceive them. Eternal Salvation is too great a prize to let anyone but my Father in heaven tell me what to believe or how to run my life. Therefore, no one should be expected to believe a church tenet with his or her entire heart without being able to test the tenet for validity.
The answer to the question, How could so many be wrong about the trinity for so long? Look at the church practices to enforce its uniformity. Praise the Lord, those who study the church doctrines have raised questions pertaining to the trinity several times over the last century. However, those questions were made in more in passing than raising a ruckus over the questions involved. That is where the author stands, all he wants to do is to present evidence that Trinitarians have not considered without disrupting the church in the process.