Poll

Can One Be Christian Without Believing in the Trinity?

Yes
2 (6.5%)
No
27 (87.1%)
Other (specify)
2 (6.5%)
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Total Members Voted: 31

Author Topic: The Trinity  (Read 3339 times)

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Offline JamesR

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The Trinity
« on: July 26, 2015, 03:29:46 AM »
This is sort of inspired by the Resurrection thread, but one question I've always had is this: can one be a Christian without believing in the Trinity?

NOTE: Notice I never said "deny." I mean to simply just not believe in it.

I know that the Trinity is essential to Christianity, an integral foundation of our theology itself, and that the Church vehemently condemns the denial of it. I am not contesting this, nor am I contesting the doctrine itself.

But what I am asking is if it's really necessary for someone to believe in it.

For example, I have trouble believing that 1st century Jews and other simpletons would have really believed in the Trinity. The New Testament itself is silent about it, at least explicitly. The message always seemed to be that Christ is Risen, our God fulfilled his promise, salvation has come to the world etc.

That said, is it really necessary that someone ignorant to the Trinity would have to believe in it in order to be Christian? Because if so, I really doubt that most of the early Church believed in it. That's not to say that they willfully denied it--in which case, they would be heretics for not trusting the Church's authority--but that they simply were ignorant of it and therefore did not believe it.

So is believe in the Trinity necessary to be Christian? Even for the most simpleminded early convert peasant whose only understanding of Christianity would be that Christ is Risen? I can't help but see the doctrine as merely a matter of intellect--something that those knowledgable within the Church would have to believe since they are aware of it, but something that the vast majority of the Church wouldn't believe in, not because of denial, but simply because of ignorance and let's face it, its irrelevance to the main message that Christ is Risen. Sort of like heychasm, the essence-energy thing, and other really confusing dogmas which the Church affirms but which the vast majority is ignorant of.

So do you really consciously have to affirm belief in the Trinity to be Christian? I honestly don't think so. And until I see evidence that the earliest Christians--not just the educated, privileged Fathers and theologians, but the average layman--actually affirmed it, I'm not going to be convinced otherwise. Again, it seems like a doctrine which was mostly just confined to the educated like the essence-energies things before the Arian controversy later forced the Church to educate her laymen on it, but before then, I don't think it was necessary.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2015, 10:21:02 AM »
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Offline Theophania

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2015, 10:23:13 AM »
YeshuaIsIAm Joseph Smith, is that you?
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Offline WPM

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2015, 10:34:39 AM »
Its the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (The Trinity)
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 10:34:56 AM by WPM »
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Offline WPM

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2015, 10:40:41 AM »
This is sort of inspired by the Resurrection thread, but one question I've always had is this: can one be a Christian without believing in the Trinity?

NOTE: Notice I never said "deny." I mean to simply just not believe in it.

I know that the Trinity is essential to Christianity, an integral foundation of our theology itself, and that the Church vehemently condemns the denial of it. I am not contesting this, nor am I contesting the doctrine itself.

But what I am asking is if it's really necessary for someone to believe in it.

For example, I have trouble believing that 1st century Jews and other simpletons would have really believed in the Trinity. The New Testament itself is silent about it, at least explicitly. The message always seemed to be that Christ is Risen, our God fulfilled his promise, salvation has come to the world etc.

That said, is it really necessary that someone ignorant to the Trinity would have to believe in it in order to be Christian? Because if so, I really doubt that most of the early Church believed in it. That's not to say that they willfully denied it--in which case, they would be heretics for not trusting the Church's authority--but that they simply were ignorant of it and therefore did not believe it.

So is believe in the Trinity necessary to be Christian? Even for the most simpleminded early convert peasant whose only understanding of Christianity would be that Christ is Risen? I can't help but see the doctrine as merely a matter of intellect--something that those knowledgable within the Church would have to believe since they are aware of it, but something that the vast majority of the Church wouldn't believe in, not because of denial, but simply because of ignorance and let's face it, its irrelevance to the main message that Christ is Risen. Sort of like heychasm, the essence-energy thing, and other really confusing dogmas which the Church affirms but which the vast majority is ignorant of.

So do you really consciously have to affirm belief in the Trinity to be Christian? I honestly don't think so. And until I see evidence that the earliest Christians--not just the educated, privileged Fathers and theologians, but the average layman--actually affirmed it, I'm not going to be convinced otherwise. Again, it seems like a doctrine which was mostly just confined to the educated like the essence-energies things before the Arian controversy later forced the Church to educate her laymen on it, but before then, I don't think it was necessary.

So what are you really trying to say? ...  :laugh:
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Offline Theophania

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2015, 10:53:22 AM »
Its the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (The Trinity)

Yes, that's what the Trinity is.
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Offline Alpo

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2015, 11:23:32 AM »
I tend to take sociological approach on definition of being a Christian. If a person is a product of Christian culture and/or identifies as a Christian then he/she is a Christian. In the religious sense being a Christian is linked to the membership of the Church but as colloquial language is separate from theology the sociological approach is more convenient.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2015, 01:46:21 PM »
The earliest Christian communities believed in the Father, and that the Father is God.  They believed that the Father sent His only Son, and that He became the physical embodiment of the divine will of the Father, and that all glory and majesty is due not just to the Father, but also to His Son, Jesus Christ.  The earliest community also believed in the Holy Spirit as something distinct from the Father and the Son, sent by the Son to His Church for the establishment of His Church.  By the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures were inspired and written, and by the Holy Spirit, people were baptized and anointed into the Church, and become co-heirs and sons to the Father similar in a way to Christ, and that like Christ, they will be risen from the dead by this same Holy Spirit.  This was the earliest and most basic ancient Christian belief, and the people believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 01:49:34 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline ZealousZeal

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2015, 01:48:05 PM »
Are you attempting to ask if one can be a Christian without perfectly understanding the Trinity?
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Offline FinnJames

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2015, 01:55:06 PM »
I voted 'other' in the poll since I know a couple Unitarians who say they're Christians.

Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2015, 01:58:26 PM »
I voted "no," since the doctrine of the Trinity is fundamental to Christianity. In the sociological sense, there are plenty of "Christian" groups that do not believe in the Trinity, or practice baptism, etc., but in the "full" sense, they cannot be Christians.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2015, 02:03:35 PM »
This is sort of inspired by the Resurrection thread, but one question I've always had is this: can one be a Christian without believing in the Trinity?

NOTE: Notice I never said "deny." I mean to simply just not believe in it.

What is the difference between "denial" and "unbelief"? 

Quote
For example, I have trouble believing that 1st century Jews and other simpletons would have really believed in the Trinity. The New Testament itself is silent about it, at least explicitly. The message always seemed to be that Christ is Risen, our God fulfilled his promise, salvation has come to the world etc.

First of all, just because they lived two thousand years before JamesR walked the Northern California doesn't mean they were simpletons. 

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I think you have something of a point in that the apostolic preaching about which we read in the NT is focused primarily on the Pascha of Christ and how it is the fulfillment of God's promises for our salvation.  They didn't start by explaining Trinitarian theology.  But I think it would be a mistake to think that they did not believe in the Trinity, could not believe in it, did not talk about it, etc.  Unfortunately, you make that mistake. 

Besides, you speak as if "Christ is risen" is not complicated.  Throughout the NT we see that the resurrection was something scoffed at as a fairy tale by "non-simpletons".  The resurrection is not easy-peasy stuff while the Trinity is hopelessly complex and esoteric.  They're both "simple" and "incomprehensible". 

Quote
That said, is it really necessary that someone ignorant to the Trinity would have to believe in it in order to be Christian? Because if so, I really doubt that most of the early Church believed in it. That's not to say that they willfully denied it--in which case, they would be heretics for not trusting the Church's authority--but that they simply were ignorant of it and therefore did not believe it.

If I'm a Hindu and I'm ignorant of the Christian teaching of the Trinity, and someone teaches me about Christ, I may come to believe.  But to become a Christian, I have to be baptised, and how do we baptise people?  Oh, that's right...in the name of the Trinity, during the course of a service in which the Trinity is proclaimed and confessed all over the place. 

At some point, you will have to deal with "the Trinity" in order to be Christian. 

Quote
So is believe in the Trinity necessary to be Christian? Even for the most simpleminded early convert peasant whose only understanding of Christianity would be that Christ is Risen? I can't help but see the doctrine as merely a matter of intellect--something that those knowledgable within the Church would have to believe since they are aware of it, but something that the vast majority of the Church wouldn't believe in, not because of denial, but simply because of ignorance and let's face it, its irrelevance to the main message that Christ is Risen. Sort of like heychasm, the essence-energy thing, and other really confusing dogmas which the Church affirms but which the vast majority is ignorant of.

I doubt most Orthodox could tell you much about Trinitarian theology.  They could probably tell you that there are three divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but there is only one God, not three.  If they pay attention to the liturgical services, they may have a few more words to use with which to describe that belief, but not much more than that.  That's not enough to write a book on Trinitarian theology and become a world-renowned Trinitarian theologian at some major university, but it is enough to believe in the Trinity.

The "really confusing dogmas" are actually rather simple.  They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.  The "really confusing" part is there to set boundaries within which we are safe, but outside of which we are in danger.  It's good to study and know those things, but not knowing them the way some church fathers or scholars know them isn't going to be a hindrance to one's spiritual life.  That doesn't mean, however, that everything is unnecessary. 

Quote
So do you really consciously have to affirm belief in the Trinity to be Christian? I honestly don't think so. And until I see evidence that the earliest Christians--not just the educated, privileged Fathers and theologians, but the average layman--actually affirmed it, I'm not going to be convinced otherwise. Again, it seems like a doctrine which was mostly just confined to the educated like the essence-energies things before the Arian controversy later forced the Church to educate her laymen on it, but before then, I don't think it was necessary.

You are quite mistaken. 
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Offline Napoletani

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2015, 03:18:47 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity? The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2015, 03:59:50 PM »
The Creed does not mention the word "Trinity," but it does profess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as God.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2015, 04:44:23 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity?

Which "people saved in the NT"? 

Quote
The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.

I don't think anyone supposes the "Good Thief" to represent a typical case.  If he was, then thievery and murder are paths to sanctification. 
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Offline JamesR

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2015, 05:54:24 PM »
Are you attempting to ask if one can be a Christian without perfectly understanding the Trinity?

Sorta-kinda.

What I'm asking is one has to consciously affirm belief in the Trinity in order to be Christian.

For example, we have to consciously affirm belief in the Resurrection to be Christian since the Resurrection is Christianity itself. What I'm asking is if the Trinity is another doctrine like this--something that has to consciously be affirmed otherwise you're not Christian by definition.

This is what I have trouble with. Again, I believe there is a difference between denial and disbelief. The former means to consciously disbelieve and implies that one accepts their own understanding over the Church. The latter means simple ignorance. Can someone be Christian while being ignorant of the Trinity? Or do they have to consciously affirm belief in it just like the Resurrection?

I just have trouble believing that if I were to go back to 1st century Palestine and interview the first Christians--again, not the theologians, wealthy, and intellects like the Fathers--but the everyday laymen, that they would really affirm the Trinity. I imagine they would mostly be ignorant of it. Again, ignorance isn't the same as denial. I'm sure if I informed them that their Church affirms the Trinity and then asked the same question again, they would answer yes simply because they trust the Church's authority on doctrinal matters (even if it exceeds their understanding).

But it just seems very illogical to me to assume that the Trinity was always so fundamental like the Resurrection that every single layman had to consciously affirm belief in it to be Christian. The message of the New Testament seems to be Pascha. Whenever the apostles preached, they never said "Christ is Risen! And turns out our Jewish God you once thought is just one is actually 3 persons undivided in 1 essence!"

That's not to say it wasn't always a doctrine of the Church and that the intellects didn't always affirm it. But I have trouble believing that every single laymen consciously affirmed it, and thus with the notion that you have to consciously affirm it like the Trinity to be Christian.

That just seems reactionary to the Arian controversy which probably forced the Church to make the Trinity a matter of more importance than it previously was.

Offline JamesR

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2015, 05:59:16 PM »
What is the difference between "denial" and "unbelief"?

The former is a conscious decision to trust your own understanding over the Church's. The latter is just ignorance. For example, there are many things in our theology which I do not understand, and therefore disbelieve in since belief would require proper understanding. But I wouldn't say I deny them. Against my better judgment, I still trust the Church, even in matters that exceed my understanding. Essentially it seems that there doctrines in Christianity which you have to consciously affirm belief in to be Christian, and there are those that you can remain ignorant of (and thus disbelieve in).

What I'm questioning is if the Trinity really falls under the first category. It seems more like the latter to me. I can understand why we would come to see it as being of the first sort, given the Arian controversy and all, but it seems like historical revisionism to read a change back into history.

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2015, 06:01:12 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2015, 06:04:18 PM »
What is the difference between "denial" and "unbelief"?

The former is a conscious decision to trust your own understanding over the Church's. The latter is just ignorance. For example, there are many things in our theology which I do not understand, and therefore disbelieve in since belief would require proper understanding. But I wouldn't say I deny them. Against my better judgment, I still trust the Church, even in matters that exceed my understanding. Essentially it seems that there doctrines in Christianity which you have to consciously affirm belief in to be Christian, and there are those that you can remain ignorant of (and thus disbelieve in).

"Ignorance" =/= "disbelief"

Quote
What I'm questioning is if the Trinity really falls under the first category. It seems more like the latter to me. I can understand why we would come to see it as being of the first sort, given the Arian controversy and all, but it seems like historical revisionism to read a change back into history.

Nope.  See the rest of my earlier post. 
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2015, 06:15:30 PM »
Quote
Can One Be Christian Without Believing in the Trinity?

I chose "other" because I just don't know.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2015, 06:19:42 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2015, 06:23:02 PM »
If one can be a Christian without believing in the Trinity, then the Church wasted a lot of time and effort for the first few hundred years of its existence. 
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2015, 06:23:50 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.

The True OrthodoxTM don't recite the Creed during Liturgy?
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2015, 06:25:49 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.

The True OrthodoxTM don't recite the Creed during Liturgy?

Of course we do, but some so-called "True Orthodox" are Orthodox in name only. It is the converts who are on fire.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 06:26:17 PM by Maria »
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Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2015, 06:32:11 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.

The True OrthodoxTM don't recite the Creed during Liturgy?

Of course we do, but some so-called "True Orthodox" are Orthodox in name only. It is the converts who are on fire.


So converts to 'True Orthodoxy' are now truer than True?


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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2015, 06:45:39 PM »
Every single first century Palestinian "layman" will tell you they were or their kids were baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2015, 06:54:28 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.

The True OrthodoxTM don't recite the Creed during Liturgy?

Of course we do, but some so-called "True Orthodox" are Orthodox in name only. It is the converts who are on fire.


So converts to 'True Orthodoxy' are now truer than True?

lol
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2015, 06:56:09 PM »
I fail to see how one can be 'ignorant of the Trinity' while chanting the Creed every Sunday. Never mind attending a single Theophany service.

Some folks never attend Sunday School or adult religious education classes.

The True OrthodoxTM don't recite the Creed during Liturgy?

Of course we do, but some so-called "True Orthodox" are Orthodox in name only. It is the converts who are on fire.


So converts to 'True Orthodoxy' are now truer than True?

Yes, just like converts to Roman Catholicism are zealous and are often warned not to be holier than the pope, so likewise new converts to Eastern Orthodox are sometimes warned not to be holier than Patriarch Bartholomew.  There have been several humorous blogs on convertitis and the things that they do.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2015, 06:57:23 PM »
Every single first century Palestinian "layman" will tell you they were or their kids were baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

And you know some who are still alive?  :laugh:

Fantastic!
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
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Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2015, 07:03:53 PM »
lol?

Anyway, let us also find out what else a first century Christian might believe:

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 15)

I would not be surprised if many Christians all over the world believe something similar to this.  The liturgy was probably continued by Judaic practices to be prayed to the Father in Christ by the Spirit.  Therefore if baptism is in these three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and it is by the Spirit we cry "with Christ" to the Father as co-sons and co-heirs, then it sounds like there is something Trinitarian going on within the structure of the belief of first century Christians.  This is inescapable.  No one in the first century say "one ousia, three hypostases", but they did worship the three, and the "one God" was the Father.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2015, 07:09:08 PM »
lol?

Anyway, let us also find out what else a first century Christian might believe:

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 15)

I would not be surprised if many Christians all over the world believe something similar to this.  The liturgy was probably continued by Judaic practices to be prayed to the Father in Christ by the Spirit.  Therefore if baptism is in these three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and it is by the Spirit we cry "with Christ" to the Father as co-sons and co-heirs, then it sounds like there is something Trinitarian going on within the structure of the belief of first century Christians.  This is inescapable.  No one in the first century say "one ousia, three hypostases", but they did worship the three, and the "one God" was the Father.

Some writers suggest that true believing Jews did believe in a Triune Godhead. Genesis gives us hints when it says: Let US create man in OUR own image.
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2015, 07:13:17 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2015, 07:24:58 PM »
I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Of course. The Ecumenical Councils helped to clarify the teaching on the Holy Trinity, especially with the writing of the Nicene Creed.
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline Napoletani

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2015, 08:16:41 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity?

Which "people saved in the NT"? 

Quote
The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.

I don't think anyone supposes the "Good Thief" to represent a typical case.  If he was, then thievery and murder are paths to sanctification.

Well, typical or not, this does not really matter. If he could be saved without having any idea about a trinity then so other men can. Unless there was a new revelation about this given at Pentacost.

46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

To read into the text that they had to believe in the Trinty seems really forced. Especially when even Tertullian, much later, still did not develop the Trinitarian theology as it later was formulated by Nicea etc.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2015, 08:19:43 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Honnestly, this is question begging. You are assuming what must be proven. One can believe in the Father Son and Holy Spirit but not in your sense. If you would ask arians back then, they believed in it too. Tertullian also. Yet Tertullian could say that there was a time the Son was not. Now, the clearer and clearer thing looks like Newman oak tree. A rationalisation aposteriori of why one's theology is not found of old.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #35 on: July 26, 2015, 08:19:50 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity?

Which "people saved in the NT"? 

Quote
The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.

I don't think anyone supposes the "Good Thief" to represent a typical case.  If he was, then thievery and murder are paths to sanctification.

Well, typical or not, this does not really matter. If he could be saved without having any idea about a trinity then so other men can. Unless there was a new revelation about this given at Pentacost.

46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

To read into the text that they had to believe in the Trinty seems really forced. Especially when even Tertullian, much later, still did not develop the Trinitarian theology as it later was formulated by Nicea etc.

I've read some arguments that the Good Thief belongs in the same category as the Old Testament righteous, or at least is a transitional case, since he died before (or at the same time as) Christ did, and before the Resurrection or Pentecost. So asking whether he believed in the Trinity might then be like asking whether King David or Jonah the Prophet did.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #36 on: July 26, 2015, 08:39:11 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Honnestly, this is question begging. You are assuming what must be proven. One can believe in the Father Son and Holy Spirit but not in your sense. If you would ask arians back then, they believed in it too. Tertullian also. Yet Tertullian could say that there was a time the Son was not. Now, the clearer and clearer thing looks like Newman oak tree. A rationalisation aposteriori of why one's theology is not found of old.

Is James asking whether first century Christians believed in the Trinity or whether first century Christians believed in the Nicene formulation of it?  I think you are misrepresenting Tertullian somewhat.  He was a lot more complicated than Arius, kinda like Origen's theology in a way.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2015, 10:07:26 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity?

Which "people saved in the NT"? 

Quote
The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.

I don't think anyone supposes the "Good Thief" to represent a typical case.  If he was, then thievery and murder are paths to sanctification.

Well, typical or not, this does not really matter.

If your faith is "Torah", I suppose not. 
OC.NET is full of temptations, but in temptations we are enforced, remember about the thread "Temptation in the Desert: Rachel Weisz and the Undoing of Mor Ephrem". OC.NET helps in becoming unpassionate.

Quote
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Offline Napoletani

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2015, 11:07:53 PM »
Hello Mor Ephem. You said:

Quote
They aren't simple in the sense that they are easy to understand: we can't totally comprehend the Trinity, for example.  But there are some very basic claims and they are being claimed for a reason: they are necessary for our salvation.

So all those people saved in the NT believed in the Trinity?

Which "people saved in the NT"? 

Quote
The guy next to Jesus on the cross had to believe in it? It does not seem so from the text.

I don't think anyone supposes the "Good Thief" to represent a typical case.  If he was, then thievery and murder are paths to sanctification.

Well, typical or not, this does not really matter. If he could be saved without having any idea about a trinity then so other men can. Unless there was a new revelation about this given at Pentacost.

46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

To read into the text that they had to believe in the Trinty seems really forced. Especially when even Tertullian, much later, still did not develop the Trinitarian theology as it later was formulated by Nicea etc.

I've read some arguments that the Good Thief belongs in the same category as the Old Testament righteous, or at least is a transitional case, since he died before (or at the same time as) Christ did, and before the Resurrection or Pentecost. So asking whether he believed in the Trinity might then be like asking whether King David or Jonah the Prophet did.

Ok, but then at wich moment did they believe in the trinity?
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #39 on: July 26, 2015, 11:11:35 PM »
Every single first century Palestinian "layman" will tell you they were or their kids were baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

What do you make of the references in Acts to people being baptized "in the name of Jesus"? (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5)
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Offline Napoletani

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #40 on: July 26, 2015, 11:19:14 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Honnestly, this is question begging. You are assuming what must be proven. One can believe in the Father Son and Holy Spirit but not in your sense. If you would ask arians back then, they believed in it too. Tertullian also. Yet Tertullian could say that there was a time the Son was not. Now, the clearer and clearer thing looks like Newman oak tree. A rationalisation aposteriori of why one's theology is not found of old.

Is James asking whether first century Christians believed in the Trinity or whether first century Christians believed in the Nicene formulation of it?  I think you are misrepresenting Tertullian somewhat.  He was a lot more complicated than Arius, kinda like Origen's theology in a way.

Yes, it is true, Tertullian is complicated. In against Praxeas, he first says:

"As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Wich is very trinitarian. But later he writes:

"For before all things God was alone— being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason. For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call λόγος, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance."

Then comes a kind of reconciliation:

"Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, (by reciprocity of process,) in uttering speech you generate thought. The word is itself a different thing from yourself. Now how much more fully is all this transacted in God, whose image and likeness even you are regarded as being, inasmuch as He has reason within Himself even while He is silent, and involved in that Reason His Word! I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself."

But this is mainly mental gymnastic. And i won't even comment on "the word is a second person within you", wich would mean Jesus was 2 persons: himself and his word.

When you see the confusion of Tertullian, you can not recognize this in the NT.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #41 on: July 26, 2015, 11:32:34 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Honnestly, this is question begging. You are assuming what must be proven. One can believe in the Father Son and Holy Spirit but not in your sense. If you would ask arians back then, they believed in it too. Tertullian also. Yet Tertullian could say that there was a time the Son was not. Now, the clearer and clearer thing looks like Newman oak tree. A rationalisation aposteriori of why one's theology is not found of old.

Is James asking whether first century Christians believed in the Trinity or whether first century Christians believed in the Nicene formulation of it?  I think you are misrepresenting Tertullian somewhat.  He was a lot more complicated than Arius, kinda like Origen's theology in a way.

Yes, it is true, Tertullian is complicated.
wasn't he a lawyer?
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2015, 11:35:20 PM »
Every single first century Palestinian "layman" will tell you they were or their kids were baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

What do you make of the references in Acts to people being baptized "in the name of Jesus"? (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5)

Well, there's a common theme in the book of Acts.  "The name of Jesus" was not the only connected to baptism but also to miracles and preaching.  Therefore it was in the "power and authority" of Jesus, in a manner of speaking.  But this was not a "formula", it was the nature of many, if not all actions the Apostles engaged in.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2015, 11:35:56 PM »
Every single first century Palestinian "layman" will tell you they were or their kids were baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

What do you make of the references in Acts to people being baptized "in the name of Jesus"? (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5)
The premise of the story in Acts 19:5 doesn't make any sense if baptism wasn't in the Name of the Holy Spirit.
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Re: The Trinity
« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2015, 11:38:32 PM »
Well, this is not very clear.  I want to make it that first century Christians, there was a clear belief in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  What that means became clearer and clearer generation after generation.

Honnestly, this is question begging. You are assuming what must be proven. One can believe in the Father Son and Holy Spirit but not in your sense. If you would ask arians back then, they believed in it too. Tertullian also. Yet Tertullian could say that there was a time the Son was not. Now, the clearer and clearer thing looks like Newman oak tree. A rationalisation aposteriori of why one's theology is not found of old.

Is James asking whether first century Christians believed in the Trinity or whether first century Christians believed in the Nicene formulation of it?  I think you are misrepresenting Tertullian somewhat.  He was a lot more complicated than Arius, kinda like Origen's theology in a way.

Yes, it is true, Tertullian is complicated. In against Praxeas, he first says:

"As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Wich is very trinitarian. But later he writes:

"For before all things God was alone— being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason. For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call λόγος, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance."

Then comes a kind of reconciliation:

"Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, (by reciprocity of process,) in uttering speech you generate thought. The word is itself a different thing from yourself. Now how much more fully is all this transacted in God, whose image and likeness even you are regarded as being, inasmuch as He has reason within Himself even while He is silent, and involved in that Reason His Word! I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself."

But this is mainly mental gymnastic. And i won't even comment on "the word is a second person within you", wich would mean Jesus was 2 persons: himself and his word.

When you see the confusion of Tertullian, you can not recognize this in the NT.
But I have not said anything "Nicene" yet.  I simply said what the Bible was saying.  Again, is James, the person who wrote the original post, asking about belief in the Trinity or belief in the Nicene formulation of it?  You're still proving my point that there was an ancient belief in "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  How this works out theologically is a different question.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.