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7239738 a Patristic Study of the Kingdom of God and the Development of the Trinity

7239738 a Patristic Study of the Kingdom of God and the Development of the Trinity

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Published by Michael Gibson

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Published by: Michael Gibson on May 22, 2012
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A PATRISTIC STUDY OF THEKINGDOM OF GOD AND THEDEVELOPMENT OF THE TRINITY 
By Juan Baixeras 
INDEX 
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SummaryINTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to show that the Doctrine of theTrinity is not something that was taught by Jesus and theApostles, but that it was, in fact, a doctrine that slowlydeveloped throughout several centuries due to the heavyinfluence of Greek philosophy. It is also intended to show theearly Christian leaders’ beliefs on the nature of Jesus, thekingdom of God, and what happens to Christians when theydie. Finally, it is for the reader to see the gradual change inChristian theology (for the worse) on these topics as timewore on.One of the oldest and least credible arguments thatproponents of the Trinity try to pass off as fact is that theApostles taught the Trinity in the New Testament.The Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD., made "
 Jesus of the samesubstance as God 
." This is not the Trinitarian doctrine weknow of today, but it was a start. Fifty-six years later, at the
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Council of Constantinople in 381 AD., the Holy Spirit wasadded to the formula, bringing to life the modern day Trinity.One can easily see that even at Nicaea the Trinity was not anestablished doctrine by the absence of the Holy Spirit.Trinitarians will argue that the belief in a triune God wasthere from the Apostles, and that it was formalized as dogmaat Nicaea and Constantinople. But the fact is that the NewTestament does not anywhere teach the doctrine of theTrinity. The Doctrine of the Trinity, as we shall see, was not anestablished doctrine from Apostolic times, but a slowlydeveloping idea that took over three hundred years toformalize. Just to clear up the claim that the Apostles taught the Trinityin the New Testament, we will conduct a careful analysis of Patristic writings from the days of the Apostles all the way toNicaea. The logic is, that if the Apostles did indeed teach theTrinity, then it would stand to reason that the early Christianleaders of the church would also be Trinitarians, and theirletters should reflect that teaching. The problem thatTrinitarians will find is that these early Christian leaders (untilthe late second century) had no idea of any Trinity. The latterpart of the second century is when we start hearing for thefirst time of a Trinity of any kind, and even then, it is not verysimilar to the Trinity that Christianity has today. If theApostles had actually taught the Trinity, then the Doctrine of the Trinity should be a constant teaching from the Apostles allthe way to Nicaea. The problem with this thought is that theChristian leaders which came right after the Apostles, andwho in some cases were appointed by the Apostles, arestrangers to the thought of a triune God. As we get fartherand farther away in time from the Apostles, we begin to seechanges in the writers’ Christology and their overall theology.This is almost completely due to the incredible influence of Greek philosophies such as Platonism, Neo-Platonism,Stoicism, and Gnosticism on early Christianity. There areprobably a few more isms, but these are the major culprits.Greek philosophy not only created the Doctrine of the Trinity,but it was also responsible for several more near fatalchanges to true Christianity which we will also be examining. You must realize that in those days Greek philosophy was themajor thought pattern of the civilized world. Anyone who wasanyone was educated in Greek philosophy. Another reasonwhy these philosophies were so quick to influence earlyChristianity is that in the beginning of the church, the leaderswere for the most part Jewish, with the Jewish concept of God.
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"The Jews conceive God as an absolutely simple unity (inferring absolutely no constituent divisions)."
(JewishThought 6/12/96)
 
When Christianity started spreading, the leaders of thechurches were now Gentiles who had converted toChristianity. These people, for the most part, had beeneducated in Greek philosophies in their schools anduniversities. As educated persons, they of course wanted tofind a place for their new religious beliefs within thephilosophical framework they had already acquired. So whenthey read Hebrew Scriptures, they could not help injectingGreek philosophical meanings into them. The EncyclopediaBritannica says concerning Christian Platonist:
"They did not believe that truth could conflict with truth and were confident that all that was rationally certain in Platonicspeculation would prove to be in perfect accordance with theChristian revelation. Their unhistorical approach anunscholarly methods of exegesis of texts, both pagan and Christian, facilitated this confidence."
There was also the felt need of some Christians with Greek philosophical training to express Christianity in those terms,both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order toconvert educated pagans.
 
What is needed today is to remove all the Greek influencefrom what is called modern day Christianity, and return to theChristianity that was preached by Jesus and his Apostles.This paper will cover almost all the major Patristic writingsleading up to Nicaea. Some writings have been left outbecause they had nothing to contribute to the topics at issue.The study of the writings of the so-called
"Fathers" (patres) of the Church"
is called
"patristics."
Do not be confused.
"Fathers"
in this sense does not mean
"priests,"
althoughmany of these individuals were priests. It also does notexactly mean
"fathers"
in the sense of 
"founding fathers."
Itmeans
"teachers."
This was a standard usage in ancient andearly Christian times. In the first few centuries, the term
"father"
was primarily applied to the bishop, who had theprimary teaching role within the church. Gradually, the wordwas extended to include all early Christian writers who weretaken as representing the authentic tradition of the church.We will be concerned only with the Church fathers up to theCouncil of Nicaea in 325 AD.
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