The Influence of the Post-Apostolic Church
On Doctrinal Beliefs Today
Excerpted and revised from Fictional Foundations of Trinitarian Thought
Keith G. Morehead
I believe there are four primary points found in the Old Testament that motivate individuals to accept and believe the doctrine of the Trinity.
1. A lack of understanding resulting in the misinterpretation of the "us" verses.
2. A total misapplication of the word Elohim when used to refer to God Almighty.
3. A distortion of the word echad when translated "one."
4. An inability to understand how Jesus can be divine and yet God still be one solitary God.
If a fifth point were to be added, it would be the mind set that God is infinite, man is finite; therefore man cannot know or understand God's nature . This mind set breeds guilt when one seeks to know God better. Yet the Bible says: If from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul . (Deuteronomy 4:29). David said, And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever (1 Chronicles 28:9). Jesus encouraged us when he said: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
If the doctrine of the Trinity is not derived from biblical texts, where did it come from? I am convinced it is the product of a merging of pagan philosophical thought and Christian theology. Therefore, discussion of this article will be treated as a historical argument and not an argument of the Bible. This discussion is vitally important in understanding how the alleged plurality of God became a principal doctrine of the historical orthodox Christian church.
Instead of attempting to explain how God was the father of Jesus, Jesus was God, and yet there were not two gods but one GOD. I will show why and how the early church leaders could not understand this simple and basic truth. I will document how the improper and un-biblical understanding of the nature of God came to be the established doctrine of the Church. I will show how the Bible was never the primary source of information or inspiration in the evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity. The question of "How can Jesus be Divine, and yet God be a solitary one?" is at the very root of the problem. Had it not been for this question, the discussion of Elohim and echad would never have arisen. In fact, the Trinitarian interpretation of Elohim and echad was born out of the question "How can Jesus be Divine, and yet, God be a solitary one?" in an attempt to substantiate the doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament.
The doctrine of the Trinity is lauded as "a fundamental doctrine of the orthodox Christian Church," as though the doctrine has always existed and been accepted by the masses; this is not true. If a time line would be constructed from the year 4,000 BC to the present time, it would be discovered that the Trinitarian argument did not come into existence until at least after the death of the apostles of Jesus (after 100 AD). Historical documentation or discussion on the plurality of God in the time of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, Paul or John does not exist. If Trinitarians lived during the time of Jesus or of the apostles, they would have been considered heretical, and outside the orthodoxy of the Church. The teaching of Trinitarian theology has been prevalent for less than 1,900 years of the estimated total years of history. During the time of Trinitarian influence, the voices of Oneness believers have been suppressed through the influence of philosophy, anathematization, persecution, execution, and destruction of their written materials.
The Trinity was not introduced to the Church in its completed form; the first phase of discussion on God's plurality was the question of the nature of Jesus Christ. Was he human? Was he divine? If he was human, how could he be divine? If he was divine, how could the monotheism of the Bible be preserved? The question of the divinity of the Holy Spirit did not become an issue until after the question of the nature of Jesus Christ had been answered. This question was dealt with during the Council of Chalcedon in 381 AD. The doctrine of the Trinity became sophisticated and complicated; the understanding of the one true God remained simple, yet was ignored. As the doctrine of the Trinity progressed with time, the understanding of God's true nature regressed. This all occurred as the result of an inability to understand God's relationship with Jesus, His Son.
Since the doctrine of the Trinity did not exist until after the apostles of Jesus were deceased, it is appropriate to declare it to be a post-apostolic doctrine. It is my opinion that there are three stages in the influence of the post-apostolic church on the doctrine of the twentieth century church; they are: 1. The influence of philosophy on the post-apostolic church fathers. 2. The pressure exerted by the post-apostolic church leaders and in the resulting creeds of the church throughout post-apostolic history. 3. The persecution of any doctrinal deviation from the accepted doctrinal view, or for that matter, anyone interpreted by the powers of the church to be a nonconformist. Again, these influences would never have existed if the church fathers had an adequate, biblical understanding of the relationship between Jesus the man and God his Father.
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