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History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)
Reflections & Sentiments

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)
Reflections & Sentiments

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By Editorial Staff

Controversy rages between Christians and non-Christians, including Muslims and the followers of the other faiths, and among Christians themselves over the issues of monotheism and the Trinity.

Monotheism

The Holy Trinity never existed in Jesus’ lifetime

Though the Trinity has become a prevalent Christian doctrine recently and the monotheists have become a minority compared to the other Christian denominations, history tells us that the doctrine of the Trinity was not the prevalent Christian doctrine in the past, but it was rather such a doctrine which found favor with the idolatrous Roman Empire which newly converted to Christianity.

Pure monotheism had been and remained the very basis of the Christian creed until it was overshadowed by the doctrine of the Trinity which was supported by the idolatrous authority. However, monotheism continued to exist and be professed by considerable fellowship until Prophet Muhammad came up with the final monotheistic message of Islam and asserted monotheism as the doctrine explicitly preached by Jesus, and disowned all forms of Trinity, polytheism, and paganism which were introduced into the genuine Christian faith.

Therefore, monotheistic Christians embraced Islam for they found out that it is exactly identical to the previous divine messages of both Moses and Jesus as well as the revelations sent down to them.

Monotheism during Jesus’ Prophetic Mission

The Qur’an often harmonizes with the Bible, especially the New Testament, over the reported statements and acts of Jesus, as well as the incidents which took place, the quotations which were cited and the controversy which broke out during the period of time Jesus was sent.

The Qur’an tells us that the disciples believed in God as the Deity, as well as in the revelation He sent down and in Jesus as the prophet and messenger of God. For example, God says:

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] God?” The disciples said,” We are supporters for God. We have believed in God and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].

Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger [Jesus], so register us among the witnesses [to truth].”(Aal `Imran 3:52-53)

God also says:

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger [Jesus].” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to God].” (Al-Ma’idah 5:111)

The verses of the New Testament concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard. Jesus is unequivocally described as “God’s messenger” in the New Testament. We read: “And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” (Hebrews 3:1-2)

The Qur’an quotes Jesus as asserting that God is his lord and God and as commanding the worship of God alone. For example, we read:

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “God is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with God – God has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

The verses of the New Testament also concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard. There are several positions in the New Testament quoting Jesus as asserting that God is his God and as commanding the worship of God alone.

For example, in the New Testament, we read: Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” (John 20:17)

We also read: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

We further read: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

According to the above verses from the Qur’an and the Bible, it becomes crystal clear that Jesus admitted that God is his God and he commanded His worship and that the followers of Jesus believed in God as the Lord and the Deity and in Jesus as a prophet and messenger of God.

That is the pure monotheism which Muslims have professed up to date. That is to say, the message of Jesus was preaching monotheism like all other messages conveyed by all other prophets and messengers of God.

Ascension of Jesus & Its Impact on Monotheism

Someone may wonder: Where have the divinity and worship of Jesus along with God come from? Where has the alleged Trinity come from? What are its historical origins?

It is quite safe to say that the Ascension of Jesus was not less controversial than his miraculous birth. Just as people disagreed over his birth, they also disagreed over his Ascension. The verses of both the Qur’an and the Bible indicate how considerable and bitter was the controversy over the Ascension of Jesus and consequently his very nature.

For example, in the Qur’an, we read:

That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute. It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. [Jesus said], “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.” Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved – from the scene of a tremendous Day. (Maryam 19:34-37)

The Bible conveys to us the disagreement over the Ascension of Jesus and highlights the state of doubt and uncertainty which prevailed among even his disciples following his Ascension. In the Gospel of Mark, we read: “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

In the Gospel of Luke, we read: As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24:36-41)

In the Gospel of John, we read: Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:24-27)

Thus, it has become quite evident now that the Ascension, not to mention the miraculous birth of Jesus, led to bitter controversy over his very nature. Therefore, history proves to us that the few centuries following the Ascension of Jesus marked an atmosphere of deep and sharp division in the Christian circles between monotheists who believed in God as the Only One God, polytheists who believed in Jesus as God and worshiped him along with God and other factions that were somewhere in between.

First Council of Nicaea & Establishment of the Doctrine of Trinity

The above-mentioned division lasted even after the Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to and profession of Christianity as the official faith of the Roman Empire.

Such division impelled Emperor Constantine to convene the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to discuss the disagreements within the Church of Alexandria, settle dogmatic differences and unify the Christian creed. This was the first ecumenical council.

This council was attended by about 318 bishops, including 16 bishops supporting Bishop Arius and 22 bishops supporting St. Alexander of Alexandria. The other bishops had not made up their mind yet.

Presbyter Arius argued for the supremacy of God, the Father, and maintained that the Son of God was created as an act of the Father’s will, and therefore, that the Son was a creature made by God.

It is noteworthy that when Arius got up to explain his belief, loud noise was made and a deaf ear was turned so that his argument would not be heard.

It is also reported that Emperor Constantine allowed Athanasius, the 25-year-old assistant of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, to speak, though he was not entitled to do. He was just a young deacon at the time.

It is also reported that reaching a resolution by the Council was not something easy, but rather required considerable effort. At the conclusion, the Council formulated the (Nicene) Creed from: “We believe in one God” to “and his kingdom will have no end”.

At the same council, the feast of Easter was set to a Sunday in the lunar month of Nisan. The Easter computation was separated from the Jewish calendar.

The attending bishops pronounced clerical judgment by excommunicating Arius and his followers from the Church. Seeing the threat of continued unrest, Constantine also pronounced civil judgment, banishing Arius and his followers into exile.

The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed. Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the Empire.

Bishop Alexander had already convened a synod of about a hundred Egyptian and Libyan bishops at Alexandria, which excommunicated and defrocked Arius and his followers.

Questions

How did Emperor Constantine profess Christianity though he could not ascertain the nature of Jesus and if he was a just prophet or God? How can there be difference within a certain faith among the clergy over the nature of God Himself, Who He should be and if He is only one or three?

How can any such difference last without resolution for more than three centuries? If the Council of Nicaea was actually attended by 318 bishops, how could there be difference between 16 bishops on the one hand and 22 bishops on the other hand? How come “the other bishops had not made up their mind yet?”

Were they (numbering 318-38=280) ignorant of their faith and their God and if Jesus was a prophet or God? If the clergy were so ignorant like that, what about the public at the time?

Was there not a sort of equilibrium between the two sides: 16 vs 22 though the latter included the bishop of Alexandria himself? Is it not logical that the supporters of the bishop of Alexandria should have been much larger in the face of an ordinary bishop who was excommunicated and defrocked like Arius? Did the attending bishops wait to know the side which the Emperor would choose and then they joined it?

All of those questions need convincing answers!

_________

References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

3- Wikipedia

_________

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (2/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (3/4)

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (4/4)

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4.7
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A very enlightening article about the history of Christianity

9.4

History of Christianity & Shift from Monotheism to Trinity (1/4)
Reflections & Sentiments

Reviewed by on . By Editorial Staff Controversy rages between Christians and non-Christians, including Muslims and the followers of the other faiths, and among Christians themse By Editorial Staff Controversy rages between Christians and non-Christians, including Muslims and the followers of the other faiths, and among Christians themse Rating: 4.7

Comments (24)

  • Karlos Leal Aizpuru

    Karlos Leal Aizpuru

    True Christianity

    The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts,” the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

    Beyond these core beliefs, there are many other items that are, or at least should be, indicative of what Christianity is and what Christianity believes. Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired, “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons”the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

    Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from God (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross. Christians believe that after His death, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). Christianity proclaims that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to completely pay the sin debt owed by all men and this is what restores the broken relationship between God and man (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:10; Romans 5:8; 6:23).

    Christianity teaches that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in the finished work of Christ on the cross. If we believe that Christ died in our place and paid the price of our own sins, and rose again, then we are saved. There is nothing that anyone can do to earn salvation. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own, because we are all sinners (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6-7). There is nothing more to be done, because Christ has done all the work! When He was on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning that the work of redemption was completed.

    According to Christianity, salvation is freedom from the old sin nature and freedom to pursue a right relationship with God. Where we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to Christ (Romans 6:15-22). As long as believers live on this earth in their sinful bodies, they will engage in a constant struggle with sin. However, Christians can have victory in the struggle with sin by studying and applying God’s Word in their lives and being controlled by the Holy Spirit”that is, submitting to the Spirit’s leading in everyday circumstances.

    So, while many religious systems require that a person do or not do certain things, Christianity is about believing that Christ died on the cross as payment for our own sins and rose again. Our sin debt is paid and we can have fellowship with God. We can have victory over our sin nature and walk in fellowship and obedience with God. That is true biblical Christianity.

  • Yusuf Can

    Yusuf Can

    Two comments.
    When I read the new testament I see again and again that his people including his disciples worshiped him as God and they clearly believed in one God at the same time.

    Christians don’t believe in 3 Gods but in 1 God.

    Secondly. You are saying: The Qur’an quotes Jesus? Interesting that this apparent quote only appears 600 years later. I guess if Jesus really said this it would have been recorded by people in the first few centuries. Would you not think?

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      First: disciples might have worshiped Jesus but not as God or the son of God but as a token of reverence. In the same way, Daniel was worshiped by Nebuchadnezzar not as God but as a token of reverence. Please read: “Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel” (Daniel 2:46)

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      Second: the Qur’anic quotes are supported by biblical ones in the article. So, the Qur’an does not quote Jesus as saying something new but something already found in the Bible

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      Firstly: It’s interesting that you only take 2:46 but ignore 2:47 where he clearly states the following: The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

      He does not call Daniel God but e.g. in John 20:28 Thomas, one of his disciples, does call him that. Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      Secondly: I believe that some quranic verses agree with the Bible because the Bible was known at the time of Muhammed and he knew Christians who had the Bible. So I’m not surprise that he would get some things right but he got some essential things wrong.

      Where in the Bible does Jesus say: I’m not the Son of God and God does not have a Son or God is not a father?

      But throughout the new testament he calls God his Father.

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      First: Jews are also called gods (John 10:32-37)

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      Second: where in the Bible does Jesus say “I am the son of God”?

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      It’s true that the term “gods” can legitimately be used of men in certain ways. So he identified himself in reference to this old testament passage where humans were called gods. The ones in charge of ruling. But he did not deny to be in God incarnate.

      Mark 14:61-62
      61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
      Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
      62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      Where did Jesus say: “I am God incarnate”?

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      in the verse above where he was saying “coming on the clouds of heaven”. he was clearly identifying himself as God.

      He was referring to the old Testament in Daniel Chapter 7. For the jews it was clear that this figure from Daniel 7 is God.

      This is why the high priest said the following: “Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.”

      Why would they want to kill him for blasphemy if he did not claim to be God? They killed him therefore for blasphemy.

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      Angels also come on the clouds of heaven. Where did Jesus identify himself as God?

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      The problem is that you don’t want to believe that the Bible says that Jesus is God.

      To believe that the Bible is corrupted is one thing. To claim that the Bible doesn’t portray Jesus as someone more than a prophet is interpreting it the way you want it to be.

      I’m leaving you with a few verses from John chapter 1. But I guess you’ll find another interpretation what it means that the Word who was with God and who was God became flesh.

      1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…..
      …15 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      btw: You haven’t answered my question: “Where in the Bible does Jesus say: I’m not the Son of God and God does not have a Son or God is not a father?”

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      You try to prove too contradictory claims: 1- Jesus is God 2- Jesus is the Son of God. So, is Jesus God or the son of God?

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      It’s not contrary but complementary. He’s both. God in essence und Son in Person.

      The same with the father who is God in essence and Father in Person and with the holy spirit the same.

      Similarly you are a human being but a Person. This doesn’t mean you can’t be both.

      Don’t forget. We are talking about God who is not bound to our laws or logic and can’t be put into a human thinking. Just because we can’t understand God, it does not mean it is wrong.

      I would even expect that God is more complex than his creation.

      For example. You I imagine you can’t understand quantum mechanic. There you have one thing that is at the same time in multiple locations. Impossible you would say, right?

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      If you believe that 1+1+1=1, argument with you is useless for you will find it rational that 1=1 and one third (1/3) of 1= 1 also

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      No point in trying to explain it I guess. 1+1+1 = 3 but they are all the same 1.

      Question to you. Is the Quran eternal?

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      1+1+1=3 but 1 for 1+1+1=1 (the same one)!! Very logical!

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      Didn’t say it’s logical. We’re talking about God who doesn’t need to be logically explainable.

      Back to my question. Is the Quran eternal?

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      If your faith is illogical, it is nonsense. God cannot obligate us to believe in nonsense. How can He punish us for something quite logical which is disbelief in your nonsense? To be fair, God commands us to believe only in the things which make sense.

    • Yusuf Can

      Yusuf Can

      1. Where does God command us to only believe things that seem logical to us?
      2. Please answer my question. Is the Quran eternal?

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      And whoever invokes besides God another deity for which he has no proof – then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed. (Al Mu’minun 117)

    • Islam4christians

      Islam4christians

      [He is] Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all things, Knowing. That is Allah, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things. Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted. There has come to you enlightenment from your Lord. So whoever will see does so for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever is blind [does harm] against it. And [say], “I am not a guardian over you.” (Al-An`am 101-104)

Quran Translations