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Old 26th April 2001, 05:11
TheMinister TheMinister is offline
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Nonson, In your initial post of this thread, you seem to be describing Saul of Tarsus, unintentionally perhaps. His maniacial ambition led him to all this:

"the destruction of a person's natural character, and creates in its stead something no longer human. As the teachings find a home in the individual it becomes a source of harm to the believer, and to those with which he/she has an intimate contact. This falsehood often disseminated by well-meaning people leaves in its wake ruined lives, and destroyed people. Religion is the great curse which drives man to commit vulgar and beastial act, not the least of which is murder in the name of some unseen and unknowable god."

I agree that religion, that is, man-made dogma's and rituals designed to appease an angry god are worthless and even dangerous, especially when their methods make victims of the somewhat innocent. But Do you allow for a distinction between the vengeful, religious zealot Saul, and what he became, the apostle Paul, teacher of grace and love?
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Old 27th April 2001, 03:58
Nonson Nonson is offline
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Minister,

Let no one say that you are slow on the up-take. Indeed, i had in mind Saul (Paul) of Tarus, and his massive work on theology known as the Epistle To The Romans (Pauline Doctrine). Whenever I consider Christianity it is always in the forefront. For there appears to be no Christianity other than what he brought into existence.

From having spent 40+ years studying his doctrines, I cannot separate Saul the murderer from Paul the killer of the Christ.

Nonson
04.26.01
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Old 27th April 2001, 07:03
TheMinister TheMinister is offline
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From Nonson: "From having spent 40+ years studying his doctrines, I cannot separate Saul the murderer from Paul the killer of the Christ."

Please explain this for me.

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Old 27th April 2001, 23:24
Nonson Nonson is offline
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Trinity in Christianity




The Trinitarian doctrine of the Gnostic, which was adopted by the Church in AD 325 states the following [Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Accidental Mythology, Penguin Books, New York, 1976, p.389]:

We believe in one God, the Father all-Sovereign, maker of all things, both visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, an only begotten;
That is, from the essence of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God - begotten, not made - being of one essence with the Father;
By whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things on earth;
Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered, and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, cometh to judge the quick and the dead;
And in the Holy Spirit.
But those who say that `there was once when he was not,' and `before he was begotten he was not,' and `he was made of things that were not,' or maintain that the Son of God is of a different essence, or created or subject to moral change or alteration - these doth the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematize.


Some Christian scholars have offered the following explanation of Trinity:

"Let us worship one God in Trinity and let us worship Trinity in Unity. Let us not join the persons of the Trinity, let us not divide the essence, because the Father is one person, the son is one person and the Holy Ghost is one person. But the divinity of all three persons is the same. Their might is equal, their greatness the same. Father is uncreated, son is uncreated, the Holy Ghost is uncreated. The Father is infinite, the son infinite and the Holy Ghost is infinite. Thus there are not three infinites, nor three uncreated beings but only one uncreated being and one infinite being. The Father is omnipotent, the son is omnipotent and the Holy Ghost is omnipotent. But there are not three omnipotents but only one omnipotent. Similarly, the Father is God, the son is God and the Holy Ghost is God, but there are not three Gods. There is only one God.... In this trinity, the three persons are not prior to one other, nor is one of them is smaller than the other. All the three persons are equal from eternity."



Questions Raised by the Trinity Doctrine:

The Christians have their three Gods responsible for the following duties:

(a) The Father creates and sustains the world.

(b) The son ensures salvation and atones for the sins of man.

(c) The Holy Ghost prepares the human mind for faith and maintains the believer in the state of faith.

Once we have a look at this division of work, several questions immediately crop up. Is it impossible for the Father or God to do the work trusted to the Holy Ghost. He who created the world and everything in it can also prepare the mind of man for having faith in him.

Then the question arises whether the Holy Ghost is a created being. If so, who is the creator of the Holy Ghost?

Did the womb which contained Jesus also contained divinity and the Holy Ghost? Was Jesus a God since the time of his conception in the womb of his mother? If yes, would not that make Mary a Goddess since she was carrying a God in her womb, and therefore, we should have a forth element of the Godhead? If the answer is no, then how can be it said that God became incarnate in Christ?

The second cardinal doctrine of Modern Christianity is that Jesus died on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins, this is the basis of the doctrine of Original Sin and the doctrine of Atonement.

The Christians assert that God has a Son, who is His only Son. This Son of God incarnated himself if the womb of Mary. She and her husband Joseph, the carpenter, were informed of this by an angel. In fullness of time, the Son of God was born in the form of a human child. He was brought up like human children and when he grew old, he worked miracles. The Jews among whom he was born, persecuted him and at last killed him by suspending him on the cross. Thus, the Son of God incarnate, died and after death descended into hell where he remained for three days. Then he rose from the dead and now sits in the heavens on the right hand of God. Though he was innocent, yet he bore this pain and death for the sake of human beings, so that his suffering may atone for the sins of man. Now man will not be punished for his sins provided he believes in Jesus for the latter has taken upon himself the sins of all men.

This is what the Christian doctrine of Atonement means. According to Christian beliefs, all children of Adam are sinful. Adam and Eve were expelled from heaven for their sin and all their children have inherited the sin and hence all are born sinful. It was for this reason that the Son of God did not enter the womb of Mary through the seed of man, by Mary conceived him without knowing a man, so that he may not inherit the sin of Adam, like the rest of Adam's children,

This doctrine has many problems and raises many questions. To begin with, the doctrine of `Original Sin and that all human being inherited the sin of Adam and Eve' is against common sense and contradicts the teachings of the Bible itself. In the Bible, we read the following:

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin." [Deut 24:16]

"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." [Ezek 18:20]

Other verses that carry the same meaning are to be found in:

Chr II 25:4, Jer 31:29-30 and Ezek 18:4.

The next question that is asked: can anyone except Jesus be impeccable? The Christians construct the premises and deduce Atonement along the following lines. Every man is under the sway of sin and its hold is universal. A redeemer and savior is called for. Mankind cannot serve as its own redeemer since mankind is a race of wrongdoers. Only Jesus can offer Atonement.

But, what about the prophets and righteous people before the time of Jesus Christ? Were they sinners and wrongdoers and destined to hell-fire because Christ was not there to offer them Atonement?

There are many verses in the Bible that testify to the righteousness and holiness of the prophets before Jesus; such as John the Baptist, Abel son of Adam, Daniel, Zechariah and his wife, and many others. Satan failed to obtain the least access to them; never did the prophets rebel against God's wish. Exalted to a rank as high, they must be infallible.

Another question that arises here: "Is Mary the mother of Jesus a sinner since she was the seed of Adam?" Some Christians argue that Mary is not innocent although the Messiah being her son does not inherent her sin as he the Messiah is innocent. But, according to the laws of heredity a person inherit one half of his chromosomes from his mother. Then, should not this make Jesus a sinner also (although to a lesser degree)?

More questions related to the doctrine of Atonement keep cropping up: Is this atonement a cover for the past sins of the believers in Christ, or is it an atonement for all their sins past and future? If it is an atonement for their past sins, then it was not necessary for the Son of God to undergo this sacrifice, for the door of repentance is open to every sinner in all religion. If it is an atonement for the future sins of the believers, this is something unheard of because, before a sin is committed, how can it be forgiven? Does this mean that there is no need to do good in this life and to put into practice the teachings of Christ since the mere belief in Jesus is sufficient to atone all the sins and wrongdoing?

Another interesting dilemma regarding the Original Sin is what we read in Genesis (3:16-20). These verses describe the punishment given to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed the Commands of God in the garden:

16. To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you."

17. And to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, `You shall not eat of it'; Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil shall you eat of it all the days of thy life.

18. Both thorns and thistles shall it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the herb of the field.

19. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread. Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."



This passage shows that woman was punished with the pain of conception and man was punished with having to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow for the first sin committed by them. Combining the doctrine of Atonement to what we read in these verses, one would expect that after Atonement the punishments to women and men should cease. But the question arises: Why, after the Atonement of their sins by Jesus Christ, Christian women who believe in Christ still suffer from the pain of conception and Christian males still have to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow?

Again, if God is Christ, how can they be two? Does the son himself provide salvation or is he the means to salvation? What about those born before him? Does he bring salvation to them also? Did he bring salvation to men after he had atoned for their sins? If so, how can he bring salvation to those who have gone before him? Why should Christ suffer punishment for the sins committed by others? Is not every man responsible for his deeds? It is not possible for any man to count the numbers of sinners from the days of Adam up to now. What will be the number of their sins? But a few moments of crucifixion have atoned for all those sins. Why?



Origins of the Trinity Doctrine:

In order to trace the roots of the doctrines in Trinity, one has to go back in history to study the influence of St. Paul on modern Christian doctrines. Although Paul never actually preached the divinity of Jesus, nor the doctrine of Trinity, his manner of expression and the changes he made opened the door to both these misconceptions, and prepared the way for their becoming established doctrines.

Excellent accounts to the history of Trinity and the origin of the Catholic `Official' Church can be found in the books `Jesus: A Prophet of Islam', written by M. Ata ur-Rahim and `Blood on the Cross' written by A. Thomson. What follows is a condensed version of the essential points in these books, including many quotations from them. [Ata ur-Rahim, 1979, Chapters 6 and 7; Thomson, 1989, Chapter 1 and 2].

There is a scant record of what happened to the close followers of Jesus after he had disappeared. It appears that many of them scattered after his supposed crucifixion. After some time they began to regroup in Jerusalem. How many of the twelve disciples and seventy closest followers came back is not known. It is certain, however, that those who did were men of faith, sincerity, and courage, and possessed a very deep love for Jesus.

They continued to live as Jews and practice what Jesus had taught them, observing the laws of the prophets, for Jesus had come "not to destroy, but to fulfill." [Matthew 5:17] That the teaching of Jesus could ever be regarded as a new religion did not occur to any of them. In these early days, they did not organize themselves as a separate sect and did not have a synagogue of their own. There was nothing in the message of Jesus, as understood by them, to necessitate a break with what was clearly the continuance and reviving affirmation of the guidance which Moses had brought.

It could not have been an easy time for the early followers of Jesus. On the one hand, they were hounded by the Romans who regarded them as a threat to their political power, and on the other hand they were pursued by the Jews who feared that their own "religious authority" would be undermined by them. In the years that followed, the gulf between the Jews who refused to acknowledge Jesus and those who followed him began to widen. Finally, during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the followers of Jesus left the city.

The questions of the origin of Jesus, his nature and relation to God, which were later to become a source of much contention, were not raised among the first followers of Jesus. That Jesus was a man who was a prophet and one who had been given many gifts by God, was accepted without question. Nothing in the words of Jesus or the events in his life on earth had led them to modify this certainty. According to Aristides, one of the earliest apologist, the worship of the early Christians was more purely monotheistic than even that of the Jews.

It was into this circle of sincere followers that Paul of Tarsus walked. St. Paul, whose real name was Saul, had never met Jesus, nor had he been well acquainted with any of Jesus' closest disciples. He had the reputation of being one of the greatest enemies of Jesus. He watched over the stoning of Stephen. Stephen had been "full of faith and the Holy Ghost," [Acts 6:5] and one of the growing number of people who had joined the followers of Jesus after his disappearance. When Paul's own teacher, the famous Gamaliel, tried to protect Stephen, he too was stoned to death.

It is recorded that Paul was responsible for "a great persecution against the Church" at that time, and that he "made a havoc of the Church, entering into every house and haling men and women and committed them to prison." [Acts 8:1-3] Paul himself admitted that:

"For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." [Gal. 1:13-14]

And, it is related in [Acts 9:1-2]:

"Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest.

And asked letters for him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."

It was this journey to Damascus that Paul is said to have met Jesus in a vision and become one of his followers as a result.

After his conversion, Paul stayed with the followers of Jesus who were in Damascus and "straight away, he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." [Acts 9:20] This angered the Jews in Damascus. The idea of God having a child ascribed to Him was abhorrent to them, since they firmly believed in the Unity of God.

Paul then left Damascus and, instead of seeking out the company of the other followers of Jesus, went into the Arabian desert where he remained hidden for three years. It may well have been here that he began to formulate his own version of what Jesus had taught. This involved a rejection of the Jewish Law, which in turn meant his turning away from the fact that throughout his life Jesus had remained a practicing Jew, and always sought to uphold the teachings which Moses had brought before him.

It was after this long withdrawal in the desert that Paul came to the apostles in Jerusalem. The sudden arrival of Paul caused more suspicion than surprise. The stories of his persecution of the followers of Jesus must still have been fresh in their minds. It seems that the disciples had no reason to accept him into their circle. Not only had he been their persecutor, but also he now claimed to know what Jesus had taught, although he had never seen him and had spent little time, if any, with those who had been with him. Instead of trying to learn from those who had been so intimately connected with Jesus while he was on earth, Paul wanted to teach them. Paul later justified this approach in his epistle to the Galatians where he states:use and haling men and women and committed them to prison." [Acts 8:1-3] Paul himself admitted that:

"For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." [Gal. 1:13-14]

And, it is related in [Acts 9:1-2]:

"Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest.

And asked letters for him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."

It was this journey to Damascus that Paul is said to have met Jesus in a vision and become one of his followers as a result.

After his conversion, Paul stayed with the followers of Jesus who were in Damascus and "straight away, he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." [Acts 9:20] This angered the Jews in Damascus. The idea of God having a child ascribed to Him was abhorrent to them, since they firmly believed in the Unity of God.

Paul then left Damascus and, instead of seeking out the company of the other followers of Jesus, went into the Arabian desert where he remained hidden for three years. It may well have been here that he began to formulate his own version of what Jesus had taught. This involved a rejection of the Jewish Law, which in turn meant his turning away from the fact that throughout his life Jesus had remained a practicing Jew, and always sought to uphold the teachings which Moses had brought before him.

It was after this long withdrawal in the desert that Paul came to the apostles in Jerusalem. The sudden arrival of Paul caused more suspicion than surprise. The stories of his persecution of the followers of Jesus must still have been fresh in their minds. It seems that the disciples had no reason to accept him into their circle. Not only had he been their persecutor, but also he now claimed to know what Jesus had taught, although he had never seen him and had spent little time, if any, with those who had been with him. Instead of trying to learn from those who had been so intimately connected with Jesus while he was on earth, Paul wanted to teach them. Paul later justified this approach in his epistle to the Galatians where he states:



"But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through revelation of Jesus Christ." [Gal 1:11-12]

Thus, Paul claimed to have an access to Jesus which had been denied to the closest followers of Jesus while he was on earth. The teaching which Paul claimed to had been given did not tally with what the apostles had heard from the very lips of Jesus. It is understandable that they were therefore suspicious of his conversion and considered his "revelations" unreliable. Many probably suspected that he was no more than a spy, posing as a follower of Jesus. [Lehman, 1972, p.123] The dispute as whether Paul should be accepted was a bitter one.

Barnabas, who according to tradition had been Paul's class fellow under Gamaliel, intervened and spoke in favor of Paul. Against their unanimous opposition, he succeeded in having Paul accepted by the followers of Jesus. Paul, however, decided to return to Tarsus, his home town, for he felt that he had been accepted by virtue of Barnabas' authority and not because of his own merits.

The persecution of the followers of Jesus, not only by the Romans, but also by the Jews, forced many of them to disperse throughout the land. Some of the apostles made their way to Antioch where they hoped to escape persecution and live a peaceful life. The followers of Jesus by then were known as Nazarenes, a name derived from a Hebrew word which means "to keep" or "to guard." Thus the adjective indicated their role as keepers and guardians of the guidance which Jesus had brought.

In response to an invitation from the Nazarenes living there, Barnabas came to Antioch to spread the teachings of Jesus among the pagans there. He met with unexpected success. Due to his efforts,



"For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord." [Acts 11:24]

After a year, Barnabas decided the time had come to extend his activity beyond Antioch. He was sure that Paul would make a good helper and with this in view he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back with him. Thus, again, Paul came face to face with some of the people who had suffered persecution at his hands, and again he met with hostility and opposition. But, once more, Barnabas succeeded in convincing the community to accept Paul. Perhaps Barnabas was looking to the best in his former class-mate and felt that if Paul's zeal and enthusiasm, which had made him such a thorough persecutor, could only be re-channelled, he would make an outstanding and invaluable follower of Jesus.

Not all the apostles shared the views of Barnabas, and Peter came out in open opposition to Paul. As well as the hostility kindled by Paul's past actions, there was a difference of opinion over two other issues. They could not agree to whom the teaching of Jesus should be taken and what should be taught. Peter held that Jesus had come to revivify the guidance given to the Jews and that, therefore, what he had taught could only be preached among the Jews. On the other hand, there was Paul who not only believed in spreading the truth to everyone, Jew or otherwise, but also asserted that he had been given additional instruction from Jesus after his disappearance. He felt that necessary adjustments should be made to adapt the teaching according to the apparent demands of time and situation.

Barnabas held the middle position between Peter's and Paul's. He held that they should only teach what they had been taught by Jesus, but felt that they should bring this guidance to anyone who would benefit from it and was receptive to it. Both Barnabas and Peter regarded the guidance they had been given as a continuation and an extension of Judaism. They could not accept Paul's teaching where it differed from what they themselves had heard from Jesus. They believed that Paul's new doctrine was in the main a purely personal creation of his own.

It is likely that Barnabas hoped that Paul would forsake his own ideas in favor of the true teachings of Jesus. So Barnabas and Paul preached together in Greece, and despite a lot of opposition, they succeeded in converting many of the pagans to the new religion. But, the inevitable took place; Barnabas and Paul disagreed with each other and finally were separated. It is said that they fell out with each other because Paul refused to take John Mark with them on any future mission, while Barnabas insisted that John Mark should continue to accompany them.

"Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.

But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. An so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus." [Acts 15:37-39]

Historians, however, doubt that the real reason for this parting was because of John Mark. Commenting on this in his book History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, MacGiffert says:

"That Barnabas... whose right to work among the Gentiles had been recognized in Jerusalem... should have drawn back and separated himself from them is very strange. Barnabas was not in full sympathy with Paul's doctrine of the Christian's complete liberty from all laws of whatever kind... The separation of Paul and Barnabas is stated by the author of the Acts to be the result of a disagreement concerning Mark, but the real reason lay deeper than that... The man who stood closest to Paul and was most intimately associated with him during the early years of his Christian career was Barnabas, who was a member of the Church in Jerusalem in its primitive days... His friendship meant much to Paul and doubtless contributed in no small degree to his credit and influence with the Christians. Barnabas stood sponsor for Paul in the early days when the memory of his persecuting career was fresh in the mind of the Church." [MacGiffert, 1897, pp.216, 231, 424-5]

One can reach to the roots of the disagreement between Barnabas and Paul if it is realized that the issues over which they disagreed were those which affected a human's everyday existence and way of life. Paul wished to avoid making any abrupt changes in those customs which the Greeks had taken for granted before his and Barnabas's arrival in Greece. He wished to abandon the commandments transmitted through Moses as to what meat it was lawful to eat and how the animal was to be sacrificed. He also wished to relinquish, where it seemed expedient, the commandment established by Abraham regarding the necessity of the circumcision. Whereas Barnabas intended to transmit the whole teaching of Jesus, Paul was prepared to dispense with many of its aspects altogether, since, according to the new doctrine he was developing, they were no longer necessary.

The change in Barnabas' attitude towards Paul could only have come about as a result of his experience while travelling with him. Any hopes that Paul would change his views and become a true follower of Jesus must have been dispelled by what happened on that missionary journey. There is no record of what happened to Barnabas after he returned to Cyprus, but it is known that, like so many who held to a new prophet's teaching, he died as a martyr.

After Barnabas had left for Cyprus, Paul continued with what he had begun. Although he had now been with many of the early Christians long enough to be accepted as one of them, he was still conscious of the weakness of his position. He might now be called an Apostle of Jesus, yet this did not alter the fact that he had never met Jesus in his life. Although he claimed to have had access to Jesus be revelation, he still needed someone who had lived with Jesus to accompany him on his journeys among the Gentiles. He therefore persuaded Peter to join him.

That these two who opposed each other so vehemently in the past, should now come together is perhaps surprising. However, the situation had changed. Paul was now accepted by many as a Christian and was no longer regarded as a possible spy or persecutor. The persecution of the Christians, which was quite severe by now, also probably played its part in drawing them together. Peter had already demonstrated his weakness when, under pressure or faced by immediate danger, he denied his being a companion of Jesus at the time of Jesus' supposed trial and crucifixion. He was probably now more willing to fall in line with Paul's approach to Jesus's message, since changes here and there might mean less persecution.

Paul deviated further and further from the teaching Jesus had embodied, and laid more and more emphasis on the figure of Christ whom he claimed had appeared to him in visions. His defense against those who accused him of changing the guidance Jesus had brought was that what he preached had its origin in a direct revelation he had received from Christ. This gave Paul Divine Authority. It was by virtue of this "authority" he claimed, that the blessings of the Gospel were not limited to the Jews, but to all who believed. Furthermore, he asserted that the requirements of the Law of Moses were not only unnecessary, but also contrary to what had been revealed to him from God. In fact, he said, they were a curse. Thus, Paul incurred not only the wrath of the followers of Jesus, but also that of the Jews, since he was contradicting both of their prophets.

Paul justified his new doctrine with the use of this analogy:

"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then; if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but, if her husband be dead, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." [Romans 7:1-4]

This analogy clearly indicates that Paul made a distinction between Jesus and "Christ". According to his reasoning, the law which bad bound Jesus and his followers was no longer necessary, since Jesus had died. Now they were no longer "married" to Jesus, but to Christ, who had brought another law. It was, therefore, necessary to follow Christ and not Jesus. Thus, anyone who held to Jesus's teaching had gone astray.

It was with the use of this reasoning that he assembled his doctrine of redemption and atonement, a theory which Jesus had certainly never taught. It was a great success, since, in so many words, it preached that a man could do what he wanted and not face the inevitable consequences of his actions, provided that, at the end of the day, he said: "I believe in Christ."

Paul's reasoning had two major consequences. It not only resulted in further changes being made to what Jesus had taught, but also prepared the way for completely changing people's ideas to who Jesus was. He was being transformed from a man to a conception in people's minds. This emphasis from Jesus as a man to the new image of Christ, who was divine, enabled the intellectuals in Greece and Rome to assimilate into their own philosophy what Paul and those who followed him were preaching. Their view of existence was a tripartite one, and, with the Pauline Church's talk of "God the Father" and the "Son of God", it only needed the inclusion of the "Holy Ghost" to have a Trinity which matched theirs.

It appears that Paul rationalized his actions by holding that there was no link between the period in which Jesus had lived and the period in which he himself now lived. Times had changed and the conditions which now prevailed were such that the teaching of Jesus was out of date and could no longer be applied. It had therefore become necessary to find a new basis for ethics. Paul took stock of the conditions which existed then taught what they seemed to require him to believe:

"All things are lawful unto me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." [1 Corinthians 7:12]

Paul not only rejected both Moses and Jesus, but asserted that he was a law unto himself. Many people, obviously, could not accept this. Paul responded by saying:

"For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His Glory; why yet I am also judged a sinner?" [Romans 3:7-8]

It would seem from this statement that, although he knew he was lying, Paul felt that the end justified the means, but it is not understood how truth would abound through a lie. According to this reasoning, if the man Jesus was equated with God, what objections could a follower of Jesus have?

`In reality' said Paul, `the law produces wrath, but where there is now law, neither is there any transgression.' [Romans 4:15]

The abrogation of the law of Moses by Paul has been a gradual process. In the beginning he started with a few innovations. Later the Gentile element kept on tampering with the books and intro-ducing new ideas. Innovations introduced by Paul were simply to entice the Gentiles. He started with canceling the law of circumcision. But one wrong step let the next inequality, and ultimately it ended into a faith which more resembled pagan beliefs than the revealed teachings of Moses or Jesus.

The concept of "Trinity" was in fact a very old worshipping practice; it started long time before the time of Jesus. It was in Babylon that the idea of "Trinity" first appeared. This Trinity consisted of Baal, the Sun-god as father, Semiramis, the Queen mother and Nimrod, the divine child. A day was set aside to rejoice over and to celebrate the re-birth of the young god. From Babylon this worship spread to other places, but the names varied in different countries.

In Western Asia, the god Attis was worshipped as the child of miracle, born to a virgin mother Nana. In Egypt, we have again the same belief with a change of names. There is Isis and Osiris were worshipped as "Mother and Child". In Rome, the "Mother and Child" deities were known as Fortuna and Jupiterpuer; in Greece, Demeter and Dionysus; and in other countries such as India, Tibet and China. Therefore, one can easily understand how the concept of `Trinity' crept into the doctrines of Christianity as it was adapted to suit the Gentiles.

There is, therefore, some justification for Heinz Zahrant calling Paul a "corruptor of the Gospel of Jesus" and Werde describing him as "the second founder of Christianity." Werde says that, due to Paul: ".. the discontinuity between the historical Jesus and the Christ of the Church became so great that any unit between them is scarcely recognizable."

Schonfield also wrote: "The Pauline heresy became the foundation of Christian orthodoxy and the legitimate Church was disowned as heretical."

Thus, quite soon after Jesus's disappearance from earth, there was a definite and widening divergence between the followers of Jesus and the Pauline Church, which was later to become known as the Roman Catholic Church. Differences between the two were not only evident in life-style and belief, but were also clearly delineated geographically. As the Pauline Church grew more established, it became increasingly hostile to the followers of Jesus. It aligned itself more and more with the rulers of the Roman Empire, and the persecution which to begin with had been directed at all who called themselves Christians, now began to fall mainly on those who affirmed the Divine Unity. Attempts began to be made to change their beliefs and forcefully to remove those who refused to do so, together with the books they used.

Most of the early martyrs were unitarians. The more the doctrine of Trinity became accepted, the more its adherents opposed those who affirmed the Divine Unity. By the time the Emperor Julian came to power, this infighting had reached such a level that he said: "No wild beasts are so hostile to man as Christian sects in general are to one another."

Naturally, those who deviated from the teaching of Jesus were prepared to change the Scriptures too, and even introduce false writings in order to support their opinions. Toland, in his book The Nazarenes, records these words of Iranius, who was one of the early unitarian martyrs:

"In order to amaze the simple and such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of Truth, they obtrude upon them an inexpressible multitude of apocryphal and spurious scriptures of their own devising."

Toland continues:

"We know already to what degree imposture and credulity went hand in hand in the primitive times of the Christian Church, the last being as ready to receive as the first was to forge books... This evil grew afterwards not only greater when the Monks were the sole transcribers and the sole keepers of all books good or bad, but in process of time it became almost absolutely impossible to distinguish history from fable, or truth from error as to the beginning and original monuments of Christianity...

How immediate successors of the Apostles could so grossly confound the genuine teaching of their masters with such as were falsely attributed to them? Or since they were in the dark about these matters so early how came such as followed them by a better light? And observing that such Apocryphal books were often put upon the same footing with the canonical books by the Fathers, and the first cited as Divine Scriptures no less than the last, or sometimes, when such as we reckon divine were disallowed by them. I propose these two other questions: Why all the books cited as genuine by Clement of Alexander, Origen, Tertullian and the rest of such writers should not be accounted equally authentic? And what stress should be laid on the testimony of those Fathers who not only contradict one another but are also often inconsistent with themselves in their relations of the very same facts?"

Toland goes on to say that when these questions are asked of the "wooden priests and divinilings," instead of meeting the arguments, they begin to call those who raise the questions "heretics or concealed atheists." He continues:

"This conduct will make them suspect all to be a cheat and imposture, because men will naturally cry out when they are touched in a tender part.. No man will be angry at a question who is able to answer it."

Finally, Toland asks:

"Since the Nazarenes or Ebionites are by all the Church historians unanimously acknowledged to have been the first Christians, or those who believed in Christ among the Jews with which, his own people, he lived and died, they having been the witness of his actions, and of whom were all the Apostles, considering this, I say how it was possible for them to be the first of all others (for they were made to be the first heretics), who should form wrong conceptions of the doctrines and designs of Jesus? And how came the Gentiles who believed on him after his death by the preaching of persons that never knew him to have truer notions of these things, or whence they could have their information but from the believing Jews?" [Toland, 1718, pp.73-76]

Now let us move to the fourth century to learn how did `Trinity' become the official doctrine of the Christian Church. Here we find that the Roman Emperors were the main culprit, and we must examine in some detail how they became involved with the Christian Church.

The involvement of the Roman Emperors with the Christian Church started with emperor Constantine. It all started in Rome when he became jealous of his eldest son and heir, Crispus, because of his popularity among the people. To make sure of his position as Emperor, Constantine had him murdered. It was known that the step-mother of Crispus had wanted her own son to succeed Constantine. She, therefore, had the motive for killing Crispus. Constantine accordingly put the blame of his crime on her, and killed her by immersing her in a bath full of boiling water. He hoped to mitigate one crime by the other.

The result, however, was just the opposite of what he had planned. The supporters of the dead queen joined forces with the followers of his dead son, and both sought revenge. In desperation he turned to the priests of the Roman temple of Jupiter for help, but they told him there was no sacrifice or prayer which could absolve him from the two murders. It became so uncomfortable to be in Rome that Constantine decided to go to Byzantium.

On his arrival there, he renamed the city after himself, and called it Constantinople. Here he met with unexpected success from the Pauline Church. They said that if he did penance in their Church his sins would be forgiven. Constantine made full use of this facility for his hands were stained with the blood from two murders. Furthermore, he saw the possibilities of using the Church to his own ends provided that he could win its loyalty to him.

Without hesitation, Constantine gave the Church his full support. With this unexpected backing, the Church became a strong force almost overnight. Constantine made full use of her. The country around the Mediterranean was dotted about with Christian churches and the Emperor utilized them to great advantage in the wars he was fighting. Many of the priests carried out very useful intelligence work for him, and their help was an important factor in his effort to unite Europe and the Middle East under him.

Constantine also made full use of the Church in maintaining discipline in his army. The authority of the bishops was used to ratify the obligation of the military oath. Deserters faced the added threat of excommunication. Partly as a token of his gratitude and partly in order to diminish the power of the Roman priests in the temple of Jupiter who had refused to support him, Constantine encouraged the Christians to open a church in Rome. He also encouraged his subjects to become Christians, promising them not poverty, but wealth:

"The salvation of the common people was purchased at an easy rate, if it be true, that, in one year, 12000 men were baptized at Rome, besides a proportionable number of women and children; and that a white garment, with twenty pieces of gold, had been promised by the Emperor to every convert.." [Gibbon, 1823, p.458]

However, Constantine did not become a Christian himself, for many of his subjects still believed in Jupiter and the other gods in the Pantheon of Rome. In order to ally any suspicions they might have, he made a number of decisions which seemed to prove that he too worshipped the Roman gods. He liberally restored and enriched the temples of the Roman gods. The coins and medals of the Empire were impressed with the figures and attributes of Jupiter and Apollo, of Mars and Hercules.

"...the devotion of Constantine was more peculiarly directed to the genius of the Sun, the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology; and he was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the god of light and poetry... The sun was universally celebrated as the invincible guide and protector of Constantine." [Gibbon, 1823, p.448]

The Emperor was considered to be the manifestation of the Sun-god on earth. Jesus had celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday. To please the Emperor, however, the Pauline Church accepted the following changes:

- Declared the Roman Sun-day to be the Christian Sabbath;

- Adopted the traditional birthday of the Sun-god, the twenty-fifth of December, as the birthday of Jesus;

Without hesitation, Constantine gave the Church his full support. With this unexpected backing, the Church became a strong force almost overnight. Constantine made full use of her. The country around the Mediterranean was dotted about with Christian churches and the Emperor utilized them to great advantage in the wars he was fighting. Many of the priests carried out very useful intelligence work for him, and their help was an important factor in his effort to unite Europe and the Middle East under him.

Constantine also made full use of the Church in maintaining discipline in his army. The authority of the bishops was used to ratify the obligation of the military oath. Deserters faced the added threat of excommunication. Partly as a token of his gratitude and partly in order to diminish the power of the Roman priests in the temple of Jupiter who had refused to support him, Constantine encouraged the Christians to open a church in Rome. He also encouraged his subjects to become Christians, promising them not poverty, but wealth:

"The salvation of the common people was purchased at an easy rate, if it be true, that, in one year, 12000 men were baptized at Rome, besides a proportionable number of women and children; and that a white garment, with twenty pieces of gold, had been promised by the Emperor to every convert.." [Gibbon, 1823, p.458]

However, Constantine did not become a Christian himself, for many of his subjects still believed in Jupiter and the other gods in the Pantheon of Rome. In order to ally any suspicions they might have, he made a number of decisions which seemed to prove that he too worshipped the Roman gods. He liberally restored and enriched the temples of the Roman gods. The coins and medals of the Empire were impressed with the figures and attributes of Jupiter and Apollo, of Mars and Hercules.

"...the devotion of Constantine was more peculiarly directed to the genius of the Sun, the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology; and he was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the god of light and poetry... The sun was universally celebrated as the invincible guide and protector of Constantine." [Gibbon, 1823, p.448]

The Emperor was considered to be the manifestation of the Sun-god on earth. Jesus had celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday. To please the Emperor, however, the Pauline Church accepted the following changes:

- Declared the Roman Sun-day to be the Christian Sabbath;

- Adopted the traditional birthday of the Sun-god, the twenty-fifth of December, as the birthday of Jesus;

- Borrowed the emblem of the Sun-god, the cross of light, to be the emblem of Christianity;

- And, decided to incorporate all the ceremonies which were performed at the Sun-god's birthday celebrations into their own ceremonies.

As far as Constantine was concerned, everything appeared to be going very well when the old controversy between the Pauline and Apostolic Churches again flared up.

The leader of the Apostolic Church, which continued to affirm belief in One Reality, was at this time a presbyter known to history as Arius. He followed the teaching of Jesus implicitly, and refused to accept the innovation introduced by Paul. "Follow Jesus as he preached" was the motto of Arius. His importance can be gauged by the fact his name had become a synonym of unitarianism even today.

Although the early life of Arius is hidden in mystery, it is recorded that in 318 A.D., he was in charge of the Church of Baucalis in Alexandria. Arius was no "bustling schemer" as his enemies would have people believe, and even they were forced to admit that he was a sincere and blameless presbyter. He remained aloof from the alliance which the organized Church had made with the Emperor Constantine.

Constantine, who at this stage neither understood nor believed in Christianity, saw the political advantage of having a united Church which would obey him, and whose center would be based in Rome and not in Jerusalem. When the members of the Apostolic Church refused to obey these wishes, he tried to compel them by force. This pressure from without, however, did not produce the desired result. A number of the Apostolic Christian communities refused to accept the overlordship of the Bishop of Rome. They recognized this move as a political ploy by a foreign ruler, and as something entirely apart from the teaching of Jesus.

The first revolt came from among the Berber communities of North Africa. It was led not by Arius but by a man name Donatus. The Berber always believed in the Divine Unity; they could believe in Jesus as a prophet, but never as God. In 313 A.D. Donatus was chosen from among the people as their bishop. For forty years he remained the leader of their Church which continued to flourish in opposition to the Bishop of Rome. According to Jerome, "Donatism" became the religion of nearly all North Africa within a generation, and neither force nor argument could change it.

The Bishop of Rome tried to install one of his own bishops in Carthage to replace Donatus. His name was Caecelian. This caused further unrest; the populace of Carthage gathered around the office of the Roman pro-consul and denounced Caecelian. As it was, the North African Christians had little respect for the Roman pro-consul and the other imperial officials. For generations now the Christians had suffered persecution at their hands, and regarded them as emissaries of Satan. Formerly, they had been persecuted because they were Christians. Now, they were to be persecuted because they were not the right kind of Christians. Up until this point, Donatus had been their bishop. He now became their popular leader.

The Church of Rome, which had by now adopted the epithet "Catholic" to indicate the universality of its approach in the worship of God, appealed to the Donatists to unite. The appeal had no effect, and Donatus refused to hand over his churches to Caecelian. The differences in beliefs were too wide to bridge. Finally, the Roman army came into action. There were a mass slaughter of people. Dead bodies were thrown into wells, and bishops were murdered in their churches. These events widened the rift between the Donatists and the Catholic Church even further. Since the Catholic Church was working in alliance with the pagan magistrates and their soldiers, the Catholics were called schismatics and their churches were identified as places of "hated idolatry".

Constantine, who was a good administrator, realized the futility of trying to restore religious harmony and unity by force. Deciding that discretion as the better part of valour, he left the people in North Africa to themselves. However, it was these events and their consequences which played a large part in his later making the decision to call the famous Council of Nicaea.

It will be of interest here to examine further what happened to the Donatists before turning our attention to the Council of Nicaea. Once Constantine had decided to leave the people of North Africa to themselves, the persecution of the Donatists lessened considerably, and their numbers again began to increase rapidly. The Donatist movement spread even to Rome. The too had a Bishop of Rome, but he was regarded as being a rank below the Bishop of Carthage and Nicomedia. [Fend, p.164]

When the reign of Constantine ended, the Donatists continued to work for the independence of their Church and to oppose any interference from the Emperor or his officials in matters of religion. They were not, however, narrow-minded sectarians. Augustine himself observes that the Donatists did not oppress the Catholics even when they outnumbered them. The Catholics, who were always ready to claim toleration for themselves, were not prepared to grant it to the Donatists when once more the imperial forces were sent to subdue these fearless people. However, despite this continued persecution, the Donatists refused to allow the Emperor to alter the way they worshipped God. In their opinion, "the Catholics were evil priests working with the kings of the world. Relying on royal favors, they had renounced Christ." [Fend, p.326]

After the death of Donatus, the people of North Africa continued to follow his example, and for three hundred years his teaching of what Jesus had brought was followed by them. When Islam came to them, they embraced it, so well-prepared were they for what was, after all, en extension and reaffirmation of the guidance they had been following.

Now we turn our attention back to Arius and his opposition to the doctrine of Trinity. At his time, Trinity was accepted by many of those who called themselves Christians, but no one was sure what it actually meant. After more than two centuries of discussion, no one had been able to state the doctrine in terms which were free from equivocation. Arius stoop up and challenged anyone to define it. Arius, by the use of reason, and relying on the authority of the Scriptures, proved the doctrine to be false.

Arius began his refutation to the doctrine of Trinity using the following argument: if Jesus was in reality the "son of God", then it followed that the father must have existed before the son. Therefore, there must have been a time when the son did not exist. Therefore, it followed that the son was a creature composed of an essence or being which had not always existed. Since God is in essence Eternal and Ever-existent, Jesus could not be of the same essence of God. Arius backed his arguments with numerous verses from the Bible which nowhere teaches the doctrine of Trinity. If Jesus said: "My father is greater than I," [John 14:28] then to believe that God and Jesus were equal, argued Arius, was to deny the truth of the Bible. [See the topic: Critique of Trinity].

The arguments of Arius were irrefutable, but Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria, by virtue of his position, excommunicated him. However, Arius had such a large following that he could not be ignored by the Pauline Church. The controversy which had been simmering for nearly three hundred years came to a boil. The Pauline Church was troubled and annoyed that so many of the Eastern bishops supported Arius, whose greatest ally was Eusebius of Nicomedia, for they were friends and both of them had been students of Lucian.

As far as Constantine was concerned, things were going from bad to worse. He was plagued with internal political problems, and the conflict between the Pauline Church and the Apostolic Church was not helping his effort to unify the different parts of the Empire. His experience in dealing with the North Africans seemed to have taught him a lesson: he should not take sides openly. So he decided to call a meeting of Christian bishops in order to settle the matter once and for all. The gathering of the bishops in Nicaea in 325 A.D. under Constantine is known today as the Council of Nicaea.

Apart from the leaders of the two contending parties, the majority of those who were invited to the Council were not on the whole very knowledgeable. No one from the Church of Donatus was asked to attend, although Caecelian, Donatus's chief opponent, was invited. Alexander, who was growing old, and who had been routed so many times before by Arius, decided to send Athanasius-a young and fiery supporter of Trinity-to Nicaea as his representative instead of going there himself.

Thus, the Council was composed largely of bishops who held their faith earnestly and sincerely, but without much intellectual knowledge of the grounds on which they maintained it. These men were suddenly brought face to face with the most agile and most learned exponents of Greek philosophy of the age. Their way of expression was such that these bishops could not grasp the significance of what was being said. Incapable of giving rational explanations of their knowledge or entering into arguments with their opponents, they were to either stick to their beliefs in silence or to agree to whatever the Emperor decided.

The Council dragged on for three months without reaching a definition to Christianity that satisfy the two sides. As the debate continued, it became evident to both parties that no clear-cut decision would be reached on the floor of the Council. However, they still both desired the support of the Emperor since, for the Pauline Church, it would mean an increase in power, and for the North African Church and end to persecution. Princess Constantina, the sister of the Emperor, had advised Eusebius of Nicomedia that the Emperor strongly desired a united Church, since a divided one endangered his Empire. However, if no agreement was reached within the Church, he might lose patience and withdraw his support for Christianity altogether. Should he take this course of action, the situation of the Christians would be even worse than before, and the teaching itself would be endangered even further.

Counselled by their friend Eusebius, Arius and his followers adopted a passive role, but disassociated themselves from all changes to the teachings of Jesus the Council agreed to. Under these circumstances, the dogma of Trinity was finally accepted as a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. The Nicene Creed was then drawn up an attested to in writing by those present with the full support of the Emperor Constantine. It enshrined the view of the trinitarians and had the following anathema appended as a direct rejection of Arius's teaching:

But those who say that `there was once when he was not,' and `before he was begotten he was not,' and `he was made of things that were not,' or maintain that the Son of God is of a different essence, or created or subject to moral change or alteration - these doth the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematize. [Campbell, 1976, p.389]

Arius and some of his followers did not sign the creed. Of those who signed it, some believed in it, some did not know what they were putting their names to, and the majority of delegates in the Council, did not agree with the doctrine of Trinity, but, nevertheless, signed with mental reservation, to please the Emperor.

Constantine knew that a creed which was based not on conviction but on votes could not be taken seriously. One could believe in God, but could not elect Him by the democratic method. He knew how and why the bishops had signed the creed. He was determined not create the impression that he had forced the bishops to sign against their convictions. So it was decided to take resort to a miracle of God to affirm and support the decision of the Council.

The pile of the Gospels-the written record of Jesus's teaching-still lay in the middle of the hall where they had been placed at the beginning of the Council. According to one source, there were at least 270 versions of the Gospel at that time, while another states there were as many as 4000 different Gospels. Even if one accepts the most conservative record, the number must have been quite overwhelming. The drawing up of a creed which contained ideas not to be found in the Gospels and, in some cases, in direct contradiction of what was in the Gospels, must have made matters more confusing for some people. The continued existence of the Gospels must have been very inconvenient.

It was decided that all the different Gospels should be placed under a table in the Council Hall. Everyone then left the room and the door was locked. The bishops were asked to pray for the whole night that the correct version of the Gospel might come onto the top of the table. In the morning, the Gospels acceptable to Athanasius, Alexander's representative, were found neatly placed on top of the table. It was decided that all the Gospels remaining under the table should be burned. There is no record of who kept the key to the room that night!

It became a capital offence to posses an unauthorized Gospel. As a result, over a million Christians were killed in the years following the Council's decisions. This was how Athanasius tried to achieve unity among the Christians.

Sabinas, one of the early bishops of Thrace, describes all those who assembled in Nicaea as being ignorant simpletons. He brands the faith they declared there as having been set forth by ignorant persons who had no intelligence in the matter. Socritus, the historian, compares the two combatants to armies engaged in battle at night, neither knowing the meaning of the words used by the other.

In 328 A.D., Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria died and a stormy election to fill the vacant position followed. The Arians put up a strong resistance, but Athanasius was declared, elected, and consecrated as a bishop. His election was disputed. Those who opposed his election complained of persecution, political intrigue and even magic.

Meanwhile, at Constantine's court, Constantina, his sister, who feared and loved God, continued to voice her opposition to the killing of the Christians. She never tried to hide the fact that she thought Arius represented true Christianity. She also opposed the treatment of Eusebius of Nicomedia who had been banished by the Emperor for his beliefs. At long last, she had her way, and Eusebius was allowed to come back. His return was a great blow to the Athanasian faction. The Emperor gradually began to lean towards the side of Arius.

In 335 A.D., a Council was held in Tyre to celebrate the thirtieth year of Constantine's reign. Here, Athanasius was accused of episcopal tyranny, and the atmosphere was so charged with feeling against him that he left the Council without waiting to hear what decisions would be made. He was condemned. The bishops then gathered in Jerusalem where the condemnation of Athanasius was confirmed. Arius was taken back into the Church and allowed to receive communion.

The Emperor invited Arius and his friend Euzous to Constantin-ople. The peace between Arius and the Emperor was virtually complete, and to further this, the bishops again officially condemned Athanasius. Arius was then appointed the Bishop of Constantinople.

Arius, however, died from poisoning in 336 A.D. The Church called it a miracle, but the Emperor suspected murder. He appointed a commission to investigate the death which had taken place in such a mysterious manner. Athanasius was found to be responsible, and he was condemned for the murder of Arius.

The Emperor, greatly moved by the death of Arius, and doubtlessly influenced by his sister, became a Christian. He was baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia. But, he died only a year later in 337 A.D. Constantine, who had spent so much of his reign persecuting those who affirmed the Divine Unity, died in the faith of those he had killed.

After Constantine's death, the next emperor, Constantius, also accepted the faith of Arius, and belief in the Divine Unity continued to be officially accepted as the orthodox Christianity. A conference held in Antioch in 341 A.D. accepted monotheism as the true basis of Christianity. This ruling was confirmed by another Council that was held in Sirmium in 351 A.D.

In 360 A.D. Constantius called the famous Council of Rimini. It was attended by a much larger gathering than the Council of Nicaea. More than four hundred bishops from Italy, Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain and Illyricum attended the Council. The majority of the bishops were from the Official Church. However, a creed drawn up by the Arian bishops which stated that the `son' was not equal or consubstantial to the father, was agreed to by the assembly. It was on this occasion that, according to Jerome, the world was surprised to find itself Arian. This creed was ratified in the Council of Seleucia. However, when the Official bishops realized what they had done, they withdrew their support and reaffirmed the creed of the Council of Nicaea and the doctrine of Trinity.

The Official Church continued to become more established, especially in Rome, and finally found unqualified imperial favor during the rule of Theodosius. On being baptized in 380 A.D., Theodosius issued a solemn edict, which proclaimed his own faith, and prescribed the religion for his subjects:

"It is our pleasure that all the nations, which are governed by our clemency and moderation, should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans; which faithful tradition had preserved, and which is now professed by the pontiff of Damascus, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles, and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; under an equal majesty, and a pious Trinity. We authorize the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of Catholic Christians; and as we judge, that all others are extravagant madmen, we brand them with the infamous name of heretics; and declare, that their conven-ticles shall no longer usurp the respectable appellation of churches. Besides the condemnation of Divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them." [Gibbon, 1823, p.400]

Shortly after this edict, Theodosius called the famous Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. A hundred and fifty bishops:

"proceeded without much difficulty or delays, to complete the theological system which had been established by the Council of Nicaea. The vehement disputes of the fourth century had been chiefly employed on the nature of the Son of God; and the various opinions, which were embraced concerning the Second, were extended and transferred, by a natural analogy, to a Third person of the Trinity... final and unanimous sentence was pronounced to ratify the equal Deity of the Holy Ghost." [Gibbon, 1823, p.408]

It had taken nearly four centuries for a doctrine which Jesus had never preached to be accepted in his name, and finally established as `the truth'. In the reign of Constantine, the Official Church, or the Roman Catholic Church, had been clearly subservient to the Emperor. In the reign of Theodosius it began to exert its influence over the Emperor:

"The decrees of the Council of Constantinople has ascertained the `true' standard of the faith; and the ecclesiastics, who governed the conscience of Theodosius, suggested the most effectual methods of persecution. In the space of fifteen years, he promulgated at least fifteen severe edicts against the `heretics'; more especially against those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity..." [Gibbon, 1823, p.412]

These edicts formed the foundation, and were the origin of all the laws which the Roman Catholic Church subsequently promulgated in its attempts to eliminate all beliefs, especially affirmation of the Divine Unity, other than its own.

The edicts were directed against the leaders, the places of worship, and the persons of the `heretics'. Their leaders were refused the privileges and payments which were so liberally granted to the leaders of the Official Church. Instead they face the heavy penalties of exile and confiscation of property for preaching and practicing their faith. By eliminating the leaders it was hoped that their followers would be compelled by ignorance and hunger to return within the pale of the Catholic Church.

The rigorous prohibition of the use of their places of worship was extended to every possible circumstance in which the `heretics' might assemble to worship their Lord. Their gatherings, whether public or secret, by day or by night, in cities or in the country, were equally proscribed. The buildings and the land which they had used for worship were confiscated.

All the followers of the `heretical leaders were left to the mercy of the general public. The anathema of the Official Church was complemented by the condemnation of the supreme magistrate. Thus a man could commit any outrage against a `heretic' with impunity from the law. There were thus ostracized from society and excluded from all but menial work. Since they were not permitted to make a will or receive any benefit from a dead person's will, they soon lost what little property they had.

All citizens of the Empire wee encouraged to participate in the elimination of the `heretics', who were put to death if they persisted in their faith. A special group of people were organized to facilitate the execution of the edicts and to deal with accusations and complaints against `heretics':

"Every Roman might exercise the right of public accusation, but the office of the `Inquisitor of the Faith', a name so deservedly abhorred, was first instituted under the reign of Theodosius." [Gibbon, 1823, p.413]

Thus the origins of all `Inquisitions' which were instigated by the Roman Catholic Church and which culminated in the notorious Spanish Inquisition are derived not from the teaching of Jesus, but from the dictates of a `holy' Roman Emperor.

With the passage of time the Roman Emperors became even more subservient to the Roman Catholic Church. The coronation of the Emperor became a religion ceremony. He was admitted into the lower orders of the priesthood and was made to anathematize all `heresy' raising itself against the Holy Catholic Church. In hading him the ring, the Pope told him it was a symbol of his duty to destroy heresy. In girding him with the sword, he was reminded that with this he was to strike down the enemies of the Official Church.

This then is the story of the doctrine of Trinity, and how the Roman Catholic Church originated. Neither this Church, nor its doctrines were instituted or preached by Jesus. Yet in the name of God and Jesus, the Church reached a point where it not only considered itself able to define who a follower of Jesus was, but also felt itself obliged to eliminate all those who did not fall within this definition, especially those who affirmed Divine Unity.

References:

Ata ur-Rahim, M., Jesus: A Prophet of Islam, MWH London Publishers, London, 2nd ed., 1979.

Bucaille, M., The Bible, The Quran and Science, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, U.S.A., 1976.

Campbell, J., The Masks of God: Accidental Mythology, Penguin Books, New York, 1976.

Fend, W.H.C., The Donatist Church.

Gibbon, E., The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1823.

Greer, T.H., A Brief History of Western Man, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York, 1977.

Lehman, J., The Jesus Report, 1972.

MacGiffert, A.C., A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, 1897.

Thomson, A., Blood on the Cross, Ta-Ha Publishers, London, 1989.

Toland, J., The Nazarenes, 1718

Nonson
04.27.01



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