As Gentile believers began to outnumber Jewish believers, assuming positions of authority in the congregation, many had far more background in Greco-Roman paganism and Greek philosophy than grounding in the Jewish foundations of the Torah, and Gospel. The result was that each congregation was a community church in itself and often differed, sometimes dramatically from neighboring congregations. Satan wasted no time in introducing confusion and discord into the Messianic community.
The concept of a triune godhead was a completely foreign concept to any persons raised in Jewish tradition and was only first postulated in the post-apostolic period. A period of time when the infant church was most vulnerable, and among many Gentile Christian believers, this idea caught on. This foreign concept discards and completely re-characterizes the traditional Jewish concept of monotheism. God revealed himself over and over again throughout the Hebrew Bible (there was no Christian Bible in the early post-apostolic period), and His revelation doesn't change. God was further, and most succinctly revealed to us through the person of His Son, the Messiah, the 'Anointed of God'.
The shoe-horning of three persons into a singular entity called a 'Godhead' does not a monotheistic God Almighty make, and the influence of Greek philosophy introduced by this concept, constitutes a decisive disconnect from Abrahamic tradition.
The Hebrews came out of Egypt and accepted the idea of monotheism. It was a concept unique to Abrahamic Judaism which separated the Jewish religion from the Egyptians and all other religious traditions on earth. This is the path that Messiah followed, His apostles, and His disciples must also follow. It isn't optional, it's an absolute. The Apostles understood that Yeshua was subservient as a Son to the Father. Jesus demonstrated it repeatedly, as his submissive deference to the Father is clearly revealed in His prayers, words, and actions throughout the Gospel accounts. Even trinitarians refer to these two elements of the trinity as the Father, and the Son, rather than the Father, and the Father's Brother, or the other face of the father, co-equal, co-eternal, of the same substance.
Arius of Alexandria to this day, is caricatured as a heretic of the lowest order by the trinitarian Nicene church. This presbyter from Alexandria is said to be so far outside of doctrinal orthodoxy, that he isn't even considered a Christian. To this day he is mocked, ridiculed and slandered as a fool. His untimely death is described as that of a vile sinner struck down by God, and a cause for celebration. Revisionist history notwithstanding, the discordant lack of humility among trinitarians of the Nicene Mother church and her daughters ranges from unchristian to obscene.
In fact, Arius was simply guilty of standing up for the traditional Jewish concept of monotheism. Monotheism is what Jews believe, what Yeshua believed, what the apostles and all of Yeshua's Jewish followers believed. Monotheism is what separated the Hebrew people from all other peoples, and all other religious traditions. When the trinitarian doctrine came along, long after the time of Yeshua, it was seen clearly by the Jews as a corruption of those Abrahamic beliefs.
Consider the times, out of which this controversy rose up. The Christian people of the early post apostolic years were scattered sheep as a result of terrible persecution. They were often forced to meet secretly, and struggled in a vacuum of doctrinal standards, or uniformity of doctrinal beliefs. The various congregations around the empire were largely disconnected, each with it's own bishop and prelates (clergymen of high rank). Christian teaching was largely passed on orally, and there was no real form of orthodox constitution developed through scripture (meaning Hebrew scripture). The Jewish Torah, prophets, and writings were the
Arius of Alexandria - a brief remembrance
"For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.” The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.- Isaiah 29: 11-13 - compare - Matt 15: 8,9
It is beyond the scope of this brief article to present a complete and thorough counter-argument to the trinitarian doctrine. It wouldn't do any good anyway. May God have mercy on the soul of poor Arius.
"The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth; before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men. And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death." - Proverbs 8
and the day the Christian church made the choice that it would no longer be recognized as a true Abrahamic religion
the poisoning of Christian monotheism
A TRIBUTE TO THE MAN BEHIND THE ARIAN CONTROVERSY
foundation which the Messiah's congregation had to be built upon according to the Gospel mandate of Yeshua. Arius was one of many that were aware of this fact. The sheep were scattered both physically and doctrinally, and thus, the early congregation became the Devil's playground, sowing seeds of treachery and deceit. Tares amongst the wheat, so to speak.
Then along came Arius, a presbyter from the church in Alexandria who was outspoken, and passionate for his traditional beliefs. Arius and a few friendly clergymen stood firmly against the contrivance of the trinitarian doctrine. The opposing sides of the trinitarian controversy had developed throughout the empire into factions that were dividing the church into separate camps, and the differences had become both toxic and irreconcilable. The controversy got heated to the point that Arius, the staunch monotheist, was excommunicated by his bishop, Alexander of Alexandria. He was reinstated by the next bishop, who died within a year of his appointment, and excommunicated again by the third, Athanasius.
The trinitarian debate had become so contentious and polarizing, that it got to disturb even Emperor Constantine, who wasn't a Christian, but had some sympathies for the Jesus religion. Even so, the emperor himself was greatly bothered by the fact that there was no unity of doctrine and practice among the Christian congregations. He called for what came to be known as the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD), a pivotal event in church history (see- Councils and Synods). It was meant to gather all the most influential Christian clergymen from around the empire, so they could hammer out their differences in a collegiate and civilized manner. In political terms, he called for a constitutional convention. His purpose was that they would come away with an agreement on how to order this rag-tag new Jesus religion, which was engulfing the empire.
Arius ultimately lost the trinitarian argument, and his life. Confusion, posing as profound ecclesiastical insight ultimately won. This confusion has also held its place in the theologies of every protestant church, each of which has claimed particular degrees of separation from Roman Catholicism, but for a very small minority of stubborn dissenters who hold themselves separate and apart. The Reformers found plenty of things in Roman Catholic doctrine to protest and disagree with, but the trinity, and the distance it put between Christianity and Judaism went unchallenged.
Consider this; how absurd is it that puny human Lilliputians believe they can discern or define the substance or the very "essence" of God. That they presume they can philosophically grasp the very bodily composition or being of God Almighty, Creator of the Universe. Yet trinitarians teach that which they themselves admit they cannot fully comprehend or readily explain. It's a "mystery."
This is not a mystery. If God created us in His image, then we should at least be able to understand the relationship He wants with His creation. This thread of understanding runs through the teachings of the Scriptures. First of all, He is One God, His Name is Yahweh, and His Teachings are not meant to inculcate such profound confusion.
Inexplicable, and mysterious trinitarian teaching is absurd on its face. Such teaching does not come from God, it could only come from the misguided men that have been gulping down the gruel, served up in the Devil's Soup Kitchen. Yet, to question or doubt the concept of a triune "godhead" is called heresy. Really? Heresy? Be a heretic for Yahweh. Hold fast to the inviolable monotheistic traditions of Abrahamic Judaism, the Torah, and the Messianic teachings of Yeshua. These are where God presents Himself to His chosen people, and reveals Himself to His creation.
On his deathbed (337 AD), Emperor Constantine finally consented to baptism. He requested the sacrament be performed by Arian priests which were still prominent throughout the Eastern church. The rites were performed by a friend of Arius, and the emperor was buried in Constantinople. His reign was considered an act of Divine Providence in that he had legalized Christianity, allowing it to be tolerated alongside paganism. But the pagan church continued resisting change to the historical religious tradition that so defined Roman culture. However, feeling a new sense of "license" Christian groups became more strident and emboldened in their opposition to their pagan rivals. In time, pagan temples were attacked and demolished by Christian groups who raised their own churches over the ruins. Not a one-sided conflict, these triumphalist attacks were often in retaliation for similar attacks committed by the pagans against Christian buildings.
In 358 AD Constantius II convened two new councils, one for the Eastern church and one for the Western. Several versions of a new creed were developed that deviated from the forthrightly trinitarian Nicene Creed. Presbyters, deacons and bishops began excommunicating one another right and left. Constantius convened another council in Constantinople in 359 AD to try to resolve the differences. More were deposed and excommunicated. Constantius died in 361 AD and Julian the Apostate became the sole ruler of the empire. He tried to reinvigorate paganism. He also tried to ingratiate himself to the Roman Christians by restoring Athanasius to his position as bishop of Alexandria.
It was emperor Theodosius in 380 AD that decreed Christianity the official state religion of the empire. In 381 AD he declared the Nicene Creed as the standard for his empire. Simple as that (see - creeds ). End of controversy, and Christianity's been stuck with it ever since. Church leaders meanwhile were adopting and redefining rituals, ceremonies, festivals, clerical garments, the division of clergy over the laity and more. None of which was scriptural, and all of which amounted to a determined effort to model the new Christian religion after the classic pagan organizational standard.
Much of this was meant to appease the pagans and make the church appear less exclusionary, and more like what the Roman citizenry was accustomed to. Much was due to the fact that the church was being taken over by Gentiles and the leadership was being transferred to men who had no foundation in the Torah or Jewish teaching, without which, it's nearly impossible to understand the Gospel teachings of Yeshua. In fact, many of the men being recruited to serve as Christian priests, had formerly been serving as pagan priests, and were thus, accomplished orators, suitable for the priestly duties of a clergyman.
Much of the change was meant to acknowledge and support a professional clergy. The church by this time was being reshaped into something foreign to the Gospel message. A cunning spirit with evil intent had crept in quietly, influencing and manipulating the leading personalities and theologians of the early church while in its formative years. One would think, a logical tactic of the Devil and his demonic sycophants. ( see - doctrinal contortions of the early church)
Where there is a sense of confusion, know this, it doesn't come from God. Where there is a sense of confusion, a spirit of deception is close at hand. There's nothing in Christian theology more confusing than the trinitarian doctrine. One may well wonder why churchmen insist on its preeminent importance when it has nothing to do with the reason for the Messiah's coming, and is completely unrelated to his teaching. Why do they declare that this doctrine, this creed, is at the core of the Christian faith. For a certainty it is not. They say that Jesus came in order to "reveal" the trinity to humanity. For a certainty, this is not true. What is at the core of Christian faith is that Jesus gave Himself up as the sacrificial offering for the sins of humanity and was resurrected. At the core of the Christian faith was the Messiah's teaching to repent, because the Kingdom of God has drawn near.
Following the events of Nicaea, Arius took refuge in the Roman province of Palaestina. In spite of the best efforts of the Nicene Council, the trinitarian controversy had not been laid to rest. The wound of dissention reopened before the ink was dry on the documents produced by the council. Arius and the others were eventually restored to the church after making diplomatic appeals to Constantine.
Athanasius, the chief opponent of Arius was personally ordered by the emperor to restore Arius to communion, but refused. Athanasius was thereby charged with crimes ranging from sacrilege, immorality, tyranny, and further he was accused of raising funds for treasonable purposes. He was also accused of having murdered a bishop of the church, and keeping the severed head for use in magical rites. The emperor threw the book at him. One does not refuse an imperial order. Really, Constantine merely wanted the dispute settled and didn't much care what form that settlement took, though it is believed he favored Arius. He saw Athanasius as responsible for so much of the dispute and dissention within the church, that Athanasius was exiled into obscurity by order of the emperor. He would not return from exile until after the death of Constantine.
Arius was then invited to Rome for an audience with Constantine. However, while traveling on the road he was poisoned and suffered a ghastly death in a public toilet. By some accounts he was murdered while entering Rome, by other accounts he was poisoned following the meeting as he was departing Rome. Either way, Arius was silenced, but what came to be known as the "Arian Controversy" remained, and remains to this day. His death was celebrated by the trinitarians who insisted he was struck down by God for his profane heresy (though it's unclear how monotheism can be characterized as a profane heresy), and could not contain their shameless delight which still commands Roman Catholic instruction. In fact, he was struck down by men for the profane heresy of rejecting an unscriptural teaching of the church. He dared to defy church authority, and was murdered for it.
Other matters taken up by this great ecumenical council included a uniform date for the celebration of Easter. A matter never settled, as the Eastern Orthodox still use the date of Nisan 14, in order that the celebration will coincide with the Jewish celebration of Passover. The date of Nisan 14 commemorates the Last Supper, and the Lord's sacrifice, rather than the resurrection. Others ignore the Nisan 14 date, setting the date of "Easter" always on a Sunday, focusing instead on the resurrection. However, if Nisan 14 happens to fall on a Sunday, the Easter celebration is moved back a week so as to maintain a separation between Christian and Jewish observances. The Mother church claims that they commemorate the Last Supper every Sunday with the ceremony of the eucharist, and don't need to celebrate the annual observance on Nisan 14. It seems, separating the new church as far as possible from Judaism developed into a passion, unapologetically on display at Nicaea. The seventh day sabbath was likewise discarded over the stringent objections of some in the Eastern congregations where it was still practiced.
Many other matters were taken up by the council. Here's but a few:
the lending of money by clerics
castration of clerics (a practice among pagan priests, was disallowed for Christian priests)
celibacy of clerics (rejected at first, but later adopted, but only into the Latin, not the Greek church)
the consecration of bishops
the primacy (elevation in the pecking order) of the Alexandrian and Jerusalem churches
It was Arius and his opposition to the trinitarian doctrine that became the primary focus of debate as the bishops and prelates gathered for the council. His own bishop from Alexandria, Athanasius, became his primary adversary, but he also had some well respected, like-minded friends at his side. Constantine himself opened the general council and participated in some of the discussions. There was a lot of politicking and arm-twisting, but in the end, Arius was condemned and excommunicated along with a few others, most notably, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea. However, Eusebius would later find a way to sign the documents and be reinstated.
By the time they had gotten to Nicaea, Eusebius had known Arius for many years. While bishop of Caesarea, Arius had sought him out after his first instance of excommunication by Alexander. As a scholar of Biblical canon, and a well known Christian writer and historian, Eusebius was highly respected within the Christian community. He had called an episcopal council in Caesarea, where the case was heard, and Arius had been reinstated.
Eusebius also enjoyed the favor of Constantine, and was invited to present the creed that he had been using in his own church to the 318 attendees of the Nicene Council. However, the creed that was ultimately adopted by the council turned out to be pointedly trinitarian (see- Creeds) rather than a unifying statement of faith. It was intended to exclude from church orthodoxy all that believed Yeshua was subordinate to the Father. The word homoousius (of one substance) was added to what came to be known as the Nicene Creed in order to bar the door against Arius and the beliefs of his anti-trinitarian brothers. Homoousius is a word, a concept, that appears nowhere in scripture. It describes the Son and the Father and the Holy Spirit to be separate entities, but of one substance, one essence. Emperor Constantine himself seems to have favored the Arian side of the controversy, but considered himself unqualified to weigh-in on the matter.
Arius wasn't the first to oppose the trinitarian doctrine. By the early part of the fourth century, it was already an argument that had been percolating for some time. As Judeo-Christian teachings began to clash with Greek philosophy and Greco-Roman paganism, intense controversy was naturally, close behind. The trinitarian concept amounted to a clumsy attempt to introduce a three-god invention, and somehow condense the three into some sort of mystical structure that trinitarians could allege was a singular monotheistic deity. Maintaining the illusion of monotheism was necessary because the Jewish monotheistic tradition stands as a self evident, irrefutable absolute. It's foundational, and was affirmed over and over by Yeshua, "I go to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God" (John 20:17),"The Father that sent me is greater than I." (John 10:29, 14:28).
Up until the time of Constantine the Great, the anti-trinitarians had been in the majority, holding the theological high ground. That is to say, holding the scriptural high-ground. Yet, the church in Rome, at the center of the empire, was the wealthiest of the scattered congregations, and in a position to force its unorthodox views on others, declaring them, "orthodox." Rome was able to spread this unscriptural concept, and did so for a number of reasons which included the crooked mandate to break away from the Jewish foundations of the Christian church. Making it necessary to reinvent inescapable Jewish traditions in such a way as to make them more palatable and inviting to the culture of high-minded Greco-Roman philosophical adherents.
It was determined that the emerging Roman Jesus religion would hold it's Jewish roots at arms length. This fact is evident, not only in the clever reinvention of monotheism, but also in the reverence of images (rejection of the second commandment), the date of the Easter celebration (if the Jewish Passover happens to fall on the same day as Easter Sunday, then Easter is moved to the following week), rejection of the seventh day Sabbath (rejection of the fourth commandment) and many other facets of doctrine and practice. They simply shrugged these off as too "Jewish," never minding the fact that Jesus the Christ was Jewish. The proud churchmen of Rome went on to pull off a brilliantly executed Machiavellian power play, asserting themselves as the supreme, unassailable authorities of Christian doctrine. Where do you think Niccolo Machiavelli learned his politically scheming, manipulative arts and crafts. He was well taught, observing the churchmen of Rome.
There is no shortage of scriptures available to support the Arian argument. This is one, often shrugged off as a metaphor for "wisdom," but perhaps better understood as a prophetically inspired revelation of the master workman, through whom, it is written, all things were made;
Know your faith.