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In the Name of God بسم الله

Why the doctrine of the Trinity has persisted

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It is often asserted that Christian Trinitarianism was enforced by the political power of the emperor, e.g., Constantine the Great. However, Christianity largely succeeded in dominating Europe after the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, so the successive reigns of individual emperors do not explain why the Church has upheld Trinitarianism. For nearly a millennium medieval Christendom and its Trinitarian ideology were rooted in feudalism. Under feudalism secular or temporal power was largely decentralised, so centrifugal rather than centripetal forces tended to dominate. There was no centralised state or bureaucracy to enforce doctrine, and in fact the Church, not the state or monarch, was the largest and wealthiest landowner. Furthermore, under these conditions doctrine would have been exposed to other influences, e.g., Judaeo-Islamic, monotheistic hermeneutical (“legalistic”) interpretation, via trade and war, given the absence of a unified, centralised secular authority over most of Europe. Even following the consolidation of the secular state during the Renaissance/Reformation, “reformed” modern Christendom upheld the Trinitarianism of its medieval Catholic forebear(s). Also, the Church Fathers/Doctors and early Protestant Reformers featured plenty of logical, intellectual giants, so why would they continue to uphold a transparently “illogical” doctrine such as that of the Trinity, given their otherwise logical approach to practical life, scholarship, and theology? For most of early Christian history political ambition cannot really explain why the Church as a whole adopted and did not abandon Trinitarianism, even in the absence of a single, centralised secular authority that could enforce such an “irrational” theological concept on its subjects. Medieval Europe was very decentralised, and the Church was more powerful than the emperor/monarch, so why would Trinitarianism be so uniform and persist, despite opposition by and exposure to Judaeo-Islamic monotheism via the Crusades etc.? One cannot blame the “secular” power for this.

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In terms of why it persisted through the centuries as an idea, the answer is probably inertia. Scholars, even in traditions that otherwise profess the importance of humility, really don’t like to admit that their forefathers got something totally wrong for centuries. 

As for why the idea appeared in the first place, probably because it’s a reasonable philosophical attempt to try to explain God as a being that is One, yet has multiple aspects in terms of how He presents to the universe and its beings.

There is God as the transcendent, incomparable Other. 

There is God as logos or Nous or Mind or creative intellect that creates the world and interacts with it to drive its dynamic unfolding.

And there is God as Spirit or Soul that reaches out to and connects to and moves the human heart/spirit. 

Multiple modes of being, but one unified being. The trinity is one philosophical attempt to explain the complexity of that. Neo-Platonism (which had an influence on both Christian and Muslim philosophy) is another with its own sort of triadic explanation of God and His relation to the universe and mankind. 

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On 9/17/2022 at 2:47 AM, kadhim said:

In terms of why it persisted through the centuries as an idea, the answer is probably inertia. Scholars, even in traditions that otherwise profess the importance of humility, really don’t like to admit that their forefathers got something totally wrong for centuries. 

@kadhim

According to the Qur’ān, though, Christians are described as being comparatively humble and self-effacing, so why would their top scholars, who are otherwise quite humble and logical, stubbornly cling to the Trinity for millennia? Thinkers such as St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, et al. were, on balance, very cerebral and logical, so why would they selectively refuse to apply their logic to and reject the Trinity, especially in light of the fact that they even admitted the “mysterious” (i.e., irrational) nature of the Trinity? If they could apply logic and reason to so many other spheres of knowledge, why not here?

On 9/17/2022 at 2:47 AM, kadhim said:

As for why the idea appeared in the first place, probably because it’s a reasonable philosophical attempt to try to explain God as a being that is One, yet has multiple aspects in terms of how He presents to the universe and its beings.

There is God as the transcendent, incomparable Other. 

There is God as logos or Nous or Mind or creative intellect that creates the world and interacts with it to drive its dynamic unfolding.

And there is God as Spirit or Soul that reaches out to and connects to and moves the human heart/spirit. 

Multiple modes of being, but one unified being. The trinity is one philosophical attempt to explain the complexity of that. Neo-Platonism (which had an influence on both Christian and Muslim philosophy) is another with its own sort of triadic explanation of God and His relation to the universe and mankind. 

The major problem with this is that the Christians have consistently presented the Trinity as ontological reality, in effect “deifying” and personifying the Divine attributes that you mentioned, e.g., merging the eternal Logos with a created man and claiming that both share the same essence. They make the Divine attributes and a created being equal to the Absolute Himself. It’s as though they feel uncomfortable with the Judaeo-Islamic notion that the Creator transcends His attributes, in the sense that He is “greater” than created beings can conceive (i.e., “greater than/beyond a mortal’s measure of greatness”).

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18 hours ago, Northwest said:

The major problem with this is that the Christians have consistently presented the Trinity as ontological reality, in effect “deifying” and personifying the Divine attributes that you mentioned, e.g., merging the eternal Logos with a created man and claiming that both share the same essence. They make the Divine attributes and a created being equal to the Absolute Himself. It’s as though they feel uncomfortable with the Judaeo-Islamic notion that the Creator transcends His attributes, in the sense that He is “greater” than created beings can conceive (i.e., “greater than/beyond a mortal’s measure of greatness”).

Well careful here. Trinity and divine incarnation are two separate concepts. In Christianity, there is a belief in both, while in Neo-Platonism for example you have something like a trinity but without divine incarnation. 

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On 9/16/2022 at 6:52 PM, Northwest said:

It is often asserted that Christian Trinitarianism was enforced by the political power of the emperor, e.g., Constantine the Great.

Incorrect!

Christianity wasn't only enforced by Constantine. It was defined and packaged by him, through and following the Council of Nicaea. This package was passed on through prayers, rituals, and plethora of writings. 

The Apostle's Creed is read by the congregation regularly, if not every Sunday, which is an explicit confirmation of Trinity. Trinity has not persisted because there's any truth to it. There's absolutely no Truth in Trinity. It is explicitly rejected by the Qur'an and in Islam. It's persisted because there is a religious-political system created to protect the package. 

 

Nothing and no one but Allah is God. 

We ought to be vigilant of any sneaky attempts to allow any form or entertaining of Shirk into our Deen. 

 

Edited by SoRoUsH
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1 hour ago, SoRoUsH said:

Incorrect!

Christianity wasn't only enforced by Constantine. It was defined and packaged by him, through and following the Council of Nicaea. This package was passed on through prayers, rituals, and plethora of writings. 

The Apostle's Creed is read by the congregation regularly, if not every Sunday, which is an explicit confirmation of Trinity. Trinity has not persisted because there's any truth to it. There's absolutely no Truth in Trinity. It is explicitly rejected by the Qur'an and in Islam. It's persisted because there is a religious-political system created to protect the package. 

I think you mean the Nicene Creed (& the later Athanasius Creed). The Apostle Creed does not explictly profess belief in the Trinity, which is why Arius (who the Council of Nicaea was called to address) was able to profess it too.

I think the concept definitely existed before the Council because only 2 of the 250+ Bishops at the Council rejected it.

The Council itself was over 300 years after the time of Christ, so the real question it can it be traced back to Jesus ((عليه السلام).)?

I read a number of their early church fathers and don't really see it.. so I'm guessing it washed over from gnosticism or neo-platonism.

Edited by HzAbbas
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30 minutes ago, HzAbbas said:

The Apostle Creed does not explictly profess belief in the Trinity,

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting."

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12 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting."

You are confusing the sonship of Christ with the Trinity.

Even Mormons, who are polytheists (as Tritheists as they say) believe Jesus ((عليه السلام).) was the  son of "god".. but they believe he and the holy spirit are literally separate gods altogether. 

The Trinity involved the father, son and holy spirit being of the same essence - in other words they are one being in essence... but separate persons. (as illustrated in the graphic I attached).

 

5d0ae1091aee494c3f62b4b84a8efc1a44d2b1e9r1-432-412v2_uhq.jpg

Edited by HzAbbas
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Compare the Apostle's Creed now with the Nicene Creed.

This is the abridged version they use and say in Churches today, the original actual lays curses on those who reject the doctrines. Notice how they emphasize that Jesus ((عليه السلام).) was not a created being (but begotten) & that he is the same essence as the Father:

Quote

 

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

 

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21 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

Incorrect!

Christianity wasn't only enforced by Constantine. It was defined and packaged by him, through and following the Council of Nicaea. This package was passed on through prayers, rituals, and plethora of writings.

@SoRoUsH

As @HzAbbas indicated, only a handful of the few hundred bishops present rejected the Trinity, so Constantine was not its primary definer or architect. He simply ratified the view of the majority of bishops then present. Of course, this does not mean that the Trinity is valid as a concept, but it does indicate that the Trinity was not simply created out of thin air, so to speak. It was derived from somewhere. My question is, Why did the majority of bishops adopt a concept that is nowhere attested in the very sources (Old + New Testaments) that they relied upon?

21 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

Trinity has not persisted because there's any truth to it. There's absolutely no Truth in Trinity. It is explicitly rejected by the Qur'an and in Islam. It's persisted because there is a religious-political system created to protect the package. 

Nowhere did I imply that the Trinity should be endorsed. I am merely asking why the Christian leadership has maintained an otherwise unsubstantiated dogma.

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14 hours ago, Northwest said:

only a handful of the few hundred bishops present rejected the Trinity, so Constantine was not its primary definer or architect.

Between Jesus and the council of Niceae, there are a few centuries of events and conflicts. The arrival of the Trinitarian belief at the council, and its post-council acceptance, took force and much suppression of its opponents. 

If you're interested to know more, here's a book for you. 

 

71G-QXxSmKL.jpg

Edited by SoRoUsH
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On 9/23/2022 at 5:01 AM, SoRoUsH said:

Between Jesus and the council of Niceae, there are a few centuries of events and conflicts. The arrival of the Trinitarian belief at the council, and its post-council acceptance, took force and much suppression of its opponents.

If you're interested to know more, here's a book for you. 

@SoRoUsH

According to the book, only a minority of bishops supported Arius at an earlier council in 318 (p. 57). Furthermore, pp. 72 and 78 together note that Athanasius’ (=Eusebius’) supporters at Nicaea outnumbered Arius’. So the evidence seems to indicate that Arius’ supporters, who held that Jesus was but a created being and subordinate to God the Father, were in the minority at Nicaea and at other councils that were held beforehand. The question remains: why would most of the bishops hold to the notion that Jesus shared the same Divine essence as the Father, given the lack of Scriptural basis in their hands?

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On 10/4/2022 at 10:29 AM, Northwest said:

in 318

The key is what happened between Jesus's departure and year 318. That's three centuries, and the conflict between various early Christian groups never ceased.

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18 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

The key is what happened between Jesus's departure and year 318. That's three centuries, and the conflict between various early Christian groups never ceased.

@SoRoUsH

You didn’t really address my point. The crux of my argument is that over those three centuries Christians still could not locate the Trinity in Abrahamic sources. (After all, the Trinity as official doctrine was only formulated at Nicaea, not beforehand.) For instance, the bishops in 318, just like those at Nicaea, had the Gospels and the Old Testament as sources, neither of which supported the Trinity, so whence was it derived? If anything, prior to Nicaea the argument for Jesus’ divinity rested not on the Trinity but on the notion of “two powers,” an heretical concept that expounded the bilocation or “incarnation” of God’s Divine spirit or essence in the theophanies, e.g., as the “Angel of the LORD” or in the body of Jesus.

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On 10/6/2022 at 6:26 PM, Hameedeh said:

Be serious with your reply. We don't want your LOL mocking here. 

Oh so lol is offensive now wow. I am serious. I really want to know if what I read online and heard from our scholars is true? So you guys believe Allahs names and attribute are separate from him and are created? Can you explain what that means? I live among Shias and I always ask them this question but every shia I meet they have never heard of this lol they all think am joking or have lost my mind for suggesting Allahs names and attributes are created and accuse me of misreading their books or misunderstanding their scholars. Can you clarify IF you have any knowledge on this topic. Thank you. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Guest Noor43 said:

Oh so lol is offensive now wow. I am serious. I really want to know if what I read online and heard from our scholars is true? So you guys believe Allahs names and attribute are separate from him and are created? Can you explain what that means? I live among Shias and I always ask them this question but every shia I meet they have never heard of this lol they all think am joking or have lost my mind for suggesting Allahs names and attributes are created and accuse me of misreading their books or misunderstanding their scholars. Can you clarify IF you have any knowledge on this topic. Thank you. 

Names are different from the named. Allah is not literally the name itself, because Allah's name is other than Him. It is an attribute for the attributed. We use the name because we call Him by that, referring to Him because it is truth that for example He is Eternal. The reason why they are created is because the image and sound of them is created. When you read the names in Quran, they are made of alphabets so they are created and not eternal. The names have always existed eternally in God Knowledge, that is eternal. These are two different things. 

Edited by Abu Nur
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