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The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby Shema » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:06 pm

The pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism adopted at the Council of Nicea 325 AD doesn't actually circumvent the polytheism of the Trinity, and it never did. The *ousia* isn't God in the trinity, the three distinct hypostases are. And polytheism means multiple Gods, and has nothing to do with any multiple "essences".
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:42 pm

There is no particular chain of derivation from Aristotle to Paul. Paul's education was rabbinical, not classical. He studied under Gamaliel, not Greek philosophers, though he obviously had awareness of Greek philosophical concepts (Acts 17). There is nothing particularly Aristotelian about Pauline theology. And there is no particular reason for us to think that Nicea was tapping into Aristotelian philosophy, either. The philosophical view that was most prevalent at the time (AD 325) was Platonism, not Aristotelianism. Aristotelianism has more influence in the Middle Ages, particularly with Aquinas, but not in the early Church.

Homoousianism is not a Scriptural term, but it is one that was used in Nicea. One of the distinctions in Nicea had to do with the distinctions between homoiousias (of similar essence–the Arian position that got rejected), and homoousias (of the same essence, the position that was biblical and got accepted). The fact that Aristotle may have used the term is irrelevant with regard to the Council of Nicea because the council was contrasting it with homoiousias, not drawing it from Greek philosophy.

So I can say with some confidence, contrary to your claim, that the Aristotelian concept of homoousia was not the source of the decisions at Nicea. What is your evidence of homoousia being used by Aristotle? Just because a Christian council used the term (homoousia) doesn't mean it relates to or derives from another author (Aristotle) who used a similar term (ousia). There is no evidence that I know of of the term homoousia being used before the 2nd century AD.

Biblical theology posits Christ as of the same substance as the Father (Jn. 1.1; 10.30; Col. 1. 16), even though it doesn't use the term homoousias, as well as a plurality of hypostases (Heb. 1.3). Christianity never asserts polytheism, but always 3-in-1, trinitarian monotheism. Let's talk some more.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby Shema » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:52 pm

> There is no particular chain of derivation from Aristotle to Paul. Paul's education was rabbinical, not classical. He studied under Gamaliel, not Greek philosophers, though he obviously had awareness of Greek philosophical concepts (Acts 17). There is nothing particularly Aristotelian about Pauline theology. And there is no particular reason for us to think that Nicea was tapping into Aristotelian philosophy, either. The philosophical view that was most prevalent at the time (AD 325) was Platonism, not Aristotelianism. Aristotelianism has more influence in the Middle Ages, particularly with Aquinas, but not in the early Church.

Huh? Homousianism comes from the First Council of Nicea 325 AD, not Paul. And the three hypostases formula comes from the First Council of Constantinople 381 AD. None of which actually circumvents the polytheism. And I don't believe for a second Paul was a student under Gamaliel, but he also didn't did teach the trinity.

> So I can say with some confidence, contrary to your claim, that the Aristotelian concept of homoousia was not the source of the decisions at Nicea. What is your evidence of homoousia being used by Aristotle? Just because a Christian council used the term (homoousia) doesn't mean it relates to or derives from another author (Aristotle) who used a similar term (ousia). There is no evidence that I know of of the term homoousia being used before the 2nd century AD.

No, the immidiate source was probably Gnosticism, the original source was Aristotelian metaphysics. It doesn't matter anyway, it's a pagan concept adopted by pagans to define a pagan polytheistic idol.

> Biblical theology posits Christ as of the same substance as the Father (Jn. 1.1; 10.30; Col. 1. 16), even though it doesn't use the term homoousias, as well as a plurality of hypostases (Heb. 1.3). Christianity never asserts polytheism, but always 3-in-1, trinitarian monotheism. Let's talk some more.

There's no such thing a trinitarian monotheism, it's a self-contradiction. The trinity affirms three distinct Gods, then turns right around and denies its own polytheism. It's nothing but lipservice and cheap semantic gymnastics.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby jimwalton » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:05 pm

> Huh? Homousianism comes from the First Council of Nicea 325 AD, not Paul.

Glad to hear you say this. You seemed to have been claiming that homoousianism came from Aristotle ("The pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism adopted at the Council of Nicea 325 AD..."). Paul believed and taught that Christ was of the same substance with the Father (Col. 1.16), though he didn't use the term "homoousia." The term actually first appears in Gnostic writings in the 2nd c. AD.

> And the three hypostases formula comes from the First Council of Constantinople 381 AD.

The formula comes from the Council, but the concept comes from the NT, particularly the book of Hebrews (1.3). The Council was mere affirming NT teaching.

> None of which actually circumvents the polytheism

They both circumvent polytheism. The NT is decidedly monotheistic (Rom. 3.30; 1 Cor. 8.6; Eph. 4.6; 1 Tim. 2.5; James 2.19). Jesus Himself was monotheistic (Mk. 12.29-32). Polytheism is in the mix only by misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

> it's a pagan concept adopted by pagans to define a pagan polytheistic idol.

I'm not aware that Aristotle used the term homoousia. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd be pleased to read it. And that the Gnostics adopted a biblical term and twisted it for their own purposes is fairly common. They did that all the time. That doesn't mean that the Church can no longer use the term properly. New Agers do the same thing to—they kidnap Christian terms and infuse them with pagan meanings. But that doesn't mean they still don't have legitimate theological uses.

> There's no such thing a trinitarian monotheism, it's a self-contradiction. The trinity affirms three distinct Gods, then turns right around and denies its own polytheism. It's nothing but lipservice and cheap semantic gymnastics.

Trinitarianism is not a self-contradiction. All physical reality has a dual nature. Mass and energy are, at least in principle, inter-convertible, through nuclear fission or fusion reactions. It's part of what E = mc^2 is all about. We can, therefore, legitimately speak of the universe as a "space-light-time" universe. Light, as you know, is a paradox—exhibiting characteristics of both waves and particles, and yet it definitely behaves as a wave in some instances and as a particle in others. Scientists know this duality applies both in radiations of electro-magnetic energy as well as in the atomic structure of matter, in which the orbiting electron also likewise behaves both as a particle and as a wave.

Black holes are places in space where gravity is so strong that even light can’t escape, but no one has ever been able to say what happens inside a black hole. Stephen Hawking has theorized that rather than being stored within the "grip" of a black hole, information from "within" a black hole actually remains outside of it and is therefore theoretically accessible. So Hawking says information that is inside a black hole is outside a black hole—a paradox or a "self-contradiction"?

There are several principles from quantum mechanics that may show us some analogies. The first is called superposition, where subatomic particles are able to exist in two states simultaneously. The second is that of nonlocality and entanglement. The principle here is that objects in far reaches of the universe seem to “know” about each other’s states, and separate particles can behave as a single entity. These may be possible analogies, if that helps.

For another potential scientific "validation" of such possibilities, in 2017 a group of quantum scientists (University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai) successfully teleported a photon from earth to a satellite in orbit. It's called quantum entanglement. As far as our discussion here, quantum entanglement means that the two quantum objects share a wave function and share the same identity, even when separated. What happens to one happens to the other—wherever it exists. They are more than identical twins, the article said, "the two are one and the same." Apparently, according to the article, when they interact with matter on Earth they lose certain aspects of entanglement, but in the vacuum of space, they can extend infinitely (eternally). It's just interesting.

Christianity is not polytheistic. We believe in one God who exists and acts in the world in three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit.

Jesus, in John 10.30, claimed that He and the Father are of one substance ( ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν). “One” is neuter, “one thing” and not “one person.” A mutual identity is not what He is claiming, but rather an essential unity. Had he intended to say they were one "person," he would have used the Greek term *heis*. Instead He used ἕν to communicate that they were of one essence and shared a common nature. There's nothing polytheistic about Jesus's language, or of the Church's theological claims by Paul. God is three distinct Persons who share a common nature and essence. The examples from science shows how it works in the practical natural world. The language of Scripture shows how it works theologically.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby Shema » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:39 pm

> Glad to hear you say this. You seemed to have been claiming that homoousianism came from Aristotle ("The pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism adopted at the Council of Nicea 325 AD..."). Paul believed and taught that Christ was of the same substance with the Father (Col. 1.16), though he didn't use the term "homoousia." The term actually first appears in Gnostic writings in the 2nd c. AD.

The concept originates in Aristotelian metaphysics, I didn't say Nicea contained a direct reference to Aristotle.

> I'm not aware that Aristotle used the term homoousia. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd be pleased to read it. And that the Gnostics adopted a biblical term and twisted it for their own purposes is fairly common.

He invented the term and concept ousia. The Gnostic adopted it, then the Church. It's not biblical.

> 1 Cor. 8.6

This verse says the father is the one and only God. This is a deceitful and disingenous reference that disproves the trinity.

James 2.19

This is a clear reference to the Shema. As per this verse even literal demons have a faith purer than Christians.

> The formula comes from the Council, but the concept comes from the NT, particularly the book of Hebrews (1.3). The Council was mere affirming NT teaching.

Nope, Hebrews 1:3 says nothing of the sort, and homoousianism hade already been suggested and rejected as heretical at late third century synods, before emperor Constantine started state endorsed ecumenism. It's not biblical period, and it was also never adopted as being biblical. It also wasn't the doctrine that won out until the First Council of Constantinople 381 AD, when it was enforced as mandatory secular in the preceeding Edict of Thessalonica 380 AD.

> Jesus, in John 10.30, claimed that He and the Father are of one substance ( ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν). “One” is neuter, “one thing” and not “one person.”

Nope, it doesn't say one substance or any other pagan fairy tale. It means they are one in purpose, cf. 1 Cor. 3:8, hence Jesus also prayed his followers would become one as they are one, and one with them (John 17:21-23). Or maybe you're planning in becoming God too?

> Trinitarianism is not a self-contradiction

I never said that, so please don't misrepresent my words. I said trinitarian monotheism is self-contradictictory. It is, because the trinity is per definition polytheism.

> In quantum mechanics there is a principle called superposition, where subatomic particles are able to exist in two states simultaneously. This again may be a kind of analogy, if that helps.

Modalism.

> I most certainly did. Look back in the thread. I said "In this case, the 'he' is the one God.

And there's still not one "he" or "him" in the trinity, and the ousia isn't a person, the three prosopon/hypostases are.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby jimwalton » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:45 pm

> I didn't say Nicea contained a direct reference to Aristotle.

Then I misunderstood you when you said, "The pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism adopted at the Council of Nicea 325 AD ..." It sure sounds as if you are claiming that the Council of Nicea adopted the pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism.

> He invented the term and concept ousia. The Gnostic adopted it, then the Church. It's not biblical.

OK, those are different terms. Aristotle's philosophical concept of "essence" or "substance" is not the same as the Christian concept of "homoousia,"—of divinity sharing one nature. These are different things. So let's just leave Aristotle out of this. There is no provable derivation from Aristotle to Nicea, and you yourself just said that "I didn't say Nicea contained a direct reference to Aristotle." So it turns out, from your opinion and admission, that Nicea was not tapping into pagan Aristotelian terminology. We'll just move on.

> This verse says the father is the one and only God. This is a deceitful and disingenous reference that disproves the trinity.

Oh, my. I presented 1 Cor. 8.6 as evidence that Paul (and Christianity) are monotheistic. At what point does "For us (Christians) there is but one God" deceitful and disingenuous? It's quite straightforward. And you're claiming this verse disproves the Trinity? On what basis? Paul is, as he does many times, equating God the Father with God the Son, whom he specifically identifies as the Creator.

> James 2.19: This is a clear reference to the Shema. As per this verse even literal demons have a faith purer than Christians.

It definitely is a reference to the Shema, and to Christians as subscribers to the Shema. Christians believe that the Lord, our God, the Lord is one. The demons are not set forth as having faith purer than Christians, but rather as entities that don't follow their intellectual assent (belief) with commensurate works. C'mon, we have to be honest about the texts were discussing.

> Heb. 1.3. Nope, Hebrews 1:3 says nothing of the sort

You can easily notice that Heb. 1.2 also speaks of Christ as the Creator God—the agent of creation. Heb. 1.3 then continues that "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being" (ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ)— and there's your word "hypostasis."

> and homoousianism hade already been suggested and rejected as heretical at late third century synods, before emperor Constantine started state endorsed ecumenism.

Source? Proof? I don't think this is correct. Please substantiate this claim.

> John 10.30. Nope, it doesn't say one substance or any other pagan fairy tale.

Jesus says that He and God the Father are "one" (ἕν), a nominative neuter meaning "one in essence or nature," not one of will, purpose, or power. The Pharisees who were listening understood it very well and were stirred to the same anger to which you are stirred. In Jn. 10.33 they accuse Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God. There's no fairy tale about it. Notice Jesus never retracts his statement, says they have misunderstood him, or changes his story.

> John 17.21-23. hence Jesus also prayed his followers would become one as they are one, and one with them

You are missing the import of the context. He first says "that all of them may be one just as you are in me and I am in you." This is a particular phrase that John uses in other places. In none of the texts where John (actually Jesus) uses this phrase is he talking about metaphysical and ontological oneness of essence, but rather about a singleness of vision for the work being done and the life being lived.

1. Jn 14.10-12. Reference to the message being preached and the work of revelation and salvation being accomplished

2. Jn. 14.20. Reference to a life of obedience based in love. Cf. also 14.31.

3. Jn. 15.4-5. Reference is to bearing fruit. The OT image of bearing fruit signifies covenant faithfulness. Jesus is talking about living a life of faith, love and obedience, evangelism, godly works, and prayer. “Fruit” is love for God and man shown by obedience to Jesus. Spiritual life and action.

So when he is saying "as you are in me and I am in you," he's making a particular reference.

But then in Jn. 17.22 he says "I have given them to glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."

The glory God gave Jesus is the ability to see through to the end the purpose for which he came—to die on the cross and be raised again (Mk. 10.45) and ascend to heaven—as proven by vv. 2-3. In dying and rising he will prove that He is God incarnate, which will show him worthy of glory and exaltation. It will prove that God has the power over sin and death, which will glorify the Father. By dying and rising He will put on full display before the world and history His servant nature, His obedient Spirit, and His power to conquer sin and death.

By the same token, Jesus has given us the ability to see through the end the calling with which He has called us, and to live out the purposes for which He came: to take up our own cross to follow Him, to be crucified with Christ, to both live and preach the message of the resurrection, to identify with Him in His death and so to rise with Him.

In v. 10 we read of an aspect of glory Jesus received from His followers: Because His plan of salvation was successful, and people were genuinely freed from sin and death. So the glory God gave Jesus that he passes on to us is the plan of salvation. For us it means freedom from sin and death, just as by raising Jesus from the dead, sin and death were conquered.

"that they be one as we are one." God glorified the Son, the Son glorified the Father, and so also we should always glorify the Father and Son. The Father and Son are one in purpose—the salvation of the world—as are we, His children.

That's what the verses are talking about. Their oneness is to go into the world and win it back for God. That is the purpose of the gospel. It’s what Jesus did, and is also what they are expected to do. In this sense they are very truly one as Jesus and God are one.

> Or maybe you're planning in becoming God too?

Nope. There is only one God: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinitarian monotheism.

> "Trinitarianism is not a self-contradiction" I never said that, so please don't misrepresent my words.

Christian Trinitarianism IS trinitarian monotheism, hence, my attributing to you saying that theological trinitarianism is a self-contradiction.

> It is, because the trinity is per definition polytheism.

Polytheism, as I have stated, is multiple "divine" entities with separate essences. This is not what trinitarian monotheism is.

We are obviously not going to come to agreement here. I am convinces the Bible teaches trinitarian monotheism, and it has been the stance of the Church for two millennia. You, as a Jew, are outraged by the idea and do verbal battle against it. I get that. I understand your commitment to monotheism. It's apparent that no matter what I say, you are not going to come to even a civil understanding of what Christians believe, choosing instead to tell me that a distortion of Christian theology is our true belief. That will not wash. Your misunderstandings and distortions of Christian trinitarian monotheistic theology are not going to deter me from the teachings of the New Testament regarding the Person of Jesus, the deity of the Holy Spirit, and Trinitarianism. And I am not going to persuade you. So thank you for the discussion. I'm sure we'll have opportunity to dialogue again in the future.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby Shema » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:23 pm

> "It sure sounds as if you are claiming that the Council of Nicea adopted the pagan Aristotelian concept of homoousianism.

They did, but they didn't credit Aristotle.

> Nope. There is only one God: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinitarian monotheism.

That's three Gods, and there's no such thing as trinitarian monotheism. Do you also believe that the Shield of the Trinity is an accurate representation of the trinity?

> Polytheism, as I have stated, is multiple "divine" entities with separate essences.

No, there's literally nothing the word and concept polytheism that signifies separate essences.

> Your misunderstandings and distortions of Christian trinitarian monotheistic theology are not going to deter me from the teachings of the New Testament regarding the Person of Jesus, the deity of the Holy Spirit, and Trinitarianism. And I am not going to persuade you. So thank you for the discussion. I'm sure we'll have opportunity to dialogue again in the future.

I can assure you, I know trinitarian theology and its history better than you do. You affirm three Gods with one side of your mouths, and with other side, you falsely claim to be monotheist because you are doctrinally required to do so. You don't believe in the same amount of Gods as Jew or Socinians. Can you even explain how Socinians can reject one of your Gods and accept one, if you both believe in the same amount of Gods? Can you explain how trinitarians and modalists can both end up at numerically one if they claim they are one and the same, and you reject it? You can't and you won't. Can you even define what a son is?

> And I am not going to persuade you.

You sure won't, I'm a monotheist, I'd die before denying God. And you're going in circles anyway.

> So thank you for the discussion.

Sure.
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Re: The Trinity is just polytheism

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:55 am

> They did, but they didn't credit Aristotle.

If Aristotle didn't use the term (he used ousia), and if the term homoousia wasn't coined until the Gnostics, and if Nicea didn't "credit" Aristotle, then I have every reason to reject your claim of derivation. Similarity doesn't necessitate derivation.

> That's three Gods, and there's no such thing as trinitarian monotheism.

This is where you continue to be mistaken. Christian Trinitarianism is distinctly monotheistic, and you must know this. I am a Christian and a monotheist. There is only one God, and He exists in three Persons. There is only one divine essence.

> Do you also believe that the Shield of the Trinity is an accurate representation of the trinity?

Seems to be.

> No, there's literally nothing the word and concept polytheism that signifies separate essences.

Polytheism is a plurality of gods. Christian Trinitarianism is monotheistic.

> I can assure you, I know trinitarian theology and its history better than you do.

That's an odd claim since you don't know with whom you are talking and what I know.

> You affirm three Gods with one side of your mouths, and with other side, you falsely claim to be monotheist because you are doctrinally required to do so.

This is untrue, as I have repeated stated.

> you falsely claim to be monotheist because you are doctrinally required to do so.

I genuinely claim to be a monotheist because the teachings of both the OT & NT require it.

> You don't believe in the same amount of Gods as Jew or Socinians.

I do. As Christians we subscribe to the shema. We believe that the Father, Son, and HS are the one true God.

> Can you even explain how Socinians can reject one of your Gods and accept one, if you both believe in the same amount of Gods?

Socianism is based on a particular misinterpretation of NT trinitarian texts. His beliefs have always been rejected by the Church. In their effort to purge the Roman Catholic Church of its corruptions, Laelius and Faustus Socinus ended up throwing out the baby with the bathwater by repudiating all kinds of legitimate Christian doctrine. Their followers were more like a cult of Christianity than a genuine belief branch.

> Can you explain how trinitarians and modalists can both end up at numerically one if they claim they are one and the same, and you reject it?

This is like a pop quiz. Modalists believe that there is one God who manifested Himself in different ways (Father, Son, Spirit), like Sabellianism, while Trinitarians believe there is one God who exists in three Persons. Modalism is distinction in manifestation while Trinitarianism is distinction is divine action.

> You can't and you won't.

Umm... did.

> Can you even define what a son is?

When the Gospels use "son," it is to describe Jesus's particular unique relationship to God the Father (the intimacy of unity of essence), not to imply any beginning or source. It is a descriptor of His uniqueness and incomparability (Jn. 3.16) in fellowship with the Father. As the Son, he shares the status of God (Ps. 2; 110.1), the distinctives of God's being (Isa. 9.6), and the nature of God (Isa. 7.14).

Jesus is considered the Son in several ways:

    * The theological necessity of the incarnation, that Jesus would actually be born in human flesh.
    * To emphasize the uniqueness of Jesus’s relationship with YHWH in personal fellowship.
    * To emphasize the sending of the 2nd person of the Trinity on a mission (repeatedly in John's Gospel).
    * To emphasize the “one-bloodness,” so to speak, kinship relationship of YHWH and Jesus. They share a nature; they are of the same essence (Jn. 3.16; 10.30).

Is that the end of the quiz?

> I'm a monotheist, I'd die before denying God.

Moi aussi. This we share.


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