Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "Please Revise the Bible, Again"

2.7 Christian Trinity

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Jesus, Peace be upon him, was born of Virgin May. He never claimed to be god, son of god, or part of a trinity. When he talked about God as his father, it was in the Jewish sense of the Old Testament as a close relationship between God and his righteous people. Certainly he did not distinguish himself as having a different relationship with God than other Biblical prophets that were called sons of god. Let alone being called as co-equal and of the same essence of God. So where did these doctrines come from? The simple and straightforward answer: it came from previous trinities that existed during his time. Virtually every pagan religious practice and festivity that couldn't be suppressed or driven underground was eventually incorporated into the rites of Christianity as it spread across the Roman Empire.

 

As the final pagan religion of the Roman Empire, Mithraism paved a smooth path for early Christian missionaries by transferring the better elements of paganism to this new religion. After Constantine, Emperor from 306-337 CE, converted on the eve of a battle in 312, Christianity was made the state religion. Constantine converted to Christianity after claiming to see a vision of a cross in the middle of the sun just as Paul converted to Christianity after seeing Jesus in a vision. All emperors following Constantine were openly hostile towards Mithraism. Mithraism was persecuted on the grounds that it was the religion of Persians, the arch-enemies of the Romans. Nonetheless, Mithraism survived up to the fifth century in remote regions of the Alps, and has managed to survive in the near-east until this day.

When the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Epistles of Paul were written, Mithras and Mithraism were already known, worshiped for centuries as God's messenger of truth. Sadly there is a lot we don't know about the details of this cult. Early Christians established the dominance of their religion by exterminating Mithras' faithful, razing his temples, burning many of his sacred texts. There are some differences in the details of Mithraism, just as the differences in the details of major events in the life of Jesus in the New Testament. They got his miraculous birth and his spiritual teachings and dressed them up with 12 disciples that they did not agree about their names, contradictions in the sign of Jonas, last supper, crucifixion, Jesus’ last words, resurrection, ascent to heaven, and so on.

The absurdity with which Christianity enveloped Roman paganism was characterized by the early Church Father Tertullian (160-220 CE), who noticed that the pagan religion utilized baptism as well as bread and wine consecrated by priests. Tertullian whose writing influenced the Christian theology tried to explain this by suggesting that Mithraism was inspired by the devil, who wished to mock the Christian sacraments in order to lead faithful Christians to hell. He said:

"The devil, whose business is to pervert the truth, mimics the exact circumstances of the Divine Sacraments. He baptizes his believers and promises forgiveness of sins from the Sacred Fount, and thereby initiates them into the religion of Mithras. Thus he celebrates the oblation of bread, and brings in the symbol of the resurrection."

Justin Martyr, a church father, says:

"... which things the evil spirit has taught to be done out of memory in the mysteries and ministrations pf Mithras..”

 

The Devil thus provided an easy and convenient target for venting wrath and abuse resulting from a patent inability to find a reasonable explanation. This is a most convenient way of evading facts and eluding the truth. A bold anachronism was thus perpetrated by them. Did paganism borrow from Christianity or did Christianity plagiarize wholesale from paganism? In the sequence of time: did Christian trinity come before pagan trinity, or pagan trinity before Christian trinity? They would not be reasonable enough to admit and acknowledge the fact that Christianity was a mere rework of pagan beliefs. This would be a lowering of their dignity. A scapegoat had to be found. And who could be a better candidate for this honor than old Lucifer himself?

 

The wardens of the Church in those days never failed to do two things, until Christianity fully triumphed over the existing creed. They incorporated, on the one hand, almost all of the popular pagan cults into their faith; on the other hand they took particular care to destroy and burn the pagan records and libraries - amongst them that of Alexandria some 50 years after the death of Constantine - in order to obliterate the origin of the faith so alien to that of Jesus. In this respect, Professor Murray says: "The polemic literature of Christianity is everywhere triumphant; the books of the pagans have been destroyed.”

Christianity was born into a world of great dichotomy. Still firmly committed to the Jewish faith that it had inherited, the growing religion nonetheless attempted to develop and establish itself within a world dominated by pagan trinities and Greek philosophy. Thus, the early developments of Christian doctrine dealt primarily with the adoption and incorporation of rituals and philosophy that were at odds with Christianity's religious heritage. Alexandria was the center of the Greek philosophy of the Roman Empire, and this Greek Philosophy was entrenched in the minds of its inhabitants. The Bishops of Alexandria imposed their theological arguments on the Ecumenical councils of Church.

In Jewish tradition, God was conceived of as being creator, one who is totally unlike creation and separate from it. Following the works of Aristotle, Plato, and the Stoics, however, the Greek understanding of God centered on His Essence that exists in everything from humans to water, fire, and earth, i.e. God “generates” the universe and all creatures out of his Essence. Thus Christians were forced to answer how it was, then, that God was present within the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The many statements in the Old Testament about sons and daughters of God were understood by the Jews to be allegorical and not literal. It is with these two contradictory and conflicting notions of “creator” and “generator of sons and daughters” that the Christian community attempted to synthesize a distinctly Christian notion of God, and Jesus' relationship to Him.

 

The Christian religion was not founded by a set of doctrines written and explained in a book by Jesus Christ. These doctrines were formed as the early Christian community grew up as the products of terrible persecutions of Christians by the Roman Emperors. The Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE was followed by the first major persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperor Nero. During the same year, St. Peter was executed in Rome. Paul was executed in 67 CE in Rome. The Jews revolted against the Romans in 66 CE, and Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE. During the reign of Domitian, the Roman Emperor 81-96 CE, the persecution of Christians was renewed. The mere profession of Christianity was a good reason to suffer imprisonment, torture, being flung to wild animals in the amphitheater. Also, during that time, many copies of Christian scriptures were burnt, and no one really knows the relevance of these Gospels to the original teachings of Jesus.

 

The question of Jesus’ identity is necessarily a question that strikes at the very nature of salvation. During the early Christianity, some Christians believed that Jesus was born instantaneously: the Holy Ghost went from Virgin Mary’s ears and Jesus was born immediately. Consequently, for over three centuries following Jesus, Christians were involved in some sort of Byzantine argument where no clear answers could be definitely stated. Christians at that time attempted to find and understand answers to the following questions:

 

  • What is Jesus?

  • Does Jesus have one or two natures?

  • Does Jesus have one or two wills?

  • Is the Son co-eternal with God or not?

  • Are Jesus’ miracles literal or allegorical?

  • Did Jesus pre-exist in the Godhead before birth?

  • What is the relation of Christ to God the father?

  • How could a human being incarnate the Logos?

  • What exactly did it mean that Jesus was a divine?

  • How could an omnipotent God have suffered in Jesus?

  • Is Jesus made of same or similar substance as that of God?

  • Did the Lord, to whom and through whom Christians pray, pray?

  • Was the Logos the same as such Biblical terms as Word or Wisdom?

  • What is the relation between the Logos and the concept of one God?

  • How can God be the father, son, and the Holy Spirit, and yet still be one?

  • How could Christians believe that Jesus was divine, and in the same time believe in one God?

 

These questions were asked because people who wanted to be true Christians and they wanted to understand the basic beliefs of the true Christian. Besides, Jesus himself never answered any of the above questions clearly and without any ambiguity. The fact that these questions were circulated in the Roman Empire indicates that Christian trinity was in a state of confusion. This is not because Jesus message not clear or that the Apostles did not understand the basic beliefs of Christianity.  This is simply due to the first century persecution of the Christians, the burning of their scriptures, and the effect of the converted gentiles with their cultural and trinitarian background.

 

There were over 50 Gospels circulating among the early Christians. No one knows for sure why only the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John were canonized. No one knows for sure why the Church accepted four versions of the Gospel with many inherent contradictions. What about the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Q, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Gnostic Gospel, and others? In the present time, these Gospels are somehow been resurrected because Christians want to know the beliefs of the early Christians. Millions of Christians that do not buy the doctrine of trinity are hungry for Christian information that supports their belief. They want to be Christians like Jesus Christ and his circle of apostles and disciples. And right now the existing versions of the Bible and the different sects of Christianity do not satisfy their needs.

 

Christian scholars and experts raise major doubts to the prevailing doctrines of Christianity. One can examine the different versions of the Bible that are translated by experts in theology and languages, and find omitted important verses with marginal footnotes, and major differences in the translation of verses that are crucial to the Christian beliefs. The average Christian layman has the right to ask: what did Jesus really say? To answer this question, a group of New Testament experts meet in a seminar twice a year to analyze the story of Jesus, and build their own version of what happened. This Jesus Seminar is perhaps best known for color-coding the New Testament. Since its founding in 1985 by Robert W. Funk, the group has studied the sayings of Jesus, using colored beads to vote on the accuracy of each saying of Jesus.

 

  • Red: Jesus undoubtedly said this or something very like it.
  • Pink: Jesus probably or might have said something like this.
  • Gray: Jesus did not say this, but the ideas are close to His own.
  • Black: Jesus did not say this; it represents a later tradition.

 

Their voting conclusions: Over 80% of the statements attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are, by voting consensus, either gray or black. This means that only 20% of Jesus' statements are likely to have been spoken by Him. The other 80% are most assuredly, they say, unlikely to have ever been uttered by Jesus! The Jesus Seminar has been receiving extensive coverage lately in such periodicals as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, as well as on network television. Furthermore, a quarter of British bishops - Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Methodists - did not believe that Jesus was born to a virgin! This is not terribly surprising if one knows that Christian priests, ministers, archbishops, bishops, pastors, and missionaries convert to Islam. These are the Christian experts, the scholars, and the ones that really know Christianity.

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