Christian Churches of God

No. 88

 

 

The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith up to the Quartodeciman

Schism of 154-192 CE

(Edition 1.0 20020810-20020810)

The Trinity did not come into existence until it was defined at the Council of Constantinople in 381. At Nicea in 325 the Trinity was not formulated. Only the foundation of the Binitarian structure was laid down here. All the Catholic Church was Unitarian until the Modal structure entered Rome from the worship of Attis in the beginning of the third century.

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright © 2002  Wade Cox)

 

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The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith

 


Introduction

The view of the church in Rome in the middle of the second century was that Christ was the Great Angel of the OT who gave the law to Moses. This view is contained in Justin Martyr's First Apology to the emperor in Rome on behalf of the Church at around 150-155 CE. The godhead went from this Unitarian view throughout the Church in the second century to the Modalist structure of the pagans in the third and then the Binitarian views of Nicea and the return of the Unitarians from 327 to the Trinitarian ascension in 381. The Modern Catholic position would have been denounced as heresy in the first and second century in Rome itself, let alone in the more conservative areas under the schools of the apostles.

 

The extant Creeds of mainstream Christianity are the result of the activities of the Fourth century. They are all attempts at placing the theology of Constantinople on an earlier footing.

The Nicene Creed is actually a reconstruction of the Canons of Constantinople in 381. The canons of Nicea were "lost" and the creed was reconstructed to make it appear that the creed was of an earlier date.


The so-called Apostles Creed is of a similar invention. The legend that it was written by the apostles on the day of Pentecost is a popular myth of the Middle Ages alleged to date back to the sixth century (cf. Pseudo Augustine in Migne P. L., XXXIX, 2189 and Pirminius ibid. LXXXIX, 1034; Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 629).


It is allegedly foreshadowed in a sermon given by Ambrose (Migne P.L., XVII, 671; Kattensbusch I, 81). That sermon takes notice that the creed was pieced together by twelve separate workmen. So the twelve workmen then became the twelve apostles.

 

Rufinus (ca 400) (Migne P.L., XXI, 337) gives

a detailed account of the composition of the creed, which account he professed to have received from earlier ages. He does not assign each article to an apostle stating that they were the work of all taking place on Pentecost. He uses the term symbol here to identify this rule of faith.


The earliest known instance of this term was ca. 390 in a letter addressed to Pope Siricius by the Council of Milan (Migne, P.L., XVI, 1213; cf. CE, ibid.).


The term was Symbolum Apostolorum (Creed of the Apostles).


There is no record ever of an instance for such a creed or symbol prior to the Council of Milan.


The conclusion is obvious. After Constantinople they were faced with the task of defining the new Trinitarian system and were seeking some symbol or document that they could reconstruct, which predated the reconstructions of the Council of Constantinople back to Nicea at 325. They then invented the so-called Apostles Creed to give the new theology of the Triune system some basis of acceptability.


The term "Symbolum" does not go back beyond Cyprian and Firmilian writing in the third century. Firmilian speaks of a creed as the "symbol of the Trinity" including it as an integral part of the rite of baptism (Migne, P.L., III, 1165, 1143). Kattensbusch tries to trace the use of words back to Tertullian (cf. II, p. 80, note and cf. CE ibid., p. 630).


The concept of creed is held to have been seen in terms such as "regula fidei", "doctrina", "traditio". These terms, regulation of the faith, doctrine, and tradition, in no way isolate the existence of the so-called Apostles Creed and there is no evidence of such a work. In fact the written statements of the faith are such that they would have regarded the fourth century creeds as heretical from the writings we have extant.


The greatest 19th century theologian Harnack says the Apostles Creed represents only the baptismal confession of the church in Southern Gaul dating at the earliest from the last half of the fifth century (Das apostolishe Glaubensbekenntniss, 1892, p. 3; cf. CE ibid.). The Roman Catholic, Herbert Thurston, agrees with this statement but says that it was not in Gaul, but in Rome that the creed received its final form (ibid; cf. Burn, The Journal of Theological Studies, July 1902).

 

Both of these hold that another and older form of the creed termed R came to existence in the second century in Rome, and Thurston tries to show this dates back to the apostolic age.


The early R form was as follows:

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty;

2.  And in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord;

3. Who was born of (de) the Holy Spirit and of (ex) the Virgin Mary;

4. Crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried;

5. The Third Day he rose again from the dead;

6. He ascended into heaven,

7. Sitteth on the Right Hand of the Father;

8. Whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead,

9. And in the Holy Spirit;

10. The Holy Church;

11. The forgiveness of sins;

12. The Resurrection of the Body.

 

This is the earliest creed we can produce and it dates from the second century in Rome.


The T document (p. 5 below) is acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church to have achieved its final shape in Rome shortly before 700 CE (ibid.).


Thus the concept of the declaration of “Creator of heaven and earth” was added, as were the words, "descended into hell", "the communion of saints", "life everlasting", and the words "conceived", "suffered", "died" and "Catholic".


If there is an early document it is based on the concepts here and in the statements of Tertullian from where we can make some reconstructions.


There is no doubt that the later Apostle’s Creed is a forged document containing concepts that would have been rejected by the early church.

 

Elements of the Creed from Tertullian

We can reconstruct the Old Roman Creed from the writings of Tertullian ca. 200 and Thurston has done this in his original work for the Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1907, vol. 1, p. 630.

 

His three writings used for this purpose are:

 

De Virg. Vel. (P.L, II 889).

(1)  Believing in one God Almighty, maker of the world.

(2)  And His son Jesus Christ,

(3)  Born of the Virgin Mary (Mariam)

(4)  Crucified under Pontius Pilate,

(5)  On the third day brought to life from the dead,

(6)  Received in heaven,

(7)  Sitting now at the right hand of the Father,

(8)  Will come to judge the living and the dead:

(12) Through resurrection of the flesh (see below).

 

Adv. Prax. ii (P. L., II, 156).

(1)  We believe one only God;

(2)  And the son of God Jesus Christ;

(3)  Born of the Virgin;

(4)  Him suffered dead and buried;

(5)  Brought back to life;

(6)  Taken again into heaven;

(7)  Sits at the right hand of the Father;

(8)  Will come to judge the living and the dead;

(9)  Who has sent from the Father the Holy [Spirit];

 

Praeser., De. xiii and xxxvi (P.L. II, 26,49).

(1)  I believe in one God maker of the world;

(2)  The Word called His son Jesus Christ;

(3)  By the Spirit and power of God the father made flesh in Mary’s [Mariam’s] womb, and born of her.

(4)  Fastened to a cross;

(5)  He rose the third day;

(6)  Was caught up in heaven;

(7)  Sat at the right hand of the Father;

(8)  Will come with glory to take the good into life eternal and condemn the wicked to perpetual fire;

(9)  Sent the vicarious power of His Holy Spirit;

(10) To govern believers (in this passage (9) and (10) precede (8) as noted by Thurston ibid.).

(12) Restoration of the Flesh.

 

We can see from these two texts that the R document was later supplanted by the existing form referred to as T.  Thurston denies that the ancient R document was really believed to be the original creed of the apostles; otherwise they would not have altered the form.

 

Importantly, they are distinct. The R document and Tertullian, in existence up the end of the Second century, are absolutely Unitarian. Those early documents claim the pre-existence of Jesus Christ before the incarnation. This matter is examined in Cox, The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243), (CCG, 1998).

 

There is an absolute emphasis on the resurrection of the flesh to judgment and eternal life.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day was by the Father. He was conceived by the power of God, which is the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit is a power and not a person.

 

The R document has point (11), namely the forgiveness of sins, which Tertullian omits in his writings no doubt from the mindset that later in his career moved him into Montanist doctrines.

 

Tertullian has made reference to the fact that the Jews kept the Sabbaths, New Moons and festivals, and that they were beloved by God until the Jews perverted them. He mistakenly misconstrues the argument, nevertheless acknowledging that they were kept, and that the pagans were more faithful in their festivals than the Christians in theirs. (Tertullian, On Idolatry, ch. XIV, ANF, vol. III, p. 70.)

 

The resurrection of the dead was to the flesh and thus the existence of heaven and hell was denied. We can confirm these aspects by reference to the early writings below.

 

We know for a fact that the early church was never as vehement as in the insistence on the oneness of God, who was the Father, and in the denial of the existence of heaven and hell.

 

We know for a fact that the word Trinity did not exist in relation to Christianity in the first two centuries. The closest we come to it is in the writings of Theophilius of Antioch who uses the term trias which is incorrectly rendered as Trinity in the English translation of his works. This matter has been examined in the work Cox, Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) (CCG, 1995, 1999).

 

Justin Martyr is a valuable reference for the doctrines and the views of the church at the beginning of the Quartodeciman Disputes, at the time of the ascension of Anicetus to the office of bishop of Rome and the introduction of the pagan Easter system as a substitute for the Passover (see Cox, The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235)) (CCG, 1998), and The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)) (CCG 1998).

 

Justin quite clearly identifies Christ as the Angel of the Presence who gave the Law to Moses at Sinai (First Apology, ch. LXIII, ANF, Vol. 1, p. 184). He identifies Christ as the subordinate God of Israel appointed by the Father and mentioned in Psalm 45:6-7 (Second Apology, LXXXVI, ibid, p. 242).

 

He also says in his Dialogue with Trypho LXXX:

For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth of the resurrection], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls when they die are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians…(ibid., ANF ibid., p. 239).

 

Justin in this same text goes on to establish beyond doubt that the Resurrection will be of the dead saints with Christ:

But I and others who are right minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare (ibid).

 

There is no doubt that Christians, who were the mainstream at this time, viewed the Gnostic doctrines of Heaven and Hell as godless and blasphemous doctrines (see also Cox, The Soul (No. 92)) (CCG, 1995); The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143)) (CCG).

 

The early true Christians believed in a physical resurrection to eternal life and a millennial system, or Chiliad, of a period of one thousand years, ruled from Jerusalem, and a Judgement at the end of that system of all flesh.

 

From the writings of Ireanaus in exposition of the Bible texts, we know that they also believed that the rule of the celestial system would be as saints resurrected to spiritual form and appointed as elohim, with and as the Angel of God at their head (Zech. 12:8; cf. Cox, The Elect as Elohim (No. 1)) (CCG 1994, 1999). 

 

It was their view that the elect would assume duties as the council of the Elohim alongside Christ. It was the view that God was extending himself as Elohim for the singular Eloah and that the elect would become gods as God and with God. It was in this way that God was extending Himself and the Holy Spirit was the power used to that end (Cox, Consubstantial with the Father (No. 81)) (CCG, 1994, 1999) and The Holy Spirit (No. 117)) (CCG, 1994, 2000).

 

The introduction of Sunday worship into Rome was under the influence of the Mystery and Sun Cults (see S. Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, Pontifical Gregorian University Press Rome, 1975). This error was followed by a series of innovations such as the introduction of Easter. When Easter was introduced by Anicetus for political reasons, it was resisted by the church outside of Rome, whose spokesman was the disciple of John, namely Polycarp. When Bishop Victor, ca 192, forced its uniform acceptance in the Roman Church, Polycrates as successor to Polycarp, was unable to stem the flow of error and the Christian church divided in what was, notwithstanding the Montanist error, perhaps the first great Schism. It was done at the order of Victor who declared all who would not accept Easter in place of the Passover as anathema (Cox, (No. 277 op.cit).

 

So the first major schism was in 192 with the Passover/Easter controversy when Easter was introduced to the church from Rome by force. (cf. The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)). By 325 at the Council of Nicea there had seen so much pagan doctrine introduced through the worship of Attis and the Easter system that another division occurred from the Council of Nicea.

 

Innovation grew upon innovation based on the Mystery cults and the political drives of the church leaders. By the Council of Constantinople the great error of the Trinity had occurred under the Cappadocians and Augustine forced theology into the intradivine instrospection from which it has never recovered.

 

The Nicene Creed so called was formed in 381 from Constantinople because the canons were supposedly lost (see also Cox, Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76)) (CCG, 1994, 2000)).

 

The T Document referred to by Thurston (loc. cit.) reads:

(1)   I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth;

(2)   And in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord;

(3)   Who was conceived by the Holy [Spirit], born of the Virgin Mary [Mariam];

(4)   Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;

(5)   He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead;

(6)   He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

(7)   From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

(8)   I believe in the Holy [Spirit],

(9)   The Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints:

(10) The forgiveness of sins,

(11) The resurrection of the body, and

(12) Life everlasting

 

Thurston notes that the differences, other than a detailed examination of the Latin text, are that the R document does not contain the terms “Creator of heaven and earth,” “descended into Hell,” “the communion of saints,” “life everlasting,” nor the words “conceived,” “suffered,” “died” and “Catholic.” Thurston considers that many of the words if not all, were known to Jerome in Palestine ca 380 (referring to Morin in Revue Benedictine, January, 1904, ibid.).

 

Thus the error is direct to the source of the Cappadocians in the period immediately prior to Constantinople in 381, if we are to accept this view.

 

The formation of Islam was inevitable. By 632 CE, the groundwork was set for a division of theology and Monotheism that would gradually become so estranged that the greatest Holocaust in history is shortly to burst upon us. The perpetrators are the Trinitarian, Hadithic and Talmudic Scholars, who have lied and distorted the history of religion for their own ends and killed everyone who spoke the truth about the original faith and tried to follow that faith once delivered to the saints.

 

Trinitarianism and Nicea

The major assumption of modern day Christianity is that God exists as three entities or hypostases. The three entities are described as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, whether or not they are described as persons. The three entities are said to form a Trinity.

 

Another equally false assumption is that the early Church was Binitarian rather than Trinitarian. This is to say that Christ, while being subordinate, was nevertheless co-eternal. There were thus two true Gods existing side by side as Father and Son. This is what is known anciently as the Dual Power Heresy. This contravenes the testimony of John (17:3 and 1Jn. 5:20) who holds that there is only One True God and that Jesus Christ is His son. Also the writings of Paul hold that only God is immortal from 1Timothy 6:16. The understanding of John and Paul and the other apostles was also held by the disciples of John and their heirs.

 

The assertion that God is confined to three entities each being co-eternal and co-equal was not the understanding of the Apostolic and early Church. The concept of a Godhead of three beings preceded Christ by many centuries. There is no doubt that the triune god is found among the earliest civilisations and is known to extend east into Asia. These concepts entered Christianity largely through the Greeks and their influence on the Romans.

 

The First Reference to a Threefold Aspect of God in Christianity

The first instance of a reference to the Christian Godhead as three entities was by Theophilus of Antioch (c. 180 CE) who used the term trias of which the Latin trinitas is held to be a translation. The term was used where he spoke of the trias of God, His Word and His Wisdom (Theophilus to Autolycus. The ANF here translates the word trias as trinity). The next instance of the use of the term is by Tertullian (De Pud, c. xxi, P.G., II, 1026). Tertullian was the first to directly assert the essential unity of the three 'persons', but his logic and arguments are essentially subordinationist (see Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, p. 570). The nearest equivalent to the Nicene doctrine did not occur until proposed by the Roman Bishop Dionysius (CE 262) who was a Greek by birth. He was concerned to eliminate the process of reducing the three entities to separate Gods (Schaff, ibid.).

 

The assertion that God is an entity comprising two beings and a persona as a spirit or power, which emanates from one or both is a later fourth, fifth and sixth century Trinitarian assertion. The assertion was made in modification of an original trias (above) and abandoned as inadequate. Both the triune cosmology and the Trinity, as it is now understood are biblically unsound.

The concept of the trinity may be defined in two ways as

1. "Three Persons who are equally possessed of the divine nature". This is held to have been the dominant view since the Councils of Nicæa and Constantinople.

2. The Son and the Spirit as deriving from the Father who is the sole source of Godhead. This was the prevalent view of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and the Church generally up until Nicæa (c. 325 CE) (see G.H. Joyce, The Catholic Encyc. (C.E.) article ‘Trinity’, Vol. XV, p. 51).

 

The doctrine of the Trinity rests on a series of false assumptions made contrary to biblical evidence. The two major false assumptions, which are evident from the quotes herein, are:

· that the terms translated God are confined to one, two or three entities or hypostases; and

· that Christ is God co-eternally and co-equally as God the Father is God.

 

Examining Co-Equality and Co-Eternality

Many of the Patristic writers denied the equality of the Son with the Father. Similarly their logic denies co-eternality. The relevant passages are as follows.

Justin

Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is therein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed. (Apol. I, xiii)

And the first power after God the Father and Lord of all is the Word [or logos], who is also the Son. (Apol. I, xxxii)

It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God, as anything else than the Word [or logos], who is also the firstborn of God. (Apol. I, xxxiii)

 

Thus Justin thinks of the Logos as an emanation of God, which is capable of individuation to embrace the concept of the Spirit in general and Christ in particular.

 

The angels were also held to be conformed to the image of God. From chapters 13, 16 and 61, Justin did not advocate the worship of angels.

 

Justin clearly identifies Christ as the Angel of the Presence at Sinai who gave the law to Moses (First Apol. Ch. LXIII).

 

Justin was seemingly among the first to record the introduction of Sunday worship (see Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, pp. 223ff.) yet he was still a subordinationist. He held peculiar antinomian views regarding the Sabbath and its application to the Jews as a peculiar punishment. These types of views were not supported by Christians at the time and Bacchiocchi holds that the Christian Church has never accepted such a false thesis (p. 225).  His dialogue with Trypho shows a dual keeping of the Sabbaths and Holy Days and it seems they did both in Rome in the middle of the second century.

 

To hold that God established the circumcision and the Sabbath solely on account of the wickedness of the Jews as a distinguishing mark, to set them off from other nations and us Christians so that the Jews only might suffer affliction (Dial. 16:1, 21:1; see also Bacchiocchi, ibid.) makes God guilty of gross respect of persons and is contrary to the entire sentiment of the confessions of the Reformation. In spite of this error, his view of the Godhead is still subordinationist. However, he introduces emanationist reasoning which seems to accompany this antinomianist approach. As we have seen, Justin, however, still denied the doctrine of the Soul and heaven as non-Christian stemming from the mystery cults.

 

Irenæus says of God:

For He commanded, and they were created; He spake and they were made. Whom therefore did He command? The Word, no doubt, by whom, He says, the heavens were established and all their power by the breath of His mouth [Ps. 33:6]. (Adv. haer. III, viii, 3)

 

Irenæus held that:

It is clearly proved that neither the prophets nor the apostles did ever name another God, or call [him] Lord, except the true and only God.... But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things, which have been made by Him (ibid.).

 

Irenæus extended the capacity to become God (theos or elohim) to the Logos here as distinct from the other things established (ibid.). He had already established the position of God and the Son and those of the adoption as theoi or elohim and all sons of God from Book III, Chapter VI.

 

There is no doubt that Irenæus had a subordinationist view of the Godhead. The loyal Host are also included in the council from the understanding in Revelation 4 & 5 – thus the loyal Host are also the Ecclesia of God. There is no doubt that the term elohim or theoi was held to extend to the Church. This was the understanding of the first century Church both from John to Polycarp who taught Irenæus and on into the second and subsequent centuries.

 

Clement of Alexandria says in like manner:

For the Son is the power of God, as being the Father's most ancient Word before the production of all things, and His Wisdom. He is then properly called the Teacher of the beings formed by Him.

Now the energy of the Lord has a reference to the Almighty; and the Son is, so to speak, an energy of the Father. ("Strom.", VII, ii, P.G., IX, 410)

 

Clement, however, understood that the destiny of the elect was to become gods. He said when speaking of gnosis, which he held could be attained by man to some extent during his stay on earth:

But it reaches its climax after the death of the body, when the soul of the [gnoostikos] is allowed to fly back to its original place, where after becoming a god, it can enjoy, in a complete and perpetual rest, the contemplation of the highest divinity 'face to face', together with the other [theoi] (S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria A Study In Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford, 1971, p. 142).

 

Thus here we see the combination of the Greek gnosis combined with the early doctrine that we would become theoi or elohim. There was no suggestion that Christ or the other theoi were equal to this highest divinity.

 

Hippolytus says and most significantly:

Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: "When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another's." For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that the Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. (Hippolytus repeats this opinion in his summary, Book X.) (Con. Noet, n. 14, "The Refutation of All Heresies", Bk. IX, Ch. V, ANF, Vol. V, pp. 127-128);

 

It is with this writer that we first develop the error that Christ was the only emanation of the Father. The other elements of the heavenly Host are said to be creations of the Son and thus do not share in the divine nature as does the Son. Now this is the basic error upon which the doctrine of the Trinity began to be built. The elohim as was demonstrated from the biblical context are a multiple Host of which the Lamb is the High Priest. He is one of them as a fellow or comrade, even though all of the hierarchical structure was created by, or in him and for him (Col. 1:15).

 

The saints likewise become companions to Christ from Hebrews 3:14 and hence brothers to the Host (Rev. 12:10) and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The heavens, all things that were, referred to as being created by the Son, are the spiritual and physical structures. This is the intent of the references at John 1:3 regarding the creation and 1Corinthians 8:6 regarding the universe (or ta panta) and humans. Colossians 1:15-17 specifically allocates the creation of all things visible and invisible. The creation of thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, through him and for him, cannot refer to the Council of the Elohim. The creation by Christ of the lordships (or kuriotetes) is not of the entities.

 

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (N.C.E.) article Trinity, Holy, Vol. XIV, McGraw Hill, N.Y., 1967, p. 296 makes the most extraordinary assertion concerning the doctrine of Hippolytus.

Hippolytus in his refutation of Noetus (10) and the exaggerated identification of Christ with the Father, insists that God was multiple from the beginning.

 

This is simply false from a comparison with the actual text of Hippolytus (C. Noetus 10) above.

 

Tertullian holds from Against (Adv.) Praxeas that:

This one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made...All are of one, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons- the Father, the Son and the Holy [Spirit]: three however, not in condition but in degree; not in substance but in form; not in power but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power inasmuch as He is One God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy [Spirit]... (II);

 

Tertullian also says that the Father raised the Son from the dead (II). Thus Tertullian makes important distinctions in the interrelationship of the three entities, which are aspects of the operation of God in degree. The Son and the Spirit are processions from the Father and subordinate aspects of His manifestation. Tertullian gave the Trinity a numerical order and distribution (III). He also held that the Monarchy of God came from the Father (III). But that it was equally the Son's being held by both (III) being committed to the Son by the Father (IV).

 

Tertullian held that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son. Tertullian holds (IV) that the Father and the Son are two separate persons. Thus, it might be asserted that true Binitarianism commences with Tertullian.

 

It has been seen from earlier development, and above, that the Bible and the early Church theologians were subordinationist and Unitarian. God the Father was the God and Father of the Messiah who was the firstborn of many brothers (Rom. 8:29). The Holy Spirit is the mechanism by which all the Sons of God, the angels included, reach this position of unity with God. Christ was one of a multitude of the spiritual Sons of God, but he was the only born (monogenes) (Son of) God, the first begotten (prototokos) of the heavenly Host as the high priest of the elohim.

 

This understanding began to be lost through the syncretism of the early Church. The mystery cults had an effect on the theology and ritual of the early Church. Bacchiocchi (loc. cit.) traced the effect of the sun-cults on the transition from Sabbath to Sunday worship and the introduction of pagan festivals such as Christmas and Easter. The transition from the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover to the pagan Easter was quite extended.

 

Converts to Christianity from the mystery/sun cults increased pressure for the syncretisation and the de-Judification of the law and the festivals (see Bacchiocchi, op. cit.), which were based on the lunar and not the solar calendar. This syncretic infusion built up to a climax in the Council of Nicæa. The biblical cosmology was based upon the sole and transcendent authority of Eloah. This had serious implications for the inviolate nature of the law.

 

The alteration of the system could only be logically validated if a process could be established which elevated Christ to an equality with God and then gave authority to the Church to exercise such authority as might be construed as being conferred on the Church. The first inroad into the law was on the questions of the Passover and weekly Sabbath. The establishment of Sunday as a compulsory day of worship commenced with the Council of Elvira (c. 300).

 

It was no accident that Nicæa decided the issue of the Passover and the establishment of the pagan festival of Easter. It was no accident that the next issue decided was the Sabbath question where, at the Council of Laodicea c. 366 (the date is uncertain), the Council, at Canon 29, prohibited Sabbath keeping and established Sunday as the official day of worship of the Church. Thus the stage was set for what was perceived as the removal of the so-called Judaising elements of the Christian faith.

 

First Century Church

The original Catholic Church believed:

1. In one True God who had nothing coeval within Himself and from him all the sons of God, including Jesus Christ, were generated.

2. In the Resurrection of the Dead and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem.

3. It had two sacraments of the church.

4. It kept the Bible Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts according to the Temple Calendar.

5. It believed that the saints were those of the church who died and were awaiting the First Resurrection at the end of this age and the beginning of the millennium at the return of Christ.

6. It believed no one had ascended into heaven save Christ who came down from heaven.

7. It believed that Christ was the being who gave the Law to Moses at Sinai and who brought Israel out of Egypt.

8. It understood Christ was born of a virgin who was a woman who had a series of children after that event, and as a saint awaits the resurrection of the dead.

 

The Holy Days were not eliminated as we see from the conduct of the Disciples in Acts. Acts 20:6 shows that they kept Unleavened Bread. After Unleavened Bread they sailed from Philippi. So we have established that Paul and the Philippian Church were keeping the feasts. Acts 20:7 says on the “mia ton Sabbaton” which is literally the “First of the Sabbaths” and Bullinger holds this to be the first perfect Sabbath of the Omer count, and not Sunday. Thus, they also kept the Wave Sheaf and the lead up to Pentecost, which we know they kept from Acts 2:1. They kept Pentecost or they would not have received the Holy Spirit. The phrase “Day of Pentecost was fully come,” means that they also kept the Sabbath the day before as part of this two-day festival.

 

We know they kept the Day of Atonement and the Feasts of the Seventh Month from the text in Acts 27:9, which refers to the fast of Atonement. We cannot understand the plan of salvation without the Holy Days of God. Christ was the Passover and the Wave Sheaf. He commanded us to keep the Lord’s Supper on the night he was betrayed, which is on the evening of 14 Abib.

 

Colossians 2:16 shows the Church was keeping all of the Sabbaths and New Moons and Holy Days. It says let no man judge you as to how you keep them, not ignore them. Acts shows clearly the entire Church was keeping the feasts and the Sabbaths and here, the New Moons. We have kept them for over 1,974 years. The Gospels are littered with references to the keeping of all the feasts by Christ and the apostles. Not one reference exists that says they were not to be kept. Paul kept them and that can be interpreted from his writings (Acts 12:3; 20:6). 1Corinthians 5:7-8 explains how we are to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

 

There is not one reference transferring the Sabbath, or telling the Church not to keep the Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feasts, and that includes Colossians 2:16. Paul set up an alms collection on the First Day of the week because it could not be done on the Sabbath. That is the only reference to meeting on Sunday. Even the day rendered as “First day of the week” is actually “first of the Sabbaths” in the Greek.

 

The New Testament plainly shows they did keep the food laws, and they did keep the Sacred Calendar, and they did keep the Passover. In fact, the Quartodeciman Disputes split the church in 192 and the Sabbath-keeping Churches have been apart from the Roman Church ever since that date. Look at the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277).

 

The text in Acts 15:24 is a forgery inserted into the Receptus with the express purpose of undermining the Law of God among the faithful. The Companion Bible KJV has a note to the effect that the words: “Saying you must be circumcised and keep the law” are not in the ancient texts, and are not in other Bibles that deal with or are based on the ancient texts.

 

In 1Corinthians 5:6-8 Paul was speaking of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover, which is part of it, commencing on the Preparation Day of 14 Abib. He also instituted the formal Lord’s Supper on the first meal of the evening of 14 Abib at the first Chagigah meal, which commenced the day of Preparation for the Passover the following evening, which Passover Christ was.

 

If one does not keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, one does not understand the purpose of the removal of sin through the sacrifice of Christ. Paul and the other apostles and the early church kept all the feasts. The separation came in 192 when the Roman bishop tried to enforce the Easter heresy and forced the split of the church. See Cox, The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277). See also Cox, The Passover (No. 98); The Old and the New Leaven (No. 106a); and The Wave Sheaf Offering (No. 106b).

 

Modalism

The Christian Church was divided into two groups, the Unitarians and the Trinitarians from the fourth century councils. In the first two centuries, everyone was a Unitarian believing Christ was the Great Angel of the Old Testament. Trinitarians did not exist in Christianity. They were pagans in Rome worshipping Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva the Immaculate Virgin.

 

The Binitarian system of the worship of the god Attis entered Christianity from Rome and also of Adonis from the east. It was adopted as Modalism in the third century and became Binitarianism at Nicaea in 325 in the Fourth century. After the Trinity was adopted from Constantinople in 381, the faith split again. It split over the introduction of Easter in the Second century. (cf. Cox, The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277); and The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235).

 

The Unitarians were at war with the Trinitarians for some centuries. Look at the paper The Unitarian/Trinitarian Wars (No. 268). The Unitarians were also Sabbath-keepers. They were erroneously termed Arians. The family of Muhammad was of this Sabbatarian lineage.

 

In the fourth century, the Abyssinian Church sent their archbishop Mueses to China via India. He established the Christians in China, who were Unitarian Sabbath-keeping. Many of these people also formed among the trade alliances of the Arabs who became Muslims. These became known as the Hue Hue. The details are in the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122). The Sabbatarians are still in China and there are about a million of them. Many have developed a heretical Sabellianism and now differ from the original doctrines. Some of them consider Jesus is God and Father.

 

At the Reformation, the Unitarian Church split into two branches. One was a radical Unitarian element, which came in from the Protestant groups and kept Sunday from their Catholic days. The other element came from the pre-Reformation Waldensian Church, and they were Sabbatarians. Their descendants are in Europe to this day. The problems can be seen in the papers: The Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170); and Socinianism, Arianism and Unitarianism (No. 185).

 

This radical Unitarian system denies the pre-existence of Christ and, in historical terms, is a relatively recent innovation. Islam also developed this idea fairly early. It is not the original Unitarian, or even Islamic doctrine, nor is it that of biblical Judaism regarding the Messiah. The history of what happened to the Church in Transylvania is found in the work by Rabbi Samuel Kohn, The Sabbatarians in Transylvania, CCG Publishing, USA, 1998. Look also at the paper The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243) for other details and the creed of the Goths.

 

Up until the last few decades, all the Sabbath-keeping Churches were non-Trinitarians. The Seventh Day Adventists became Trinitarians, formally as late as 1978. The Worldwide Church of God in 1993/4 and the Church of God (SD) at Denver became Binitarian in 1995. The other US conference became ditheist.

 

The other Churches of God range from Trinitarian, to Binitarians, to Ditheists. One, the Christian Churches of God, is original Unitarian holding the first century beliefs. The Unitarians Universalists are what is termed radical Unitarians, as are the Churches of God General Conference in Georgia.

 

The Elect as Elohim

The ultimate destiny of the elect is to exist as Elohim or theoi under the power and within the spirit of Almighty God. This position was held by Christ (Jn. 10:34-35; Ps. 82:6) and was the original understanding of the church. In the Bible, words applied to the Deity are also applied to humans. Eloah (or Elahh) is applied to God Almighty and is always singular = The One True God. The word Elohim (SHD 430) is plural and used for divine representatives as well as to judges or rulers showing that the term extended to humans as well as the angelic beings. The name carried the authority conferred on it by God.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, Ugarit and Nag Hammadi texts have shed important light on what was actually understood to be the meaning of the biblical texts at the time of Christ. The Bible refers to a council of the Elohim or Elim and the term extended way beyond a duality or trinity. The Bene Elim is identified as the sons of The God, as are the Bene Elyon the sons of the Most High. Psalm 89:6-8 mentions the saints or holy ones (qesdosim) who are God’s celestial attendants and the term is extended to include the human faithful (Heb. 8:5).

 

The governing council of ancient Israel was a reflection of the heavenly system. This pattern was understood throughout the Bible. It was God’s stated intention in His covenant that He would write His law on the hearts and minds of people so that they would know Him (Heb. 8:10-11). The Old Testament demonstrates the subordinate relationship of the Elohim, and also identifies the Angel of YHVH in a progressive manner. He is also identified as the Angel or Messenger of the Presence of God (Isa. 63:9).

 

In fact there are instances of multiple supernatural beings appearing and being referred to as YHVH. For instance in Genesis 19 when three appeared to Abraham, there was no distinction between them. The destruction of Sodom was done by Elohim (Gen. 19:24,29). Here the title Yahovah or YHVH is applied in a hierarchical structure from God Most High or Eloah, YHVH of Hosts to the Elohim of Israel, a subordinate god to the two angels who in turn were subordinate to that Elohim. The term is one of delegated authority from Eloah. The angel of YHVH appeared many times in the Old Testament; he had many interchangeable titles. He was the Elohim of the Patriarchs (Ex. 3:6); he was Peniel, the Face of God (Gen. 32:24-30); the commander of the armies of God (Jos. 5:15); the angel of redemption (Gen. 48:16). It was he who led Israel out of Egypt as the angel in the cloud (Ex. 13:21; Ex. 14:19) and gave the law to Moses and established the seventy elders of Israel (Ex. 24:9-18).

 

He is the angel or messenger of YHVH, The Most High God who no man has seen or heard (Jn. 5:37; 6:46). He is the subordinate God or Elohi of Israel appointed by his God, Eloah above his partners (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:5-13). This angel or YHVH spoke face to face with Moses (Ex. 33:11). He was the presence or face of God. This angel is the word or oracle of God as the memra and understood to be the Messiah (Zech. 3:1-9). This angel has the power of judgement and is the righteous judge of the testaments and the elohim (Ps. 82:1). He is the Branch of Jeremiah 23:5 and Isaiah 11:1.

 

The Aaronic priesthood extended and changed to the eternal priesthood of Melchisedek (Ps.110; Heb. 7:24). Christ is High Priest and the called of God are the priesthood (1Pet. 2:4,9; Rev. 1:6; 20:6).

 

Eloah, The Most High God, has a son whose inheritance is Israel. He is the Elohi of Israel, but not the object of prayer or sacrifice. This elohim was anointed by his God and has a throne of the elohim (Ps. 45:6-7); stands in the assembly of The El and judges those on earth (Ps. 82:8). The destiny of the elect is to become elohim like the angel of YHVH at their head (Zech. 12:8). This being at the head of the house of Israel is Messiah, the Son of God born as a man, Jesus Christ.

 

The New Testament confirms an angel gave the law at Sinai (Acts 7:53) and identifies Christ as the angel of the Old Testament. This demonstrates conclusively his subordination and obedience to God the Father. The singular word Eloah is applied to God the Father and never used to refer to Christ. The generic term used to refer to the extended order of the Host operating under the authority of The Father is Elohim. The Elohim act as both a council among the Host and in control of mankind. It was the accepted understanding in the first century that the Elohim rank extended to mankind as they were adopted into the family of God, as heirs with Christ (Gal. 4:1-7). In the New Testament the Greek word Theoi is translated from the Hebrew Elohim.

 

The allocation of the nations according to the number of the sons of God or the Elohim/eliym demonstrates further the extended order (Deut 32:8-9). This was understood to be seventy as the full council of the Elohim. The Sanhedrin or council of elders of Israel established at Sinai was a prototype of this; plus two, being God (the Father) and Christ the Yahoveh of Israel. Israel will become the key nation at the restoration at Christ’s return to rule the earth. It is evident that a significant number of the Elohim rebelled against God (Dan. 10:13; Deut. 32:18-19; Rev. 12:7 9).

 

These fallen Host are to be replaced from the ranks of the elect beginning at the first resurrection. The rank of elohim is a delegated authority by appointment of God. It is a plural word applied to the angelic host and those in the priesthood and judges, specifically Moses. It was to demonstrate that the elohim rank and the oneness of God and His nature would extend to embrace mankind. Eloah is singular and only applies to God (the Father), without whom there would be no elohim. This concept forms the basis of the first commandment.

 

The YHVH of Israel is a separate and subordinate being, The Messiah, the high priest of the house or temple of God. The council of elohim he heads as high priest is mirrored in the temple of Zion as an example and shadow of the celestial structure (Heb. 8:5). The priesthood of the temple consisted of twenty-four divisions of priests and a central high priest. This is reflected in the council of elders of Revelation 4:5. This group numbered thirty entities including the four cherubim or living creatures. Thus thirty pieces of silver (also the price of a slave) was required for the betrayal of Christ (Mat. 27:3-9; Zech. 11:12-13) as it was an offence against the entire Godhead. The elders are charged with monitoring the prayers of the saints (Rev 5:8). Christ, the high priest, was the only one found worthy to open the scroll of the plan of God and ransom all to God. The ransom of humanity is seen as part of the end time restoration, which occurs at the second coming of Christ, as king of Israel.

 

Trinitarianism limits the extension of the capacity to be elohim to three beings and deny it to the elect and the heavenly host. Also by elevating our intermediary elohim, Christ (one of the council), to the level and equal to Eloah, God the Father, the early Church would have seen itself as being in breach of the first commandment. This is the sin of Satan who claimed to be El of the council of the elohim (Ezek. 28:2). The concept of how God is one is totally misunderstood in Trinitarianism. The unity of God, necessary to Monotheism, is of an extended order dwelling in unity under a central will in agreement and spiritual interaction through the spirit and power of God (1Cor. 2:4-14) which through Christ is towards God (2Cor. 3:3-4).

 

The early Church saw that God is the rock from which all others are quarried, the rock of Israel and their salvation, (Deut. 32:15). Our God is our rock (1Sam. 2:2), an everlasting rock (Isa. 51:1-2). The Messiah is hewn from this rock (Dan. 2:34,45) to subjugate the world empires. God, not Peter or Christ is the rock or foundation on which Christ builds the church (Math. 16:18). Messiah is the chief cornerstone of the temple; the elect are the living stones of this spiritual temple, and Naos or holy of holies, the repository of the Holy Spirit. Christ will construct the temple so that God may be all in all (Eph. 4:6). When Christ subdues all things, then Christ himself will be subject to God, who puts all things under Christ that God may be all in all.

 

Revelation 12:10 holds that the angels are brethren to the elect. Christ states that the elect are to be equal to angels (Lk. 20:36), which is part of them as a rank or order. Christ confesses us before his brethren in the Host: “Ye are gods and all are the sons of the Most High” (Ps. 82:6).

 

We are all to become sons of God as co-heirs with Christ and thus Elohim. What a future! To become Elohim is the destiny God has prepared for those who love Him! (cf. 1Cor. 2:9-10). It is written, “I said ye are gods” and “Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:34-35).

 

 

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Bibliography

Ante Nicene Fathers, Vols. 1-10, T &T Clark, Eerdmans, 1993 print.

Bacchiocchi, S., From Sabbath to Sunday, Pontifical Gregorian University Press Rome, 1975.

Burn, The Journal of Theological Studies, July 1902).

Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vols. 1-12, 1907-1912.

Cox, W. E.,

·         The Elect as Elohim (No. 1) (CCG 1994, 1999).

·         Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76) (CCG, 1994, 2000).

·         Consubstantial with the Father (No. 81) (CCG, 1994, 1999)

·         The Soul (No. 92) (CCG, 1995);

·         The Holy Spirit (No. 117) (CCG, 1994, 2000)

·         Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127)(CCG, 1995, 1999)

·         The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143) (CCG, 1994).

·         The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235) (CCG, 1998),

·         The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243), (CCG, 1998).

·         The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277) (CCG 1998).

Migne, P. L., III, 1143 1165; XVI, 1213; XVIII, 671; XXI, 337; XXXIX, 2189 LXXXIX, 1034; 

 

 

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