By Nick Bibile
Church in History. The Formulation of the Trinity.
The early New Testament church always believed that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God but never used the term Trinity. In 1098 A.D Theologian Anselm of Cantebury wrote a treatise on ‘Cur Deus Homo’ Why did God become Man?
Tertullian was the first to use the term Trinity. (Latin Trinitas) Tertullian was a theologian and an apologist lived during the third century. He was born and raised in Carthage, in the region of Tunisia in North Africa. Tertullian was a lawyer, trained in Roman law in Rome and was very eloquent in Greek and Latin.
Tertullian wrote a treatise on the Trinity against Paraxeas. Paraxeas believed God the Father was in the beginning, then later the Father became the Son, and then later the Son became the Spirit.
This kind of teaching is called Modalism. Modalism denies the Trinity. According to Modalism, God is one person who manifests in three different persons. The modern day Modalists are United Pentecostal Church, United Apostolic Churches and Oneness Doctrine Churches.
They believe in the Old Testament God manifested as the Father, in the incarnation the same God manifested as the Son and God manifested as the Holy Spirit in our regeneration.
Deficiency of the Trinity
Although Tertullian defended the church during the third century, his formation of the Trinity was deficient. He believed in the subordination of the Son to the Father.
Origen was another theologian who lived during the third century. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, although he was an influential teacher, Origen went even further down the road, when it came to the subordination. He was clearer, when he said that the Son was subordinated to the Father in essence and the Holy Spirit was subordinated to the Son. This was a stepping stone for Arianism.
Arian was a Bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, lived during the 4th century. Arian denied the deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. He believed the Son was the first creation of the Father, his followers were called Arians. The former day Watchtower society, Jehovah’s Witnesses fall into Arianism.
During the time of Arian, there was one of the greatest theologians of Christianity, his name was Athanasius. He was a Bishop in Alexandria, Egypt. Athanasius attacked the Arian heresy, as Athanasius believed in the deity of Christ. There was a controversy grew between Arian and Athanasius. It spread all over Europe.
Council of Nicea
Emperor Constantine called a council nearly 300 Bishops to settle the matter of this controversy. This council took place in Nicea in 325 A.D Now modern Turkey; the town is called today Iznik.
Affirmation of the Trinity
It was in council of Nicea church affirmed the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit along with the Father. The church established the official definition of the Trinity. And by 4th century the foundation of the Trinity was laid down.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.