The Evolution of the Trinity Doctrine in Christian Theology

«The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?” Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”»[1]

In these verses of the Noble Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala tells us that Sayyiduna ‘Isa ‘alayhi as-salam used to eat food – a trait of a human being. A deity does not need food. This is a clear statement that the Islamic view regarding Sayyiduna ‘Isa ‘alayhi as-salam is that he is human.

On the other hand, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians confess together that the God of the Bible is Trinitarian. Many questions arise from this ostensibly fundamental Christian belief. However, this belief developed over time and was entangled with differences amongst Christian scholars, declarations of heresies, and major problems. To this day, Christians cannot give a clear cut reasonable, and rational explanation of the Trinity doctrine.

How did the doctrine of Trinity come about? Who was behind it? Why did all the Christians agree upon Trinity only in the fourth century after Sayyiduna ‘Isa ‘alayhi as-salam. There is a significant amount of debate amongst Christian and non-Christian scholars on this particular issue because this is central to Christian theology.

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Development of the Trinity Doctrines

Incarnation: Incarnation was a view held by some Christians based on the Gospel of John. It implies “coming in the flesh.” This means that Christ was the Word, with God and everything came into being through him, i.e., a divine being and he later became a human being, i.e., ‘in the flesh dwelling amongst us’. Amazingly, the Gospel of John does not speak of the virgin birth. It says that Christ was the Word and divine.

Bear in mind that Matthew and Luke state that Christ came into existence through the virgin birth.

Christians then debated: in what sense was Christ a divine being? If he was divine, how was he human? This essentially means two gods because one is a divine being and the second is a human being. Jesus is one God and the father is one God, making them two, but yet, Christians stated that they have one God.

Docetism: Other Christians felt that Christ was fully God. But he appeared to be a human being, like an apparition. This view is known as Docetism. However, this view died out because Christians said that if Christ was not human, how could he have died for people’s sins?

Separationism: Another view that gained ground amongst Christians about two hundred years after the Gospels were written was Separationism. These Christians said that Jesus was human and divine. This view states that the divine being came into the human being at the baptism of Jesus. This gives Christ a divine part and a human part. There were parts to him. When the human part died, then the divine part went up to heaven. This was declared a heresy by many Christians.

Modalism: Another view that Christian scholars held was Modalism. This was a widely held view, as was considered a standard view amongst Christians. Church leaders in Rome also held this view. It states that God exists in three modes. Three persons in One; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This view also fell out of favor, although some Christians hold this view to this day.

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Refutation of Modalism: If a person can be a son of his father, father to his son, and brother to his sister, he cannot be three independent persons as a son, as a father, and a brother. To put it simply, if a person is a father, he cannot be the son he is. Each has to be different. Logically and conceptually they cannot be the same.

Others try to explain modalism to be like the example of water. It can be found in three states: liquid, ice, and steam. But this is not analogous to the idea of a father being his own son and a son being his own father, etc., which is inherently contradictory. We can understand how water can be in different modes, but we cannot understand how something can be in modes that contradict each other.

Trinity: This refers to three individuals who are separate persons who are all God.

Who Devised the Trinity Doctrine?

Tertullian, who converted to Christianity just before AD 200 and defended Christianity prolifically until he died around AD 220, initiated the use of the Latin words Trinitas, persona, and substantia (Trinity, person, and substance or essence).[2]

Tertullian believed in the Trinity. He also believed that the Son and the Holy Spirit were inferior in comparison to the Father because you cannot have two beings that are Almighty. They share might. However, this view was also dealt away with in favor of the view that three beings are God, they are equally God, equally powerful, yet there is one God! This is the mystery of the Trinity. According to Christians, if you claim to understand, you don’t understand.

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As we have seen, the Trinity was a later development in history. Early Christians thought that Jesus was made a divine being, i.e., the idea of exaltation. He was exalted. Three hundred years later, Christians said that Jesus was eternally existent and was God.

The Noble Qur’an very strongly denounces the Trinity doctrine, and Muslims should do so too. Sayyiduna ‘Isa ‘alayhi as-salam did not preach it either.

«They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful»[3]

Notes

Bart Erhman Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLJZaPMoZG4

  1. Surah Al-Ma’idah: 75-77
  2. https://realfaith.com/what-christians-believe/history-doctrine-trinity/
  3. Surah Al-Ma’idah: 73-74
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Joseph Lumbard (la’anahuLlah), the author of an essay titled ‘The Quranic View of Sacred History and Other Religions’ in the filthy manual of kufr that the perennialist munafiqeen call ‘The Study Quran’, says:

    QUOTE—
    Despite these affirmations of Jesus’ Divinely given powers, the concept of Trinity is criticized in the Quran: And say not “Three.” Refrain! It is better for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him. (4:171) Another verse is more severe, condemning those who claim that God is one of three: They certainly disbelieve, those who say, “Truly God is the third of three,” while there is no god save one God. If they refrain not from what they say, a painful punishment will befall those among them who disbelieved. (5:73) This, however, is not a direct condemnation of Christian theology, for trinitarian theology does not make God one of three, but rather speaks of the triune God, Who is both one and three in a manner that transcends human understanding. Viewed in this light, 5:73 does not oppose the various forms of orthodox trinitarian doctrines that have prevailed most of Christian history. Rather, it appears to oppose crude misunderstandings of it that would lead one to believe that there are three gods instead of one.
    —UNQUOTE

    Warn Muslims against these perennialist kuffar! They’re much worse than those who kill innocent Muslims in cold blood for they desire to spread apostasy.

  2. None of the gospels say Christ was “created” at the virgin birth, but rather that He was born through the virginal conception. This was the method of incarnation. The Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary (the Greek uses the same word as used in the Septuagint for the presence of God in the Tabernacle here), and by fiat the body of Jesus was conceived, Mary being His true mother.

    The method of this article appears to be to refer to heretical doctrines held by some groups in early Christianity. However, this fails to acknowledge that there was a rather consistent orthodoxy within early Christianity of which these heresies were aberrations. In other words, you can look at orthodox Christian writings (indeed, often refutations) of these and other heresies. To give you a parallel: think of a whacky sheik who says things that are definitely not within Muslim orthodoxy. It would be pretty silly to take someone like that from the 13th century and then take an orthodox Muslim from the 15th, and say development has occurred. Rather, orthodoxy was previously established (even if not using the exact same terminology and formal formulation) and the whacky sheik aberrated from it.

    So, for instance, you can see early Church fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, said to be a student of St John the Apostle, refuting the docetists. He also pretty plainly refers to our belief in Christ’s divinity. “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit,” Letter to the Ephesians 1. Note the affirmation of Jesus’ deity and the inclusion of the Holy Spirit.

    Factually, it would seem Theophilus of Antioch was the first to use the word, “Trinity”, in reference to our God.
    “It is the attribute of God, of the most high and almighty and of the living God, not only to be everywhere, but also to see and hear all; for he can in no way be contained in a place. . . . The three days before the luminaries were created are types of the Trinity: God, his Word, and his Wisdom”
    To Autolycus 2:15
    To those who may be confused, a ‘type’ in this instance is something that signifies something else in Scripture. A fulfillment is greater than the type. So, for instance, we believe the Tabernacle to be a type for Mary, because we believe God decided to become incarnate through this holy and blessed woman, and the tabernacle was where God was specially present in the Old Testament. We can see the special presence of Christ taking effect when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth (who was pregnant with John the Baptist).

    St Ireneas (in Against Heresies) writing around 189 AD put it this way: “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, the Father Almighty . . . and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit.”

    As to whether there is order within the Trinity, perhaps a more detailed exposition will help understand the equality of Divinity but differece within the Persons of the only One God. We believe the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father (and the Son). Do not get confused: we call Him the Son but He is not by some sort of consort or anything like that. Far be it from God to have a consort and children! He is rather eternerally “begotten”, in an eternal relationship with the Father within the one and only God, and the Spirit has always proceeded throughout all time.

    The Church believes in solidarity and subsidiarity. You start at smaller levels of authority and go higher if the lower levels cannot succeed. After Christianity was made legal, they had an Ecumenical Council (which means just about every bishop participated) in large part in response to a particular heresy known as Arianism (started by a bishop named Arius). Despite this heresy being widespread, it was defeated at the Council nearly unanimously.

    I am one person, and one being. Perhaps a statue can be called a being, but it is not a person. God is the ultimate basis of all existence. When we refer to Him, words can only say so much. Is it so strange to think that He is different from His Creatures in this way, that instead of one Person He is 3? Yet we believe this is a teaching taught by the apostles (think of the reverence you have for the sahaba), and taught in perpetuity in Christ’s holy Church.

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