• Kata BIllups

doctrines of men- ARE THEY true? THE TRINITY



According to Webster's new World Dictionary Third College Edition, the Nicene Creed is a confession of faith for Christians, originally adopted at the first Nicene Council (A.D. 325) and later expanded to forms widely accepted in Christianity.


It was written, according to scholars such as Rubenstein and Michalaski, in an attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding the nature of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. 


For me, the wording of the Nicene Creed confusing, and I believe it has played a role in befuddling artists for centuries as to how Christ should be portrayed. 

Rubenstein writes; "What was needed to clear up this confusion was something that the Nicene Creed alone could not supply: a doctrine explaining how God could be One and yet consist of two or three separate entities."



(Rubenstein, pg. 206). Rubenstein continues, "Gregory of Nyssa summed up the doctrine with characteristic sharpness. God is three individuals sharing one essence. Both the unity and the tripartite division of the Godhead are real. If this seems paradoxical, so be it: (and here Rubenstein sites Gregory of Nyssa's writing) "The difference of the hypostases does not dissolve the continuity of their nature nor does the community of their nature dissipate the particularity of their characteristics. Do not be amazed if we declare that the same thing is united and distinct, and conceive, as in a riddle, of a new and paradoxical unity in distinction and distinction in unity." (Rubenstein, pg.207).

      Joan O' Grady writes, "In studying these controversies and the Councils that attempted to settle them, It often seems that their endless dissensions, condemnations and counter-condemnations were merely theologians' quarrels about detailed use of words and about minute differences in the expression of the inexpressible. And she continues; St. Hilary of Poitiers, writing to the Emperor Constantine complained that "Every year, nay every moon, we make new creeds to describe invisible Mysteries. We repent of what we have done, and defend those who repent, we anathematize those whom we defend. We condemn either the doctrine of others in ourselves or our own in that of others; and, reciprocally tearing one another to pieces, we have been the cause of each other's ruin." (Hilarius and Constantium, I ii c 4, 5, quoted in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. II). "Attempts to make concise logical statements about invisible Mysteries inevitably lead to logical difficulties. Every formulation brings its own contradiction, or else says virtually nothing."(O' Grady, Joan pg. 89).

      O' Grady explains that the Byzantine culture was essentially a religious one, and that churchmen and ordinary citizens alike had passionate interest in the heavenly world and his hopes and fears were of far greater importance to him than the political and economic affairs of his city. (paraphrased, O' Grady, pg. 90).

Next, O' Grady quotes C. Dawson on the subject from his book, The Making of Europe. "No less an authority than St. Gregory Nazianzen has described how, if you went into a shop in Constantinople to buy a loaf, the baker, instead of telling you the price, will argue that the Father is greater than the Son. The money-changer will talk about the Begotten and the Unbegotten, instead of giving you your money; and, if you want a bath, the bath-keeper assures you that the Son surely proceeds from nothing." (O'Grady, pg. 90).

I have an anecdotal story from my own life that is a modern day version of this wrangling about words. A few years ago I was having a conversation with a Christian friend when he expressed serious concern about my view of Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit.. I knew that he believed they were One?.

And he knew that I believed they were three separate entities. Trying to alleviate his concern for my soul, I asked him if he would feel better if I said that each entity was thirty three and one third of God. His voice lowered and became parental in tone. 

"No, Kata," he scolded, "I will only feel good about our relationship once you realize that they are each one hundred percent God."       

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