Ante-Nicene Trinitarianism

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DID THE CHURCH GET THE TRINITY FROM PAGANISM AT NICEA IN A.D. 325?

It is sometimes suggested by Antitrinitarians that the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine (r. A.D. 313f), after his "conversion" to Christianity imported his own former tritheistic pagan views into the Church by ordering her in A.D. 325 to incorporate those views into her Nicene Creed.   It is also further suggested that this then further syncretized an allegedly Pre-Nicene ecclesiastical unitarianism, with Pre-Nicene pagan tritheism — thereby producing a Post-Nicene ecclesiastical trinitarianism.

But nothing could be further from the truth!   Pre-Nicene Christianity, fighting for survival as a minority sub-culture within the then-still-pagan Roman Empire, was solidly Trinitarian.   For the Church then agreed with Old Testament Scriptures (against Post-Malachi apostate unitarian Judaism and against even-more-apostate Pre-Christian Paganism), that God was always triune. Cf. Genesis 1:1-3 & 1:26 & 3:22 & 11:7 and Exodus 3:14f & 6:3 and Ecclesiastes 4:12 and Isaiah 6:3 & 11:2 & 63:7-19 and Malachi 3:6.   Indeed, the Church also agreed with the New Testament Scriptures that God always had been and always shall be triune.   Cf. Matthew 3:16f & 28:19 and John 17:1-5 and Hebrews 9:14 & 13:8 and Revelation 1:4-6 & 4:2-8 & 5:6f & 22:16-19f.

It is indeed true that, just like Pre-Malachi Israel, also the Post-Apostolic Christian Church only progressively succeeded in trying to plumb the depths of the Triune God (cf. First Corinthians 2:9-11).   But for that matter, what candid Trinitarian — or even Unitarian — could claim that he even today knows God exhaustively, or ever shall do?   Yet the Pre-Nicene Church, from Easter Sunday onward baptizing her converts into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, was always solidly trinitarian.

Thus, in The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, around A.D. 95, one reads:1 "You shall love the Lord Who made you!….   You shall not practise witchcraft!….   Do not be an observer of omens, since it leads the way to idolatry!….     Baptize into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water!….   Pour out water thrice upon the head, into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit!"

To that, the expanded Constitutions of the Holy Apostles later also added:2 "In the beginning, God made the heaven and the earth [Genesis 1:1]….   The divine Scripture testifies that God [the Father] said to [the Spirit-anointed] Christ His Only-begotten, ‘Let Us make man after Our image and after Our likeness!’"   Genesis 1:26.

Too, Samaria’s A.D. 150 Church Father Justin Martyr stated:3 "God the Father…and the Son (coming forth from Him)…and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore….   We bless the Maker of all, through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit."

Again, also the A.D. 170 Church Father Theophilus of Antioch stated:4 "God made all things out of nothing….   God, then, having His Own Word internally within His Own bosom [cf. John 1:18], begat Him — emitting Him as His Own Wisdom before all things….   He rules, and

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is Lord of all things fashioned by Him — He then being with the Spirit of God and the governing Principle and Wisdom…. 

"‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth….   And the Spirit of God moved…and God [Triune, as the Father in the Spirit, speaking forth His Son or Word,] said: “Let there be light!”’ [Genesis 1:1-3]….   In like manner, also the three days which were before the luminaries [Genesis 1:5-13f] are types [or ‘depictions’] of the Trinity of God and His Word and His Wisdom."

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