The Development Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity

1354 words - 6 pages


The Trinity is one of the greatest of all mysteries, causing many debates, changes in belief, and doubts in the formation of the early church to present day. The most prominent difficulty with accepting the Trinity as the church formed was the idea that there was only one God and to say that the one God had three "parts" was seen to be straying away from monotheism. Spanning centuries upon centuries of debate and development, the doctrine of the trinity was and is a widely protested idea in which the Christian faith and church lay their foundation of belief. With the church being shaped by such a large and ambiguous doctrine, it is important to analyze the key figures in the ...view middle of the document...

" This belief also takes on a Unitarian sense as it has the view of there being the one and only God, with the Son and Holy Spirit ranking below him.
Tertullian, who lived from 160-225, was a man who was seen as a leader in the development in the church as he advanced the doctrine of the Trinity to new measures. He bases his argument on the idea that substance or material is what binds the Trinity together. The idea that is coined by Tertullian philosophy is that the trinity is "three persons, one substance." Tertullian defines the Trinity in Against Praxeas as being a result of substance as the Son and Holy Spirit came to be “from no other source but from the substance of the Father.” The idea of having a three person God scares the monotheist because the first reaction is to say that Tertullian's idea conflicts with having one supreme God. However, Tertullian would argue that although there are two figures who can be called "God," there can still only be "one God who is the source of all; God the Father, thereby maintaining monotheism" In Against Praxeas, Tertullian uses the analogy of the sun and a sun ray. He explains that even when a sun ray shoots out from the sun, it is still part of the sun, representing the entire entity. He uses this to explain that the one substance the Trinity is made up of is not separated, only extended. Likewise, Christ can be called "God" because he comes from the same substance as the Father. Finally, because Tertullian believed that there was a three person Trinity, he also had the idea that those three distinct parts communicated and interacted with each other. We can see throughout the Bible that the Son continually prays to the Father, while the Spirit is continually working and advocating for the Father. Jesus in his preaching on Earth frequently mentions his father in Heaven and the Spirit that dwells within his followers. Tertullian was a man who made drastic progress in the development of understanding the Trinity. A lot of the ideas that he coined are still a major part of the belief today.
The Arian Controversy
The so-called "Arian Controversy" was a time period that marked frequent dispute and testing over what the Trinity was and how the three "parts" were interconnected. Arius, who was a presbyter, initiated the dispute by sharing that Jesus had not always been with God from the beginning, but that God had created him out of nothing. Bruce Shelley, who has researched different key events throughout church history, wrote in his book that Arius believed "the Son of God was a creature, made by God a finite time ago." Additionally, Arius stated, "the Son of God has a beginning, but God is without beginning." This idea of Jesus having a finite beginning seemed appealing to some...

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