A Response to a Commenter

Ordinarily I do not take an individual comment and make a post out of it.  However, I feel compelled to after receiving a comment from thepapalseat in reference to my beliefs.  For those of you reading, you can read his blog for yourself, as I will be responding to several of his arguments.

For example, here is the first misconception I must respond to:

Christianity is supposed to be the religion founded by Jesus (peace be upon him). And the four Gospels are supposed to be a record of his teachings and the basis of Christianity. However, research undertaken by various scholars, including Christian scholars, clearly reveal that the religion established by Jesus disappeared a short while after him, and was dealt a final blow by the Edict of the Emperor Constantine in the year 325 AD, which entrenched the doctrine of the Trinity God.

What edict?  The Council of Nicea has been vilified by many different religious groups and cultic offshoots of Christianity.  The Council of Nicea has been blamed for the following developments in Christianity:  The Canon of Scripture, Trinitarian Doctrine, and the elimination of the Gnostics by Constantine.  For the record, NONE of that happened at Nicea.

Let me repeat.  NONE of that happened.  What did happen was this:  The Council of Nicea was in fact called by Constantine who wanted a unified stance in the church.  The issue at hand was the issue of Jesus’ deity.  Arius and his followers believed Christ to be a man and not deity, while Athanasius led the charge to correctly solidify the position that Christ was God in flesh.  The canon of scripture was NOT decided at Nicea (it had already been settled long before) and Constantine could not care less whether the church believed Jesus to be human or the theanthropos.  If he did, he would not have changed position under the tutelage of Eusebius of Caesarea.

Here is another issue:

Before I embraced Islam in 1996 I visited a Roman Catholic priest, Reverend Father Doncabe, who had offered to assist me understand Christianity in order to stop me from embracing Islam. I found the priest seated behind a huge desk with three Bibles opened in different places. He stood up as I entered and came forward to shake my hand. As he held my hand he said: “Mr NGWANE, before we begin our talk we must agree on something.” I asked, still holding his hand, “and what is that?” He said “that we as Christians believe in the Bible as the word of God and we also believe in the Doctrine of the Church”.

I was puzzled because I thought the Doctrine of the Church would be based on the Bible. I did not know that the doctrine of the church was something apart from the Bible and I asked: “Is the doctrine of the church different from what is in the bible?” “Yes”, confessed the priest. “There are matters which are not in the Bible which we believe in because the church tells us to believe in, which are the doctrine of the church”. “Like what for example?” I prodded. “Like the doctrine of the Trinity” said the priest. “This doctrine you cannot find anywhere in the Bible but we believe in it because it is the doctrine of the church”.

There’s a reason why the Protestant Reformation happened.  We didn’t agree with the concept of church tradition being elevated to par with the Holy Scripture, which is where we get the term Sola Scriptura.  In short, we believe that scripture alone is the final authority in the life of the Christian.  For the protestant, the Bible is a direct revelation from God Himself, and as such, what need do we have for church tradition?

That’s not to say that we don’t have some respect for the decisions and stances of the early church through the years.  I still open my Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, not because I value it the same as the Bible, but because it is enlightening to read the opinions of other Christians and the early church fathers.  However, we Protestants do not value the doctrine of the church as we do the doctrine laid forth in scripture.

As for the Trinity, I would say that although yes, there is no explicit mention of the Trinity in the Bible, this was a fairly well accepted and understood doctrine in the church as early as the writings of Polycarp, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr in the first and second century AD.  Although not officially formulated as doctrine until the council of Constantinople, it was well understood as an implicit truth even early in the church.  Here is the easiest way to explain this:

1.      There is only one God. This is the consistent emphasis of Scripture (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 44:6; John 5:44; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19).

2.      The Father is God. The Father is explicitly called “God” throughout Scripture (John 6:27; Rom. 1:7; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:2).

3.      Jesus is God. Jesus is explicitly called “God” (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8), and He (Jesus) claimed to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17), the precise name God used of Himself in Isaiah 44:6. The divine names “Yahweh” and “Elohim” are used in reference to the Messiah who is Jesus (Isa. 9:640:3; cf. John 8:58 and Exod. 3:14). He performs works that only God can do, such as creating the universe (Col. 1:16; cf. Isa. 44:24).

4.      The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of God” (Gen. 1:2; Exod. 31:3; Ezek. 11:24; Rom. 8:914; 1 John 4:2) and possesses the attributes of deity, including omnipresence (Ps. 139:7‑9), omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10–11), and eternity (Heb. 9:14). He does things that only God can do, such as participating in the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30), begetting Christ in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35), resurrecting Christ (Rom. 8:11), and inspiring Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).

This list is further accompanied by other items at www.equip.org.

I will continue to respond further as this article has many of the most common misconceptions about Christianity that can be found circulating.

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