The Trinity: Mormonism’s Rejection of God’s Highest Revelation (Part 2 of 4)

In Part 1 of this series we briefly examined what the doctrine of the Trinity is by definition and specific distinctions, which also included Mormonism’s rejection of the doctrine. The primary reasons why the Mormons reject this Christian teaching was also briefly discussed. The LDS Church claims the early church had no Trinitarian theology prior to the Councils of Nicea in A.D. 325 and Constantinople in A.D. 381, which also included the word Trinity itself coming out of these councils. Because of these historical inaccuracies by the LDS Church, we will explore what was taking place in the primitive church prior to these councils as it relates to Trinitarian theology.

How early in the Christian church was the word Trinity first used as a common term among the fathers prior to the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople? The first mention of Trinitas (Trinity) was by Theophilus who became the bishop of Antioch in A.D. 168. Regarding the creation of the world he stated:

CHAP. XV. – OF THE FOURTH DAY…In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. (Theophilus to Autolycus, Book II, chapter XV)

The translator for this work had this footnote at the bottom of the page:

[The earliest use of this word “Trinity.”] It seems to have been used by this writer in his lost works, also; and, as a learned friend suggests, the use he makes of it is familiar. He does not lug it in as something novel: “types of Trinity,” he says, illustrating an accepted word, not introducing a new one. It is certain that, according to the notions of Theophilus, God, His Word, and His wisdom constitute a Trinity; and it should seem a Trinity of persons.” He notes that the title σοφια is here assigned to the Holy Spirit.

Early church father Irenaeus commented on God creating ex nihilo:

For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishment of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, “Let us make man after Our image and likeness” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.20.1)

These two hands, according to Irenaeus, are the Son and the Spirit in which the Father accomplishes creation. What do some of the other early church fathers who predate the Council of Nicea by 100 years have to say regarding the Trinity? Here is small sampler:

I understand nothing else than the Trinity to be meant for the third person is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father. (Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book 5, Chapter 14)

All are One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God. (Tertullian, Against Praxeus, Chapter 2)

‘Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. (Hippolytus, Against the Heresy of One Noetus, Section 14)

…the divine benefits [are] bestowed upon us by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which Trinity is the fountain of all holiness. (Origen, De Principiis 1:4:2)

For it is one and the same thing to share in the Holy Spirit, which is (the Spirit) of the Father and the Son, since the nature of the Trinity is one and incorporeal. (Origen, De Principiis 4:35)

For as we acknowledge a God, and a Son, his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence, – the Father, the Son, the Spirit, because the Son is the Intelligence, Reason, Wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from fire. (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, Chapter 24)

The Bible is very clear that there is only one God (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29) meaning singular in name, yet in three Persons as stated in the Great Commission by the Lord Himself in Matthew 28:18-20. The early church understood this and rightfully required this in the baptism of converts as was stated in the early church manual entitled The Didache in Chapter VII:

And concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: Having first said all these things, 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 the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

The formal theological formations and wording would come later in time when the church was no longer being persecuted and could reflect on theological matters. It’s puzzling to Christians why this is difficult for non-Christian sects to understand. Critics oppose the doctrine of the Trinity on the charge that the doctrine was formalized at the church councils, yet Christianity was outlawed until the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Just a little over ten years later the first Council was held in A.D. 325 (Nicea) to deal with the first major heresy (Arianism) coming from within the Church. . Before that time, Christians were running for their very lives, some being thrown as food for wild beasts to devour or were placed in the roasting seat to be cooked to death. It was not a time when Christians could formally gather to carefully reflect on and define theological matters.

The early church always believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God; they never believed in three gods; they also believed that Jesus Christ was fully God. An untold number of these Christian martyrs eagerly went to their deaths proclaiming their faith and belief in only one God, and Jesus Christ being fully God. It is for these very reasons that professing Christians today will not compromise on the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. As was stated in the conclusion of Part 1, this fundamental point marks a clear and sharp distinction between Christians and Mormons, thus eliminating any glimmer of fanciful hope held by the LDS Church that it would ever be accepted into the Christian community of faith.

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56 Responses to The Trinity: Mormonism’s Rejection of God’s Highest Revelation (Part 2 of 4)

  1. parkman says:

    “None of this has anything to do with the doctrine of the Trinity topic!”
    “Parkman, I think it’s already been proven both biblically and historically just in this series on the Trinity that Mormonism isn’t true.”

    Andy, the authority of those who you accept as true authorized leaders is the very basis of whether or not the manmade definition Trinity is God’s truth. There are very good articles that use historical facts that you leave out that prove that the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople were held by the men who were teaching the heresies and part of the ‘great apostasy’ you cannot find.

  2. Rick B says:

    parkman said

    There are very good articles that use historical facts that you leave out that prove that the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople were held by the men who were teaching the heresies and part of the ‘great apostasy’ you cannot find.

    Typical as usual, you claim facts are out their, and since you claim they exist that tells me you must have read them or seen them, so why do you claim they exist but never provide them? I will guess it is because as usual, they dont exist and your bearing false witness.

  3. shematwater says:

    Rick

    You rarely provide references to half of what you say. Mike almost never provides references, and neither does Falcon.

    Now, the only reason I am making this comment is because Rick has been up to his old slanderous practices of false accusations against me and my ability to answer questions and discuss topics. So, after reading the original thread, and browsing the comments, I will state just two things.

    First: The idea of the Trinity was formulated before the mentioned counsels. However, it was not until these counsels were held that it was declared the one truth regarding God and all other truths were branded as heresy. Before the counsels there were a number of theories regarding this subject and none of them were thought to be heresies by the general membership, mainly because the general membership only heard one or maybe two of them. Communication was not great.

    Second: The article has failed to prove anything beyond this, just as Ralph has stated.

    Now, a final comment to Falcon. He makes the accurate claim that “We have all the evidence available.” However, he fails to take into account the evidence that is not available. This would include three or four epistles written by Paul that we do not have, as well as close to 22 different books that the Bible declares are scripture, but which are not had this time. It also includes the many books and documents that the Catholic church burned as heresies.
    The simple fact is that the Catholic church took great care to preserve the records that agreed with their formulation of the doctrine, but, at times, sought to destroy those records that did not agree.

    History is a fickle thing, and any historian will tell you this. There is little that we actually know about anything more than a few centuries ago, and even more recent events can be difficult to understand.

  4. Mike R says:

    Shem, it’s disappointing to see how you would rather throw out the ” missing books” theory
    concerning the Bible instead of deal with what is written on the record we do have concerning
    this doctrine of the Trinity /Godhead. The scriptural record of the Bible that LDS leadership
    recognizes as authoritive is the same for me. This is the record that He has preserved down
    thru time ( despite what some Catholic’s or anyone has attempted to hide or destroy) for us to
    have as a witness of who He is and how to gain a right relationship with Him , thus it is this
    record that we are accountable to . Not much difference with the Book of Mormon , there seems
    to be writings by prophets that it mentions that I persume are not available today and thus
    this is kind of similar to what is stated in Jn 20:31 . I’m thinking of Alma 13:31; Helaman
    5:13. Then there are men like Zenos or Zenok , of which not all their writings are not had at
    this time . So it seems pointless to bring all this into the conversation about the Trinity.
    History being “fickle ? ” Could be I guess in some areas , but again God can make a way for
    His Word to find it’s way into our time . Bottom line here concerning the Trinity : what the
    Bible teaches about our Creator stands as a clear choice against what Mormon prophets
    have taught about Him . The Trinity is not an easy doctrine to understand about our Creator,
    but then He is more than just some exalted human one among millions in the heavens above.
    People can look into what the Bible teaches about God and make an informed choice.

  5. Timber says:

    Again, we have contradiction when discussing scripture. The great commission says “baptizing in the name (singular)….”

    That means “in the authority of”, and it is one Name. If there were three persons, Jesus would have said “baptizing in the nameS of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    But he did not. He said simply Name, because He is the One and Only God, manifesting Himself as the Father, as the Son, as the Holy Spirit, and in whatever ways as pleases Him.

  6. Mike R says:

    Timber,

    No contradiction . If you assume to much , i.e. that we believe the entire doctrine of the
    Trinity is located in Matt 28:19 , so since it says ” name ” rather than ” names “therefore
    that’s a contradiction in our belief , so the Trinity is false . That appears to be your reasoning
    to me .
    Now I think that you give a reasonable answer to why ” name ” is used here , because as you said
    it means ” authority of ” . I have no problem with that . Jesus here authorized the administration
    of baptism .

    The baptism that Jesus authorized according to Matt 28:19-20 is a baptism which has reference
    to the three names mentions there , names in which we further learn are three Divine Persons
    that we call the Trinity . All three take part in the new life of those who confess Christ , are
    baptized and become a part of the early church family , and that experience we see unfold in
    their lives after Jesus ascended back to heaven . [ one example : 2Cor 13:14 ] .

    Matt 28:19-20 does not explicitly teach the doctrine of the Trinity , we learn that when more of
    the Bible’s record is examined , and so Matt 28:19 in no way can be used to reject the Trinity .

    I mentioned to you at the end of part 1 of this 4 part series that I personally find it somewhat
    laborious for me to back track to threads this old . So this is about all I will say here on this
    one .

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