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The Seven Church Ages - 18. The Battle for the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

18. THE BATTLE FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY TRINITY 
       & THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST.   


 

Prier to Constantine’s so called conversion to Christianity in 312 AD, he was a sun worshiper who saw nothing wrong with worshiping as many gods as you liked, as long as you recognized the sun god as the supreme god.  Many view sun worship (also known as emperor worship) as an all-embracing religion, which embraces all gods and the worshipers of all gods. 

 

However we must open our eyes to the fact it is the spirit of Satan who is behind sun worship, and the aim of sun worship is to draw all mankind away from the worship of the one and only true God.  Satan has so blinded and deceived those who have chosen not to believe in the one and only true God, that they cannot see that there is only one true God and not many gods. For this reason many Romans, like Constantine, failed to understand the Christian God or Christian beliefs. 

 

Constantine often failed to clearly distinguish between the sun god and God the Father. Therefore, over a decade after his so called conversion, Constantine still continued to mint coins featuring pagan gods, including the sun god. 

 

In 321 AD, ten years after his so called conversion, Constantine declared the first day of the week a public holiday, calling it ‘the venerable day of the sun.’ For Christians this was a good thing, in that it allowed all to freely meet and worship our Lord and Savour on the Lord’s Day. Most of us in the Western World, can still rejoice in this freedom. However if Constantine had truly turned his back on worshiping the sun god and wholeheartedly embraced Christianity, he would have called this public holiday ‘the venerable day of Christ Jesus.’

 

One of the most common names given to the emperors of ancient Persia was Cyrus. This name means ‘sun throne’ and was given to the ancient Persian emperors, because it was believed they sat on the throne of the sun god and that, when the emperor spoke from the throne of the sun god, his word was considered as unchangeable law (Daniel 6:8). The name of Cyrus’s treasurer was Mithredath (Ezra 2:8). This name means ‘given by Mithra’. Mithra was the Persian name for the sun god. In calling their treasurer Mithredath, the Persian Emperors recognized that their wealth belonged to the sun god. 

 

These are just some of the ancient pagan beliefs that Constantine, as a sun worshiper, would have embraced when he became emperor. On becoming emperor Constantine also took upon him-self the title of pontiff; a pagan title given to ancient kings who ruled over both the state and all religions within the state. Long after his conversion Constantine still continued to attend many official pagan events in his capacity as the pontiff, the supreme ruler over both the affairs of state and religion.  

 

Constantine was a politician, who was very keen to unite all the citizens of his empire under his leadership, and for the sake of unity, he wanted a religion that embraced everyone, and he was not slow in meddling with church affairs when this unity was at stake.

 

In 313 AD., Constantine met with his co-emperor, Licinius, in Milan. Following this meeting they dispatched a letter to all the governors throughout the empire. This letter, now known as the Edit of Milan, ordered that the state should give complete toleration to all Christians and the return all Christian property and places of worship. 

 

Meanwhile, in North Africa the Donatist controversy was brewing. At issue was the status of Christians who either denied the faith, or had taken part in pagan sacrifices during the persecution. Should they be allowed back into the church, or should they be branded as traitors and excluded from the church? The Donatist opposed accepting those traitors back into the Church, while the more moderate bishop of Carthage, Caecilian, who was not opposed to welcoming them back into the church, quickly gained favour with Constantine. 

 

With Constantine, recognition of the moderate Caecilian as the head of the church in North Africa, the Donatist appealed to Constantine, who arranged for a Church synod to be held in Rome and to be attended by 10 moderate bishops, and 10 Donatist bishops from North Africa. These were to present their case before Bishop Miltiades of Rome, 3 bishops from Gaul, and 15 Italian bishops. 

 

Although this synod upheld the moderate view, the Donatist continued to refuse the admission of the traitors. Constantine again called the bishops together, this time at Arles, and again the moderate view was upheld, and again the Donatist refused the admission of the traitors. So in 317AD., Constantine had the Donatist banned from the Church and divested them of all church properties. However, because many Donatist chose torture, imprisonment, or even death over accepting the traitors back into the Church, the rift in the Church continued to grow. So in 321 AD., Constantine, in disgust, revoked his anti-Donatist edict. 

 

While the persecution in the West under Emperor Constantine had ceased, in the East under emperor Licinius they had continued. So much so that many Christians in the east were now looking to Constantine to intervene and save them from persecution. This only encouraged emperor Licinius to increase his persecution of the Christians. This in turn was just the excuse Constantine needed to move against his co-emperor and gain his long held goal of total domination over the whole Roman Empire. When the two armies meet in 324 AD., Constantine’s army won the battle and the civil war.  

 

When Constantine became the sole emperor of the empire, he became aware of another major rift appearing in the Church. Some Christians rightly believed that Jesus Christ was not only the Son of God, but that He was God Himself come to earth in the flesh, while others, known as the Arians, followed the teachings of Arius, who believed that God the Father alone was the only eternal God, and wrongly taught, that because Jesus Christ was known as the only Begotten Son of God, He had a beginning and was therefore subordinate to the Father. 

 

Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, and his bishops judged Arius as a heretic, and put him out of the Church. But Arius gained support elsewhere in the East, including the support of fellow Arian, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, who would not only quickly gain Constantine favour, he would remain one of Constantine’s chief advisors for the next twelve years. Constantine wanting this matter settled out of court, sent a letter to both parties in the dispute, describing this as a very trifling matter and not worthy of such conflict. 

 

By this time Constantine, had supposedly been a Christian for thirteen years, yet he still had not grasped hold of the truth that God the Father and God the Son were not only both equally God, they were also both The One and only True God. 

 

(For help in gaining a true understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, The Holy Trinity, and why Jesus Christ is known as the only Begotten Son of God, I have written a book  called “The Holy Trinity” and a booklet called “The Only Begotten Son of God.”)

 

As a sun worshiper, or ex-sun worshiper, who now worshiped father god as the supreme god, and the son of god has a lesser god, Constantine was more than a little upset that the Arians had been banned from the Church and for the sake of unity (not truth) he wanted the Arians accepted back in the Church. 

 

To Constantine, the Arians were not the problem, but rather those who insisted only the truth be taught in Church and that all who opposed the truth should be put out of the Church. The stance taken by the orthodox bishops was unacceptable to Constantine. So Constantine (the politician) withheld his rage and wrote to both parties telling them that this very trifling matter was not worthy of such conflict, but when he saw that this dispute would not be easily settled, he called a council of the whole church, to meet at Nicaea in 325 AD.     

 

Although the devil meant this council for evil, and Constantine as a sun worshiper would have wanted see the Arians win the day and Jesus Christ relegated to that of a lesser god, God turned the council of Nicaea for the good of the Church and for the good of Christians down through the ages. This council ended in a triumph for the truth, with the Church affirming its belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. At a later council the Church also affirmed its belief in the Holy Trinity

 

But Constantine never achieved the church unity he was looking for, for soon after the council of Nicaea, Athanasius, the new bishop of Alexandria excommunicated the heretic Arian and his followers from the church. Despite Constantine efforts to get Athanasius to accept the repentant Arians back into the church, Athanasius stood his ground. Because of this Constantine five times banished him from his post.

 

Did Constantine ever reject sun worship and become a true Christian? As a sun worshiper, the Arian view would have been perfectly acceptable to Constantine, and from the time he became aware of the Arian controversy, Constantine actively supported Arian and his followers, and as long as he lived he continued to push for their acceptance back into the Church.

 

Later, under his son, emperor Constantius, the empire moved increasingly towards Arianism, and in his efforts to unite the church under an anti-Nicener banner, he called together a number of councils throughout the empire from 354 AD to 360 AD.  

 

Thankfully “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Because of these and other attacks against the true gospel of Jesus Christ; the true servants of God searched the Scriptures daily rightly dividing the word of truth concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity and many other foundational doctrines of truth. They then wrote them down in a number of early church creeds which helped protect most of the basic foundation truths during the dark ages, which would soon come upon the Church.

 

Under both emperor Constantine and his son emperor Constantius the empire moved ever closer to Christianity with many pagan beliefs becoming outlawed. By the end of the 4th century Christianity dominated the empire, and orthodox Christians views on the deity of Jesus Christ and the Holy trinity dominated most of the Church. 

 

During the 4th century the Arians and other Heretics wrote many incorrect copies of the Bible, some with many alterations and deletions which added support for their false doctrines. With so many incorrect copies of the Bible in circulation, the Church both decided to standardize the Greek text, and commission the writing of a standard Latin text. 

 

So it was that most of the incorrect Bibles written by the Arians and other heretics were destroyed and a standard text, called the majority text, based a textual examination of the majority of all earlier manuscripts, was made available. This majority text became the base text for all Bibles accepted by the Christian Church for the next 1,000 years, including both the Latin Vulgate Version, and the English King James Version. 

 

However, since the 1850s most Bibles have been using a text based on two incorrect manuscripts, which were rightly over looked in the writing of the majority text. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to us that, since the 1850s the number of churches (and their followers) that don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Holy trinity and the reality of Hell has greatly increased. The Arian controversy that plagued the Church throughout the 4th century is back again. 

 

I do not suggest we should all read the King James Version and nothing else, but we do need to get back to the majority text as the base text for all our Bibles. At stake, amongst other things, is our fundamental belief in the foundational truths of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity; without these two foundational beliefs, the true Christian faith no longer exists. 

 

Also at stake is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, promised to all who repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38 & Mark 16:15 – 18). Without the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church is blind, deaf, lacking in understanding of God’s written word, and powerless against our enemy the devil. 

 

 

Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by

VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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