Indoctrination and Deception Part 2 – The Trinity and Other Doctrines That Christians are Indoctrinated With – Not All Things Are Better Caught Than Taught

OriginalChristianity.net is a website dedicated to showing the basic principles of Christianity as defined by the apostles in their writings in the New Testament. Furthermore, it is dedicated to showing how original Christianity went from a fairly unified group of people and beliefs (there are a small number of schisms in the New Testament) to the hugely divided group of people and beliefs that we see in the world today.

In other articles, I have shown how, right after the apostles, the church began veering from the doctrine taught in the epistles in fulfillment of this verse and others like it.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
(Act 20:28-30 ESV)

Speaking twisted things in the above verses refers to people distorting scripture by twisting the meaning to something else than what scripture really says. And we see right after the apostles change after change after change happening. For example, 1 Clement writes about the leadership of the bishops as opposed to the leadership of the Holy Spirit directing apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers. We see the apologists using worldly philosophical techniques to promote Christianity in the world as opposed to sticking to Scripture and the guidance of Scripture to avoid the traditions and philosophies of men that rob believers. The use of philosophy changed the discussion of who Jesus is from that purely defined in Scripture as a man, the only begotten son of God, the promised seed,  inferior to the Father and only able to do what the Father guides him to do, to eventually him being declared the God-man, and a person in a Trinitarian godhead, and on a par with God the Father himself.

As a young Catholic, even though I knew that I had serious problems understanding the Trinity, I defended it quite rigorously. Now, in my studies as to what really happened with original Christianity and how it developed into what it is today, I have seen time and time again the indoctrination process that was used to lead me and a lot of other people to the blind acceptance of something that is never articulated in Scripture. And it’s acknowledged that it’s not articulated in Scripture in the very book that I’m about to discuss.

I’ve been looking at The Story of Christian Theology[1] by Roger E. Olson. Dr. Olson is a Baptist professor of theology. He states that his goal is to explain to everyone, from the common person to the more educated, the core ideas of Christian doctrine and how they developed. The book is fairly readable, as much as any book on Christian theology can be. It gets 4.1 out of five stars on Amazon.

I was able to see again in his introduction common techniques used to indoctrinate Christians on the Trinity and other tenets of what is called Orthodoxy.

Defining Indoctrination

Indoctrination is defined as:

“the process of teaching a people or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”

A keyword in the above definition is “uncritically.” To accept something uncritically means that you won’t question it. To achieve that objective, material is presented in such a way as to make counterarguments seem unworthy of being pursued.

Let me say right off that indoctrination may have a negative connotation to some, but it is not always a bad thing. Parents, teachers, pastors, and bosses hope to indoctrinate their charges and subordinates with the wisdom and guidance that makes for happy families, successful learning experiences, growing churches, and successful enterprises.

Therefore, indoctrination is neutral, meaning that it can be used to teach truth and error. The content of what is being indoctrinated is a critical element in the process of indoctrination.

Employers can indoctrinate a sense of worker pride, respect for others and the rule of law, peaceful cooperation, and appreciation that the workers’ work will be rewarded while building a profitable enterprise.  On the other hand, I once worked in a place that indoctrinated workers to accept an environment that included all kinds of dangers to health and safety. Certainly, there were good people there, but there were unsavory characters, too. There was a lot of absenteeism, there could be alcoholics working around you.  There was a sign at the entry that showed how many days it had been since someone died at this job site. If you didn’t have a steel lunch pail, the rats could eat your lunch. Of course, not everything in that job was terrible. It was a union steel mill job that paid pretty well so people put up with it. Some people worked their whole lives in the mills, but I didn’t work there long. The important point here is that just as good things can be indoctrinated, so can bad things.  That’s what makes them so potentially deceptive.

Indoctrination Vs. Direct Deception

There is direct deception whereby someone maliciously decides to deceive someone.  This can be directly saying things that aren’t true or omitting information to get something from someone.  That is intentional.  That is malicious.

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but he harbors evil in his heart. When his speech is charming, don’t believe him; for there are seven abominations in his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (Pro 26:24-26 WEB)

Deception by indoctrination is not direct like the verses above. The above verses talk about someone who is malicious, deliberately deciding to deceive, and deliberately lying to deceive.  On the other hand, some deceptions are not malicious, we may think we’re doing a good thing, setting a good example, or promoting something worthwhile.  As I’ve said before, I have promoted things in my life that I thought were good things but later found out were not. Way before I learned all the things I’m telling you about, I promoted the Catholic religion as the one true Catholic apostolic faith, including the Pope as God’s representative on earth, priests as intermediaries, seven sacraments instituted to give grace, the gifts and manifestations of the spirit as having ceased except in special circumstances, the Trinity, the whole enchilada, hook line, and sinker. Sure, I had doubts regularly, but I was deceived into believing those doctrines, much of it because I was indoctrinated, and early in my life, I worked to promote them and indoctrinate others.

Not all indoctrination is malice-free. People can lead others into places and systems that they know are not beneficial to the victim, but they do it anyway because it suits their purposes.

How People Learn and Better Caught Than Taught

In today’s world, most of us went to school for years growing up and were instructed on how to do math, learn the language we speak, our history, and quite a few other topics. These classes can be very informative and teach the steps to accomplish any number of things, use critical thinking concepts, and provide us with the pros and cons in many areas.

But as John Calvin Maxwell says, “More is caught than taught”. His point is that for all of our education, we learn more by example. That speaks to indoctrination as being part of the fabric of life.  Indoctrination is often setting an example that you hope others will follow.

Scripture emphasizes to us that we are to be examples because people learn by example.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. (1Ti 4:12-15 ESV)

Scripture teaches us to indoctrinate people “in love, in faith, and purity”.

The above verses talk about what we are supposed to be examples of. But we are both examples of the good things and the bad things that we believe and do. In Jesus’s time, the Pharisees preached error and were examples of a lot of things not to do.  In our day and time with so many opposing doctrines in the church, there are a lot of examples where people follow erroneous doctrines when they see people that they respect doing them.  Baptists preach and practice following the scriptures, which is good.  But I’ve heard Baptists say that people who drink a beer will go to hell.  And I’ve heard from some that people who speak in tongues are possessed even after being reminded of this verse:

Therefore, brothers, desire earnestly to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking with other languages. (1Co 14:39 WEB)

Society, in general, indoctrinates. For example, in Hebrews 13:4-6 we read that only the marriage bed is undefiled. But there are a lot of people who, for whatever reason, decide not to get married, instead they decide to just move in together.  I have seen people all my life who live this lifestyle. And they aren’t getting on a soapbox preaching this lifestyle, although they may make a comment or two here and there. They just live their lives this way, and some people have lived many years cohabitating without marriage. (There are laws in many jurisdictions where so many years of cohabitation do make that union a marriage, but the participants aren’t really advocating for that, it’s just a legal remedy for some people in terms of inheritance and other issues.) Some of the people I have met along the way who cohabit instead of marrying have been shown to be friendly, intelligent, and helpful. That increases the allure to young people looking for examples to follow.  The point is that this example can deceive people into believing something contrary to Scripture, that you can be a “good person” and live with someone else and not be married, and, by implication, be righteous.

Young kids are indoctrinated into this lifestyle when they see people who are perhaps their neighbors or even their friends’ parents living it, and it seems to work well.

A takeoff on John Maxwell’s quote that I have heard in more than one church is “Better caught than taught”. One pastor who quoted that was talking about how some concepts are difficult to understand or require substantial discipline. So the better way to get people to accept them is to get them around people who already accept the difficult concept.  He was talking about how some church values are not directly taught per se as much as they are so much a part of the Church’s everyday life that people eventually accept them even though they may have never really been taught them.  This pastor chose not to teach certain concepts because they were, to him, better caught than taught. That is planned indoctrination.

Pentecostal and charismatic churches may have classes that talk about the gifts and manifestations of the spirit, but the process of people accepting these things in their lives starts before classes begin as new attendees start to see people manifesting spirit, speaking in tongues, interpreting, giving a word of prophecy and so forth. That’s a good thing. Likewise, people see other people in the rows donating money into the basket, they see people going up to receive communion, they see people raising their hands in praise or bowing their heads at times of prayer. All of these things are things people catch onto. These are all indoctrinations into the various practices of the church. These are all good things to be indoctrinated with.

On the other hand, consider scenarios with some of these elements. Tithes are expected with warnings about people who don’t tithe. The church doesn’t talk about where the offerings go.  People look down on people who are not dressed in the finest dress.  The teacher doesn’t explain the scriptures and how to apply them in our lives, rather they present perhaps a Scripture or two, but mostly a sermon full of extra-biblical things like current issues, philosophies, and social commentary.

It may sound impossible to some that someone would want to go to a church that has the above elements, but perhaps this is a church that is been around for a long time and people went to it all their lives not knowing anything else. Some were raised in it and praised by other members for their participation. Perhaps some felt good about the philosophical and social commentary aspects of the sermon.  Perhaps they feel that, doctrinally, it is the best. That is part of how indoctrination works. We accept some things if that’s the way we were brought up or see people we respect participating.

Indoctrination then can promulgate good things and bad things.  When indoctrination involves leading people to do things against the word of God that is part of the subtle schemes of the adversary to deceive people against the word of God.

How Olson Indoctrinates

When looking for bias in someone’s presentation, I’ve found it helpful to look in introductory and auxiliary remarks for items the author tries to portray as something that should just be accepted as reasonable without question, as this shows an indoctrination process.

Let’s start looking at some of Olson’s statements. And pay close attention to his attempt to get the reader to accept them uncritically. Olson starts indoctrinating at the very beginning of his introduction with the attempt to indoctrinate people away from following just the pure verses of Scripture by discussing the concept of development of doctrine, that it spans the history of Christianity, thus not reinforcing the idea that the writings of the apostles are sufficient explanation of the faith.

“One thread runs throughout the story of Christian theology and hold many stories together as a single great narrative of the development of Christian thought.” (P. 13)

Of course, in his book, he does present discussions of this theological viewpoint versus other theological viewpoints under the guise of showing where some doctrines are right (Orthodoxy) and others declared heretical.

But the bias shown here is very subtle. This seemingly innocuous statement above is actually a challenge to the sufficiency of the Scriptures themselves as containers of the doctrine required to administer the church of Jesus Christ.  Olson, like so many other theologians in orthodoxy, starts off with the assumption that the developments of certain Christian theologies throughout the ages are a good and necessary thing. He starts off with this statement, inferring that our long history, now some 2000 years in length, is a story of the development of Christian belief with the implication that somehow God has overseen it that way.

In contrast, look at this scripture:

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16 WEB)

People, the above verses say that there are certain people in the church specifically designed for the perfecting of the saints, to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, etc. Those people are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Theologians are not in there. Theologians, especially, are not tasked scripturally with the job of developing Christian doctrine. The task of acquiring Christian doctrine was assigned to the original apostles. And they didn’t develop it, as we’ll see they received it by revelation of Jesus Christ. That is the scriptural perspective as seen in the above verses.

The apostle Paul was given responsibility for presenting the good news, the gospel, to the Gentiles while the apostle Peter was given a similar responsibility: presenting the good news to the Jews. Here it is in Scripture:

but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcised, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter in the apostleship with the circumcised also worked through me with the Gentiles); (Gal 2:7-8 WEB)

Olson’s statement minimizes what Paul is saying by revelation in the above verse. Olson’s statement continues the doctrine that the Roman Catholic Church started not long after the apostles with the concept that true church doctrine had to be developed and that the Scriptures only contained seeds of truth, not all whole truth. In other words, according to Orthodoxy, Peter and Paul didn’t teach the whole counsel of God; they only had the seeds, and it was up to really smart theologians to figure that out down the road, and it’s a process that has continued to this day.

That actually contradicts Paul’s statement that he taught the whole counsel of God. Yet Paul says that he did present the whole counsel of God.

for I didn’t shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Act 20:27 WEB)

Olson is indoctrinating his readers to accept that Christian doctrines were not fully set up by the apostles and that they needed to be developed by men in his field of theology.

Let me remind you what Paul said about what he and the other apostles wrote in their letters.

For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe. (1Th 2:13 WEB)

Peter, Paul, and the other apostles do not claim to be theologians or the best thinkers. However, they do claim to have received the word of God by revelation and presented it to the people.

But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:11-12 WEB)

Furthermore, the apostles charged us to follow what they said and wrote.

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

And, going one step further, they warned us to steer away from philosophies and arguments that are after the tradition of men.

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8 WEB)

The Apostles Paul, Peter, and others warned us to not let others steer us away from their teaching.  And when theologians tell us that the apostles’ writings were only the seeds of what we should believe, they are doing just that, they are steering us away from the apostles’ words to the words of later theologians who developed what Orthodox theologians claim is true doctrine.

Furthermore, Paul warned about people twisting the gospel he received by revelation and teaching distorted “other gospels”.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9 ESV)

Paul is saying here that he’s got the real McCoy. His gospel is the genuine gospel. Anybody who takes his gospel and wants to change it into something else is accursed. That’s pretty plain and simple to me.

I’m going to jump ahead in the book for just a minute, but only to show you the depth of Olson’s embrace of worldly philosophies.

“Erasmus soaked in the new spirit of humanism, which was transforming the intellectual and cultural life of Europe, and integrated with it his love for the way of Jesus Christ. Humanism involved a rediscovery of the ancient sources of philosophy, including Socrates. ‘so far as Erasmus was concerned, there existed neither a moral nor an unbridgeable antagonism between Jesus and Socrates, between Christian teaching and the wisdom of classical antiquity, between piety and ethics.’” (P. 362)

Olson doesn’t present Erasmus as a villain doing something against the word of God. Olson presents him heroically as believing that there is no conflict between Jesus and Socrates, between Christian teaching and the wisdom of classical antiquity, which is worldly philosophy.  Olson is praising Erasmus here because he was “enlightened” to the point that he saw there was no difference between scripture and philosophy, in this case, the philosophies of Socrates and Humanism.

People, this is exactly what Colossians 2:8 is talking about. We’re not supposed to be deceived by the philosophies of the world, yet that is exactly what this theologian and many others like him are doing.  Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and the rest of the Greek philosophers were not prophets! Their writings are clearly at odds with Scripture even if they appear to agree at this point or that.

Yet, at the very beginning of the book, Olson is indoctrinating people to accept the integration of Christian theology and certain Greek philosophies throughout the ages.

After his statement on the development of Christian thought throughout the story of Christian theology, Olson ties in the importance of salvation with this:

“The concern for understanding and properly explaining salvation seems to underlie most others.”

Athanasius, a major individual in Olson’s book, says things about salvation that are not in Scripture. Not in the introduction, but later in the book Olson quotes Athanasius.  Athanasius promotes the idea of salvation as deification and says:

“for he was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality.” (p. 169)

Athanasius viewed salvation as some kind of exchange dependent on Jesus being God, which is not in Scripture. Consequently, he argued that if Jesus Christ is not truly God as the Father is God, then we can’t be saved by him, and he doesn’t really reveal the Father to us. That puts a limit on what God can do. His argument is simply not in Scripture.

Athanasius is attributed with composing a creed that basically describes how Jesus is the God-man and anyone who doesn’t believe this is not saved. (The consensus in modern times is that the actual author is unknown. However, this creed reflects the teachings that started with Athanasius concerning the doctrine of the Trinity and salvation.) Here are parts:

He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,…

This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.[2]

The Athanasian Creed is overwriting Scripture here.  For one thing, the Athanasian Creed says that Jesus was begotten before time. That is unscriptural. The timing of Mary’s becoming pregnant (Jesus becoming “begotten”) is presented in the Scriptures as shortly after the announcement of the angel Gabriel and nine months before the birth of Jesus.

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. (Luk 1:34-35 WEBA)

For another thing, the Athanasian Creed puts requirements on salvation that are not in Scripture. As described in The Sacraments Do Not Save You; Your Faith in Christ Does; The Gospel of Salvation in the Scriptures Vs The Sacramental Life as Necessary for Salvation Gospel Part 1, Paul gives different requirements for salvation, and so Athanasius and the Trinitarians are preaching another gospel than Paul.

That’s how indoctrination works. In seemingly innocent remarks Dr. Olsen tries to get you to agree to certain things that just sound okay. But they’re not.  They are just not in scripture.

How the Large Support for The Trinity and Other Orthodox Ideas was Built

People, this may sound shocking to some, but the continuous acceptance of these ideas by large numbers is the result of millennia of coercive enforcement of these doctrines like the Trinity, the hypostatic union, and others.  Yes, believing anything different than the Trinity or any Orthodox doctrine was made into criminal behavior. The act of speaking out against the Catholic Church was criminalized.  Yes, for large portions of the two thousand years since Christ, people were prosecuted, including literally being tortured, drowned, hanged, and beheaded for rejecting this and other unscriptural doctrines.  Simply, if you openly challenged the Trinity or other developed doctrines, you would be declared a heretic, and you could be bankrupted, thrown in prison, and/or killed.

I am going to say that for many centuries many people have swallowed and embraced these unscriptural doctrines because they were inbred into the church by force to the point where opposition was pretty much eliminated, and generation after generation heard very little about opposition to these concepts to the point where there has developed an uncomfortable acceptance generation after generation.

Over time, many people have acknowledged that they don’t understand it, but it has grown so large in scope and so widely spread that it seems futile to challenge it.

A Massive Training Program for The Trinity and Orthodoxy Was Established over Many Centuries While Opposition to the Ideology Was At the Risk of Life and Limb

In the centuries upon centuries that mandatory belief in the Trinity and other “Orthodox” doctrines were rigidly enforced entire training and educational systems were set up to promulgate these ideas. Religious orders, universities, seminaries, and even educational systems for children all develop curriculums for promulgating the Trinity, the acceptance of world philosophy, and many other doctrines either not spelled out in Scripture or spoken against. Perhaps we now live in a time where, for a lot of us, it is not illegal to speak out against the Trinity, but massive machinery has been put in place to continue the teaching of Roman Catholic Doctrine, which is the sum and substance of Catholicism and is still at the foundation of most Protestant denominations.

The vast network of Catholic schools likely constitutes the largest single system of education in the world today. This enormously influential educational system has some 55,000 schools, ranging from kindergartens to research universities, located in 200 countries and serving more than 150 million students.[3]

55,000 schools don’t include all of the Protestant and Evangelical training centers, schools, and seminaries that may have rejected some of the later Catholic doctrines developed like the supremacy of papal leadership, ministers as priests, seven sacraments, and so forth but still adhere to the earliest Catholic doctrinal developments like the Trinity, perhaps, apostolic succession and more. The Reformation did not reform the Catholic Church back to the practice of the apostles, it perhaps reformed it closer to the fourth or fifth century. So thousands of Protestant and Evangelical schools and training centers still are promoting the man-made doctrines of the Catholic Church in the fourth century and later.

Altogether, the size of the training force that pushes these man-made doctrines is huge. It may look impossible. However, Jesus addressed the problem of some things that appear to be impossible when looking at how hard it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He said:

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mat 19:26 ESV)

Acknowledging things are not spelled out in Scripture, acknowledging worldly philosophies and other traditions of men as acceptable to God, is a big highway in the world today.

Once you start accepting unscriptural doctrines you are going down a very unscriptural path.  Finally, at least some of us live in an age where our lives are not threatened by rejecting doctrines that Dr. Olson and others admit are not acknowledged in scripture.

So how do we change these tens of thousands of training institutions and millions upon millions of people?  We do it one or a few people at a time.

The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2 WEB)

Scripture tells us that the path to righteousness is not a big wide highway. Scripture says the path is narrow.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Mat 7:13-14 ESV)

Will you join me and commit to the life and faith presented solely in the Scriptures? Will you reject the extra-biblical arguments and philosophies that theologians have used to supposedly develop true Christian doctrine and return to the simplicity of the word of God? Will you carry the message to the people around you?

Olson does present contrary ideas to orthodoxy and makes a point of saying so. Olson states on page 15;

“much of the story recounted here will consist of explaining the tensions, conflicts and controversy that lay in the backgrounds of such seemingly speculative ideas as the unity of God (Trinity) and hypostatic union (humanity and deity) of Christ. Neither belief is articulated in the Bible.”

 

There it is as promised. Olson admits that the Trinity and the hypostatic union are not articulated in the Bible. We’ll talk about this more in a minute.

Remember, these are introductory remarks. Olson wants us at the very outset to accept his worldly philosophical foundation as being true when, in fact, it is just the opposite. He uses the term “seemingly speculative ideas”. There is nothing “seemingly speculative” about it. The Trinity and the hypostatic union of Christ are nowhere to be found in the world of Christianity at the time of the apostles. These ideas started coming perhaps in the middle of the second century. Tertullian was the first one to write in defense of the concept of the Trinity around the beginning of the third century. The hypostatic union came after that. The Trinity and the hypostatic union are purely speculative.

The author is attempting to obviate any objections to his presentation of the Trinity and the hypostatic union being speculative.  He’s just glossing right past it and hoping no one notices.

That’s indoctrination. It’s so deceptive. Olson is presenting something that has been violently controversial as something not worth consideration of counterpoints.  That’s how indoctrination works. When I was a young man in Catholic grade school, I heard similar presentations. And I accepted it because there was no discussion of the violent controversies surrounding the Trinity.  It was just presented as something obvious that I should just accept without thought. Now I know better.

Prosecuting the Criminals Who Disagreed with the Church and The Terror of Inquisitions

That’s right. The freedom that many of us have now to debate about Christian doctrine is relatively new. As early as the 5th century, heresy, speaking out against any Church doctrine, was declared a crime and prosecuted as such. That made anyone who said the Trinity or the Pope was wrong a potential criminal with all the implications of what that meant.

In 438, under Emperor Theodosius II, the Codex Theodosianus (Theodosian Code), a compilation of laws of the Roman Empire, already provided for the confiscation of property and the death penalty for heretics.

To further rule people’s thinking entering the second millennium, the church used the tool of conducting inquisitions.  There were a number of them over time.  Some of them are the Medieval Inquisition starting around 1184 which included the Episcopal and Papal Inquisitions. The Spanish Inquisition started in the 15th century and prosecuted about 150,000 people over three centuries. That Inquisition executed about 2,700 people.

Yes, the Spanish Inquisition was still going on in the 18th century which is not that long ago. That means that up until relatively recent times, there was a strong deterrent against people speaking out in disagreement with things in the church like the Trinity. Yet, the Spanish Inquisition alone averaged hundreds of people a year being prosecuted and an average of nine people a year being executed for one “heresy” or another.
Please don’t tell me that Orthodox doctrines like the Trinity have just been well accepted throughout the ages.
A very famous execution at this time was that of Michael Servetus. The Inquisition found this man and sentenced him to death by burning him alive with his work against the Trinity under his arm on October 27, 1553. And, John Calvin, a famous Protestant reformer, pushed for his death also, just illustrating that the Reformation did not reform the church to the point where it returned to the tradition solely of the apostles. Calvin embraced the Orthodox positions of the killing of heretics as well as espousing the Trinitarian view regarding critical church doctrine and salvation.

There were periods with less prosecution of people speaking out against Church doctrine, especially after the fall of the Roman Empire, from the 5th to 11th centuries, but there was still deterrence, and groups espousing things different from Orthodox doctrine tended not to operate openly.

The claim that the people willingly accepted the Trinity and other developed doctrines of the Catholic Church without much opposition is a deception. There was always a campaign to destroy opposition to church doctrine, largely in part because religion was tied to church government, and maintaining religious control was viewed as key to maintaining governmental unity.

Part of the Indoctrination process is dismissing opposition as the work of a few while, in reality, it was hundreds of thousands or more. The fact that Orthodox oppression of people challenging Orthodox views was so widespread and maintained over such a long time points to the number of people sympathizing with people challenging Orthodox dogmatism as much larger. Millions?  Tens of millions? More?

Part of the Indoctrination process is dismissing opposition as bad people, i.e., heretics, criminals, etc., when in reality, opposing church doctrine was against the law, and many times, the only reason they were criminals was that they advocated for a change in doctrine.

The indoctrination process still works today to the point that some dismiss Christians who don’t believe in the Trinity as either not really Christian or members of a cult.   Some Trinitarian believers define the Trinity, the doctrine admittedly not articulated in Scripture, as the essential Christian doctrine and any opposed to it are bad people.

The truth is that Scripture tells us believers to turn away and avoid anyone who teaches differently from what the apostles taught.

Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them.(Rom 16:17 WEBA)

The apostles taught and practiced baptism in the Spirit. The apostles taught and practiced nine manifestations of the spirit. The apostles taught the body of Christ that has apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers. So unless your church is teaching things like this you may belong to a church that Scripture says to turn away from.

Salvation, redemption, sanctification, glorification, justification, eternal life, the kingdom of God, walking in the spirit versus walking in the flesh, these are all “essential” Christian doctrines according to the apostles although Scripture doesn’t segregate its teaching into essential and nonessential like modern-day theologians do. Paul emphasized that he taught the whole counsel of God from which we can infer that the whole counsel of God is important. On the other hand, Scripture does not teach the Trinity, let alone teach that it is the essential Christian doctrine. I’m sorry, people, but from a purely scriptural point of view, the Trinity falls into the category of doctrines to be avoided.

Making the Trinity the essential Christian doctrine doesn’t serve God’s purposes. It does serve the purpose of the adversary because it makes the most critical argument in Christianity something that’s not articulated in Scripture at all, which then minimizes all of the debate about all of these other divisive issues like apostolic succession, church government, forms of baptism, creating clergy and laity classes in the churches, prohibition, eternal security, evolution, end times theologies, homosexuality, sacraments, the in the name of Jesus debate, cessation doctrine, and more.

Who do you think is the most happy when all the focus on what is important in Scripture centers on things that are not spelled out in Scripture, i.e., the Trinity and other Orthodox doctrines? The Adversary, that’s who.

The Wikipedia article on the Spanish Inquisition is 49 pages long and contains the above quote as well as a lot of the details above and much much more.

Indoctrinating that the Trinity was the Original Standard Facing Increasing Opposition that was Becoming More Popular

Here is another concept Olson is presenting, hoping we will just accept it. On page 16 Olson continues:

Furthermore, when they were being developed by the leading thinkers of the early church fourth and fifth centuries, the canon of Christian scripture was just being identified and formalized… Why were the seemingly technical but absolutely crucial Christian doctrines developed? … The reason is simply that ideas about God and Jesus Christ that undermine the gospel were quickly arising and gaining popularity, and if widely accepted they would lead to a “different gospel” in a different religion than that taught by the apostles and handed down through the early centuries of the church. In almost every case doctrines were proposed and developed because someone perceived the gospel to be at stake.”

“Today we have the doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Jesus Christ and most branches of divided Christianity accept them without much debate. In fact, they are widely taken for granted even if poorly understood.”

Notice Olson’s acknowledgment that the doctrine of the Trinity is poorly understood.  In reality, there is no way to understand it without a lot of scripture-bending and nonsense logic.

For example, Scripture says that God cannot be tempted, yet Jesus was tempted at all points, like we are. So, to make that work, theologians invented the concept of dyothelitism, that Jesus had not one but two wills, i.e., he had both a human will and God’s will. Yet, when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, we see the famous statement, “Not my will but thine be done.”
Jesus was acknowledging there that he knew God’s will was for him to do this passion, death, and resurrection plan. But he’s also saying that it wasn’t his will, i.e., he didn’t want to do it. Yet he chose to submit his will to the father’s will. Jesus’s will and God’s will are clearly different. Jesus didn’t have the will of God, he submitted his will to the will of God as an eternal example to us all.  Theologians use a whole lot of hocus-pocus there to claim that he had two wills. It’s just nonsense.

In truth, there are all kinds of people in the churches. There are some devout, faithful attenders and members of churches who have a pretty good idea of what they believe and why. But if studies done by pollsters are accurate then there is a lot of uncertainty over a lot of issues up to and including what Orthodox Christians consider the essential dogma, the Trinity. As discussed in Theology Is As Clear As Mud To Americans in 2020, there are a lot of people sitting in the pews who say religious beliefs are a matter of personal opinion as opposed to the statement that the Bible is the highest authority for belief. There are people in the pews who say that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” While the study cited 70% of Americans claiming to be Christian, only 45% agreed with the statement that the biblical account of the physical resurrection of Jesus was accurate and that the event actually occurred.
As far as the deity of Christ and the Trinity are concerned, the study found the amazing statistic that 55% at least partly agreed with the statement that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, and regular churchgoers are more likely to deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit. This is despite 72% at least partly agreeing with the statement that there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Those contradictory results point to a lack of consistency and certainty in the beliefs of people in the pews.

The study suggests that the 72% who agree with the general statement about the Trinity, while most of these still say that Jesus is God’s greatest creation, shows that most Christians are demonstrating compliance to mandatory doctrine while actually believing the opposite of Trinitarian doctrine, that is, that Jesus was created by the Father.
And, certainly, if 55% of people agree that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, then there is a lack of credibility to the statement that the Trinity is well accepted among Christians.

A lot of people do what I was trained to do in Catholic education, that is, repeat the concepts over and over into rote memory until they become second nature. I remember spending hours repeating the exact terminology of the Trinity until I could repeat it verbatim. Whenever I tried to explain it, it was usually wrong. I remember being yelled at by teachers and priests for my poor attempts to explain the Trinity in anything but the exact terminology that was in my religious texts.

Olson’s paragraphs above sound very similar to what I was taught growing up.  When I was indoctrinated with the idea that Christianity has accepted the Trinity without much debate, there was absolutely no discussion that debate about the Trinity was up until recently a criminal act, that people did challenge the Trinity and other Catholic doctrines and were prosecuted and some even executed for it.   And the numbers aren’t small.

Another contributing factor is that when Trinitarians say that Christianity has been generally accepted some exclude from Christianity any believer in Jesus Christ who doesn’t promote the Trinity. Scripture says that all who confess with their mouth’s the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God has raised him from the dead are saved, ergo they are Christians. That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the apostle Paul. Of course, the gospel of Orthodoxy is different, insisting that belief in the Trinity is a requirement for salvation when there is no Scripture support for that whatsoever.

Still, for the sake of argument, with so many people accepting today, what’s the problem?

The first problem in all of this is the statement concerning the Trinity and the hypostatic union of Christ is that “neither belief is articulated in the Bible.”

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! We are looking, and Olson is leading us to just accept things that are not articulated in the Bible. Articulated just means said, or spelled out. Olson admits here in a seemingly innocuous way that the topics are not spelled out in the Bible, yet that is okay. That is the biggest red flag that Olson is obviating. To obviate something means to bring up something in a way that it is accepted even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s a sales technique.  Olson wants us to dismiss the fact that the Trinity is not spelled out in Scripture

The next thing I want to point out is Olson’s use of the term “leading thinkers of the fourth and fifth centuries”. So, the validity of this argument is based on the claim that the proponents of these doctrines are the best thinkers of the time.  Olson wants us to accept that claim as something good enough to accept something not articulated in the Bible as the gospel truth.

Olson has already admitted that these documents are not spelled out in Scripture, yet he is basing the claim for their acceptance on the supposed brilliance of the men proposing the doctrines. He’s not claiming that they are in the Bible. He’s not claiming that the apostles taught this. He is relying on the age-old sleight-of-hand argument that, no, it’s not articulated in scripture, but the underpinnings are there. He’s claiming that the brilliant people, the smart ones, the intellectuals, figured it out and so we should just follow because they are smarter than us.

So, we have Paul telling us that he received what he taught by revelation and that it is the word of God and not the word of men and that is why we should believe him.  And, on the other side, we have Olson telling us that the smartest men were able to develop the doctrines of the Trinity and hypostatic union, and that is why we should believe them.  Paul tells us to believe the word of God which he received.  Olson tells us that we should believe the word of these brilliant men.  I’m sticking with Paul. And I’m not buying that what Olson, Athanasius, and other orthodox theologians are preaching is somehow what Paul taught.  They are different gospels.

In fact, Olson acknowledges that “the majority of laypeople at that time appeared to sympathize with his (Gregory of Nyssa’s) opposition – the Arian or semi-Arian controversy that rejected the full equality of Jesus the Son of God with God the Father” (p.17). Do you see “the majority of laypeople” in the sentence above?   The situation is really that there was this elite intellectual minority that was promoting their newly developed Trinitarian doctrines and people weren’t buying it.

The concept of the Trinity first really appeared when Tertullian wrote a defense of the concept near the beginning of the third century.   Here’s a quote from it.

The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned,) who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the one only true God[4]

This is an example of a logic fallacy called ad hominem. When someone disagrees with someone else, and the response is to insult them, that is ad hominem. Tertullian is admitting here that the majority of believers in his day don’t believe in the Trinity, but they are just “simple”. He is insulting them.

The truth is that Unitarians (God the Father alone as Supreme) outnumbered Trinitarians (God as three persons) at the beginning of the third century by a substantial amount.  Unitarianism was the standard from the beginning of the Church. Trinitarianism was the Avant Garde, the cutting-edge new thinking by the “best thinkers”, and that is how the Trinity and related doctrines of Orthodoxy gained momentum.

So, the next indoctrination move I want to point out is how Olson makes the switch from admitting that these doctrines are not spelled out in Scripture, but we should follow them because it was the most brilliant people who developed them, to claiming that somehow the brilliance of these men makes these doctrines the same as the “religion” of the apostles which has been subsequently handed down throughout the centuries.  Let’s look at that statement again.

“The reason is simply that ideas about God and Jesus Christ that undermine the gospel were quickly arising and gaining popularity, and if widely accepted they would lead to a “different gospel” in a different religion than that taught by the apostles and handed down through the early centuries of the church.”

The debate that was going on in the early Christian centuries was over whether Jesus was God who came down as man or just a man albeit the only begotten son of God, unique and special, the promised seed, who was able to accomplish this incredible feat, our salvation.  And here is one of the most misleading statements of all, “ideas about God and Jesus Christ that undermine the gospel were quickly arising and gaining popularity.”

Now we just talked about how Tertullian and Gregory of Nyssa acknowledged that most believers at that time didn’t believe in the Trinity. But Olson makes it sound like the position that Jesus Christ was part of the Trinity was around from the beginning, and the new position that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father was an idea that was rising and gaining popularity”.   The complete opposite was true.

The original “religion” of the apostles was Unitarian, also called in places Monarchian. The apostles did not believe in a Trinity. The idea of a triune God was a sacrilege. There is no documentation that true Jews ever believed in a Trinity.  The apostles were Jews and would have never accepted such an idea.  Here is a Rabbi’s statement regarding Jewish acceptance of the Trinity.

 

The Christian theology concerning G-d is one example of a belief that is absolutely forbidden to Jews according to the Hebrew Bible, as the following biblical sources demonstrates:

Hear O Israel, The Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)[5]

 

I have documented how the doctrine of who Christ is has changed over time. The Jews understood the Messiah would be a man and that the Logos in the gospel of John chapter 1 was the figure of speech personification similar to how Wisdom was used in the Old Testament.   The concept of the incarnation grew from the figure of speech personification to a literal interpretation starting around the middle of the second century. (See  John 1 – The meaning of the Logos; The Slippery Slope of Applying Mathematical Precision to Language Expressions for more.) But even then, Justin Martyr wrote about the Son’s inferiority to the Father. The idea of the Father and the Son being of the same substance didn’t even happen until Novation in the middle of the third century, also discussed in the above reference.

The Trinitarians were the radicals in the fourth century pushing an agenda that was radical to traditional Christianity, not the other way around like Olson and so many other Trinitarian theologians allege.

The ad hominem logic fallacy, villainizing people who disagree with you is a common tool in indoctrination.  It says people who believe your argument A are good while people who believe argument B, the opposing argument, are bad.

To Olson, Athanasius is good and Arius is bad. On page 20 Athanasius is a “great thinker”.  Arius, of course, is called a heretic, and a serious distorter of the gospel. Olsen laments that Athanasius was run out of town while calling him a hero. The truth is that he was run out of town because he was the progressive who was out of touch with the majority holding on to doctrine closer to that of the apostles.

Olson proceeds in his introduction with another non-scriptural declaration. On page 22, he says that he agrees with Hans Kung that God maintains the church in truth, just not necessarily in a smooth progression.  There is absolutely no scriptural evidence that God ensures the faithful preservation of true Christian doctrine from generation to generation, let alone throughout millennia.

In fact, scriptural evidence points to exactly the opposite of Hans Kung’s theory. The prime examples are the Jews. Moses, the man of God, received the Law on the mountain and brought it down to the people. Moses wrote the Torah. The Old Testament is a chronicle of the highs and lows of Israel’s maintenance of the faith given to God’s chosen people. Israel was at times victorious in the Exodus, in receiving the promised land, in deliverance from the Philistines, and in the rise of the great nation of Israel where David and Solomon ruled victorious. In between those times, we see the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their lack of faith. We see king after king worshiping other gods in high places. We see Israel falling to such a dismal state that they have to go into exile in Babylon. But after that, we see the return to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple, and the rebuilding of the wall. It varied from generation to generation whether or not Israel was rallying around the law, the word of God, or walking away from it.
In the process, the Israelites did not stay true to just the Torah. Not content with the laws therein, and just like the early Christians after the apostles, they decided that the word of God received by the prophet was insufficient. So they developed the Talmud. They started their own traditions. There’s nothing wrong with that tradition as long as it doesn’t oppose the word of God. But Jesus’s interactions with the Pharisees illustrate that the traditions of the Jewish leaders “made void the word of God” (Mark 7:13).
The Roman Catholic Church modeled itself after Old Testament Israel in a number of ways. Catholic priests are like Levitical priests as intercessors for God’s people. And just like the Jews built up their own tradition, the Christian church after the apostles, dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, diverged from the pure teaching of the apostles, and built up their own traditions and theologies. The Roman Catholic Church relegated the apostles’ writings to being the seeds of the faith and developed their Magisterium which is the final authority on church doctrine, above Scripture.  The magisterium has made void the word of God in place after place in the Catholic Church.

By the time of the Reformation, the Catholic Church was far from the church Jesus and the apostles built.
The Reformation was one of the most powerful returns to true apostolic doctrine in history, but it was by no means complete. The Reformation is not a single act or movement. Before Luther Jan Huss and others were advocating for a return to true scriptural adherence on issues. Martin Luther was successful in actually bringing into existence a church closer to the truth than the Roman Catholic Church. However the reformers did not have a single mind, and many unscriptural Catholic doctrines were never even questioned by the original reformers. Reformers were able to return the church to things like salvation by grace, the return to Scripture, acknowledging the eternal priesthood of believers eliminating the need for intermediary priests like the Catholics, and so forth.

However, not long after the initial events in the Reformation, Unitarianism started to be embraced. But Luther, Calvin, and other reformers did not see the rightly divided purity of Unitarianism and actually fought against the brave Unitarians who were able to see the Trinity as a deviation from the apostles’ teaching.

The Church is always under attack. The adversary is constantly seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.  He never sleeps and has cunning schemes to deceive people in play at all times. The more people stick to philosophies and the traditions of men the further from the truth they will end up. Mental brilliance, the ability to understand intricate thinking and logic is not the same as holy spirit guidance.  Mental brilliance can be as much a hindrance as a help when dealing with the matters of God.

The more people truly seek God the more truth they will find.  Our truth is in the scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to show us what is in alignment with the word of God.

But despite the Catholic Church’s insistence that they are in charge of the church, people at different times and places have actually been led by the spirit to the truth of scripture and lived in closer alignment with Yahweh and scripture, even if it is only perhaps in small pockets here and there. Different movements within the reformation show this as well as other instances.

That doesn’t mean that people can’t confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead in almost any church,  but the further that church is spiritually from the New  Testament scriptures, especially in the epistles, the less truly abundant life spiritually that person is likely to have.

Some churches teach that their members are children of God when they receive the sacraments or are baptized in water.  This is not in scripture. This practice started in the Roman Catholic church as a way of making progeny of Catholic believers part of the church soon after birth.

Confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised him from the dead is the scriptural standard for admittance to the kingdom, not water baptism rituals.  I have discussed with more than one sacramental Christian who regularly participated in the sacraments for years, yet when pressed, said they were unsure about who Jesus was, or if he even exists or existed.  My M.O. is to tell them that I believe that he does and to encourage them to do the same and follow the guidance in Romans 10:9-10

that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10 WEB)

Olson concludes his introduction with a discussion of Christianity and philosophy. He points out that the Tertullian questioned the use of Greek philosophy by Christian thinkers while Justin Martyr referred to Christianity as the “true philosophy”. He then notes that Clement of Alexandria identified Socrates as a “Christian before Christ”. He notes that Thomas Aquinas referred to Aristotle as “the philosopher” and used him at times in place of the church fathers in settling disputed questions. In contrast, he also notes that Blaise Pascal declared that the God of the philosophers is not the God of Abraham and the patriarchs. He makes a point that the use of philosophy in Christianity” provides some of the “juiciest tension” in the story.

Conclusion

This is been a discussion of indoctrination focusing on the introduction to a book by Roger Olson on the history of Christian theology.

Indoctrination is a process where an attempt is made to get people to accept things without criticism. That includes presenting things in a way that makes what is being presented seem good and any alternatives as bad.

Indoctrination itself is neither good nor bad. Parents, teachers, bosses, and others use indoctrination all the time trying to raise loving families, lead high-learning classrooms, and promote successful businesses. If what is being indoctrinated is true and good to the word of God, then that is helpful. If what is being indoctrinated is false, then it becomes deceptive in a sneaky way. As opposed to malicious deceit, people may indoctrinate others into following error, while at the same time having good intentions, being deceived themselves. That’s part of the system of the world and the adversary uses that mechanism to perpetuate error as much as he can.

Olsen’s introduction to his book is as the friendly, understanding professor giving some foundation to what he is going to present.

But Olson’s presentation is clearly an attempt to indoctrinate as he makes so many statements that he just wants people to accept without showing any rightly divided scriptural basis. He presents his material in the introduction as assumed to be true. He presents things in a way that implies the development of Christian doctrine after the apostles starting with the Trinity, the hypostatic union and other Orthodox developments are the way that things should have happened and did. He presents a picture of a current church that God has overseen from the apostles through the church fathers through the development of all these doctrines to a church today that may have problems but is still teaching the original faith of the apostles.

There is no scriptural foundation that God will ensure the transmission of the faith accurately from generation to generation. On the contrary, there are numerous prophecies of men arising from within and without the faith to draw believers away from the true faith. It is up to each generation to decide whether to seek the Lord or to accept the traditions of men with all of their philosophies or dedicate themselves solely to the word of God as delivered by Yahweh’s messengers.

Olson describes the disputes over issues as tensions and says that he will explore some of them in the text. He appears to praise philosophy in general and at the same time he points out criticisms of some philosophical viewpoints. He plans to discuss philosophy regularly throughout his history of Christian theology

But in his review is a complete switch on some of what really happened like the implication that the religion of the apostles was Trinitarian and that makes his indoctrination of people deceptive. Despite how Olson phrases it, the Trinity wasn’t the established teaching being challenged by a newly sprung Unitarianism. On the contrary, the Trinity was a progressive challenge by elite intellectuals to the Unitarian standard the Church was born into.

Olson does acknowledge that Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa were surrounded by believers who didn’t agree with them, but he presents it dismissively. A major ploy of Trinitarian promotion is to stress the superior thinking of Athanasius and the other theologians promoting the Trinity. When they describe the people disagreeing with them, they describe them as simple and other less than the best terms. This is part of ad hominem logic. Instead of arguing based on Scripture and what really happened in history, including whether all of the doctrinal components in the argument are in Scripture, they attack the other person’s character or capacity.

Olson, like so many other traditional, conservative, orthodox Christians appears oblivious to the warnings in the Scriptures that men would rise up from both within and without the church to draw people away from the pure teachings of the apostles.  He can’t seem to fathom that making an argument that he admits is not articulated in scripture, the Trinity, as a most important doctrine, even being a requirement for salavation, another element not specified in scripture, is distorting the message that Paul received by revelation and charges us to follow.

Olson’s introduction is a good example of how the Trinity and many of the doctrinal developments in the early church after the apostles were and are indoctrinated into believers. Massive educational systems promoting the Trinity and other Orthodox development doctrines were built up while opposition to the Trinity was criminalized and severely enforced up to the death penalty. That has built up a huge momentum of promotion for these developed doctrines and bias against anyone who challenges them, especially the Trinity, which Olson spells out is something that is not articulated in scripture.

Olson’s introduction characterizes Arius as the bad man, the heretic while Athanasius is called the hero.  This tone continues when he discusses the development of the Trinity in the fourth century in the body of the book. While Olson admits that none of Arius’ writings have survived, what he does present is Arius’s opponents’ view of what he said has survived and it is less than flattering.  So, in reality, no one really knows the tone or substance of Arius’s views as it is rare that an enemy’s viewpoint of someone is going to present them in an objective light. Consequently, his presentation of what Arius believed is suspect as the traditional reproach of Arius alongside the traditional praise of Athanasius and other Trinitarians is consistently presented in this book.

The introduction in Olson’s book is as good an example of Trinitarian and Orthodox indoctrination as any.

Paul and the Apostles received what they taught by revelation, and it is the word of God.  Anything that changes the apostles’ message is another gospel and there is a lot of that in Olson’s book.

The Trinity, as well as a lot of the orthodox developed doctrines, were debated and refined over centuries.  There is a tremendous amount of thought put into them, but they are not the word of God.  Don’t let yourself be indoctrinated by them, no matter how many people promote them, or how they may sound on this point or that.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. (Col 2:4 ESV)

[1] The Story of Christian Theology, Roger E Olson, IVP Academic, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1999

[2] https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/athanasian-creed

[3] What makes education Catholic? BC School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome’s new book explores the essence of a Catholic education

[4] https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0317.htm

[5] God as One vs. The Trinity, RABBI BENTZION KRAVITZ

© copyright 2024 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.  Last edited 4/18/2024

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