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Trinity is not borrowed from the pagans!

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View Summary document: Six reasons why trinity is not pagan

  1. Reputable scholars, secular encyclopedias and Trinitarians never say trinity is of pagan origin and openly deny such.
  2. Jehovah's Witnesses are Polytheists
  3. Only Atheists, Christianity Trashers, Jews, Muslims and anti-Trinitarians, say trinity is of pagan origin.
  4. Christian/pagan parallels are far broader than Trinity or angel-Christology doctrine.
  5. Early Christians recognized parallels.
  6. Justin Martyr wrote in 150 AD on similarities between paganism and Christianity.
  7. Platonic & Greek influence on Christianity as a whole, including both Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians!
  8. Pagan, Platonic & Greek influence on JW's and Christadelphians Theology.

 

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Reputable scholars, secular encyclopedias and Trinitarians never say trinity is of pagan origin and openly deny such.

  1. First, it is important to note that the doctrine of the Trinity does not go back to non-Christian sources [pagan], as has sometimes been supposed in the past. [ie. by Jehovah's Witnesses etc.] There has been no lack of attempts to find the initial form of the doctrine of the Trinity in Plato, or in Hinduism, or in Parsiism. All such attempts may be regarded today as having floundered. [but Jehovah's Witnesses continue to do so in utter deception] It is another question, of course, whether or not the church, in developing the doctrine of the Trinity, had recourse to certain thought forms already present in the philosophical and religious environment, in order that, with the help of these, it might give its own faith clear intellectual expression. This question must definitely be answered in the affirmative. In particular cases the appropriation of this concept or that can often be proved. Unfortunately, however, it is true that particularly in reference to the beginnings of the doctrine of the Trinity there is still much uncertainty. In this area final clarity has not yet been achieved. As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual doctrine of the Trinity. This does not mean very much, however, for generally speaking the New Testament is less intent upon setting forth certain doctrines than it is upon proclaiming the kingdom of God, a kingdom that dawns in and with the person of Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, there are in the New Testament the rudiments of a concept of God that was susceptible of further development and clarification, along doctrinal lines. ... Speaking first of the person of Jesus Christ ... In other passages of the New Testament the predicate "God" is without a doubt applied to Christ (A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, 1966, p37-39) [NOTE: Lohse says, and correctly so, is that early Christians would frame Christian doctrine in terms understand within the current culture for illustrative purposes. Of course JW's do the same thing today, when they explain man's soul when he dies being stored on a floppy disk in God's computer room! In 3000 AD, it would be just as ridiculous to dig up Watchtower Magazines from this century and conclude JW's (should they survive past 2014 AD) borrowed their extinction doctrine from Bill Gates, as it is for JW's to say that early Christians borrowed trinity doctrine from the pagans!]
  2. "Yet the number three assumes peculiar importance indirectly in connection with the concept of the Trinity. There are threefold formulae listing the Persons in such passages as Matt. 28:19; Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 (---> God, art. theos NT 8). There seems to be no precursor of this idea in any significant usage of the numerical concept in the OT, nor may it reasonably be connected with the occurrence of triads of deities in ancient Near Eastern paganism." (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Colin Brown, 1932, God, vol 2, Three, p687, C. J. Hemer)
  3. "The Socinian and rationalistic opinion [Jehovah's Witnesses etc.], that the church doctrine of the Trinity sprang from Platonism and Neo-Platonism is therefore radically false. The Indian Trimurti, altogether pantheistic in spirit, is still further from the Christian Trinity" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church New York: Scribner's, 1924, vol. 2, p. 566)
  4. "Only thus much is true, that the Hellenistic philosophy operated from without, as a stimulating force, upon the form of the whole patristic theology, the doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity among the rest; and that the deeper minds of heathen antiquity showed a presentiment of a threefold distinction in the divine essence; but only a remote and vague presentiment which, like all the deeper instincts of the heathen mind, serves to strengthen Christian truth. Far clearer and more fruitful suggestions presented themselves in the Old Testament" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church New York: Scribner's, 1924, vol. 2, p. 566)
  5. "The Ontological Doctrine: There is no reason to seek for sources or types of the doctrine of the Trinity outside of Christianity or of the Bible, though in the eighteenth century efforts were made to derive the Christian dogma from Plato, and later from Brahmanism and Parseeism, or, later still, from a Babylonian triad. Even were the resemblance between the Christian Trinity and the pagan triads far greater than it is, there could be no serious question of borrowing. The development, of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is historically clear, and its motives are equally well known, being almost exclusively due to Christological speculation." (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Trinity, Doctrine of the; p18)
  6. "The doctrine of the divine Trinity is the summarized statement of the historical revelation of redemption for the Christian consciousness of God. It affirms that God is not only the ruler of the universe, but the Father of Christ, in whom he is perfectly revealed, and the source of a holy and blessed life which transforms nature and is realized in the Church. It constitutes the distinctive characteristic of Christianity as contrasted with Judaism and paganism and is a modification of Christian monotheism." (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Trinity, Doctrine of the; p18)
  7. Attempts have been made recently to apply the more extreme theories of comparative religion [pagan similarities] to the doctrine of the Trinity, and to account for it by an imaginary law of nature compelling men to group the objects of their worship in threes. ... It seems needless to give more than a reference to these extravagant views [Jehovah's Witnesses etc.] , which serious thinkers of every school reject as destitute of foundation. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Vol. 15, p 47-49)
  8. The question as to how to reconcile the encounter with God in this threefold figure with faith in the oneness of God, which was the Jews' and Christians' characteristic mark of distinction over against paganism, agitated the piety of ancient Christendom in the deepest way. It also provided the strongest impetus for a speculative theology-an impetus that inspired Western metaphysics throughout the centuries. In the first two centuries a series of different answers to this question stood in juxtaposition; at first none of them was thought through speculatively. The diversity in interpretation of the Trinity was conditioned especially through the understanding of the figure of Jesus Christ. According to the theology of the Gospel According to John, the divinity of Jesus Christ constituted the departure point for understanding his person and efficacy. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Christianity, Vol. 4, p.485)
  9. At the same time, the Christian church insists that God is One in "substance" (Latin substantia, existence or inner essence), and thus combines in it "mystery" (a formula or conception which really transcends human understanding) the truths set forth in the Holy Scriptures. It is probably a mistake to assume that the doctrine resulted from the intrusion of Greek metaphysics or philosophy into Christian thought; for the data upon which the doctrine rests, and also its earliest attempts at formulation, are much older than the church's encounter with Greek philosophy. The earliest development of the doctrine may in fact be viewed its an attempt to preserve the balance between the various statements of Scripture, or their implications, without yielding to views which, though logical enough, would have destroyed or abandoned important areas of Christian belief. The simplest affirmation is that God is "Three in One, and One in Three," without making use of such technical terms, derived from law or philosophy, as "substance" or "person." God is Father, and the Father is God; God is Son, and the Son is God; God is Spirit, and the Spirit is God. (Encyclopedia Americana, Trinity, p116)
  10. The Christian religion in the 3rd century made no compromise with any of the pagan religions and kept far away from the numerous intersections out of which, under the influence of the monotheistic philosophy of religion, a now religiousness developed itself. (Outlines of the History of Dogma, Adolf Harnack, p193-195)
  11. Behind the individual relationships is the total context of salvation history as this may be seen most clearly and succinctly in Gal 4:4 ff.: God first sends the Son, and then, to continue the work. The divine work of salvation is thus prosecuted in the historical threefold relation of Father, Son and Spirit. This threefold relation soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in 2 C. 13:13, and in I Cor. 12:4-6.2" The form is first found in the baptismal formula in Mt. 28:19; Did., 7. 1 and 3. Perhaps recollection of the many triads of the surrounding polytheistic world contributed to the formation of these threefold formulae. More likely, however, is the influence of Jewish models. For in Judaism, as in the early Church, we find triadic formulae, and even formulae with four or more members. Justin combines the triad God, Christ and angel, with that of Father, Son and Spirit, to produce the fourfold (Apol., 1, 6). Eph. 4:4 ff. has spirit and lord, and then God. This is even more complicated than the formula in S. Bar. 85:14: One law through one, one world, one end. In I Cl., 46,6, the narrower triad Is more clearly distinguished from the fourth and additional member. In these later examples, as in the twofold formulae in 1 C. 8:6 etc., the singularity and individuality of the two factors is emphasized by means of the preceding 'eis'. Yet it is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship. On the other hand, the NT does not actually speak of triunity. We seek this in vain in the triadic formulae of the NT. ... Early Christianity itself, however, does not yet have the problem of the Trinity in view"(Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 3, p. 108)

Jehovah's Witnesses are Polytheists: (henotheist)

Father

Almighty God

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Son

Mighty God

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Devil

god of world

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Angels

gods

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Man

gods

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Documentation:

  1. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the NWT "a frightful mistranslation," "Erroneous" and "pernicious" "reprehensible" "If the Jehovah's Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists." (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature)
  2. The Christology of Jehovah's Witnesses, also, is a form of Arianism; they regard Arius as a forerunner of Charles Taze Russell, the founder of their movement. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Arianism, Vol. I, p.509)
  3. The basic concern of Arius was and remained disputing the oneness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father, in order to preserve the oneness of God. The Son, thus, became a "second God, under God the Father"-i.e., he is God only in a figurative sense, for he belongs on the side of the creatures, even if at their highest summit. Here Arius joined an older tradition of Christology, which had already played a role in Rome in the early 2nd century-namely, the so-called angel-Christology. The descent of the Son to Earth was understood as the descent to Earth of the highest prince of the angels, who became man in Jesus Christ; he is to some extent identified with the angel prince Michael. In the old angel-Christology the concern is already expressed to preserve the oneness of God, the inviolable distinguishing mark of the Jewish and Christian faiths over against all paganism. The Son is not himself God, but as the highest of the created spiritual beings he is moved as close as possible to God. Arius joined this tradition with the same aim-i.e., defending the idea of the oneness of the Christian concept of God against all reproaches that Christianity introduces a new, more sublime form of polytheism. This attempt to save the oneness of God led, however, to an awkward consequence. For Jesus Christ, as the divine Logos become man, moves thereby to the side of the creatures-i.e., to the side of the created world that needs redemption. How, then, should such a Christ, himself a part of the creation, be able to achieve the redemption of the world? On the whole, the Christian Church rejected, as an unhappy attack upon the reality of redemption, such a formal attempt at saving the oneness of God as was undertaken by Arius. ... The redemption of man from sin and death is only then guaranteed if Christ is total God and total man (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Christianity, Vol. 4, p.485)
  4. According to its opponents, especially Athanasius, Arius' teaching reduced the son to a demigod, reintroduced polytheism (since worship of the Son was not abandoned), and undermined the Christian concept of redemption since only he who was truly God could be deemed to have reconciled man to the God-head. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Arianism, Vol. I, p.509)
  5. "only as cosmologians are the Arians monotheists; as theologians and in religion they are polytheists; finally in the background lie deep contradictions: A Son who is no Son, a Logos which is no Logos, a monotheism which does not exclude polytheism, two or three who are to be adored, while really only one differs from the creatures, an indefinable being who only becomes God in becoming man, and who is neither God nor man." (Outlines of the History of Dogma, Adolf Harnack, p251)
  6. "now they (Arians) were convicted inexorably of polytheism and of deifying the creature." (The Formation of Christian Dogma, An Historical Study of its Problems; Martin Werner, p160, Werner is a modernist who also advocates Angel Christology commenting on Arianism)

Comments:

A technically more accurate term to describe Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians in general is henotheist rather than polytheist. But what Jehovah's Witness has ever heard of the term "henotheist". We frankly don't care to educate the Jehovah's Witnesses world wide! In a broader sense, in the way they define polytheism, by their own understanding, they are polytheists. We simply used their own measuring stick on themselves!

Hindus would see little difference between themselves and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Babylonians would see little difference between themselves and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jews and Muslims would label Jehovah's Witnesses as polytheists!

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"Decepto-meter"

The "Decepto-meter"

Click here: Cataloguing and evaluating all the Quotes index using the "Decepto-meter".

 

 

Only Atheists, Christianity Trashers, Jews, Muslims and Fellow anti-Trinitarians, say trinity is of pagan origin:

The dishonesty of quoting non-Christian's, skeptics and atheists world religions to trash the trinity.

  1. The vast majority of quotes used by anti-Trinitarians come from those who trash the whole of Christianity is of pagan origin, not just trinity doctrine!
  2. In utter deception and scholarly dishonesty, anti-Trinitarians constantly quote a source/author as proof that trinity is borrowed from the pagans, yet in the same paragraph, often the same sentence, the same source/author claims that all of the core doctrine of Christianity is also borrowed from the pagans. We correctly label these kinds of sources/authors as "Christianity Trashers" or "CT" for short!
  3. For Arians (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians & United Pentecostal Church International: UPCI) to quote a another Unitarian theologian, as an authority to prove the pagan origin of Trinity, is about as trustworthy and believable as quoting the a Catholic Bishop to prove that Peter was the first Pope or like asking a Jw if the Watchtower magazine is God's channel of communication to man today.
  4. Since they can't find any Trinitarians to say that Trinity was "ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers" they must turn to Anti-Trinitarians. Most often, they turn to atheists who trash not only Trinity, but the whole of Christianity as of pagan origin!
  5. Unitarians quote the Watchtower and the Watchtower quotes the Unitarians. Within the Watchtower article, Jehovah's Witnesses deliberately fail to tell you that Norton or Lamson is an anti-trinitarian. They always tell you when the misrepresent a trinitarian!
  6. Jews, Muslims and Hindus would immediately label Jehovah's Witnesses as Polytheists!
  7. This is the basic pattern of logic that all anti-Trinitarians use to prove trinity is of pagan origin and it is utterly deceptive and unscholarly!

Documentation:

Christianity Trasher
Arthur
Weigall

"The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan." (The Paganism in Our Christianity, Arthur Weigall, as quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

Christianity Trasher
Will
Durant

"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity." ("Will Durant", quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower booklet)

Christianity Trasher
Winwood
Reade

"Christianity had conquered paganism, and paganism had corrupted Christianity. (Winwood Reade, Philosopher and historian, The Martyrdom of Man, p 183-84, quoted by anti-Trinitarians)

Christianity Trasher
Lyman
Abbott

Trinity "is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith." (A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, Lyman Abbott, p944, as quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

Atheist
Edward
Gibbon

"If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief." (Edward Gibbon's History of Christianity, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication) ("History of Christianity", by Edward Gibbon, 1891, p. xvi)

Jewish Rabbi
J. H.
Hertz

  • "This sublime pronouncement of absolute monotheism was a declaration of war against all polytheism . . . In the same way, the Shema excludes the trinity of the Christian creed as a violation of the Unity of God." (The Pentateuch and Haftorahs", J. H. Hertz, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 215, a rabbi)
  • Comment: The fact remains that the title theos, is clearly applied to Christ proving that Jehovah's Witnesses make a deceptive argument as Lohse states: "Speaking first of the person of Jesus Christ ... In other passages of the New Testament the predicate "God" is without a doubt applied to Christ.' With these affirmations, which for Jewish monotheism were utterly offensive." (A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, 1966, p37-39)

Unitarian
Andrews
Norton

"In the book A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton says of the Trinity: 'We can trace the history of this doctrine, and discover its source, not in the Christian revelation, but in the Platonic philosophy . . . The Trinity is not a doctrine of Christ and his Apostles, but a fiction of the school of the later Platonists.'" (A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton, 1872, Fifth edition, American Unitarian Association, Boston, MA, p 94, 104., as quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

"The name of Andrews Norton has long been widely known as that of one of the ablest theologians and most accomplished critics of our time; standing, in his department of service, at the head of the Unitarian movement in this country. His memory will be ever admiringly cherished by those who sympathized with him in his religious views" (A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton, 1872, Fifth edition, American Unitarian Association, Boston, MA) p ix, biographical notice)

Asking Norton what he thinks about the trinity is like asking a Jw if the Watchtower magazine is God's channel of communication to man today or asking the Pope if Peter is the first Pope! Quoting Norton is worthless because it is quoting your own personal opinion!

Unitarian
Alvan Lamson

"The doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; . . . it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; . . . it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers." (The Church of the First Three Centuries, Alvan Lamson, 1860 edition, p. 34., British and Foreign Unitarian Association, As quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

Alvan Lamson was a top leader and theologian in the a Unitarian type church! We ask how objective is it to use a Unitarian as proof that trinity is pagan origin? This is an example of self quoting!

The Watchtower is guilty of a kind of self-quoting, while leading you to believe that he is a trinitarian! JW's don't want you to know that the greatest historical authority they use to summarize all the historical data in their book "Should you believe the Trinity", is an anti-trinitarian! Their book says, "Summing up the historical evidence, Alvan Lamson says in The Church of the First Three Centuries ...". Since they can't find any Trinitarians to say that Trinity was "ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers" they must turn to Anti-Trinitarians. Most often, they turn to atheists who trash not only Trinity, but the whole of Christianity as of pagan origin!

Unitarian
Victor
Wierwille

So how then did a Trinitarian doctrine come about? It gradually evolved and gained momentum in the late first, second and third centuries as pagans, who had converted to Christianity, brought to Christianity some of their pagan beliefs and practices. Trinitarianism then was confirmed at Nicaea in 325 by Church bishops out of political expediency" (Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille, Arian, Leader of The Way International, Jesus Christ is Not God, p. 25-26)

 

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Christian/pagan parallels are far broader than Trinity or angel-Christology doctrine.
The Watchtower is creating a false dilemma in the mind of the reader by implying that the existence of similarities in pagan religions automatically means that Christians borrowed that doctrine from the pagans. In utter deception, Jehovah's Witnesses know there are many similarities in Pagan religions that, using the same bad logic, would prove that the Watchtower borrowed their own doctrines of the virgin birth, incarnation, blood atonement, the ascension, the Lord's Supper, even the name Mary for the mother of Jesus, from the Pagans! Similarities don't mean that Christians borrowed from the pagans. Further they create a false dilemma by thinking that if there are similarities between Christianity and paganism, that the Christian belief must not be the result of divine revelation, but borrowed from the pagans. Such is utterly false. Similarities do not indicate source, as best illustrated in the fact that the Biblical flood story is found in every earth culture.

Christianity was not derived from pagan sources

Christian/pagan parallels are far broader than Trinity or angel-Christology doctrine:

Plato

Logos, trinity, all-mighty God, spiritual/non-physical outlook

Pagan

God as a Father, King of the Land, Lord of all, Divine family with God's Son, God's begotten Son, incarnation, atonement, sacrifice, new birth, sin, divine word, angels, demons, washings

Noah Flood story

In the past century, scholars have found four major early records which preserve accounts similar to the record of Genesis 1-11. The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Summerian King-List, the Semitic Old-Babylonian Epic of Atrakhasis, and the Summerian Flood Story, all were written between the twentieth and seventeenth centuries B.C. Yet they all match the outline of Genesis 1-11.

Creation story

One hundred years ago it was fashionable for theologians in higher-critical circles to insist that Genesis plagiarized these other Mesopotamian sources. Since then, it has become evident that they all independently record what they believed was a genuine event in ancient (to them as well as to us today) history (K. A. Kitchen, The Bible in Its World, pp. 26-32)

Arthur Weigall a Bible Trasher, draws the following parallels:

"The Paganism in Our Christianity" by Arthur Weigall

  1. The Twelve Disciples Derived From Zodiac: p25
  2. The 27 books of the New Testament Canon is invalid: p37
  3. The name Mary is of pagan origin: p41
  4. The virgin birth is of pagan origin: p44,47,60
  5. The early life of Jesus is totally unknown: p49
  6. Jesus born in a stable and wrapped in swaddling clothing is of pagan origin: p52
  7. Miracles of Jesus are of pagan origin: p58
  8. Jesus' 40 day temptation in wilderness is of pagan origin: p61
  9. Earthquake at cross is false: p62
  10. Jesus Crucifixion was a Jewish human sacrifice of pagan origin: p69,76
  11. Jesus Side Pierced is of pagan origin: p83,84
  12. Jesus never actually died, two angels were only men: p93,94
  13. Ascension is of pagan origin: p100
  14. Jesus suffering to save us is of pagan origin: p106
  15. Jesus decent into Hades is of pagan origin: p113
  16. Jesus "hung on a tree" is of pagan origin: p118
  17. Jesus the "Rock of salvation" is of pagan origin: p129
  18. Jesus the "slain Lamb of God" is of pagan origin: p131,132
  19. "Washed in the Blood of the lamb" is of pagan origin: p132
  20. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are both of pagan origin: p134, p146,147
  21. Phrase "Soldiers of Christ" is of pagan origin: p135
  22. Jesus as "the Shepherd" is of pagan origin: p136
  23. The idea of "blood atonement for sins" is of pagan origin: p152,158
  24. Jesus "Begotten of God" is of pagan origin: p169
  25. Incarnate Logos of Jn 1:1 is of pagan origin, The "pre-existent angel" is a 4th century concept: p172,173-175
  26. The "Lord's Day" (Sunday) is of Pagan Origin:
  27. Jewish Sabbath and the Sunday Lord's Day both of pagan origin: p136, p209,210-211

SEE: Christianity was not derived from pagan sources

Supporting Texts:

  1. "The phenomenon, admitted on all hands, is this: That great portion of what is generally received as Christian truth is, in its rudiments or in its separate parts, to be found in heathen philosophies and religions. For instance, the doctrine of a Trinity is found both in the East and in the West; so is the ceremony of washing; so is the rite of sacrifice. The doctrine of the Divine Word is Platonic; the doctrine of the Incarnation is Indian; of a divine kingdom is Judaic; of Angels and demons is Magian; the connexion of sin with the body is Gnostic; celibacy is known to Bonze and Talapoin; a sacerdotal order is Egyptian; the idea of a new birth is Chinese and Eleusinian; belief in sacramental virtue is Pythagorean; and honours to the dead are a polytheism. Such is the general nature of the fact before us; Mr. Milman argues from it 'These things are in heathenism, therefore they are not Christian'. We, on the contrary, prefer to say, 'these things are in Christianity, therefore they are not heathen! ... so the philosophies and religions of men have their life in certain true ideas, though they are not directly divine." (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman, a cardinal by Pope Leo III in 1879, 1878, p358)
  2. Platonism, as well as Christianity, says, Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, only for a season; but the things which are not seen are eternal (cf. II Cor. iv. 18). The philosophy of Plato is eminently theistic. God," he says, in his " Republic " (716 A), " is (literally, holds) the beginning, middle, and end of all things. He is the supreme mind or reason, the efficient cause of all things, eternal, un-changeable, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-pervading, and all-controlling, just, holy, wise, and good, the absolutely perfect, the beginning of all truth, the fountain of all law and justice, the source of all order and beauty, and especially the cause of all good (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Platonism And Christianity, p 88)
  3. "While overlaid with idolatry, the recognition of a Trinity was universal in all the ancient nations of the world, proving how deep mated in the human race was the primeval doctrine on this subject, which comes out so distinctly in Genesis." (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 18)
  4. "The ancient Babylonians held, the modern Hindoos still hold, clear and distinct traditions of the Trinity the Incarnation, the Atonement. Yet, who will venture to say that such nominal recognition of the cardinal articles of Divine revelation could relieve the character of either the one system or the other from the brand of the most deadly and God-dishonoring heathenism?'' (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 282)
  5. "Now, viewed in this light, the triune emblem of the supreme Assyrian divinity shows clearly what had been the original patriarchal faith. First, there is the head of the old man; next, there is the zero, or circle, for "the seed"; and lastly, the wings and tail of the bird or dove; showing, though blasphemously, the unity of Father, Seed, or Son, and Holy Ghost. From the statement in Genesis 1:2, that "the Spirit of God fluttered on the face of the deep" (for that is the expression in the original), it is evident that the dove had very early been a Divine emblem for the Holy Spirit. While this had been the original way in which Pagan idolatry had represented the Triune God, and though this kind of representation had survived to Sennacherib's time, yet there is evidence that, at a very early period, an important change had taken place in the Babylonian notions in regard to the divinity; and that the three persons had come to be, the Eternal Father, the Spirit of God incarnate in a human mother, and a Divine Son, the fruit of that incarnation. (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 18)

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Early Christians recognized parallels

  1. The Platonic dogmas," says Justin Martyr, " are not foreign to Christianity. If we Christians say that all things were created and ordered by God, we seem to enounce a doctrine of Plato; and, between our view of the being of God and his, the article appears to make the only difference " (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Platonism And Christianity, p 88)
  2. "That Christianity was so regarded [as just another mystery cult] is perfectly clear from the pains Justin Martyr takes to prove that these resemblances between Christianity and the other religions were all due to the malignity of the demons. These wretched demons had read the Scriptures and had realized, although imperfectly, what was destined to be. They trembled as they saw their coming overthrow and realized their helplessness to prevent it. To salvage as much as possible and to delude men they hastily concocted rites and ceremonies as near as possible to those they foresaw were to be instituted. Thus they hoped that when Christ appeared and instituted his worship men might be deluded into believing that the Christians were borrowing from older pagan ceremonies and beliefs. To the modern student this explanation of Justin may seem most naive; none the less, it is highly important as incontrovertible evidence of the growing likeness of Christianity to the other cults which made such an explanation essential." (Morton Scott Enslin, Christian Beginnings, Part 12, p 191)
  3. "As Augustine said, "if in the books of the Platonists it was to be found that 'in the beginning was the Word,' it was not found there that 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.'" (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 458)
  4. "And many of the early Christians, in turn, found peculiar attractions in the doctrines of Plato, and employed them as weapons for the defense and extension of Christianity, or cast the truths of Christianity in a Platonic mold. The doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who, if not trained in the schools, were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy, particularly in its Jewish-Alexandrian form." (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Platonism and Christianity, p91)
  5. The Fathers of the early Church sought to explain the striking resemblance between the doctrines of Plato and those of Christianity, principally by the acquaintance, which, as they supposed, that philosopher had with learned Jews and with the Jewish Scriptures during his sojourn in Egypt, but partly, also, by the universal light of a divine revelation through the " Logos," which, in and through human reason, " lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and which illumined especially such sincere and humble seekers after truth as Socrates and Plato before the incarnation of the Eternal Word in the person of Jesus Christ. Passages which bear a striking resemblance to the Christian Scriptures in their picturesque, parabolic, and axiomatic style, and still more in the lofty moral, religious, and almost Christian sentiments which they express, are scattered thickly all through the dialogues (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Platonism And Christianity, p 88)
  6. "Only thus much is true, that the Hellenistic philosophy operated from without, as a stimulating force, upon the form of the whole patristic theology, the doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity among the rest; and that the deeper minds of heathen antiquity showed a presentiment of a threefold distinction in the divine essence; but only a remote and vague presentiment which, like all the deeper instincts of the heathen mind, serves to strengthen Christian truth. Far clearer and more fruitful suggestions presented themselves in the Old Testament" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church New York: Scribner's, 1924, vol. 2, p. 566)
  7. "Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil ... feeling also that these usages had originally come from primitive revelations and from the instinct of nature, though they had been corrupted ... and that they were moreover possessed of the very archetypes, of which paganism attempted the shadows" (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman, a cardinal by Pope Leo III in 1879, 1878, p351-353)
  1. "The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu's share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods." ... The essential privilege of the gods was immortality. But they had the same needs and passions as mortals. They were subject to fear. ... Like men the gods had wives and families. ... Although each had his own sphere of influence they would sometimes gather together to debate common problems. ... The divine hierarchy was not immediately established and was often modified. The great primordial principle of fertility and fecundity, at first worshipped by the Sumerians, was quickly dispersed into a crowd of divinities who had no precise connection with each other. Later, under the influence of national pride, the gods acquired rank, the dignity of which corresponded to the importance in the country as a whole of the city in which they were particularly venerated. Finally the official theologians of Babylon fixed the hierarchy of the gods more or less definitely, dividing them into triads. ... He [Anu] was god in the highest sense, the supreme god. All the other deities honoured him as their 'father', that is to say, their chief. ... Thus the goddess Ishtar, harshly repelled by the hero Gilgamesh, goes to find Anu, her father. 'Oh my father,' she said to him ... He [Bel] was called 'King of the Land' or 'Lord of all Regions'. ... the word of Bel was all-powerful. (Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, p 54-55)
  2. "(b) Although the notion of a divine Triad or Trinity is characteristic of the Christian religion, it is by no means peculiar to it. In Indian religion e.g., we meet with the trinitarian group of Brahma, siva, and Visnu; and in Egyptian religion with the trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, constituting a divine family, like the Father, Mother, and Son in medieval Christian pictures. Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality, which was suggested by Plato in the Timmoeus; e.g., in the philosophy of Plotinus the primary or original Realities are triadically represented as the Good or (in numerical symbol) the One, the Intelligence or the One-Many, and the World-Soul or the One and Many. The religious Trinity associated, if somewhat loosely, with Comte's philosophy might also be cited here: the cultus of humanity as the Great Being, of space as the Great Medium, and of the earth as the Great Fetish. (c) What lends a special character to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is its close association with the distinctive Christian view of divine incarnation." ... " As Augustine said, "if in the books of the Platonists it was to be found that 'in the beginning was the Word,' it was not found there that 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.'" ... "None the less Christ is acknowledged as the eternal Son of God and the supreme revelation of the Father, and the quickening Spirit of life is acknowledged to be derived ' from on high." And so, when the early Christians would describe their conception of God, all the three elements-God, Christ, and the Spirit-enter into the description, and the one God is found to be revealed in a threefold way." (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 458)

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Justin Martyr wrote in 150 AD on similarities between paganism and Christianity.

Justin Martyr: 150 AD: "Chapter LXIX.-The Devil, Since He Emulates the Truth, Has Invented Fables About Bacchus, Hercules, and Aesculapius. "Be well assured, then, Trypho," I continued, "that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah's days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter's] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, 'strong as a giant to run his race, ' has been in like manner imitated? And when he [the devil] brings forward Aesculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ? But since I have not quoted to you such Scripture as tells that Christ will do these things, I must necessarily remind you of one such: from which you can understand, how that to those destitute of a knowledge of God, I mean the Gentiles, who, 'having eyes, saw not, and having a heart, understood not, 'worshipping the images of wood, [how even to them] Scripture prophesied that they would renounce these [vanities], and hope in this Christ. It is thus written: 'Rejoice, thirsty wilderness: let the wilderness be glad, and blossom as the lily: the deserts of the Jordan shall both blossom and be glad: and the glory of Lebanon was given to it, and the honour of Carmel. And my people shall see the exaltation of the Lord, and the glory of God. Be strong, ye careless hands and enfeebled knees. Be comforted, ye faint in soul: be strong, fear not. Behold, our God gives, and will give, retributive judgment. He shall come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. Then the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be distinct: for water has broken forth in the wilderness, and a valley in the thirsty land; and the parched ground shall become pools, and a spring of water shall [rise up] in the thirsty land.' The spring of living water which gushed forth from God in the land destitute of the knowledge of God, namely the land of the Gentiles, was this Christ, who also appeared in your nation, and healed those who were maimed, and deaf, and lame in body from their birth, causing them to leap, to hear, and to see, by His word. And having raised the dead, and causing them to live, by His deeds He compelled the men who lived at that time to recognise Him. But though they saw such works, they asserted it was magical art. For they dared to call Him a magician, and a deceiver of the people. Yet He wrought such works, and persuaded those who were [destined to] believe on Him; for even if any one be labouring under a defect of body, yet be an observer of the doctrines delivered by Him, He shall raise him up at His second advent perfectly sound, after He has made him immortal, and incorruptible, and free from grief. Chapter LXX.-So Also The Mysteries Of Mithras Are Distorted From The Prophecies Of Daniel And Isaiah. "And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave, do I not perceive here that the utterance of Daniel, that a stone without hands was cut out of a great mountain, has been imitated by them, and that they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah's words? For they contrived that the words of righteousness be quoted also by them. But I must repeat to you the words of Isaiah referred to, in order that from them you may know that these things are so. They are these: 'Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; those that are near shall know my might. The sinners in Zion are removed; trembling shall seize the impious. Who shall announce to you the everlasting place? The man who walks in righteousness, speaks in the right way, hates sin and unrighteousness, and keeps his hands pure from bribes, stops the ears from hearing the unjust judgment of blood closes the eyes from seeing unrighteousness: he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock. Bread shall be given to him, and his water [shall be] sure. Ye shall see the King with glory, and your eyes shall look far off. Your soul shall pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Where is the scribe? where are the counsellors? where is he that numbers those who are nourished,-the small and great people? with whom they did not take counsel, nor knew the depth of the voices, so that they heard not. The people who are become depreciated, and there is no understanding in him who hears.' Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [allusion is made] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks. And this prophecy proves that we shall behold this very King with glory; and the very terms of the prophecy declare loudly, that the people foreknown to believe in Him were foreknown to pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Moreover, these Scriptures are equally explicit in saying, that those who are reputed to know the writings of the Scriptures, and who hear the prophecies, have no understanding. And when I hear, Trypho," said I, "that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving serpent counterfeited also this." (Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, Chapters LXIX - LXX)

 

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Platonic & Greek influence on Christianity as a whole, including both Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians!

Discussion:

Documenting quotes:

  1. "Scholars have always recognized Greek influence not on Christian teaching, but on its "mental cast," its "phraseology and ideas" (New Catholic Encyclopedia. vol 14, p58)
  2. Even religious syncretism is already found in Philo; but it is something essentially different from the later Neo-platonic, since Philo regarded the Jewish cult as the only valuable one, and traced back all elements of truth in the Greeks and Romans to borrowings from the books of Moses. (Adolf Harnack, Outlines of the History Of Dogma, vol 1, p 345)
  3. But Hellenism, also had a share in the making of Paul, a fact which does not conflict with his Pharisaic origin, but is partly given with it. (Adolf Harnack, Outlines of the History Of Dogma, vol 1, ch 2, p 94-95)
  4. This Gospel-who can say whether Hellenism had, already a share in its conception- required that the missionary to the Greeks should become a Greek and that believers should come to know, all things are yours, and ye are Christ's." Paul, as no doubt other missionaries besides him, connected the preaching of Christ with the Greek mode of thought; he even employed philosophic doctrines of the Greeks as presuppositions in his apologetic, ' and therewith prepared the way for the introduction of the Gospel to the Greco-Roman world of thought. But, in my opinion, he has nowhere allowed that world of thought to influence his doctrine of salvation. ... The Pauline doctrine of the incarnate heavenly Man was indeed apprehended; it fell in with Greek notions, although it meant something very different from the notions which Greeks had been able to form of it. (Adolf Harnack, Outlines of the History Of Dogma, vol 1, ch 2, p 94-95)
  5. It should be observed that there is no real cleavage or antithesis between the doctrines of the economic and the essential Trinity, and naturally so. The Triunity represents the effort to think out the Trinity, and so to afford it a reasonable basis. The first Christians had with St. Paul a saving experience of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the love of God, and of the communion of the Holy Ghost; and the theologians of the ancient Church sought to set forth the Christian experience in logical terms of reason. In the effort they were led, inevitably, to effect an alliance between the gospel of their salvation and the speculative philosophy, and more especially the Platonism, in which they had been trained, while, in making room for the Christian gospel within the world-not altogether hospitable of the Greek philosophy, they found themselves translating their empirical knowledge of God-the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ-into a doctrine of diversity or multiplicity, as distinguished from merely abstract unity, within the divine Nature itself. In other words, in thinking out the Trinity they arrived at the Triunity. None the less the greatest and most influential of the Christian Fathers, Origen, Athanasius, Basil and the Gregories, Augustine, all acknowledged that, for all the light thrown upon it in the Biblical revelation, the divine Nature remained for them a mystery transcending reason. (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 461)

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Platonic & Greek influence on Anti-Trinitarian Theology as taught by JW's and Christadelphians

  1. "The charge is (in Hurtado's terms) that I arbitrarily and incorrectly ignored the pagan religious traditions of the Greco-Roman period, a charge to which I am vulnerable particularly because I dated the emergence of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation late in the first century CE, when there would have been several decades during which Christian thinking in this area could have been directly influenced by pagan cults and myths." ... "Were the point simply that I had not provided anything like a thorough investigation of what we may call here simply 'pagan parallels', it is, of' course, wholly accurate." (Christology in the Making, James D. G. Dunn, 2nd edition, 1989, foreword, xxii, xxiii, Dunn commenting on his own Christadelphian-like logos theology that rejects incarnation, we commend Dunn in his honesty!)
  2. "Arianism: ... Arius was willing to call the Logos God. But this was only a manner of speaking. The Logos was a creature. And God himself could not create the material world; indeed, Arius considered God so far removed from men that it was impossible to know him or to have fellowship with him. Arius was thoroughly Greek in his conception of God. Arius' view of Christ was much inferior to that of either Theodotus in the West or of Paul of Samosata in the East. ... They satisfied the deep-rooted Greek idea that God cannot be the creator of the material universe. (A Short History of the Early Church, Harry R. Boer, p113)
  3. "Arianism is a union of adoptionism with the Origenistic-Neo-Platonic doctrine of the subordinate Logos which is the spiritual principle of the world, carried out by means of the resources of the Aristotelian dialectics" (Outlines of the History of Dogma, Adolf Harnack, p251)
  4. From the outset, the controversy between both parties [Arius & Nicenes] took place upon the common basis of the Neoplatonic concept of substance, which was foreign to the New Testament itself. It is no wonder that the continuation of the dispute on the basis of the metaphysics of substance likewise led to concepts that have no foundation in the New Testament such as the question of the sameness of essence (homoousia) or similarity of essence (homoiousia) of the divine persons. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979, Christianity, Vol. 4, p.485)
  5. Through the acceptance of the Logos- Christology as the central dogma of the Church, the Church doctrine was, even for the laity, firmly rooted in the soil of Hellenism. Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians. But mysteries were even sought after. Not the freshness and clearness of a religion attracted men-there must needs be something refined and complicated, a structure in Barroque style, to content those who at that time wished to have all the idealistic instincts of their nature satisfied in religion. United with this desire was the greatest reverence for all traditions, a sentiment peculiar to epochs of restoration. But, as always, the old became new by conservation and the new was placed under the protection of the old. What the Church utilized in doctrine, cultus and organization was " apostolic ", or claimed to be deduced from the Holy Scriptures. But in reality it legitimized in its midst the Hellenic speculation, the superstitious views and customs of pagan mystery-worship and the institutions of the decaying state organization to which it attached itself and which received new strength thereby. In theory monotheistic, it threatened to become polytheistic in practice and to give way to the whole apparatus of low or malformed religions. Instead of a religion of pure reason and severest morality, such as the apologists had once represented Christianity to be, the latter became the religion of the most powerful consecrations, of the most mysterious media and of a sensuous sanctity. The tendency toward the invention of mechanically-atoning consecrations (sacraments) grew constantly more pronounced and offended vigorously thinking heathen even. (Outlines of the History of Dogma, Adolf Harnack, p193-195)

 

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