Gnostic Doctrine

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Is God a Holy Trinity?

Is God a Holy Trinity?

Is there a difference between emanations of the pleroma and the trinity?

Yes there is a difference between emanations of the pleroma and the catholic trinity

The Ogdoad is a group of 8 aeons which make up the primal emanations of the Pleroma or Godhead

The Trinity is a group of 3 divine beings or persons all claiming to be the same Person at the same time which makes up the Catholic Godhead

The emanations are all aspects of the One Deity 

The Deity has male and female aspects. However the 3 persons of the Catholic  Trinity are all male 

He existed before anything other than himself came into being. The Father is singular while being many, for he is the first one and the one who is only himself. (The Tripartite Tractate Einar Thomassen Translation)

It is not "One God in three Gods," and "Three Gods in One;" but one Deity in a countless multitude revealed in the memorial name, and set forth in the mystery of godliness.

This multitudinous manifestation of the one Deity - one in many, and many in one, by His spirit - was proclaimed to the Hebrew nation in the formula of Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O lsrael, YAHWEH our ELOHIM is the ONE YAHWEH;" that is, "He who shall be our Mighty Ones is the One who shall be."

There are not three Gods in the Godhead; nor are there but three in manifestation; nevertheless, the Father is God and Jesus is God; and we may add, so are all the brethren of Jesus gods; and "a multitude which no man can number." The Godhead is the homogeneous fountain of the Deity; these other gods are the many streams which form this fountain flow. The springhead of Deity is one, not many; the streams as numerous as the orbs of the universe, in which a manifestation of Deity may have hitherto occurred.

Is God a Holy Trinity?

No God is not Trinity the reason why it is called the Holy Trinity is because there are many pagan Trinitis

Valentinian tradition rejects the teaching of the trinity

Marcellus was a contemporary of the Church historian Eusebius and he was present with the latter at the Council of Nicea (c. 325). Marcellus claimed a connection between the Trinity and the teachings of the great Gnostic sage, Valentinus (c. 85–150 AD).

“Valentinus, the leader of a sect, was the first to devise the notion of three subsistent entities in a work that he entitled On the Three Natures. For he devised the notion of three subsistent entities and three persons—father, son and holy spirit.” (B. Layton, Gnostic Scriptures, pg. 232)

To understand the meaning of Marcellus’s statement it must be seen against the background of the time in which it was written. Both Marcellus and Eusebius lived in an age where the Catholic Church had achieved total dominance; and had received recognition and support from the Roman emperor. In this period the Church was split between two theological factions. One of these factions (the “orthodox”) believed that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were three distinct persons who shared one nature or essence (homoousion). This was the position of the majority of the Catholic clergy. In opposition was the heretical faction led by an Egyptian priest named Arius (c. 250–336), who led a rebellion against the bishop of Alexandria. Arius and his followers insisted that the Father and Son had separate natures [1]. (This controversy was probably based on the paradox between Matthew 19:17 and John 10:30.) In the fragment above Marcellus is crediting the notorious heretic Valentinus with being the originator of the separate natures position as taken by the followers of Arius. I believe Marcellus is basically twisting the facts in order to smear the followers of Arius [2]. (In a similar manner Arius claimed in his Confession of Faith that the doctrine of one nature originated from the teachings of Valentinus and the Manicheans.[3])

Ironically Marcellus was later condemned by the Catholic Church for going too far toward the Monarchian position (Sabellianism) in his fanatical opposition to the Arians. Thus while Marcellus affirmed the shared essence of the Trinity, he did so to the point of denying the reality of their separate persons.

In extant ecclesiastical literature the first use of the word homoousion in theology first appears in the doctrine of Valentinus as reported by Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.5.1.; see B. Layton, Gnostic Scriptures, pg. 290, footnote b. Of significance is that Irenaeus never used this word in his own doctrine, just as he never used the word “trinity.”

The problem here is that Marcellus is stretching the truth when he states that Valentinus’s concept of “Three Natures” is connected with the notion of “three subsistent entities and three persons—father, son and holy spirit.” The fact is, no other historical witness makes this claim about Valentinus; and there is no evidence in any Valentinian text that shows a connection of this sort. Valentinian texts do contain infrequent and obscure references to the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” as I have shown above. But again there is no evidence either in Catholic or Valentinian sources that there was a prevailing theological system in Valentinian tradition that revolved around the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Much to the contrary, the historic evidence available shows that the “trinity” of Valentinus, and of the Valentinians, referred to something entirely different and unique.

The report of Marcellus above may be compared with the reports of the early Latin Father, Tertullian of Carthage. Tertullian lived at least 50 years before Marcellus and his writings are especially important because they show the origin and development of the word “trinity” in early Christian thought [4].

4] In extant ecclesiastical literature the notion of a three-person Godhead first appears with Justin Martyr, Athenagorus, and Irenaeus (Justin, 1 Apology, 6, 60; Athenagorus, A Plea for the Christians, 12; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.4). These writers never use the word “trinity” but the three-fold idea is emerging in their thoughts. Most important is that these writers do not derive their three-fold ideas from any theological consensus in the NT. At best these writers refer to certain ideas that appear infrequently in certain NT passages, i.e. Mt. 28:19 and 2 Cor. 13:14. But again, there is no consensus in the NT that the Godhead is comprised of three persons. If there is any consensus at all in the NT, then the evidence most often shows that the Godhead is comprised of two figures, Father and Son (cf. Col. 2: 1–3, Jn. 1:1–3, 10:30). It is also notable that, in their polemics against heretics, neither Justin nor Irenaeus refer to any “trinity”; nor do they labor repeatedly on the notion that the godhead is ‘three-fold’ or is comprised of ‘three persons.’ This particular form of dogmatic opinion began with Tertullian (and the Montanists) and no one else (i.e. Tertullian, Against Praxeas).

Historically, Tertullian was the first Catholic writer to begin using the word “trinity” in reference to a systematic dogma.

The irony is that when Tertullian first used the word “trinity” in his earliest Catholic writings, this term was used in reference to Valentinian doctrine. Tertullian actually described this doctrine with the words “Valentinian trinity” (in Latin: trinitas Valentiniana [8]). Hence the first mention of the trinity in ecclesiastical literature actually refers to an idea that belonged to the Valentinians. Here is an example from Tertullian’s Treatise on the Soul:

“[The heretics] deny that nature is susceptible to any change, in order that they may be able to establish their three-fold theory, or ‘trinity,’ (“trinitas”) in all its characteristics as to the several natures, because ‘a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor a corrupt tree, good fruit; and nobody gathers figs of thorns, nor grapes of brambles’.” (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 21)

Tertullian’s description of the Valentinian “trinity” shows no connection with the three persons but instead refers to a doctrine of three natures. What Tertullian actually describes is a Valentinian doctrine which maintains that the universe is comprised of three fundamental substances or natures, which are identified as spirit, soul and matter (ibid., pg. 202; see below). Tertullian here accuses the Valentinians of teaching that the three natures are not subject to change, which he construes to mean that there is no hope for salvation, because the soul’s nature can’t change. Of course he has misstated the Valentinian doctrine; which maintains that the soul is in fact subject to change, i.e. redemption. It is the natures of spirit and matter which are not subject to change. Tertullian correctly reports this doctrine in his later treatise Against Valentinians, 25, where he admits that the soul (animal) “oscillates between the material and the spiritual, and is sure to fall at last on the side to which it has mainly gravitated.” (ibid., pg. 515f.) What Tertullian half-hazardly describes is the “trinity” which was the central tenet of ancient Valentinian tradition, and which provided the structure by which Valentinians defined their concepts of the universe, theology, christology and human nature

Photinus taught that Jesus was the sinless Messiah and redeemer, and the only perfect human son of God, but that he had no pre-human existence. They interpret verses such as John 1:1 to refer to God's "plan" existing in God's mind before Christ's birth;

Many Gnostic traditions held that the Christ is a heavenly Aeon but not one with the Father.

Nontrinitarianism was later renewed by Cathars in the 11th through 13th centuries:

Yet another movement got started in the 12th century in the south of France—the Albigenses (also known as Cathari), named after the town of Albi, where they had many followers. They had their own celibate clergy class, who expected to be greeted with reverence. They believed that Jesus spoke figuratively in his last supper when he said of the bread, “This is my body.” (Matthew 26:26, NAB) They rejected the doctrines of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, hellfire, and purgatory. Thus they actively put in doubt the teachings of Rome. Pope Innocent III gave instructions that the Albigenses be persecuted. “If necessary,” he said, “suppress them with the sword.” (mankind's search for god watchtower)

The Bogomils ("Friends of God") or Bulgars were a Gnostic Christian sect that flourished in Thrace and Bulgaria in the 10th Century. Their beliefs spread throughout Europe: to Italy, Northern Spain, the Languedoc, France, Germany, and Flanders. Bulgars rejected the Trinity and the sacraments, denied the Catholic Church's teachings on images, infant baptism, saints, and the virgin birth, and held that matter is inherently evil. A derivative sect which came to be known as Cathari flourished in the Languedoc (now Southern France) and Northern Italy . They followed a life of severe asceticism and found little difficulty in attracting the bulk of the population who were, according to Church records, sated with the corruption of the local clergy.

Those groups with early Unitarian or Socinian Christology such as Christadelphians and the Church of God General Conference identify the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament much as Jews do, simply as angels. Early Christadelphians, notably John Thomas (Phanerosis 1869) and C. C. Walker (1929 Theophany: The Bible doctrine of the manifestation of God upon earth in the angels, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and hereafter in
"the manifestation of sons of God" Birmingham 1929) integrated angelic theophanies and God as revealed in his various divine names into a doctrine of God Manifestation which carries on into a Unitarian understanding of God's theophany in Christ and God being manifested in resurrected believers.

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