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My name is phrased as a question, in search of those preferring to apply logic rather than propaganda techniques disrespecting the person they're talking to and twisting what they're saying (or otherwise paint a picture on them and twist people's perception of them and what they're saying, or facilitate in the dismissal game because you're discrediting someone by questioning character or motives).
"Anti JW literature, web sites, YouTube links" and your behaviour in relation to these and in relation to the bible, as well as that of others who share your views or ways of thinking is actually one of my biggest clues regarding the determination of truths pertaining to God, the bible and other important matters of reality and human behaviour.
The more propaganda some people need or resort to
Talking about "the bigger picture", why don't you try to have another look at the 5 videos in the OP, all of them in a row and try to see the bigger picture there.
originally posted by: PeterH
a reply to: whereislogic
This happens a lot on ATS. I've seen other threads posted by Jehovah's Witnesses where people go in to personally attack the person and totally ignore the OP. And have even seen the OP reason with them, ... the thread drift and name calling.
...They both will never answer any of your questions, and will only attack you and smear you with slander and propaganda.
YouTube videos will some how enlighten one of truths pertaining to God, the bible and matters of reality and human behavior?
A Herald of Religious Freedom
Although Calvin eliminated his personal rival, he lost his own moral authority. The unjustified execution of Servetus outraged thinking people throughout Europe, and it provided a powerful argument for civil libertarians who insisted that no man should be killed for his religious beliefs. They became more determined than ever to press on in the fight for religious freedom.
Italian poet Camillo Renato protested: “Neither God nor his spirit have counselled such an action. Christ did not treat those who negated him that way.” And French humanist Sébastien Chateillon wrote: “To kill a man is not to protect a doctrine, but it is to kill a man.” Servetus himself had said: “I consider it a serious matter to kill men because they are in error on some question of scriptural interpretation, when we know that even the elect ones may be led astray into error.”
Regarding the lasting impact of Servetus’ execution, the book Michael Servetus—Intellectual Giant, Humanist, and Martyr says: “Servetus’s death was the turning point in the ideology and mentality dominating since the fourth century.” It adds: “From a historical perspective, Servetus died in order that freedom of conscience could become a civil right of the individual in modern society.”
In 1908 a monument to Servetus was erected in the French city of Annemasse, some three miles [5 km] from the spot where he died. An inscription reads: “Michel Servet[us], . . . geographer, physician, physiologist, contributed to the welfare of humanity by his scientific discoveries, his devotion to the sick and the poor, and the indomitable independence of his intelligence and his conscience. . . . His convictions were invincible. He made a sacrifice of his life for the cause of the truth.”
Servetus and the Name Jehovah
Servetus’ quest for the truth also led him to use the name Jehovah. Some months after William Tyndale employed this name in his translation of the Pentateuch, Servetus published On the Errors of the Trinity—in which he used the name Jehovah throughout. He explained in this work: “The other name, the most holy of all, יהוה, . . . can be interpreted as follows, . . . ‘He causes to be,’ ‘he who brings into being,’ ‘the cause of existence.’” He noted: “The name of Jehovah can properly apply only to the Father.”
In 1542, Servetus also edited the renowned Latin translation of the Bible by Santes Pagninus (shown below). In his extensive marginal notes, Servetus highlighted the divine name again. He included the name Jehovah in the marginal references to key texts such as Psalm 83:18, where the word for “Lord” appeared in the main text.
In his final work, The Restitution of Christianity, Servetus stated regarding the divine name, Jehovah: “[It] is clear . . . that there were many who pronounced this name in ancient times.”
JEAN CAUVIN (John Calvin) was born in Noyon, France, in 1509. He founded a religious movement that played a significant role in the life of many people in parts of Europe, the Americas, South Africa, and elsewhere. He is regarded as one of the major church Reformers in Western history.
Today, some 500 years after Calvin’s birth, Calvinism—the ideas and teachings of Calvin—in one form or another still flourishes in such Protestant denominations as Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational, Puritan, and others. As of last September, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches reported having 75 million adherents in 107 countries.
At Odds With Catholicism
Calvin’s father was an attorney and a secretary for the Catholic church in Noyon. His work probably brought him face-to-face with much of the widespread misconduct of the clergy at the time. Whether this led to protest or irreverence, we cannot be sure, but in time John’s father and brother were both excommunicated by the church. When his father died, John had difficulty securing a Christian burial for him. That incident likely cemented John’s mistrust of Catholicism.
Most works on Calvin have little to say about him as a youth except to describe him as reserved and uncommunicative in character. Even as a student in Paris, Orléans, and Bourges, he seemed to have few friends. But Calvin was gifted with a quick mind and an astonishing memory. This, coupled with an awesome capacity for work—he studied daily from five o’clock in the morning until midnight—enabled him to become a doctor of law before he turned 23. He also learned Hebrew, Greek, and Latin in order to study the Bible. First and foremost, however, Calvin was known for his solemn, disciplined work ethic, a characteristic that many link to Calvinism even today.
Meanwhile, across the border in Germany, Martin Luther openly criticized the Catholic Church for its corruption and unbiblical teachings. It is popularly thought that in 1517 he nailed his 95 theses, or protests, to a church door in Wittenberg, urging church reform. Many agreed with Luther, and the Reformation quickly spread throughout Europe. Understandably, it stirred up strong opposition in many areas, and the protesters, or Protestants, expounded their views at their own peril. In 1533 in Paris, Calvin’s friend Nicholas Cop delivered a speech supporting Luther, and since Calvin helped write the speech, both he and Cop had to flee for their lives. Calvin never again returned to live in France.
In 1536, Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion, a veritable textbook on Protestant faith. He addressed it to King Francis I in defense of French Protestants, later known as Huguenots. Calvin attacked Catholic teachings and upheld the cornerstone of his own faith—God’s sovereignty. In addition to its impact on religious matters, Calvin’s Institutes is also noted for its influence on French language and literary style. Calvin was acclaimed as one of the foremost Reformers. He eventually settled in Geneva, Switzerland, and from 1541 onward, he made that city the focal point of his reforms.
Pursuing Reforms in Geneva
Calvin exerted a dramatic influence on Geneva. Driven by a strong sense of morality and righteousness, he changed Geneva from “a city of ill repute to one in which a strict moral code regulated the lives of all,” observes the Encyclopedia of Religion. Changes came about in other ways as well. Dr. Sabine Witt, curator of Berlin’s German Historical Museum, explains: “As a result of the religious wars in France, the population [of Geneva] doubled within a few years following the influx of thousands of Protestant refugees.” The Huguenots, possessed of a work ethic like that of Calvin, boosted the economy of the city, establishing Geneva as a center for printing and for the manufacture of timepieces.
Refugees from other lands also came to Geneva, including many from England, where Protestants were under threat from Queen Mary I. Made up mostly of exiled minorities, Calvinists thus developed what the religious journal Christ in der Gegenwart (Contemporary Christian) describes as “the theology of the persecuted.” In 1560 the refugees published the Geneva Bible, the first Bible in English to contain numbered verse divisions. Because of its compact size, this Bible facilitated personal study of God’s Word. This was probably the Bible translation taken by the Puritans when they emigrated to North America in 1620.
Geneva did not provide safe refuge for everyone, however. Michael Servetus, born in 1511 in Spain, studied Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and medicine and might have met Calvin when both were students in Paris. Servetus recognized from his study of the Bible that the doctrine of the Trinity was unscriptural. He tried to correspond with Calvin on the subject, but the latter viewed Servetus less as a friend than a foe. Persecuted by Catholics in France, Servetus fled to Calvin’s city, Geneva. Rather than being met with a welcome, he was arrested, tried for heresy, and burned at the stake in 1553. “The execution of Servetus continues to be a stigma on the life and work of the otherwise great Reformer [Calvin],” says historian Friedrich Oehninger.
Calvin turned out a prodigious amount of work while pursuing the goal of reform. He is said to have written more than 100 reference works and 1,000 letters as well as to have delivered some 4,000 sermons in Geneva. Through it all, Calvin not only propounded his view of what Christianity should be but also endeavored to enforce the way he thought Christians ought to live, especially in Geneva, which he envisioned as something of a city of God.*
What have Calvin’s tireless reform efforts in Geneva produced? According to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, in the year 2000, just 16 percent of the inhabitants of Geneva belonged to the Reformed (Calvinist) Church, and there are more Catholics than Calvinists in that city.
Religious Disunity Proliferates
In the wake of the Reformation, individual cities and states declared their allegiance to Catholicism, Lutheranism, or Calvinism, making Europe a hotbed of religious disunity. Although the Reformers were united in their criticism of the Catholic Church, they were at odds with one another. Dr. Witt, quoted earlier, notes: “Theological disagreements developed even within the Protestant camp.” Although all acknowledged that the Bible should be the basis of Christian faith, there was considerable disagreement in their teachings. The immediate issue was the meaning of the Last Supper and of Christ’s presence. In time, Calvinism developed one of its most controversial doctrines: predestination.
There was much debate on the definition of predestination. One group of Calvinists claimed that before humans sinned, God had decided that a chosen few were to be led to salvation through Christ, whereas all others were to be abandoned to their fate. This group, therefore, believed that salvation was the decree of God and that men were not all equal. Other Calvinists thought that salvation was open to all humankind, and it was a matter of individual choice whether to accept it or not. This meant that salvation depended upon man’s free will. Until long after Calvin’s death, Calvinism struggled with such topics as God’s decree, man’s free will, and the equality of opportunity among humankind.
Calvinism’s Blemished Legacy
In the 20th century, the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church presented predestination as a basis for racial discrimination in South Africa. Regarding the government’s policy of white supremacy, Nelson Mandela, who became the first black president of South Africa, asserted: “The policy was supported by the Dutch Reformed Church, which furnished apartheid with its religious underpinnings by suggesting that Afrikaners were God’s chosen people and that blacks were a subservient species. In the Afrikaner’s world view, apartheid and the church went hand in hand.”
In the 1990’s, the Dutch Reformed Church apologized publicly for its support of apartheid. In a formal statement called the Rustenburg Declaration, church leaders acknowledged: “Some of us actively misused the Bible to justify apartheid, leading many to believe that it had the sanction of God.” Over the years, the church’s stand on apartheid not only contributed to the suffering that resulted from racial prejudice but even suggested that God was to blame!
John Calvin died in Geneva in 1564. At the end, he reportedly thanked his fellow churchmen “for having conferred so many honours on one who plainly deserved nothing of the kind” and begged forgiveness for his enduring weaknesses of impatience and anger. Be that as it may, there is no denying that the Protestant work ethic—characterized by industriousness, self-discipline, and dedication to duty—bears close resemblance to the person and values of John Calvin.
The Geneva Bible—A Forgotten Translation
By Awake! writer in New Zealand
DO YOU possess a compact Bible that you can hold comfortably and that has a typeface that is gentle on the eyes? Does its format make it easy to find the information you seek? If you answer yes to these questions, then you owe much to the Geneva Bible of 1560.
Few people today have heard of the Geneva Bible. Yet, this remarkable translation was a best-seller in its day. Its reputed textual accuracy, along with innovations in presentation and layout, made it the favorite of the reading public. The English dramatists Shakespeare and Marlowe used it as the source for their Bible quotations.
Just how did this popular 16th-century English Bible come to originate in the French-speaking Swiss city of Geneva? What were its unique features? What led to its demise? How do we continue to benefit from it today?
A Bible With New Features
The Geneva Bible was produced by a group of religious refugees who fled repression and possible execution in England when Mary Tudor came to power in 1553. These scholars were welcomed into Geneva’s Protestant community. With a well-established printing industry and an interest in Bible reading, Geneva was a place where Bible translation and production flourished.
The Geneva Bible, translated by William Whittingham and his assistants, appeared in 1560. Soon people were eagerly reading it in England. Easier to read than Bibles produced prior to it, this was the first Bible in English to contain numbered verse divisions, a system that is universally used today. Also included were running heads—a few key words at the top of each page to help readers find specific passages in the text below. In addition, rather than using the heavy Gothic typeface that was modeled on written script, a clear typeface similar to what is still preferred in English Bibles today was generally used.
Earlier Bibles, designed for reading from church lecterns, had been produced in the large and cumbersome folio size. The Geneva Bible was a handy edition about half the size of the folio volumes. This smaller Bible was not only well suited to personal reading and study but also far more affordable.
Striving After Textual Integrity
The Geneva Bible translators gave particular attention to retaining the flavor and sense of the original Hebrew. God’s name, Jehovah, appeared in a few places, including Exodus 6:3; 17:5; and Psalm 83:18. Words that the translators considered to be necessary additions were shown in italics, and text that had been added for grammatical clarity appeared in square brackets.
The Geneva Bible quickly became established as the official translation in Scotland. It was also widely used in England and is thought to be the translation taken by the Pilgrims on their famous 1620 voyage to what is now the United States. The Geneva Bible was taken to other British colonies—including the most distant, New Zealand. There, in 1845 a copy became part of the collection of Governor Sir George Grey.
The Contentious Marginal Notes
The extensive annotations in the Geneva Bible contributed to its enduring popularity among its readers. These were provided because the translators realized that the Bible had ‘hard places,’ or parts that were difficult to understand. Such marginal notes were not new. Tyndale had used them in his 1534 “New Testament.” Besides the marginal notes, the Geneva Bible contained illustrations, prefaces, and maps—all designed to enhance understanding. Bound with the text were genealogical tables, summaries, and even a section encouraging daily Bible reading.
Although they acknowledged the excellence of the translation in private, the hierarchy of the Church of England publicly objected to it because they considered the tone of the marginal notes to be radical. Matthew Parker, then Archbishop of Canterbury, called them “diverse prejudicial notes.” King James I considered the notes to be “very partial, untrue, seditious.” No wonder, since some of the notes challenged the “divine right” of kings!
The Demise of the Geneva Bible
In 1604, King James authorized a new translation, hoping to rid England forever of the Geneva Bible. Theological historian Alister McGrath states that “the greatest obstacle faced by the King James Version as it sought to establish itself in the seventeenth century was the continuing popularity of the Geneva Bible.” For many years the Geneva Bible was preferred by the public, and it remained the official Bible in Scotland. New editions continued to appear until 1644.
The British and Foreign Bible Society observed that an “examination of [the] King James’ Bible of 1611 shows that its translators . . . were influenced more by the Geneva than by any other English version.” Many innovations in presentation and renderings of the Geneva Bible were incorporated in the King James Version, including such distinct phrases as “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” and “Solomon in all his glory.”—Ecclesiastes 12:1; Matthew 6:29.
An Enduring Influence
Although eventually superseded by the Authorized Version, or King James Version, the Geneva Bible occupies an important place in literary history. Not only did it set new standards in translation and presentation but it remains a vital link in the chain of revision of English Bibles. It promoted Bible reading and study among a wide range of people who otherwise might not have had access to it.
By paving the way for the King James Bible, the Geneva Bible also ensured that certain Bible phrases made their way into literature and the English language. So although the Geneva Bible may for the most part be forgotten, it has certainly left its mark.
[Picture on page 12]
Exodus 6:3, where God’s name appears
originally posted by: InhaleExhale
a reply to: whereislogic
YouTube videos will some how enlighten one of truths pertaining to God, the bible and matters of reality and human behavior?
originally posted by: ClovenSky
There is so much fraud in everything that clergy touches.
The Bible—“An Unknown Book”
“The Church has always fulfilled its duty to keep books under surveillance, but until the invention of printing, it did not feel the need to compile a catalog of prohibited books because those writings considered dangerous were burned,” states the Enciclopedia Cattolica. Even after the onset of the Protestant Reformation, the clergy of several European countries did their utmost to limit circulation of so-called heretical books. A turning point came after the Council of Trent in 1546, when the question of vernacular translations was considered. Two distinct positions emerged. Those favoring prohibition held that the Bible in the common tongue was “the mother and origin of all heresies.” Those against the prohibition stated that their “adversaries,” the Protestants, would argue that the church prohibited the Bible in the vernacular to hide “fraud and deceit.”
Lack of agreement meant that the Council took no definite stand on the issue but limited itself to sanctioning the authenticity of the Vulgate, which became the standard text for the Catholic Church. However, Carlo Buzzetti, teacher at the Pontifical University Salesianum, Rome, notes that pronouncing the Vulgate “authentic” “favored the idea that, in practice, it was to be the only legitimate form of the Bible.” Ensuing developments bore this out.
In 1559, Pope Paul IV published the first index of prohibited books, a list of works that Catholics were forbidden to read, sell, translate, or possess. These volumes were considered evil and dangerous to faith and moral integrity. The index forbade the reading of vernacular translations of the Bible, including Brucioli’s. Transgressors were excommunicated. The 1596 index was even more restrictive. Authorization was no longer to be given to translate or print Bibles in the vernacular. Such Bibles were to be destroyed.
As a result, Bible burnings in church squares multiplied after the end of the 16th century. In the minds of the people in general, the Scriptures became a book of the heretics, and that image is still very much alive. Almost all Bibles and Bible commentaries in public and private libraries were destroyed, and for the next 200 years, no Catholic would translate a Bible into Italian. The only Bibles that circulated on the Italian peninsula—in secret, for fear of confiscation—were those translated by Protestant scholars. Thus, historian Mario Cignoni states: “In practice, Bible reading by laymen ceased completely for centuries. The Bible became virtually an unknown book, and millions of Italians lived their lives without ever reading a page of it.”
Cardinal John O’Connor stated about the Trinity: “We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don’t begin to understand.” Why is the Trinity so difficult to understand?
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary gives one reason. Speaking of the Trinity, this publication admits: “It is not a biblical doctrine in the sense that any formulation of it can be found in the Bible.” Because the Trinity is “not a biblical doctrine,” Trinitarians have been desperately looking for Bible texts—even twisting them—to find support for their teaching.
What is the origin of the myth?
“The impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th-century invention. In a sense, this is true . . . The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Volume 14, page 299.
“The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325 [C.E.]. Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father.’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”—Encyclopædia Britannica (1970), Volume 6, page 386.
What does the Bible say?
“Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘Look! I can see heaven thrown open,’ he said, ‘and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’”—Acts 7:55, 56, The New Jerusalem Bible.
What did this vision reveal? Filled with God’s active force, Stephen saw Jesus “standing at God’s right hand.” Clearly, then, Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven but, rather, a distinct spiritual being. There is no mention of a third person next to God in this account. Despite attempts to find passages of Scripture to support the Trinity dogma, Dominican priest Marie-Émile Boismard wrote in his book À l’aube du christianisme—La naissance des dogmes (At the Dawn of Christianity—The Birth of Dogmas): “The statement that there are three persons in the one God . . . cannot be read anywhere in the New Testament.”
The dogma that Constantine championed was intended to put an end to dissensions within the fourth-century Church. However, it actually raised another issue: Was Mary, the woman who bore Jesus, “the Mother of God”?
Compare these Bible verses: Matthew 26:39; John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 15:27, 28; Colossians 1:15, 16
The Trinitarian dogma is a late fourth-century invention
...based on what Jesus said...
originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: whereislogic
Yes, but Jesus said "I and the father are one" ...
“I and the Father are one,” said Jesus. (John 10:30) Some quote this text to prove that Jesus and his Father are two parts of a triune God. Is that what Jesus meant by this statement?
Let us take a look at the context. In verse 25, Jesus stated that he did works in the name of his Father. From verses 27 to 29, he talked about symbolic sheep whom his Father had given him. Both statements by Jesus would have made little sense to his listeners if he and his Father were one and the same person. Instead, Jesus said, in effect, ‘My Father and I are so close-knit that no one can take away the sheep from me, just as no one can take them away from my Father.’ It is much like a son saying to his father’s enemy, ‘If you attack my father, you attack me.’ No one would conclude that this son and his father were the same person. But all could perceive the strong bond of unity between them.
Jesus and his Father, Jehovah God, are also “one” in the sense that they are in complete agreement as to intentions, standards, and values. In contrast with Satan the Devil and the first human couple, Adam and Eve, Jesus never wanted to become independent of God. “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing,” Jesus explained. “For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”—John 5:19; 14:10; 17:8.
This strong bond of unity, however, does not make God and his Son, Jesus, indistinguishable from each other. They are two individuals. Each one has his own distinct personality. Jesus has his own feelings, thoughts, experiences, and free will. Nevertheless, he chose to submit his will to that of his Father. According to Luke 22:42, Jesus said: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” These words would have been meaningless if his will could not differ from his Father’s. If Jesus and his Father were really one person, why did Jesus pray to God and humbly admit to not knowing things that only his Father knew?—Matthew 24:36.
Members of many religions worship gods that are depicted as quarreling and fighting with their own family members. In Greek mythology, for example, Cronus overthrew his father, Uranus, and devoured his own children. How different this is from the oneness based on true love between Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus! And how this unity endears them to us! In fact, we have the incomparable privilege of being in union with these two highest Persons in all the universe. Regarding his followers, Jesus prayed: “I make request . . . that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us.”—John 17:20, 21.
Thus, when Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” he was speaking, not of a mysterious Trinity, but of a wonderful unity—the closest bond possible between two persons.
The Paradox of Tertullian
‘WHERE is there any likeness between the Christian and the philosopher? between one who corrupts the truth, and one who restores and teaches it? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?’ Such bold questions were raised by Tertullian, a writer in the second and third centuries C.E. He came to be known as “one of the most prolific sources of the history of the Church and of the doctrines which were taught in his time.” Virtually no aspect of religious life escaped his attention.
Tertullian was perhaps best known for his paradoxical, or seemingly contradictory, statements, such as these: “God is then especially great, when He is small.” “[The death of God’s Son] is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.” “[Jesus] was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible.”
There is more to the paradox of Tertullian than his statements. Though he intended that his writings defend the truth and uphold the integrity of the church and her doctrines, he actually corrupted true teachings. His key contribution to Christendom turned out to be a theory upon which later writers built the doctrine of the Trinity. To gain insight into how this happened, let us first get a glimpse of Tertullian himself.
“Incapable of Being Dull”
Very little is known about the life of Tertullian. Most scholars agree that he was born about 160 C.E. in Carthage, North Africa. Evidently, he was well-educated and thoroughly familiar with the main schools of philosophy of his day. Apparently, what attracted him to Christianity was the willingness of professed Christians to die for their faith. Concerning Christian martyrdom, he asked: “For who that contemplates it, is not excited to inquire what is at the bottom of it? who, after inquiry, does not embrace our doctrines?”
After his conversion to nominal Christianity, Tertullian became an inventive writer with a flare for terse and witty statements. “[He] possessed an ability rare among theologians,” observes the book The Fathers of the Church. “He is incapable of being dull.” One scholar said: “Tertullian [had] a gift for words rather than sentences and it is much easier to appreciate his sallies than it is to follow his arguments. Perhaps this is why he is so often quoted and so infrequently quoted at length.”
To the Defense of Christianity
Tertullian’s most famous work is Apology, considered to be one of the most powerful literary defenses of nominal Christianity. It was written during a time when Christians were often victims of superstitious mobs. Tertullian came to the defense of these Christians and protested the irrational treatment of them. He said: “[Opposers] consider that the Christians are the cause of every public calamity and every misfortune of the people. . . . If the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the weather will not change, if there is an earthquake, a famine, a plague—straightway the cry is heard: ‘Toss the Christians to the lion!’”
Although Christians were often accused of disloyalty to the State, Tertullian endeavored to show that they were actually the most trustworthy citizens in the realm. After calling attention to several attempts that were made to overthrow the government, he reminded his antagonists that those conspirators arose from the ranks of the pagans, not the Christians. Tertullian pointed out that when Christians were executed, the real loss was sustained by the State.
Other works of Tertullian dealt with Christian living. For example, in his exposition On the Shows, Tertullian counseled against being present at certain places of entertainment, pagan games, and theatrical events. Apparently, there were new converts who saw no inconsistency in meeting for Bible instruction and then attending the pagan games. Trying to stir up their thinking ability, Tertullian wrote: “How monstrous it is to go from God’s church to the devil’s—from the sky to the stye.” He said: “What you reject in deed, you are not to bid welcome to in word.”
Corrupts the Truth While Defending It
Tertullian began his essay entitled Against Praxeas saying: “In various ways has the devil rivalled and resisted the truth. Sometimes his aim has been to destroy the truth by defending it.” The man named Praxeas of this essay is not clearly identified, but Tertullian took issue with his teachings concerning God and Christ. He viewed Praxeas as a pawn of Satan covertly trying to corrupt Christianity.
A crucial issue among professed Christians at that time was the relationship between God and Christ. Some among them, particularly those of Greek background, found it difficult to reconcile belief in one God with the role of Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. Praxeas attempted to solve their dilemma by teaching that Jesus was just a different mode of the Father and there was no difference between the Father and the Son. This theory, known as modalism, alleges that God revealed himself “as the Father in Creation and in the giving of the Law, as the Son in Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension.”
Tertullian showed that the Scriptures made a clear distinction between the Father and the Son. After quoting 1 Corinthians 15:27, 28, he reasoned: “He who subjected (all things), and He to whom they were subjected—must necessarily be two different Beings.” Tertullian called attention to Jesus’ own words: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) Using portions of the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Psalm 8:5, he showed how the Bible describes the “inferiority” of the Son. “Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son,” Tertullian concluded. “Inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another.”
Tertullian viewed the Son as subordinate to the Father. However, in his attempt to counteract modalism, he went “beyond the things that are written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6) As Tertullian erroneously sought to prove the divinity of Jesus by means of another theory, he coined the formula “one substance in three persons.” Using this concept, he attempted to show that God, his Son, and the holy spirit were three distinct persons existing in one divine substance. Tertullian thus became the first to apply the Latin form of the word “trinity” to the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit.
Beware of Worldly Philosophy
How was Tertullian able to devise the theory of “one substance in three persons”? The answer lies in yet another paradox about the man—his view of philosophy. Tertullian called philosophy “‘the doctrines’ of men and ‘of demons.’” He openly criticized the practice of using philosophy to support Christian truths. “Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition,” he stated. Yet, Tertullian himself made liberal use of secular philosophy when it harmonized with his own ideas.—Colossians 2:8.
One reference work states: “Trinitarian theology required the aid of Hellenistic concepts and categories for its development and expression.” And the book The Theology of Tertullian notes: “[It was] a curious blend of juristic and philosophic ideas and terms, which enabled Tertullian to set out the trinitarian doctrine in a form which, despite its limitations and imperfections, supplied the framework for the later presentation of the doctrine at the Council of Nicaea.” Hence, Tertullian’s formula—three persons in one divine substance—played a major role in the spreading of religious error throughout all of Christendom.
Tertullian accused others of destroying the truth while they were trying to defend it. Ironically, however, by mixing divinely inspired Bible truth and human philosophy, he fell into the same trap. Let us therefore take to heart the Scriptural warning against “paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.”—1 Timothy 4:1.
[Pictures on page 29, 30]
Tertullian criticized philosophy but used it to advance his own ideas
Pages 29 and 30: © Cliché Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
[Picture on page 31]
True Christians avoid mixing Bible truth with human philosophy