When and how did the dogma of the Trinity emerge?


When and how did the dogma of the Trinity emerge?


Nay. Historically, the original Christians of the first three centuries did not know of the Trinity.

Some early Christian sects who did exist before the Roman Catholic, such as the Ebionite and Essences in the first century, were Unitarians and knew no Trinity and did not worship Jesus. It is unanimously accepted that the Nicean Conference in 325 AD called by the order of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, over a controversy about the personality of Jesus, led eventually to the acceptance of Trinity.   The Trinity dogma however, first referred to by St. Augustine (415CE), came about much later than the Council of Nicea, and was accepted as the Athanasian Creed in the fifth century.   

Trinitarian Christians Verses Unitarians

In 318 C.E. a controversy over the matter of the nature of Jesus blew up between church men from Alexandria- Arius the deacon, and Alexander his bishop. In order to safeguard the unity of his kingdom, the Emperor Constantine stepped into the fray and called for the first ecumenical council in church history in order to settle the matter once and for all.

According to Encarta Encyclopaedia, of the 1800 bishops in the Rome Empire, 318 attended the Council in 325 C.E. in Nicea (now Iznik, Turkey). The irony is that Christ’s deity was ratified despite the objections of most of the Christian bishops who had been gathered there from all over the world.  Nevertheless, the Emperor concluded the council with a faith that he dictated in the Council. The Nicean Creed according to Catholic Encyclopaedia reads:

We believe in one God; the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten no make, of the same substance with the Father.”

Although the Creed was signed, the matter was still far from settled. Arius and the new bishop of Alexandria, a man called Athanasius, began arguing over the matter. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine of the Trinity at the council of Chalcedon took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.

Since then, brutal punishments, violent persecution ,and being labeled as heretics was the only destiny of the Unitarians. All their books were burnt and by 600 A.D., they had basically ceased to exit.

Today some critical Christian theologians such as John Hick in his book ‘The Myth of God Incarnate’ find the roots of the Trinity in ancient pagan religions. Hick finds amazing similarities between the Buddhist doctrine of Trikaya (the three body doctrine) and the Trinity. Similarly, there are many similarities between the Trinity and the Hindu doctrine of Trimurti (Sanskrit: Three Forms) consisting a triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. It is due to these similarities that some historians assumed that Jesus must have spent some time in India during his missing years! There is however, no historical proof for this assumption. Moreover, the claim of the adaptation of a pagan doctrine by a Messenger of God i.e. Jesus (a.s), is the most irrational proposition.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei