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Interpretation the Trinity is polytheistic

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  • Interpretation the Trinity is polytheistic

    I have been accused of misrepresenting Christianity by proposing the interpretation that the Trinity is the heresy of polytheism (Tritheism). To have a different interpretation for scripture and belief systems is not necessarily misrepresenting another religious belief. Comparison with other religions finds many similarities to the Trinitarian view of God. I am not alone in this interpretation.

    Source: http://www3.nd.edu/~mrea/papers/Polytheism.pdf



    III. Conclusion

    I have argued that, given the interpretation of Egyptian syncretism that is endorsed by scholars like Hornung, Baines, and others, Amun-Re theology is directly analogous to ST-Christianity. Since Amun-Re theology as I have interpreted it is clearly polytheistic, the close analogy with ST-Christianity strongly favours a view according to which ST-Christianity is polytheistic as well. We have also seen that there is controversy about whether Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom and during other periods was polytheistic; but, far from providing resources for a monotheistic understanding of Social Trinitarianism, that controversy seems only to seal the case in favour of the polytheistic nature of ST-Christianity. The reason, again, is that the controversy over the question whether Egyptian religion was polytheistic turns on the question whether the gods of Egypt are best regarded as manifestations of a single divine reality. On the interpretation of the Amun-Re theology that I have favoured, they are not. Likewise, on the Social Trinitarian’s understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not manifestations of a single divine reality either. Thus, again, both theologies seem best understood as polytheistic.

    footnote 25; To take just a few examples, see the essays in Athanassiadi and Frede (1999), Davies (1989), and Porter (2000). See also MacDonald (2003), Mavrodes (1995), Miller (1974), Owen (2002), and Smith (2001). I am grateful to Carl Mosser for pressing me to take explicit notice of the great diversity of opinions about the nature of monotheism and polytheism and of the great difficulty involved in providing satisfying characterizations of each. Despite the difficulty and diversity, however, I think that it is possible to discern broad lines of agreement; and, as indicated above, I think that once those lines have been discerned, it is easy to see that Social Trinitarians fall afoul of them.

    If there were no orthodox understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity according to which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit might meaningfully be said to be manifestations of a single divine reality—if, in other words, there were no viable interpretation of that doctrine according to which they were distinct but still, somehow, the same God—then the conclusion of this essay would probably be that Christians should learn to be content regarding themselves as in some sense polytheists. In that event, I would urge that attention be shifted away from defending the Christian claim to monotheism and towards an investigation of the question what sorts of polytheism Christianity means to oppose. If, however, there are interpretations of the doctrine of the Trinity which (while avoiding the heresy of modalism) are consistent with monotheism,26 I say so much the better for those interpretations, and so much the worse for Social Trinitarianism.27

    Michael C. Rea
    University of Notre Dame, Indiana
    mrea@nd.edu

    footnote 26; And I think that there are: see Brower and Rea (2005).

    footnote 27; I would like to thank Michael Bergmann, JeV Brower, Marian David, and
    Daniel Howard-Snyder, Shieva Kleinschmidt, and James vanderKam for helpful
    comments on an earlier draft. An earlier version of this essay was read at the
    2003 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. I am grateful to my
    commentator, Stephen Davis, and also to Carl Mosser for valuable discussion
    during that session and for helpful correspondence on the issues discussed in this
    essay.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Last edited by shunyadragon; 09-09-2016, 03:30 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    My view is that Christianity was mainly corrupted by Paul into a Hellenist/Roman religion with the dogma of Tritheism, and many philosophers and believers agree.

    Source: https://faithforum.wordpress.com/christianity/evolution-of-christiainity/



    Thomas Jefferson

    “Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.”

    Carl Sagan (Scientist; Author)

    “My long-time view about Christianity is that it represents an amalgam of two seemingly immiscible parts–the religion of Jesus and the religion of Paul. Thomas Jefferson attempted to excise the Pauline parts of the New Testament. There wasn’t much left when he was done, but it was an inspiring document.” (Letter to Ken Schei [author of Christianity Betrayed and An Atheists for Jesus])

    Albert Schweitzer

    “Where possible Paul avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught His disciples the ‘Our Father.’ Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes over the words of the Lord.”

    Wil Durant (Philospher)

    “Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ.”

    “Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ.”

    Walter Kaufmann (Professor of Philosophy, Princeton)

    “Paul substituted faith in Christ for the Christlike life.”

    George Bernard Shaw

    “No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus.”

    Thomas Hardy

    “The new testament was less a Christiad than a Pauliad.”

    Hyam Maccoby (Talmudic Scholar)

    “As we have seen, the purposes of the book of Acts is to minimize the conflict between Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, James and Peter. Peter and Paul, in later Christian tradition, became twin saints, brothers in faith, and the idea that they were historically bitter opponents standing for irreconcilable religious standpoints would have been repudiated with horror. The work of the author of Acts was well done; he rescued Christianity from the imputation of being the individual creation of Paul, and instead gave it a respectable pedigree, as a doctrine with the authority of the so-called Jerusalem Church, conceived as continuous in spirit with the Pauline Gentile Church of Rome. Yet, for all his efforts, the truth of the matter is not hard to recover, if we examine the New Testament evidence with an eye to tell-tale inconsistencies and confusions, rather than with the determination to gloss over and harmonize all difficulties in the interests of an orthodox interpretation.” (The Mythmaker, p. 139, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1986)

    © Copyright Original Source

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

    Comment


    • #3
      Contrary to what adherents of modern Judaism might claim, similar theology to the Trinity (though not exactly as defined) is found in the earliest forms of Judaism about Yahweh. I suggest reading works by Michael Heiser to get probably the clearest understanding of this subject. Paul, an expert adherent of ancient Judaism, was essentially drawing from this understanding even though Christ gave more clarity to this concept.
      "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by seanD View Post
        Contrary to what adherents of modern Judaism might claim, similar theology to the Trinity (though not exactly as defined) is found in the earliest forms of Judaism about Yahweh. I suggest reading works by Michael Heiser to get probably the clearest understanding of this subject. Paul, an expert adherent of ancient Judaism, was essentially drawing from this understanding even though Christ gave it more clarity to his understanding.
        The earliest forms of Judaism were mixed with Ugarite and Sumarian polytheism including extracts from their cuniform texts and names for gods, and should not be understood as references to the Trinity, because there is no clear relationship.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
          The earliest forms of Judaism were mixed with Ugarite and Sumarian polytheism including extracts from their cuniform texts and names for gods, and should not be understood as references to the Trinity, because there is no clear relationship.
          I wasn't talking about connections to ancient Judaism and other ancient cultures centuries prior to Paul. I was talking about Paul of the first century and his connection to Judaism around that time. I meant "ancient" Judaism relative to today.
          "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

          Comment


          • #6
            Why do I see only one theologian in that list of quotes, Shuny?
            Watch your links! http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/fa...corumetiquette

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by DesertBerean View Post
              Why do I see only one theologian in that list of quotes, Shuny?
              They are not devoted to justifying their religion.
              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

              go with the flow the river knows . . .

              Frank

              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                They are not devoted to justifying their religion.
                Neither are novelists known to be entirely impartial.
                Watch your links! http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/fa...corumetiquette

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  I have been accused of misrepresenting Christianity by proposing the interpretation that the Trinity is the heresy of polytheism (Tritheism). To have a different interpretation for scripture and belief systems is not necessarily misrepresenting another religious belief. Comparison with other religions finds many similarities to the Trinitarian view of God. I am not alone in this interpretation.
                  You have every right to misunderstand what Christians believe about the Trinity. However your false belief is not what Christians believe. The Trinity is not in any way shape of form polytheistic for a Christian. But you are allowed to go off on a tangent and come up wrong.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DesertBerean View Post
                    Neither are novelists known to be entirely impartial.
                    Obviously true, but I gave a diversity sources of academics.
                    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                    go with the flow the river knows . . .

                    Frank

                    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by seanD View Post
                      I wasn't talking about connections to ancient Judaism and other ancient cultures centuries prior to Paul. I was talking about Paul of the first century and his connection to Judaism around that time. I meant "ancient" Judaism relative to today.
                      You may not have been referring to the connections to ancient Judaism, but this is a very real issue how Christians interpret the Pentateuch concerning the plurality of the nature of God in the Trinity.

                      By the first century when Jesus lived Hellenism dominated Roman establishment Judaism in a Roman world since the conquest by Alexander the Great. Peter was an upper class Hellenist Jew, a Roman citizen, and a strong supporter of Roman authority, and this would not consider him an authority on ancient Judaism, and the Jews and priesthood of the Palestine region, and historical ancient Judaism.

                      Yes, through out Jewish history there are mystical writings that describe metaphysical spiritual plurality of the nature of God, but these beliefs do not remotely support nor are they comparable to the dogma and doctrine of the Trinity. There is no writings prior to Paul that describe the nature of God as Trinitarian.

                      The process of the conversion of Jewish Christianity to Roman Christianity from the conversion of Constantine to Theodosius I firmly established a Hellenist/Roman Christianity, and the exclusion of Jewish Christians, who were not represented in the councils that determined the doctrine and dogma. Theodosius I sealed the exclusion of Jews and separation from Christianity.

                      Described by the historian Sharif as the progressive
                      Source: Sharf, Andrew. Byzantine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade. New York, New York: Shocken Books, Inc., 1971.

                      "unambiguous expressions of hatred and contempt for Judaism"

                      © Copyright Original Source



                      An important characteristic of Roman Christianity is the wide spread us of statuary and imagery of of figures considered God, or Divine figures classically and legitimately prohibited in Judaism based on OT scripture, and the mystical unknown apophatic nature of God.
                      Last edited by shunyadragon; 09-10-2016, 09:18 AM.
                      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                      go with the flow the river knows . . .

                      Frank

                      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Odd how you like to bang on about other religions (i.e. not Ba'hai) being wrong because they haven't 'evolved', yet when one does, like the concept of the Trinity, you're using that to try and show how wrong they got it.

                        Looks like you just want to bash Christianity, and any stick will do. If Christians had a God-concept more similar to Judaism, I suspect you'd say that that shows how wrong Christianity is, since it hasn't 'evolved'. Here you're saying that it's wrong because it has 'evolved', in line with a new revelation from God.

                        Poor ol' Jesus just can't do anything that pleases you, can He?
                        ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                          Odd how you like to bang on about other religions (i.e. not Ba'hai) being wrong because they haven't 'evolved', yet when one does, like the concept of the Trinity, you're using that to try and show how wrong they got it.

                          Looks like you just want to bash Christianity, and any stick will do. If Christians had a God-concept more similar to Judaism, I suspect you'd say that that shows how wrong Christianity is, since it hasn't 'evolved'. Here you're saying that it's wrong because it has 'evolved', in line with a new revelation from God.
                          There are two types of the evolution of Religions over time described clearly in Baha'i. The progressive positive Revelation including the restoration of uncorrupted absolute unknowable nature of the Oneness of God, and the corruption of religion by human influence like the Hellenization and Romanization of Christianity specifically the false dogma and doctrines related to the Trinity.

                          The OT is a clear example of progressive Revelation, and the rejection of 'outside polytheistic influences' and the restoration of pure unadulterated monotheistic beliefs.

                          Poor ol' Jesus just can't do anything that pleases you, can He?
                          Jesus is not the problem. It is the Hellenist Paul's version of Christianity that is the problem.

                          Again . . .

                          Albert Schweitzer

                          “Where possible Paul avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught His disciples the ‘Our Father.’ Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes over the words of the Lord.”

                          Wil Durant (Philospher)

                          “Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ.”

                          “Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ.”

                          Walter Kaufmann (Professor of Philosophy, Princeton)

                          “Paul substituted faith in Christ for the Christlike life.”
                          Last edited by shunyadragon; 09-10-2016, 10:04 AM.
                          Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                          Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                          But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                          go with the flow the river knows . . .

                          Frank

                          I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Shuny is at it again, huh??
                            That's what
                            - She

                            Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
                            - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

                            I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
                            Stephen R. Donaldson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                              I have been accused of misrepresenting Christianity by proposing the interpretation that the Trinity is the heresy of polytheism (Tritheism). To have a different interpretation for scripture and belief systems is not necessarily misrepresenting another religious belief. Comparison with other religions finds many similarities to the Trinitarian view of God. I am not alone in this interpretation.

                              Source: http://www3.nd.edu/~mrea/papers/Polytheism.pdf



                              III. Conclusion

                              I have argued that, given the interpretation of Egyptian syncretism that is endorsed by scholars like Hornung, Baines, and others, Amun-Re theology is directly analogous to ST-Christianity. Since Amun-Re theology as I have interpreted it is clearly polytheistic, the close analogy with ST-Christianity strongly favours a view according to which ST-Christianity is polytheistic as well. We have also seen that there is controversy about whether Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom and during other periods was polytheistic; but, far from providing resources for a monotheistic understanding of Social Trinitarianism, that controversy seems only to seal the case in favour of the polytheistic nature of ST-Christianity. The reason, again, is that the controversy over the question whether Egyptian religion was polytheistic turns on the question whether the gods of Egypt are best regarded as manifestations of a single divine reality. On the interpretation of the Amun-Re theology that I have favoured, they are not. Likewise, on the Social Trinitarian’s understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not manifestations of a single divine reality either. Thus, again, both theologies seem best understood as polytheistic.

                              footnote 25; To take just a few examples, see the essays in Athanassiadi and Frede (1999), Davies (1989), and Porter (2000). See also MacDonald (2003), Mavrodes (1995), Miller (1974), Owen (2002), and Smith (2001). I am grateful to Carl Mosser for pressing me to take explicit notice of the great diversity of opinions about the nature of monotheism and polytheism and of the great difficulty involved in providing satisfying characterizations of each. Despite the difficulty and diversity, however, I think that it is possible to discern broad lines of agreement; and, as indicated above, I think that once those lines have been discerned, it is easy to see that Social Trinitarians fall afoul of them.

                              If there were no orthodox understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity according to which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit might meaningfully be said to be manifestations of a single divine reality—if, in other words, there were no viable interpretation of that doctrine according to which they were distinct but still, somehow, the same God—then the conclusion of this essay would probably be that Christians should learn to be content regarding themselves as in some sense polytheists. In that event, I would urge that attention be shifted away from defending the Christian claim to monotheism and towards an investigation of the question what sorts of polytheism Christianity means to oppose. If, however, there are interpretations of the doctrine of the Trinity which (while avoiding the heresy of modalism) are consistent with monotheism,26 I say so much the better for those interpretations, and so much the worse for Social Trinitarianism.27

                              Michael C. Rea
                              University of Notre Dame, Indiana
                              mrea@nd.edu

                              footnote 26; And I think that there are: see Brower and Rea (2005).

                              footnote 27; I would like to thank Michael Bergmann, JeV Brower, Marian David, and
                              Daniel Howard-Snyder, Shieva Kleinschmidt, and James vanderKam for helpful
                              comments on an earlier draft. An earlier version of this essay was read at the
                              2003 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. I am grateful to my
                              commentator, Stephen Davis, and also to Carl Mosser for valuable discussion
                              during that session and for helpful correspondence on the issues discussed in this
                              essay.

                              © Copyright Original Source

                              I think you misunderstand robrecht's "accusation" (and to be clear, this thread is mostly a reply to robrecht). He's mostly against the polemical tone you take towards those who self-identify as Monotheists. But I'm sure he'll be more than happy to correct you (not that you'll listen, of course).

                              Concerning Michael C. Rea's paper, I'm thinking most "Social-Trinitarians" would take major issue with what he hand waves away as "superficial differences" between Amun-Re theology and ST-Christianity on page 141. That said, Rea is a Christian philosopher, and he does not reject the Trinity altogether. Far from it as your own citation points out,
                              "If, however, there are interpretations of the doctrine of the Trinity which (while avoiding the heresy of modalism) are consistent with monotheism, [And I think that there are: see Brower and Rea (2005).] . . ."

                              Rea's issue is with various common defenses of the Trinity, particularly those that he refers to as "Social Trinitarianism", and most version of "Relative-Identity Trinitarianism", he (along with Jeffrey E. Brower) offers instead a different defense of the orthodox understanding of the Trinity that he believes to be far more robust that he refers to as the "Aristotelian Solution" which you can read about here.

                              Rea's issues with Social Trinitarianism have almost nothing in common with your own complaints about the Trinity. He believes that the Trinity can be understood correctly both intuitively and dogmatically, but I'm certain you picked up on this paper after much "research", which amounted to whatever you could hit upon by desperately googling the keywords "Trinity" and "polytheism".

                              Comment

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