Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

the Almighty God could be changed into the form of a man, to deceive spectators with the phantom of a created substance. Eusebius furthermore speaks of the Son as the Prince and Leader of the Host of heaven, the Angel of the mighty Council, the Agent of the Father's secret will, the Second Cause of the universe, who has received power, honour, and even divinity from the Father.1 When we consider that this is the language of an eminent Bishop of the fourth century, who subscribed the creed of Nicæa, how marvellous the modern credulity which accepts the so-called creed of Athanasius as the veritable faith of primitive Christians.

It is important to observe, in justice to the Church of Rome, that spiritual despotism was not initiated at Nicæa by the Bishop, but by the Emperor of Rome; and future Popes simply inherited the pontifical throne of the Cæsars.

The creed of Nicæa failed to establish Catholicism, and during the long interval of chaotic theology which preceded the uniformity of ignorance and superstition controlled by a spiritual despotism, ecclesiastical history is but the record of conflicting doctrines, contending factions, and violent interventions of the temporal power, at the call of a fierce fanaticism, which interpreted Christianity through maledictions, persecutions, and massacre.

In the course of their controversies with the Arians, Consubstantialists eventually recognised the necessity of being more explicit respecting the Holy Spirit, and at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, they accordingly interpolated the creed of Nicæa with the following clause:

1 Eccles. Hist. Book I. 1.

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord who gives life; who proceeds from the Father; who must be worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son; who spoke by the prophets.

This change in the status of the Holy Spirit, accepted by modern piety as a divine mystery, was effected through the arbitrary conclusions of men quite as ignorant on the subject as ourselves; and discloses the strange confusion into which they had fallen respecting the original fiction of divine emanations. The Paraclete is declared to be a direct emanation from the Father, and therefore the Æonic brother of the Logos, who ceases to be Monogenes, the only-begotten, the title assigned to him in the opening words of the creed ! The Paraclete also becomes the giver of life, although this divine office is specially assigned to the Logos by Pseudo-John. The lapse of fifty years had obviously left the Council of Constantinople but a hazy impression of Nicene theosophy, and yet their self-destructive formula is accepted by modern Christians as veritable gospel

This slovenly work of Byzantine creed-makers, in due time evoked new controversies on the procession of the Holy Spirit, resulting in a fresh addition to the Nicene creed, in the famous formula filioque,' which transformed the Paraclete into an Emanation from both the Father and the Son, without any perceptible alleviation of theological embarrassment. For if the Father and the Logos are one, the Paraclete becomes Monogenes the only-begotten; and if they are two, the Æonic birth of Paracletus involves the prodigy of dual paternity. This Æonic innovation was never accepted

A.

by Eastern theologians, and eventually caused the final separation of the Greek and Roman churches, with mutual imprecations.

The Creed of Nicæa, even in its fullest development, failed to unravel the tangled skein of Christian theosophy; and rival theologians propounded so many conflicting theories in the course of centuries preceding the ages of intellectual darkness, that the Gnostic origin of the Trinity was forgotten, its anomalies pronounced an incomprehensible mystery, and its impossibilities mistaken for the inscrutable wisdom of God. This was the opportunity of some unknown genius of the eighth century, who composed, with all the audacity of ignorance, the famous formula of the so-called Catholic Faith which, in the borrowed name of Athanasius, consigned untold millions to perdition for discrediting the impossible.

This Confession of Faith' no doubt expressed the religious tendencies of an age in which the Trinitarian myth had become an ecclesiastical mystery; but when we affirm that Christendom adopted the arbitrary formula of an unknown theologian, or credulously accepted his damnatory conclusions as the doctrines of Athanasius, we seem rather to reproduce the malignant satire of some vindictive enemy of the Church, than an attested fact of ecclesiastical history.

In thus recording the evolution of the Trinity, we simply tell what all may read in the triple creeds of ecclesiastical Christianity. The so-called Apostles' Creed

1 The author of this Creed was apparently unconscious that, in granting eternal life as the reward of virtue at the final judgment, he destroyed the theory of salvation contingent on orthodox belief.

affirms the supernatural birth of Jesus, and the person

. ality of the Spirit-doctrines unknown in the School of Galilee. The Confession of Nicæa confers on both an Æonic Divinity alien to the more primitive creed. And Pseudo-Athanasius proclaims an incomprehensible Trinity, which would have filled the Council of Nicæa with amazement.

How clearly may we not, therefore, trace the lineal descent of modern Christian theology? The ancient Hebrews believed in Jehovah as their national God. Contact with Aryan Monotheists transformed the Semitic Deity into the Supreme Ruler of the universe, worshipped in the age of Jesus as our Heavenly Father.1 Hellenistic Hebrews saw, in this Infinite Being, the great First Cause of Platonic philosophy, and in the Logos, their own Jehovah invested with subordinate divinity. Gentile Christians adopted the same theology with the startling innovation that Jehovah, Jesus, and the Logos-H are one. As time passed on, the Hebrew Deity, together with the Nazarene Church, disappeared out of the theological arena : Jesus became the sole Logos of Christianity; the Spirit was invested with Divinity; and Monotheistic Christendom, confronted with three Deities, escaped the embarrassing charge of polytheism by announcing, on ecclesiastical authority, that infinite Beings, superior to merely human numbers, may count as three, and yet be only one.

What, therefore, are our conclusions ? That the tribal Jehovah was a Semitic myth; that Jesus, claim

1 Protestantism having accepted the infinity of Jehovah, its theologians are ever confronted by the hopeless task of reconciling the policy of a tribal Deity with the Providence of God.

ing to be nothing more than man, worshipped an Aryan ideal of paternal Divinity; that his posthumous deification, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, was an Æonic fiction ; that the Trinity was a compromise between H Monotheism and Æonism; and that, finally, our modern ideal of Supreme Divinity is the product of the ages, evolved, in absolute independence of the supernatural, through the spiritual conceptions of the highest minds of all time, dwelling on the momentous problem of man's relationship with the Infinite.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »