Protestant Belief – Today
According to the prophet John, the Roman Catholic Church is represented as “Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth”. John 17:5.
Being a mother, we would expect the daughters to have similar teachings, and they do, for both ‘mother and daughters’ all worship the same triune God.
Without exception, the main-stream churches stand on the creed of Nicaea and Chalcedon.
Every Sunday, the Lutheran Church affirms its stand on the doctrine of the Trinity as “the Nicaean creed is repeated by the congregation.” Lutheran Pastor in Melbourne.
The Baptist Church “teaches the same as the Catholic Church”. The only difference from mainstream is that “we are self-governing and the people are the guide.” Baptist Union Office representative. When asked about one God with three modes, the answer was, “Oh Modalism is an old heresy.” Ibid. The Independent Baptist Church believes in “three co-equal, distinct, individual, separate Beings, who are all one God”. Baptist Independent Pastor in Melbourne.
A spokesman from the Churches of Christ in Australia said, “We have no credal position due to the divisive nature of creeds. We believe in exploring the Scripture in the ecumenical Christian tradition”. As a result, he said, there is “a range of perspectives”, and a number of different positions.
“Most members believe in the Trinity by default more than research. Many would say, ‘I believe in God and Jesus, don’t confuse me with the Trinity’.”
When asked if there was a possibility some may find Arianism in the church’s freedom to search the Scriptures, the faculty member interviewed laughed and said, “Well Arianism is already here with a new name – the ‘Jesus Seminar’ -- a modern form of Arianism very popular in the United States.” Faculty member of the Churches of Christ (Australia) Theological College.
A minister of the Presbyterian Church said plainly, “We are orthodox; Chalcedon of the 5th century, and always have been. We are one of the churches of the Reformation and stand on Nicaea.” Telephone interview.
The Uniting Church does not have a paragraph relating to the Trinity in its Basis of Union statement, however, it is Trinitarian in principle. According to the Moderator of Victoria, “We follow the doctrine of the Trinity in the tradition of the churches”. She said, “God reveals Himself in three ways: God the Creator and Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ; and God, the Holy Spirit.”
In answer to the question if this was Modalism, or one God in three modes, she said, “No, there are three co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent, consubstantial Persons. They are separate, but somehow all present within each other.”
A theologian from Ormond College stated that “the early pronouncement of the Nicene Creed tried to avoid heresies. It is a basic statement, but it must be interpreted. Most church members do not explore it deeply. There are not three Beings in the Trinity, that is Tritheism, which is three Gods. But it is correct to say there are three Persons in the Trinity. Modalism is certainly rejected.” Theologian, Ormond College. Uniting Church.
When union took place (between the Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian Churches), there was “no debate on the subject of the Trinity as they were so similar”. Victorian Moderator of the Uniting Church. This was confirmed by the Ormond College theologian.
The Wesleyan Church stands with John Wesley in the Methodist tradition, believing in one God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Wesleyan College, Victoria.
An Assemblies of God representative stated that they are Trinitarian, “the same as main-stream – Catholics, Baptist, Luther. We have always believed in the Trinity since we first started in 1906.” Assemblies of God Office.
The Anglican Church believes in the Trinity, and at particular services, “the Creed of Saint Athanasius is appointed to be read.” Book of Common Prayer p48 under Morning Prayer.
The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion states,
1. “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
11. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man. The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance; so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men…..
V. Of the holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.” Ibid. Articles of Religion p376.
It was interesting to note that those interviewed were well-versed in church history, and in their stand for the Trinity, referred back to Nicaea and Chalcedon as the authoritative basis for their belief.
One theologian objected to my calling the Council of Nicaea a Catholic council, and that it was ecumenical, consisting of the world church from the East and the West of the Roman Empire. It is true it was ecumenical, but history makes it very clear that it was initiated by the Western segment for the purpose of crushing Arianism.
The Protestant churches who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the reformation of the 16th Century still believed many of the forms and creedal errors of the papacy, including the doctrine of the Trinity and Sunday sacredness.
Catholicism recognises that these doctrines are not explicitly taught in the Scriptures. The Church states, “Our opponents sometimes claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in Scripture (ignoring that it is only on the authority of the Church we recognize certain Gospels and not others as true). But the Protestant churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels.” Catholic Encyclopedia p49. (Bracket in quotation)
The Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Biblical Basis – neither the word ‘Trinity’ nor the explicit doctrine as such appears at any one place in the Bible, the ecclesiastical dogma in an effort to unite in one confession all the several strains of Biblical description of God.
Fundamental to that description in both the Old and the New is the monotheistic credo summarized in the Shema of Deut 6:4 ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord'. Neither Jesus nor his early followers intended anything they said about their new revelation to contradict that credo.” Encyclopedia Britannica (1976) p241.
A lecturer at Andrews University, Michigan stated that “some will tend to resist this doctrine (of the Trinity) because it is not found expressly stated in the Scriptures”. Adventist Review. Aug 20. 1993. p8.
According to Sir William Whiston, there was “a greater number of interpolations and corruptions brought into the Scriptures by the Athanasians, and relating to the Doctrine of the Trinity, than in any other case whatsoever.” Second letter to the Bishop of London from Sir William Whiston. 1719 p15.
In summary of the Protestant beliefs of today:
1. According to Rome, she is the ‘mother’ of the Protestant churches and is at present calling them ‘back home’.
2. All the mainline churches of Protestantism stand on the Nicaean and Athanasian creeds.
3. Protestants still accept some of the dogmas of Rome, such as the Trinity and Sunday sacredness. Rome challenges Protestantism that if they stand with her in two beliefs, they should stand in everything.
4. Little by little, through ecumenism, the churches are complying. This can be seen in church union activities, such as combined services, prayers for unity, calling ministers priests, and Holy Communion the Eucharist, the elevation of Mary, genuflection and many other subtle ways.
5. Rome’s challenge is: ‘There is no Bible basis for the Trinity doctrine’. Many Protestants agree with her, but still cling to the creeds.
6. Unfortunately, the Protestant churches have ceased to be ‘protestant’, a name derived from the protest of the princes during the Reformation.
The Trinity Confusion