A Layman’s View Of Eternity

Why Christians Are Now In Tight Corners

Later generations created the Jewish religion, and its offshoot, Christianity. Though pining for a new way to worship they were not about to ignore or dismiss these ingrained, ancient, fairy tale religions. Instead, they studied them, learned from them, were influenced by them, and borrowed from them to develop their own religion. They latched on to, and patented, the concept of Monotheism (one God), although not an original idea. It was borrowed from the ancient Egyptians whose chief deity, sun god, Ra, was head god of the Egyptian deities for thousands of years.

The Jewish and Christian religions are formally recorded in The Holy Bible, sometimes called “the word of God”. Divided into the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible), and the New Testament, (both of which are followed by Christians), the Bible is a fanciful, startling old world mix of fact and fantasy, stretching thousands of years into the past. Christ, a Jew, is the Messiah of the Christians, but not of the Jews. The New Testament tells the story of God’s Son, Christ, who miraculously appears on earth and becomes a charismatic sensation for about 3 years in his early thirties. He dies for people’s sins so that they may be saved and enter into eternal life. To complicate matters, they also worshiped a Holy Spirit. Strangely enough, this puzzling apparition also happens to appear in North American aboriginal worship where it is known as the Great Spirit.

But how were Christians to explain the worship of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit as being one God? Until 381 AD, 4 centuries after Christ’s supernatural birth, Christian religious leaders realized they had to find a solution to this dilemma. And they did, but it remains a controversial explanation to this day. There was nothing mentioned in the Bible about a trinity to help them, but this idea was known in both ancient Babylonian and Egyptian religions where 3 gods acted in unison.

After fierce decades-long debates that even had Roman emperors wringing their hands, The Council of Constantinople in 381 AD finally ended the impasse by passing a formal declaration to adopt the concept of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3 persons in one), much to the relief of the Roman authorities. They just wanted it settled. Christians not falling into line were to be declared heretics. This difficult-to-grasp concept became the crowning glory of Christianity, due to the powerful influence of one man, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria. It was, and is, almost as impossible to explain as it is to grasp. Karen Armstrong, in her book, A History of God (1993), states, “The Trinity only made sense from a mystical or spiritual experience……It was not a logical or intellectual formulation, but an imaginative paradigm that confounded reason”. She further states that for many western churches, it is simply baffling.

The Jews were having none of this. They rejected the Trinity concept as well as the divinity of Jesus. Much later, several Christian branch plants also split away from the mainstream because of various objections to this puzzling doctrine. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses state that Jesus is not God; Christian Scientists state that Jesus is the Son of God, but not a deity; Christadelphians believe that Jesus is fully human, separate from God and not divine; Pentecostals believe that God manifests himself as 3 forms, not 3 persons; Mormons believe that God, Son, and Holy Ghost are separate beings, but one in the same purpose. From a practical point of view it would have made far more sense for religious leaders to humanize God for a time, by disguising him as Christ until he rose from the dead and simply disregarded the ghostly sidekick called the Holy Spirit instead of dreaming up the tricky trinity concept.

This idea of a 3-in-1 one supreme god was grudgingly accepted by most Christians, at least in the beginning. They had no choice other than to be declared heretics by the church and state. No doubt millions simply ignored this unconvincing, fanciful man-made concept, but were hugely attracted to the church’s promise of an afterlife in heaven if they toed the line. It was certainly preferable to eternal damnation in a flaming hell.

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Dr. James F. McDonald is a retired elementary school principal who lives in Dundas, ON.
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