Who is the True Founder of Christianity?
Jesus or Paul!
Who Invented The Trinity?
The three monotheistic religions-- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-- all purport to share one fundamental concept: belief in God as the Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Known as "Tawhid" in Islam, this concept of the Oneness of God was stressed by Moses in a Biblical passage known as the "Shema", or the Jewish creed of faith: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." (Deuteronomy 6:4)
It was repeated word-for-word approximately 1500 years later by Jesus when he said "...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mark 12:29)
Muhammad came along approximately 600 years later, bringing the same message again: "And your God is One God: there is no God but He, ..." (The Qur'an 2:163).
Christianity has digressed from the concept of the Oneness of God, however, into a vague and mysterious doctrine that was formulated during the fourth century. This doctrine, which continues to be a source of controversy both within and without the Christian religion, is known as the Doctrine of the Trinity. Simply put, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God is the union of three divine persons-- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit-- in one divine being.
If that concept, put in basic terms, sounds confusing, the flowery language in the actual text of the doctrine lends even more mystery to the matter:
"...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity...for there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost is all one...they are not three gods, but one God...the whole three persons are co-eternal and co-equal...he therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity..." (excerpts from the Athanasian Creed).
Let's put this together in a different form: one person, God the Father + one person, God the Son, + one person, God the Holy Ghost = one person, God the What? Is this English or is this gibberish?
It is said that Athanasius, the bishop who formulated this doctrine, confessed that the more he wrote on the matter, the less capable he was of clearly expressing his thoughts regarding it.
How did such a confusing doctrine get its start?
Trinity in the Bible
References in the Bible to a Trinity of divine beings are vague, at best.
In Matthew 28:19, we find Jesus telling his disciples to go out and preach to all nations. While this "Great Commission" does make mention of the three persons who later become components of the Trinity, the phrase "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" is quite clearly an addition to Biblical text--that is, not the actual words of Jesus-- as can be seen by two factors:
1) baptism in the early Church, as discussed by Paul in his letters, was done only in the name of Jesus; and
2) the "Great Commission" was found in the first gospel written, that of Mark, bears no mention of Father, Son and/or Holy Ghost--see Mark 16:15.
The only other reference in the Bible to a Trinity can be found in the Epistle of I John 5:7. Biblical scholars of today, however, have admitted that the phrase "... there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" is definitely a "later addition" to Biblical text, and it is not found in any of today's versions of the Bible.
It can, therefore, be seen that the concept of a Trinity of divine beings was not an idea put forth by Jesus or any other prophet of God. This doctrine, now subscribed to by Christians all over the world, is entirely man-made in origin.
The Doctrine Takes Shape
While Paul of Tarsus, the man who could rightfully be considered the true founder of Christianity, did formulate many of its doctrines, that of the Trinity was not among them. He did, however, lay the groundwork for such when he put forth the idea of Jesus being a "divine Son". After all, a Son does need a Father, and what about a vehicle for God's revelations to man? In essence, Paul named the principal players, but it was the later Church people who put the matter together.
Tertullian, a lawyer and presbyter of the third-century Church in Carthage, was the first to use the word "Trinity" when he put forth the theory that the Son and the Spirit participate in the being of God, but all are of one being of substance with the Father.
A Formal Doctrine Is Drawn Up
When controversy over the matter of the Trinity blew up in 318 between two church men from Alexandria--Arius, the deacon, and Alexander, his bishop-- Emperor Constantine stepped into the fray.
Although Christian dogma was a complete mystery to him, he did realize that a unified church was necessary for a strong kingdom. When negotiation failed to settle the dispute, Constantine called for the first ecumenical council in Church history in order to settle the matter once and for all.
Six weeks after the 300 bishops first gathered at Nicea in 325, the doctrine of the Trinity was hammered out. The God of the Christians was now seen as having three essences, or natures, in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Church Puts Its Foot Down
The matter was far from settled, however, despite high hopes for such on the part of Constantine. Arius and the new bishop of Alexandria, a man named Athanasius, began arguing over the matter even as the Nicene Creed was being signed; "Arianism" became a catch-word from that time onward for anyone who didn't hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.
It wasn't until 451, at the Council of Chalcedon that, with the approval of the Pope, the Nicene/ Constantinople Creed was set as authoritative. Debate on the matter was no longer tolerated; to speak out against the Trinity was now considered blasphemy, and such earned stiff sentences that ranged from mutilation to death. Christians now turned on Christians, maiming and slaughtering thousands because of a difference of opinion.
Brutal punishments and even death did not stop the controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity, however, and the said controversy continues even today.
The majority of Christians, when asked to explain this fundamental doctrine of their faith, can offer nothing more than "I believe it because I was told to do so." It is explained away as "mystery" -- yet the Bible says in I Corinthians 14:33 that "... God is not the author of confusion ..."
The Unitarian denomination of Christianity has kept alive the teachings of Arius in saying that God is one; they do not believe in the Trinity. As a result, mainstream Christians abhor them, and the National Council of Churches has refused their admittance. In Unitarianism, the hope is kept alive that Christians will someday return to the preachings of Jesus: "... Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Luke 4:8)
Islam and the Matter of the Trinity
While Christianity may have a problem defining the essence of God, such is not the case in Islam.
"They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity, for there is no god except One God" (Qur'an 5:73). It is worth noting that the Arabic language Bible uses the name "Allah" as the name of God.
Suzanne Haneef, in her book What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims (Library of Islam, 1985), puts the matter quite succinctly when she says "But God is not like a pie or an apple which can be divided into three thirds which form one whole; if God is three persons or possesses three parts, He is assuredly not the Single, Unique, Indivisible Being which God is and which Christianity professes to believe in." (pp. 183-184)
Looking at it from another angle, the Trinity designates God as being three separate entities -- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God is the Father and also the Son, He would then be the Father of Himself because He is His own Son. This is not exactly logical.
Christianity claims to be a monotheistic religion. Monotheism, however, has as its fundamental belief that God is One; the Christian doctrine of the Trinity -- God being Three-in-One-- is seen by Islam as a form of polytheism. Christians don't revere just One God, they revere three.
This is a charge not taken lightly by Christians, however. They, in turn, accuse the Muslims of not even knowing what the Trinity is, pointing out that the Qur'an sets it up as Allah the Father, Jesus the Son, and Mary his mother. While veneration of Mary has been a figment of the Catholic Church since 431 when she was given the title "Mother of God" by the Council of Ephesus, a closer examination of the verses in the Qur'an most often cited by Christians in support of their accusation, shows that the designation of Mary by the Qur'an as a "member" of the Trinity, is simply not true.
While the Qur'an does condemn both trinitarianism (the Qur'an 4:171; 5:73) and the worship of Jesus and his mother Mary (the Qur'an 5:116), nowhere does it identify the actual three components of the Christian Trinity. The position of the Qur'an is that WHO or WHAT comprises this doctrine is not important; what is important is that the very notion of a Trinity is an affront against the concept of One God.
In conclusion, we see that the doctrine of the Trinity is a concept conceived entirely by man; there is no sanction whatsoever from God to be found regarding the matter simply because the whole idea of a Trinity of divine beings has no place in monotheism. In the Qur'an, God's Final Revelation to mankind, we find His stand quite clearly stated in a number of eloquent passages,
"... your God is One God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner." (the Qur'an 18:110)
"... take not, with God, another object of worship, lest you should be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected." (the Qur'an 17:39)
-- because, as God tells us over and over again in a Message that is echoed throughout ALL His Revealed Scriptures,
"... I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore, serve Me (and no other) ..." (the Qur'an 21:92)
The Historical Fallacy of Atonement
Salvation can be defined as the deliverance from sin and its penalties; the path to salvation, however, varies from one religion to another. In Christianity, salvation is found through the Doctrine of Vicarious Atonement. Since human nature is considered in Christianity to be wayward and sinful, this doctrine states that Jesus "rendered full satisfaction" to God for the sins of man through his death and resurrection. In a nutshell, Jesus took our place, and his death absolves us of our sins.
This is contrary to what is found in the Torah where God says: " ...every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut. 24:16)
The matter of Jesus, as savior of mankind, is refuted in the Quran, wherein God says that He "...has stamped them with their disbelief...for their saying 'We killed God's Messenger, Christ Jesus, the son of killed nor crucified him, even though it seemed so to them..." (4:155, 157).
Salvation According to Jesus
Nowhere in the four gospels did Jesus explicitly state that he would die to save mankind from sin. When approached by a man who asked what he could do to gain eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the Commandments (Mat. 19: 16,17); in other words, to obey God's Law. To a similar question put to him by a lawyer, as recorded in the gospel of Luke, Jesus told him to love God and his fellow man (Luke 10:25-28).
The role of Jesus is made clear in the Quran where God says: "Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him...see how God doth make His Signs clear to them, yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth" (5:75).
The mission of Jesus was not, therefore, to set up a new method of achieving salvation, much less the founding of a new system of belief; as even the Bible points out, Jesus sought only to take the Jews from their emphasis on ritual back to that of righteousness (Mat. 6:1-8).
Paul of Tarsus
For the origin of the doctrine of atonement, one does not go to the teachings of Jesus, but instead to the words of Paul, the true founder of Christianity; in teachings of present Christian terms and practices.
Like many Jews, Paul had no use for the teachings of Jesus, and he himself persecuted the followers of Jesus for their unorthodox beliefs. This zealous persecutor was turned into an ardent preacher, however, through a sudden conversion around 35 CE Paul claimed that a resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a vision, thereby, choosing Paul as his instrument for carrying his teachings to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:11; 12:15,16).
Paul's credibility in any capacity is questionable, however, when considering that:
(1) there are four contradictory versions of his so-called "conversion" (Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-10; 26:13-18; Gal. 1:15-17);
(2) God says, in passages such as Num. 12:6, Deut. 18:20 and Ez. 13:8,9 that revelations come ONLY from Him, and
(3) accounts of numerous disagreements between the other disciples and Paul regarding his teachings are recorded in Acts.
Experience and observation had taught Paul that preaching among the Jews was not feasible; he, therefore, chose to go to the non-Jews. By doing so, however, Paul disregarded a direct command from Jesus against preaching to other than a Jew (Mat. 10:5,6). In short, Paul set aside the actual teachings of Jesus in his desire to be a success.
The Pagan Influence
Among the pagans of Paul's time, a wide variety of gods existed. Although these gods had different names and were embraced by people from different areas of the world -- Adonis from Syria, Dionysus from Thrace, Attis from Phrygia, for instance -- the basic concept in each cult was the same: these sons of gods died violent deaths and then rose again to save their people.
Since the pagans had tangible savior-gods in their old religions, they wanted nothing less from the new; they were not able to accept any sort of an invisible Deity. Paul was quite accommodating, preaching therefore of a savior named Jesus Christ, the son of God, who died and then rose again to save mankind from sin (Rom. 5:8-11; 6:8,9).
The Bible itself points out the error of Paul's thinking. While each of the four gospels contain an account of the crucifixion of Jesus, these accounts are strictly hearsay; none of the disciples of Jesus were witness to such, having fled his side in the Garden (Mark 14:50).
In the Torah, God says that one who is "hanged upon a tree" --crucified-- is "accursed" (Deut. 21:23). Paul side-stepped this by saying that Jesus became accursed in order to take on the sins of man (Gal. 3:13); in so doing, however, Paul set aside the very Law of God.
The resurrection, wherein Paul says that Jesus "conquered" death and sin for mankind (Rom. 6:9,10), plays such an important part that one who does not believe in it is not considered a good Christian (I Cor. 15:14).
Here, too, the Bible lends little support to Paul's notions; first of all, not only was there no eyewitness to the actual resurrection, but all post-resurrection accounts are in contradiction with each other as to who went to the gravesite, what happened there, and even where and to whom Jesus appeared (Mat. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20).
Secondly, although Christianity states that the body following resurrection will be in a spiritual form (I Cor. 15:44), Jesus had obviously not changed, for he both ate with his disciples (Luke 24:30,41-43), and allowed them to touch his wounds (John 20:27).
Finally, as the divine son of God in Christianity, Jesus is said to share in God's attributes; one cannot fail to wonder, however, just how it can be possible for God to die...
In his desire to win souls among the pagans, Paul simply reworked a number of major pagan beliefs to come up with the Christian scheme of salvation. No prophet-- including Jesus himself--taught such concepts; they were authored entirely by Paul.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Long accustomed to making sacrifices to their gods, the pagans easily grasped Paul's notion that Jesus was the "ultimate sacrifice" whose blood washed away sin. A common ceremony during this time in various Middle Eastern cults, such as those of Attis and Mithras, was that of the "taurobolium": a person descended into a pit covered over with grillwork upon which a bull (or ram), said to represent the pagan deity himself, was then ceremoniously slain. By covering himself with the blood, the person in the pit below was said to have been "born again" with his sins washed away.
It is worth noting that the Jews had given up sacrifice back in 590 BCE following the destruction of their Temple. Paul's notions, therefore, were in direct contradiction to both Old Testament teaching (Hosea 6:6) and even to the teaching of Jesus himself (Mat. 9:13) which stressed how God desired good virtues, not sacrifice.
While Paul stressed that God's "love" was behind the sacrifice of Jesus (Rom. 5:8), the Doctrine of Atonement instead shows a harsh Deity satisfied only by the murder of his own innocent son. Paul was way off base here, for the Old Testament is full of references to the love and mercy of God to man (Ps. 36:5-10; Ps. 103:8-17) revealed through His forgiveness (Ex. 34:6,7; Ps. 86:5-7), of which even Jesus spoke (Mat. 6:12).
Pagan influence in Christianity even extends to its sacrad symbol. Although Paul calls the cross of Jesus "the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18), reference works, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, Dictionary of Symbols, and The Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and Art point out that the cross was used as a religious symbol centuries before the birth of Jesus. Bacchus of Greece, Tammuz of Tyre, Bel of Chaldea, and Odin of Norway are just a few examples of ancient pagan gods whose sacred symbol was that of a cross.
Central to the Doctrine of Atonement is Paul's notion that mankind is a race of wrong-doers, having inherited from Adam his sin in eating of the forbidden fruit. As a result of this Original Sin, man cannot serve as his own redeemer; good works are to no avail, says Paul, for even these cannot satisfy the justice of God (Gal. 2:16).
As a result of Adam's sin, man is doomed to die. By his death, however, Jesus took on the punishment due man; through his resurrection, Jesus conquered death, and righteousness was restored. To earn salvation, a Christian need only have faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:23).
Despite its prominent place in Christianity, the notion of an "original sin" is not found among the teachings of any prophet, Jesus included. In the Old Testament, God says: "...the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son" (Ez.18:20-22). Personal responsibility is also stressed in the Qur'an where God says: "...no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another...man can have nothing but what he strives for" (53:38,39).
The doctrine of original sin gave Paul the means to justify pagan influence in his scheme of salvation. Irresponsibility became the hallmark of Christianity through this doctrine, however, for by "transferring" sins onto Jesus, Christians assume no responsibility for their actions.
The Religion of Man
The evidence is overwhelming that the concept of salvation in Christianity--its Doctrine of Vicarious Atonement--came not from God but from man via pagan rituals and beliefs.
Paul effectively shifted the center of worship away from God by saying that Jesus was the divine agent of their salvation (Gal. 2:20). In so doing, however, Paul set aside all teachings of God's prophets, and even the concept of monotheism itself, since God in Christianity needs Jesus for His divine "helper".
Take a Closer Look
With his very salvation at stake here, the Christian should take a closer look at what he believes in and why. God says in the Qur'an: "O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger of God...for God is One God; glory be to Him: far exalted is He above having a son. To him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of Affairs." (4:171).