Trinitarian Christianity in Europe, By Ahmad Thomson

After the decisions which were reached at the Councils of Nicea in 325 AD and of Constantinople in 381 AD had paved the way for the ‘final’ formulation and ratification of the doctrine of Trinity – a doctrine which even Paul himself had not expounded back in the 1st century AD – the doctrinal evolution and transition from Pauline to Trinitarian Christianity proceeded in leaps and bounds, especially in the Western Roman Empire.

One of the main intellectual stumbling blocks for the new doctrine’s main exponents, however, was what had always been the impossible task of explaining and reconciling in one person both the human and the divine aspects which were logically required as soon as Jesus came to be regarded not only as a man but also as a ‘son’ of God. This reconciliation of opposites could only ever be achieved by flatly stating that there was no contradiction and by then accepting the doctrine as an act of unconditional and uncritical blind faith.

This was not always intellectually satisfying, and was sometimes interpreted as in fact being an act of surrender and an acknowledgement of defeat. Whenever anyone tried to rationally explain why or how there was no contradiction, however, they were often eventually driven to conclude that Jesus must be one or the other but that he could not be both – which was always the point at which the Unitarians would gleefully point out that if he was not one, then he must be the other, and that if he had indeed possessed all the attributes of a mortal human being, then Jesus could not possibly have been God as well.

One of the important figures in the history of early Christianity in the context of this debate is that of Pope Honorius. A contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of

God be on him, Pope Honorius was aware of the rising tide of Islam, whose tenets very much resembled those of Arius. The mutual killing of Christians by each other was still fresh in his memory, and perhaps he thought that what he had heard about Islam might be applied in healing the differences between the various Christian sects. In his letters he began to support the doctrine of ‘one mind’ within the doctrine of Trinity. He argued that if God had three independent minds, the result would be chaos. This logical and reasonable conclusion pointed to the belief in the existence of One God.

The Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD had already ruled – in attempting to reconcile the impossible contradiction that if Jesus had been a man as well as being God, then this meant that he must have had two natures, one human, the other Divine – that Christ’s natures were indivisible. This decision may well have influenced Honorius in concluding that there was a single will in Christ. He therefore argued that Christ took to himself a human nature free from the curse of original sin. According to this view, Christ therefore had human will. Thus, even at this stage, belief in One God was being indirectly affirmed within Pauline Christianity.

That this kind of controversy had arisen at all – for it is certainly never mentioned in any of the Gospels – is an indication of the degree to which Paul’s innovations and arguments had taken over and confused people’s minds.

Pope Honorius died in October 638 AD. In the same year, the Emperor Heraclius – who had already refused the Prophet Muhammad’s invitation to embrace Islam – officially accepted the doctrine of Honorius and issued an order that, all the Emperor’s subjects are to confess the one will of Jesus.’ The Synod of Constantinople which also took place in 638 AD supported the doctrine as ‘truly agreeing with Apostolic preaching.’

The doctrine of Honorius was not officially challenged for about half a century. In 680 AD, however, forty-two years after his death, yet another Council was held in Constantinople and Pope Honorius was officially anathematised, since he ‘ did not extinguish the flame of heretical teaching in its first beginning but fostered it by negligence,’ and therefore, ,allowed the immaculate faith to be stained.”

This decision, whereby a Pope was denounced by his successor with the support of the Church, is unique in the history of the Papacy, especially as regards the doctrine of papal infallibility, since it seems to indicate that, at least at this stage, some Popes were less infallible than others!

In fact this decision illustrates how the boundaries of what constituted papal infallibility were only gradually defined over a period of time until they had been sufficiently formulated to be officially accepted as being immutable and certain because, like ‘Gospel Truth’, they had reached a stage where it could be plausibly argued that they had been determined not by man, but by God.
The Pauline Church, or rather, the Roman Catholic Church, as it came to be known, gradually grew in size and power.

This was largely due to its associations with the Roman Emperors. The more it compromised itself with those in authority, the more identified it became with them. During the eight centuries which followed the first Council of Nicea, the Roman Catholic Church became firmly established, with her headquarters not in Jerusalem, but in Rome where she acquired vast amounts of land and property both in and around this city. These were known as the ‘Gift of Constantine’.

It soon became very dangerous for anyone to differ from the Roman Catholic Church, which came to have the support of the imperial army, as well as its own power. After 325 AD, millions of Christians were killed for not subscribing to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. These were indeed dark ages for those who wished or professed to follow Jesus, and few people in Europe dared to openly affirm the Unity of God.

While the Catholic Church in Europe was busy eliminating any dissenters, who were branded as ‘heretics’, the Muslims began to make themselves known on the periphery of the Christian world. Nearly all of the Unitarian followers of Jesus in the Holy Land and in North Africa recognised Islam as a further message from their Lord, which directly followed, confirmed and superseded the guidance by which they had been living. They naturally became Muslims – which is why there are so very few Unitarian Christians in the Middle East and North Africa today. Thus from about the middle of the 8th century AD onwards, only the Paulinian version of ‘Christianity’, which was praised mainly in Europe, remained.

The leaders at the Vatican must have seen the marked similarity between the teachings of Islam and the Unitarianism preached by Arius. Both believed in One God. Both accepted Jesus as a Prophet who, nevertheless, was still a man. Both believed in the Virgin Mary and in the immaculate conception of Jesus. Both accepted the Holy Spirit. Both rejected the divinity which had been attributed to Jesus. It is hardly surprising that the hatred which the Roman Catholic Church had directed at the Unitarian Arians for centuries was now turned against the Muslims as well.

When viewed from this perspective, the mediaeval Crusades ­ as indeed is also the case with the more modern Crusades being waged in the Balkans today – cease to be an isolated phenomenon of Church history, and become an extension of the massacre of the Arians and the Donatists by the early Pauline Church.

It is interesting to note in passing that it was as Islam was spreading up from Arabia, up through the Holy Land and into Syria and Turkey, at about the time when a tribe living in the Caucasus who were descended from Gog and Magog, the tribe of the Khazars, embraced Judaism for reasons of political expediency that the first major division within the Trinitarian church occurred, between the Roman Catholic Church and what became known as the Greek Orthodox Church. This split concerned the issue of image worship:

During the early years of the history of Christianity, when the religion was still not very far removed from its origin and source the use of images for whatever reason had been avoided by all Christians, by both the true followers of Jesus and by the followers of Paul, in compliance with the second commandment of the Old Testament which clearly forbids making a representation of any living thing:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth below, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for 1the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6).

Once the teachings of Paul had taken hold in Europe, however, the veneration and subsequently the adoration of images and relies increasingly crept into the practices and rites of the Trinitarian Church, until by the 7th century AD this practice was firmly established, especially in the Western Roman Empire.

There was, however, yet another revival of Unitarianism in the Eastern Byzantine Empire, centred in and around Constantinople, and culminating in the campaign of Leo the Iconoclast who literally set about breaking up images and idols in earnest in 726AD. Pope Gregory II, fearing that Leo’s puritanical zeal might spread to Italy, warned him of dire consequences if he did not stop smashing idols. Leo ignored his threats and subsequently invaded Italy, determined to purify the Western as well as the Eastern Church. Leo and his army were, however, heavily defeated by the Roman Catholic troops near Ravenna.

After this confrontation, the two Churches never reunited – in spite of the fact that they both subscribed to basically the same Paulinian and Trinitarian doctrines – especially after Leo’s son, Constantine the Adoptionist, called the seventh Synod of Constantinople, in 774 AD, which duly declared that image worship was a corruption of Christianity and a renewal of paganism and that accordingly all images should be destroyed.

There was, predictably, a backlash against this attempt to eradicate and eliminate the use of images which had been so easily and so comfortably accommodated into European Christianity, and it comes as no surprise to learn that in 787 AD the second Council of Nicea re-endorsed the permissibility of using images. This ruling finally resulted, after many years, in the widespread use again of images not only by the Greek Orthodox Church, but also by what became known as the Russian Orthodox Church.

By the time that both the Eastern and Western Trinitarian Churches were united once more in this practice of permitting and using images, however, they had drifted so far apart in other respects – especially as regards their respective ruling hierarchies – that it would have been impossible for them ever to re-unite again under a single head of ‘the Christian Church’.

It is in the light of this split between the Eastern and the Western Churches that the sack of Constantinople during the fourth Crusade, in 1203 AD, by a Roman Catholic army – which had ostensibly set out to ‘Iiberate’ Jerusalem from the Muslims – can be understood. Although the majority of the inhabitants of Constantinople at the time were Trinitarian Christians, and accordingly subscribed to the same basic religious doctrines as the majority of the members of the army which was attacking them, the two ‘sides’ were nevertheless far enough apart ideologically for one to be able to regard the other as ‘the enemy’.

Indeed it was at this stage in the evolution of European Christianity – when the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church was being threatened not only by the Byzantine Church to the East, but also by the rapidly expanding Muslim Empire to the South; and now that its doctrines and practices were obviously more deeply rooted in the culture and philosophies of Europe than in the way of life and teachings of Jesus and his followers from among the twelve tribes of the Tribe of Israel; and when almost inexplicably Unitarian Christians kept on surfacing and appearing throughout Europe and especially in France – that the Roman Catholic Church established the Mediaeval Inquisition, in the early 13th century AD, in order to put its house in order by tirelessly eliminating corruption from among its priesthood, and by relentlessly rooting out ‘heretics’ from among its congregations, in a demonstration of such heartless ‘compassion’ and ruthless ‘mercy’ that has probably never been equalled since.

It is perhaps not surprising that the Mediaeval Inquisition concentrated more on the congregations than on the priesthood in its efforts to investigate and eliminate any traces of ‘deviation’ from the now firmly, albeit erroneously, established doctrines of the Trinitarian Church. The exact record of how many people were murdered in the name of Jesus by this notorious institution of mediaeval gangsters is not known, but certainly a great number suffered and perished at their hands, especially after the Mediaeval Inquisition had developed both its techniques of torture and its tortuous polemics in its extended role as the Spanish Inquisition – which was used as part of the elaborate and brutal mechanism whereby all Jews, Unitarian Christians and Muslims living in the Iberian peninsula were systematically hunted down and either killed or forced to flee for their lives during the period between the 13th and 16th centuries AD.

Having been tested and perfected in Europe, the Trinitarian Inquisition was then exported to the ‘New World’, where hundreds of thousands of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas and the West Indies were either wiped out or enslaved for the greater glory of God, and lots of gold.

This extreme expression of tyranny and greed, which so obviously contradicted the example of compassion and generosity which had been demonstrated by Jesus, was feared but not accepted by many of Europe’s Trinitarian Christians, especially once most of the Jews, Unitarian Christians and Muslims in Europe had been eliminated for the time being for this inevitably meant that the Inquisitors were obliged to turn on their fellow Christians, even if it meant having to accuse them of practicing witchcraft and magic, in order to sustain and finance the lifestyle to which they had all become accustomed.

The inevitable result of all this was a growing feeling of resentment and protest which resulted in several movements – including those of Luther and Calvin – during the 15th and 16th centuries AD, in what is generally known as ‘the Reformation’.

Although the Inquisition eventually fell into decline and was finally disbanded, on the 15th of July 1834, the overall result of the Reformation movement – and of the inevitable counter reformation movement which was triggered off within the Roman Catholic Church – was merely the institution of yet more Trinitarian Church hierarchies, accompanied by a deeper entrenchment of all the fundamental Trinitarian doctrines.

Thus with the event of the Reformation, and the subsequent establishment of various Protestant Churches, which like the Roman Catholic Church also eventually became very powerful, the doctrine of Trinity became even more firmly established, even though the Protestants and the Roman Catholics remained bitterly opposed to each other over other issues such as who should be the head of the Trinitarian Church, and what about the validity of the document which authorised the ‘Gift of Constantine’ – whereby, it will be remembered, the Roman Catholic Church had acquired so much property in and around Rome. (Some scholars took a closer look at the deed and discovered that it was a forgery. Since then, the Vatican has ceased to boast of it.)

The famous Thirty Years War which took place in the 17th century AD (1618-1648) between the Protestants and the Catholics was yet another indication that these Churches’ battles were not really fought with the intention of establishing the true guidance of Jesus in the land. Like the Pauline Church’s aggression towards the followers of Arius and Donatus, and later the Muslims, this war clearly demonstrated that what the various Church hierarchies wanted was power. Indeed ever since its inception, the Pauline Trinitarian Church had only fought in order to establish and consolidate its own existence as an institution, and not in order to spread what Jesus had taught.

Although it was always claimed by the various Reformist movements, from the 15 century AD onwards, that their desire was to return to the original teachings of Jesus, these original teachings had in fact by then already long been lost. All Christians, whatever their denomination and however sincere, were by then stuck with Scriptures which were neither complete, nor accurate, nor reliable, and accordingly they were stuck with the doctrines which stemmed from them and came with them.

Thus although all the new Reformist movements challenged the authority of the Pope and the behaviour of the established priesthood, they never even dreamed of challenging the validity of the doctrines of the ‘New’ Covenant, and of the Trinity, and of Original Sin, and of the Atonement and Redemption of Sins – none of which had been preached by Jesus, and all of which depended for their efficacy on an alleged crucifixion and resurrection that had never actually taken place.

When one considers the amount of effort and sacrifice and misplaced inspiration that has gone into the ‘sacred’ art and music that have been utilised to perpetuate these myths, it is difficult to know whether to laugh or weep!

Perhaps the most honest of the various reformers was King Henry VIII of England who, after being given the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ by the Pope in 1521- presumably the Roman Catholic faith – because he had opposed the ideas of the mainstream Reformers, then promptly separated from the Church of Rome and made himself the head of the new ‘Church of England’. This was so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon, remarry and divorce thereafter as he pleased, and help himself to the wealth of the Church whenever he wanted.

King Henry VIII never claimed to be following the original teachings of Jesus, peace be on him, and neither did he try to disguise his reasons or motives which were always clear. He even went so far as to legalise usury, a parasitical practice which had always been forbidden by all of the Prophets including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of God be on all of them.

It is therefore more than a little ironic that ever since that time, the monarchs of England have continued to retain the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ – which was originally conferred on King Henry VIII by the Roman Catholic Pope – white remaining legally obliged by English statute not to be or to marry a Roman Catholic!

It is also perhaps only right that the monarchs of England have now finally agreed to pay income tax much of which is now needed to service the national debt which was first instituted by King William of Orange, and which as a result of the compound interest legalised by King Henry VIII has continued to spiral upwards in ever increasing circles ever since!

It is also interesting to note that it was during the period of the Reformation that the European Christians – both Trinitarian and Unitarian, and both Roman Catholic and Protestant – began to expand out of Europe and reform on foreign soil and in the midst of different cultures. They could not go very far overland, for their way both to the East and to the South was blocked by the Muslims, and so they went by sea, converting as many people as they could as and wherever they went.

As Islam continued to expand, with many of the Unitarian Christians who encountered it becoming Muslims, a grand strategy ­ which was to be implemented principally by the Trinitarian Christians and financed primarily by the European Jews (many of whom were descended from the Khazar Jews and accordingly, like the European Christians, no longer descended from the twelve tribes of the Tribe of Israel) – was formulated to attack the Muslims both from the East and the West in a global pincer movement.

It was hoped that it would be possible to join forces with a legendary Indian Christian king and, with his aid, to conquer the whole world. In his efforts to reach India the long way round, Columbus ,discovered’ America, approximately two centuries after Muslims from West Africa had already settled there, while Vasco da Gama discovered’ a new sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope. Both of these discoveries turned out to be very profitable ventures financially. The European Christians did not discover their legendary king, nor did they eliminate Islam, but along with the European Jews they colonised much of the world – including eventually Palestine, which the European Khazar Jews successfully claimed as their long lost ‘homeland’ even though they were ‘turkic’ and not ‘semitic’ and in fad originated from the Caucasus – and as a result their respective leaders and merchants and bankers be­ came very wealthy.

Thus the conflict between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants and, from time to time, whenever a fresh Unitarian Christian movement emerged, the conflict between the Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to be played out, only now on a world stage, with each ‘side’ united in their opposition to and dependence on the financial services of the European Jews, and with each ‘side’ united in their attempts to subvert the Muslims, and with each ‘side’ still involved in an ideological war for both political as well as doctrinal supremacy.

By the beginning of the 19th century AD, any meaningful connection between the Christians (whether Trinitarian or Unitarian) and the original followers of Jesus – who were all members of the twelve tribes of the Tribe of Israel had long been lost; the doctrinal controversies and debates which had characterised the early Christian Councils and Synods had all been simplified and decided one way or the other; and any serious opposition to Trinitarian Christianity in Europe had been overcome.

Despite the tremendous power which came to be wielded by the Trinitarian Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches in Europe, however, they couId not quite stamp out belief in the Divine Unity amongst those who professed to be Christians – and whether it became known as Arianism or Socianism or Unitarianism, belief in the Divine Unity – in One God – has survived within the Christian movement right up to the present day, as the following short biographies of some of its most outspoken adherents demonstrate.