Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re continuing our look at the booklet of the Watchtower called “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” We’re going to be going to the subheading that this post is named after. I do agree with the Watchtower at the start when they say Nicea was not to discuss the Trinity but the nature of Jesus. I think this is something Christians should be aware of. However, I have much disagreement with what they say later on.
It’s not a shock that Constantine gets a lot of blame for everything. I’m not going to defend him for everything either. There is much question as to if Constantine was a Christian or not. That is irrelevant for my purposes here. This is what the Watchtower says their source, Henry Chadwick’s “The Early Church” says:
“Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; . . . his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians.”
This book can be found through Google Books. The first quote is nowhere near the second one. I can’t even find where the first one is in relation. It’s that much of a difference. Looking at the second part, before that sentence Chadwick says “But if.” This is a great change. He is not saying his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace, but says, if it is not that, it is something else.
As for the claim of the Encyclopedia Britannica that Constantine presided and gave the idea of the formula to be used, I would have loved to have seen an actual church historian quoted on this. Constantine pretty much called the event and stayed out of it. He had no theological understanding and if anyone was the main speaker here, it would have been Athanasius.
Note also that Constantine was the one later who gave an order for Arius to be admitted back into the church and was himself baptized on his deathbed by an Arian, so it would not make sense for him to be their main opponent. As has been shown also, the early church did indeed teach a view that is firmly in line with what was decided by the orthodox at Nicea.
The Watchtower finally asks that if the Trinity had been a clear Bible truth, why not propose it at that time?
Probably for the same reason that they did not need to propose that Jesus came back from the dead.
The reality was that no council was ever called to deal with the teaching that Jesus is of the same substance of the Father, but to deal with the teaching that he isn’t. Arius’s teachings were those that were going contrary and to maintain order, the council was called so the issue could finally be debated out.
Such tactics from the Watchtower at this point are not surprising.