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`Eros', `Agape' and `Caritas'

Posted Mar 24, 2012 by kym Jones in General
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How do we consider the quality of the love which God has for us?

The Greeks believed that the greatest form of love there is, is that a man lay down his life for his friends. Imagine the shock they received, when the Christians of the first century told them that this wasn't really `it' at all, for the greatest form of love is that a Man should lay down His life for His enemies! (Romans 5: 10)

They believed that the souls of men originated in the one-in-all pantheist God, which infused small parts of itself into all matter. But as the souls of men were considered to be originally a divine part of the One God-in-all, then the souls of men were considered to be `good', simply because God is good. But as a stone which is dropped into a pond creates ripples which slowly reduce in amplitude the further that they move from the `original event', so also did the Greeks believe that creation was a process of divine emanation, in which god begat god, and as each pair of gods proceeded from those before them, so also did they come to lose their inherent knowledge (gnosis) of the One. They thought that the material plane of existence in which we dwell originated so far from the original source, that it has lost almost all knowledge of the `original source', and must therefore be evil, for it has originated in the absence of true light, or divine goodness.

Needless to say, this earthly plane of existence was considered to encumber the soul, and weigh it down. Death was considered to be a release, at which the soul would be set free from the prison of the body which housed it, so that it could return to the One from whence it came. But this union with the One was believed to take great discipline and effort, for it was only by the doing of good deeds for others and thinking pure thoughts that enabled the soul to be purified to the point that at death, the soul might have been cleansed from the stain of the body, so that it might finally achieve union with the One. But this was no guarantee, for if the soul was weighed in the balances and found to be wanting, then at death it would be reincarnated into another body at which the entire process would begin again.

Plato defined the natural affinity of the soul seeking the divine home from whence it came as the divine love of god, for this was a process of mutual attraction, in which that which is good attracts all other good. He called this form of love `eros', and defined it as a `heavenly eros', for the movement of the purified soul returning to the One from whence it first came removed all pagan conceptions of the mire of debauchery and sensuality which it had fallen into. This was a noble and virtuous form of `eros'; not only did it compel men to imitate the action of the gods by procreating and having babies, but it also compelled noble and virtuous men to lay down their lives for their friends! But if all that they ever did was so that in the end, they might be saved, then the question must be asked - how could this form of love truly represent the character of God? For Scripture teaches that the love of God represents His character, and the true love of God is unconditional love, and was called `agape'.

Does the character of Christ constitute `eros', `agape', or a mixture of these two antagonistic concepts of the character of God? But what about the doctrines which comprise the faith of the Church? For instance, what about the doctrine of the Trinity, from which all Christian faith, and by extenuation, all Christian doctrine is reputedly derived? Does this doctrine, and the doctrines which fall within its umbrella as its `daughter doctrines' truly represent the `agape' of Christ, or is it instead a result of the Greek idea of the character of God (which is `eros'), being intermixed with the apostolic conception of the character of God, which is `agape'? According to the following statement by a respected Protestant publication, the answer is indeed yes, as `the deeper instincts of the heathen mind' discovered `a presentiment of the threefold distinction in the divine essence' of the Trinity, and `like all the deeper instincts of the heathen mind, serves to strengthen, rather than weaken the Christian truth':
` . . . the Hellenic philosophy operated from without, as a stimulating force upon the form of the whole patristic theology, the doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity among the rest; and that the deeper minds of heathen antiquity discovered a pre-sentiment of a threefold distinction in the divine essence; but only a remote and vague presentiment, which, like all the deeper instincts of the heathen mind, serves to strengthen, rather than weaken the Christian truth. Far clearer and more fruitful suggestions presented themselves in the Old Testament . . . But the mystery of the Trinity could be fully revealed only in the New Testament after the completion of the work of redemption and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.' (`Bibliotheca sacra', Vol. 15, Xenia Theological Seminary of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, p. 728.)

Thus, Catholic and Protestant sentiments about the character of God are similar, as Catholicism and Protestantism hold to the Nicene Creed, or doctrine of the Trinity as the central tenet of their faith. Indeed, in `Summa Theologia', Thomas Aquinas taught that this doctrine is such a mystery, that only the learned can understand it, for it remains `under the vail' and is beyond comprehension of the simple-minded:
`It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity, since the mystery of Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh; that He renewed the world through the grace of the Holy Ghost; and again, that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore just as, before Christ, the mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was it with the mystery of the Trinity.' (Thomas Aquinas `Summa Theologia', Question 2, Article 8, Objection 3.)

However, the apostle Paul clearly indicates that God does not keep secrets that only the lucky, clever, or those that are initiated into the `higher mysteries' are able to fathom, for all is revealed to us, `even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse' who tell us these things:

`For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.' (Romans 1: 18 - 20.)

The idea that only those who are lucky enough to find a `god' that is forever playing hide and seek from man, because man is a corruption which would in turn corrupt the divine essence of God did not originate with Plato; for it instead originated in the mind of Lucifer, when his love of self compelled him to attempt to usurp the very throne of heaven. So if we are to first look at where this love of self originated, we first turn to Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, who built the Tower of Babel. His wife Semiramus taught that at death Nimrod was reincarnated as Tammuz, the Son of the Sun, who had been purified by the immolating rays of the sun. The idea that the soul is purified by the sun led to untold multitudes of men believing that they must be good before God can first accept them, and expressed the pagan conception of the character of God - which is that God will only save those that have proven that they are worth saving; for they believed that only the good are worth saving! But what says the Scripture?

`The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.' (Psalms 14: 1 - 2)

Thus we find that the pagan conception of love was based upon an erroneous assumption of the character of man - that man is basically good by nature, simply because the soul is of divine origin and therefore of itself inherently good. This was reflected by their corresponding belief that God must a deistic Prime Mover Who promptly set the universe in motion and then forgot about it, simply because if He were even aware of the corruption that resides in men, then this would in turn corrupt His divinity - and God would be no longer God! This was completely unthinkable! But what was regarded to be completely untenable, was what the Greeks considered to be the completely repugnant teaching that God Himself had descended from the lofty heights of heaven and manifested Himself in the base corruption of a human body. As far as they were concerned, this was nothing but foolishness! (1 Cor. 1: 21) Eventually this confusion about the character of God found its way into the early Christian Church under the modified form of Greek Platonic philosophy, after Plato travelled to Egypt to learn of the Hebrew One god, and subjected this to the coarse idolatry of the Greeks, and thus sowed the seeds of corrupting the One God of the Hebrews with the pantheist gods of paganism. The basis of all doctrine was the `a priori' belief in the divine origin of the soul - and the doctrine of the Trinity expressed this. From this doctrine then proceeded the `daughter doctrines' of this Creed, as it presented to man a `Chirst' Who is quarantined from the human experience, for the Trinitiarian Christ is quarantined from the temptation to sin.

St. Augustine and `Caritas'
Very early on Christians began to realize that the Greek concept of love - that God is `eros' - inadequately expressed the character of God. For the Greeks believed that in order to purify our souls, we must do good works, so that at death we might be reunited with the One in all pantheist God from which we came. Thus, this conception of love was entirely egocentric, to the point that the only reason why we did anything was so that we might benefit. It is sharply contrasted by the Christian concept of God which turned this on its head, for not only did Christians teach that God is actually aware of our existence (which is a teaching that is anathema to any Platoninst), but God had actually somehow descended from heaven, so that we might be lifted out of the morass of sin that weighs us down, so that we might achieve salvation. But that's just the point. The medieval Church retained the egoocentric idea that salvation was something which could be achieved by human effort. So in the fifth century, St. Augustine attempted to synthesize the `eros' of the Greeks with the `agape' of Christ and then called it `caritas' - for Augustine believed that `caritas' best expressed in doctrinal form the outpouring of love which the Trinity has for us:
`The most striking contrast is with Anders Nygren, whose `Agape and Eros' . . . drew a stark contrast between the seeking love of eros and the giving love of agape. He had great admiration for Augustine's synthesis of these concepts in the doctrine of caritas, but Augustine was wrong, or at least misled. They key New Testament notion of love is agape. This is particularly powerful in thoughts of St. Paul. When Paul wrote that `nothing can separate us from the love of Christ' (Rom. 8: 35), he meant God's love, but Augustine turns this on its head to mean our loving of God. Luther's rediscovery of the primacy of agape was the linchpin of the Reformation and the rediscovery of genuine Christian ethics.' (`The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics', G. Meilaender, W. Werpehowski, 2007, p. 456.)
`Caritas' is Latin for `loving-kindness', and in the King James version of the Bible has been mistranslated as `charity' in the famous love chapter of the Bible, which is 1 Corinthians chapter 13:
`And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing . . . Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil . . . (1 Corinthians 13: 2, 4, 5)
When seen in the context of agape, this chapter takes on a powerful new meaning, for it is `agape', not `eros' or `caritas' which `seeketh not her own'. Thus, if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not agape - I am nothing! Thus, by this time the pagan doctrine of the Trinity had been modified by adorning it with Christian concepts of love (with the `mystery of the Trinity' leaning heavily the doctrine upon the divine origin of the soul as its basis), by the fifth century we also find Augustine further declaring that the human soul is but a reflection of the divine essence of the Holy Trinity - which verges perilously close to Pantheism, for the entire edifice is built upon the notion that the souls of men are of divine origin - for the pure soul desires to be free of the corruption of the material body, so that it can return to the divine home from whence it originally came. Thus Greek logic was used to declare that the very essence of the operation, or economical function of the Trinity is reflected by the human soul. The Greek Father:
` . . . Gregory of Nazianzus, for example, compared the three divine persons, Father, Son and Spirit , to the three faculties of nous (intellect), logos (reason or word), and pneuma (breath or spirit) within a particular human being. It is usually assumed that such uni-personal or "psychological" analogies are more characteristic of St. Augustine and the Latin West than they are of the Greek East. While this is basically true, the "uni-personal" approach is by no means absent from the Greek Patristic authors. It is found, for example, in Gregory of Nyssa, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, John of Damscus, Nicetas Stethathos, Gregory of Sinai, Theoloptos of Philadelphia, and Gregory Palamas, all of whom saw the interaction of faculties within the human soul as a reflection of the Trinity.' (`The Trinity and an Entangled World', J. Polkinghorne, 2010, p. 118.)
This idea that the human soul reflects the divine essence is in fact derived from the `a priori' reasoning that the human soul is of divine origin, and it is for this reason that Athanasius, the formulator of the Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creed, stated that:
`For He [Christ] was made man, so that we might be made God' (`On the Incarnation', 1: 54.).
Needless to say, the pantheism that is inferred in this statement is repeated in Catholic Catechisms which are printed today. Ironically, the entire of edifice of Christianity, Catholic and Protestant, is built upon subtle pantheist assumptions of the human soul. It's fruitage is seen in the more overt transcendent theologies of Pentacostalism that is found in some Protestant and Catholic Churches, and forms a bridge between this and the New Age Christ of the New Age Movement.

`Deus Est Caritas' - Pope Benedict and `God is Love'

`Eros' and `agape' are defined as ascending and descending love.
`Agape is often contrasted with eros, which is not found in the New Testament though it is prominent in Greek philosophy. Eros can refer to a vulgar, carnal love, but in the context of Hellenic thought it takes the form of spiritual love that aspires to procure the highest good. Eros is the desire to possess and enjoy; agape is the willingness to serve without reservations. Eros is an ascending love that proceeds from the earthly to the heavenly. Agape is a descending love that proceeds from the heavenly to the sinful. Eros is attracted to that which has the greatest value; agape goes out to the least worthy. Eros discovers value wheras agape creates value. Agape is a gift love whereas eros is a need love. Eros springs from from a deficiency that must be satisfied. Agape is the overflowing abundance of divine grace. For Plato eros is not found in God, for God is devoid of passion. Plotinus, on the other hand, made a place for eros in God, but this was simply God reflecting upon his own goodness. (`God the Almighty': Power, Wisdom, Holiness and Love', D. Bloesch, 2006, p. 147.)

`Eros' is described as ascending love because the Greeks believed that God is unknowable and ineffable; which is to say that as it impossible for God to descend to the material plane in which fallen man lives (for reason this would be a corruption of His divinity), then we must seek Him out and do good `works' to prove that we are worthy, and purify our souls so that our souls (which are assumed to be immortal and thus inherently divine), might reunite with the pantheist One God-in-all at death. Pope Benedict VI described `eros' in this manner:
`True, eros tends to rise "in ecstasy" towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves: yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.' (`Deus Caritas Est' - "God is Love"; Pope Benedict's First Encyclical Letter.)

The rising `in ecstasy' which Pope Benedict refers to is the sacred rite of temple prostitution, by which one imitated the procreating action of the God's in sexual union, at which orgasm mimicked the blissful transcendence of the soul at death, when the soul supposedly leaves the body and unites with God. Thus, for the Greeks, salvation consisted of the movement of the creature toward the Creator, and `eros' can be defined as `works', while `agape' may be defined as `faith'. This is the strictly Protestant understanding of `agape' - which falls far short of the true intent of the word. For the Apostle Paul informs us that he wished to know nothing except Christ crucified, (1 Cor. 2: 2), for the `agape' of Christ behooved him, or compelled him (Greek - `ophelio' - compelled) to suffer the second death for us, so that we might not suffer it ourselves! The apostle further defined this sanctifying love which Christ has for us, by informing us that true faith is a `faith that works by love (agape)' (Galatians 5: 6). It is this love of Christ which Christ imparts into our stony hearts by the mysterious workings of His Holy Spirit that writes His law in the fleshy tablets of our hearts and in our minds (Jeremiah 31: 33), by bringing us to a heart-felt appreciation of the cross - so that we become like Moses, who was willing to forgo his eternal life so that his people might be saved; thus reproducing the character of Christ in those who are simply willing to forgo their self-dependence upon their own ego, for they `let this mind by in you that was in Christ Jesus' (Phillipians 2: 5). This is the true breath-taking import of the `agape' of Christ!
Pope Benedict then makes the point that :
`Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited. An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in “ecstasy” towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.' (ibid.)

Pope Benedict's answer, is that God is not merely `eros', but is `agape' as well, for God reflects both forms of love to us:
`Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature. On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.' (ibid.)

According to Pope Benedict, these two forms of love work in unison by reealing to us the character of God. Just as St. Augustine believed that the souls of men dimly reflect the Trinity, so also do we find that this is inferred by Pope Benedict in this letter, for man also partakes of the `ascending love' of `eros', in which `ascending love' is likened to the covetous and seeking love which Adam acquired after he fell, while the `descending love', or `agape' of Christ is likened to:
` . . . the example of Moses, who entered the tabernacle time and again, remaining in dialogue with God, so that when he emerged he could be at the service of his people. “Within [the tent] he is borne aloft through contemplation, while without he is completely engaged in helping those who suffer.' (ibid.)

Thus Pope Benedict sees both eros and agape as rooted in man's very nature, in much the same sense that the pagans of ancient times believed in dualism, which is to say that God is both good and evil - for these were just opposing aspects of His character. This is assumed because the underlying Platonic philosophies which gird the Catholic perception of love, also assume that the soul is inherently immortal, and therefore takes upon itself the aspects of the character of God which Augustine declared are both eros and agape, and is further re-inforced by Pope Benedicts First Encyclical Letter, which is entitled `Deus Caritas Est' - "God is Love". Yet the New Testament informs us all agape, or unconditional love proceeds from God to man, simply because our fallen estate determines that we are so inherently selfish by charcter, that we would never have understood the unconditional love of the Father, unless Christ had not first revealed it to us at Calvary.
Pope Benedict informs us that although eros was condemned in the Old Testament, it is in the New Testament that we see a blending of eros and agape by which:
`This newness of biblical faith is shown chiefly in two elements which deserve to be highlighted: the image of God and the image of man.' (ibid.)

So in this philosophical conception of the character of God, although God is primarily considered to be eros, for reason that eros was in fact the first attribute of God and is therefore considered to transcend agape:
`The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape.' (ibid.)

Thus we find that in the Catholic religion the character of God is represented by the syncretism of `eros' with `agape', which thus leads to the belief that the works of the individual, plus faith - not in Christ, but instead in the sacraments of the Church, equate to salvation. This syncretism of `eros' with `agape' then acquaints to `lovingkindness', and `charity' (caritas) - and the Biblical foundation that man is saved by faith alone is completely refuted, for the neo-Platonism of the Catholic Church determines that man must do good works to achieve salvation - for the simple fact that God is far too perfect to descend to this material plane of existence, and give us help to overcome sin, which is to be `made in the likeness of men' (Philipians 2: 7), as this was considered to be a corruption of the divinity of Christ - which is why a careful reading of the Nicene Creed reveals that this Creed refutes the possibility that any such corruption can possibly be made. Perhaps this might help the reader to see a little more clearly why Augustine believed that the souls of men dimly reflect the Trinity, for:
“If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine.' (ibid.)

In other words the Catholic conception of the love of God has resulted from the fusing of `agape' with `eros', which is then called `charity'. Within this perception of love, we find the Trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit further reflecting this love in the doctrines which invariably proceed from it, such as `vicarious substitution', `original sin', and the doctrine of `the immaculate conception'. As all of these doctrines originate from the basic premise that God cannot descend into the material realm without corrupting His divinity, then these doctrines logically depict Christ as being unable to come all the way down from the lofty heights of heaven, and be tempted `in all points as we are, yet without sin' (Hebrews 4: 15). As it is a manifest fact that only that which is assumed can be saved, then logically, the `cluster doctrines' which are associated with the Trinity provide us with a `Saviour' who is too impotent to save us. This is readily apparent in the doctrine of `vicarious substitution', which is common to both Catholicism and Protestantism, and teaches that in order to quarantine Christ from the sins of fallen men, Christ must take upon Himself the nature of Adam before he fell, which is to say that Christ could only be tempted upon such `innocent infirmities' as thirst and hunger. Logically, this doctrine infers that the only man which Christ could save, is Adam before he fell, as these are the only attributes which Christ overcame when He was tempted to sin. But as these are the very same attributes of the sinless Adam, then the sinless Adam never needed saving at all, andthe gospel is then relegated to a farce! Thus, this `Christ' is `another Christ' of `another gospel', which the disciple John referred to when he said:
`Hereby know all of you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof all of you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.' (1 John 4: 2 - 3.)

The worst error that the Trinity propagates, is that it conveys to us an erroneous conception of the character of God, for by declaring that God is both `eros' and `agape', the true `agape' love of God is obscured by the disguised selfishness and covetousness that defines `eros', for when `agape' is fused with `eros', it ceases to be agape, and instead deteriorates to the point that it is little better than refined paganism.
How then, shall we consider Christ?
Anyone who has ever loved their only child has had their hearts break if they have ever had to give them up. Yet at infinite cost to Himself, this is what God the Father did when He gave up His only Son to fallen humanity, for Jesus has been given to us forever as our Elder Brother in human form. For in order to save fallen man from sin, the Son of God had to become one like us - fully divine, yet human, with His divinity veiled by humanity. For the agape of the Father and His Christ is such that the Father did not begrudgingly give the Son to us, but although this was a struggle, for the Son would subject Himself to the `second death' if He failed to overcome sin - the Son was instead given joyfully and without hesitation, for the only way be which fallen man could be saved, was for God to provide Himself as a sacrifice for sin, just as Abraham told Isaac as the knife flashed and was about to fall (Genesis 22: 8).

The risk which the Father and Son undertook on our behalf by providing the Son as a ransom for our sin, is beyond the comprehension of our finite minds. Yet, the eternal power and purpose of the Godhead has been revealed to us at Calvary, for in becoming one like us:

` . . . we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that by the Grace of God should taste death for every man.' (Hebrews 2: 9)

The death which Christ `tasted' for every man was the `second death', for in order to provide Himself as a sacrifice for sin:

` . . . it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.' (Hebrews 2: 17 NLT)
By willingly consenting to be `made in every respect like us', Christ was `tempted on all points as we are, yet without sin' (Hebrews 4: 15) and thus subjected Himself to the penalty which is due to all who break the Ten Commandments of God - which is the `second death'! Moreover, as all break the Commandments of God, then all are subject to the penalty of death, and all are in need of a Saviour! This is the death which Christ `tasted' for everyone, so that we might not taste it ourselves. For if Christ was exempt from the positive demands of the Law, He would have been merely an actor on a stage, wailing out His lines to all humanity - and humanity would have no sacrifice for sins. Yet what transpired on the cross was no make-believe theatre in which the actor is merely playing a part which insulates him from the real life experience of the character whose life he assumes on stage, for the infinite mercy which the Father and Son have for the fallen race determined that the only means by which fallen man could be saved, was for God Himself to descend from the heights of heaven, and instead of being made like the unfallen angels who are lofty in stature, Christ was instead made a man with the `flesh' of the fallen Adam.

Thus it was imperative that our Elder Brother closely identify with us by being tempted on all points as we are, for it was only by this means that He could defeat sin `in the flesh'. For the unconditional love of the Father and Son determined that the only way by which fallen man might be saved from the clutches of the Devil, was to place Christ in the stead of man, and take upon Himself the penalty of the `second death' which is due to fallen man, so that the breach in the Law which had been caused by sin and serves to alienate man from God might be repaired through the ministry of reconciliation - for at Calvary, God the Father has already reconciled Himself to man, through His Eternal Son Jesus Christ. Thus the Father and Son risked all for this one lonely planet, and the agape which the Father has for fallen man, is that He has forever given His only-begotten Son to all of humanity for eternity, for God:
` . . . has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.' (2 Corinthians 5: 18, 19.)
Yet the dogma that defines the Nicene Creed, or Trinity, as it is otherwise known, denies that in His pre-incarnate state, Christ was a literal Son to the Father, which is a conceptualization which is still influencing the theologies of most Christian Churches which partake of this Creed today. It is for this reason that the dogma of the Nicene Creed in a strictly primary sense refers to Christ as the Second Person of the Godhead, for if it referred to Him as anything other than the eternal Son of the Father, then this would imply that Christ was a literal Son to the Father in His pre-incarnation; for although this Creed defines Christ as the `eternal Son of the Father', the term `eternal son' does not necessarily imply a filial relationship to the Father in the sense of a true father-son relationship. This eventuated because the early Church Fathers were overtly concerned that if Christ were seen as a literal Son to the Father in His pre-incarnate state, then He would be seen to be subordinate to the Father replete with a depleted divinity, for the simple reason that a son is always younger than his father in calendar years. This of course implies that Christ had a beginning, and led Arius, a presbyter of Antioch at the beginning of the fourth century, to declare that although Christ existed before time itself, He did have a beginning for reason that He was a literal Son to the Father in His pre-incarnation. However, Arius is also thought to believe that this implied that Christ was created by the Father, was of a similar `substance', or `essence' as the Father, and should therefore be regarded as `strong god, but not full god'. Athanasius countered his teachings at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 A.D, by teaching that Christ is fully divine, and as divinity is eternal, then the Son must also be of the the same `substance', or `essence' as the Father - which further determines that Christ is eternal, for divinity is by definition eternal, and therefore cannot have a beginning. Thus Trinitarians who are cognizant of what this Creed implies believe that Christ could not really be a Son to the Father in His pre-incarnate state at all, for if He were, He could not be completely divine. Therefore the orthodox interpretation of the filial relationship of the Son to the Father is known as the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son in the Father. This implies that the Son was first generated in the Father from eternity, and is being generated in the Father at every single moment of eternity!

`It is distinctive of the Father to exist from just himself, not from anything else, and to generate or have generated eternally the Son who is co-eternal with him. And it is distinctive of the Son to be generated or to have been generated eternally from the Father alone, not created, nor made, and not proceeeding but simply generated. And it is distinctive of the Holy Spirit to proceed from the Father together with the Son, but not to be created, nor made, nor generated, but simply proceeeding. Hence the distinction of the three Persons from each other is in virture of the distinguishing features of each.' (`Basic Issues in Medieval Philosophy', R. Bosley, M. Tweedale, 2006, p. 296.)

If these conceptions of the Son being `generated in the Father' and the Holy Spirit is seen to be `proceeding from the Father' at first appears to be bewildering, perhaps this is because this Creed teaches the strictly Platonic principle of generation, in which one essence, or substance is generated by the intellect of another, just as Plato believed, and just as this official Catholic publication teaches as orthodox theology:
`In the preceding chapter we considered the two "processions" in God - that of the Son and that of the Holy Spirit. At present we will confine our attention to the procession of the Son from the Father. We said that the Father "generates" the Son. How does the Father generate the Son if there is no sex in God? The Church, aided by her best theologians, teaches that the Father generates the Son by an act of intellect.' (`Fundamentals of Catholicism: God, Trinity, Creation, Mary', K. Baker (S.J.), 1983, p. 94. Original emphasis.)

It is in this principle of generation, that the essence of the Son and essence of the Holy Spirit reflect the pantheist principle of the generation of the Forms, of which the Greeks believed, for in this system each pair of Gods emanated from those preceeding them, God from God and thus sharing in the same divine essence that did not really differentiate their individuality at all, as each God was seen to be a part of the God that preceeded it. Now, while that might seem to be confusing, the implications of what it teaches are really very simple, for it implies that the term `Sonship to the Father' infers that the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit are expressions, or modalities of the One God, which is not very far removed from the Greek conception of emanation from the One. In Trinitarianism, the modality, or expression of the Son is being generated by the modality, or expression of the Father for eternity, so that we can comprehend the plan of redemption. Thus:

`It may be inferred from the Scriptures that when the Godhead laid out the plan of salvation at some point in eternity past, They also took certain positions or roles to carry out the provisions of the plan.' (Magazine - `These Times, our Times', June 1, 1981, Art. `Frank Anwers to Questions')

If we are to think within the confines of the tenets which express orthodox theology which is associated with the Nicene Creed, then this Creed infers that the pre-incarnate Christ cannot really be regarded as being a true Son to the Father at all in the proper sense of a filial relationship, for this is instead a role which is performed by an actor in a theatre, which then demonstrates to us the plan of salvation:
`The Father, Son relationship in the New Testament, must always be understood in
the light of the event of Bethlehem. The only child born into this world with a divine
rather than a human father is Jesus. The title ‘son’ refers to His entry into time and
does not deny at all His eternal origins. There are references in the Old Testament to
‘Sonship’ but these are always in anticipation of the incarnation.' (Article ‘Is Jesus Jehovah God?’, J. R. Hoffman, `Ministry Magazine' June 1982, p. 24.)

Indeed, just as the original Latin for person is personae, and means `mask', so also does the original Greek for person (prosopon) also translate to `mask'; thus implying that each member of the Godhead chose the part which He was required to play; precisely like an actor in a play, so that we might understand the plan of redemption. Therefore in reality, the nonsensical structure of this Creed soon contradicts itself, for it implies that the Son was not really generated by the Father at all, but was instead generated by the entire One-in-all God, for there is no true Father, Son or Holy Spirit at all in relation to the proper sense of the word, for these terms signify modalites, or roles which these divine actors were designated to play! Thus, the First Person of the Godhead could have been the Son or the Holy Spirit, but instead chose to be the Father; the Second Person of the Godhead could have been the Father or Holy Spirit, but instead chose to be the Son; and the Third Person of the Godhead could have been the Father or Son, but opted to perform the role of the Holy Spirit, instead.
The Council of Constantinople defined the the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father, instead of being generated by the Father, for reason that generation implies Sonship, and the attribute of the Holy Spirit is not that of Sonship to the Father, but instead as a `giver of life', and therefore a co-redeemer with the Son:

`We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible . . . And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified . . . ' (Nicene Creed - First Council of Constantinopel, 381 A.D.)

The defining of the Holy Spirit was the medium by which the Cappadocian Fathers sought to bridge a distinction between the Platonist conception of the Godhead, and the Catholic conception of the Godhead. The similarities can be seen as thus - the Catholic conception of the Godhead is that Christ, the Word, or Wisdom of God is generated by the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Platonic conception of the Godhead, is that the first two emantions which proceeded from the One-in-all pantheist God were Sophia, or the wisdom of God (for Sophia means wisdom in the Greek), and Adonis, her consort - which was also known by the philosophers as the intellectual principle of God. Thus, the gnostics viewed Christ as female, and regarded Him as Sophia, and the Holy Spirit as her consort, the intellectual principle of the Godhead. In the Catholic system, the Father came to be regarded as the nous, or intellectual principle, Christ was substituted for Sophia, or the word, and the Holy Spirit was substituted for the pneuma, or breathe of life; which is why Gregory of Nanzanius stated in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is the giver of life; which of course completely ignored Christ as our Redeemer!

The ex-Roman Catholic nun turned sceptic Karen Armstrong (b. 1944), author of `A History of God' (which is now required reading in many theology courses) explains the spiritualized conception which Gregory of Nanzanius had of his conception of the Trinity, which greatly influenced his formulation of the section of the Nicene Creed which deals with the Personhood of the Holy Spirit and `his' relationship to the other members of the Godhead:

`Ultimately, however, the Trinity only made sense as a mystical or spiritual experience: it had to be lived, not thought, because God went far beyond human concepts. It was not a logical or intellectual formulation but an imaginative paradigm that confounds reason. Gregory of Nanzanius made this clear when he explained that contemplation of the Three in One induced a profound and overwhelming emotion that confounded thought and intellectual clarity.

"No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Three than I am carried back into the One. When I think of any of the Three, then I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me." ' (`A History of God', K. Armstrong, pp. 141, 142. Quotation Gregory of Nanzanius, `Orationes, 40, 41. )

Thus, in accordance to the strict tenets of the section of this Creed on the inter-relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son, Protestantism regards the Holy Spirit as being the `giver of life', and in Catholicism, Mary, the Mother of Jesus as being this same `giver of life' - for it is Mary through whom the Spirit proceeds; which thus negates the atonement of Christ. While the majority of Christians will strenuously object to this summation of the Nicene Creed and regard it as a gross innacuracy, nevertheless, this Creed implicitly states that while the Holy Spirit is the giver of life, nowhere does it state that this same attribute is applied to Christ, which is indeed blasphemy.

This Creed subsumes the individuality and identity of each member of the Godhead, to the point that it is not very far removed from the Platonic conception of the Godhead, in which the first two emanations or divine expressions of the One, were considered to be divine. The only real difference, is that according to the tenets of this Creed, the Council of Constantinople defined the Godhead to be persons, not emanations - although strictly speaking, the three `persons' of the Godhead cannot be defined as `persons' at all, in accordance with how we tend to think of someone as a person:
`Because "person" means something different now, some of the familiar analogies for God break down rather quickly. We cannot, for example, think of God as a family of three, or a committee that always votes unaminously. This separates the persons and compromises God's unity. (`The Reign of God', R. Rice, 1985, p. 92.)

The procession of the Spirit from the Father is also known as the spiration of the Spirit. It implies that the Spirit is breathed is literally God-breathed by the Father, as the word spiration is derived from the noun breathe. Thus in the spiration of the Spirit we have the First Person of the Godhead breathing the Third Person of the Godhead upon all of Creation. Obviously, according to the tenets of the Nicene Creed, when we think of the three Persons of the Godhead, all normal conceptions of a `person' do not apply. So the question must be asked - does the Trinitarian definition of the three Persons of the Godhead really differ from the pagan conception of emanation? According to the pagan philosopher Celsus (early 3rd century), the answer is no!
`On the great elementary principle of Christianity, the Unity of the Supreme God, this approximation had long been silently been made. Celsus, in his celebrated controversy with Origen, asserts that this philosophical notion of the Deity is perfectly reconciliable with Paganism.' (`History of Christianity', vol. 2, H. Milman, 1886, p. 185.)
The sad fact of the matter is that although the early Church Fathers tried to divorce the more pagan conceptions of the unity of the Godhead from the dogma of the Nicene Creed, in actual fact the Roman Church was still left with a paganized conception of a Creed which differed little from the pagan conception of the character of God, which is to say that God is `eros'. This is confirmed by the fruitage of this Creed, in which doctrines such as vicarious substitution and original sin imply that God is `eros', and the souls of men are purified by faith plus works, so they can then be saved by the sacraments of the Church.
The development of the Trinitarian conception of a divine `person' did not take place overnight, but took centuries of vigorous debate. Tertullian (c. 160 - 220 A.D) is known as `The Father of Latin Christianity', for it is thought that it is he who first conceived of the Trinity, for he was the first to conceive of the distinctive formula of
`tres Personae, una Substantia', which is Latin for `three Persons, one substance'. His idea of how the three Persons related to each other was not unlike that which later gave rise to the modalism of Sabellius, and was further refined by Boethius (c. 480 - 524), who was:

` . . . the first Latin translator of Aristotle [the renowned student of Plato, and], adopted Aristotle's definition of a person as an individual substance with a rational nature (personae est naturae rationalis individua substantia). With this definition three persons would suggest three substances.' (`The Word of Truth', D. Moody, 1990, p. 123.)

However, the problem with Boethius's interpretation of the three Persons of the Godhead being `three substances' sat uncomfortably close to Tritheism, and although it was adopted as official doctrine by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D., it was not until half a century later that Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) sought to avoid the inherent problems of Modalism and Tritheism, by proposing that:
` . . . the Tritheism advocated by Joachim of Flora [c. 1135 - 1202] . . . led him to speak of "a distinct subsistent in an intellectual nature." This has remained the standard for Roman Catholicism . . . It is no wonder that Luther and Melancthon shifted from the long debates on the Holy Trinity to the work of Christ in redemption.' (ibid, p. 124.)

No wonder indeed! One can just imagine the dry theological debates which took place about the ontological relationship of the Godhead, while ordinary men and women who followed after Luther's simple, but eloquent teaching that one is justified by faith alone lived in fear of their lives, for at this time thousands were being burnt at the stake, for daring to disagree with the tenets of the Church!
This conception of the three-in-one God of the Trinity tends to bounce like a ping-pong ball between tritheism, which is the worship of three separate Gods, and modalism, or as it is more correctly known, Modal Monarchianism, or Sabellianism, for reason that it was first proposed by a Sabellius, who is regarded as a rather shadowy figure who first concocted this theory in about 250 A.D. In recent years, Modalism has eclipsed the traditional orthodox Trinitarian model which is the basis of Catholic faith, as Karl Barth (1886 - 1968), who was perhaps the most influential theologian of the twentieth century, has influenced the manner by which many Protestant Churches have come to view the Nicene Creed since World War I:
`After the decline of Protestant orthodoxy, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity became a secondary doctrine, and many times it was rejected outright. It is no exaggeration to say that this eclipse of Trinitarianism did not pass until Barthianism came on the scene after World War I. Karl Barth, with his emphasis on special revelation and the psychological analogy, began to speak of God the Father as Revealer, God the Son as the Revelation and God the Holy Spirit as the subjective Revealedness of the objective Son. He, of course, would reject the suggestion that this is a psychological analogy! His whole system was organized around the three modes of the Holy Trinity, with God as Creator, the Son as Reconciler, and the Holy Spirit as Redeemer . . . Indeed, this Trinity of Revelation has overtones of Sabellius and Joachim of Flora, but the details defend an eternal Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.' (`The Word of Truth', D. Moody, 1990, pp. 124, 125.)

In relatively recent history Modalism has increasingly become the filter by which many Christians view the ontological relationship of the Father to the Son. While the modalism of Karl Barth is the primary conception of the unity of the Godhead which unites all Churches, both Catholic and Protestant under the banner of ecumenicalism, this is in fact considered to be heresy by the Catholic Church, as the orthodox doctrine is considered to be the eternal generation of the Son in the Father, the procession of the Spirit through the Father, and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each having individual attributes, yet without division. This was further refined when St. Augustine wrote in `De Trinitate' sometime between `400 - 418 A.D, that the Father and Son are equally the source of the Holy Spirit, for until that time, Trinitarianism still carried overtones of subordinationism. One can only assume that the First Person of the Godhead breathes the Third Person of the Godhead upon the Second Person of the Godhead, and voila, all of the Godhead are members of the Godhead are co-redeemers with Christ, for all assist in the redemption of men.
In reality, we have already seen enough evidence which indicates that this Creed is nothing other than the Greek Platonic conception of the One-in-all pantheist God, which has been further adorned by a few Christian refinements; for the basis of this Creed is the assumption that the soul is of divine origin, and the souls of men are but a dim reflection of the Trinity. This is, in itself, a thorough condemnation of this Creed, for it ensures that the agape love of the Father and Son is obscured by this doctrine, for although the heart of the gospel lies in the giving of the Son to fallen humanity, according to the manner by which this doctrine presents itself, the Son was never really given to us at all! `How can this be?', one would ask! After all, as there is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, then there must be also be a Trinity, and to deny the Trinity is to deny Christ!
Such is the standard objection one encounters whenever one questions the validity of this doctrine. We have already seen that the basis of this doctrine has its roots in the Platonic philosophies of the Greeks, while paying lip-service to Christ. For Lucifer has determined that fallen man shall not know the true selflessness which constitutes the character of God, for he knows that when the human race as a corporate entity perceives this, then his time is short, for this will herald the return of Christ. It is for this reason that Lucifer has by subterfuge appropriated worship within the Christian Church which the sincere Christian believes is being directed to Christ, when it is  instead being subtly misdirected to him instead, in the guise of a counterfiet Holy Spirit. He has used precisely the same ploy in substituting the Sunday for the Sabbath day, so that by subterfuge he might be worshipped, instead of Christ, by positing himself as a co-redeemer with Christ who (together with Christ) is adored on his appointed day of the sun. At the same time he has introduced a host of daughter doctrines which fall within the umbrella of Trinitarianism, which further expand upon this doctrine by presenting us with a doctrinal picture which indicates that God is indeed eros and is either too impotent or too uncaring of the plight of fallen humanity, to p