Hamblin & Peterson: Constantine's influence can scarcely be measured

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • danielPA Newcastle, WA
    Aug. 22, 2014 12:57 a.m.

    It has been a while since I read those creeds, but at the time, I felt that mainline Christianity had taken them to be saying something which they did not in fact say. It's sort of like the difference between the codified Word of wisdom and the translated Word of Wisdom. (Ooops. Did I say something bad?) Anyway, if I read it right, two commentators are saying about the creeds as I have just reflected. Then we do have the literal words of that D&C section mentioned a while ago.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    July 29, 2014 3:59 p.m.


    "Apostacy and Restoration in a nutshell"

    That which can be put "in a nutshell" is so useless as to belong precisely there and nowhere else.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 29, 2014 12:26 p.m.

    Patriot: Classial Trinitarianism does not teach that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in body." Study the Athanasian Creed. It declares very strongly against "confounding the Persons" -- that is, saying that the Father is the Son, just wearing a different hat. They are distinct Persons, and yet one God.

    Brokenclay: I agree: The Book of Mormon out-Trinitys the Trinitarians, veering dangerously close to modalism, especially in Abinadi's discourses in the Book of Mosiah.

    I disagree, though, with your translation of homoiousios. It does not mean "of the same kind of substance" -- it means of a *similar* substance. That was the controversy. Arius was willing to make Jesus a kind of demi-God, but not *exactly* as divine as the Father.

    Mormonism agrees with classical Trinitarianism: Jesus is no less divine than his Father.

    Interestingly, the Latin translation of the Nicene Creed renders "homoousios" as "consubstantialis" -- the same word used in the Latin-language Athanasian Creed to define Christ's relationship, both with his Father *and with his mother*.

    Nobody is claiming that Christ and Mary are one entity. Rather, "consubstantialis" means that Christ is fully God and fully man.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 29, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    RE: Patriot, Apostacy in nutshell. Henotheism, a belief in one supreme who is not the only god. Or, “AS man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.”

    Versus, Partaking of the Divine Nature-image. The Orthodox Church understands theosis as a union with the energies of God and Not with the essence of God which always remains hidden and unknown. However, the experience of the Church testifies that this is a true union with God. Orthodox Christians believe there are three persons in the Godhead, each divine, distinct and equal.
    The Triune God knowing God is not just another kind of knowledge: it is a matter of life and death.

    Deut. 6:4, God(Elohim) the LORD(YHWH) is one=[echad].” "The two shall become one= [echad] flesh". (Genesis 2:24 )E.g..

    JS agrees,. “… true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is *one God, without end..”(2 Nephi 31:21). 3Nephi 31:22, note b.(1John 5:6-9 KJV) v.7 one= (*heis, the #1).

    @ But “… we are one(en).( John 17-22). One in unity (Preposition) different Greek word

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 29, 2014 8:05 a.m.


    "We are often accused of misrepresenting LDS theology, which is like trying to nail jello to a wall it is so fluid, but then Mormons turn around and misrepresent static orthodox thought on multiple fronts."

    More like just make up whatever you can think up that sounds the weirdest and strangest and add a sprinkle of Mormon Doctrine in with it.

  • Aurelius maximus Berryville, VA
    July 29, 2014 8:02 a.m.


    I don't understand how you can say that we worship multiple Gods? In the most common / most important form of worship we ALWAYS address Heavenly Father not anyone else.

  • Aurelius maximus Berryville, VA
    July 29, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    @ TheProudDuck

    "Mormons always say we reject the Nicene Creed, but I've never read a convincing explanation, accurately describing what the Nicene Creed actually says and means, of what exactly the difference is."

    Have you read Joseph Smith History?

    "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their CREEDS were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”"

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 28, 2014 10:37 p.m.


    One in purpose - not in body. Good grief this is clearly taught in the New Testament. (John 17:21). The false doctine of the trinty came from the unfortunate counsel of Nicaea which also created many other false teachings.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 28, 2014 10:33 p.m.

    The Counsel at Nicaea was organized by Constantine. It was from this counsel ...after all the arguing and bitter fighting settled - that the false doctrine of the trinity imerged along with many other equally false teachings NOT found anywhere in the New Testament and the Protestant movement (and Catholic Church) propogated these false teachings to the present day. The true nature of God was lost ...for a time...until "the time of restoration of all things" began in the spring of 1820.

    Apostacy and Restoration in a nutshell

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    July 28, 2014 7:58 p.m.

    TheProudDuck: Joseph Smith's theology evolved over the years. Earlier on, the Book of Mormon taught an essentially modalist/border-line Trinitarian view of god. The later scriptures and writings are in many places outright polytheistic.

    Unity in "love and purpose," as the LDS like to say, is not enough to make three gods one god any more than it is enough to make three humans one human (see coltakashi's comment above, where Trinitarianism is erroneously equated with the LDS view). If only the LDS embraced the more Trinitarian statements and regarded the others as spurious . . .

    coltakashi: It is a common mistake made by Mormons to portray the body of the Son as a pre-birth state and not something that was acquired at the Son's conception. But John 1:14 is unmistakably clear: "The Word became flesh." There was a time when he was not flesh. The incarnation of the Son fits quite well into our view.

    We are often accused of misrepresenting LDS theology, which is like trying to nail jello to a wall it is so fluid, but then Mormons turn around and misrepresent static orthodox thought on multiple fronts.

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    July 28, 2014 7:39 p.m.

    Twin Lights: It's refreshing to hear a Mormon admit this. But why do so many other Mormons like to (incorrectly) credit the empire for the apostasy of the Christian church if the empire was mostly anti-orthodox? It makes no sense. Most of the emperors were Arians (read: Proto-Mormons). And orthodoxy survived in spite of the government. It's also important to note that Trinitarian thought actually precedes Arian and Arian-like thought by generations in the historical writings. The beliefs that resemble LDS theology proper actually show up LATER.

    TheProudDuck: You correctly note that most Mormons accuse Trinitarians of being modalists. It is again refreshing to hear this from someone who is presumably LDS. On the other hand, you seem to blur the lines between Trinitarianism and the LDS conception of god. The difference is in one letter: homoousios vs. homoiousios (just one iota!). Homoousios means the three persons share the exact same nature. Homoiousios means that they share the same kind of nature, like human beings do. The former is Trinitarian, the latter is Mormon in theology.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 28, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    Sharrona: D&C 20:28 refutes your statement that Mormonism teaches "henotheism":

    "Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen."

    One God. Not three gods. One God.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    July 28, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    Cats wrote:
    "After the Council of Nicea, the Great Apostasy was complete."

    There is no canonical LDS doctrine to support this assertion.

    Comparing the changing theology of the ancient Christians with the changing theology of the LDS Church would lead a rational person to conclude, either that both Churches fell into apostasy, or that both Churches adapted to new circumstances through "continuing revelation".

    The history of ancient Christianity is not a story of a "falling away" from a coherent, unified theology and Church. Instead, just as the history of the LDS Church, it is a story of theological and ecclesiastical trial and error. Neither Jesus nor Joseph ever established a complete, fully mature, perfect Church and theology (and priesthood). Both started movements that were incomplete, imperfect, and were taken in new directions by those who came after them, creating inconsistencies, contradictions, and "apostacies" = movements away from the stance of the originator.

    The idea of "The Great Apostasy" (and "the Dark Ages") is an outdated, inaccurate view of history that should be jettisoned. It may have worked for Talmage and Roberts, but it has no credence today.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 27, 2014 6:26 p.m.

    "Without body, parts or passions" is from the Westminster Confession, not the classical Creeds. And the word "passion," in sixteenth-century usage, had a different meaning than it has today. The traditional Christian churches have never denied that God has the "passions" (according to the word's modern meaning) of love, anger, and so forth.

    The Athanasian Creed is very careful to make it clear that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. It is as careful to avoid "dividing the Substance" (that is, saying they are three gods, not one God) as it is to avoid the heresy of Modalism, which is what most Mormons think Trinitarianism is. It's not.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 27, 2014 5:04 p.m.

    RE: Coltakashi, “Hear, 0 Israel. The LORD(YHWH*) our God(Elohim), the LORD(YHWH*) is one.” Deut. 6:4.

    The doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that there are 3 gods. The unity of God disproves that there are many gods, as in henotheism (Mormonism). Each one is God and with God (John 1:1-2). The Son is equal with the Father (John 5:18, Phil. 2:6). Matt. 28:19 specifies that the three members of the Trinity are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    The 2nd Person of the Trinity is God the Son. Over 100 Bible verses prove the deity of Jesus Christ (, John 1:1, 20:28). He is the great “I AM” (John 8:24, 58). He was worshipped as God. Many O.T verses t speak of *YHWH are applied to Jesus in the N.T. Jesus is God.
    See J S, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

    RE: Twin Lights, The Athanasian Creed, ”He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity”.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 27, 2014 2:28 p.m.

    It was, in part, the Athanasian Creed that caused me to leave traditional Christianity.

    Brokenclay - You are 100% correct - the fourth century was not dominated by orthodoxy. There were a lot of varying ideas. Some of which became what is now orthodox Christianity. Others were much more similar to Mormonism in their concepts of Christ and God. That is precise point Mormons wish to make. That the fourth century church tried to bring these ideas to a conclusion (it took a good bit longer) but that some of the ideas that existed with the primitive church have been lost.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 27, 2014 8:08 a.m.

    As the creeds developed, they added the very non-biblical Greco-Roman concepts of God as being "without body, parts, or passions", directly contradicting the clear nature of Jesus Christ as the incarnated God whose "passion" in Gethsemane and on the cross performed the atonement between God and mankind. Trying to make sense of these two irreconcilable views of God has led most modern Christians to conceive of God in ways that are officially heretical, such as the idea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are essentially different modes of appearance, rather than three distinct persons, as the creeds insist. If every person confirmed as a member of traditional Christian churches had to pass an exam on the official meaning of the creeds, rather than simply assent to the creeds, most would fail. Thus, using the creeds to attack Mormon beliefs about God covers a huge hypocrisy. And that is why the creeds are not a major obstacle for people converting to the Mormon view of the Trinity as three distinct persons united in purpose and love.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 26, 2014 6:26 p.m.

    What exactly is wrong with the Nicene Creed?

    The sticking point seems to be the word "homoousious," translated as "consubstantial," which (when it's used in the Athanasian Creed) means "of the same substance.

    That is, Christ is divine -- has a divine nature -- just as God the Father has a divine nature.

    Mormons always say we reject the Nicene Creed, but I've never read a convincing explanation, accurately describing what the Nicene Creed actually says and means, of what exactly the difference is.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    July 26, 2014 5:31 p.m.

    @Sneaky Jimmy, LDS correlation was not done for state purposes, by state instigation, under state authority, with state money, to build up a state religion.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 26, 2014 12:48 p.m.

    RE: Cats, before the Council of Nicea,

    “one in substance”. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person=(substance,5287).Hebrews 1:3.

    Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD), used the term Trinity (Latin, trinitas), giving the oldest extant formal exposition of a Trinitarian theology. Other Latin formulations that first appear in his work are "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia".

    After Nicea,Martin Luther disagreed with 95 points of Roman Catholic teaching. The Trinity was not a subject of concern to him. The Lutheran Church with the universal Christian Church: The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.

    C.S Lewis,” If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we would make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions[JS]. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." The three personal God “Mere Christianity. Lewis gives some other analogies of the Tri(3) Unity.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    July 26, 2014 10:58 a.m.

    The council at Nicea was in many ways similar to the LDS correlation program. The bishops wanted the same thing preached throughout the world.

  • BrentBot Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    While Constantine supposedly converted to Christianity in 312, he wasn't baptized until on his deathbed 25 years later. In the intervening years he had his wife and eldest son murdered, and from all appearances he continued as a worshipper of the sun god. Long after his supposed conversion he had coins minted with a portrait of himself on one side and a depiction of his "companion, the unconquered Sol [sun]" on the other.

    The "Christianity" Constantine endorsed was already considerably different from that practiced by Jesus Christ and the apostles. The emperor accelerated the change by his own hatred of Jews and religious practices he considered Jewish. For example, at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), church authorities essentially replaced the biblical Passover with Easter, a popular holiday rooted in ancient springtime fertility celebrations.

    Constantine's affection for sun worship had earlier led him to endorse Sunday, the first day of the week and a day dedicated to honoring the sun, as a weekly day of rest in the Roman empire .

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    July 26, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    Two issues.

    1) It is important to note that, yes, Constantine was baptized on his deathbed, but that it was performed by an Arian, Eusebius of Nicomedia. The LDS world thinks that 4th century Christianity was dominated by orthodoxy. The plain history is that most of that century was dominated by Arian emperors (who were more like Mormons in their theology). Orthodoxy survived in spite of the empire, not because of it.

    2) Constantine did convene the council at Nicaea. However, the confession that came out of that council was not in any way shaped by Constantine. He did not establish Christian doctrine by fiat. You will note in the article that Dr. Peterson says nothing about Constantine designing the Nicaean creed. It was the bishops who did so. This also is not to say that teachings like Trinitarianism had their beginning in 325. This is demonstrably false. The council did not develop doctrine; it was an explication and organization of already existing doctrine. If Mormons want to debate the biblicality of the creed, they must do so on a Scriptural basis, not an historical basis.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    July 26, 2014 7:11 a.m.

    After the Council of Nicea, the Great Apostasy was complete. Christianity had substantially deserted the Church that Christ established here on earth.