Part 3 of the video series, “Understanding the Trinity,” is now available on YouTube. It provides a brief overview of the Trinity’s connection to the philosophy of Aristotle, whose theory of “substances” heavily influenced the early church and eventually found its way into official doctrine via the doctrine of the Trinity.
Granted, the Trinity certainly draws upon Scripture as it endeavors to defend the deity of Christ, but its synthesis of Aristotle’s ideas to “fill in the blanks” makes it an extra-Biblical doctrine by definition. This fact doesn’t necessarily make the Trinity “wrong,” but it should certainly give us pause when we consider how something that is inherently extra-Biblical has become the litmus test of orthodoxy. Especially when we consider Paul’s sober warning to the Colossians:
“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
So is the Trinity deserving of its sacrosanct status? Or, is it precisely the kind of “high-sounding nonsense that comes from human thinking” that Paul cautioned the early church against? Considering that Aristotle was attempting to provide an explanation for how the universe worked apart from the existence of personal deities (namely the Greek gods) it certainly seems highly suspect that his ideas would be of any value in explaining the deity of Christ. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
This video just scratches the surface of Aristotle’s ideas and the impact that Greek philosophy, in general, had upon the early church. If you want to dig deeper, “Testing the Trinity” traces the linkage between various philosophical concepts and the heresies that beset Christianity during its formative years. And in case you missed the first two videos in the series, you can find them here.