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The Trinity : 2

The Doctrine of the Trinity: An Historical Perspective

In the second of 3 messages on The Trinity, Brian Watts takes us back in time. It was in the 4th century that the church really began to develop the implications of the doctrine of the Trinity, and she did so in the context of enormous conflict. History comes alive as Brian helps us to re-live those momentous days. The recording lasts 58 minutes.

Introduction: “One Iota’s Worth of Difference”
The argument of Arius:

  • “The Son has a beginning but …God is without beginning”
  • Concerning the Son: “There was when he was not”


1. The Background

2. The Heresy

3. The Conflict

a) The Context: The Council of Nicea (325 AD)

b) The Characters: Emperor Constantine, Arius, Athanasius

c) The Creed: The Creed of Nicea


4. The Complications

a) Radical Arianism - the Anomoens):
The Son is unlike the Father: a god (or demi-god, but not God)
(anomoios = unlike)

b) Orthodoxy - Athanasius
The Son is of the same substance (nature / essence) as the Father
(homo ousios = one substance)

c) Compromise – Semi-Arians
The Son is of similar substance to the Father
(homoi ousios = like substance)


5. The Implications

  • Jesus as our Example
  • Jesus as the Revealer of God
  • Jesus as our Redeemer and Saviour
  • Jesus as our Life changer
  • Jesus as our focus of worship


The Creed of Nicea:

We believe in one God, the Father all-sovereign, the maker of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten,
that is, of the substance (ousia) of the Father;
God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance (homoousios = consubstantial) with the Father,
through whom all things were made in heaven and things on earth;
who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended into the heavens, is coming to judge living and dead.

And in the Holy Spirit.


Appendix to the Creed:

And those that say “There was when he was not”,
and “Before he was begotten he was not”,
and that “He came into being from what-is-not”,
or those that allege that the Son of God is “Of another substance or essence”,
or “created”, or “changeable”, or “alterable”

– these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.


Brian Watts is Pastor of The King's Community Church and lives in Langley with his wife Rosalind.
mail: church@tkc.com
© 1994-2006 THE KING'S Community Church