The Grand Finale of Pride

The Church Fathers All Disappeared!

Someday all the creeds and traditions we know will vanish into dust but what God has said will remain. After all the church fathers left the Reunion and went to their long home it was up to simple people like fishermen, tentmakers and carpenters to make sense of the things they left behind. These were the folks charged with cleaning up the mess (physical and spiritual) that was left once the reunion ended. Pragmatticus was a janitor who could see things that escaped the notice of the wise and learned. His friend Meticulus was a clear-eyed scribe who had learned to see things for himself.

Did God Ever Call Himself an Essence or a Substance?

They wondered what was so wrong with the simple truth of scripture that declared just one God. This was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He was the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He was none other than the God of Israel. They knew for sure this God never described Himself as an essence or a substance that “subsisted” in three distinct persons. He alone is God and He is known to us as the Father. His name is YHWH. The janitor and the scribe knew God is not a substance or essence to be analyzed and divided into portions! He is “someone” to be worshipped.

Jesus Offers The Promise of Immortality

In His eternal plan to redeem us to Himself, YHWH fathered a Son (Jesus). This happened when Mary was visited by God’s Holy Spirit and the Virgin conceived God’s one and only Son. We know Jesus as our Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ and our Kinsman Redeemer. He went about doing good and spoke truth to religious authorities and they hated him for it, so they killed him. Jesus rose from the dead though and became the first fruits of God’s great plan. He is immortal and offers immortality to those who believe in Him, trust His words, and obey Him. Jesus is God’s unique agent on our behalf who speaks and acts with God’s authority because that has been given to Him.

We Do Not Worship a Divine Trio

The simplicity of all this is far beneath the sophistication of the learned ones who are “Ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). When scripture says, “There is One God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5) we are among those who simply choose to believe it. We believe in one God and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. There is no room in our hearts for homoousious and we do not worship a trio of co-equal divine persons.  Like the Apostle Paul we purpose to know nothing more or less than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Philosophy is a Miserable Substitute for Scripture

It is a radical approach indeed that believes God is well able to express Himself perfectly, just as He chooses. As for God, His way is perfect and His word is flawless. Some translations say His word is pure, others say it is faultless.  God’s word is precise, refined, reliable, trustworthy, tried, tested and true. We cannot say this about the words of the church fathers or the platonic philosophy that inspired them. This may be why scripture cautions us to shun philosophy as a miserable substitute for the things God has said.

Church Traditions and Creeds Were Swept Away

Pragmatticus’ final duty was to walk through the meeting halls of the great Reunion with a dustpan and a broom. He swept all the philosophical ideas and jargon, along with the pride of the church fathers into his dustpan.  Then he put it all in the waste bin of history where it belongs while Meticulus looked on with appreciation and respect.

The Things That Remained

When the janitor and the scribe inspected the final result of all their work there was nothing left but the words and teachings of God and His Son Jesus. They both thought that looked pretty good and realized their work was done. The Allstars Reunion had finally come to its proper end.

Dear Reader,

This post concludes the Theology Allstars Reunion and the official account of what happened there. Thank you for coming to visit! We hope our efforts have blessed and cheered you, and perhaps given you a few insights that will help you on your way home to God. If you enjoyed the Reunion you are sure to love our brand new companion website.  You can find it at www.wonderfultheology.com   Please come and visit us there… and bring someone with you.

God Bless!

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

Is the Trinity a Religious Relic?

Is Archaic Theology Obsolete… or Just Irrelevant?

Dearest Reader,

We trust you are enjoying our account of the All Stars Reunion! However, it has recently come to our attention that a growing number of people are no longer impressed with the “church fathers”. This is shocking news! Those who are devoted to the writings of prestigious theologians from antiquity may find this very upsetting! If believers begin to doubt the relevance, indeed even the truth, of archaic theology what will become of us? Could the Kingdom of God survive such a calamity? In the spirit of brotherly love we invite you to consider a perspective that is sure to provide a measure of comfort.

Ancient Theologians Did All The Thinking For Us!

Theologians from the distant past felt free to think for themselves, but modern believers should not attempt this on their own! Everyone knows that ancient theologians were probably a LOT better at thinking than we are. All the really good thinking was done long ago and we should just leave well enough alone. It is our duty to faithfully repeat their words and thoughts and that is enough! Sensible people know this is true. Perhaps their ancient ideas don’t make any sense but we should trust them anyway.

Obsolete Dogma #1         The Earth is Flat

The ancients believed the earth was flat. (There are still some who believe this very thing today!) Everyone knew that if you sailed too far you would sail right off the edge of the world. Interestingly, no matter where you are, the world still looks flat today! It took a long time before people realized the earth is actually a sphere. That, however, is no reason at all to lose confidence in the wisdom of those who said it was flat! Who knows how many lives were saved and how many disasters were averted by believing in a flat earth? Perhaps the earth changed from flat to spherical and we just don’t know how or when it happened. It is a great mystery! This should not shake our confidence in ancient ideas. No! Not in the least! Perhaps the ancients didn’t get this issue right… but who’s perfect?

Obsolete Dogma #2        There Are Four Elements

The ancient Greeks believed earth, air, fire and water were the four elements that make up everything in the world! Aristotle added ether and made it five elements since he figured the stars couldn’t be made of the same stuff we have here on earth. Modern science claims the four “elements” of the Greeks aren’t elements at all but so what? The Greek theory sure makes more sense than believing in a bunch of invisible atoms when you’re sitting around a campfire! Besides, do you really want to disagree with someone as smart as Aristotle? If you insist on thinking like people thought a few thousand years ago, we say go right ahead!

Obsolete Dogma #3         Women Are Imperfect Men

Plato and Aristotle had some pretty stunning ideas about women too. Plato was known to have said, “I give thanks to nature that I was born a human being and not a dumb animal, and that I was born a man rather than a woman.” The Greeks were convinced that men were superior to women! Aristotle wrote, “A woman is an imperfect male. She is female because her body is not properly made.” I beg to differ! To my eyes they look just wonderful and they are certainly not inferior to men. Could it be that Grecian thought about women was misguided and wrong? Who are we to question?

Obsolete Dogma #4         God is a Triune Pantheon

Greek philosophers were very sophisticated and their religion was intricate and complicated. It took a lot of personalities (persons) to make up the Greek Pantheon of Gods. Is it any surprise that the trinity they proposed for Christianity was cut from the same cloth? They mixed Greek philosophy with the Bible and came up with some of the most scholarly unbiblical ideas ever invented! The Triune Pantheon (trinity) they proposed even sounded Biblical in a strange kind of way! You have to love those Greek philosophers!  They took themselves very seriously… and expected everyone else to take them seriously too.

Were the Dogmas of Antiquity Just Plain Wrong?

Is it true that ideas from the distant past are better than anything we can envision today? Based on the wisdom of many centuries ago can we safely assert that the earth is or was flat?  Do we believe the four elements that make up the world are earth, air, fire and water? Is it true that men are superior to women? Are we convinced that God is a trinity of three “persons” just like those Greek philosophers said? Or was the ancient world of Greek thought wrong about a lot of things… including the nature of God?

Does Archaic Theology Really Matter?

Can anyone even imagine a gospel of salvation that dares to ignore what those old Greeks had to say? Shockingly, some modern believers have actually decided to read the Bible for themselves and reach their own conclusions! These radicals view the “church fathers” and their thinking as relics from a bygone era that have become irrelevant. This is an appalling trend!  Greek thinking people should reject this approach before it completely ruins their appreciation for Platonic philosophy and trinitarian thought!

Please Update Your Thinking!

The earth is a globe and was never flat after all! There are many elements that make up the world but they are certainly not earth, air, fire and water. Women are not defective men. Most importantly, God is not a pantheon of three divine persons! He is one God! The God of Israel is the singular and supreme Being that created everything.  We know Him as the Father, and Jesus Christ is His only Son!  Jesus is the uniquely and miraculously conceived human Son of the God of Israel. He is our Messiah, and Mediator and Kinsman Redeemer. This may not square with the trinitarian view of God inspired by Greek philosophy but it squares very nicely with the Bible. There now! Doesn’t it feel good to bring your thinking up to date?

PS: Do not be afraid of sailing away from the flat earth theology we inherited from long ago! You will not fall off the edge of Christianity. In fact, there’s a very good chance you will sail right into the faith that was once delivered to the saints!

PPS: These thoughts will not hurt you… and they won’t hurt your friends either. Why not send them a link to this site and to wonderfultheology.com too? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

Origen of the Trinity

Origen Is Called the Father of Biblical Theology

Origen was an important theologian who managed to slip under the radar for a long time. He wasn’t officially declared a heretic until he had been dead for three centuries… but by then it was too late! He was already famous! Origen was heir to both Socrates and Plato and is regarded as the greatest philosopher/theologian of the early church.  He also produced its first systematic theology. It is not an exaggeration to call him the Father of Biblical Theology! Many have viewed him as “the greatest genius the early church ever produced.”

Origen Became a Heretic 300 Years After He Died!

In order to be deemed an official heretic you just need to disagree with the majority. That is exactly what happened to Origen! He was mostly acceptable in his lifetime but the opinions of church leaders changed in the centuries after he died! Eventually his work fell out of favor with most theologians and there wasn’t much he could do about it. His story is interesting because it took the church 300 years after his death to brand him a heretic. There is no doubt Origen had some pretty wild ideas!  He never achieved sainthood, and like Tertullian, he wasn’t granted the title of church father either. In spite of his tremendous influence Origen never won any official honors! Fortunately, he was already dead by the time he was excommunicated so it probably didn’t bother him too much.

Origen Mastered Greek Philosophy

Moderator: Well brethren, it’s time to honor another old heretic who achieved a lot in his life but never quite made the grade. He was a notable scholar and at least during his lifetime he seemed like a pretty respectable guy! His epic work On First Principles developed a foundation for the Trinity based on Platonic philosophy. Even his critics acknowledged that he had mastered the Greek philosophical tradition in his interpretation of the Bible! Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep him out of trouble. He upset a lot of people by denying the co-equality of “persons” in the Godhead! Eventually, his chances of becoming an official church father went right out the window.

Origen Wrote More Than Anyone

You all know who I’m talking about! It’s none other than Origen of Alexandria! We thought long and hard about what kind of award you give to a man who wrote so much that some legends say he kept seven secretaries busy! We created a special Windy Award just for him! It’s the Origen of the Trinity Award! How’s that for a nifty play on words!

Audience: Groaning and rolling of the eyes.

Moderator:  Well sorry about that but it’s the best we could come up with! Here to accept his award is Origen of Alexandria!

Audience: How come we keep giving awards to people like Tertullian, Arius and now Origen? None of them agree with our creeds! This is really going to upset Athanasius!

Origen Was Surprised to Be At Caesar’s Palace

Origen:  Greetings everyone! I am so glad to be at this reunion and I’m as surprised as anyone to be here at all! That seafood buffet is sure better than anything I ever had in my lifetime! It’s almost too good to be true. Now that I’m dead I’ve pretty well decided to give up on asceticism, as long as we’re here in Las Vegas anyway. It was just great to be allowed to come here in the first place and then I found out I’m even getting an award!

Can Anyone Think Like Athanasius?

I have to admit I was pretty surprised to learn that I had become a heretic after I died. I was just talking about this very thing with Tertullian and Arius at dinner. Tertullian was surprised when he learned he had become a heretic too!  Arius knew his reputation was in the tank after the Nicene Council so he was really surprised to get an award. It’s a good thing that the theologians who decide who is approved and who isn’t don’t speak for God! Athanasius still says that unless you think of the Trinity like his creed says you can’t be saved. I say no one can think like that! Jesus said no one should!

Origen Pioneered Hypostases and Homoousious

Athanasius’ insistence on the co-equality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was based on just one word! Using homoousious to make that claim still seems a bit over the top to me! After all, I was the first Christian philosopher to ever use the term homoousious! I was also the very first Christian philosopher to use the term hypostases to describe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Where did Athanasius ever get the idea that his theories were any better than mine?  We had a very nice schematic of God in Platonic philosophy that made a lot of sense to us.  I imagined God as a descending triad just like in classic platonic philosophy! The Father is greater than the Son and the Son is greater than the Spirit. What’s so bad about that? It sure made sense to us!

Origen’s Descending Triad Was a Platonic Theory!

We thought we had a fine theory about God and a lot of people signed on to our ideas. Just because some later theologians disagreed was no reason to start all the name calling! I don’t think any of them wrote nearly as much stuff as I did.  Besides, without the foundations I laid for the Trinity I don’t think Athanasius would have ever hit the big time in the first place!

Origen Gave Thanks to Philo, Plato and Aristotle Too!

In closing I want to thank all the people who helped me win this award. I want to thank my Mom and Dad, Philo, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle too. I would also like to thank the Awards Committee for such a great play on words and naming my Windy Award after me! Finally, I want to thank all the great cooks and staff who put together that incredible buffet! Good night everyone! It has been great to be here!

PS: Some say truth is stranger than fiction and church history is pretty strange. It’s also pretty entertaining! (except of course, for all the violence and hatred that resulted from the creeds and dogmas of our fiercest theologians.) Modern Christians should at least know these things. Why don’t you help them out and share a link to theologyallstars.com with a few of them? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

To be continued…

Tertullian’s Trinitas Award

Tertullian Was the Founder of Western Theology

Tertullian has rightly been called the Father of Latin Christianity and the founder of Western Theology. Although he was not at all a trinitarian in the modern sense of the word he was the first theologian who ever used the Latin word trinity (trinitas) in his writings and that is a big deal. It’s even more impressive when you consider that not even Jesus Himself used the word!  None of the disciples of Jesus Christ ever heard him speak the word trinity either before His crucifixion or after His resurrection! No wonder the Reunion organizers felt Tertullian deserved a Windy Award! His thinking may not have been biblical but it was definitely original.

Tertullian Wasn’t a Saint!

Tertullian was Augustine’s predecessor. Historians tell us he eventually joined the Montanist movement that swept through the early church. The Montanists were similar to today’s Charismatics and Pentecostals and were regarded as a bit too extreme for most people. Although Tertullian was a very important theologian he was never granted sainthood! He wasn’t even recognized as an official church father by the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Catholic church. He really aggravated both churches by his insistence that Jesus was subordinate to the Father! This was seen as a direct assault on the Trinity and it definitely hurt his book sales.

Tertullian Wasn’t Even a Church Father!

The Awards Committee felt Tertullian made such a huge impact on Christianity that an official Windy Award was long overdue. He was like one of those famous actors who make a lot of memorable films but never quite win an Academy Award.  He wasn’t an official “Church Father” but he definitely deserved some recognition. Everyone knew Tertullian was at least a Church Uncle! His speech on the “Parables Jesus Forgot to Teach” was an instant hit and was destined to become a classic.

Critics Called Tertullian a Heretic!

Moderator:  Tonight we want honor a theologian everyone has heard of! Tertullian was never officially honored as a Church Father but we all know he really is one. He was always something of a wild card as theologians go. Most Christians think he is so famous that he must have been the real deal! His critics call him a heretic but his fans just call him Uncle Turtle. The Awards Committee has voted to give him a Windy Award for creating the Best Brand Name Ever!  Let’s give a warm welcome to our controversial but always interesting colleague, Tertullian!

Audience:  Generally warm applause with a few holdouts here and there. Some theologians were clearly unhappy to see Tertullian get any recognition at all.

Tertullian Was More Like a Church Uncle

Tertullian: Thanks everyone! It feels good to get some official recognition but I’m a bit uncomfortable about being called a “Church Father”.  I’d like it better if Jesus hadn’t said, “Call no man on earth father for one is your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) I do enjoy being a “Church Uncle” though so please just call me Uncle Turtle. Winning this Windy Award is sure more pleasant than getting excommunicated!  (Modern scholars acknowledge that Tertullian wasn’t a Trinitarian!).

The Threeness of God Startled Most Believers!

I remember when we first started kicking around our new ideas about the threeness of God. I knew this wasn’t going to go over very well with the average believer on the street. When I wrote  Against Praxeas I tried to make that clear. “The simple, indeed (much less will I call them ignorant and uneducated), who are always the majority of believers, are startled at the arrangement (of the Three in One) the very rule of faith directs them away from the world’s many gods toward the one and true God…”

Trinitas Was a Great Brand Name!

I knew that our new theological “arrangement” forming God into a tri-personal being was going to be a tough sell. I figured such a big idea called for a new “brand name”. Trinitas has a nice ring to it and was the best Latin word for the job. The rest is history! Once believers began using  the word trinity I knew we had a winner on our hands. Trinity sounds so spiritual and scholarly that it’s hard to resist! It’s also so hard to define that people who don’t understand it go along with it anyway!

Tertullian Rejected the Co-Equality of the Son

My adversaries should stop arguing with me about co-equality but we can talk about that another time.  For now all I can say is thank you for this terrific Windy Award! May God bless all of you except for “you know who” over there in the corner. He is still glaring at me after all these years! I do hope he comes to his senses someday and quits being so argumentative!

PS: Who would have ever guessed Tertullian was such an interesting character and a heretic to boot! He may be famous but according to Athanasius, Uncle Turtle isn’t even saved! We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime why don’t you share a link to  theologyallstars.com with a few friends and see what they think? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

To be continued….

Let’s Ignore Jesus!

Jesus Was a Radical Non-Trinitarian

One of the touchiest issues that came up at the All Stars Reunion was how to deal with all the disruptive things Jesus taught. Our discussions about His radical ideas were spirited and controversial to say the least! Everyone knew that Jesus Himself had never espoused anything remotely like the Trinity.  Even though we voted it into existence by a clear majority Jesus Himself was the “odd man out” on this issue. This created no end of theological problems for us but we never gave up on it. No sir! If anything, whenever anyone challenged our formulation of God it just stiffened our resolve! The challenge Jesus presented to our theology was altogether different since He was the Son of God and all. At first it was hard for us to resist His teachings but eventually we figured out a way. We just ignored them!

Was Jesus a Heretic?

There were a few stalwarts who actually thought we should excommunicate Jesus because of His unorthodox claim that the Father was greater than He. After all, our creeds insist Jesus and the Father are co-equal and we had a long history of excommunicating people who dared to disagree with us. The proposal caused quite a stir at first but was finally rejected because it seemed too crazy, even for us. Cooler heads realized that officially banishing Jesus from the faith meant we’d have to excommunicate the apostles too! We knew in our hearts that excommunicating Jesus and the apostles to preserve our creed would be terribly unpopular with the masses, so we didn’t do it.

Ignoring Jesus Works Just Fine!

We decided it would be much better to simply ignore the teachings of Jesus rather than oppose them directly and openly! Fortunately, there was a lot of precedent for this and it has the distinct advantage of being something many believers are already familiar with! The essence of this approach has been most eloquently expressed by Rev. D. James Kennedy, the once famous (but now deceased) religious broadcaster.

The Apostles’ Creed Ignores Jesus’ Teachings!

“Many people today think that the essence of Christianity is Jesus’ teachings, but that is not so. If you read the Apostle Paul’s letters, which make up most of the New Testament you will see that there is almost nothing said about the teachings of Jesus. Throughout the rest of the New Testament, there’s little reference to the teachings of Jesus, and in the Apostles’ Creed, the most universally held Christian creed, there’s no reference to Jesus’ teachings. There is also no reference to the example of Jesus. Only two days in the life of Jesus are mentioned – the day of His birth and the day of His death. Christianity centers not in the teachings of  Jesus, but in the Person of Jesus…

Ignoring Jesus is a Clever Idea!

To this we simply say WOW! THANKS A MILLION REV. KENNEDY! It is truly clever to say that Jesus is central to the faith but His teachings aren’t really so important! Once we were able to dispense with Jesus’ teachings it was a piece of cake for us to create creeds, doctrines and traditions that we liked better. It took a lot of doing at first but we reinforced our own teachings by discouraging believers from even reading the words of Jesus. We encouraged people to trust in us instead of trusting in scripture! We really got our point across by killing anyone caught owning or reading the Bible in spite of our orders. This was a brilliant move and it worked like a charm!

Some Good Old Theological Razzle Dazzle!

Eventually most people were so under our sway that even if they did read the Bible it didn’t really matter.  All it took was some good old theological razzle dazzle and people believed whatever we told them while they still claimed to believe in scripture alone! People would read a verse and fail to see what it said! They would listen to the words of scripture and not hear them! “They have eyes to see but they see not and ears to hear but they hear not.” Maybe they didn’t hear what Jesus said but they sure heard us!

Jesus Says God is One…  We Say God is Three

Jesus teaches that God is One but we teach that God is Three… and just ignore what Jesus said! This works so well that most Christians solemnly affirm that God is three persons and not one. When some people protest that the Bible says something different than our trinitarian dogma we tell them their problem is that they want scripture to mean what it says. Then we patiently and cleverly explain that scripture does not always mean what it says and they believe us!

Don’t Argue With Jesus… Just Ignore Him!

We never argue with Jesus’ teachings!  We have found it is better to just ignore His words and promote our own ideas instead. Some complain that Jesus warned us not to call Him Lord Lord unless we actually follow His teachings, but we have learned to ignore that too! After all, if the Apostles’ Creed can completely ignore the teachings of Jesus why can’t we?

PS: It’s hard to imagine that people believe “in” Jesus… but ignore the things He taught! Maybe that good old razzle dazzle is more potent than we like to think. While you’re considering these things would you be willing to take a minute to share a link to  theologyallstars.com with a friend or two? That would be nice and we’ll thank you if you do!  God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes