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Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit

In the previous articles we have seen that churchmen of the late third and early fourth centuries, such as Athanasius, reflected this influence as they formulated ideas that led to the Trinity. Their own influence spread, so that Morenz considers “Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.”

The early days of Christianity

2.2.3. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit

Cybele, Ankara Museum

Montanus (? born in Ardaban (Misia) not for from Phrygia – 195) was first a priest of the Anatolian Earth Goddess Cybele.  Phrygia‘s State deity was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor, and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult, and claimed her conscription as a key religious component in their success against Carthage during the Punic Wars.

When Montanus converted to  Christianity, at Ar­daoau he fell into a trance and began to “prophesy under the influence of the Spirit.” He was soon joined by two young women, Prisca, or Priscilla, and Maxirnilla, who also began to prophesy. He got the message that Christ would soon return and that the Holy Spirit would reign now.
As a prophet of God convinced that the Paraclete spoke through him Montanus proclaimed the towns of Pepuza and Tymion in west-central Phrygia as the site of the New Jerusalem, making the larger Pepuza his headquarters. His followers, the Montanists awaited, the coming of the Holy Ghost to take the place of the Son and announce a more perfect Gospel, made Him the object of an exclusive worship, which the Church had to repress.

Giving the Holy Spirit such an important place in adoration was as such not such a bad teaching to bring forth the third person in the godhead. The idea to transpose the function of Anatolian Mother Goddess  Cybele to Mary as mother of Christ, was very convenient, because now Mary could also be seen as the Magna Mater (“Great Mother”) or mother of God and could be adored. She now could belong to other figures to be but apart or made “holy” (‘set apart’ as sacred.[1])

More and more artefacts where used to bring adoration or placed in worship spaces. God detests statues or artefacts given shape by man for worship. In the Old Testament, votive offerings, the re­turn of which to profane use was strictly banned; such objects, destined for destruc­tion, thus became “accursed” as well as con­secrated. [2] The apostle Paul also considered such statues or stone carvings an abomination which should be ruled out. He spoke about something’s to be “denounced” [anathema] or accursed but also being “offered up to God”. Praying to statues was considered a crime for the first Christians.

Those who showed their love to pictures or statues did do something against the commandments of God and showed that they did not love Elohim the Most High God but were objects of loathing and execration to all holy beings. For the first Christians they were unrepentant of a crime that merits the severest condemnation and as such should not be considered any more as part of the ecclesia. They were exposed to the sentence of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” for they did “not embrace saving beliefs, as was the sentence of all mankind before the atonement, justification and sanctification of the blood of Christ that allowed for the redemption of sins”. [3]

The use of the word “anathema” to signify a curse and forced expulsion from the com­munity of Christians was taken over and became the standard term in the church after St. Cyril of Alexandria pronounced his 12 anathemas against the heretic Nestorius (in 413 CE). In the 6th cen­tury, anathema came to mean the severest form of excommunication that formally sepa­rated a heretic completely from the Christian Church and condemned his doctrines; minor excommunications, while prohibiting free reception of the sacraments, obliged the sinner to rectify his sinful state through the sacra­ment of Penance.

File:Svenskaya.jpg

SS. Anthony and Theodosius with the Theotokos Panachrantos, an 11th-century icon from the Svensky Monastery. Tretyakovkaja Gallery. – 11 Century

In the 4° century they liked the idea of the adoration of the Holy Spirit and the Magna Mater or Theotokos, the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include ‘God-bearer ‘ and ‘the one who gives birth to God’. The Council of Ephesus decreed, in opposition to those who denied Mary the title Theotokos (“the one who gives birth to God”)[4] but called her Christotokos (“the one who gives birth to Christ”). Athanasius of Alexandria in 330, Gregory the Theologian in 370, John Chrysostom in 400, and Augustine all used theotokos.[5]

Next to the incarnation of God now the Spirit would also come onto the earth and could be adored or worshipped. In 380 the anathemas [6]pronounced by Pope Damasus, in the Fourth Council of Rome, condemned whosoever should deny that the Holy Ghost must be adored like the Father and the Son by every creature (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 80). These anathemas were renewed by Celestine I and Virgilius, and the ecumenical council of 381 in its symbol, which took its place in the liturgy, formulated its faith in the Holy Ghost, “Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.” These expressions indicate the unity of the adoration of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that is, that one or the other Person of the Trinity may be adored separately but not to the exclusion of the other two.

The idea of a Trinity, which, since the Council of Nice, and especially through Basil the Great (370), had become the Catholic dogma was of course not only regarded by Jews as antagonistic to their monotheistic faith . Real students of the Bible found no reason to go into such a teaching. For them the Bible was clear with words like the ‘son of God’. It became even worse when certain Christians took this Three-Une God, ‘God the son’ ‘God the Father’ together with “the Holy Ghost [”Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh”] as conceived of as a female being,” having their parallels in all the heathen mythologies.[7]


[1] In this sense the form of the word was once (in plural) used in the Greek New Testament, in Luke 21:5, where it is rendered ‘gifts.’

[2] Old Testament descriptions of reli­gious wars call both the enemy and their be­seiged city anathema inasmuch as they were destined for destruction.

[3] Alternatively, the Apostle Paul could be suggesting that those who do not love the Lord should be offered up to God.

[4] For some Mary gave birth to Jesus, who would be the god of eternity, being both God and man, divine and human and therefore the child born ‘tokos’ from God ‘Theos’ or Theotokos.

[6] Offerings or precious Gifts made to God

[7] As has been shown by many Christian scholars, such as Zimmern, in his “Vater, Sohn, und Fürsprecher,” 1896, and in Schrader’s “K. A. T.” 1902, p. 377; Ebers, in his “Sinnbildliches: die Koptische Kunst,” 1892, p. 10; and others.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=489&letter=C&search=Christianity

  • The Doctrine Of The Trinity (justsimplyinlove.wordpress.com)
    Christians regards their religion as monotheistic, since Christianity teaches the existence of one GodYahweh, the God of the Jews. It shares this belief with two other major world religions, Judaism and Islam.
  • Advent Series 2012, Pt. 4 | Mary: The Mother of God (thereformedwesleyan.com)
    She was a simple and frail human being just like the rest of us. I think that there are some within the Christian family that have gone too far in seeking to praise Mary for her role in the Christmas story. However, I do believe that those of us on the other side of the family do not go far enough in recognizing the remarkable fact that Mary was the one chosen for this sacred task.
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    The first characteristic Mary demonstrated was humility.
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    The second characteristic that Mary demonstrated in this short exchange was acceptance.
  • Mary & Joseph (findingchristinchristmas.wordpress.com)
    In real life we see out-of-wedlock births all the time. Plus, we witness all the consequences thereafter to one extent or another.But, how miraculous that God chose Jesus to be born this way.
  • Fatherhood: One Reason the Holy Trinity Matters (gregoryccochran.com)
    The Holy Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, operating in complete unity of will and purpose (though 3 distinct, divine persons)–is unique to Christian theology. The Trinity belongs to no other religion, and, thus, no other religion can explain the complexities of the universe.
  • YOUCAT(38) Who is the “Holy Spirit”? (mycubao.org)
    When we discover the reality of God in us, we are dealing with the working of the Holy Spirit.
  • Advent: The First Baby Shower Unites Women on the Margins (wholeness4all.wordpress.com)
    In America, baby showers are times for women to come together and celebrate new life; presents are exchanged, advice given, and games played. Mary and Elizabeth celebrated the new life within them by exchanging presents of joy, encouragement, song, and prophecy. Both women were carrying children of promise: one would pave the way and the other would be the way.
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    during this season of Advent, let us remember that the Gospels included everyday people who God used in extraordinary ways.
  • Charles Stanley: 10 Ways to Know You’re Following the Holy Spirit (promisebook.net)
    Not sure if you’re being led by the Spirit? Here are a few key Scriptures to help discern.
  • Hail Mary, Full of Grace – Advent Meditation (mccatholic.com)
    There is a tendency in Protestant and many Anglican circles to overlook Mary.  We see her in Nativity scenes and on Christmas cards.  We sometimes hear the Ave Maria sung or played at this time of year, but there is often such a fear of treading on ground that is considered Roman Catholic that many Christians miss out on the great lessons that the Mother of our Lord and the Mother of the Holy Church has to teach us.  Many of us have been brought up in circumstances and backgrounds that, if not directly, then indirectly, lead us to feel that any honor or veneration paid to Mary was an act of worship and therefore wrong and sinful.

Politics and power first priority #2

The early days of Christianity

2.2.2. Politics and power first priority #2

Between ‘first-born’[1] indicating being the first one of the New Covenant period, the first born of the New Creation which was pre-eminent for the followers of the Messiah[2] , the New Adam opening the gateway for the new people of God, became under fire because certain people started to believe that Jesus was the first person born, even before Adam, the first man was created. This idea entered in the second period of the 2nd century and developed further in the 3rd century with Clement of Alexandria [c. 150- c. 214 CE] who used the term “protoktistos” in his Stromata[3] but later on calls Jesus “protoktistos”, [first-created][4] Clement uses the term first-created, as though it was first-born, to Clement and others, the two meant the same thing and were interchangeable and in fact, if we look at Clements same work [Stromata] just a little later on in chapter 14, page 465, we come across the expression, “tes sophias tes protoktistou tw thew”, which means, “Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God”, here we clearly see the [genitive] “protoktistou” [of the creation]! Clement repeatedly identifies the Word with the Wisdom of God, and yet he refers to Wisdom as the first created of God; while in one passage he attaches the epithet “First-created,” and in another “First-begotten,” to the Word.

To the church fathers [pre-Nicene] the terms “prototokos” and “protoktistos” were naturally synonymous and interchangeable terms, they treat both equally and with the same meaning!

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a partnership formed (harmonia, syymphonia) wich became one of the foundations of the Christian Empire.[5] Because the religious peace of the East was threatened the Roman Emperor Constantine I convoked (325) the first ecumenical council (see Nicaea, First Council of Nicaea) to solve the problems raised by Arianism. Arianism as the theological view that Jesus was divine, but was created by and is lesser than God the Father, was officially condemned as incorrect by the Council of Nicaea in 325, which gave its seal of authority to the established trinitarian view. The Nicene Creed was formed and taken up in catechisms that require students to memorize the Nicene Creed. The Greek term homoousios [consubstantial, of the same substance] used by the council to define the Son’s relationship to the Father was not universally popular: it had been used before by the heretic Sabellius. Some, like Marcellus of Ancyra the Galatian churchman, the most violent opponent of Arianism in Asia Minor, developed the theory that the Trinity was the result of emanations from God that would ultimately revert to God in the final judgement. In attacking Arianism, lapsed into Sabellianism (Sabellius). The voices of orthodoxy, however, were not silent. In the West St. Hilary of Poitiers and in the East St. Basil the Great ( c.330–379, Greek prelate, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church and one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church with the Cappadocian theologian St. Gregory Nazianzen ( c.330–390) and St. Gregory of Nyssa ( d. 394?) continued to defend and interpret the Nicene formula. By 364 the West had a Catholic emperor in Valentinian I, and when the Catholic Theodosius I(346?–395, Roman emperor of the East (379–95) and emperor of the West (394–95), son of Theodosius, the general of Valentinian I) became emperor of the East (379), Arianism was outlawed.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon)

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second ecumenical council was convoked to reaffirm the Nicene formula (Constantinople, First Council of 381, second ecumenical council). It was convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism. Arianism within the empire seems to have expired at once. However, Ulfilas or Wulfila [Gothic,=little wolf], (c.311–383, Gothic bishop, translator of the Bible into Gothic) was converted to Christianity at Constantinople and was consecrated bishop (341) by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and carried (c.340) Homoean Arianism to the Goths living in what is now Hungary and the NW Balkan Peninsula with such success that the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes became staunch Arians. Arianism was thus carried over Western Europe and into Africa. The Vandals remained Arians until their defeat by Belisarius (c.534). Among the Lombards the efforts of Pope St. Gregory I and the Lombard queen were successful, and Arianism finally disappeared (c.650) there. In Burgundy the Catholic Franks broke up Arianism by conquest in the 6th cent. In Spain, where the conquering Visigoths were Arians, Catholicism was not established until the mid-6th cent. (by Recared), and Arian ideas survived for at least another century. Arianism brought many results — the ecumenical council, the Catholic Christological system, and even Nestorianism, and, by reaction, Monophysitism. Nestorianism on the one hand saying Jesus was to be two distinct persons, and Monophystium on the other, closely and inseparably uniteophysitism [Gr.,=belief in one nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon (see Chalcedon, Council of ) fourth ecumenical council. [6]

The emperor Constantine completed what Paul had begun to some —a world hostile to the faith in which Jesus had lived and died. The Council of Nice in 325 determined that Church and Synagogue should have nothing in common, and that whatever smacked of the unity of God and of the freedom of man, or offered a Jewish aspect of worship, must be eliminated from Catholic Christendom.

The transfer of the seat of power from Rome to Constantinople, and the founding of the East Roman empire under Constantine I. gave to Asia Minor, and especially to Constantinople, a commanding importance in the history of the Church for several centuries. The seven oecumenical Councils from 325 to 787 were all held in that city or its neighborhood, and the doctrinal controversies on the Trinity and the person of Christ were carried on chiefly in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.


[1] “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;” (Colossians 1:15 ASV)

[2]The Greek for firstborn is proto with tikto: firstborn. The Greek for first created would be proto with ktizo: first created. Paul did not use the second but the first. Second, the biblical use of the word “firstborn” is most interesting. It can mean the first born child in a family (Luke 2:7), but it can also mean “pre-eminence.” In Psalm 89:20, 27 it says, “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him…I also shall make him My first-born” (NASB). As you can see, David, who was the last one born in his family was called the firstborn by God. This is a title of preeminence here.” CARM(Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry)

[3] Book, 5 chapter 6, section 35, and book 5, chapter 14, section 89

[4] Stromata in ANF 2, chapter 6, page 452

[5] June, 325. (First Council of Nicaea) plus fourteen councils, held between 341 and 360

[6] H. M. Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism (2d ed. 1900); J. H. Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1933, repr. 1968); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971).

W. H. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement (1972); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971) and The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia® Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

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Dutch version / Nederlandse versie:  Politiek en macht eerste prioriteit #2

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  • The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils (catholicexchange.com)
    To be deep into history, John Henry Newman wrote, is to cease to be a Protestant. Put another way, to be deep into history is to become stronger in the Catholic faith—something we are all called to do in this Year of Faith.
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    one key to understanding the orthodox teachings of these councils is heresy. The councils, especially the earliest ones, were essentially anti-heresy conventions, called to sort the wheat of dogma from the chaff of heresy.
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    In all, there were 21 ecumenical councils.
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    Arius believed that people were putting too much emphasis on the Jesus’ divinity that they were forgetting his humanity. After all, does it not say in John 3:16 that Jesus was God’s only begotten son, explicitly stating that Jesus was brought into existence by the Father?  Yet, Alexander felt that to emphasize Christ’s humanity was to strip Christ of his divinity and to make him less than fully divine.

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