The traditional teaching of the church about God is that God is a Trinity of three co-equal and co-eternal Persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. Anyone who reads my blog a lot knows that I was a Trinitarian for twenty-two years, then I changed to believe that the Bible presents God as one person, whom Jesus regularly called “Father,” and the Bible does not say that Jesus is God. Yet I also believe everything the post-apostolic church has proclaimed about Jesus, especially that he died for our sins on the cross as Savior, was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, sat at the right hand of God on the throne of God, and he will return in the future with his world kingdom given to him by God.
I then wrote a 500 page Bible book without saying Jesus is God titled The restitution of Jesus Christ (2008) in which I cite the writings of over 400 researchers and interact with them. (To see a list of over 130 articles of 2-3 pages each that represent condensations of this book, go to the Kermit Zarley Blog and click on “Christology” in the header bar.)
In recent years, I have come to suspect more and more that the baptismal formula of Mt 28.19b is not original, so it is an inserted interpolation from a later epoch.
Matthew 28.19-20 is represented as a word from the risen Jesus to his disciples. It reads in the NRSV as follows: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And remember, I’m with you always, until the end of the age. See my similar blog post on this text titled “Is the Trinitarian Formula in Matthew 28:19 an Interpolation?”
The triple baptismal formula of Mt 28:19 also appears in the old and non-canonical literature of La Didache (2x) and of Tertullian. At Baptism. Scholars believed that La Didache was written at the end of the 2sd vs. But most now believe that it was written at the end of the 1st c., although some still stand to this day.
Tertullian (c. 155-c. 240) was a Berber who would have become a lawyer before his Christian conversion. I have been to the Berber mountains in North Africa. These native Berbers are interesting and seemingly industrious people who dress in colorful clothes.
Tertullian lived and ministered in Carthage in Tunisia, North Africa, which was located on the Mediterranean Sea. He wrote at the beginning 2sd c., from c. 204, although perhaps some of his works were earlier.
Tertullian became a prolific Christian apologist author who had a huge subsequent influence on Christianity despite the fact that he was never canonized by either the Western or Eastern branches of Christendom. This is because some of his teachings were questionable. Yet he is considered “the father of Latin Christianity” and “the father of Western theology”.
Tertullian is best known for being the first to apply the Latin word trinitas (trinity) to God (in fact he was not the first as I say in my book), which became the basis for the formulation of the official doctrine of the Trinity by the church at the end of the fourth century . In some of Tertullian’s writings, he calls the Father and the Son “two gods”. (See Dale and Zalta Tuggy, History of Trinitarian Doctrines.)
Tertullian became a Montanist. I think there was finally a large Montanist community in Carthage, Tunisia. This Christian sect was first established by Montanus in Phrygia, Asia Minor, and then spread elsewhere. The Montanists focused on the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and miracles, just as the Pentecostals do today.
Since the Montanists put so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit over other Christians, I think Tertullian could have been an important person who first asserted that the Holy Spirit was a person, or Tertullian could have been. one of the first Christians to popularize this belief. Since I am no longer a Trinitarian, I believe this teaching, that the Holy Spirit is a real person, is incorrect. On the contrary, according to the Bible, the (Holy) Spirit of God is to God what the spirit of man is to man because man was made in the image of God.
The following last paragraph of the wikipedia article on “Didache” is informative:
“Significant similarities between the Didache and the Gospel of Matthew have been found because these writings share words, sentences and motives. There is also a growing reluctance of modern scholars to support the thesis that the Didache used Matthew. This close relationship between these two writings might suggest that the two documents were created in the same historical and geographic setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the Gospel of Matthew was probably made up of Jewish Christians from the beginning. In addition, the teaching of the Two Ways (Did. 1-6) may have served as pre-baptismal instruction within the community of Didache and Matthew. Furthermore, the correspondence of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in Didache and Matthew (Did. 7 and Matt 28:19) as well as the similar form of the Lord’s Prayer (Did. 8 and Matt 6: 5-13) seem to reflect the the use of similar oral traditions. Finally, both the community of Didache (Did. 11-13) and Matthew (Mt 7: 15-23; 10: 5-15, 40-42; 24: 11,24) were visited by itinerant apostles and prophets , some of which were heterodox.