"[Eighth, Mr. Knapton accuses me of “unintended sophistry” in pointing out that the theistic rationalists did not believe that Jesus was God and he suggests that there was “a strain of Christian thought” which taught that Jesus was subordinate to God. Methinks the sophistry is one the other foot, however. Mr. Knapton refers, apparently, to the Arian or Socinian heresies, which the church had declared to be heresies — and not Christian doctrine — centuries before. On page 10 of my dissertation, I have a chart which outlines the basic core beliefs of the Christian denominations in 18th century America as expressed in their own creeds, confessions, and catechisms. Every Christian denomination in 18th century America affirmed the deity of Christ and the Trinity as basic core "Christian beliefs. Mr. Knapton’s suggestion might appeal to groups which came along later and who CLAIMED to be Christians, such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses; but it doesn’t stand up to 18th century scrutiny. There were, of course, those who denied the deity of Christ and the Trinity (including the theistic rationalists), but they were considered “infidels” by 18th-century Christians."
Tom Van Dyke responded in the comments section with the following:
"'Every Christian denomination in 18th century America affirmed the deity of Christ and the Trinity as basic core Christian beliefs.'
Except the Christian unitarians.http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/02/who-were-unitarians.html
This goes in circles, because the dreaded "chart" is theological, not historical. A Jewish---or any impartial---observer would call them Christian---they accepted the Bible as Divine revelation, and Jesus as Messiah."
To which Dr. Frazer left the following:
"Re Tom's "except Christian unitarians" response to my "Every Christian denomination in 18th century America affirmed the deity of Christ and the Trinity as basic core Christian beliefs": there was no unitarian denomination in America until the 19th century. So, my statement stands irrespective of Tom's claim that unitarians, who worshiped an entirely different god than did Christians, were Christians. While there were individual unitarians (and a couple of unitarian churches) who claimed to be Christians, every Christian denomination affirmed the Trinity...
If you think, Tom, that the American protestant churches in the 18th century believed in the Trinity because it was Roman Catholic dogma, then you need to go back and read their views of the Roman church. They would be far more likely to reject a doctrine on the grounds that the Roman church taught it than they would be to accept it on that basis."
To which I responded:
"'"If you think, Tom, that the American protestant churches in the 18th century believed in the Trinity because it was Roman Catholic dogma, then you need to go back and read their views of the Roman church.'
That's not the charge Gregg. It is that the Protestants took a large part of Roman Catholic doctrine seemingly uncritically. This is not surprising considering that Luther was a monk. To be sure the real history of Constantine bullying people into excepting something they did not believe in has some bearing on things.
By narrowing the years of your study of orthodoxy you minimize legitimate Christian debate prior to the Reformation and give a false impression that any of this stuff was new and enlightenment thinking. If the whole view of Christian history is looked at we realize that almost none of this was new and that Christians argued for centuries about most of it.
In other words, if we use your years the Unitarians are some fringe sect. But if we open the discussion up to the full scope of Christian history we find that it was about half of Christianity that did not believe in the Trinity at the time and that they were silenced by secular emperor looking out for his own political interests."
I quoted this word for word to keep the integrity of the dialogue but would change "half of Christianity" in my last remark to "A significant enough segment in a huge empire that it made the emperor nervous enough to convene a convention to end the controversy by force." In other words, a whole lot of people. Many of whom were bishops and influential church leaders. So I guess my question to Dr. Frazer is why he limits the years he studies to the ones at the time of the founding? If we are discussing what is "Christian" it would seem only fair to open that discussion up to all of church history. Does it not? If we do then his position becomes theological not historical.
I will not even get into the whole sordid affair of how Arians were voted into being "infidels" by Constantine that Frazer leaves out in his response to Mr. Knapton.