Both lived about the same time; both had been captives and both claimed the same simple Christianity founded on a literal reading of the Bible. Both were missionaries in a foreign land and both preserved the belief of one God and His begotten Son.
Neither Irish nor Catholic, Patrick is nevertheless adopted as the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.
He was actually born in the northern British kingdom of Strathclyde in the late 4th century. At the age of 16 Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates from his home along the Scottish coastline.
After working there as a slave for several years, he became a Christian and one night had a dream that a ship was coming to pick him up and return him to his home. He ran away, boarded the ship, and gained his freedom once again.
As Patrick was returning to his home in Scotland, bishops were once again gathering in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) some 56 years after their first Council in nearby Nicea.
The original Nicean Creed drew largely from scripture with which Patrick readily accepted:
“We believe in one God, the Father” 1Cor 8:6
“the Almighty” Rev 4:8
“maker of heaven and earth” Gen 1:1
“and of all things visible and invisible” Col 1:16
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ” 1Cor 8:6
“the only-begotten” John 1:14,18; 3:16,18; Heb 11:17; 1John 4:9
“Son of God” Dan 3:25; Matt 4:3; 8:29; 14:33; 26:63
“begotten of the Father” John 1:14
“before all worlds” Prov 8:22
“God” Phil 2:6; John 20:28
“from God” John 6:46; 8:47
“Light” John 8:12
“from Light” James 1:17
“Life from life” John 5:26
“begotten” John 3:16
“not made” John 1:13; Heb 9:11; Dan 2:45
“not begotten by the will of man” John 1:14
“being of one substance with the Father” Dan 2:45; John 16:27,28
“by whom all things were made” 1Cor 8:6; John 1:3; Eph 3:9.
It was the phrase, “of one substance” that was the center of contention.
Arius, an elder from Alexandria, maintained that the Son was separate and distinct from the Father and used a Greek word to describe this—
homo-i-ousius—“similar in essence” He objected to a slightly different Greek word used by Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria—
homo-ousius—“same in essence.” Two words, differing by only a single letter, and neither of them found in scripture. Today, a similar difference is featured by two other theological terms:
co-substantial and con-substantial—also differing by only a single letter!
Alexander and Athanasius, the new bishop,
insisted the Son had the same divine nature as the Father.
While this could be taken as the same “kind” of nature,
Arius charged them with the heresy of Seballius, making them the very same being.
In return, Athanasius accused Arius of reducing Christ to a mere created being.
Revisions to the Creed were soon made.
“the same substance” became “one substance” and then “one being”.
Jesus did say, “I and my Father are one” John 10:30
And “being in the form of God” Phil 2:6 he would by inheritance
possess the very same divine nature as his Father.
But he also said that we “might be one, even as” he and his Father were one. John 17:11.
Their oneness and our oneness are in the unity of character, as we also may partake of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4
But in Constantinople, as Patrick was turning 21,
The Son was no longer simply begotten of the Father before all worlds and all time,
Now, an indivisible, consubstantial, single triune God being
Was claimed to have a continuously begotten Son
from a continuously begetting Father.
Both inseparable, the Father could no longer be a real Father,
and the Son was no longer a real Son. They were only metaphors to express a divine mystery.
The original Creed barely mentioned the Holy Spirit. But this was now remedied in the year 381 at the Second Council of Constantinople. Now the Holy Spirit was finally elevated to full independent personhood and made “the Lord and giver of life”,
a separate divine person proceeding from the Father,
and now to be “worshiped and glorified” together with the Father and Son.
The Third Person of the Godhead had finally reached full, equal, self-existent status and the Mystery of the Trinity became an official philosophical reality.
Patrick, however, remained true to the written Word of God.
His understanding survives in his Letter and Confession written around 450 AD when he was in his 90s. It is here that we learn of his actual beliefs.
“For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, (1Cor 8:6) whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit (1Cor 15:45) with the Father, (John 1:1; 1John 1:2) indescribably begotten before all things, (Prov 8:22) and all things visible and invisible were made by him. (Col 1:16) He was made man, (Heb 2:9) conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power (Matt 28:18) over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. (Phil 2:9-11) And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, (Acts 10:42) who will render to each according to his deeds (Rom 2:6). And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, (Titus 3:5,6) the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ (Rom 8:16,17)”
Patrick’s confession of faith is remarkable in that he identifies one God, the Father, who is unbegotten and without beginning. In contrast to God the Father, he states that His son Jesus Christ had existed with the Father before the beginning of time in spirit form and was begotten before all things in some indescribable way. It is noteworthy that Patrick does not use the language of Constantinople “eternally begotten.” Rather, he describes a single event then ends by saying,
“…and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.”
This last phrase refers to Matthew 28:19—the only recorded baptismal formula invoking “the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” The other gospels instruct the disciples to simply preach the gospel.
Mark 16:16 “And he that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
Luke 24:47 “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.” Luke doesn’t even mention baptism.
And John gives no commission at all!
Neither does Matthew’s commission specify anything about persons or beings or their nature. Nor does it identify who the Holy Spirit is.
But even more remarkable, it appears that the disciples were unaware of Matthew’s three-fold commission. Because in every instance of baptism recorded in the New Testament after Christ’s ascension, only the name of Jesus or the title Lord appears.
“Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ”, Peter said. Acts 2:38
In Samaria Philip, Peter and John all baptized “In the name of Jesus Christ” 8:12, 16
When Philip baptized the Ethiopian he confessed, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” 8:37
New converts in Cornelius’ household were baptized “in the name of the Lord” 10:48
Those in Ephesus were baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” 19:5
Saul who became the apostle Paul was baptized by Ananias “in the name of the Lord” 22:15
Yes, they were
Baptized into Christ Gal 3:27
It is widely recognized that the three-fold baptismal formula was added after the apostolic period.
Baptized into Jesus Christ Rom 6:3
Buried with him in baptism Col 2:12
Washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus 1Cor 6:11
There is none other name under heaven given among men Acts 4:12
Through his name whosoever believeth in him Acts 10:43
God has…given him a name which is above every name …
that Jesus Christ is Lord Phil 2:9-11
In fact, we are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Col 3:17
"The historical riddle is not solved by Matthew 28:19, since, according to a wide scholarly consensus, it is not an authentic saying of Jesus, not even an elaboration of a Jesus-saying on baptism" (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, 1992, p. 585).
“There is a good possibility that in its original form, as witnessed by the ante-Nicene Eusebian form, the text read "make disciples in my name"” (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 33B; Donald A. Hagner, 1975, page 887).
“Critical scholarship, on the whole, rejects the traditional attribution of the tripartite baptismal formula to Jesus and regards it as of later origin. Undoubtedly then the baptismal formula originally consisted of one part and it gradually developed into its tripartite form.” (The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, Vol. 1, Harry Austryn Wolfson, 1964, p. 143).
Patrick believed in the “trinity of holy name” not in the “name of the holy Trinity.”
As the Father raised His Son from the grave by His Spirit
So also are we raised from the watery grave of baptism to newness of life in the Spirit of Christ.
The apostle Paul said,
“If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken or give life to your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
And “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9
The trinity of holy name is God the Father, the Son of God, and His Spirit.
As it did with the change of the Sabbath to Sunday and Passover to Easter in 321 AD, the Roman church also endorsed the triune baptismal formula. Consequently, it now recognizes all Protestant denominations as truly Christian if they conduct a proper baptism—not one in which they baptize by immersion rather than sprinkling—but one “in the name of the Holy Trinity.”
The Church that gave us another Day also gave us another God and another Baptism.