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 The Principles of Theology - Article 1

by W.H.Griffith Thomas

ARTICLE 1

<< 4. The Manifestation Of God In Nature

 

5. The Revelation Of God In Christ

Christianity agrees so far with natural theology, but adds its own specific view of God, the Trinity. This is the distinctive doctrine of Christian Theism.[51] Its basis is the Unity of God, for the Trinity is essentially Monotheistic. While it is true that the Trinity in Scripture is almost always concerned with Redemption, this aspect of Revelation is necessarily based upon an essential Trinity.[52] This distinction between a Trinity of Revelation and a Trinity of Reality is sometimes expressed by the words “Trinity” and “Tri-unity”.[53]

1. The Doctrine Stated.[54] By the Trinity we mean the specific and unique Christian idea of the Godhead, and we must always understand by it both the doctrine of Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity, for the Trinity should suggest the Unity quite as much as the threefoldness of the Deity. But the specific Christian thought of God is that of a Spirit in the unity of whose Being is revealed a distinction of Persons whom we call Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the God from Whom, through Whom, and by Whom all things come – the Father as the primal Source, the Son as the Redemptive Mediator, and the Holy Spirit as the personal Applier of life and grace. The Christian idea of the Trinity may be summed up in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. The Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. And in this Trinity none is afore or after other; none is greater or less than another, but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.”

2. The Doctrine Approached. It is sometimes asked why we are not given a definite statement that there are three Persons in the Godhead. One reason for the absence of any such categorical teaching is probably to be found in the fact that the earliest hearers of the Gospel were Jews, and that any such pronouncement might (and probably would) have seemed a contradiction of their own truth of the unity of the Godhead. Consequently, instead of giving an intellectual statement of doctrine, which might have led to theological and philosophic discussion, and ended only in more intense opposition to Christianity, the Apostles preached Jesus of Nazareth as a personal Redeemer from sin, and urged on every one the acceptance of Him. Then, in due course, would come the inevitable process of thought and meditation upon this personal experience, which would in turn lead to the inference that Jesus, from Whom, and in Whom, these experiences were being enjoyed, must be more than man, must be none other than Divine, for “Who can forgive sins but God only?”. Through such a personal impression and inference based on experience, a distinction in the Godhead would at once be realised. Then, in the course of their Christian life, and through fuller instruction, the personal knowledge and experience of the Holy Spirit would be added, and once again a similar inference would in due course follow, making another distinction in their thought of the Godhead. The intellectual conception and expression of these distinctions probably concerned only comparatively few of the early believers, but, nevertheless, all of them had in their lives a definite experience which could only have been from above, and which no difficulty of intellectual correlation or of theological co-ordination with former teachings could invalidate and destroy.

3. The Doctrine Derived. The doctrine of the Trinity is thus an expansion of the doctrine of the Incarnation, and emerges out of the personal claim of our Lord, as seen in the New Testament. In the Gospels we note that our Lord’s method of revealing Himself to His disciples was by means of personal impression. His character, teaching, and claim formed the centre of everything, and His one object was, as it were, to stamp Himself on His disciples, knowing that in the light of fuller experience His true nature and relations would become clear to them. We see the culmination of this impression in the confession, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Then in the Acts of the Apostles we find St. Peter preaching to Jews, and emphasising two associated truths: (1) the Sonship and Messiahship of Jesus, as proved by the Resurrection; and (2) the consequent relation of the hearers to Him as to a Saviour and Master. The emphasis is laid on the personal experience of forgiveness and grace, without any attempt to state our Lord’s position in relation to God. Indeed, the references to Jesus Christ as the “Servant (wrongly rendered in A.V. ‘Son’) of God” in Acts 3:13,26 and 4:27, seem to show that the Christian thought regarding our Lord was still immature so far as there was any purely intellectual consideration of it. It is worthy of note that this phrase, which is doubtless the New Testament counterpart of Isaiah’s teaching on the “Servant of the Lord”, is not found in the New Testament later than these earlier chapters of the Acts. Yet in the preaching of St. Peter the claim made for Jesus of Nazareth as the Source of healing (3:6,16), the Prince of life (3:15), the Head Stone of the corner (4:11), and the one and only way of Salvation (4:12), was an unmistakable assumption of the position and power of the Godhead.

In the same way the doctrine of the Godhead of the Holy Spirit arises directly out of our Lord’s revelation. Once grant a real personal distinction between the Father and the Son and it is not difficult to believe it also of the Spirit, as revealed by the Son.[55] As long as Christ was present on earth there was no room and no need for the specific work of the Holy Spirit, but as Christ was departing from the world He revealed a doctrine which clearly associated the Holy Spirit with Himself and the Father in a new and unique way (John 14:16,17,26; 15:26; 16:7-15). Arising immediately out of this, and consonant with it, is the place given to the Holy Spirit in the Book of the Acts. From chapter 5, where lying against the Holy Ghost is equivalent to lying against God (5:3,4,9), we see throughout the Book the essential Deity of the Holy Spirit in the work attributed to Him of superintending and controlling the life of the Apostolic Church (2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 13:2,4; 16:6; 20:28).

Then in the Epistles we find references to our Lord Jesus and to the Holy Spirit which imply quite unmistakably the functions of Godhead. In the opening salutations Christ is associated with God as the Source of grace and peace (1 Thess. 1:1 f.; 1 Peter 1:2), and in the closing benedictions as the Divine Source of Blessing (Rom. 15:30; 2 Thess. 3:16, 18). In the doctrinal statements He is referred to in practical relation to us and to our spiritual life in terms that can be predicated of God only, and in the revelations concerning things to come He is stated to be about to occupy a position which can refer to God only. In like manner, the correlation of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son in matters essentially Divine is clear (1 Cor. 2:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).[56] It is the function of the Spirit to make redemptive history live again before the gaze of faith.

In all these assertions and implications of the Godhead of Jesus Christ, it is to be noted very carefully that St. Paul has not the faintest idea of contradicting his Jewish Monotheism. Though he and others thus proclaimed the Godhead of Christ, it is of great moment to remember that Christianity was never accused of Polytheism. The New Testament doctrine of God is essentially a form of Monotheism, and stands in no relation to Polytheism. There can be no doubt that, however and whenever the Trinitarian idea was formulated, it arose in immediate connection with the Monotheism of Judæa; and the Apostles, Jews though they were, in stating so unmistakably the Godhead of Jesus Christ, are never once conscious of teaching anything inconsistent with their most cherished ideas about the unity of God.

4. The Doctrine Confirmed. When we have approached the doctrine by means of the personal experience of redemption, we are prepared to give full consideration to the two lines of teaching found in the New Testament. (a) One line of teaching insists on the unity of the Godhead (1 Cor. 8:4; Jas. 2:19); and (b) the other reveals distinctions within the Godhead (Matt. 3:16, 17; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). We see clearly that (1) the Father is God (Matt. 11:25; Rom. 15:6; Eph. 4:6); (2) the Son is God (John 1:1,18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Ro. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:6; 2 Peter 1:1); (3) the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3,4; 1 Cor. 2:10,11; Eph. 2:22); (4) the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another, sending and being sent, honouring and being honoured. The Father honours the Son, the Son honours the Father, and the Holy Spirit honours the Son (John 15:26; 16:13, 14; 17:1, 8, 18, 23). (5) Nevertheless, whatever relations of subordination there may be between the Persons in working out redemption, the Three are alike regarded as God. The doctrine of the Trinity is the correlation, embodiment, and synthesis of the teaching of these passages. In the Unity of the Godhead there is a Trinity of Persons working out Redemption. God the Father is the Creator and Ruler of man and the Provider of redemption through His love (John 3:16). God the Son is the Redeemer, Who became man for the purpose of our redemption. God the Holy Spirit is the “Executive of the Godhead”, the “Vicar of Christ”, Who applies to each believing soul the benefits of redemption. We see this very clearly in Heb. 10:7-17, where the Father wills, the Son works, and the Spirit witnesses. The elements of the plan of redemption thus find their root, foundation, and spring in the nature of the Godhead; and the obvious reason why these distinctions which we express by the terms “Person” and “Trinity” were not revealed earlier than New Testament times is that not until then was redemption accomplished.

5. The Doctrine Supported. When all this is granted and so far settled, we may find a second line of teaching to support the foregoing in the revelation of God as Love. Following the suggestion of St. Augustine, most modern theologians have rightly seen in this a safe ground for our belief. It transcends, and perhaps renders unnecessary, all arguments drawn from human and natural analogies of the doctrine. “God is Love” means, as someone has well said, “God as the infinite home of all moral emotions, the fullest, and most highly differentiated life”. Love must imply relationships, and as He is eternally perfect in Himself, He can realise Himself as Love only through relationships within His own Being. We may go so far as to say that this is the only way of obtaining a living thought about God. Belief in Theism postulates a self-existent God, and yet it is impossible to think of a God without relationships. These relationships must be eternal and prior to His temporal relationships to the universe of His own creation. He must have relationships eternally adequate and worthy, and when once we realise that love must have an object in God as well as in ourselves, we have the germ of that distinction in the Godhead which is theologically known as the Trinity.[57]

6. The Doctrine Anticipated. At this stage, and only here, we may seek another support for the doctrine. In the light of the facts of the New Testament we cannot refrain from asking whether there may not have been some adumbrations of it in the Old Testament. As the doctrine arises directly out of the facts of the New Testament, we do not look for any full discovery of it in the Old Testament. We must not expect too much, because, as Israel’s function was to emphasise the unity of God (Deut. 6:4), any premature revelation might have been disastrous. But if the doctrine be true, we might expect that Christian Jews, at any rate, would seek for some anticipation of it in the Old Testament. We believe we find it there. (a) The use of the plural “Elohim”, with the singular verb, “bara”, is at least noteworthy, and seems to call for some recognition, especially as the same grammatical solecism is found used by St. Paul (1 Thess. 3:11, Greek). Then, too, the use of the plurals “us” (Gen. 1:26), “our” (3:22), “us” (11:7), seems to indicate some self-converse in God. It is not satisfactory to refer this to angels because they were not associated with God in creation. Whatever may be the meaning of this usage, it seems, at any rate, to imply that Hebrew Monotheism was an intensely living reality.[58] (b) The references to the “Angel of Jehovah” prepare the way for the Christian doctrine of a distinction in the Godhead (Gen. 18:2, 16; 17:22 with 19:1; Josh. 5:13-15 with 6:2; Jud. 13:8-21; Zech. 13:7). (c) Allusions to the “Spirit of Jehovah” form another line of Old Testament teaching. In Genesis 1:2 the Spirit is an energy only, but in subsequent books an agent (Isa. 40:13; 48:16; 59:19; 63:10 f.). (d) The personification of Divine Wisdom is also to be observed, for the connection between the personification of Wisdom in Prov. 8, the Logos of John 1:1-18, and the “wisdom” of 1 Cor. 1:24 can hardly be accidental. (e) There are also other hints, such as the Triplicity of the Divine Names (Numb. 6:24-27; Psa. 29:3-5; Isa. 6:1-3), which, while they may not be pressed, cannot be overlooked. Hints are all that were to be expected until the fullness of time should have come. The special work of Israel was to guard God’s transcendence and omnipresence; it was for Christianity to develop the doctrine of the Godhead into the fullness, depth, and richness that we find in the revelation of the Incarnate Son of God.

7. The Doctrine Justified. It is sometimes urged by opponents of the orthodox faith that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be defended on rational grounds, and has to be received simply upon the authority of revelation. But it should be noticed that the element of mystery in this doctrine is really due to the fact that it is a doctrine of God rather than a doctrine of the Tri-unity of God. From the very nature of the case we can only know God in part and cannot possibly grasp the infinite reality with our finite powers. If, therefore, our doctrine of God, apart from the Trinity, is to be set aside because of its element of mystery, then nothing but agnosticism is possible. So that while fully admitting the mystery associated with the doctrine of the Trinity it is important to remember that this mystery is not exclusively associated with the conception of God as Three in One. And although the knowledge of God as Triune comes to us through revelation, yet we believe that having thus received the knowledge it can be justified on perfectly rational grounds. Before attempting to state this it is necessary to point out that there can be no a priori objection to the doctrine since we can know God only as He reveals Himself. The facts alone must settle His character, and on this basis alone we are prepared to justify the position.

(a) The Facts of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity is entirely without any trace of Hellenic or mythological influence. It is derivable solely from the record of Scripture concerning the Person and claim of Christ.[59] The doctrine is an expansion, extension, and necessary sequel of the doctrine of the Incarnation. “If the Incarnation, in the Christian sense, be true, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is true also. For there is no break between them; they are parts of one and the same truth.”[60] The doctrine of the Trinity is thus no independent speculation, or intellectual figment, but is historically traceable to the facts of Christ’s consciousness and claim. Christ’s revelation of Himself implies and unfolds mutual relations between Himself and God which are unique, and in the course and issue of His revelation He reveals a doctrine of the Holy Spirit that demands co-ordination with that of the Father and the Son.

(b) The Facts of Christian Experience. It is simple truth to state that Christians of all periods of history claim to have personal direct fellowship with Christ. This claim must be accounted for. It is only possible by predicating the Deity of our Lord, for such fellowship would be impossible with One Who is not a God.[61]

(c) The Facts of History. Compared with other religions, Christianity makes God a reality in a way in which no other system does. The doctrine of the Trinity has several theological and philosophical advantages over the Unitarian conception of God, but especially is this so in reference to the relation of God to the world. There are two conceivable relations – as Transcendent (in Mohammedanism), or as Immanent (in Buddhism). The first alone means Deism, the second alone Pantheism. But the Christian idea of God is of One Who is at once Transcendent and Immanent.[63] It is, therefore, the true protection of a living Theism, which otherwise oscillates uncertainly between these two extremes of Deism and Pantheism, either of which is false to it. It is only in Christianity that the Semitic conception of God as Transcendent and the Aryan conception as Immanent are united, blended, correlated, balanced, and preserved. One of the most striking illustrations of this is found in the speech of St. Paul at Athens, when he, a Semite, was addressing Aryans. First of all he presented his Gospel to them on its Semitic side, God being declared to be Judge, King, Creator, and God of Righteousness. But there was a further message to this Aryan audience, providing the answer to their yearnings for fellowship with the Divine. “He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” So the truth the Semites saw and the truth the Aryans saw are harmonised in the Gospel, and the two truths run through the whole teaching of the New Testament. On the surface they may seem contradictory, and during the centuries of Christian history one has obtained the upper hand at times, the other at others. In the Puritan age and the Deistic period which arose after it, the Semitic conception dominated thought. Then came the pantheistic tendency of the Aryan rebellion against the Semitic conception, and this tendency has been found in the philosophical thought of German writers, and in devout circles in Mysticism. But whenever this tendency spends its force there is an inevitable reaction towards Semitic modes of thought. Deity is never a bare unity, but always a fullness of life and love. Fatherhood and sonship are archetypes of human relationships, and the escape from all reactions and extremes is found in Jesus Christ, in Whom, as Pascal says, “all contradictions are reconciled”. Some time ago a Jewish Rabbi, speaking at a meeting of Christian ministers, said that “the Jews have a higher, clearer vision of God because they are able to see Him without the garment of flesh which seems so necessary to Christians. Christians have not yet grown up; they need illustrations, and Christ is their picture of God.” To this the answer is obvious. “No man hath seen God at any time.” And that the modern Jew has a higher conception of God is amply disproved by the spiritual sterility that has overtaken the race, a sterility which is true of every Unitarian conception. There are men, both Jews and Gentiles, who have remarkable powers in art, in music, in finance, and in other natural abilities, whose mental powers are of the highest, and yet in moral force they are decidedly lower and their conception of God has been tried and found wanting. The one thing lacking in their vision of God is that reality which is so characteristic of the Christian conception.[63]

(d) The Facts of Reason. It is simple truth to say that if Jesus be not God, Christians are idolaters, for they worship One Who is not God. There is no other alternative. But when once the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity is regarded as arising out of Christ’s claim to Godhead as Divine Redeemer, reason soon finds its warrant for the doctrine. Every theist wants to believe in a self-existent Deity, and yet it is impossible to conceive of One Who has no relationships. This is the only way of obtaining a living thought of God. Philosophy is always faced with the question whether matter or spirit is the ground of things, and a conception is needed which will include the incomprehensibility of Agnosticism, the immanence of Pantheism, the transcendence of Deism, and the personality of Theism. It is only Christianity that does this. Thus while the doctrine of the Trinity comes to us by revelation and not by nature, it is seen to have points of contact with thought and reason.[64] And it is a perfectly rational belief when it is not misinterpreted. While necessarily it transcends reason it does not contradict it, and any contradiction is due not to the doctrine, but to our misunderstanding of it.[65] And so we do not hesitate to affirm that if the Trinitarian view is omitted, nothing characteristic is left in the Christian conception of God.

These considerations may perhaps be brought to a close by a reference to certain analogies which, as they are not proofs, do not carry us far, though they are useful as illustrations. Everywhere in nature unity co-exists with plurality, unity in plurality being a distinctive mark of all organic life. The only perfect concord of music is a trinity,[66] consisting of the fundamental note with its third and fifth which proceed from it and form the complete chord, known as the Perfect Triad. From this chord all other harmonies are built, and the moment we add any other note we get what is technically known as a discord, a chord which requires resolution, which leaves the ear unsatisfied, and which must invariably be resolved on to the concord of the Perfect Triad before the musical sentence can be satisfactorily finished. Then, to, there are three instruments of progress: Religion, Science, and Art. And according to recent science the universe is triune, consisting of Ether as invisible substance, Matter as visible fact, and Energy as consisting of the forces of heat, light, sound, and electricity. The rays of light are also threefold. There are heat rays which are felt but not seen; light rays which are seen and not felt, and actinic rays which are known only by the effects of their chemical action (as in photography), being neither seen nor felt. So also is it with vapour, which we have invisible in the air, visible in the form of water, and experienced in its effects. Nor may we overlook the analogy of human personality in Thought, Feeling, and Will, and the human constitution as consisting of Spirit, Soul, and Body. It is impossible to avoid noticing the co-existence of the unity of the soul with its plurality of faculties. Even Kant, when adducing his moral argument for Theism, recognised three postulates, God, Freewill, Immortality. Reference has already been made to the singular threefoldness in Scripture (Numb. 6:24-26; Isa. 6:3). The value of analogy is to suggest that numerals are found elsewhere than in theology.

To sum up: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is evidently and eminently one for faith. The title of the Article suggests this, “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity”, and the Collect for Trinity Sunday points in the same direction, “Keep us steadfast in this faith”. It is a doctrine for the apprehension of faith, not for the comprehension of reason, and its truth is really independent of all that technical terminology which necessarily came at a much later time.

>> The History Of The Doctrine

 

Footnotes

[51] “It was, therefore, with a sound instinct that the Christian Church, in the first period of its history, devoted its thinking mainly to the elucidation and consolidation of its knowledge of God. It was a task which entailed centuries of controversy, for the problem was a difficult and complicated one. The hard problem for theology was to combine the doctrine of an ethical monotheism, which it took over from the Old Testament, with the new matter that was given in the mediatorial work and the Divine Sonship of Christ, and in the economy of the Holy Spirit” (Paterson, ut supra, p. 203).

[52] “A trinity of Revelation is a misrepresentation if there is not behind it a trinity of reality” (Dormer, quoted in O. A. Curtis, The Christian Faith, p. 484).

[53] So W. N. Clarke, An Outline of Christian Theology, and The Christian Doctrine of God.

[54] This is taken in substance from the article “trinity”, by the author, in Hastings’ one-volume Bible Dictionary.

[55] “The doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity seemed to me most absurd in my agnostic days. But now, as a pure agnostic, I see in them no rational difficulty at all. As to the Trinity, the plurality of persons is naturally implied in the companion doctrine of the Incarnation. So that at best there is here but one difficulty, since, duality being postulated in the doctrine of the Incarnation, there is no further difficulty for pure agnosticism in the doctrine of plurality” (Romanes, Thoughts on Religion, pp. 174, 175).

[56] “It is natural to think of the doctrine of the Trinity as a later growth. So, in one sense, it is. It is not complete until we come to the enlarged form of the Nicene Creed and the Council of Chalcedon, in a.d. 451. But all that is essential in the doctrine – the main lines – were already laid down when St. Paul wrote his first two groups of Epistles, in the years 52, 53, and 57-58. In the very earliest of all his extant letters, St. Paul solemnly addresses the Thessalonian Christians as being ‘in the fellowship of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’, placing the two names in the closest juxtaposition, and giving to them an equal weight of authority. And from the date of his second Epistle to the same Church onwards, he invokes ‘grace and peace’ also ‘from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’, making them the one conjoint source of Divine blessing.
“And if it is urged that this is but the first stage in the history of the doctrine, we have only to turn to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, written, in any case within a year or two of a.d. 57, and we have there the familiar benediction at the end of the Epistle, in which the Name of the Holy Spirit is associated on equal terms with that of God the Father and God the Son; while in the body of the Epistle, as in two almost contemporary Epistles – 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 8 – the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has already received a considerable development. I say a development, but only in the sense that the doctrine come to us as a new one. St. Paul himself does not teach it as if he were teaching something in itself wholly new. He assumes it as already substantially understood and known. Does not this cast back a light upon, and does not it supply an extraordinary confirmation of, what the Gospel tells of the promise of the Comforter, and what the Acts tells us of the fulfilment of that promise? When we are brought so near in time to our Lord’s own ministry upon the earth, can we help referring this rapid growth of a doctrine, which seems to us so difficult, to intimations directly received from Him? But, indeed, the greatest difficulty in the doctrine of the Trinity was already over, and the foundation-stone of the doctrine was already laid, the moment that it was distinctly realised that there was walking upon the earth One Who was God as well as Man. If the Son of God was really there, and if there was, nevertheless, a Godhead in the heavens, then, in the language of men, we must needs say that there were two Persons in the Godhead; and if two, then it was a comparatively easy step to say that there were three. The doctrine of the Trinity is only one of the necessary sequels of the doctrine of the Incarnation” (Sanday, Church Congress, 1894).

[57] Paterson, ut supra, p. 220 f. See an able presentation of this doctrine of a “Social Trinity” in “Monotheism and the Doctrine of the Trinity”, by A. T. Burbridge, London Quarterly Review.

[58] Ottley, The Incarnation, p. 183 f.

[59] “If in Scripture the nature of the Holy Spirit is left mysterious and undefined, only some strong impulse and necessity of Christian thought could ever have driven either Christian thinkers to formulate, or the Christian Church to accept, a doctrine so difficult as the personality of the Spirit and the Triune nature of God” (Lendrum, An Outline of Christian Truth, p. 71).

[60] Strong, ut supra, p. 142.

[61] “As to the Trinity, I do understand you. You first taught me that the doctrine was a live thing, and not a mere formula to be swallowed by the undigesting reason; and from the time that I learnt from you that a Father meant a real Father, a Son a real Son, a Holy Spirit a real Spirit, who was really good and holy, I have been able to draw all sorts of practical lessons from it in the pulpit, and ground all my morality and a great deal of my natural philosophy upon it, and shall do so more” (Kingsley, Letters and Memories of His Life, 1877).

[62] “It was to maintain this double relation that Philo conceived of the Logos as a middle term between God and the creation and the Neo-Platonists distinguished between God, the νους, and the soul of the world. When a middle term is wanting we have either, as in the later Judaism and Mohammedanism, an abstract and immobile Monotheism, or, in recoil from this, a losing of God in the world in Pantheism. In the Christian doctrine of the triune Son we have the necessary safeguards against both these errors, and at the same time the link between God and the world supplied which speculation vainly strove to find” (Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, p. 276).

[63] “Every Church which has departed from this Faith has ipso facto sealed its own death-warrant. It is beyond question that those Churches, and congregations, in England and in Ireland which, in the eighteenth century, let go the doctrine of the Trinity, faded away and disappeared” (Cooper, Religion and the Modern Mind, “The Doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity”, p. 145).

[64] “It started in the concrete with the baptismal formula … emanating from Jesus Christ. And throughout the history of its dogmatic formulation, we are confronted with this fact. It was regarded as a revelation by the men who shaped its intellectual expression; and it was only in the process … of that expression, that its congruity with human psychology came out, that psychology in fact being distinctly developed in the effort to give it utterance. … They did not accommodate Christian religion to their philosophy, but philosophy to their Christian religion. It appeals first to elemental humanity in the hearts of unsophisticated men; far removed from Alexandria or Athens; yet the very words in which it does so, turn out, upon analysis, to involve a view of personality which the world had not attained, but which, once stated, is seen to be profoundly, philosophically true” (Illingworth, Personality Human and Divine, p. 212 f.).

[65] “The result seems to be that the New Testament, besides revealing the œconomical Trinity, or the Trinity as related to the Church and operative ad extra, furnishes a revelation of the same Trinity as it exists intrinsically, and is operative ad intra, and teaches that apart from all manifestations of God in creation or in redemption, He is, in Himself, not an abstract Monas, but a Trinity of immanent relations expressed under the terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that is, that in the Godhead there exist energies which terminate in itself” (Litton, ut supra, p. 103).
See also Illingworth, ut supra, p. 73 f.; The Doctrine of the Trinity pp. 144, 254; Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, Lecture 7.

[66] “It is curious how the number three starts up to meet us unsought and unexpected” (Mackintosh, ut supra, p. 38).

 

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