quarta-feira, 18 de maio de 2011


B. Scriptural Proof of the Doctrine.

  No such doctrine as that of the Trinity can be adequately proved by any citation of Scriptural passages. Its constituent elements are brought into view, some in one place, and some in another.
  The unity of the Divine Being; the true and equal divinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit; their distinct personality; the relation in which they stand one to the other, and to the Church and the world, are not presented in a doctrinal formula in the Word of God, but the several constituent elements of the doctrine are asserted, or assumed, over and over, from the beginning to the end of the Bible. It is, therefore, by proving these elements separately, that the whole doctrine can be most satisfactorily
established. All that is here necessary is, a reference to the general teachings of Scripture on the subject, and to some few passages in which everything essential to the doctrine is included.

The Progressive Character of Divine Revelation.

  1. The progressive character of divine revelation is recognized in relation to all the great doctrines of the Bible. One of the strongest arguments for the divine origin of the Scriptures is the organic relation of its several parts. They comprise more than sixty books written by different men in different ages, and yet they form one whole; not by mere external historical relations, nor in virtue of the general identity of the subjects of which they treat. but by their internal organic development.

  All that is in a full-grown tree was potentially in the seed. All that we find unfolded in the fullness of the gospel lies in a rudimental form in the earliest books of the Bible. What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fulness. This is true of the doctrines of redemption; of the person and work of the Messiah, the promised seed of the woman; of the nature and office of the Holy Spirit; and of a future state beyond the grave. And this is specially true of the doctrine of the Trinity. Even in the
book of Genesis there are intimations of the doctrine which receive their true interpretation in later revelations. That the names of God are in the plural form; that the personal pronouns are often in the first person plural (“Let us make man in our image”); that the form of benediction is threefold, and other facts of like nature, may be explained in different ways. But when it becomes plain, from the progress of the revelation, that there are three persons in the Godhead, then such forms of
expression can hardly fail to be recognized as having their foundation in that great truth.

  2. Much more important, however, is the fact, that not only in Genesis, but also in all the early books of Scripture, we find a distinction made between Jehovah and the angel of Jehovah, who himself is God, to whom all divine titles are given, and divine worship is rendered. As the revelation is unfolded, such distinction becomes more and more manifest. This messenger of God it called the word, the wisdom, the Son of God. His personality and divinity are clearly revealed. He is of old, even from everlasting, the Mighty God, the Adonai, the Lord of David, Jehovah our
Righteousness, who was to be born of a virgin, and bear the sins of many.

  3. In like manner, even in the first chapter of Genesis, the Spirit of God is represented as the source of all intelligence, order, and life in the created universe; and in the following books of the Old Testament He is represented as inspiring the prophets, giving wisdom, strength, and goodness to statesmen and warriors, and to the people of God. This Spirit is not an agency, but an agent, who teaches and selects; who can be sinned against and grieved; and who, in the New Testament, is
unmistakably revealed as a distinct person. When John the Baptist appeared, we find him speaking of the Holy Spirit as of a person with whom his countrymen were familiar, as an object of divine worship and the giver of saving blessings. Our divine Lord also takes this truth for granted, and promised to send the Spirit, as a Paraclete, to take his place; to instruct, comfort, and strengthen them, whom they were to receive and obey. Thus, without any violent transition, the earliest
revelations of this mystery were gradually unfolded, until the Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit, appears in the New Testament as the universally recognized God of all believers.

The Formula of Baptism.

  4. In the formulas of Baptism and of the Apostolic Benediction, provision was made to keep this doctrine constantly before the minds of the people, as a cardinal article of the Christian faith. Every Christian is baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The personality, the divinity, and consequently the equality of these three subjects, are here taken for granted. The association of the Son and Spirit with the Father, the identity of relation, so far as dependence and
obedience are concerned, which we sustain to the Father, Son, and Spirit respectively; the confession and profession involved in the ordinances; all forbid any other interpretation of this formula than that which it has always received in the Church. If the expression, “In the name of the Father,” implies the personality of the Father, the same implication is involved when it is used in reference to the Son and Spirit. If we acknowledge our subjection and allegiance to the one, we acknowledge
the same subjection and allegiance to the other divine persons here named.

The Apostolic Benediction.

  In the apostolic benediction a prayer is addressed to Christ for his grace, to the Father for his love, and to the Spirit for his fellowship. The personality and divinity of each are therefore solemnly recognized every time that this benediction is pronounced and received.

  5. In the record of our Lord’s baptism, the Father addresses the Son, and the Spirit descends in the form of a dove. In the discourse of Christ, recorded in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John’s Gospel, our Lord speaks to and of the Father, and promises to send the Spirit to teach, guide, and comfort his disciples. In that discourse the personality and divinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit are recognized with equal clearness. In 1 Cor. xii. 4-6, the Apostle speaks of diversity of gifts, but
the same Spirit; of diversity of administration, but the same Lord; and of diversities of operations, but the same God.
  It is not to be forgotten, however, that the faith of the Church in the doctrine of the Trinity, does not rest exclusively or principally on such arguments as those mentioned above. The great foundation of that faith is what is taught everywhere in the Bible of the unity of the Divine Being; of the personality and divinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit; and of their mutual relations.

§ 3. The Transition Period.

  A. The Necessity for a more Definite Statement of the Doctrine.

  The Biblical form of the doctrine of the Trinity, as given above, includes everything that is essential to the integrity of the doctrine, and all that is embraced in the faith of ordinary Christians. It is not all, however, that is included in the creeds of the Church. It is characteristic of the Scriptures, that the truths therein presented are exhibited in the form in which they address themselves to our religious consciousness. To this feature of the Word of God, its adaptation to general use is to be attributed. A truth often lies in the mind of the Church as an object of faith, long before it is wrought cut in its doctrinal form; that is, before it is analyzed, its contents clearly ascertained, and its elements stated in due relation to each other. When a doctrine so complex as that of the Trinity is presented as an object of faith, the mind is forced to reflect upon it, to endeavour to ascertain what it includes,
and how its several parts are to be stated, so as to avoid confusion or contradiction. Besides this internal necessity for a definite statement of the doctrine, such statement was forced upon the Church from without. Even among those who honestly intended to receive what the Scriptures taught upon the subject, it was inevitable that there should arise diversity in the mode of statement, and confusion and contradiction in the use of terms. As the Church is one, not externally merely,
but really and inwardly, this diversity and confusion are as much an evil, a pain, and an embarrassment, troubling its inward peace, as the like inconsistency and confusion would be in an individual mind. There was, therefore, an inward and outward necessity, in the Church itself, for a clear, comprehensive, and consistent statement of the various elements of this complex doctrine of Christian faith.

  B. Conflict with Error.

  Besides this necessity for such a statement of the doctrine as would satisfy the minds of those who received it, there was a further necessity of guarding the truth from the evil influence of false or erroneous exhibitions of it. The conviction was deeply settled in the minds of all Christians that Christ is a divine person. The glory which He displayed, the authority which He assumed, the power which He exhibited, the benefits which He conferred, necessitated the recognition of Him as the true God. No less strong, however, was the conviction that there is only one God. The difficulty was, to reconcile these two fundamental articles of the Christian faith. The mode of solving this difficulty, by rejecting one of these articles to save the other, was repudiated by common consent.

  There were those who denied the divinity of Christ, and endeavoured to satisfy the minds of believers by representing Him as the best of men; as filled with the Spirit of God; as the Son of God, because miraculously begotten; or as animated and controlled by the power of God: but, nevertheless, merely a man. This view of the person of Christ was so universally rejected in the early Church, as hardly to occasion controversy. The errors with which the advocates of the doctrine of the Trinity had to contend were of a higher order. It was of course unavoidable that both parties, the advocates and the opponents of the doctrine, availed themselves of the current philosophies of the age. Consciously or unconsciously, all men are more or less controlled in their modes of thinking on divine subjects by the metaphysical opinions which prevail around them, and in which they have been educated.
We accordingly find that Gnosticism and Platonism coloured the views of both the advocates and the opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity during the Ante-Nicene period.

Systematic Theology - Volume I Charles Hodge
Pesquisa: Pastor Charles Maciel Vieira

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