Trinity - Alexander Campbell

The trinity of persons (people) assumes the Son to be a third member of the Godhead Who became flesh and left the Father and Holy Spirit in heaven. Alexander Campbell believed that God and His Wisdom and His Thought and His Word existed in eternity past. When God made His Word into a visible form He became the Son. This agrees with the view of the early church fathers who all speak in terms of God, His ideas presented in Words and His Mind or Holy Spirit making the Words powerful.

Jack Cottrell, The Holy Spirit's Work in Conversion "Traditional, orthodox Christian faith says Jesus Christ is not only equal with the Father; he is also distinct from the Father in that he is a separate, distinct person, i.e., a separate center of consciousness with his own distinct thoughts, emotions, and actions."
Concerned Members free discussion of divisive teachers and churches.

John Mark Hicks: Rules replaced by Spiritism?
The Grace - Spirit Harding patternism
8.27.10 Holy Spirit Presence of the Coming Age.
NO ORTHODOX TRINITARIAN TAUGHT THAT.  There is ONE GOD and ONE LORD Jesus as the Christ. The "tri-nature" where Paul compared God's Spirit to our spirit is father, son and spirit: not God, Jesus and the spirit person (people)

Alexander Campbell
answered a question about the trinity which agrees with all early evidence from the church Fathers and down to the liberal 19th century. For instance,

"This God is never called a person. The word person was never applied to God in the Middle ages. The reason for this is that the three members of the trinity were called personae (faces or countenances): The Father is persona, the Son is persona, and the Spirit is persona. Persona here means a special characteristic of the divine ground, expressing itself in an independent hypostasis.

"Thus, we can say that it was the nineteenth century which made God into a person, with the result that the greatness of the classical idea of God was destroyed by this way of speaking... but to speak of God as a person would have been heretical for the Middle Ages; it would have been to them a Unitarian heresy, because it would have conflicted with the statement that God has three personae, three expressions of his being. (Tillich, Paul, A History of Christian Thought, p. 190)

[This is often misconstrued as unitarianism because there is simply no way to have a literal Father with a literal, separated Son without having the Son in some way less than the Father. The only way to make it work is to say that the trinity of persons is a mystery because it defies the Old Testament's statement and Jesus' agreement that God is One.

The trinity of three, separated "persons" is effectively unitarian in that it is taught that "this is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit" and that the Father and Son have had their dispensations.]

Thus, men like John Locke, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell and most of the Restoration Movement scholars built on the basis of the universal Old and New Testament testimony that God is One; in this dispensation His name is Jesus (Joshua) or Yehwah-Saved just as the One Deity is always hyphenated-named to define His work in the material universe. He is Rock, Lamb, Arm, Right Hand or Son.

Therefore, to build or restore the church of Christ it is absolutely mandatory that we define the nature of the God of our Christian System. Otherwise there is no ground for other restored ideas to rest upon.


To define the SON as a co-equal, co-eternal member of the God family (kith or kin) which afflicts many modern neo-Pentecostal groups, without diminishing His full Deity, it has been necessary to say that the Son has been "eternally generated out of the Father from all eternity." Since the formulation of the neo-Catholic view of the Trinity, this error also afflicts many Restoration movements through an inherited but ill-defined neo-Calvinism. The ideas certainly did not arise from John Calvin.

Just as the word Rock, Arm or Hand is figurative of pure or Holy Spirit's work in the physical universe, the Son is full Deity (Col. 2:9) or WORD expressing himself in human form to deliver His verbal WORD.

By accepting the non-Biblical and counter-historical literal incarnation of each believer, churches cut themselves free from the Word and just follow the "spirit" without knowing whose spirit they are following.

This three-people was en-creeded by:

Boles, H. Leo Spirit (Published by Gospel Advocate)

Since that time, without known exception, books have followed Boles superficial views which follow neo-Calvinistic or neo-Catholic views. The end-time result is that the unknowing embrace the "Mother of God" idea expressed in feminine or effeminate worship.

To be fair, John Calvin's views were expanded and codified by later synods and Calvin's "toying" with theological views and his warning that those who get themselves entangled are in for trouble are generally ignored once the deed is in the creed. Barton W. Stone observed:

"The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. This is acknowledged by the celebrated Calvin, who calls the Trinity "a popish God, or idol, a mere human invention, a barbarous, insipid, and profane word; and he utterly condemns that prayer in the litany--O holy, glorious, and blessed Trinity, &c. as unknown to the prophets and apostles, and grounded upon no testimony of God's holy word." Admon. 1st. ad Polonos--Cardale's true Doct.--The language, like the man, I confess is too severe.

In the same way, the charismatic influences which were never a part of churches of Christ, but played out at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in the beginning of the 19th century redefinition of God, seem more attractive to those who need the "exercises" to justify their belief in their literal second incarnation.

The Trinitarian System.DEAR SIR,--IN one of your fireside conversations, when interrogated on your views of "the Trinity," you gave an exposition of the first verse of the first chapter of John's Testimony,

with which myself, and, I believe all present, were much delighted. In conversing with those present on that occasion,

I found that they, as well as myself, had forgotten some of the more prominent ideas. You will confer no ordinary favor on us all, and no doubt it will be pleasing to many of your readers, to give it in writing as nearly as possible to what you spoke on the subject. Do, then, oblige us so far as to give us the same in your next number of the Christian Baptist.

Yours, most affectionately, Kentucky, March 1, 1827. TIMOTHY.  

The Christian Baptist 4, May 1827 

To Timothy.
DEAR SIR,--YOU will recollect that when I was interrogated on that subject, I gave sundry reasons why I felt reluctant to speculate on the incomprehensible Jehovah. It was also stated that there was

no topic in common estimation so awfully sacred as that of the doctrine of "the Trinity,"
and if a man did not speak in a very fixed and set phrase on this subject, he endangered his whole christian reputation and his own usefulness.

At the same time I remarked that I was very far from being afraid either to think upon this subject or to express my thoughts, although it was deemed so unpardonable to depart even in one monosyllable from the orthodox views.

I moreover stated that I disliked any thing like speculation upon this topic in particular,
because, if I differed in the least from the orthodox,

I introduced something like a new theory, or something that would be treated as such, and either approved or rejected on theoretic grounds.

If, however, you will neither make a new theory out of my expositions, nor contend for any speculations on the subject, nor carry the views farther than where I leave off,

I will gratify you and other friends with my views of the first sentence in John's Preface to his Testimony--"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God."

1. In the first place I object to the Calvinistic doctrine of the Trinity
........... for the same reasons they object to the Arians and Socinians.

They object to these, because their views derogate in their judgment from the eternal glory of the Founder of the christian religion.

They will not allow the Saviour to have been a creature, however exalted, because they conceive this character is unbecoming him, and contrary to the scriptural statements concerning him.
........... They wish to give him more glory
than they think the Arians are willing to do.

Now I object to their making him and calling him an "Eternal Son" because I think that if he were only the Son of God from all eternity, he is entitled to very little, if any more glory, than what the Arians give him.

I wish to give him more glory than the Calvinists give him. They are as far below his real glory, in my judgment, as the Arians are in their judgment.

2. But in the second place, I have an insuperable objection to the Arian and Calvinistic phraseology--On the doctrine of the first relation existing between the Father and the Saviour of Men,

because it confounds things human and divine,
and gives
new ideas to bible terms unthought of by the inspired writers.

The names Jesus, Christ, or Messiah, Only Begotten Son, Son of God, belong to the Founder of the christian religion, and to none else.

They express not a relation existing before the christian era, but relations which commenced at that time.

To understand the relation betwixt the Saviour and his Father, which existed before time, and that relation which began in time, is impossible on either of these theories.

There was no Jesus, no Messiah, no Christ, no Son of God, no Only Begotten, before the reign of Augustus Cesar.

The relation that was before the christian era,
........... was not that of a son and a father,
........... terms which always imply disparity;
........... but it was that expressed by John in the sentence under consideration.
........... ........... The relation was that of God,
........... ........... and the "word of God."

This phraseology unfolds a relation quite different from that of a father and a son--a relation perfectly intimate, equal, and glorious.

This naturally leads me to the first sentence of John. And here I must state a few postulata.

1. No relation amongst human beings can perfectly exhibit the relation which the Saviour held to the God and Father of All anterior to his birth. The reason is, that relation is not homogenial, or of the same kind with relations originating from creation.
........... All relations we know any thing of are created,
........... ........... such as that of father and son.

Now I object as much to a created relation as I do to a creature in reference to the original relation of God and the word of God.
........... This relation is an uncreated and unoriginated relation.

2. When in the fulness of time it became necessary in the wisdom of God to exhibit a Saviour, it became expedient to give some view of the original and eternal dignity of this wonderful visitant of the human race.

And as this view must be given in human language, inadequate as it was, the whole vocabulary of human speech must be examined for suitable terms.

In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression (unjust gain) and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Isa 59:13

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Isa 59:14

Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. Isa 59:15
And he saw that there was no man
, and wondered that there was no intercessor:

therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. Isa 59:16

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Isaiah 48:12

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Re 22:12
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Re.22:13

My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. Isaiah 48:13

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Acts 4:24

3. Of these terms expressive of relations, the most suitable must be, and most unquestionably was, selected.

And as the relation was spiritual and not carnal, such terms only were eligible

which had respect to mental or spiritual relations. Of this sort there is but one in all the archives of human knowledge, and that is the one selected.

Note: All of the "seven spirits" relate to the mental or spiritual relationship between God and mankind but Barton W. Stone notes that we don't personify all seven spirits.

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

This is why Christ was the 'another Comforter" (John 14:16-18) Who would continue His own work:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

4. The Holy Spirit selected the name Word, and therefore we may safely assert that this is the best,

if not the only term, in the whole vocabulary of human speech at all adapted to express that relation which existed "in the beginning," or before time, between our Saviour and his God.

[A Being and His Word]

These postulata being stated, I proceed to inquire what sort of a relation does this term represent? And here every thing is plain and easy of comprehension. I shall state numerically a few things universally admitted by the reflecting part of mankind:

1st. A word is a sign or representative of a thought or an idea, and is the idea in an audible or visible form.
........... It is the exact image of that invisible thought which is a perfect secret to all the world until it is expressed.

2d. All men think or form ideas by means of words or images;
........... so that no man can think without words or symbols of some sort.

3d. Hence it follows that the word and the idea which it represents, are co-etaneous, or of the same age or antiquity.

It is true the word may not be uttered or born for years or ages after the idea exists, but still the word is just as old as the idea.

4th. The idea and the word are nevertheless distinct from each other, though the relation between them is the nearest known on earth.
........... An idea cannot exist without a word, nor a word without an idea.

5th. He that is acquainted with the word, is acquainted with the idea, for the idea is wholly in the word.

Now let it be most attentively observed and remembered, that these remarks are solely intended to exhibit
........... the relation which exists between a word and an idea, and that
........... this relation is of a mental nature,
........... and more akin to the spiritual system than any relation created, of which we know any thing.

It is a relation of the most sublime order; and no doubt the reason why the name Word is adopted by the apostle in this sentence
........... was because of its superior ability to represent to us the divine relation existing
........... between God and the Saviour
........... prior to his becoming the Son of God.

By putting together the above remarks on the term word, we have a full view of what John intended to communicate.

As a word is an exact image of an idea,
........... so is "The Word" an exact image of the invisible God.

As a word cannot exist without an idea, nor an idea without a word,
........... so God never was without "The Word," nor "The Word" without God;

or as a word is of equal age, or co-etaneous with its idea,
........... so "The Word" and God are co-eternal.

And as an idea does not create its word nor a word its idea;
........... so God did not create "The Word," nor the "Word" God.

Such a view does the language used by John suggest. And to this do all the scriptures agree.
........... For "The Word" was made flesh,

Because God is infinite in nature one cannot be with God without being God. This God Who manifested Himself in flesh was Christ:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, Philippians 2:6

but made himself nothing, taking the very nature [b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:7

Or: but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. Philippians 2:7LIV

and in consequence of becoming incarnate,
........... he is styled the Son of God, the only Begotten of the Father.
from eternity God was manifest in and by "The Word,"
........... so now God is manifest in the flesh.
As God was
always with "The Word,"
........... so when "The Word" becomes flesh, he is Emanuel, God with us.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

As God was never manifest but by "The Word,"
........... so the heavens and the earth, and all things were created by "The Word."

And as "The Word" ever was the effulgence or representation of the invisible God, so he will ever be known and adored as "The Word of God."

So much for the divine and eternal relation between the Saviour and God. You will easily perceive that I carry these views no farther than to explain the nature of that relation uncreated and unoriginated which the inspired language inculcates.

These views place us on a lofty eminence whence we look down upon the Calvinistic ideas of "eternal filiation," "eternal Generation," "eternal Son," as midway betwixt us and Arianism. From this sublime and lofty eminence we see the Socinian moving upon a hillock; the Arian upon a hill; and the Calvinist, upon a mountain; all of which lose their disproportion to each other
........... because of the immense height above them to which this view elevates us.

The first sentence of John I paraphrase thus: From eternity was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was, I say, from eternity with God.

By him all things were made, and
........... he became flesh and dwelt among us. He became a child born and a son of man.
........... As such he is called Emanuel, Jesus, Messiah, Son of God, Only Begotten of the Father.

I can give the above views upon no other authority than my own reasonings. I learned them from nobody--I found them in no book. It is true, indeed, I have held the idea for sixteen years
............that Jesus is called the Son of God,
not because of an "eternal generation," (which I conceive to be nonsense)
........... but because he was born as the angel described to Mary.

This is now pretty generally received by a great many christians.

Nor would I dispute or contend for this as a theory or speculation with any body. I could, indeed, amplify considerably, and perhaps obviate some difficulties by following up farther the hints submitted; but such are my views of the import of the beginning of John's testimony.

You will remember that I make no systems, and although there are some abstract reasonings upon terms (as indeed much of our reasonings about language are) in the preceding,

it is only for the purpose of getting into the sacred import of a style from which we have been proscribed by a speculating philosophy.

I have acceded to our request with more ease than I could have done, had it not been for a few prating bodies who are always striving to undo my influence by the cry of Unitarianism, or Socinianism, or some other obnoxious ism. From all isms may the Lord save us!

Yours truly, Alexander Campbell from the Christian Baptist, May 1827)

By accepting the accusation of being Arians, both Barton W. Stone and The Campbells make it clear that they do not accept, cannot accept, the idea that One God is really triplets: three co-equal members of the God "family" able to hold a conference in the mind of H. Leo Boles and literature published by the Gospel Advocate and others.

John Calvin would agree with both Stone and Campbell. However, the various Calvinist creeds present these views so that a tribe of Gods could easily be imagined. Those with whom Campbell had to do were not educated into the subtilties of many of Calvin's teaching.

Arianism holds that there is one God and Jesus was born, hatched or manufactured and therefore inferior to God. The view of Calvin, Campbell, Stone and most of the world's pre-neo-pentecostalism taught that while God is not simple but complex, He exists as do we His creatures, with the ability of thought, word or expression and 'breath' or spirit.

While accepting the trinity as an invention to explain that which could not be explained, at bed rock most ancient scholars would defend Alexander Campbell.

Justin Martyr (c.100-165 AD)

"God begot before all creatures a Beginning, who was a certain rational power from himself
and whom the Holy Ghost calls . . . sometimes the Son, . . . sometimes Lord and Word ... We see things happen similarly among ourselves,

for whenever we utter some word, we beget a word, yet not by any cutting off, which would diminish the word in us when we utter it. We see a similar occurrence when one fire enkindles another. It is not diminished through the enkindling of the other, but remains as it was." (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 61). 

Athenagoras (177 AD)

"I have sufficiently demonstrated that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one
God, unbegotten, eternal, invisible, incapable of being acted upon, incomprehensible, unbounded,

........... who is known only by understanding and reason,
............who is encompassed by light and beauty and spirit and indescribable power,

by whom all things, through his word, have been produced and set in order and are kept in existence" (Plea for the Christians 10)

"The Son of God is the Word of the Father in thought and actuality. By him and through him all things were made, the Father and the Son being one. Since the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son by the unity and power of the Spirit,

"the Mind and Word of the Father is the Son of God.
"And if, in your exceedingly great wisdom, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by `the Son,' I will tell you briefly: He is the first- begotten of the Father, not as having been produced,

for from the beginning God had the Word in himself, God being eternal mind and eternally rational, but as coming forth to be the model and energizing force of all material things" (Plea for the Christians 10:2-4

Alexander Campbell Defines Unitarian and Trinity

Barton W. Stone Rejecting the Trinity

How Thomas Campbell Explains the Trinity

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