Trinity as “Necessary” Fact in Alexander Campbell’s “Christian System of Facts" John Mark Hicks
Holy Spirit - THOMAS CAMPBELL - TrinityThomas Campbell: We ought to reject as unscriptural, all invocations or forms of address immediately directed to the Holy Spirit.
Reviewer's notes in red, Othr quotations in blue.
- Campbell, Thomas - Spirit - Agent of Conversion
- Campbell, Thomas Holy Spirit - A circular letter
- Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell
- Campbell, Thomas a DIRECT OPERATION of the Spirit
Thomas Campbell defines the Holy Spirit and the Trinity as three-one but all characters are internal to the one Jehovah. At The Redstone Baptist Association, held at Cross Creek, Brooke county, Virginia,Thomas Campbell was under pressure to define the Trinity which would be agreeable to them.
Therefore, he walked a fine line between denying the Catholic Trinity, and defining the persons of the Godhead
as manifestations in order of time and manner andnot as separate beings.
Thomas Campbell notes that "the means by which this fundamental and all-important knowledge is communicated are his works and word. He later noted:
"For when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son into the world, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem the guilty from the curse of the law. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son for the life of the world.
But what is his name; or what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell?--Who by searching can find out God?
Who can find out the Almighty unto perfection, is a divine challenge addressed to the vain pride, the presumptuous inquisitiveness of self-ignorant, self-conceited, haughty, aspiring man. Vain man would be wise, "above what is written:" but the sublime and absolute declaration which God makes of himself to his most distinguished servant Moses, when authorizing him to become the deliverer of his chosen people, saying, "I am that I am," prostrates for ever all presumptuous inquiry, removes to an infinite distance all created comprehension, as utterly incompetent to the subject, and intensely prohibits the vain presumption of comprehending the Almighty.
What his word and works declare of his being and perfections, it is our province and our privilege to know and acknowledge, to his glory and our own edification and comfort.
By his word, then, we learn that the divine name comprehends in it a plurality. "Alehim said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Again, "Jehovah Alehim said, behold the man is become like one of us."
Yet he speaks of himself as one: "In the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Also, where he assumes a plural name, he at the same time uses a singular verb and pronoun; suggesting in the very same phrase the idea of plurality in unity: "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah Alehim is one Jehovah."
"This is in opposite to the notion that God is three, separated individuals. Campbell's understanding is that of most ancient scholars: that God has the qualities of Mind, Spirit and Word within Himself. As mankind created in His Image has three internal natures and these natures communicate with one another, God internally is not an "oblong blurr" but has all of the qualities we treasure as humans. He thinks, plans, and speaks things into existance."
As God is known by what He does and what He says, mankind can exercise no power in the external world without first "creating" and event in the mind, then communicating that plan through action, instruction or persuasion.
Thomas Campbell: "And, indeed, were not this the very thing intended in the forms of speech alluded to, which are very numerous, they would be quite unmeaning; and the forecited declaration, Deut. vi. 4, would be absolutely unintelligible. But the clear, blissful and satisfactory revelation of this great mystery is reserved for the New Testament dispensation:
For "no man hath seen God at any time (so as to have an immediate or intuitive knowledge of him):
the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom (or into the secrets) of the Father, he hath revealed him;"
........... so that "No man knoweth the Father, but the Son,
........... and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
Note: When Lord Jesus Christ revealed the Father He did not appear as triplets. Rather, He claimed that the father was both with and inside of Him. To "see the Son was to See the Father." The Apostle Paul uniformely identified the Spirit as the Spirit Christ, the Mind of God (1Cor 2). Father, Son and Spirit were self-contained as full Deity: Col.2:9 "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." When Jesus revealed God He was quite alone in a personal sense. However, the Father or initiating nature of God was "inside" Jesus the one Person. In addition, He was the manifestation of Spirit. He said, "My words are Spirit and Life." (Jn 6:63)
It is only in those last days that God hath spoken unto us by his Son, in a clear, distinct and certain manifestation of him (God) to the world; "declared to be the Son of God, with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead;"
who is the image of the invisible God, the Father, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, or character of his subsistence; by whom also he made the worlds, or all the various orders of rational intelligences that anywhere exist;
"for without him was not anything made that was made; all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist, or stand forth together; who upholdeth all things by the word of his power."
Now, most surely, he that made, erected, or built and upholdeth all things, is God--
Iiis a distinct intelligent agent or subsistence in Jehovah Alehim, which is one Jehovah.
But moreover, from the same authentic source of divine information, we also learn that there exists another distinct intelligent agent or subsistence in the One Jehovah,
who is distinguished to us by the name Spirit of God; Spirit of Jehovah, or the Spirit Jehovah; the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Holiness; the Eternal Spirit; which was also in the beginning, or when time and things began to exist; who was also an agent in the creation; who with a preparatory energetic influence, as the author of life and motion, acted upon the original chaos brooded or hovered upon the face of the waters; who also garnished the heavens; who formed the human nature of Christ in the womb of the Virgin; who perfectly comprehends all the deep things of God. The author of all holy inspiration,
who spake by the prophets, and who in the Old Testament is called Jehovah, a name peculiar to the Alehim, whose name alone is Jehovah; and who is therefore properly called God, as comprehended in the Alehim, to whose immediate agency is peculiarly ascribed all miraculous powers and effects, even to the resurrection of the dead; as also all spiritual and intellectual endowments;
hence he is called the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, the Spirit of counsel and of might, of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The one Spirit who distributeth to every one severally as he will. In fine, all divine works, whether of creation, sustentation, gubernation, resurrection or judgment, are ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; neither is there any other divine agent revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures,
as comprehended in the One Jehovah;
or to whom any part of the works or worship peculiar to God is ascribed,
but only to the sacred three above mentioned; even our Alehim, whose name alone is Jehovah;
........... and into whose name alone we are baptized.
To us, then, who hold the Christian faith,
there is but one God; the Father, of whom are all things and we to him;
and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him;
and one Spirit who worketh all things, who inspires, animates and replenishes the whole body of Christ;
dividing to every man severally as he will.
And these three are one; even the one Jehovah Alehim, who claims all religious worship and obedience as his proper due, to the exclusion of all other claimants or pretenders whatsoever; who will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images--the infinitely holy, just and jealous God.
Thomas Campbell: God as Person
"It appears to be a query with some who profess to hold this doctrine, whether it be correct to use the term person when speaking of the above distinct characters in the divine essence. As to this, let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. In the mean time, all that we pretend to say in favor of this application of the term is,that although the term person
(which, in relation to men, signifies a distinct intelligent agency or rational being,
coexisting with others in the same common nature),
is not manifestly applied in the Holy Scriptures to any of the Sacred Three:
nor indeed can be so applied in strict propriety, according to its literal and obvious acceptation;
for when applied to God, instead of meaning a distinct intelligent being
coexisting with others in the same common nature,
we must mean by it, if we think and speak correctly,
one and the self-same individual being so existing as to constitute in and to itself
so many distinct or different, real and relative characters, or subsistences,
[The church fathers did not use "person" but "personae."]
each of which is but another name for the self-same individual essence or being considered as existing in the specified relation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(Note: Character means an actor representing a distinct group. Thus God reveals Himself in flesh, soul or life and spirit or mind eleminating all other roles. Subsistences means the status of something which exists and proves His total, undivided existence or reality.)
Personae as Father God is Personae as Son
Personae as SpiritAgain, it is a query with others, who profess to hold this doctrine, whether the relative terms Father, Son and Spirit, be real or economical. To this we would reply, that if we allow the Holy Scriptures to speak at all intelligibly upon this most profound and sacred subject,
we must understand the above appellation as declarative of real internal essential relations,
independent of any external work or economy whatever.
If these are not internal relations within the One God then you have polytheism:
For if the terms Father, Son and Spirit, be not declarative of real or essential relations, that is, of relations that have their foundation in the divine nature, and essentially or necessarily belong to it as such,
Then the only conclusion left is that:each and every one of them possessing the self-same properties, and of course, each of them so exactly the same in all respects, as to be absolutely undistinguishable one from another, by any means, property or attribute whatsoever;
the Scriptures do not reveal to us three distinct characters so related;
but three distinct independent divinities or Gods, necessarily self-existent,
and absolutely independent of each other;
and, of course, three eternal self-existent independent coexistent Gods; each of them infinitely complete or perfect in and of himself, as possessing every possible perfection of being.
That is, God is One Who has the power of thought, word and action and each power appears under a different personal image. If the triad nature is not internal and self-contained as one Divine Being then three separated Beings means that there are three God. Campbell disputes this.
A supposition this, not less repugnant to our reason than to the most express and unequivocal declarations of Holy Scripture,
for the divine characters are constantly represented as coexisting in the most intimate and inseparable unity of essential relationship one with another,
and as having the most entire, inexclusive and all-comprehensive interest in each other, as their correlative names most evidently and incontestably declare. Accordingly the Father saith, "This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The Son saith, "I am in the Father and the Father in me;" "I and my Father are one;"
"My Father worketh hitherto and I work;"
This does not mean that "I just now begin to work."
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18
"Whatsoever things the Father doth, the same also doth the Son likewise;" "All that the Father hath are mine." And of the Spirit he saith, "Who proceedeth from the Father;" "Whom I will send unto you;" "He shall take of the things that are mine, and shall show them unto you;" "He shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come;" "For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.
For as no man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of a man which is in him, even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;" "He hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;" "They that are after the Spirit do mind the things of the Spirit." Again, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
From these, and a multiplicity of declarations that might be educed from the Holy Scriptures, it evidently appears,that so far from being separate independent beings,
the sacred three are intimately united amongst themselves in an order and manner of subsistence and operation of which we can form no distinct, much less adequate idea; but so it is revealed to us by him, whose sole prerogative it is to know and reveal himself.
The Son Cannot be Created but Must be fully God
Moreover, if the above doctrine were not really true, there could be no such thing, as the economy of salvation,
wherein one divine character is sent by and from another to redeem,
and another divine character sent by and from both, to apply that redemption;
for where there is no mutual essential relation, there can be no relative subordination; such as naturally and necessarily subsists between Father and Son, and of course no mission of the one from and by the other, as is manifestly the case in the economy of salvation; "For the Father sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. He so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for the life of the world."
Again, if the person sent, however highly exalted in relative dignity, were not more than a creature, there would still remain an infinite distance between him and the Deity,
so that he could neither bring himself, nor any one else, nearer to God than his or their nature and circumstances had already placed them;
for he could properly or in strict justice merit nothing at the hand of his Creator, Preserver and Proprietor, either for himself or others; everything that he could possibly do in obedience to the divine will, being in strict justice due by him, on his own account, to the sovereign Lord of all, in whom it is an act of condescension to accept or acknowledge the service or worship of men or angels.
Campbell refutes the Arian notion that the "Son" was created by God prior to the creation of the worlds. And that this created Son became the redeemer of mankind. Campbell understood that no one in any sense less than God could bring us any closer to God than Himself. Therefore, if God did not come in His total Fatherhood, Sonship and Spirit nature mankind would never come near the One True, indivisible God.
The difference between finite and infinite is not based on numbers or quality of one's nature. If the Son was a created being then He could not bridge the gap between finite humanity and the Infinite God.
Therefore, upon principles of reason and justice, as well as according to the most obvious declarations of Holy Scripture,
the Redeemer of a lost world
can be no other than the Creator and Proprietor of it;
of whom it can be truly said, that all things were created by him and for him; that he is before all things, and that by him all things consist. "God is known by his works." "Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works,"
Ps. lxxxvi. 8. "He that built all things is God." The work of redemption, therefore, manifests the Author to be a divine character, as being manifestly a divine work.
But if this same divine character did not really stand related to another divine character, who had not only an equal property with him in all things, but at the same time such an interest in him as that he also should be, in a certain sense, his property, though not his creature,
he could neither be sent by him as the greatest possible instance of his love to a guilty world;
nor yet would there be another, who by virtue of absolute independent dignity and supremacy possessed such an entire, original, independent right and property in all things, as to be justly qualified and entitled to support the dignity of the supreme claimant;
to whom every act of obedience or worship might justly and properly revert, to the glory of the divine nature, and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned, that is to say, of the Son and Spirit, and of the whole rational creation.
So that while the Son actually submitted to a state infinitely beneath his essential dignity, that he might become like one of us, both as to our state and nature (the pollution of sin only excepted), and of course,resigned for a time, and in consequence of this relation,
things equal to his essential dignity; there was another into whose hands and to whose glory he could make the surrender; who, as was said above, by virtue of his supreme dignity and dominion, as also of paternal superiority,
was duly qualified with every essential qualification to claim and support all the honors of Deity, and ultimately to do justice to all concerned; namely, to himself and to his Son, to his redeemed, and to the obsequious angels,
who worshiped their Lord Creator in the manger, in the wilderness, in the garden, and in the tomb.
Thus we see that God is not only known by his works; but also in this last great work of redemption, the deep things of God are so clearly manifested,
that every rational, intelligent mind that receives the discovery of it
is necessarily gratified and delighted with the rationality and beautiful consistency of this work,
........... with the revelation which God has been graciously pleased to make of himself in relation to it.
Upon the whole, by means of this revelation, we clearly and evidently perceive,
1st. That there are three distinct intelligent agents, subsistencies, or personal characters,
........... in one Jehovah our Alehim--
........... ........... the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit,
........... ........... mutually, reciprocally, essentially and inseparably related;
so that the one naturally and necessarily infers and supposes the other, as Father and Son; and as the Spirit of the Father and the Son, or as the Spirit of Alehim, which latter word being the plural in the Hebrew (a language that has a dual number) must necessarily imply three at least; and we know certainly by subsequent revelation, that it implies no more;
wherefore the Spirit Alehim or of Alehim,
must necessarily be the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
The same thing also is necessarily implied when he is called the Spirit of Jehovah.
2. That in the exercise of one and the same divine energy or efficient will, they are inseparable operators in every work;
for the Father created all things by his Son, but not without the influence and operation of the Spirit; for God said, that is Alehim said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness;" "the Spirit of Jehovah hath made me," said Job, "and the breath or spiration of the Almighty hath given me life"--"by his Spirit he garnished the heavens." Again, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." "My Father worketh hitherto and I work." "If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils," etc.
Thus the Father worketh in and by the Son, and the Son by the Spirit; so that there is one operation of Father, Son and Spirit, in every work;not indeed a co-operation as of conjoint and coequal workers;
but rather a succession, or process of successive and subordinate operation, not in respect of time but of order;
Many latter-day restorationists have rejected this and demand separated Beings, each fitted for His dispensation and that this is the last dispensation, that of the Spirit Person.
for the Son can do nothing of himself but from the Father; also the Spirit can do nothing of himself but from the Son; for whatsoever things the Spirit doth, the Father and the Son do by him.
Wherefore the Spirit works from the Father by the Son; for every purpose, act or volition is, primarily and originally, in the Father; derivatively and by essential participation, the same in the Son; next and mediately by or through the Son, the same in the Spirit,
and at the very same instant, being one and the self-same act or volition in each of the divine characters; but, as to the external effect, brought forth or accomplished by the immediate efficiency of the Spirit; who is therefore called the Power of the Highest, and the Finger of God. "If I with the Finger of God cast out devils," etc.
Note: when there was no Intercessor among mankind who could do His work, God sent His own Arm to be the Intercessor. "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. Is.59:16." We are not to suppose that God's finger and arm are in any way detached from His "body."
When I do something it is always with "body, soul and spirit." It is with the flesh, the will and the exercise of the mind. Yet, I am never separated from myself except at death. Indeed the 19th century "Death of God" implied that God had died and been superceded.
3. That the divine characters, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit coexist under such relations as not only necessarily suppose and declare their essential unity, but also, with equal evidence and perspicuity, demonstrate a relative subordination according to the manner and order of their subsistence and operation.
The "Son" character is subordinate, by design, to the "Father" image of God or God would be an evil teacher that children should rebel against their father. However, The Word as Christ is not subordinate to God because He was, in flesh, the full Incarnation of the Godhead: again by Divine submission.
Father God: Spirit Deity Son
SpiritThe neo-Calvinist opponents of the Campbells taught that there were three "persons" and that the "oneness" simply meant that the three separated, independant Beings always agreed one with another.
For the Son saith, "My Father is greater than I"--greater than all. "Neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him." Which necessarily implies that in some respect he is inferior to him.
And of the Father only it is said, that he is "the only true God," as possessing absolutely and independently, in and of himself, all the perfections of Deity, of which also the Son and Spirit necessarily partake in and with him, because they are his Son and Spirit,
and therefore necessarily partake with him in the self-same individual nature or essence; though inferior to him in the manner and order of their subsistence and operation; as deriving their subsistence from him, and subordinate in their operations to him; for the Son can do nothing of himself; neither doth the Spirit speak of himself, as the prime original and originating principle of the counsels and work which he reveals and exhibits.
Note: This would be true of "Arm, Breath, Wind, Shoulder, Word, Wisdom, Spirit." None are detached but all are personified and work in order as our Mind thinks, our wind or spirit blows air through our lips or "double edged sword" and words are propelled from us. Our mind is the father of our thought.
But the Father, by his only-begotten Son, the brightness of his glory and the character of his subsistence, or express image of his person, made the worlds; and by his Spirit he garnished the heavens, or replenished the visible creation with glory and beauty; also by his Spirit, the Son reveals to us from the Father the purposes and counsels of his unsearchable wisdom and will, even the deep things of God. "The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants the things that must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John," and immediately, saith he, "I was in the Spirit."
Note: John was not "inside" the Spirit. Rather, he was seeing visions within his own mind and the body was not involved.
Thus we conceive,
........... the Father to be the first and leading distinction,which are in and by the Son determined to an actual execution;
- subsistence or character
- in the divine nature,
- the very origin of all will, purpose and operation,
and in due order and succession, according to the divine purpose, actually accomplished by the Holy Spirit;
so that the same will, power and purpose of the Father is in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, who divideth to every one severally as he will; or who communicates and dispenses to all created beings, whatever degree, excellency or perfection of being they possess.
So that, while according to the manner and order of subsistence and operation, the Son is of the Father, and the Holy Ghost of both, by an essential physical influence peculiar to the divine nature, which we pretend not to comprehend, much less to explain,they remain simply and essentially one in nature, will and operation;
so that there is but one simple, indivisible and undivided nature, will and operation of God throughout the vast immensity of his works.
"Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Alehim (plural) is one Jehovah."
4. Furthermore, from the same source it is evident that each of the divine characters has a power and a glory peculiar to himself, by which they are distinguishable both amongst themselves and to the creatures.
Again, keep the manifestation as "Father, Son and Spirit" as relationships of the one, indivisible pure or Holy Spirit
Father God: Spirit Deity Son
SpiritIt is the glory of the Father to be the first or leading character in the divine nature, the very source and origin of the subordinate distinctions in that nature, and of every external work;
it is the glory of the Son to be the second character or distinction in the divine nature, even the express character of the Father's subsistence,
in whom every purpose and work comes to be determined to an actual execution, ready to be exhibited or brought forth into actual accomplishment: thus it is written, "According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one head all things in Christ."
[As our arm or work is the expression of our "one" self, it is also secondary in time and power]
It is the glory of the Holy Spirit to be essentially conscious of all those designs, counsels and purposes, perfectly to comprehend them all, and to exhibit them in their proper times by an actual accomplishment.
Again, it is the peculiar glory of the Father to have such a Son: it is the glory of the Son to be the very essential and only-begotten Son of such a Father; to be the brightness of his glory, the very or express image of his subsistence: it is the glory of the Holy Spirit to be the Spirit of Jehovah; the animating principle of creation.
"The Spirit or Spiration of the Almighty hath given me life." "It is the Spirit that quickeneth;" yea, it is his peculiar glory to be the immediate efficient of all divine counsels and purposes, so as to give actual birth and being to all the mighty and wonderful works of God.
it is the glory of the Father to be the ultimate object of all rational worship and adoration;
it is the glory of the Son to reveal the Father, and to be the instructive and glorious medium of all rational worship and adoration addressed to the only true God;
it is the glory of the Holy Spirit to prepare, capacitate and qualify rational subjects for these exalted blissful exercises, by filling them with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, thus exciting and leading them to all holy adoration.
||Glory of Father|
|God is Shown in||Glory of Son|
||Glory of Spirit|
So we see, that there is one glory of the Father, another glory of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost: also that to worship acceptably, we must worship the Father through the Son by the Spirit, to whose immediate agency we are directed to look for all holy dispositions and intellectual abilities, to know, to love and adore both the Father and the Son, according to their proper character; also, to love, reverence and adore himself as the immediate author of life and light in us. Wherefore we cheerfully and heartily, gratefully and gladly say, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."
To the one Jehovah our Alehim, our Creator, who in the beginning said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" and who also said, let us redeem and restore guilty, apostate, rebellious man, to the enjoyment of our justly lost and forfeited image, favor and fellowship; in consequence of which grace, when all things shall be restored to their original state of due subordination and dutiful subjection to their Almighty Author,
the three-one God in Christ, who will thenceforth be the fixed centre and adequate medium of the exhibition and fruition of the divine glory, will be the ultimate object of the undivided praises of the whole rational creation of holy intelligences, world without end; "For the Lord God and the Lamb will be the temple and light thereof."
Thus, in the direct and refulgent light of that special revelation which God has been graciously pleased to make of himself to us, we clearly and evidently perceive, not only what God is in and to his creatures;
but also what he is in and to himself, as the self-existent, self-sufficient, independent God, infinitely, eternally and unchangeably sufficient to himself; as being the centre, the foundation and fruition of all blessedness and glory in and of himself; perfectly known, comprehended and enjoyed by himself, in the mutual and reciprocal loves, delights and complacencies of a triune Jehovah. The Father delighting in the Son, and the Son in the Father, and the Holy Spirit equally delighting in, and delighted in, by both.
"The Lord or Jehovah possessed me," says the Logos (or Wisdom)" in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. Then was I by him, as one brought up with him. I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men."
"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine ownself, with the glory that I had with thee before the world was." "Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world."
Most will grow old, retire and never enjoy the operation of their own mind and spirit. Many others will worship their body and the body will become the focus of collective worship but there will never be the worship possible only when we follow Christ into the prayer closet and worship Him in spirit (mind) and in truth. Therefore, because the knowledge of God is infinite He needs no help external to Himself. Indeed, to think of another "God" person outside of the infinite God is almost insanity.
By this light of the knowledge of the being, blessedness and glory of God, with which he has favored us, we are enabled to detect and avoid the many dangerous errors which are afloat in the world. In opposition to which, we state and infer as follows:
1st. That it is demonstrably evident from what the Holy Scriptures declare concerning Jehovah our Alehim,
that those who maintain, that as there is but one divine being or essence, so there is but one divine agent or active intelligence existing in that essence,not only reject the testimony which God has given of himself; but that they do also at the same time reject the very foundation of the Christian religion which depends upon the truth of that testimony.
And the same holding the foresaid opinion, seem willing to be thought Christians by accommodating their notion of the Supreme Being to the Christian phraseology,
supposing the names Father, Son and Spirit only to mean so many distinct official attributes in relation to the different capacities in which God is pleased to act toward his creatures in the economy of salvation; yet nothing can be more inconsistent with the most express testimony of the Holy Scriptures;
for it is most expressly declared that the Father sent the Son; that he came forth from the Father; that he returned to the Father, and that when he should depart, he would send, and actually did send his disciples another Comforter from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, to instruct and lead them into all truth; and to "convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment" by their ministry.
(Note: This is very obscure. Campbell wants us to know that Father, Son and Spirit are not just names for God's different job titles. Rather, God is made up of attributes which can in some sense be dislodged and sent. Remember that Paul said: "I am absent in the flesh but with you in spirit." So God has the essential qualities put into Adam created in His image. We are told that He Whom we know as Christ was God, that He (God) laid aside His own glory, that he put on the robes of flesh, that He fulfilled His mission in human form and that He returned to the same Golory He laid aside to again become the "right hand" of God.Furthermore, Jesus said that He would continue to be the "another Comforter" but in Spirit form:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; John 14:16
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18)
MY little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin,Parakletos (g3875) par-ak'-lay-tos; an intercessor, consoler: - advocate, comforter
we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous: 1 John 2:1
2d. That those who deny the essential sonship of the Word or Logos, as not being the essential and only-begotten Son of the Father; or the essential derivation of the Spirit from both, as to his subsistence and official character;
though they profess to believe, and do acknowledge that there are three distinct intelligent agents, or subsistencies in the one Jehovah; yet they do, nevertheless, virtually and necessarily acknowledge three Gods.
3d. So likewise do all those, who, though they profess to believe the doctrine of the essential relations of the sacred three, declared in the Holy Scriptures,
yet deny the relative and necessary subordination of the Son and Spirit, as therein revealed; declaring that, distinctly and separately considered, they are equal to the Father in underived and independent power and glory.
Whereas, according to the expressions of a very ancient creed, it appears from the Holy Scriptures, "that the Father is of none, neither made nor created, nor begotten; the Son is of the Father alone, neither made nor created but begotten; the Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding."
So that, distinctly considered, they are not equal in respect of underived subsistence, power and glory.
Thus they are essentially one, even the one Jehovah, and essentially equal in that respect. Wherefore, it is evident that there is one glory of, or peculiar to the Father, another peculiar to the Son, and another to the Holy Ghost, as above declared.Indeed, were not this evidently the case,
there would most certainly be, not three relative subsistencies in the one Jehovah characteristically distinct,
but three Jehovahs; or three self-existent, independent and eternal Gods.
4th. That he that receiveth not this doctrine, as it is now revealed, hath not the true God. For whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; and consequently he that denieth the Holy Spirit, rejecteth both the Father and the Son; for he is essentially the Spirit of them both; the one Spirit that is and works by and from them both, in all external operations; Jehovah working by his Spirit in the hearts of his people, both to will and to do of his good pleasure, according to his promise, Ezek. xxxvi. 27.
Now, as the sacred name Jehovah manifestly includes the Father, Son and Spirit, when Jehovah says, "I will put my Spirit within you;" it is manifestly declared, that the Father and the Son send the Spirit, and work by him in the hearts of this people intended in the promise.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. Eze 36:26
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Eze 36:27
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Eze 36:28
As for the objections and difficulties that have been suggested in opposition to the above doctrine, or the attempts that have been made to obviate them by illustrations and explanations of what is not revealed concerning it, Christians have nothing to do with such things. "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this Law," Deut. xxix. 29. That we may "honor the Son even as we honor the Father."
The official view of the trinity (not held by many church fathers) is that God is One God and at the same time three Gods. Knowing that this is not comprehensible even to the inventers of the dogma in the 4th century, the Catholic church as declared it a mystery which one must accept without question. Many of the lapsed restorationists are also caught teaching a mystery which no one can explain. Paul's definition of the Spirit as (to us) the Mind of Christ agrees with Campbell's view that God is not ever "beside Himself" or "face to face" with Himself.
Campbell never uses the word Trinity but that God is triune even as we, His creatures, are a triune being. Therefore, in Campbell's words were are a three-one person.
That we may believe, worship and obey a three-one God, into whose blessed and glorious Name we have been baptized. Wherefore, we conceive that we have nothing to do with the definitions and disputes which have originated about the eternal generation of the Son, and procession of the Holy Ghost;
nor yet with that semi-Arian doctrine about the pre-existence of the human soul of the Redeemer, before the creation of the world; nor with any such vain speculations.
We believe that, whatever God is, the same he always was and ever will be during all duration, world without end, as his peculiar and incommunicable name, Jehovah, manifestly declares. To all those, then, that object to the above doctrine, as unintelligible, irrational, and the like, our only reply is, has God so revealed himself to us in the Holy Scriptures? If so, let God be true; but, in our estimation, every man that opposes his word, a liar. In the mean time, as a solid reply to all such cavils,
we assert with the evidence of demonstration, that the divine essence is as incomprehensible as the manner of the divine existence, or that the natural and essential attributes of Jehovah are as much above, or, if you will admit the expression, as contrary to our reason, as anything contained in the above doctrine.
Trying to make the incomprehensible comprehensible men have often resorted to idols or images of God. We cannot possible understand the "internal" nature of an infinite God but He has used many parables so that a mortal will understand what God means when He said that He would send His own right hand.
Is it asked, how can one and the self-same indivisible and undivided essence exist in three distinct personal characters?
We might as justly ask in reply, how can the divine essence exist at all?
or how can there be any such thing as an eternal self-existent being?
Again, is it asked how the Divine Being can exist in and to itself, under a threefold relation; or,how one and the self-same being can exist in three distinct intelligent subsistencies or personal characters,
each of them still continuing to be the self-same individual Being, actually three, yet severally one?
We might, with equal propriety, ask, how something can be produced from nothing? how dead matter can be animated? or how the Almighty could produce, out of mere nonentity, empty nothing, a universe of animate, sensitive and rational beings of the multitude and magnitude of which we can form no conception at all?
Is it farther queried, how could the Father bring forth or exhibit his Son in human nature, or how could divinity and humanity be so united as to constitute but one individual person?
We might as rationally query, how can soul and body, matter and mind be so united as to make but one individual being or person?
After adressing the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God Campbell notes:
And that, therefore, in the mean time, we ought to reject as unscriptural,all invocations or forms of address immediately directed to the Holy Spirit,
as innovations in the worship of God, who alone has a right to prescribe both the matter and manner of his own worship, even of that worship which he will be graciously pleased to accept as right and pleasing in his sight.
Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Vol. 1, pp. 539-555.
Originally a Circular Letter Defending His understanding of the trinity.
Counter added 1.16.05 10:30a 2161 Rev 7.18.07 888 12.09.07 996 11.03.08 9.22.10 4253