John Mark Hicks Alexander Campbell on Trinity and Christology

Trinity as "Necessary" Fact by Alexander Campbell

John Mark Hicks: Nancy Koester’s The History of Christianity in the United States (Fortress, 2007) is my current supplementary text in my undergraudate Stone-Campbell Movement course at Lipscomb University. I use it to provide the American context for Stone-Campbell history.

I was surprised to read this sentence in the book (p. 61):  ”[Alexander Campbell] also rejected the doctrine of Trinity because he did not find it in the Bible.”  She would have been more accurate if she had written that he rejected the term “Trinity,” but Campbell did not reject the theological idea of the triunity of the Christian God.

For example, in a series entitled “Elementary Views,” Campbell summarizes what he thinks is the heart of the Christian faith (Millennial Harbinger [July 1854] 367):

  One Jehovah in three personalities,
        and one Mediator in three offices
        constitute the true faith and the true religion of the Christian Church, or the Reign of Heaven.

No historic trinitarian called God a person: Paul Tillich says that would be heresy.  They used the word PERSONAE or masks which says that the ONE God made Himself known in different ways. If God spoke from a burning bush that was His instrumental means or source of sound; but, the burning bush is not a member of the God Family (from whence The Family of God to replace Church of Christ).
1Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is
but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,
        and we IN him;
and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things,
        and we BY him.

Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all,
        who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God,
        and one mediator between God and men,
        the man Christ Jesus;
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:
        the devils also believe, and tremble.
John said that if you reject Father-Son you are an ANTI-Christ

It is a fact that ALL pagans believed in the trinity or families of evolving trinities.  This could be father god, mother god and eternally mewling son god." For instance at Mount Sinai, Apis the bull (demon) represented Osiris, Isis and Horus.

First Person
Second Person
Third Person

Father, King

Son, Prince

Mother, Queen

Triad of Babylon







El IluGod Ea, earth
Enlil air, breath, spirit

Triad of Canaanite's

Astarte, Ashtoreth

Molok, Phoenician

Triad of Hittite 




Triad of 
Backslidden Israel




Triad of Egypt




Triad of Greece




Triad of India




Triad of Rome




Triad or Trinity of Roman Catholicism






Dove - Has always been the Mother Goddess symbol. Mary has been elevated to CO-Savior with Christ.

John Mark Hicks: And these are the centres [sic] of the Jewish and Christian dispensations of the doctrine of human redemption, in its typical and anti-typical manifestations. This is·the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible. On this broad, and strong, and enduring basis, the new heavens and the new earth, and all their tenantry will rest forever.


"O Lord God of Israel, who dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the
God, even thou alone, thou hast made heaven and earth. Hear, O Israel—Jehovah our Aleim
is one Jehovah 2 —the Lord our God is one Lord." "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
which wast, and art, and art to come." "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God
Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints." "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord,
and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy," "He is the Rock, his work is perfect;


172 THE MILLENNIAL HARBINGER ABRIDGED Tzidekenu — Jehovah our righteousness. (Jer. xxiii. 16, and xxxiii. 16.) These are approbated and recognized by Calmet.

Now, in the Christian development of the long promised, foretold, and typified salvation,
        Jehovah is manifested in three distinct personalities
              \_ in reference to human redemption.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Mark 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is,
        Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

1Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth,
        (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
        1Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him;
        and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Paul wants EVERYONE to be silent when the Word is PREACHED by being READ:

1Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved,
        and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God,
        and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Timothy 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

In creation, providence, or moral government, there was no need for any other development of God than those given in these declarations or manifestations

But in the emergency of man's redemption, there was a necessity for a new revelation of Jehovah, Elohim, as our Jehovah in distinct personalities. Of these there are three now named — The Father, the Word, the Spirit. The Word became flesh, and dwelt in our humanity. The Spirit became the Holy Guest, or Ghost, and ever dwells in the true church — the mystical body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Campbell did not say Jehovah in three PERSONS but three personalities.  The NAME (singular) of Father, Son and Spirit is Jesus Christ in whose name Peter commanded baptism. Father, Son and Spirit are never NAMES of three separate persons meaning "people.""

"God so loved the world as to send his Son," possessing the Holy Spirit without measure or limit. He became Incarnate, and dwelt on earth. He formed and educated a school of apostles. On the eve of his ascension, he promised, on his return to his native heaven, to send to them his Holy Spirit, to be their Guest, their teacher, and their help, in erecting his kingdom or church.

The Name of that "another Comforter" says John is Jesus Christ the Righteous: Jesus was changed into His Spirit form and received the promise or ASSIGNMENT or office of The Holy Spirit which is the personified Mind of God.

such as creation, No one prior to H. Leo Boles (at least publically proposed) at DLC ever presentented a "trinity" composed of 3 independent persons ranked 1, 2, 3 each having unique talent for THEIR disposition.
H. Leo Boles: The Godhead is thus composed of three coeternal and coequal persons they are the same in nature and essence (basic stuff), but are different, (discrete, dissimilar, diverse) personalities (selfhood as a human)
Boles, H. Leo, The Holy Spirit, Gospel Advocate, P.     20-21  (Each is fitted for different roles.)

Standing (status or rank) is always first, second and third. P. 20.
The Divine
Family... suggests the close relation that exists between the members of the Godhead, and also that they constitute a family  (clan, kith, lineage, race); 
it suggest that they are
closely related, that they are akin(relatives, same lineage, same tribe)   This term expresses an interest in each other and a cooperation (teamwork, collaboration, partnership) in activities. P. 21

Nashville School of Preaching and the Holy Spirit

Repudiated by:

For thus saith

the Lord (Jehovah)
that created the heavens;
God (Elohim) himself that
formed the earth and
made it; he hath
established it, he
created it not in vain,
he formed it to be inhabited:
I am the Lord (Jehovah); and there is none else. Isaiah 45:18

He hath made the earth by his power,
he hath established the world by his wisdom,
and hath
stretched out the heaven by his understanding. Jer 51:15
he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens;
and he
causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth:
maketh lightnings with rain,
bringeth forth the wind (spirit) out of his treasures. Jer 51:16

Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. Jer 51:17

John Calvin on Genesis 1

"God." Moses has it Elohim, a noun of the plural number. Whence the inference is drawn, that the three Persons of the Godhead are here noted; but since, as a proof of so great a matter, it appears to me to have little solidity, will not insist upon the word; but rather caution readers to beware of violent glosses of this, kind.

"They think that they have testimony against the Asians, to prove the Deity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

"but in the meantime they involve themselves in the error of Sabellius, because Moses afterwards subjoins that the Elohim had spoken, and that the holy Spirit of the Elohim rested upon the waters.

26. "Let us make man." Although the tense here used is the future, all must acknowledge that this is the language of one apparently deliberating. Hitherto God has been introduced simply as commanding; now, when he approaches the most excellent of all his works, he enters into consultation. For more notes on the Holy Spirit - Mind connection Click Here.

God certainly might here command by his bare word what he wished to be done:
but he chose to
give this tribute to the excellency of man,
that he would, in a
manner, enter into consultation concerning his creation.

But since the Lord needs no other counsellor, there can be no doubt that he consulted with himself. [For our notes on the Holy Spirit as Counsellor Click Here.]

Christians, therefore, properly contend, from this testimony, that there exists a plurality of Persons (personae in the church Fathers) in the Godhead.

God summons no foreign counsellor; hence we infer that he

finds within himself something distinct; as, in truth,
his eternal
wisdom and power reside within him.

John Mark Hicks: Campbell’s Protestant “orthodoxy” on Trinity and Christology is also obvious in this selection from “Millennium” (MH [December 1856] 700-701):

Our creed as christians is drawn up by a council of thirteen apostles presided over by the Lord Jesus Christ, and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It is in contrast with the Theocracy, properly set forth as the Christocracy
The central idea of the Jewish Religion is one Jehovah—absolute in all his perfections, self-existent, eternal and immutable—of whom are all things. 
The central idea of christianity is “one Lord Jesus the Christ; by and for whom are all things.” 
We believe that is the common problem in reading: what Campbell defines as the ORTHODOXY is not HIS view:
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,
        that God
        hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
        both Lord and Christ.
Smith Abstracts 625 
We shall follow up this subject in a series of papers, on all the great elements, facts and documents in the true Christology, and under the true Christocracy of the Messianic dispensation.

The doctrine of the "Trinity," as it is called, though really of Grecian or Roman origin,
        is regarded as number one of the true orthodoxy of polemic theology.

On this account alone we give it precedence. It is neither historically nor philosophically, neither philologically nor Christologically, the first in order. But polemically and ecclesiastically it is of primordial conspicuity, and has been so for ages.

The Hebrew Cabolists. or Tradilionists of the Jews, with their cabala, or traditions, of which they were veritable doctors or teachers, laid the foundation for the most ancient heresies. The Essenes allegorized the Mosaic law and institutions into a species of spiritualism, resembling not a little the Shaking Quakers of modern date. They are still more harmless than the more orthodox Pharisees, or the more latitudinarian Sadducees.

By reprobating this speculative theology, we save the labor of many volumes, and, in the meantime, the careful reading of the Holy and Divine Oracles furnishes us with a full and satisfactory statement of Jehovah — a compound, according to Rabbinical literature, of Jaii, the essence, and Havaii. existing — "The Always Existing." This name  is older than all human literature. Josephus calls it the Tetragram-  maton — the four-lettered name. Sanchoniathon, the oldest Pagan writer known to the literary world, names it, or writes it. Jkiu;. or Jkv(..

Hindooism, or Brahminism, in its various forms, is professed by more than half the human race: Its essential doctrines are found in the Veda, comprehending its four sacred books, all of which are sometimes called the Vedas. These four are denominated the Rig, the Yajust, the Saman, and the Atharvan. They contain the alledged revelation of the God Brahma, the presiding divinity of the Indian nations. Indeed, the Divinity Brahma is regarded as the first person in the Trinity; Vishnoo, or Vishnu, the second person, regarded as the preserver and redeemer of man; and Siva the destroyer of man. But besides this chief divinity in three personalities, they also acknowledge a host of angel gods and subordinate divinities.

Hindooism and Brahminism, are but two names for the same idolatrous superstition, and under this name, and some other corruptions of it, is the prevailing superstition of more than half the human race. It has in it, however, evident traces of a corruption of a true religion, and is of a common origin with Lamaism, or Fohiism. In Hindoo, Brahme, the Great Being, is the supreme, eternal, and uncreated God; Brama is the first created being, by whom he made and governed the world, and is prince of beneficent spirits. He is assisted by Veeshnu, the great preserver of men, who nine times appeared on earth, and in a human form, for the most beneficent purposes. Veeshnu is often called Creeshna, the Indian Apollo, and, in his character, greatly resembles the Mithra of Persia. This is the prince of the benevolent Dewlas, or Demons, and has for a co- [125]

adjutor Mahadeo, or Seeva, the destroying power of God. This three-fold divinity, armed with the terrors of almighty power, pursue, through the whole extent of creation, the rebellious Dewlas, or Demons, headed by Mahasoor, the great malignant spirit, (or Satan,) who seduced them, and darts upon their flying bands the fiery shafts of divine vengeance.

According to Sir William Jones, the supreme God Brahme, in his triple form, is the only self-existent divinity acknowledged by the philosophical Hindoos. In different attitudes or characters, they give him different names--as creator, he is Brahme; as destroyer or changer of forms, he is called Mahadeo, or Seeva; as the preserver of created things, he is Veeshnu, or Vishnoo.

Following the leading idea of Sir William Jones, Mr. Maurice asserts that there is a perpetual recurrence of the Triad in Asiatic mythology, and the doctrine of a Trinity was promulgated in India, in the Geeta, fifteen hundred years before the birth of Plato; for of that remote date are the Elephanta Cavern, in which a triad of deity, or the union of three, is alluded to and designated. Now, as Plato was born 426 years before Christ, this would show that the idea of triad was bodied forth in the East, in the lifetime of Abraham-- about the time of his calling out of Ur of the Chaldees.

/Millennial.Harvinger.SIV.Volume.1.html pg 132

In noticing a gratuitous and unfounded report concerning Professor Shannon, of Missouri, whom he stigmatizes as a Campbellite, he says: "As the Campbellites reject the doctrine of the Trinity, and advocate baptismal regeneration, these views, of course, will tinge the NEW VERSION." "Of course" lie knew this assertion to be false, without mitigation, or he is too contemptibly ignorant for a public instructor. Ha KNOWS, if he knows any thing as he should, that the Christians .whom he maliciously calls "Campbellites," do, as a body, hold the doctrine of God's word concerning Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, most firmly and tenaciously. This charge is too stale, and has been too often exploded to he revived by a tyro, with any hope of success. The veterans of an exclusive orthodoxy have long since ceased to believe it, and the young ones may as well let it alone.

Dear Sir:
My principal objection to the popular doctrine of "the Trinity" is not that it is either irrational, or unscriptural, to infer that there are three Divine persons in one Divine nature. That these three equally have one thought, purpose, will, and operation, and so one God; — or, to use the words of the Westminster Confession, "In the Unity of the  Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity;"

I say I object not to this doctrine because it is contrary to reason, or revelation, but because of the metaphysical technicalities, the unintelligible jargon, the unmeaning language of the orthodox creeds on this subject, and the interminable war of words without ideas to which the word Trinity has given birth. For example, in the same section from which I have quoted the above words is found the following jargon: "The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."

Were any one to ask me. Can there be three distinct persons, or  even beings, in one God? I would say, Reason informs me not. and revelation does not assert it.

But if asked, Can there be one, and [99] one three in the same sense?
I reply, Both reason and revelation say No.

But then no Trinitarian or Calvinist affirms that the three are one, and the one three, in the same sense.

Language fails and thought can not reach the relation in which the Father and Son have existed, now exist, and shall forever exist.

But that there is, and was, and evermore will be, society in God himself, a plurality as well as unity in the Divine nature, are inferences which do obtrude themselves on my mind in reflecting upon the divine communications to our race. I will add, that common sense, reason, and revelation, give one and the same testimony, in my ear, upon this subject.

If you ask how this can be, I will ask you, How can there be one self-existent, independent, unoriginated, eternal God? You will say, I believe, but can not comprehend. So say I. But while our faith has in its first effort to encounter a truth so incomprehensible, and to receive it; a truth so mysterious, supernatural, unsearchable, transcendent; a truth which, in its stupendous dimensions, encompasses infinite space, an eternity past--the universe, natural, intellectual, moral; a truth which leaves out no existence, past, present, or future; which overwhelms every intellect, and sets at defiance the combined efforts of all created intelligence--I repeat it, since this must be the Alpha of our faith, where shall we place our Omega, on the mode of the Divine existence? He that comes to God, must first believe THAT HE IS.

But I am not more confounded than delighted with the idea of the One, Self-existent, and Eternal God. To me, its incomprehensibility is a source of joy. With exultation I ask, "Who by searching can find out God, or know the Almighty to perfection?" My child says, Who made God? and, methinks, I am no wiser in the estimation of my superiors. 

John Mark Hicks: He is infinitely Divine and perfectly human, possessing all Divinity and all humanity in one personality.  A perfect God man, “the only begotten of the father full of grace and Truth.”  His sacrifice “expiated” and took out of God’s way and out man’s way “the sin of the world.”  “By offering up of himself” on the cross on Mount Calvery [sic], “he made an end of all sin offerings,” introduced “an everlasting justification” or righteousness for fallen humanity; and “perfected forever all them that are sanctified through the faith” in his person, offices, and work.
We have frequently contemplated and represented man somewhat as a Microcosm — indeed, as an epitome of the universe. In plain Eng-
lish, a miniature universe. We know nothing in tlie universe that lias not its representative in man, in some manner or degree. He Has a body in which is represented the consecrated four — fire air, earth and water. But philosophers affirm that in these are found some forty elements. Grant it! But has not man these for If so, he has ali the elements of which they are composed! Body, soul and spirit comprehended these forty elements. And no man can, with any palpable degree of self-respect, question the trinity or triunity of body, soul and spirit, in one human personality! No more rationally or religiously, that he can deny that fire, air, earth and sea engross the forty elements of our present canonized philosophy!
John Mark Hicks: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God in another personality, equally Divine, and equally cooperant with the Father and the word incarnate, who illuminates, sanctifies, and perfects every sinner in whose heart he becomes the Holy Guest; sometimes improperly called, in our common vernacular, “Holy Ghost.”

The Son of God from all eternity is the WORD or words of God which He breathed (spirit) as His creative force.  Historic trinitarians therefore say that the SON of God is the WORD of God. The Word IS God which is made audible in Jesus the Christ. Alexander affirms that Jesus began to be when he was born of the seed of Abraham.
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,
        that God
        hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
        both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is also God's Grace, Spirit, Righteousness and all of the qualities God wants His Children to manifest:
John 6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
John 6:63 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 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:
        he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
John 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
John 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:
        but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Behold,' says Jesus, "I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will enter and sup with him and ne with me." "Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

But besides this indirect and figurative reception of the Spirit of Cod, the Holy Spirit, by the gospel; these gracious influences, suggestions, illuminations, consolations and invigorating impulses of the good Spirit of God, by and through the gospel in the heart, making the heart a cistern, a fountain whence living waters constantly flow; is there not a substantive, a real and unfigurative reception of the Holy Spirit himself, in the sense of the question Paul asked the Galatians (iii. 2), "Did you receive the Spirit by works of law, or by obedience of faith?"

Such a reception of the Spirit there certainly was; and of this "gift of the Holy Spirit," this "demonstration of the Spirit," this "manifestation of the Spirit," these "spiritual gifts," we have already spoken as conferred upon the firstfruits in the last days of the Jewish age — in the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah;
        but of such a reception of the Spirit since the last days of the Jewish age, since the creation of one new man of believing Jews and Gentiles, and the breathing into him the holy spirit of this new life,
        there has been no substaniive, abstract and literal communication of the Holy Spirit to any man. Such is the experience of all the catholic congregation of Christ.
        There has arisen no prophet, no originator of new ideas, no worker of miracles, no controller of nature's laws, no person having any manifestation of the Spirit, or showing any divine power among me".

Now these manifestations of the Spirit were for the benefit of the community;
         but the Holy Spirit as now promised and received through the gospel, is for the benefit of the subject himself. There are, how- ever, other phrases and terms found in the Christian Scriptures which require our attention, and when correctly appreciated farther illus- trate and confirm the preceding.

Although with respect to various misconceptions of what is written on this subject, we have enlarged our remarks beyond the limits of literary investigation, still we aimed at no more in this essay than a fair and full examination of the phrases •'ministration of the Spirit," one acceptation of the word "Spirit," the "fruit of the Spirit," and "receiving of the Spirit." If we have ascertained these, it is all the merit we claim for the present essay.

John Mark Hicks: Alexander Campbell considered himself in the mainline of Protestant “Orthodoxy” on the traditional questions of Trinity and Christology. His problems with Protestantism were significant, but these were not among them except the use of scholastic and creedal terminology as tests of communion and modes of understanding.

We repeat for the readers to show that is the opposite of what is written.
Abstracts 625 
We shall follow up this subject in a series of papers, on all the great elements, facts and documents in the true Christology, and under the true Christocracy of the Messianic dispensation.

The doctrine of the "Trinity," as it is called, though really of Grecian or Roman origin, is regarded as number one of the true orthodoxy of polemic theology. On this account alone we give it precedence. It is neither historically nor philosophically, neither philologically nor Christologically, the first in order. But polemically and ecclesiastically it is of primordial conspicuity, and has been so for ages.

The doctrine of the "Trinity," as it is called, though really of Grecian or Roman origin,
        is regarded as number one of the true orthodoxy of polemic theology.

On this account alone we give it precedence. It is neither historically nor philosophically, neither philologically nor Christologically, the first in order. But polemically and ecclesiastically it is of primordial conspicuity, and has been so for ages.
Campbell gives precedence to DISCUSSION: he did NOT agree with the orthodox trinity.


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