Trinitarianism and Unitarianism: Alexander Campbell

Alexander Campbell rejecs trinitarianism as unscriptural, unintelligible, barbarous phraseology--polytheism.

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."  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 on the Trinity: John Mark Hicks

See J. F. Burnett on the Stone Campbell Movement

John Mark Hicks reviews neo-trinitarianism: Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado. This acknowledges that the Trinity was refuted by the Restoraton Movement. The church "fathers" who used the word TRINITY never separated the Godhead into three independant beings able to hold converse with one another.

Review of Max Lucado's Creed on baptism:

Max Lucado Part One: The Thief on the Cross Saved without Baptism! No: Christ had not yet preached to the pre- Cross faithful nor ascended into heaven.

Max Lucado Part Two: Baptism is just a pledge that you have been saved? No: Baptism is our REQUEST TO God; not OUR guaranteeing OUR faith!

Max Lucado Part Three: Salvation by Trust Only or Prayer Only? 12/5/02 See how the GA, Shelly, Lucado Trithism as A Family of Gods leads naturally to despising the counsel of the human Jesus and how Baptists Baptism denies that Christ came FULLY in the flesh.

Max Lucado Part Four: Romans 6: Baptism DOES NOT save?

Alexander Campbell is consistent with all of the ancient theologians and denominational founders we have been able to consult. John Calvin would repudiate modern tri-theism or polytheism along with all of the rest. The word is not "person" but "personae." Thus, Paul Tillich wrote that before the liberal 19th century calling God a "person" would have been heretical.

Therefore, Thomas Campbell repudiated worshiping the Holy Spirit and to worship the names of three "gods" is rank polytheism. Most of this is neo-Pentecostalism. And before the mid 20th century identifying God as three individual, separated members of the Godhead was not taught.

The acceptance of "The Holy Trinity" among some modern Restoration Movement groups is best understood by the book by Boles, H. Leo, The Holy Spirit, Gospel Advocate, P. 20-21, and Boles in Sept. 1, 1966, p. 2, Fall Quarter, Foundations, Gospel Advocate. Review Here

It is expected, therefore, that churces fed by this view have no shame in worshiping "The Blessed Trinity" and worshiping the three 'names' of Father, Son and Spirit. There is only "one name."

At the same time, it would probably be difficult to find a Catholic formulation, certainly an older one, which would separate the Godhead unless it was to insert Mary as the meadiatrix.

Alexander Campbell, in 1840,answers the question:

"WHAT is a Unitarian?" Etymologically it means one that believes in unity--in simple unity, without regard to person, place, or thing.

Technically it denotes one that is opposed to trinity or tri-unity in the godhead or deity.

All Christians say that "there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and men--the man Christ Jesus."

But he is more than a man, more than an inspired man, more than an angelic man, more than any created thing. These theories have different names--such as Humanitarian, Socinian, Arian, Semi-Arian, &c.; But we enter not into the merits of these shadow of shades of metaphysical abstractions.

I use the term Unitarian in its obnoxious sense, as indicating one who regards the death of Christ as not for sins, nor for sinners; but for a proof of his sincerity and benevolence.

With the real Unitarian no real sin-offering, no real atonement was needed; and therefore Christ died as a martyr.

This, with me, is practically no better than theism. Indeed, such a person says he does not believe "that Jesus died for our sins;" or "that he, the Just One, suffered for the unjust."

Many theists believe that Jesus Christ lived and died in Judea, at the time affirmed, and that he was a great reformer--a pious and excellent man--liberally inspired, as other sages were--and that he was slain by the hands of wicked Jews and Romans.

Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine both believed all this; but they laughed to scorn the idea of his dying for sin as an atoning sacrifice.

Many persons have been called Unitarians, and some have so called themselves,

who believe in the death of Christ as a sin-offering,
reject trinitarianism because of its unscriptural, unintelligible, and barbarous phraseology;
regarding it as a system of
polytheism; who, nevertheless, know not what to say or think of the pre-existent or ante-human state of the author of Christianity;

some repudiating the phrases "eternal son," "second person," "consubstantial" "co-equal," "very God of very God," "Supreme Deity," &c.; &c.;

They reject these terms because to them barbarous and incomprehensible; but have no distinct idea or name for the antecedent state, relation, or character of Him that was made flesh.

These differ, in my judgment, very materially from the Unitarian, who has no other use for Jesus than as a prophet, a king, or a martyr; therefore virtually rejecting every thing that concerns his high priesthood.

The phrase "Supreme Deity" is, to my mind, perfectly Pagan. What! have we got one supreme Jove with his retinue of inferior gods and demi-gods! I was once asked by a very conceited and self-confident preacher, whether I believed that Jesus was the Supreme God?

Had it not been in a worshipping assembly, I would have asked him how many inferior gods he acknowledged?

I neither believe in one supreme god, or more. The term Jehovah is itself indicative of the supreme. What would any sensible person say to him that asked him,

'Sir, do you believe that Jesus Christ was a human man--a supreme man?' Would he not reply, 'Sir, with me, man is man. I know nothing of supreme humanity, nor of supreme divinity.

If any being be human, he is human; if he be divine, he is divine, possessed of a nature which has no positive, comparative, or superlative degrees in it.

Indeed, what nature has in it degrees of comparison! It is not the divine, the angelic, the human.'

I have long taught that the Trinitarian, Arian, and Sabellian theories are wholly a corrupt speech--irrational and unscriptural speculations.

But there is this difference: All Trinitarians believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ, and in his death as a real sacrifice for sin--an expiatory offering, without which there could be no remission.

I believe this most sincerely, but without any fellowship for their humanisms, their barbarous diction, and unscriptural modes of reasoning on the subject.

Therefore that Unitarianism which I repudiate denies both the divine nature of my Redeemer, and the necessity of his death as a sin-offering in order to remission.

It is long since we proposed to abandon all this style, and to call Bible things by Bible names. Our brethren have generally agreed to do so; but in their definition of certain Bible names,

I have sometimes seen a sense imposed upon them wholly modern, and which would ultimate in a doctrine as certainly unapostolic as either Arianism or Trinitarianism.

I have therefore suggested to the propounder of this question, and to others who seem to object to my style as too Trinitarian--that a calm, discreet, affectionate, fraternal, and unimpassioned discussion of the terms "sin," "sin-offering," "sacrifice for sin," "atonement," "propitiation," "reconciliation," "expiation," (or purification, for they are two versions of the same word,) "redemption," "remission," "righteousness of God," "Mediator," "Redeemer,"--would tend very much to the edification of the brethren, and to a more perfect union of all the elements of modern partyism which have been associated under the banners of Reformation.

The rest of this article discusses the views of Elder Barton W. Stone. Barton W. Stone, along with the other Restoration Movement leaders, even those who used the word Trinity, never suggested that God is three separated persons. Alexander Campbell would suggest that it is barbarous, corrupt, unscriptural, irrational and polytheism.

A. C.

[The Millennial Harbinger (February 1840): 81-83.]

How Alexander Campbell Explains the Trinity

How Thomas Campbell Explains the Trinity

Barton W. Stone Rejecting the Trinity

Restoration Movement

Alexander Campbell, Christian System

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