The Trinity - Barton W. Stone

Barton W. Stone stated that 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." Stone's rejection of the Catholic trinity was a common view of the American Restoration Movement. Most people understand that the Catholics in the midst of fighting Arianism invented a Greek Myth to explain God more fully than God had revealed His true nature in Jesus Christ. Liberal "pop" scholars had a grand party telling every one that God is really a family, clan or kin folk; a standing committee. Even a "Father" God and a "Holy Spirit" God acing out the "Son" God to get out of the Cross role!

We should add that two fundamentals of the Restoration Movement was: (1) to rid the church of the pop scholars and, (2) to undertake the difficult and even dangerous task of restoring the Shema -- the understanding that there is just one God. In reality, this was never a "restoration" effort but was the "mainline" understanding from Genesis 1:1 onward.

You may or may not agree with Stone. However, his view is one of several which rejected the Catholic trinity of three beings. Our comments are in red and will be enhanced in time.

Barton W. Stone (1772-1844)
Works of Elder B. W. Stone
Vol. 1, 2nd Edition, Ed. James Matthes
(Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys and Co., 1859)
-- 1820 Original Date --
DEAR BRETHREN:-- I ONCE thought and published to the world, that I never expected to appear again as a writer in public; but a desire for your good, and the advice of many of my brethren in the ministry, have induced me once more to take up my pen.

For what many of us have esteemed precious truths by which our souls have been edified in Christ Jesus, we have been severely censured by our brethren of every name, and driven from their communion as intolerable heretics. You well know the flood of opposition which has been poured forth against us, and is yet pouring. I am sorry to say, that opposition has not been so well directed as to answer any valuable purpose. It has rather tended to irritate and bewilder, than to convince and reclaim. We are not to be driven from our sentiments by bare assertions--ill-natured scurrility--heretical names, nor pathetic lamentations. These substitutes for argument have been frequently tried; but to me and many others, in vain. Should we be in an error, such things have a direct tendency to establish us in it. I should be in a fair way to receive conviction by a candid acknowledgment of the weight of my argument, should it be specious, than by scores of assertions of its error, or by evasive shifts to elude its force, or by artful endeavors to veil it by sophistry, or by eloquent trifling. [47]

We have borne the opposition against us with tolerable patience. But on a retrospect I fear we have sometimes deviated from that charity, "which suffereth long and is kind--which envieth not--vaunteth not itself--is not puffed up--doth not behave itself unseemly--seeketh not her own--is not easily provoked--thinketh no evil--beareth all things--believeth all things--hopeth all things--endureth all things."

Zeal in a good cause is certainly commendable and right; but zeal, untempered with charity, meekness and knowledge, is a dangerous thing. It was this that kindled the flames of the Inquisition, and smiled at the tortures and groans of burning saints.--It was this that led Mary of England with her humble servants, to bathe their hands in the blood of innocence. It was this that so frequently crimsoned the earth with the blood of martyrs. It was even this that killed the Lord of glory and his inspired apostles. The mischiefs done by it are incalculable. Angry debates--bloody strifes--cruel persecutions--divisions of Christians, etc. originated from this untempered zeal. If in this we have erred, as others, may our merciful God forgive us, and preserve us in future from such offenses!

Being well convinced of the fallibility of mortals--seeing the fluctuations of the great and good men among us from system to system, and then reverting to the relinquished system--viewing the confidence of every sect in the rectitude of their peculiar doctrines, and all believing and declaring they are honest--hearing every party pronouncing us wrong, and joining their general voice against us--seeing these things I determined to reexamine my views of the gospel. I have no interest in being wrong. Upon the rectitude of my faith and practice, my eternal interests depend; [48] and the interests of many, I believe, are deeply involved in mine.

I pay deference to the judgment of the great and pious men who have lived before us, or contemporary with us. But great and good men have differed. Therefore from the Bible I wish to draw my sentiments, and by the Bible to have them judged.

It is well known to you that there are many reports of a heretical nature in circulation against us as a people, and especially against us, your ministers, which I think are without any just grounds. With these reports the more credulous shield themselves against the plainest truths of the gospel when preached by us, or fly from us as incarnate fiends--these have not only dissolved with many the sacred ties of Christian love, but have even destroyed the bonds of natural friendship for us--and by these the ears of many are stopt, and the heart hardened against the melting voice of mercy. Besides these common effects, the weak and fearful among ourselves are sometimes staggered, and checked in their progress to heaven. From attention to these reports, a stranger to us would be induced to think that we had denied every essential or fundamental doctrine of Christianity.

It is true we have ventured to deny what is termed the orthodox explanation of some very popular doctrines. But will any candid man say, that this is a denial of the doctrines themselves? Should any say, we deny their explanation of such doctrines, they would speak correctly. For instance: Calvinists say, the Methodists deny election, Methodists deny the charge and say, they believe in election. Had Calvinists said, the Methodists deny our explanation of that doctrine, they would have spoken the truth. [49]

The doctrines of the Bible, we believe, have never divided Christians; but human opinions of those doctrines without charity, have always done the mischief. Man, poor, ignorant man, would dictate to the consciences of his fellows; and if they do not receive his dogmas or opinions, they are branded with the odious names of heretic, infidel, etc, and their name and sentiments are trumpeted abroad, distorted, misrepresented and blackened--for what purpose? Professedly to promote the interests of religion--but intentionally, I fear, with many, just to excite the popular clamor and indignation against them, and to raise themselves on their ruins.--Poor, weak man wishes the world to believe him infallible. If not, why so tenacious of untenable principles? Why not abandon them when proved to have no foundation in truth? Why not relinquish them when refuted with the clearest evidence? It must be, because he cannot brook the idea of being accounted a fallible man. Yet all, but the Pope of Rome, and a few of his degenerate sons in our day, disclaim infallibility, at least in words.

Believing mankind to be fallible creatures, we therefore feel a spirit of toleration and union for all those Christians, who maintain the divinity of the Bible, and walk humbly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who live by faith in his name, though they, may hold opinions contrary to ours. We wish others to exercise the same spirit toward us, that we might be mutually edified--that the interests of our Redeemer's kingdom might be advanced--and that foul blot upon Christianity, the division of Christians, might be wiped away, and thus a powerful weapon against revelation be wrested from the hand of infidelity. We ardently desire to see this spirit universally [50] prevail throughout the churches of the various denominations. And in order to clear the way on our part, I will endeavor to satisfy inquiries respecting those doctrines, which report says, some of us hold.

I doubt not that, as with others, so with us, there are ignorant and unguarded persons, who give false statements of doctrines held by the society with which they are particularly connected; but candor forbids us to impute such to the whole society. We do not wish to conceal from the world that there are Calvinists and Arminians in many doctrines in our communion, and yet we live in the closest bonds of Christian union. In this we rather glory; because we see the practicability of Christians living together in love and union, who differ in opinions. This has been considered almost impossible for ages past; hence the long but vain practice of church and state to enforce uniformity by laws and penalties, on the professors of Christianity. To force a man to believe contrary to his convictions, is impossible. He may hypocritically profess what be secretly disbelieves.

Having made these general observations, I proceed to state my views of those doctrines, said to be denied by us.

Our comments in Red
That there is but one living and true God, is a plain doctrine of revelation.

"We know that an Idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called Gods, whether in Heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many and Lords many).

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."
1 Cor. viii:, 4-6. Also Deut. vi: 4. Mark xii: 29, etc 

The word Lord or Greek Kurios in the true sense belongs only to God. Therefore, Thomas could say, "My Lord and my God."

In agreeing with a Jew about the Shema:

Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: Mark k.12:29

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark.12:30

Therefore, God the Father is the of Whom and God the Son is the by Whom. God is not a name of but in the true sense stands for the ineffable Deity. As Lord God is the "loaf keeper" or the One who feeds dependents. This is important because most religions occupy themselves with trying to "entertain or feed God" When He owns all of the cattle on a thousand hills.

As Lord He exercises the power of God in this His "estate." In His own right as a man Jesus exercised no power. However, God put His power or Spirit within so that the Words of Jesus were and are the Words of God Who is Holy or Pure Spirit. (Holy is not a first name but an adjective).

We are not told that Jesus the Man preexisted but that the Word of God existed with the Expressor of the Word -- just as our spirit exists with us, God's Holy Spirit was made real for us in the Mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2). Jesus Himself discounted the body when He laughed at those who thought that He was speaking of eating His literal flesh:

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? John 6:62

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

Therefore, there is forever only One God Whose identity no human could even guess about without revelation. That revelation and "operator in the physical realm" has always been by the same Spirit which indwelled Jesus. However, that One Supreme Deity operates under various roles which have meaning to humanity:


---The Father OF Whom
  OF speaks of the Source
One Living Lord God


  Made Jesus of Nazareth TO BE both Lord and Christ
     anointed to speak FOR the Father.


--- Lord Jesus Christ BY Whom
BY speaks of the instrumental means
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
Or God is understood under the figures of Father, Son and Spirit


--- Father  [ONE God as thought]
One Living Lord God


--- Spirit [wisdom, breath]
                 Does not think or speak


-  - Son [Articulated Word]
                 Does not speak on His Own

Father, Son and Spirit are not names and therefore God has only
one "name" as source of authority. That name is Jesus or Joshua or Jehovah-Saves (speaking in English). Why, Stone muses, should there be any doubt when:

This doctrine is also contained in the creeds of every sect of Christians with whom I am acquainted. "There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, without body, parts or passions." Conf. Fth. chap. 2, sec. 1st. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts. Meth. Dis. chap. 1, sec. 2.

If then all agree, that there is but one only living and true God; all must agree that there are not two or three such Gods.

If all agree that this one only God is an infinite spirit without parts;
all must agree that this infinite spirit is
not a compound of two or three spirits, beings, or Gods.
These things are abundantly evident, concerning which there can be no dispute.

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, etc. 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.

The doctrine of Trinity has long been a subject of endless controversy among theologists. I have thought the contest a war of words, while the combatants believed the same thing; seeing they all maintain the divine unity.

On this doctrine many things are said, which are dark, unintelligible, unscriptural, and too mysterious for comprehension.

Many of these expressions we have rejected; and for this reason we are [52] charged with denying the doctrine itself. I shall state the doctrine, as generally stated and defended by our brethren, who oppose us, and give my reasons why I cannot receive it.

Before allowing Stone to state his views note that at the end of this section we have added the views of Cleland who was Stone's severest critic. However, after stumbling all over the mystery which has created untold iniquity, Cleland totally agrees with what Stone is about to say: God is not made up of three independant "persons" or people and so say all ancient church Fathers we have consulted.

It is commonly stated, that there are three persons in one God, of one substance, power and eternity. To me it is evident that they, who maintain this proposition, do not--cannot believe,

that these three persons are three distinct spirits, beings or Gods,
each possessed of the personal properties of intelligence, will and power;

for this would not only contradict the Scriptures,
but also those sections of their creeds just quoted, which declare that there is but
one only living and true God, without parts.

They must understand the term persons in God, not in the proper and common sense of the word person; but in such a qualified sense as to exclude the notion of three distinct spirits or beings.

What this qualified sense should be, has long puzzled divines; and in no proposition are they more divided. The cause of this perplexity is obvious,

because no idea of it is to be found in revelation, nor reason.

Revelation no where declares that there are three persons of the same substance in the one only God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above reason.

Imagination has been set afloat, taking different courses in different men, and wandering through the unknown fields of eternity, infinity and incomprehensibility. Their labors have been great; but after all their vast excursions, they have ended in mystery.

Some think, that by the three persons in the one God, is intended his power, wisdom and love, personified. This is mere supposition, and wants the authority of Scripture. But should this be admitted, we should never know where to stop in forming persons [53] in the one God. With equal propriety we might personify every perfection of the Almighty. The most rigid Unitarians believe that power, wisdom and love are in the one God; but they object to the notion of calling them three persons in God.

God's OWN power, wisdom, love, word and Spirit of Mind (1 Cor 3) are NOT persons as our being "Body, soul and spirit" does not speak of three persons.

Others, by three persons in God, seem to signify that the three persons are three offices in the one God, as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. If this be granted, then upon the same principle we may multiply persons in Deity; for he sustains many other offices as king, judge, lawgiver, etc.

The doctrine, that there are three persons in one God, is principally founded on I John v: 7.

"There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one."

From reading the context, it is plain, that the matter testified of, is that Jesus is the son of God. The Father testified this, when he spake from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Word or Son, testified the same by the many wonders he performed when incarnate. This also the Holy Ghost witnessed by the many miracles wrought thro' the apostles.

These three are one. They are one, or agree in their testimony; as, in the next verse, the three witnesses on earth agree in one. To say these three are one God, would contradict the original; for the word hen, translated one, is in the neuter gender, and cannot agree with the word God.

Nor is it correct to say, these three are one being; for Paul and Apollos are said to be one. 1 Cor. iii: 8. "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are (hen) one."

No one imagines that they were one being; but agree, that they were two distinct men engaged in one work, in one spirit.

Our blessed Saviour prays the Father, that [54] all believers might be (hen) one, even as he and the Father were (hen) one.

Now as all believers are not one substance nor one being; and as they are all one, even as the Father and Son are one; we must then conclude,

that the Father and Son are not one substance, nor one being.

This is farther evident from John x, 30, "I and my Father are (hen) one," says Jesus. Yet in the same Evangelist he said, "My Father is greater than I." John xiv: 28. If they were one substance, or one being, there could be no comparison; as one cannot be greater or less than itself. The fact is, all believers are one in spirit, purpose, and mind--and this is the oneness which our Lord prayed they might have; this was the oneness of Paul and Apollos.This appears to me to be the oneness of the Father and the Son.

The text, 1 John, v: 7, the cause of so much altercation, has long been disputed, as being of divine authority. It is not found in Griesbach's Greek Testament, reckoned to be the most correct. It is not found in the Syrian Christian's Bible, which Dr. Buchanan examined in the East. Many learned men reject it, and even Dr. Doddridge doubts its divine authority. After all, I am unwilling to reject it; but am confident it cannot establish the notion of three persons in one God.

The doctrine of a plurality of persons in the one God, is argued from the plural termination of the Hebrew word Elohim, translated God. As great stress is laid on this argument, I will particularly examine it. Here it will be necessary to introduce the rule in the Hebrew Grammar, by which we shall determine the point.

"Pluralis pro singulari positus, denotat magnitudinem, et excellentiam"--which, literally translated, [55]is,

"A plural put for a singular denotes greatness and excellency."--Robertson's Heb. Gram., p. 240.

Now, according to this rule, Elohim, God, is put in the plural; because the word expresses dignity and majesty. For the same reason, the Lord said unto Moses, "See, I have made thee Elohim, a God unto Pharaoh"--Exod. vii: 1. No one supposes, that because Moses was called Elohim in the plural, there must have been a plurality of persons in him; but he was so called because of his dignity and greatness. For the same reason Aaron called the molten calf he made Elohim--Exod. xxxii: 4, 8--wishing, by expressing it in the plural, to attach dignity and majesty to it, and by this means to excite reverence in the minds of its worshipers.

John Chrysostom:

See how hard they were to tear away from the customs of Egypt! What sayest thou? What, not wait for him that brought thee out, but flee the benefit, and deny the Benefactor? And mark how insulting they are: "For as for this Moses," they say:-"which brought us out of the land of Egypt" nowhere the name of God: instead of that, they ascribed all to Moses. Where

Editor's Note 5: !Enqa men euxaristein edei, A, B, C. D. F., but N. and Cat. axaristein.-E. Kai enfa men autouj axaristein hn. Edd. eux.

they ought to give thanks (to God), they bring Moses forward: where it was, to do as the Law bade them, they no longer make account of Moses. "We know not what is become of him." And yet he told them that he was going up to receive the Law: and they had not patience to wait forty days. "Make us gods"-

Editor's Note 6: This clause, omitted by A. b.c., is preserved by N. and the Catena. The calf was one, yet they called it Gods: on which St. Chrys. remarks elsewhere, that they added polytheism to idolatry.-The next sentence may perhaps be completed thus: "that they did not even know that there is One God."-Edd. from E.F.D.

"So frantic are they, that they know not what they say." Note 7 in this document.

For the same reason, the Israelites called their idol Baal-berith, their Elohim, God--Judg. ix: 33.--And the Philistines called their idol Dagon, in the plural, Elohim, God--Judg. xvi: 22, 24. Also the idol Ashteroth, Chemosh, Milcom, Baalzebub, Nisroch, etc. though each is in the singular; yet each is called Elohim, God, in the plural--1 Kings, xi: 32; 2 Kings, i::2, & xix: 37. No doubt that those idol worshipers expressed their particular idol in the plural, because of its supposed dignity, majesty and excellence.

Again, we will apply the same rule to the plural word Adonim, master, "And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham, his master," his Adonim in the plural--Gen. xxiv:, 9, 10, 51. So Potiphar is called Joseph's Adonim, master--Gen. xxxix: 2, 3, 7, 8, 16, 19, 20. So the captain of a guard was called in the plural Adonim, lord--Gen. xl: 7. So Joseph, the ruler of Egypt, was called Adonim, a lord--Gen.xlii: 30, 33, & xliv: 8. In all these places the plural is [56] used for the singular, according to the well known rule; because the word expresses dominion, dignity and greatness.

It would be unnecessary to multiply quotations. These surely are sufficient to prove to any unprejudiced mind, that the plural word, put for a singular, does not imply a plurality of persons. If it does, then there was a plurality of persons in Moses--in Aaron's calf--in each of the idols I have named--in Abraham--in Potiphar--in Joseph--and in the captain of Pharaoh's guard. There are surely none who will affirm it. If not, why, or how can they affirm, that there is a plurality of persons in the one God, because he is called Elohim?

Another argument, considered of great weight to establish the notion of a plurality of persons in the One God, is the use of the pronouns us and our, when applied to him. "Let us make man in our image"--Gen. i: 26. This and similar texts I shall hereafter explain, as addressed by the Father to the Son, "By whom he created all things." I therefore, for the present, wave the farther consideration of it.

That the Scriptures speak of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is believed and admitted by Christians of every name; and that these three are one in some sense, I think, none will deny. My view of this oneness I have expressed a few pages back. If they are one in any other sense, I shall rejoice to know it.

It is possible that some, more attached to the unintelligible language of their ancestors than to the simple expressions of Scripture, may retain notions or words contrary to what I have stated. They may so darken the doctrine by words without knowledge, as to bewilder and lose themselves, and then resolve it all [57] into mystery; and lampoon and bite their fellow Christians for not receiving their own inventions. But brethren, I hope "You have not so learned Christ, it so be ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus."

Others, with whom bigotry outweighs a thousand good arguments, may be deterred from receiving this view of trinity by being told that it savors of Arianism, Socinianism, or some other reputed heresy. These and such like names have driven many into opposite extremes, and kept them from that happy medium, where truth commonly lies. I know not what the real sentiments of Arius were, having never seen his writings; nor have I seen his sentiments, but through the coloring of his enemies. They, who will put themselves to the trouble of reading this address, will clearly see whose doctrines, mine or those of my brethren who oppose us, most savor of those just mentioned.

Others, who have labored through mazy volumes of scholastic learning on this doctrine, may be disposed to reject my view of it, because of its simplicity. They have been long taught that the doctrine was a high, incomprehensible mystery. However mysterious it may be, the Scriptures never call it a mystery. It is a term attached to it by man. The explanation of this doctrine, as given by some, is truly an incomprehensible mystery.

They have said,

"The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."

A part of this explanation is indeed a mystery, not found in revelation nor reason. We are told by some, that it is an evidence of an humble heart to believe it. Can any man believe it, whether he be humble or not? [58]

They, who profess to believe nothing without testimony, cannot; because the two last propositions are not in the Bible. They who profess to believe nothing before they understand it, cannot. Therefore it is as incredible as it is incomprehensible. So it appears to me. But if others receive it as an article of their faith, I judge them not, nor reject them from the arms of charity. 

But to make it a term of Christian fellowship I think unwarrantable from the word of God. A person of a fruitful mind may form a very mysterious doctrine: 

For instance--He might affirm that the third person of trinity, the Holy Ghost, was an uncompounded compound of "seven spirits," or seven persons, all co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal. 

To make this mystery pass for truth, he might run through heaven and earth to shew how many other mysteries exist. He might find a mystery in the existence, the eternity, and infinity of God--in the connexion of soul and body, etc. These mysteries, he might argue, are believed; and why not his mysterious doctrine too?--

The answer is, because these are revealed but his doctrine is not;--these, though above reason, are not contrary to it; but his is both above and contrary to reason. If a doctrine be revealed, however mysterious it may be, I will humbly receive it. My reason shall ever bow to revelation; but it shall never be prostrated to human contradictions and inventions.--Pious and good men have received such doctrines. God loves and pities them; and so will I.

Speaking on the Son of God Stone wrote:

I again ask: Did not the Father send a real being, his own Son, from heaven into our world to save sinners?
     If a real being was sent from heaven, this being was either eternal or not--

     if eternal, it argues two eternal Gods;
     or that the same one God was sending and sent at the same instant--
           was active in sending and passive in being sent; which is impossible.

The Presbyterians ordained Barton W. Stone when he did not believe in the Trinity: the only issue with the Presbyterians was over the nature of the SON OF GOD.  

Thomas Cleland Letters to Barton W. Stone (1822)

We are not afraid to acknowledge that "the word Trinity is not found in the Bible." But we fearlessly avow that the truth conveyed by that term is to be found there.

The Greek word Trias, or Trinity, was introduced into the church in the second century, to express the threefold personality, or triune appellation of the Godhead.

This and the terms before mentioned were employed by the fathers of the church in opposition to various heretics for a clearer or more full and definite expression of their doctrines.

This is a fact: many authorities acknowledge that the idea of a trinity was constructed as a myth. A myth is often needed when frail mortals need to define that which cannot be defined. In opposition to Arius who held that Christ was a created "son" the trinity seemed to explain the deity of Jesus. However, in time the myths or parables are taken as actual fact and the underlying mystery is lost.

Thomas Cleland went to great pains to describe the trinity as existing in three different locations at the same time. However, in the final confession of faith all trinitarians who understand the nature of God confess as did Cleland that:

By the word persons, when applied to the Godhead,

we do not understand, some separate existences of a different nature; but united personal distinctions in the same nature.

In our contemplations on this great subject, the distinction between a human and a divine person ought to be particularly attended to, as it would in some measure free the mind from perplexity, and save a great deal of time and unnecessary debate.

Peter, James and John, were three persons, but they were separated from each other; they had only the same kind of nature, which is generally called a common specific nature, but not the same individual nature with another person.

They were likewise as many beings as they were persons, each one having his own proper being, separate and distinct from all other persons or beings of human kind.

But none of these things are applicable to the divine persons in the Godhead; for they, however distinguished by their personal characters, and properties, are never separated, as having the same divine essence or nature. 

And moreover, this nature is the same individual nature of the persons in the Godhead, and because the Divine Being or essence is but one,

therefore the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is the very same; and this is what we understand when we say, there are three persons in the Godhead of the same substance, equal in power and glory, and do constitute the only living and true God.

But why should we be obliged to explain ourselves so often on this subject? We repeat it again, that we use the word person and such like terms, merely from the poverty of language;

merely to designate our belief of a real distinction in the Godhead, and not to describe or explain how three are one and one three,

Alexander Campbell and other Restoration Movement leaders agreed with this statement while not accepting Stone's views of the Son.

The "fathers" did not use the word "person" but "personae." That is, the One God reveals Himself in three different ways. It was this poverty of language which led the Catholics to concoct the trinity by an appeal to the triad common in all pagan religions and as an appeal to the pagans in a "seeker-friendly" marriage of paganism and Christianity.

We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead. But the Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things indifferent in themselves, which seemed proper to enhance the splendour of religious ceremonial. We must not forget that most of these adjuncts to worship, like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc. were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; they were common to almost all cults. They are, in fact, part of the natural language of mystical expression, and such things belong quite as much to secular ceremonial as they do to religion. Catholic Encyclopedia on Candles.

The following quotations represents a common view of the catholic trinity which surfaced within the 20th century.

Our commentary refuting these views may be seen by clicking here.

Because "loose lips sink ships" and all words convey meaning and can teach error, we have taken the liberty of inserting synonyms for the words chosen to teach what amounts to tritheism or polytheism. Most contemporary Restoration Movement books simply parrot H. Leo Boles whose views are expressed as:

Our Restoration Movement Pages

Home Page

E-Mail Comments or Curses

11.19.08  11.04.11 780