Saturday, August 28, 2004

Calvin or Wesley?-2

Moving ahead, I think that your chapter (5) on Calvinism & consistency is the best chapter in the book. You mention a debate between Thomas Talbott and John Piper. Talbot says that a mother could not regard God as worthy of worship unless he saved her daughter from hell. Piper demurs.

I find it very curious that you introduce this debate, on more than one occasion (161-62, 219), in objection to Calvinism. How does the Arminian position present a point of contrast to Talbott's critique of Calvinism? In Arminian theology, no less than in Calvinism, the daughter may be damned. The only difference is that in Reformed theology, her fate is indexed to the will of God, whereas in Arminian theology, he fate is indexed to the will of man--her own.

And in what sense, moreover, is this a logical inconcinnity in Calvinism? Suppose the daughter murdered another mother's daughter? The mother of the murderer will feel differently about her own daughter than the mother of the murdered daughter. And the prosecutor will not feel the same way about the murderer as her own mother does.

Point being: the fact that in this life my attitude towards one of my own family members may not be identical with God's attitude towards the same is not logically inconsistent or morally relevant. It doesn't differentiate Calvinism from Arminianism. And it's just as much of a problem for universalism inasmuch as you will still have conflicting attitudes between the victim's family and the victimizer's.

All a Calvinist can say is that heaven has its compensations, and that there we will see things as God's sees them. What does the Arminian have to say?

You next attempt to drive a wedge between to different formulations of effectual calling in the WCF. Among other interpretive options, you explore the suggestion that 'it's not enough for God to make us willing to do right; he must also enable us to act rightly. For willingness doesn't imply ability any more than ability implies willingness' (167); 'the ability is still lacking and must be added once willingness is established' (167).

To me, the two different formulations are complementary, and their relation is pretty obvious. Enablement is a necessary, but insufficient condition. We cannot be willing to believe unless we are able to believe. Hence, we cannot be willing to believe unless we are enabled to believe. Willingness implies ability, but not vice versa. Why you either reverse the relation or outright deny any relation is quite counterintuitive.

Owing to the fall, the unregenerate suffer from spiritual inability: a moral and psychological indisposition to repent of their sins and believe the Gospel. Regeneration removes the spiritual impediment. But in order for the calling to be an 'effectual' calling, it must not merely enable our belief-forming mechanism, but effect the formation of evangelical faith and repentance. There is not the slightest degree of inconsistency in this dual formulation.

You need to keep in mind that the WCF is a Puritan document: the Puritans took great interest in schematizing the process of conversion. The Confession is simply breaking this down into logical stages for clarity and completeness of analysis. It doesn't even follow that these are distinct phases in real time.

The Confession is also attempting to coordinate Johannine and Pauline categories of conversion. Regeneration is a Johannine category, whereas effectual calling is a Pauline category. Calling is inclusive of regeneration. Regeneration is one-half of conversion (as it were). In regeneration, the human subject is passive, is acted upon. But the effect of regenerate is to activate or reactivate the human subject. A consequence of regeneration is that the human subject becomes a spiritual agent. The act of faith is the other half of conversion (as it were), the reflexive response to God's grace. The relation is one of cause-and-effect, the human reaction to a divine action. To be sure, Arminian theology has a different model of conversion, but you're critique was concerned with the coherence of the Reformed model.

In your next three sections you take on Packer, Piper, and Sproul. Here I think you drew blood. This is the most cogent part of the book. But the wounds are only flesh wounds.

You discuss Packer in relation to the offer of the Gospel. I think your criticisms hit home. But that is only because you've chosen Packer as your representative. If, instead, you had chosen, let us say, Roger Nicole, your objections would have missed the mark. Cf. R. Nicole, 'Covenant, Universal Call and Definite Atonement,' Standing Forth (CFP 2002), 331-43.

The only thing that makes an offer a bona fide offer is that if anyone meets the terms of the offer, he gets what was offered.

For you to stipulate, as an additional condition, that everyone must be able, or enabled, to meet the terms of the offer (171-73) is highly artificial. By that standard, a store cannot, in good faith, advertise any product unless it also provides free transportation or interest-free financing or removes any other obstacle that might otherwise impede a prospective customer from taking the store up on its offer.

In effect you are saying that an offer is only a genuine offer if the party making the offer supplies and satisfies all of the necessary conditions on behalf of and instead of the second-party. How is such a very vicarious model of responsibility consistent with the Arminian axiom of individual responsibility?

Does Asbury Seminary measure up to so lofty a standard? When Asbury offers a degree program, does it also take any and all measures necessary to make it possible for anyone, anywhere, regardless of his financial status, or his academic record, to study at Asbury? How can you, in all sincerity, teach at an institution which falls so far short of the mark?

In a footnote (172, n21), you say that a Calvinist could sidestep the dilemma by a more nuanced statement of the offer, but this would mislead the uninitiated. I don't know the point of this criticism. The duty of an evangelist is to offer the Gospel on the terms in which it is offered in Scripture, viz., repent of your sins and believe in Christ.

Both the Arminian and the Calvinist believe that there are certain background conditions which must be met if the terms of the offer are to be met. But precisely because these conditions lie in the background, lie outside the control of either the evangelist or the audience, it is quite unnecessary for a minister of the Gospel to introduce these ulterior conditions into the evangelistic message itself. He may, if he chooses to, but that is not a fundamental feature of the offer itself.

Once again, it is unclear how Arminian theology presents a superior alternative. If the Arminian can fault the Calvinist for making an offer, knowing that it can't be accepted in every case, a universalist can fault an Arminian for making an offer, knowing that it won't be accepted in every case. The one is just as sincere or insincere as the other.

Indeed, this presents yet another parallel between Reformed and Arminian theology. Reformed theology limits the efficacy of the offer to the will of God; Arminian theology limits the efficacy of the offer to the will of man.

Incidentally, it is deeply disingenuous for an Arminian to even be bringing up this subject. For an Arminian doesn't believe that faith in Christ is a prerequisite of salvation. Billions and billions of men and women live and die outside the pale of the Gospel. Arminians believe that general redemption can channel the knowledge of salvation. In principle, anyone and everyone could be saved even if absolutely no one ever believed in the Gospel. That's the Arminian bottom-line, is it not?

On the one hand, Arminians believe that God loves everyone equally, desires the salvation of all alike, and has, in fact, made provision for the potential salvation of everyone: Christ died for everyone, and the Holy Spirit equips everyone with sufficient/prevenient grace.

On the other hand, everyone does not have access to the Gospel. If faith in Christ were a condition of salvation, then this would mean that everyone does not have an opportunity to be saved.

As a consequence, God must make it possible for someone to be saved apart from faith in Christ. Otherwise, God would be unloving and unfair to condemn someone who never had a chance.

Hence, the Arminian will say that someone can be saved if he's faithful to the light he's been given--to general revelation. He is still saved by the atonement of Christ, but ignorant of his Savior. In principle, then, no one has to believe in Christ to be saved.

BTW, I puzzled by your claim that most Calvinists believe that God offers everyone a genuine opportunity to be saved (216). Whatever is this based on?

Next, you go after Piper's contention that God wants to save the reprobate. There are two things to be said on this score. To begin with, this is just Piper's private opinion. It is popular in modern-day Calvinism. However, I'm unaware of any historic Reformed confession that canonizes this particular position. So there is no received opinion on this issue. For example, the official position of the OPC and CRC side with Piper, whereas the official position of the PRC takes the opposing side.

Remember how you chose to frame this debate at the outset. You began with a definition of Calvinism, drawn from the five-points of Calvinism. In order to make good on your claim, what you need to show is not that Piper's version is internally inconsistent, but that the five-points are internally inconsistent. For there is a very simply way of relieving the tension in Piper's position, and that is to deny that God wants to save the reprobate.

And there are Reformed theologians who do, indeed, deny Piper's contention. To cinch your argument, you would need to demonstrate that their denial is inconsistent with Reformed tradition or with the inner logic of Calvinism.

Second, you say that 'unlike many Calvinist exegetes, Piper does not attempt to circumvent the straightforward meaning of the texts' (174).

But this move is problematic on a couple of grounds:

i) It confirms the very point I made above. You admit at the outset that there is a division of opinion within Reformed circles on this particular point. In order for you to mount a sound argument, you would have to take a two-pronged approach by exposing an inner tension (a) not only in Piper's position, (b) but in the opposing position as well. But you leave the job half-done. How does that refute Calvinism?

ii) For you to say, without benefit of any supporting argument, that the opposing position tries to 'circumvent the straightforward meaning' of Ezk 18:23; 1 Tim 2:4 & 2 Pet 3:9 is flagrantly tendentious. This is not a reasoned argument; rather, this is only the naked assertion of your Arminian prejudice. And you are welcome to your interpretation, but you need to make a case for it. Otherwise you only assume what you ought to prove.

And I would also take issue with your assumption. I've already dealt with the Pastorals. As to Ezk 18:23, what is the context? To whom was it addressed? This was addressed to Israel, to backslidden Israel, to the covenant community--by virtue of God's national election. By what 'straightforward' reasoning do you reapply this to 'all persons without qualification'? When you talk about Rom 9, you lay great stress on the Jewish context. Why does that consideration suddenly desert you when you come to Ezekiel?

As to 2 Pet 3:9, this, too, has its background in OT usage. You quote from one of Bauckham's books, but I notice that you don't go quoting from his commentary on 2 Peter 3:9, where he explains that in Jewish thought, divine judgement is ordinarily delayed for the sake of the covenant community. Cf. R. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (Word 1983), 312-13.

Finally, you accuse R. C. Sproul of oscillating between compatibilism and incompatibilism. Then you correlate the compatibilist/incompatibilist debate with the supra/infra debate. Then you contrast his position with Calvin's.

Now, suppose that everything you say against his position holds true. Where does that get you, exactly? At best, you've scored some points against Sproul and the infra position, but you've left Calvin and the supra view untouched. Indeed, you seem to imply that the view of Calvin and the supras is a coherent one.

If that is so, how does your critique constitute a critique of Calvinism, per se? I assume you view Calvin as an authentic exponent of Calvinism. In order to make your case you would have to eliminate each alternative in turn. Once more, you leave the job half-finished.

In addition, your analysis suffers from an equivocation over the nature of freedom. Calvinism doesn't deny that men make choices. It doesn't deny moral or rational deliberation. A man has many more abstract choices than an oyster, for a man has a faculty for abstract reasons--unlike a merely instinctual animal. We can imagine a wide variety of hypotheticals and their possible consequences.

But, as a practical matter, we can only act on one choice at a time, and by opting for one choice, we thereby eliminate opposing alternatives. I can either fold or call a bluff and play my hand. But I can't very well do both. If I place a bet or raise a bet, I cannot also fold. And I can only play the hand I'm dealt.

Calvinism does not deny, but delimits, human freedom. It denies that the unregenerate can believe the Gospel. And it denies that anyone can do otherwise than what God has decreed.

But the freedom to do otherwise is, itself, ambiguous. Does this mean the freedom to do otherwise if we want to do otherwise? Or the freedom to want to do otherwise?

Once more, there is a parallel between Reformed and Arminian theology. Both make way for the counterfactuals of freedom, but the difference is that Calvinism indexes future contingents to the will of God whereas Arminianism indexes future contingents to the will of man. And both these models entail a mutual adjustment. If you index counterfactual freedom to human agency, then a respective readjustment must be made in the sphere of divine agency; but if you index counterfactual freedom to divine agency, then a respective readjustment must be made in the sphere of human agency. Simply put, either we choose according to God's own choosing, or God chooses according to our own choosing.

Moving onto your chapter (6) on Calvinism & the Christian life, you raise four practical objections to Calvinism: evangelism, the fate of the unevangelized, Christian assurance, and the problem of evil.

Taking these in order, you say that 'On the surface, Calvinism appears to undermine motivation for evangelism. For if God has unconditionally chosen who will be saved and who will be left in their sins for eventual damnation, then surely the persons so chosen for salvation will in fact be saved. And if this is so, there is little reason for us to worry about evangelism--nothing we do or fail to do will in any way thwart God's sovereign purposes in election' (191).

I beg to differ. This only follows because you have offered a severely truncated statement of the Reformed position. God has chosen who will be saved, and he has chosen them to be saved by believing the Gospel. There is not even the appearance of inconsistency. Indeed, we could fill this out in ever more detailed. God has chosen who will believe. God has granted them the grace to believe. God has chosen the preachers who will bring the good news. All the moving parts conspire like clockwork. Would that undermine the incentive to wind my watch or consult a clock to tell the time?

Moving on to the second objection, you say that 'it remains practically difficult to both adore the purposes of God and let our hearts of compassion go out to persons he hasn't elect to save' (197).

And how does that follow? To begin with, these two things would only be in tension if we knew God's purposes in particular. Since Calvinism only maintains 'that' God has chosen who will and will not be saved, but has not revealed 'who' will and will not be saved, the abstract knowledge of the general proposition has no special bearing on how we treat anyone in particular--just as a Christian aid worker can have compassion on all the poor and needy even though he only has enough supplies to feed and medicate a fraction of the total.

In addition, how is this an argument for the Arminian alternative? It would be easy to imagine a universalist deploy the same objection to Arminian theology, viz., 'it remains practically difficult to both adore the purposes of God and let our hearts of compassion go out to those he will consign to the everlasting bonfire.'

Moving on to the third objection, you say that 'Calvinism denies those struggling with their faith of the single most important resource: the confidence that God loves all of us with every kind of love we need to enable and encourage our eternal flourishing and well-being' (201).

The insinuation here is that Arminian theology does supply this resource. But it does nothing of the kind. Arminian love is broad because Arminian love is shallow. The God of Calvin is a lifeguard who plunges into the rip currents to save a drowning swimmer and brings him ashore. The God of Wesley is a distraught girlfriend who stands on the beach, jumping up and down, shrieking and shouting, weeping and waiving her arms as her boyfriend sinks under the waves.

True, a Reformed pastor cannot assure every doubter that he is a child of God, any more than a Christian counselor can assure every desperate drunk or hopeless junkie or compulsive gambler that he will overcome his addiction, or assure every manic-depressive that he will never succumb to suicide. It would be nice if we could tell everyone that everything will come up roses, but that would be a lie. No, the Calvinist cannot say that, and neither, I daresay, can the Arminian. The only one who can pretend to offer such assurance is a universalist, but we both agree that his assurance is false assurance.

Is this general connection you also ask how we ought to counsel a young believer who fears her father has gone to hell (214). How is this pertinent to the present debate? Her father either is or is not in hell. Traditional Wesleyan theology affirms that possibility no less than Calvinism. Her daughter either has or has not good reasons for her fear. Would an Arminian counselor give her different advice than a Calvinist? Will he hold a séance?

Moving on to the fourth and final objection, you say: 'We believe that a brake failure and the resulting crash that causes paralysis need not be understood as sent by God. Rather, the brake failure can be seen as a tragedy resulting from the fact that we live in a world operating by God-ordained natural law and that sometimes things designed by human beings fail' (209).

Well, that may be what you believe, but how is that any answer to the problem of evil? Instead of answering the problem of evil you've merely canonized it in a disguised description. If a tragedy is the result of a natural law, and God is the lawmaker, then to justify the result by appeal to natural law begs the very question at issue: Why would a good God institute natural laws in the first place that result in natural evils?

You go to say that this is 'essentially involved in living as embodied beings in a physical world' (209). How is that essential? Is the universe a doomsday machine that once the engineer flips the on-switch, can brook no further interference? Have Arminians ceased believing in miracles?

If you knew that the breaks were going to go out, would you let your wife drive the car? And if the brakes did fail, leaving your wife an invalid, would you console her by saying that you didn't interfere since the accident was a natural consequence of embodied existence?'

You second example is that 'we don't believe the sexual abuse of the young girl was planned by God. Far from it! Rather, this tragedy results from our God-given libertarian freedom, and we often choose to use that freedom in terrible ways…The web of human choice is such that we are interdependent, our decisions can profoundly affect others, both for good and evil' (210).

For starters, it would be helpful if you began with the candid admission that there is no nice, ouchless, painless answer to this sort of question. The Calvinist has none, but neither has the Arminian, or even the universalist. The pain resides in the event, not in the explanation.

No doubt the average Christian will balk at the suggestion that God had planned some atrocity. But he should balk at the alternative as well. Once again, all you've done is to paraphrase the original problem: to say that evil is a result of our freedom is no justification whatsoever, for the question at issue is whether the freedom of the victimizer ought to outweigh the infringement of the victim's freedom.

Which brings us to the next point, for your answer is not even coherent. Whose libertarian freedom? The victim's? Or the victimizer's? What is libertarian freedom if not the freedom to do otherwise? But the victimizer deprives the victim of her freedom to do otherwise. So your dogma of libertarian freedom is just a paper theory--a paper theory stained in the blood of the unwilling victim.

And, for that matter, why do you think it's permissible for a human agent to deprive another human agent of freedom of opportunity, but impermissible for God to do so? Why do you confer more power on one human agent over the life and welfare of another than you ascribe to God? And how is this any sort of solution to the problem of evil?

Next, you say: 'nothing that happens to us, either from the natural world or from human treachery, can defeat God's ultimate purpose for us. Off course, we can reject God's purpose for our lives and choose self-destruction. But nothing else in the entire universe can keep us from reaching the ultimate good that God desires for all humans' (210).

I love the way you sneak in the exclamation: 'of course!' It is interesting how often people will say 'of course!' when they really mean just the opposite, when they know that they are assuming the very thing they need to prove, so they hope to hustle by the bone of contention by momentarily distracting our attention with this reassuring exclamation.

Well, the decoy didn't do the trick--not for this reader, at least. What you position amounts to is this: 'God can save me from everything and everyone except myself!'

Oh, is that all? This is what is so unspeakably shallow and uncomprehending about Arminian theology. The weak link in this chain is the sinner himself. To say to a sinner that God is able to save him from everything except his own worst self is like offering a cancer patient a down pillow and lollypop in lieu of a cure.

What is more, I don't see how an Arminian is in any position to even offer your concessive assurance. To adapt your own example, suppose an elder abuses his own daughter. As a result of this experience, the abuse victim turns away from the faith, for the church of Christ, and the God of Scripture, are associated in her mind with her sexual abuse. Now surely this is more than just a bare hypothetical. Surely this actually happens. How can you, the Arminian, guarantee that this searing experience will not invincibly bias her heart and mind against the Gospel? Indeed, isn't it fair to say that this sort of thing has happened on more than one occasion? The victim is so embittered, so enveloped in hatred for her abuser, that she is unreachable.

Next, you say that 'O felix culpa makes sense if the greater good resulting from the Fall is made freely available to all persons in such a way that they are truly able to take advantage of it…But if many are far worse off, indeed infinitely worse off, as a result of the Fall--that is, if they are never given the grace needed to escape their misery--it is difficult to see how the Fall can be seen as a fortunate crime' (213).

The reasoning here is somewhat opaque. What, exactly, are you trying to say? Fortunate for whom? Good for what? Obviously it is not a greater good for the damned, but the very nature of a greater good defense is that it entails a trade-off between a lesser good for a greater number and a greater good for a lesser number.

The Arminian believes that grace is toxic in large doses. It must be administered with an eyedropper. The purpose of grace in Arminian theology is not to save anyone at all, but rather to render everyone equally savable or damnable.

Actually, there is a direct Arminian parallel to the Reformed theodicy. An Arminian offers a lesser grace for a greater number whereas a Calvinist offers a greater grace to a lesser number.

And how does Arminian theology solve the problem as you have chosen to frame it? What value is there in freedom of opportunity without freedom of outcome? Even on an Arminian construction, many are worse off, infinitely worse off, for many still end up in hell. Every objection an Arminian can level against Calvinism, a universalist can level against Arminianism.

Next, you say that 'if is most difficult to see how God could be good in any ordinary sense of the term if he ordained or allowed the Fall knowing that it would have such consequences' (213).

I find this puzzling. I thought you were a representative of classic Arminian theology, which denies divine foreordination, but affirms divine foreknowledge. But now you seem to make the same move as the open theist. Are you saying that the logical and ethical alternative to Calvinism is not, in fact, Arminianism, but open theism?

If this is what you mean, then I fail to see how it improves on the Reformed alternative. If a mother leaves a toddler unattended in a kitchen, and the kid scalds himself by reaching for a pot of boiling water, does this absolve the mother of blame? Even if she didn't know that this would happen, she knew that this could happen. Is that not blameworthy?

But if this is not what you mean, then what do you mean? And what, really, is the material difference between foreknowledge and foreordination at this juncture? Even on an Arminian construction, it is not merely that God knows what will happen; rather, God chooses to make a world in which that will happen. If he never made the world, that future would never transpire. So not only does he know what will happen, but he must intend it to happen, since that is a direct result of his own action—an action from which he was free to refrain.

Finally, you say that 'it is worth asking whether we would be considered good if we arranged things in such a way that many persons suffered greatly, even though we could have relieved their suffering. I think most persons would readily agree that we would not be good' (213).

Once again, if this is a problem, how is Arminian theology a solution? Couldn't a universalist turn this self-same objection back on your own position? In traditional Arminian theology, God did, in fact, arrange things in just such a way that many men, women and children suffer greatly, even though God could intervene, more often than he does, to relieve their pain and suffering. You may say that this is a necessary evil, but the notion of a necessary evil figures in a Reformed theodicy as well.

Are you going to say that this would infringe on human freedom? But, again, whose freedom? The victim's or the victimizer's?

Moreover, your statement fails to draw the most elementary moral distinction between innocence and guilt. What obligation am I under to relieve the suffering of the wicked? I, for one, would much rather see Joseph Mengele suffer for his sins than sun himself on the beaches of Rio.

In Calvinism, however unjustly we may suffer at the hands of our fellow man, no one suffers unjustly at the hands of our God.

Calvin or Wesley?-1

Dear Dr. Walls,

I just finished reading your book on Why I Am Not a Calvinist (IVP 2004). At the end of your book you say that your reasons are good reasons why your readers should reject Calvinism.

Well, having read your book from cover to cover, these are my reasons for believing that your reasons are not good reasons for rejecting Calvinism. I'll confine my comments to chapters 2,5-6.

I assume that your sidekick (Joseph Dongell) is the primary writer of chapter 2. However, you presumably agree with his exegesis.

You list a number of the stock Arminian prooftexts for universal grace. This appeal calls for a number of comments:

i) How is this appeal an argument for Arminianism rather than universalism? Do these passages distinguish between universal grace and universal salvation? If both the Arminian and the Calvinist must qualify the apparent force of these verses with a view to other mitigating considerations, how to they select for the Arminian position in contradistinction to the Reformed?

ii) Yes, 1 Jn 2:2 says that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And what is more, we even have a parallel phrase in 1 Jn 5:19: 'we know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one.'

Yet the first clause is set in implicit contrast to the second. The whole world is exclusive rather than inclusive of Christians.

Again, can you substitute 'everyone' for the 'world' in 1 Jn 2:15-17? Yes, you can quote Jn 3:16, but how does this relate to Jn 9:39? My point is just to show that your superficial appeal greatly oversimplifies the evidence.

Next you turn to Pauline passages that use a universal quantifier (Rom 11:32; 1 Tim 2:3-6; 1 Tim 4:10; Tit 2:11). A number of points could be made with respect to this line of argument. I'll confine myself to a few:

a) We have a lot of parallelism in Romans. This is not surprising. Paul is a Jewish writer. Parallelism is a standard rhetorical device in Jewish writing. The book of Proverbs is a case in point. The purpose of this rhetorical device is to compare and contrast one representative class with another representative class. But it is a naïve error to press these hyperbolic generalities into unexceptional universals. Simple believers make this same mistake when the turn the book of Proverbs into a promise box.

Paul's point is to stress the federal character and vicarious dimension of the atonement by setting up a one-to-many correspondence between Christ and Christians, in contrast to the one-to-many correspondence between Adam and Adamites.

The same thing lies in the background of 1 Tim 2:6, which is a paraphrase of Mk 10:45, which is, in turn, an allusion to Isa 53:11-12, where the Suffering Servant redeems the covenant community.

Tit 2:11 cannot be construed in isolation to v14, which is always employed, in Septuagintal usage, to designate the covenant community as the "people of God" (Exod 19:15; 23:22; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18), redeemed at a price, in fidelity to his holy covenant with Abraham and his seed.

b) I wonder what you think the function of a universal quantifier is, anyway? It simply denotes a general reference class. It does not, however, stipulate the referents so denoted. That must be supplied by context. In Romans, the comparison and contrast is between Adamites and Christians.

As a student of philosophy, I assume you're conversant with Frege's hoary distinction between sense and reference. But you are collapsing the referent into the sense.

c) In your exposition of Rom 9-11, you make Jewish exclusivism the hermeneutical key, but for some reason you don't carry that over into the Pastorals. Yet it ought to be evident that the Ephesian heresy is a Jewish heresy, centered on Jewish particularism (e.g., 1 Tim 1:4,7; Tit 1:10,14; 3:9). If that is what is in view, then Paul's point is that sinners are saved, not by birth-rites or birthrights, but by the New Birth; not by racial selection, but divine election; not by the blood of Abraham, but the blood of Christ; not by the law of Moses, but by the cross of Christ.

Moving on, I'm baffled by your appeal to Jer 13:15-17 (57). The subject of the bitter weeping and overflowing tears is not God himself, but the prophet Jeremiah.

Moreover, the idea that God uses the prophets to harden the nation and thereby precipitate events, such as the Exile, which serve to chasten and chastise stiff-necked Israel, as a long-range refining strategy, is a commonplace of the prophetic literature (e.g., Isa 6:9-13; Jer 7:27-29; Ezk 2:3-8; 3:7-11).

Next, you associate the Reformed doctrine of God with the Platonic doctrine of God. The only justification you give for this is a bare citation of two pages from an essay by John Sanders. In other words, your only corroboration lies at two removes from the original.

And let us consider, for just a moment, how many intervening steps are involved in tracing out a chain-of-custody from Platonism to Calvinism. For starters, Mr. Sanders would need to summarize the Platonic doctrine of God, with direct quotes from Plato. Then he'd need to summarize the Philonic doctrine of God.

And as soon as he takes this step he would also need to consider the possibility of crossbreeding. For we can characterize Philonic Platonism as either Platonic Judaism or Judaic Platonism. In other words, Philo's Judaism is colored by Plato, but his Platonism is also colored by his Judaism.

Next, he'd need to summarize the Plotinian doctrine of God. As with Philo, this would also allow for the possibility of crossbreeding inasmuch as Plotinus was a post-Christian philosopher who studied under a Christian philosopher (Ammonius Saccas). From there he'd need to summarize the doctrine of God in Origen, Pseudo-Dionysius, Athanasius, and the Cappadocian Fathers.

From there he would need to shift from East to West to summarize of the doctrine of God in Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm, as well as Aquinas. He would also need to summarize the doctrine of God in Maimonides and Avicenna as these feed into Medieval Scholasticism.

From there he would need to summarize the doctrine of God in Calvin and Reformed Scholasticism. He would need to document the evolution of the doctrine of God through these various permutations, with direct quotes to show direct dependence. If Sanders can do this in the space of two pages, he must be using very fine print!

I'm not being pedantic here. This is the kind of tedious, painstaking legwork that is necessary to warrant a historical claim of this nature. There are no short-cuts. I tired of the intellectual sloth that passes for scholarship in this debate.

Speaking of which, you say 'it is possible that God knows the future not by peering forward but by knowing the future directly as already present. If God's presence dwells in all places (spatially omnipresent), then perhaps we can speak of God as well in all times; past, present and future (temporally omnipresent),' (61).

If that were not enough, you go on to say that 'the collapse of the traditional Newtonian view of space and time should make us all slow to declare what can or cannot happen regarding time and space, especially God' (61-62).

The only justification you give for these sweeping claims is nine pages in Pannenberg, mediated by Lawrence Wood and Charles Gutenson. Okay, let's talk stock of this whirlwind tour.

i) Are you saying that exegetical theology depends on a knowledge of modern physics?

ii) Pannenberg's theory of time and eternity is Plotinian. If you'd read enough of Pannenberg you'd know that. He's said so. So what you are opposing to 'Platonic Calvinism' is Platonic Arminianism.

iii) You would need to present detailed models of each claim--not one or two sentences for each, or even a measly nine pages in Pannenberg. Without some cold hard currency to cash out your chips, this is just so much funny money.

Let us keep in mind that the burden of proof is not on the Calvinist, but the Arminian. On the one hand, the gist of passages like Isa 14 & 40-48 is that God knows the future because he purposed the future, and whatever he has purposed must come to pass by dint of his inexorable providence. No only does God know the future, but the Bible goes on to stipulate the necessary precondition under which he knows the future.

On the other hand, the Arminian removes the precondition. If a finite agent is free, in the libertarian sense, to do otherwise under the very same circumstances, then his future choice is indeterminate; hence, his future choice, considered as an object of knowledge, is also indeterminate. His future choice has no truth-value in advance of the fact, for it could either be A or non-A. Even he cannot know what he is going to do until he does it. It is his future action that renders the future proposition to be either true or false.

This is not a case of measuring Arminian theology with a Reformed yardstick. We are measuring Arminian theology with its own chosen yardstick.

iv) Are you saying that these two claims are complementary? What is the relationship between temporal omnipresence and modern physics? Can you offer us a logical modal? A mathematical model? A physical model? Where is the supporting evidence? Have you devised any experiments to test this theory? Does it have predicable consequences? What would count as evidence?

I don't see that you've gone any distance whatsoever in presenting a serious alternative. It looks like intellectual day-tripping to me--a few fancy words to do all the heavy-lifting.

And as long as we're chasing down rabbit trails, you also say that the Augustinian tradition subordinates the love of God to the will of God (218). But this is not what distinguishes the Augustinian tradition from the Arminian tradition. The distinction is between intensive and extensive love, between an intensive love that saves its loved ones, and an extensive love that loves everyone in general and saves no one in particular.

Or if you really wish to cast this in terms of willpower, it's the distinction between divine willpower and human willpower. Or, to put the two together, does God will the salvation of everyone with a weak-willed, ineffectual love, or does God love his loved ones with a resolute will that gets the job done?

The God of Calvin is the good shepherd, who names and numbers his sheep, who saves the lost sheep and fends off the wolf. The God of Wesley is the hiring, who knows not the flock by name and number, who lets the sheep go astray and be eaten by the wolf. Which is more loving, I ask?

Next, you say that 'the fundamental issue of this passage (Jn 6) is not that of predestination but of Christology and the unity of the Father and the Son' (75). But this is a false antithesis. You would have to show that it couldn't be about both. Why not? These are not logically incompatible propositions. And the presence of the one does not entail the absence of the other.

You go on to say that 'in rejecting Jesus, they demonstrated that they had never surrendered to God in the first place' (75). There is no textual warrant for your claim. This sounds like something out of an old holiness hymn, viz., 'Is your all on the altar?' 'Perfect submission, all is at rest.'

Actually, the predestinarian element is quite central to Jn 6, as well as Jn 9, Jn 10, Jn 12, Jn 17, &c.

Moving on to Eph 1-2, you try to get around the predestinarian force of Eph 1 by playing corporate election off against individual election. But this is another false dichotomy. You would have to prove that these are contrary or contradictory propositions, such that the presence of the one need negate the presence of the other.

The verb (eklego) ordinarily takes a definite object: Christ chose the twelve Apostles (Lk 6:13; Jn 6:70; 13:18; Acts 1:2). The Father chose the Son (Lk 9:35). The church chose Stephen (Acts 6:5). The church chose Silas and Barsabbas (Acts 15:22). There is, then, no presumption that the verb does not take a definite object. The common sense notion of choice involves a particular choice. And Biblical usage merely confirms that common sense notion.

Even when the verb takes a collective object, there is no logical or practical disjunction between a group and its constituent members. A class is composed of individuals. Christ didn't choose the Apostolate, but the Apostles. He didn't choose a null-set to be filled in by an anonymous aggregate of miscellaneous volunteers.

You then cite Markus Barth and Herman Ridderbos in your favor. Let us remember that Markus Barth is a Barthian. He is the son of Karl Barth. Not only did Karl Barth believe in corporate election, but universal election, and universal salvation. That, at least, is the underthrust of his theological system, although his dialectical reasoning makes any final interpretation treacherous.

As to Ridderbos, whatever else he is, he is not a Calvinist--contrary to your designation (76,82). Although he issues from the Dutch Reformed tradition, he left that far behind some time ago, in tandem with Cornelius Berkouwer's anti-abstractionism.

You then try to dilute the predestinarian force of Eph 2 by saying that 'we enter by faith' (77). No, we do not enter by faith: we enter by grace. In Pauline soteriology, we are justified by faith. But there is much more to Pauline soteriology than sola fide. We are not saved by faith. We are justified by faith, but saved by grace. Salvation is a bigger and broader thing than justification. The purpose of faith is to show that salvation is by grace rather than works. Even our works are foreordained.

The grammatical antecedent of faith is irrelevant to Paul's argument. Incidentally, to say that a neuter demonstrative pronoun cannot take a feminine noun evinces an elementary ignorance of Greek grammar. Isn't the time past due for Arminians to wise up a little and consult the standard commentaries on what is grammatically permissible? I'm not saying that the pronoun does take 'faith' as its object--merely that this is an allowable construction in Greek syntax.

What does Paul say that we bring to the table? Sin and death, carnal passion and occult bondage. What makes the difference? What accounts for the transition--for our break with the past? The love, mercy, and grace of God, making us alive in Christ--that's what!

Moving on to Rom 8:29-30, you launch your first salvo by saying that the Reformed reading of this passage is in tension with Paul's admonitions elsewhere (8:17; 11:21-22; Gal 5:21, 6:7-8).

About this one could say a little or a lot. All that really needs to be said is that this is not an exegetical objection, for Paul himself never makes this connection; he never invokes the cautionary verses to blunt the keen edge of the predestinarian verses. He sees no tension, even if the Arminian does. What you are doing is to put Paul at odds with himself by playing both ends off against the middle, rather than respecting the contours his own argument and making the same connections that he has made.

At a psychological level, the purpose of a warning is to function as a disincentive. There is no tension between assurance and deterrence, for deterrence is instrumental to assurance. And admonitions addressed to believers, whether by Paul or John or Jesus or the author of Hebrews assume that believers are motivated to heed the warning. If an admonition succeeds in deterring a believer from destruction, how is that incompatible with perseverance?

The doctrine of perseverance does not operate in a vacuum. The word of God and the grace of God work in tandem. The basic difference is that the Arminian obeys God out of fear--fear of an uncertain future, whereas a Calvinist obeys him out of gratitude--gratitude for a future assured. This is what steeled the hearts of a Knox, Calvin, Carey, Harris, Edwards, Livingston, Whitfield, Rowlands, or Rutherford--in all their insurmountable ordeals.

At a metaphysical level, if your are going to say that a hypothetical threat is an empty threat, then you must say that a counterfactual lacks truth-value. And if you say that, then your Arminian theology shall shipwreck, for Arminian theology is knee-deep in hypotheticals and counterfactuals, what with its libertarian freedom and potentially universal atonement.

In this respect, the difference between the two traditions is that Arminian theology makes counterfactuals contingent on the human will whereas Reformed theology makes counterfactuals contingent on the divine will.

Next, you say that 'Paul may be viewing the entire series not from a vantage point within human history but from the end of human history, after God has brought to completion the whole redemptive plan' (81).

But even if this interpretation were right, it is hardly consistent with the idea that God's redemptive plan can be scuttled by human intransigence. If God's will can be thwarted, then the outcome represents the frustration rather than the fulfillment of his original plan.

BTW, you choose to cite James Dunn, but Dunn, as an exponent of the new perspective, doesn't think that any of this has to do with salvation, whether along Arminian or Reformed lines of thought. Rather, this is all about badges of membership, viz., circumcision.

However, your interpretation cuts against the palpable grain of the text. The first two divine acts are antemundane. To 'foreknow' is a Hebraic idiom for choosing beforehand. And foreordination obviously implies the priority of divine agency.

In Pauline theology, calling is in time, at least as to its effect. It is existential. It is the calling of individuals. Again, you yourself regard justification as contingent on faith, which would place it within historical continuum rather than at the tail end of history--whatever that's supposed to mean. The end of the church age is not the end of time.

But should you choose to get philosophical about this, the correct formulation would be to say that if God is a timeless agent, then all divine deeds are timeless deeds with temporal effects. This, however, would not shift the ordo salutis to the backdoor of the church age, but push it outside of timeline entirely.

Yet the immediate point of Paul's past tense is to say that there can be no breakdown between divine intent and divine execution. Whatever is predestined will come to pass by his almighty providence. God's decree is a fait accompli.

To deny, with Ridderbos (82), that Rom 8:29-30 have anything do with predestination when, in fact, Paul expressly introduces predestinarian factors into his argument is not, in any sense, exegesis, but rather a defiant, contrarian denial of the evidence before his very eyes. Ridderbos is the one who is guilty of abstracting corporate election from the concrete preconditions laid bare by Paul.

Next, you say that Rom 8:29-30 'must not be read as teaching that human actions play no role within the chain…justification (element four in the chain) is explicitly conditioned throughout Romans upon human faith…' (83).

Yes, but this is misleading. To begin with, faith is a necessary, but insufficient condition of justification. Without, say, the work of Christ there would be no basis for justifying faith.

Second, there are primary as well as secondary causes. Yes, some elements of the redemptive process have a cooperative aspect. But human agency is subordinate to divine agency, as the reflexive result of divine agency.

When Jesus summoned Lazarus from the grave, Lazarus came forth. Does this mean that we ought to divide the miracle between the calling of Christ and the coming of Lazarus, as if these were cofactors?

Next, you say that 'Murray and others must already have in hand specific convictions about the nature of faith, along with particular beliefs about the necessity of divine monergism, to guarantee an interpretation of Rom 8:29-30 that supports Calvinist views of predestination' (83).

But even if this were true, Murray's commentary is studded with supporting arguments to precisely that effect. So it is not as though he has failed to discharge his burden of proof. And the Arminian has his own onus to bear. It's no good to cite Ridderbos or Dunn, for I have dealt with each in turn.

Yet your statement is, in fact, false. For Rom 8:29-30 stands very well on its own as a self-contained unit. The same conterminous group is in view every step of the way, from start to finish. The predestined coincide with the called, the called coincide with the justified, the justified coincide with the glorified. There is no leakage, no defection rate.

Let the Arminian gloss the justified as justified believers. It makes no difference to the self-enclosed logic of the catena. All justified believers are predestined, called, and glorified. Each set is coextensive at each stage of the ordo salutis.

Moving on to Rom 9, there are many deficiencies in your exposition, but to begin with systemic flaw, you treat unbelief as an answer to the problem, whereas Paul treats it as a problem to be answered. The problem of Jewish unbelief, in the rejection of the Messiah, was a major challenge for Christian apologetics. This is why Paul devotes three chapters to the problem in Romans. This is why John devotes so much attention to the problem in the Fourth Gospel.

God adopted Israel. God made promises to Israel. The question is whether unbelief can nullify the word of God. Can human infidelity render God unfaithful to his covenant? If God cannot make good on his promise, then God is not a God of truth. That is the point at issue. And it is no small issue.

And for Paul, as well as for John (e.g., Jn 12), the solution is found in double predestination. Unbelief is symptomatic of something deeper. Unbelief is not the cause, but the effect--the effect of eternal reprobation and providential hardening. If some unbelieving Jews, such as Paul, come to faith, then that is owing to the fact that God has lifted his heavy hand from their stony hearts.

That's the main issue. On a side issue, what evidence do you have that Paul's opponents were 'demanding the salvation of every individual Israelite' (91)?

What Jewish school of thought, whether Pharisees or Sadducees or Essenes or the followers of Hillel or the disciples of Shamai ever insisted that every single Jew would be saved? Apostate Jews? Idolatrous Jews. Unbelieving Jews? Unobservant Jews? Sabbath-breakers? Pork-eating Jews? Jewish collaborators with Rome? Jews assimilated to Greco-Roman ways?

What evidence to you present for such a sweeping assertion, anyway? For a massive refutation of your baseless claim, read: M. Elliott, The Survivors of Israel (Eerdmans 2000).

Monday, August 23, 2004

Warfield on the Trinity-4

20. The Question of Surbordination:

There is, of course, no question that in "modes of operation," as it is technically called--that is to say, in the functions ascribed to the several persons of the Trinity in the redemptive process, and, more broadly, in the entire dealing of God with the world--the principle of subordination is clearly expressed. The Father is first, the Son is second, and the Spirit is third, in the operations of God as revealed to us in general, and very especially in those operations by which redemption is accomplished. Whatever the Father does, He does through the Son (Romans 2:16; 3:22; 5:1,11,17,21; Ephesians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Titus 3:5) by the Spirit. The Son is sent by the Father and does His Father's will (John 6:38); the Spirit is sent by the Son and does not speak from Himself, but only takes of Christ's and shows it unto His people (John 17:7); and we have our Lord's own word for it that `one that is sent is not greater than he that sent him' (John 13:16). In crisp decisiveness, our Lord even declares, indeed:

`My Father is greater than I' (John 14:28); and Paul tells us that Christ is God's, even as we are Christ's (1 Corinthians 3:23), and that as Christ is "the head of every man," so God is "the head of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3). But it is not so clear that the principle of subordination rules also in "modes of subsistence," as it is technically phrased; that is to say, in the necessary relation of the Persons of the Trinity to one another. The very richness and variety of the expression of their subordination, the one to the other, in modes of operation, create a difficulty in attaining certainty whether they are represented as also subordinate the one to the other in modes of subsistence. Question is raised in each case of apparent intimation of subordination in modes of subsistence, whether it may not, after all, be explicable as only another expression of subordination in modes of operation. It may be natural to assume that a subordination in modes of operation rests on a subordination in modes of subsistence; that the reason why it is the Father that sends the Son and the Son that sends the Spirit is that the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Spirit to the Son. But we are bound to bear in mind that these relations of subordination in modes of operation may just as well be due to a convention, an agreement, between the Persons of the Trinity--a "Covenant" as it is technically called--by virtue of which a distinct function in the work of redemption is voluntarily assumed by each. It is eminently desirable, therefore, at the least, that some definite evidence of subordination in modes of subsistence should be discoverable before it is assumed. In the case of the relation of the Son to the Father, there is the added difficulty of the incarnation, in which the Son, by the assumption of a creaturely nature into union with Himself, enters into new relations with the Father of a definitely subordinate character. Question has even been raised whether the very designations of Father and Son may not be expressive of these new relations, and therefore without significance with respect to the eternal relations of the Persons so designated. This question must certainly be answered in the negative. Although, no doubt, in many of the instances in which the terms "Father" and "Son" occur, it would be possible to take them of merely economical relations, there ever remain some which are intractable to this treatment, and we may be sure that "Father" and "Son" are applied to their eternal and necessary relations. But these terms, as we have seen, do not appear to imply relations of first and second, superiority and subordination, in modes of subsistence; and the fact of the humiliation of the Son of God for His earthly work does introduce a factor into the interpretation of the passages which import His subordination to the Father, which throws doubt upon the inference from them of an eternal relation of subordination in the Trinity itself. It must at least be said that in the presence of the great New Testament doctrines of the Covenant of Redemption on the one hand, and of the Humiliation of the Son of God for His work's sake and of the Two Natures in the constitution of His Person as incarnated, on the other, the difficulty of interpreting subordinationist passages of eternal relations between the Father and Son becomes extreme. The question continually obtrudes itself, whether they do not rather find their full explanation in the facts embodied in the doctrines of the Covenant, the Humiliation of Christ, and the Two Natures of His incarnated Person. Certainly in such circumstances it were thoroughly illegitimate to press such passages to suggest any subordination for the Son or the Spirit which would in any manner impair that complete identity with the Father in Being and that complete equality with the Father in powers which are constantly presupposed, and frequently emphatically, though only incidentally, asserted for them throughout the whole fabric of the New Testament.

21. Witness of the Christian Consciousness:

The Trinity of the Persons of the Godhead, shown in the incarnation and the redemptive work of God the Son, and the descent and saving work of God the Spirit, is thus everywhere assumed in the New Testament, and comes to repeated fragmentary but none the less emphatic and illuminating expression in its pages. As the roots of its revelation are set in the threefold divine causality of the saving process, it naturally finds an echo also in the consciousness of everyone who has experienced this salvation. Every redeemed soul, knowing himself reconciled with God through His Son, and quickened into newness of life by His Spirit, turns alike to Father, Son and Spirit with the exclamation of reverent gratitude upon his lips, "My Lord and my God!" If he could not construct the doctrine of the Trinity out of his consciousness of salvation, yet the elements of his consciousness of salvation are interpreted to him and reduced to order only by the doctrine of the Trinity which he finds underlying and giving their significance and consistency to the teaching of the Scriptures as to the processes of salvation. By means of this doctrine he is able to think clearly and consequently of his threefold relation to the saving God, experienced by him as Fatherly love sending a Redeemer, as redeeming love executing redemption, as saving love applying redemption:

all manifestations in distinct methods and by distinct agencies of the one seeking and saving love of God. Without the doctrine of the Trinity, his conscious Christian life would be thrown into confusion and left in disorganization if not, indeed, given an air of unreality; with the doctrine of the Trinity, order, significance and reality are brought to every element of it. Accordingly, the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of redemption, historically, stand or fall together. A Unitarian theology is commonly associated with a Pelagian anthropology and a Socinian soteriology. It is a striking testimony which is borne by E. Koenig (Offenbarungsbegriff des Altes Testament, 1882, I, 125): "I have learned that many cast off the whole history of redemption for no other reason than because they have not attained to a conception of the Triune God." It is in this intimacy of relation between the doctrines of the Trinity and redemption that the ultimate reason lies why the Christian church could not rest until it had attained a definite and well-compacted doctrine of the Trinity. Nothing else could be accepted as an adequate foundation for the experience of the Christian salvation. Neither the Sabellian nor the Arian construction could meet and satisfy the data of the consciousness of salvation, any more than either could meet and satisfy the data of the Scriptural revelation. The data of the Scriptural revelation might, to be sure, have been left unsatisfied: men might have found a modus vivendi with neglected, or even with perverted Scriptural teaching. But perverted or neglected elements of Christian experience are more clamant in their demands for attention and correction. The dissatisfied Christian consciousness necessarily searched the Scriptures, on the emergence of every new attempt to state the doctrine of the nature and relations of God, to see whether these things were true, and never reached contentment until the Scriptural data were given their consistent formulation in a valid doctrine of the Trinity. Here too the heart of man was restless until it found its rest in the Triune God, the author, procurer and applier of salvation.

22. Formulation of the Doctrine:

The determining impulse to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity in the church was the church's profound conviction of the absolute Deity of Christ, on which as on a pivot the whole Christian conception of God from the first origins of Christianity turned. The guiding principle in the formulation of the doctrine was supplied by the Baptismal Formula announced by Jesus (Matthew 28:19), from which was derived the ground-plan of the baptismal confessions and "rules of faith" which very soon began to be framed all over the church. It was by these two fundamental principia--the true Deity of Christ and the Baptismal Formula--that all attempts to formulate the Christian doctrine of God were tested, and by their molding power that the church at length found itself in possession of a form of statement which did full justice to the data of the redemptive revelation as reflected in the New Testament and the demands of the Christian heart under the experience of salvation.

In the nature of the case the formulated doctrine was of slow attainment. The influence of inherited conceptions and of current philosophies inevitably showed itself in the efforts to construe to the intellect the immanent faith of Christians. In the 2nd century the dominant neo-Stoic and neo-Platonic ideas deflected Christian thought into subordinationist channels, and produced what is known as the Logos-Christology, which looks upon the Son as a prolation of Deity reduced to such dimensions as comported with relations with a world of time and space; meanwhile, to a great extent, the Spirit was neglected altogether. A reaction which, under the name of Monarchianism, identified the Father, Son, and Spirit so completely that they were thought of only as different aspects or different moments in the life of the one Divine Person, called now Father, now Son, now Spirit, as His several activities came successively into view, almost succeeded in establishing itself in the 3rd century as the doctrine of the church at large. In the conflict between these two opposite tendencies the church gradually found its way, under the guidance of the Baptismal Formula elaborated into a "Rule of Faith," to a better and more well-balanced conception, until a real doctrine of the Trinity at length came to expression, particularly in the West, through the brilliant dialectic of Tertullian. It was thus ready at hand, when, in the early years of the 4th century, the Logos-Christology, in opposition to dominant Sabellian tendencies, ran to seed in what is known as Arianism, to which the Son was a creature, though exalted above all other creatures as their Creator and Lord; and the church was thus prepared to assert its settled faith in a Triune God, one in being, but in whose unity there subsisted three consubstantial Persons. Under the leadership of Athanasius this doctrine was proclaimed as the faith of the church at the Council of Nice in 325 AD, and by his strenuous labors and those of "the three great Cappadocians," the two Gregories and Basil, it gradually won its way to the actual acceptance of the entire church. It was at the hands of Augustine, however, a century later, that the doctrine thus become the church doctrine in fact as well as in theory, received its most complete elaboration and most carefully grounded statement. In the form which he gave it, and which is embodied in that "battle-hymn of the early church," the so-called Athanasian Creed, it has retained its place as the fit expression of the faith of the church as to the nature of its God until today. The language in which it is couched, even in this final declaration, still retains elements of speech which owe their origin to the modes of thought characteristic of the Logos-Christology of the 2nd century, fixed in the nomenclature of the church by the Nicene Creed of 325 AD, though carefully guarded there against the subordinationism inherent in the Logos-Christology, and made the vehicle rather of the Nicene doctrines of the eternal generation of the Son and procession of the Spirit, with the consequent subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father in modes of subsistence as well as of operation. In the Athanasian Creed, however, the principle of the equalization of the three Persons, which was already the dominant motive of the Nicene Creed--the homoousia--is so strongly emphasized as practically to push out of sight, if not quite out of existence, these remanent suggestions of derivation and subordination. It has been found necessary, nevertheless, from time to time, vigorously to reassert the principle of equalization, over against a tendency unduly to emphasize the elements of subordinationism which still hold a place thus in the traditional language in which the church states its doctrine of the Trinity. In particular, it fell to Calvin, in the interests of the true Deity of Christ--the constant motive of the whole body of Trinitarian thought--to reassert and make good the attribute of self-existence (autotheotos) for the Son. Thus Calvin takes his place, alongside of Tertullian, Athanasius and Augustine, as one of the chief contributors to the exact and vital statement of the Christian doctrine of the Triune God.

Warfield on the Trinity-3

15. Paul's Trinitarianism:

When we turn from the discourses of Jesus to the writings of His followers with a view to observing how the assumption of the doctrine of the Trinity underlies their whole fabric also, we naturally go first of all to the letters of Paul. Their very mass is impressive; and the definiteness with which their composition within a generation of the death of Jesus may be fixed adds importance to them as historical witnesses. Certainly they leave nothing to be desired in the richness of their testimony to the Trinitarian conception of God which underlies them. Throughout the whole series, from 1 Thessalonians, which comes from about 52 AD, to 2 Timothy, which was written about 68 AD, the redemption, which it is their one business to proclaim and commend, and all the blessings which enter into it or accompany it are referred consistently to a threefold divine causation. Everywhere, throughout their pages, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit appear as the joint objects of all religious adoration, and the conjunct source of all divine operations. In the freedom of the allusions which are made to them, now and again one alone of the three is thrown up into prominent view; but more often two of them are conjoined in thanksgiving or prayer; and not infrequently all three are brought together as the apostle strives to give some adequate expression to his sense of indebtedness to the divine source of all good for blessings received, or to his longing on behalf of himself or of his readers for further communion with the God of grace. It is regular for him to begin his Epistles with a prayer for "grace and peace" for his readers, "from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ," as the joint source of these divine blessings by way of eminence (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:3; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:1). It is obviously no departure from this habit in the essence of the matter, but only in relative fullness of expression, when in the opening words of the Epistle to the Colossians, the clause "and the Lord Jesus Christ" is omitted, and we read merely:

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father." So also it would have been no departure from it in the essence of the matter, but only in relative fullness of expression, if in any instance the name of the Holy Spirit had chanced to be adjoined to the other two, as in the single instance of 2 Corinthians 13:14 it is adjoined to them in the closing prayer for grace with which Paul ends his letters, and which ordinarily takes the simple form of, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 16:23; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Philemon 1:25; more expanded form, Eph 6:23,24; more Compressed, Colossians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15). Between these opening and closing passages the allusions to God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are constant and most intricately interlaced. Paul's monotheism is intense: the first premise of all his thought on divine things is the unity of God (Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; compare Romans 16:22; 1 Timothy 1:17). Yet to him God the Father is no more God than the Lord Jesus Christ is God, or the Holy Spirit is God. The Spirit of God is to him related to God as the spirit of man is to man (1 Corinthians 2:11), and therefore if the Spirit of God dwells in us, that is God dwelling in us (Romans 8:10), and we are by that fact constituted temples of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). And no expression is too strong for him to use in order to assert the Godhead of Christ: He is "our great God" (Titus 2:13); He is "God over all" (Romans 9:5); and indeed it is expressly declared of Him that the "fulness of the Godhead, that is, everything that enters into Godhead and constitutes it Godhead, dwells in Him. In the very act of asserting his monotheism Paul takes our Lord up into this unique Godhead. "There is no God but one" he roundly asserts, and then illustrates and proves this assertion by remarking that the heathen may have "gods many, and lords many," but "to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him" (1 Corinthians 8:6). Obviously, this "one God, the Father," and "one Lord, Jesus Christ," are embraced together in the one God who alone is. Paul's conception of the one God, whom alone he worships, includes, in other words, a recognition that within the unity of His Being, there exists such a distinction of Persons as is given us in the "one God, the Father" and the "one Lord, Jesus Christ."

16. Conjunction of the Three in Paul:

In numerous passages scattered through Paul's Epistles, from the earliest of them (1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14) to the latest (Titus 3:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:3,13,14), all three Persons, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, are brought together, in the most incidental manner, as co-sources of all the saving blessings which come to believers in Christ. A typical series of such passages may be found in Ephesians 2:18; 3:2-5,14,17; 4:4-6; 5:18-20. But the most interesting instances are offered to us perhaps by the Epistles to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul presents the abounding spiritual gifts with which the church was blessed in a threefold aspect, and connects these aspects with the three Divine Persons. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all." It may be thought that there is a measure of what might almost be called artificiality in assigning the endowments of the church, as they are graces to the Spirit, as they are services to Christ, and as they are energizings to God. But thus there is only the more strikingly revealed the underlying Trinitarian conception as dominating the structure of the clauses:

Paul clearly so writes, not because "gifts," "workings," "operations" stand out in his thought as greatly diverse things, but because God, the Lord, and the Spirit lie in the back of his mind constantly suggesting a threefold causality behind every manifestation of grace. The Trinity is alluded to rather than asserted; but it is so alluded to as to show that it constitutes the determining basis of all Paul's thought of the God of redemption. Even more instructive is 2 Corinthians 13:14, which has passed into general liturgical use in the churches as a benediction: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Here the three highest redemptive blessings are brought together, and attached distributively to the three Persons of the Triune God. There is again no formal teaching of the doctrine of the Trinity; there is only another instance of natural speaking out of a Trinitarian consciousness. Paul is simply thinking of the divine source of these great blessings; but he habitually thinks of this divine source of redemptive blessings after a trinal fashion. He therefore does not say, as he might just as well have said, "The grace and love and communion of God be with you all," but "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Thus he bears, almost unconsciously but most richly, witness to the trinal composition of the Godhead as conceived by Him.

17. Trinitarianism of Other New Testament Writers:

The phenomena of Paul's Epistles are repeated in the other writings of the New Testament. In these other writings also it is everywhere assumed that the redemptive activities of God rest on a threefold source in God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and these three Persons repeatedly come forward together in the expressions of Christian hope or the aspirations of Christian devotion (e.g. Hebrews 2:3,4; 6:4-6; 10:29-31; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:3-12; 4:13-19; 1 John 5:4-8; Jude 1:20,21; Revelation 14-6). Perhaps as typical instances as any are supplied by the two following:

"According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2); "Praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 1:20,21). To these may be added the highly symbolical instance from the Apocalypse: `Grace to you and peace from Him which is and was and which is to come; and from the Seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth' (Revelation 1:4,5). Clearly these writers, too, write out of a fixed Trinitarian consciousness and bear their testimony to the universal understanding current in apostolical circles. Everywhere and by all it was fully understood that the one God whom Christians worshipped and from whom alone they expected redemption and all that redemption brought with it, included within His undiminished unity the three: God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, whose activities relatively to one another are conceived as distinctly personal. This is the uniform and pervasive testimony of the New Testament, and it is the more impressive that it is given with such unstudied naturalness and simplicity, with no effort to distinguish between what have come to be called the ontological and the economical aspects of the Trinitarian distinctions, and indeed without apparent consciousness of the existence of such a distinction of aspects. Whether God is thought of in Himself or in His operations, the underlying conception runs unaffectedly into trinal forms.

18. Variations in Nomenclature:

It will not have escaped observation that the Trinitarian terminology of Paul and the other writers of the New Testament is not precisely identical with that of our Lord as recorded for us in His discourses. Paul, for example--and the same is true of the other New Testament writers (except John)--does not speak, as our Lord is recorded as speaking, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so much as of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This difference of terminology finds its account in large measure in the different relations in which the speakers stand to the Trinity. our Lord could not naturally speak of Himself, as one of the Trinitarian Persons, by the designation of "the Lord," while the designation of "the Son," expressing as it does His consciousness of close relation, and indeed of exact similarity, to God, came naturally to His lips. But He was Paul's Lord; and Paul naturally thought and spoke of Him as such. In point of fact, "Lord" is one of Paul's favorite designations of Christ, and indeed has become with him practically a proper name for Christ, and in point of fact, his Divine Name for Christ. It is naturally, therefore, his Trinitarian name for Christ. Because when he thinks of Christ as divine he calls Him "Lord," he naturally, when he thinks of the three Persons together as the Triune God, sets Him as "Lord" by the side of God--Paul's constant name for "the Father"--and the Holy Spirit. Question may no doubt be raised whether it would have been possible for Paul to have done this, especially with the constancy with which he has done it, if, in his conception of it, the very essence of the Trinity were enshrined in the terms "Father" and "Son." Paul is thinking of the Trinity, to be sure, from the point of view of a worshipper, rather than from that of a systematizer. He designates the Persons of the Trinity therefore rather from his relations to them than from their relations to one another. He sees in the Trinity his God, his Lord, and the Holy Spirit who dwells in him; and naturally he so speaks currently of the three Persons. It remains remarkable, nevertheless, if the very essence of the Trinity were thought of by him as resident in the terms "Father," "Son," that in his numerous allusions to the Trinity in the Godhead, he never betrays any sense of this. It is noticeable also that in their allusions to the Trinity, there is preserved, neither in Paul nor in the other writers of the New Testament, the order of the names as they stand in our Lord's great declaration (Matthew 28:19). The reverse order occurs, indeed, occasionally, as, for example, in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (compare Ephesians 4:4-6); and this may be understood as a climactic arrangement and so far a testimony to the order of Matthew 28:19. But the order is very variable; and in the most formal enumeration of the three Persons, that of 2 Corinthians 13:14, it stands thus:

Lord, God, Spirit. The question naturally suggests itself whether the order Father, Son, Spirit was especially significant to Paul and his fellow-writers of the New Testament. If in their conviction the very essence of the doctrine of the Trinity was embodied in this order, should we not anticipate that there should appear in their numerous allusions to the Trinity some suggestion of this conviction?

19. Implications of "Son" and "Spirit":

Such facts as these have a bearing upon the testimony of the New Testament to the interrelations of the Persons of the Trinity. To the fact of the Trinity--to the fact, that is, that in the unity of the Godhead there subsist three Persons, each of whom has his particular part in the working out of salvation--the New Testament testimony is clear, consistent, pervasive and conclusive. There is included in this testimony constant and decisive witness to the complete and undiminished Deity of each of these Persons; no language is too exalted to apply to each of them in turn in the effort to give expression to the writer's sense of His Deity:

the name that is given to each is fully understood to be "the name that is above every name." When we attempt to press the inquiry behind the broad fact, however, with a view to ascertaining exactly how the New Testament writers conceive the three Persons to be related, the one to the other, we meet with great difficulties. Nothing could seem more natural, for example, than to assume that the mutual relations of the Persons of the Trinity are revealed in the designations, "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," which are given them by our Lord in the solemn formula of Matthew 28:19. Our confidence in this assumption is somewhat shaken, however, when we observe, as we have just observed, that these designations are not carefully preserved in their allusions to the Trinity by the writers of the New Testament at large, but are characteristic only of our Lord's allusions and those of John, whose modes of speech in general very closely resemble those of our Lord. Our confidence is still further shaken when we observe that the implications with respect to the mutual relations of the Trinitarian Persons, which are ordinarily derived from these designations, do not so certainly lie in them as is commonly supposed.

It may be very natural to see in the designation "Son" an intimation of subordination and derivation of Being, and it may not be difficult to ascribe a similar connotation to the term "Spirit." But it is quite certain that this was not the denotation of either term in the Semitic consciousness, which underlies the phraseology of Scripture; and it may even be thought doubtful whether it was included even in their remoter suggestions. What underlies the conception of sonship in Scriptural speech is just "likeness"; whatever the father is that the son is also. The emphatic application of the term "Son" to one of the Trinitarian Persons, accordingly, asserts rather His equality with the Father than His subordination to the Father; and if there is any implication of derivation in it, it would appear to be very distant. The adjunction of the adjective "only begotten" (John 1:14; 3:16-18; 1 John 4:9) need add only the idea of uniqueness, not of derivation (Psalms 22:21; 25:16; 35:17; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:22 margin); and even such a phrase as "God only begotten" (John 1:18 margin) may contain no implication of derivation, but only of absolutely unique consubstantiality; as also such a phrase as `the first-begotten of all creation' (Colossians 1:15) may convey no intimation of coming into being, but merely assert priority of existence. In like manner, the designation "Spirit of God" or "Spirit of Yahweh," which meets us frequently in the Old Testament, certainly does not convey the idea there either of derivation or of subordination, but is just the executive name of God--the designation of God from the point of view of His activity--and imports accordingly identity with God; and there is no reason to suppose that, in passing from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the term has taken on an essentially different meaning. It happens, oddly enough, moreover, that we have in the New Testament itself what amounts almost to formal definitions of the two terms "Son" and "Spirit," and in both cases the stress is laid on the notion of equality or sameness. In John 5:18 we read:

`On this account, therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because, not only did he break the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal to God.' The point lies, of course, in the adjective "own." Jesus was, rightly, understood to call God "his own Father," that is, to use the terms "Father" and "Son" not in a merely figurative sense, as when Israel was called God's son, but in the real sense. And this was understood to be claiming to be all that God is. To be the Son of God in any sense was to be like God in that sense; to be God's own Son was to be exactly like God, to be "equal with God." Similarly, we read in 1 Corinthians 2:10,11: `For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who of men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.' Here the Spirit appears as the substrate of the divine self-consciousness, the principle of God's knowledge of Himself: He is, in a word, just God Himself in the innermost essence of His Being. As the spirit of man is the seat of human life, the very life of man itself, so the Spirit of God is His very life-element. How can He be supposed, then, to be subordinate to God, or to derive His Being from God? If, however, the subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father in modes of subsistence and their derivation from the Father are not implicates of their designation as Son and Spirit, it will be hard to find in the New Testament compelling evidence of their subordination and derivation.

Warfield on the Trinity-2

7. Presupposed Rather Than Inculcated in the New Testament:

The simplicity and assurance with which the New Testament writers speak of God as a Trinity have, however, a further implication. If they betray no sense of novelty in so speaking of Him, this is undoubtedly in part because it was no longer a novelty so to speak of Him. It is clear, in other words, that, as we read the New Testament, we are not witnessing the birth of a new conception of God. What we meet with in its pages is a firmly established conception of God underlying and giving its tone to the whole fabric. It is not in a text here and there that the New Testament bears its testimony to the doctrine of the Trinity. The whole book is Trinitarian to the core; all its teaching is built on the assumption of the Trinity; and its allusions to the Trinity are frequent, cursory, easy and confident. It is with a view to the cursoriness of the allusions to it in the New Testament that it has been remarked that "the doctrine of the Trinity is not so much heard as overheard in the statements of Scripture." It would be more exact to say that it is not so much inculcated as presupposed. The doctrine of the Trinity does not appear in the New Testament in the making, but as already made. It takes its place in its pages, as Gunkel phrases it, with an air almost of complaint, already "in full completeness" (vollig fertig), leaving no trace of its growth. "There is nothing more wonderful in the history of human thought," says Sanday, with his eye on the appearance of the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament, "than the silent and imperceptible way in which this doctrine, to us so difficult, took its place without struggle--and without controversy--among accepted Christian truths." The explanation of this remarkable phenomenon is, however, simple. Our New Testament is not a record of the development of the doctrine or of its assimilation. It everywhere presupposes the doctrine as the fixed possession of the Christian community; and the process by which it became the possession of the Christian community lies behind the New Testament.

8. Revealed in Manifestation of Son and Spirit:

We cannot speak of the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, if we study exactness of speech, as revealed in the New Testament, any more than we can speak of it as revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written before its revelation; the New Testament after it. The revelation itself was made not in word but in deed. It was made in the incaration of God the Son, and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. The relation of the two Testaments to this revelation is in the one case that of preparation for it, and in the other that of product of it. The revelation itself is embodied just in Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is as much as to say that the revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption. It was in the coming of the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin; and in the coming of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, that the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead was once for all revealed to men. Those who knew God the Father, who loved them and gave His own Son to die for them; and the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved them and delivered Himself up an offering and sacrifice for them; and the Spirit of Grace, who loved them and dwelt within them a power not themselves, making for righteousness, knew the Triune God and could not think or speak of God otherwise than as triune. The doctrine of the Trinity, in other words, is simply the modification wrought in the conception of the one only God by His complete revelation of Himself in the redemptive process. It necessarily waited, therefore, upon the completion of the redemptive process for its revelation, and its revelation, as necessarily, lay complete in the redemptive process.

From this central fact we may understand more fully several circumstances connected with the revelation of the Trinity to which allusion has been made. We may from it understand, for example, why the Trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament. It may carry us a little way to remark, as it has been customary to remark since the time of Gregory of Nazianzus, that it was the task of the Old Testament revelation to fix firmly in the minds and hearts of the people of God the great fundamental truth of the unity of the Godhead; and it would have been dangerous to speak to them of the plurality within this unity until this task had been fully accomplished. The real reason for the delay in the revelation of the Trinity, however, is grounded in the secular development of the redemptive purpose of God:

the times were ripe for the revelation of the Trinity in the unity of the Godhead until the fullness of the time had come for God to send forth His Son unto redemption, and His Spirit unto sanctification. The revelation in word must needs wait upon the revelation in fact, to which it brings its necessary explanation, no doubt, but from which also it derives its own entire significance and value. The revelation of a Trinity in the divine unity as a mere abstract truth without relation to manifested fact, and without significance to the development of the kingdom of God, would have been foreign to the whole method of the divine procedure as it lies exposed to us in the pages of Scripture. Here the working-out of the divine purpose supplies the fundamental principle to which all else, even the progressive stages of revelation itself, is subsidiary; and advances in revelation are ever closely connected with the advancing accomplishment of the redemptive purpose. We may understand also, however, from the same central fact, why it is that the doctrine of the Trinity lies in the New Testament rather in the form of allusions than in express teaching, why it is rather everywhere presupposed, coming only here and there into incidental expression, than formally inculcated. It is because the revelation, having been made in the actual occurrences of redemption, was already the common property of all Christian hearts. In speaking and writing to one another, Christians, therefore, rather spoke out of their common Trinitarian consciousness, and reminded one another of their common fund of belief, than instructed one another in what was already the common property of all. We are to look for, and we shall find, in the New Testament allusions to the Trinity, rather evidence of how the Trinity, believed in by all, was conceived by the authoritative teachers of the church, than formal attempts, on their part, by authoritative declarations, to bring the church into the understanding that God is a Trinity.

9. Implied in the Whole New Testament:

The fundamental proof that God is a Trinity is supplied thus by the fundamental revelation of the Trinity in fact:

that is to say, in the incarnation of God the Son and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. In a word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the fundamental proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is as much as to say that all the evidence of whatever kind, and from whatever source derived, that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, is just so much evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity; and that when we go to the New Testament for evidence of the Trinity we are to seek it, not merely in the scattered allusions to the Trinity as such, numerous and instructive as they are, but primarily in the whole mass of evidence which the New Testament provides of the Deity of Christ and the divine personality of the Holy Spirit. When we have said this, we have said in effect that the whole mass of the New Testament is evidence for the Trinity. For the New Testament is saturated with evidence of the Deity of Christ and the divine personality of the Holy Spirit, Precisely what the New Testament is, is the documentation of the religion of the incarnate Son and of the outpoured Spirit, that is to say, of the religion of the Trinity, and what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing but the formulation in exact language of the conception of God presupposed in the religion of the incarnate Son and outpoured Spirit. We may analyze this conception and adduce proof for every constituent element of it from the New Testament declarations. We may show that the New Testament everywhere insists on the unity of the Godhead; that it constantly recognizes the Father as God, the Son as God and the Spirit as God; and that it cursorily presents these three to us as distinct Persons. It is not necessary, however, to enlarge here on facts so obvious. We may content ourselves with simply observing that to the New Testament there is but one only living and true God; but that to it Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are each God in the fullest sense of the term; and yet Father, Son and Spirit stand over against each other as I, and Thou, and He. In this composite fact the New Testament gives us the doctrine of the Trinity. For the doctrine of the Trinity is but the statement in wellguarded language of this composite fact. Through out the whole course of the many efforts to formulate the doctrine exactly, which have followed one another during the entire history of the church, indeed, the principle which has ever determined the result has always been determination to do justice in conceiving the relations of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, on the one hand to the unity of God, and, on the other, to the true Deity of the Son and Spirit and their distinct personalities. When we have said these three things, then--that there is but one God, that the Father and the Son and the Spirit is each God, that the Father and the Son and the Spirit is each a distinct person--we have enunciated the doctrine of the Trinity in its completeness.

That this doctrine underlies the whole New Testament as its constant presupposition and determines everywhere its forms of expression is the primary fact to be noted. We must not omit explicitly to note, however, that it now and again also, as occasion arises for its incidental enunciation, comes itself to expression in more or less completeness of statement. The passages in which the three Persons of the Trinity are brought together are much more numerous than, perhaps, is generally supposed; but it should be recognized that the formal collocation of the elements of the doctrine naturally is relatively rare in writings which are occasional in their origin and practical rather than doctrinal in their immediate purpose. The three Persons already come into view as Divine Persons in the annunciation of the birth of our Lord:

`The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,' said the angel to Mary, `and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is to be born shall be called the Son of God' (Luke 1:35 margin; compare Matthew 1:18). Here the Holy Ghost is the active agent in the production of an effect which is also ascribed to the power of the Most High, and the child thus brought into the world is given the great designation of "Son of God." The three Persons are just as clearly brought before us in the account of Matthew (1:18), though the allusions to them are dispersed through a longer stretch of narrative, in the course of which the Deity of the child is twice intimated (1:21: `It is He that shall save His people from their sins'; 1:23: `They shall call His name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God-with-us') In the baptismal scene which finds record by all the evangelists at the opening of Jesus' ministry (Matthew 3:16,17; Mark 1:10,11; Luke 3:21,22; John 1:32-34), the three Persons are thrown up to sight in a dramatic picture in which the Deity of each is strongly emphasized. From the open heavens the Spirit descends in visible form, and `a voice came out of the heavens, Thou art my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.' Thus care seems to have been taken to make the advent of the Son of God into the world the revelation also of the Triune God, that the minds of men might as smoothly as possible adjust themselves to the preconditions of the divine redemption which was in process of being wrought out.

10. Conditions the Whole Teaching of Jesus:

With this as a starting-point, the teaching of Jesus is conditioned throughout in a Trinitarian way. He has much to say of God His Father, from whom as His Son He is in some true sense distinct, and with whom He is in some equally true sense one. And He has much to say of the Spirit, who represents Him as He represents the Father, and by whom He works as the Father works by Him. It is not merely in the Gospel of John that such representations occur in the teaching of Jesus. In the Synoptics, too, Jesus claims a Sonship to God which is unique (Matthew 11:27; 24:36; Mark 13:32; Luke 10:22; in the following passages the title of "Son of God" is attributed to Him and accepted by Him:

Matthew 4:6; 8:29; 14:33; 27:40,43,44; Mark 3:11; 12:6-8; 15:39; Luke 4:41; 22:70; compare John 1:34,49; 9:35; 11:27), and which involves an absolute community between the two in knowledge, say, and power: both Matthew (11:27) and Luke (10:22) record His great declaration that He knows the Father and the Father knows Him with perfect mutual knowledge: "No one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son." In the Synoptics, too, Jesus speaks of employing the Spirit of God Himself for the performance of His works, as if the activities of God were at His disposal: "I by the Spirit of God"--or as Luke has it, "by the finger of God--cast out demons" (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20; compare the promise of the Spirit in Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12).

11. Father and Son in Johannine Discourses:

It is in the discourses recorded in John, however, that Jesus most copiously refers to the unity of Himself, as the Son, with the Father, and to the mission of the Spirit from Himself as the dispenser of the divine activities. Here He not only with great directness declares that He and the Father are one (10:30; compare 17:11,21,22,25) with a unity of interpenetration ("The Father is in me, and I in the Father," 10:38; compare 16:10,11), so that to have seen Him was to have seen the Father (14:9; compare 15:21); but He removes all doubt as to the essential nature of His oneness with the Father by explicitly asserting His eternity ("Before Abraham was born, I am," John 8:58), His co-eternity with God ("had with thee before the world was," 17:5; compare 17:18; 6:62), His eternal participation in the divine glory itself ("the glory which I had with thee," in fellowship, community with Thee "before the world was," 17:5). So clear is it that in speaking currently of Himself as God's Son (5:25; 9:35; 11:4; compare 10:36), He meant, in accordance with the underlying significance of the idea of sonship in Semitic speech (founded on the natural implication that whatever the father is that the son is also; compare 16:15; 17:10), to make Himself, as the Jews with exact appreciation of His meaning perceived, "equal with God" (5:18), or, to put it brusquely, just "God" (10:33). How He, being thus equal or rather identical with God, was in the world, He explains as involving a coming forth (exelthon) on His part, not merely from the presence of God (apo, 16:30; compare 13:3) or from fellowship with God (para, 16:27; 17:8), but from out of God Himself (ek, 8:42; 16:28). And in the very act of thus asserting that His eternal home is in the depths of the Divine Being, He throws up, into as strong an emphasis as stressed pronouns can, convey, His personal distinctness from the Father. `If God were your Father,' says Hebrews (8:42), `ye would love me:

for I came forth and am come out of God; for neither have I come of myself, but it was He that sent me.' Again, He says (John 16:26,27): `In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you that I will make request of the Father for you; for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that it was from fellowship with the Father that I came forth; I came from out of the Father, and have come into the world.' Less pointedly, but still distinctly, He says again (John 17:8): They know of a truth that it was from fellowship with Thee that I came forth, and they believed that it was Thou that didst send me.' It is not necessary to illustrate more at large a form of expression so characteristic of the discourses of our Lord recorded by Joh that it meets us on every page: a form of expression which combines a clear implication of a unity of Father and Son which is identity of Being, and an equally clear implication of a distinction of Person between them such as allows not merely for the play of emotions between them, as, for instance, of love (John 17:24; compare 15:9 (3:35); 14:31), but also of an action and reaction upon one another which argues a high measure, if not of exteriority, yet certainly of exteriorization. Thus, to instance only one of the most outstanding facts of our Lord's discourses (not indeed confined to those in John's Gospel, but found also in His sayings recorded in the Synoptists, as e.g. Luke 4:43 (compare parallel Mark 1:38); Luke 9:48; 10:16; 4:34; 5:32; 7:19; 19:10), He continually represents Himself as on the one hand sent by God, and as, on the other, having come forth from the Father (e.g. John 8:42; 10:36; 17:3; 5:23, et saepe).

12. Spirit in Johannine Discourses:

It is more important to point out that these phenomena of interrelationship are not confined to the Father and Son, but are extended also to the Spirit. Thus, for example, in a context in which our Lord had emphasized in the strongest manner His own essential unity and continued interpenetration with the Father (" If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also"; "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"; "I am in the Father, and the Father in me"; "The Father abiding in me doeth his works," John 14:7,9,10), we read as follows (John 14:16-26):

`And I will make request of the Father, and He shall ive you another (thus sharply distinguished from Our lord as a distinct Person) Advocate, that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth .... He abideth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I come unto you. .... In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father. .... If a man love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him and we (that is, both Father and Son) will come unto him and make our abode with him. .... These things have I spoken unto you while abiding with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.' It would be impossible to speak more distinctly of three who were yet one. The Father, Son and Spirit are constantly distinguished from one another--the Son makes request of the Father, and the Father in response to this request gives an Advocate, "another" than the Son, who is sent in the Son's name. And yet the oneness of these three is so kept in sight that the coming of this "another Advocate" is spoken of without embarrassment as the coming of the Son Himself (John 14:18,19,20,21), and indeed as the coming of the Father and the Son (John 14:23). There is a sense, then, in which, when Christ goes away, the Spirit comes in His stead; there is also a sense in which, when the Spirit comes, Christ comes in Him; and with Christ's coming the Father comes too. There is a distinction between the Persons brought into view; and with it an identity among them; for both of which allowance must be made. The same phenomena meet us in other passages. Thus, we read again (John 15:26): But when there is come the Advocate whom I will send unto you from (fellowship with) the Father, the Spirit of Truth, which goeth forth from (fellowship with) the Father, He shall bear witness of me.' In the compass of this single verse, it is intimated that the Spirit is personally distinct from the Son, and yet, like Him, has His eternal home (in fellowship) with the Father, from whom He, like the Son, comes forth for His saving work, being sent thereunto, however, not in this instance by the Father, but by the Son.

This last feature is even more strongly emphasized in yet another passage in which the work of the Spirit in relation to the Son is presented as closely parallel with the work of the Son in relation to the Father (John 16:5). `But now I go unto Him that sent me .... Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for, if I go not away the Advocate will not come unto you; but if I go I will send Him unto you. And He, after He is come, will convict the world .... of righteousness because I go to the Father and ye behold me no more. .... I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He shall guide you into all the truth; for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak, and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me:

for He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine: therefore said I that He taketh of mine, and shall declare it unto you.' Here the Spirit is sent by the Son, and comes in order to complete and apply the Son's work, receiving His whole commission from the Son--not, however, in derogation of the Father, because when we speak of the things of the Son, that is to speak of the things of the Father.

It is not to be said, of course, that the doctrine of the Trinity is formulated in passages like these, with which the whole mass of our Lord's discourses in John are strewn; but it certainly is presupposed in them, and that is, considered from the point of view of their probative force, even better. As we read we are kept in continual contact with three Persons who act, each as a distinct person, and yet who are in a deep, underlying sense, one. There is but one God--there is never any question of that--and yet this Son who has been sent into the world by God not only represents God but is God, and this Spirit whom the Son has in turn sent unto the world is also Himself God. Nothing could be clearer than that the Son and Spirit are distinct Persons, unless indeed it be that the Son of God is just God the Son and the Spirit of God just God the Spirit.

13. The Baptismal Formula:

Meanwhile, the nearest approach to a formal announcement of the doctrine of the Trinity which is recorded from our Lord's lips, or, perhaps we may say, which is to be found in the whole compass of the New Testament, has been preserved for us, not by John, but by one of the synoptists. It too, however, is only incidentally introduced, and has for its main object something very different from formulating the doctrine of the Trinity. It is embodied in the great commission which the resurrected Lord gave His disciples to be their "marching orders" "even unto the end of the world":

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). In seeking to estimate the significance of this great declaration, we must bear in mind the high solemnity of the utterance, by which we are required to give its full value to every word of it. Its phrasing is in any event, however, remarkable. It does not say, "In the names (plural) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"; nor yet (what might be taken to be equivalent to that), "In the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost," as if we had to deal with three separate Beings. Nor, on the other hand does it say, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," as if "the Father, Son and Holy Ghost" might be taken as merely three designations of a single person. With stately impressiveness it asserts the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single Name; and then throws up into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (the King James Version). These three, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, each stand in some clear sense over against the others in distinct personality: these three, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all unite in some profound sense in the common participation of the one Name. Fully to comprehend the implication of this mode of statement, we must bear in mind, further, the significance of the term, "the name," and the associations laden with which it came to the recipients of this commission. For the Hebrew did not think of the name, as we are accustomed to do, as a mere external symbol; but rather as the adequate expression of the innermost being of its bearer. In His Name the Being of God finds expression; and the Name of God--"this glorious and fearful name, Yahweh thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:58)--was accordingly a most sacred thing, being indeed virtually equivalent to God Himself. It is no solecism, therefore, when we read (Isaiah 30:27), "Behold, the name of Yahweh cometh"; and the parallelisms are most instructive when we read (Isaiah 59:19): `So shall they fear the Name of Yahweh from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; for He shall come as a stream pent in which the Spirit of Yahweh driveth.' So pregnant was the implication of the Name, that it was possible for the term to stand absolutely, without adjunction of the name itself, as the sufficient representative of the majesty of Yahweh: it was a terrible thing to `blaspheme the Name' (Leviticus 24:11). All those over whom Yahweh's Name was called were His, His possession to whom He owed protection. It is for His Name's sake, therefore, that afflicted Judah cries to the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble: `O Yahweh, Thou art in the midst of us, and Thy Name is called upon us; leave us not' (Jeremiah 14:9); and His people find the appropriate expression of their deepest shame in the lament, `We have become as they over whom Thou never barest rule; as they upon whom Thy Name was not called' (Isaiah 63:19); while the height of joy is attained in the cry, `Thy Name, Yahweh, God of Hosts, is called upon me' (Jeremiah 15:16; compare 2 Chronicles 7:14; Daniel 9:18,19). When, therefore, our Lord commanded His disciples to baptize those whom they brought to His obedience "into the name of ....," He was using language charged to them with high meaning. He could not have been understood otherwise than as substituting for the Name of Yahweh this other Name "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"; and this could not `possibly have meant to His disciples anything else than that Yahweh was now to be known to them by the new Name, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The only alternative would have been that, for the community which He was rounding, Jesus was supplanting Yahweh by a new God; and this alternative is no less than monstrous. There is no alternative, therefore, to understanding Jesus here to be giving for His community a new Name to Yahweh, and that new Name to be the threefold Name of "the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Nor is there room for doubt that by "the Son" in this threefold Name, He meant just Himself with all the implications of distinct personality which this carries with it; and, of course, that further carries with it the equally distinct personality of "the Father" and "the Holy Ghost," with whom "the Son" is here associated, and from whom alike "the Son" is here distinguished. This is a direct ascription to Yahweh, the God of Israel, of a threefold personality, and is therewith the direct enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity. We are not witnessing here the birth of the doctrine of the Trinity; that is presupposed. What we are witnessing is the authoritative announcement of the Trinity as the God of Christianity by its Founder, in one of the most solemn of His recorded declarations. Israel had worshipped the one only true God under the Name of Yahweh; Christians are to worship the same one only and true God under the Name of "the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." This is the distinguishing characteristic of Christians; and that is as much as to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is, according to our Lord's own apprehension of it, the distinctive mark of the religion which He founded.

14. Genuineness of Baptismal Formula:

A passage of such range of implication has, of course, not escaped criticism and challenge. An attempt which cannot be characterized as other than frivolous has even been made to dismiss it from the text of Matthew's Gospel. Against this, the whole body of external evidence cries out; and the internal evidence is of itself not less decisive to the same effect. When the "universalism," "ecclesiasticism," and "high theology" of the passage are pleaded against its genuineness, it is forgotten that to the Jesus of Matthew there are attributed not only such parables as those of the Leaven and the Mustard Seed, but such declarations as those contained in 8:11,12; 21:43; 24:14; that in this Gospel alone is Jesus recorded as speaking familiarly about His church (16:18; 18:17); and that, after the great declaration of 11:27 if, nothing remained in lofty attribution to be assigned to Him. When these same objections are urged against recognizing the passage as an authentic saying of Jesus own, it is quite obvious that the Jesus of the evangelists cannot be in mind. The declaration here recorded is quite in character with the Jesus of Matthew's Gospel, as has just been intimated; and no less with the Jesus of the whole New Testament transmission. It will scarcely do, first to construct a priori a Jesus to our own liking, and then to discard as "unhistorical" all in the New Testament transmission which would be unnatural to such a Jesus. It is not these discarded passages but our a priori Jesus which is unhistorical. In the present instance, moreover, the historicity of the assailed saying is protected by an important historical relation in which it stands. It is not merely Jesus who speaks out of a Trinitarian consciousness, but all the New Testament writers as well. The universal possession by. His followers of so firm a hold on such a doctrine requires the assumption that some such teaching as is here attributed to Him was actually contained in Jesus' instructions to His followers. Even had it not been attributed to Him in so many words by the record, we should have had to assume that some such declaration had been made by Him. In these circumstances, there can be no good reason to doubt that it was made by Him, when it is expressly attributed to Him by the record.