True Christian Religion #177

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)      

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177. (vi) THE TRINITY AS DEFINED BY THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA AND BY ATHANASIUS CAUSED A FAITH TO ARISE WHICH HAS PERVERTED THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

It was shown above (172) from the Creeds that both the Nicene and the Athanasian definitions of the Trinity were of a Trinity of Gods.

This was the source of the faith of the present-day church, in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is in God the Father, so that He may impute the righteousness of His Son the Saviour and ascribe it to man; in God the Son, so that He may intercede and add His authority; in the Holy Spirit, so that He may realise the imputed righteousness of the Son by inscribing it, and when it is established sealing it, making man justified, sanctified and regenerated. This is the present-day faith, which by itself is evidence enough that it is a Trinity of Gods which is acknowledged and worshipped.

[2] The faith of any church is not only the source from which its worship flows, but all its theology. Hence it can be said that such as its faith is, such is its doctrine. It follows from this that the present faith, being faith in three Gods, has subverted everything in the church; for faith is the principle, and matters of doctrine are derivatives, and derivatives get their essence from their principle. If anyone puts to the test any points of doctrine, such as their belief about God, the person of Christ, charity, repentance, regeneration, free will, election, the use of the sacraments of baptism and the Holy Supper, he will see plainly that they each contain the idea of a Trinity of Gods. And even if this does not in fact appear to be contained in them, it is still the source from which they gush forth. Since such a testing cannot be undertaken here, useful though it would be to open people's eyes, I shall add an Appendix to this book, in which this will be proved.

[3] A church's belief about God is like the soul in relation to the body; and its doctrines are like the members of the body. Again, faith in God is like a queen, and its dogmas are like the officials of her court. just as they hang upon the queen's lips, so the dogmas depend upon the statement of faith. At least one can see from that faith how the Word is understood in that church; for faith grapples and hauls in to itself as it were by ropes whatever it can. If it is a false faith, it commits adultery with every truth in it, leading it astray and falsifying it, so that people become of unsound mind in spiritual matters. If, however, it is a true faith, then it enjoys the favour of the whole Word, and the God of the Word, who is the Lord God the Saviour, pours in light, and breathes His Divine assent upon it, so that people become wise.

[4] It will also be seen in the Appendix that the present-day faith, which in inward form is faith in three Gods, though the outward form speaks of one God, has put out the light in the Word, and banished the Lord from the church, thus chasing its morning headlong into night. This is what was done by the heretics before the Council of Nicaea, and then by the heretics in it and after it. But what reliance can be placed on Councils which do not enter the sheep-fold through the door, but climb up another way, as the Lord said in John 10:1, 9? Their debates are not far different from a blind man walking about by day, or a man with sight walking by night, neither of whom see the pitfall before falling into it. For example, what reliance can be placed in Councils which have established the position of the Pope as God's vicar, the canonisation of the dead, their invocation as if they were divine powers, the veneration of their images, the authority to grant indulgences, and the division of the Eucharist, not to mention many more things? What reliance can be placed in the Council which established the unspeakable heresy of predestination, and hung this out as an ensign in front of the churches of their sect? Rather, my friend, approach the God of the Word, and so the Word, and enter by this gate into the sheep-fold, that is, into the church, and you will be given enlightenment. Then you will see, as if you stood on a mountain, not only the way most people have gone, but also your own previous steps and wanderings in the dark wood lying below the mountain.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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