43. CHAPTER V
A TRINITY OF PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD IS A PRODUCT OF THE NICENE COUNCIL, AND HAS BEEN DERIVED THEREFROM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND IN THE CHURCHES AFTER IT. IT SHOULD THEREFORE BE CALLED THE NICENE TRINITY, BUT A TRINITY OF GOD IN ONE PERSON, THE LORD GOD THE SAVIOUR, IS OF CHRIST HIMSELF, AND WAS THENCE IN THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, AND SHOULD THEREFORE BE CALLED THE CHRISTIAN TRINITY. THIS TRINITY OF GOD IS THE NEW CHURCH'S TRINITY
1. There are three summaries of the Christian Church's doctrine concerning the Divine Trinity as well as Unity, which are called Creeds, the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. The Apostles' Creed was drawn up by men termed the Apostolic Fathers; the Nicene Creed by an assembly of bishops and priests summoned by Emperor Constantine to the city of Nicaea for the purpose of dispelling the scandals of Arius in regard to his having denied the Divinity of the Son of God; and the Athanasian Creed by some person or persons immediately 1
after that Council. These three Creeds have been acknowledged and accepted by the Christian Church as ecumenical and catholic, that is, as the universals of doctrine in regard to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
2. The Apostles' Creed teaches thus:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, God 2
of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, who was conceived from the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary ... I believe in the Holy Spirit, etc.
The Nicene Creed teaches thus:
I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth ....
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit out of the virgin Mary, and was made Man ....
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets . . . .
The Athanasian Creed teaches thus:
The Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. That there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit . . . That Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have one Godhead and coeternal majesty. That the Father is uncreate, immeasurable, eternal, almighty, God and Lord, in like manner the Son, and in like manner the Holy Spirit; nevertheless there are not three uncreates, immeasurables, eternals, almighties, gods and lords, but One. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten; the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. In this Trinity none is before or after another, none is greater or less than another, but the whole three Persons are co-eternal and co-equal. But since we are compelled by Christian verity to confess each Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say three Gods and three Lords.
Furthermore, in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, thus:
That although He is God and Man, yet He is not two but one Christ.
3. From the pronouncements in the three creeds it may be gathered how God's Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is understood in each case. For the Apostles' Creed declares in regard to God the Father, that He is the Creator of the Universe; in regard to His Son, that He was conceived from the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary; and in regard to the Holy Spirit, that it exists.
The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, declares in regard to God the Father, that He is the Creator of the Universe; in regard to the Son, that He was begotten before all ages and that He came down and was incarnate; and in regard to the Holy Spirit, that it proceeds from them both.
Whereas the Athanasian Creed declares in regard to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that they are three co-eternal and co-equal Persons, and that each one of them is God nevertheless there are not three Gods, but one and that although from Christian verity each Person by Himself is God, yet, from the Catholic religion, you may not say three Gods.
4. It is evident from these three Creeds that two Trinities have been handed down, one that came into existence before the world was created, the other that came into existence after that. A Trinity before the world was created is in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, whereas a Trinity after the world was created is in the Apostles' Creed. Consequently, the Apostolic Church knew nothing of a "Son from eternity", but only of a Son born in the world; and so it is this Son that it invoked, not one born from eternity. On the other hand, the Church after the Nicene Creed, just as though it was established afresh, acknowledged as God a Son from eternity, but not the Son born in the world.
5. Those two Trinities differ as much from each other as evening and morning, or rather as night and day; accordingly, both of them together cannot possibly be affirmed as true in a member of the Church, because with him religion might perish, and with religion, sound reason. This is because it is not possible from the Nicene and Athanasian Trinities to think of one God, but it is possible to do so in the case of the Apostolic Trinity; and one God may be thought of in the latter case, because this Trinity exists in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God born in the world.
6. That the Divine Trinity is in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ, He Himself teaches; for He says:
that the Father and He are one [John 10:30.]
that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him [John 14:10-11.]
that all things of the Father are His [John 3:35; 16:15.]
that he who sees Him sees the Father [John 14:9.]
that he who believes in Him, believes in the Father [John 12:44.]
and, according to Paul,
In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily [Col. 2:9]
according to John,
He is the true God and eternal life [1 John 5:20.]
and according to Isaiah,
He is the Father of Eternity [Isa. 60:6.]
and elsewhere in the same He is "Jehovah the Redeemer", "the only God" 3
, and that, because of Redemption, He is "Jehovah our Righteousness" 4
; and, where it treats of Him, that He is "God, Father" [Isa. 60:6; 63:16]; "His glory will He not give to another" [Isa. 42:8; 48:11; then that "the Holy Spirit is from Him" [John 20:22].
As, then, God is One and there is a Divine Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the Lord's words, [Matt. 28:19], it follows that this Trinity is in one person, and that it is in the Person of Him who was conceived from God the Father, and born of the virgin Mary, and called, on that account, "Son of the Most High", "Son of God", "Only-begotten Son" [Luke 1:31-35; John 1:18; 20:31; Matt. 3:17 16:16; 17:5]. It is obvious to both internal and external sight that in all these places, and in those quoted above, there is not meant any Son from eternity. Accordingly, with this Divine Trinity, which is indeed the "Fullness of the Godhead, dwelling in Him bodily", [according to Paul], 5
being in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ, it follows that He alone is to be approached, to be appealed to for help, and to be worshipped; and that, when this is done, the Father is being approached at the according to John, same time, and [the man] receives the Holy Spirit; for He teaches that He Himself is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life"; that no one cometh to the Father except through Him; and that he that does not by Him as the Door enter into the sheepfold (i.e. the Church), is not a shepherd, but a thief and a robber [John 14:6; 10:1-9]; then too, that they who believe on Him have eternal life, and they who do not believe, shall not see life, [John 3:15-16, 36; 6:40; 11:25-26; 1 John 5:20].
7. The Divine Trinity, and with it the Divine Unity, being in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour of the world, this Trinity is the Trinity of the New Church.
[Chapter VI and the first part of Chapter VII are missing. The two pages of the original on which they were written could not be found when the two existing copies were made.]
1. The word statim (immediately) is not found in Sk.
2. The word "God" is here in both MSS. Worcester alters it to "Creator", which agrees with the usual form of the Creed. See paragraph 3 of this chapter.
3. See Isa, 43:10-14; 44:6, 24; 14:21-22; etc.
4. See Jer. 23:6.
5. The words, "according to Paul", are found here in N. but not in Sk.
Hebrews 2:9; Isaiah 9:6, 45:21-22, 62:8; John 1:2, 16:10-11; Luke 5:20; Matthew 3:16-17, 24:1)