Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quicumque vult or "Why the Word 'Persons' Must Be Used When Describing the Trinity"

A dear older saint at Communion Presbyterian brought me something interesting this last Sunday. It is a church bulletin from a church in the area with some strange practices. He pointed me to the church's "Belief Statement" in the bulletin where the church states, "We believe in divine healing, communion, and foot washing." He thought the inclusion of foot washing was pretty funny (I agree, but also told him there are groups out there that view foot washing as another sacrament).

As I read through this bulletin, something else on their "Belief Statement" page caught my eye. Here it is:
  • We believe in one God who is infinite in power, holy in nature, attributes and purposes, as well as omniscient and omnipresent.
  • We believe that He was revealed to us as Father in creation, as Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in His comforting grace that never leaves those who trust Him.

What I find interesting about those statements is this: it is clearly a heretical definition of the Trinity. God has not revealed Himself as Father at one point, Son at another, and Holy Spirit at yet another. Or, if I could rephrase that: God has not manifested Himself as Father at one point, then manifested himself as Son at another, then manifested himself as Holy Spirit at yet another. "Reveal" and "manifest" are not adequate words to describe the nature of the Godhead. "Persons" is. So, when someone says they believe in the Trinity, but they are uncomfortable with the word "person" and instead prefer the word "manifestation" they are espousing heresy. They have not affirmed the God of the Bible, and remain in danger of hell.
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
 The Athanasian Creed (aka "Quicumque vult")

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Reading through your articles on the Trinity! I whole heartedly say amen to your thoughts on the use of "Persons" rather than manifestations! Thank you for teaching this. The most beautiful thing I have learned of studying the Trinity is an appreciation and new understanding of Eph 2:8. What I believe and find heartbreakingly stunning is that as GREAT and AWESOME (to say the least!) as God truly is as Father, Son, and Spirit, only requires us, as weak and feeble in the mind as we are, to believe in His Son with our heart (faith) to be saved, because it has nothing to do with our knowledge of Him fully in the Godhead, but what His Son did for them, which is why it is not only by grace we are saved, but truly a precious gift He has given to us puny humans. But, from that point of believing in His Son, I know He desires us to come to a better and full understanding of who He truly is, as seen in the Trinity! Problem is, many, many, many Christians never move forward, and painstakingly miss out on knowing who God fully is. How wonderful it is to start to fully know Him!!! I've known the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior since a young age, and only now at the age of 26 am I discovering the vastness and wonderful character of who God is! One of eternal love, mercy, and grace - now THAT blows my mind! :) These are just my thoughts...not sure where this "puts" me theologically? I don't belong to a denomination, or claim a title (i.e. "Calvinist"), I'm just a Christian who loves God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit with all my heart, soul, and mind!
    -From a sister in Christ