The Berean Expositor
Volume 41 - Page 200 of 246
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One Lord
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD" (Deut. 6: 4).
The term "Economy" as applied to
the doctrine of the Trinity.
pp. 14 - 19
The Creeds, and the Athanaisan Creed in particular, are the products of controversy,
of attempts so to define and safeguard the truth, as to refute error, and preserve the truth
intact for all time. In such an atmosphere, there is always the danger of overstatement, of
pushing a truth to extremes in the attempt to emphasize its worth, or to safeguard it from
corruption. To appreciate the reason for the language employed in the Athanasian Creed,
one would need to be acquainted with the heresies of Arians, Macedonians,
Apollinarians, Nestorians, Eutychians, Socinians, Sabellians and many others. When we
perceive that this was the atmosphere in which the creeds were formed, we can well
expect that on many occasions men with the best intentions will be found `putting out the
hand, to stay the ark of God'. In this controversy concerning the Trinity, we shall find
that `The Father' is given the supreme place in the Godhead, that the `Son' is at one time
spoken of as co-eternal with the Father, as other times "derived" from the Father, and this
again because of its necessary implications corrected and preserved from its logical
consequences by the invention of the phrase `The eternal generations of the Son'. No
wonder Dr. South said, when dealing with this vexed question:
"The Trinity is a fundamental article of the Christian religion, and he that denieth it
may lose his soul, so he who strives to understand it may lose his wits!"
If this is the considered opinion of a theologian, it is evident that something is
seriously amiss. We will introduce the inquiry that must next occupy our most earnest
and prayerful attention by quoting from `The orations of Athanasius against the Arians'.
And first, a word of explanation may be called for that the term `Arian' may be
understood. Arius, a presbyter of the church of Alexandria in the fourth century, believed
that the Son was the first of all created beings, not one with the Father, nor equal to Him,
and it was to the confutation of the errors of Arius that the Athanasian creed owes its
inception. Dr. Newman says `I am sure at least that S. Athanasius frequently adduces
passages in proof of points of controversy, which no one would see to be proofs, unless
apostolic tradition were taken into account, first as suggesting, then as authoritatively
ruling this meaning'. This admission by Newman should be borne in mind as we place
before the reader some of the arguments used by Athanasius. Further, in order that the
reader may not miss the purpose of these quotations, we suggest that the arguments
adduced by Athanasius would have been true had John 1: 1 been written as follows:
"In the beginning was the SON, and the Son was with the FATHER and the SON was
the FATHER."