Trinitarianism Part 1 -- By: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 097:385 (Jan 1940)
Article: Trinitarianism Part 1
Author: Lewis Sperry Chafer


Trinitarianism
Part 1

Lewis Sperry Chafer

[Author’s Note: In concluding the general themes of Theology Proper, several articles on the doctrine of the Trinity, of which this is the first, will be presented in succeeding issues of Bibliotheca Sacra.]

Introduction

Having investigated in preceding articles the fundamental truth of the existence of God and having exhibited some evidence as to His perfections as seen in His attributes, His sovereign purpose, and His self-revelation through His names-all of which is embraced under Theism and is a general division of Theology Proper-, it now remains to inquire as to whether God is, as to His mode of existence, an absolute unity, or does He subsist as a plurality of Persons? If He subsists as a plurality of Persons, what manner of Persons are these and what is their number?

Recognizing that the word trinity is not found in the Sacred Text and that the doctrine which it represents is not directly taught therein, Dr. W. Lindsay Alexander states: “But though a truth be not formally enunciated in Scripture, it may be so implied in the statements of Scripture that it becomes the proper and necessary expression of these statements. In this case the doctrine is a conclusion drawn inductively from what Scripture announces, and so is as truly a doctrine of the Scripture as any natural law-that of gravitation, e.g.-is a doctrine of nature. Whilst, then, we admit that the doctrine of the Trinity does not stand on exactly the same ground as the doctrines formally enunciated in Scripture, we claim for it an equal authority on the ground that it lies involved in the statements of Scripture, and is the proper evolution and expression of these. As a doctrine it is a

human induction from the statements of Scripture; but the induction being fairly made, it is as much a part of God’s teaching in His word as is any of those doctrines which He has formally enunciated there. The phenomena (to use the Baconian phraseology) with which we have here to deal are, on the one hand, the clearly revealed fact that there is but one God; and, on the other, the no less clearly revealed fact that there are three to whom the attributes and qualities of Deity in the highest sense are ascribed, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Both these statements must be received by all who acknowledge the Scriptures as the rule of faith: the question is, How are they to be construed so as that, without doing injustice to either, a just and harmonious expression of the whole truth contained in them shall be obtained?”1

In this division of Theology ...

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