What Is The Trinity? -- By: Justus Newton Brown

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: What Is The Trinity?
Author: Justus Newton Brown

What Is The Trinity?

Rev. Justus Newton Brown

I. Introductory

Professor William Newton Clarke showed himself a discerning teacher of theology when he said: “The Spirit of truth is still guiding the church into the truth, and genuine progress in apprehension of truth respecting Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to be expected yet.” I am not setting myself up as a prophet of a new teaching. Such a prophet there has been, and I am merely one of those who heard him. I refer to Professor John Morgan of Oberlin, a profound thinker and an eminent scholar, the lifelong associate and intimate friend of President Charles G. Finney.

It seemed to Professor Morgan that he had received some light from the Bible upon the Trinity which had not come into the possession of the church; and the years that have passed since he was my teacher have confirmed me in the opinion which I formed then, that he was right. It is a pity that he did not put his views into writing. I wrote them out from hearing them in his classes. After several years, I rewrote them more at length and then went over them with Professor Morgan himself, that he might assure me, as he did, that I had not misunderstood him. These views were original with him; though, after formulating them, he found them in the writings of Twesten, whom Dr. Schaff characterized as “perhaps the clearest thinker and writer among all the systematic divines of Germany.” But,

so far as I am aware, they have not been set forth by any American writer.

Of course Professor Morgan is not responsible for anything in the presentation which follows, except its underlying principles. These I state in my own way, and I fully believe them. I think that they will remove speculative difficulties which, to some minds, have reduced what has been supposed to be the doctrine of the Trinity to a metaphysical puzzle; and that they will throw fresh light upon many passages of Scripture, and particularly upon the relations of Christ and the Holy Spirit to our experience.

II. Modern Statements Of The Doctrine

Among the attempts made in our own time to summarize the Scripture teaching in regard to the Trinity, or Triunity, of God, I will mention three. The first was made more than a score of years ago, by Joseph Cook.

1. The Standard Definition

Said Mr. Cook :—

“What is the definition of the Trinity?

“One. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one and only one God.

“Two. Each has a peculiarity incommunicable to the others.

“Three. Neither is God without the others.


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