The Trinity and Scripture -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 11:2 (Winter 2002)
Article: The Trinity and Scripture
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Trinity and Scripture1

David J. MacLeoda

On February 4, 1962 I was baptized by immersion by Brethren assembly elder, Cecil Batstone, at Bethany Gospel Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts. About seventeen years earlier, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, the venerable Archdeacon A. F. Arnold poured water three times over my tiny bald head in the baptismal ritual of the Church of England. The spiritual history of my family that led to these two baptisms is beyond the scope of this article. What is of importance is that in each case the officiant spoke these words, “David John MacLeod, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Echoing the words of the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19), they believed that Christians were to be baptized in the “Great Name” of our God, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Both of these men were Trinitarians, that is, they believed the historic Christian doctrine that God is one in essence and three in persons. That they believed the doctrine was true does not imply that they found it easy to comprehend. The witty Dr. Robert South (1634–1716) said, in a sermon on the Trinity, “As he that denies it may lose his soul; so he that too much strives to understand it may lose his wits.”2 A student once approached his professor, the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831), and asked him to interpret a difficult passage in one of the latter’s books. The philosopher examined it and replied, “When that passage was written, there were two who knew its meaning—God and myself. Now, alas! There is but one, and that is God.”3

That all true Christians defend the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that it has not been challenged. Our Lord’s observation (John 15:18–19) that the world hated Him and would hate His followers seems to have been especially confirmed in its attitude toward the Triune God. Some challenge the doctrine of the Trinity as a relic of the traditional past. Others, says German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, view the doctrine as “mere speculation, a kind of higher theological mathematics for the initiated.”4 Many Protestants and Catholics hold to a generic monotheism, he says, quite happy to quote the young Philip Melancthon, “We adore the mysteries of the Godhead. That is better than to investigate them.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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