An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity -- By: William David Spencer
PP 25:4 (Autumn 2011) p. 15
An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity
Written by William David Spencer in consultation with Aída Besançon Spencer, Mimi Haddad, Royce Gruenler, Kevin Giles, I. Howard Marshall, Alan Myatt, Millard Erickson, Steven Tracy, Alvera Mickelsen, Stanley Gundry, Catherine Clark Kroeger, and other theologians, exegetes, philosophers, and church historians. To be included in the upcoming book The New Evangelical Subordinationism? Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers, www.wipfandstock.com. Sign your name in support of the Evangelical Statement on the Trinity by visiting www.TrinityStatement.com.
We believe that the sole living God who created and rules over all and who is described in the Bible is one Triune God in three coeternal, coequal Persons, each Person being presented as distinct yet equal, not as three separate gods, but one Godhead, sharing equally in honor, glory, worship, power, authority, rule, and rank, such that no Person has eternal primacy over the others.
A theological commentary
Athanasius, the defender of the Nicaean Creed, correctly explained the faith once delivered to the saints.
Objecting to attempts of his day to reduce Jesus Christ (and the Holy Spirit) to secondary (and tertiary) status in being, authority, and power, Athanasius pointed out that, had his opponents understood Jesus “to be the proper offspring of the Father’s substance, as the radiance is from light, they would not every one of them have found fault with the [Nicaean] Fathers; but would have been confident that the Council wrote suitably” (3.9.39).1 Therefore, our guidance in constructing this statement comes from the Bible and the helpful explanations of Athanasius, from whose insights we draw the list of equal attributes at the end of our statement. For Athanasius, equality of attributes is the proof for equality of substance (being). Lose the first and one loses the second. So he declares of the Christ, “This is why He has equality with the Father by titles expressive of unity, and what is said of the Father, is said in Scripture of the Son also, all but his being called Father.”2
Athanasius illustrates his position by citing Bible verses in which Jesus claims to possess all the Father possesses, for example, being named “God,” “the Almighty,” “Light,” making “all things” and doing “whatsoever” the Father does, “being Everlasting” with “eternal power and godhead.” He also notes parallel Scriptures in which the Son and th...
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