Alexander Campbell on the Trinity

Now available on my Academic Materials page is my presentation at the 2007 Christian Scholar’s Conference in Rochester, MI.  It is entitled Trinity as ‘Necessary’ Fact in Alexander Campbell’s ‘Christian System of Facts’.

In this article I argue that the concept of “Trinity” is essential to Campbell’s understanding of Christian theology, and this despite the fact that he does not like the word “Trinity” itself.  He frames the “Christian System” around the three redemptive-historical movements of God’s work in the world by the Father, Son and Spirit. A triune understanding of God, for Campbell, is “necessary” for a full display of God’s glorious work for the salvation of the world.

13 Responses to “Alexander Campbell on the Trinity”

  1.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    thanks john mark
    i am going to read this to night when i get home.
    Alexander Campbell on the Trinity

    what a joy for me to be on your web site.

    blessings rich

  2.   Royce Says:

    Trinity: “One divine essence, three manifestations”

    I continue to wonder at the resistance to what in my view is a clear revelation in Scripture.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  3.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Your characterizations of “resistance” and “clear” seem to assume a particular position itself that stands arrogantly over other views, does it not?

    Of course, what is “clear” to one is not so “clear” to another.

    My point in the article is that Campbell is himself in line with historic Christian thinking.

  4.   Gardner Hall Says:

    Restoration History is the one area where my limited mind can grasp what is going on in most academic papers. I actually enjoy them them. I enjoyed an article you wrote several years ago on the moral influence theory of Christ’s atonement. Not only was the topic fascinating, but you analyzed an article by Rees Jones, who I found had converted my ancestors in Northwest Georgia in the 1840’s. I’ve found a few assorted references to him in the GA and on the internet and a comment he made the the effect that Tolbert Fanning would never make it as a preacher. However, I haven’t been able to find much more information about him.

    I’m going to spend some of my reading time checking out your article on Campbell.

  5.   Gardner Hall Says:

    Just read the article and it was quite informative. A couple of points in particular grabbed my attention: (1) the link between Campbell’s view of the Trinity and his concern about Stone’s concept of the atonement, (2) his denial of “eternal sonship.” Wonder what he said about texts like Heb. 1:8?

    It is a blessing to have those who are capable of analyzing such a great mass of information and reducing it to digestable size. Thanks.

  6.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    I think he would say something like “the Logos is eternal, but the Logos became Son through the incarnation.” So, Campbell has no problem addressing the Son as “God” (one who shares the divine life with the Father and is with the Father from eternity) but he believes the name “Son” only applies to the Logos post-incarnation.

  7.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    I find what you say so interesting.
    So at the point of birth logos became the servant of prophecy. At the point of the cross, logos the servant cursed was a righteous man? At the point of resurrection logos the father shows the approval of the begotten son and gives him a new name. And authority over creation.
    In a nutshell without getting long and involved in this.
    And now I’ll read the article thanks to Mark for your comments.
    blessings rich California

  8.   Kenneth Sublett Says:

    John, I once thought that you were warning about an “emerging trinitarianism” in churches of Christ. I wonder if you are not the emerger. Coming from an engineer I know that this has no credibility but reading was required if writing was optional. I believe that you cherry pick Campbell to make him defend the Trinity when he clearly denounced it.

    If you don’t cut it, I think it would be a lesson in the UNITY of the ONE God because I have LINKED some of the Calvin quotes that I could track down.

  9.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Campbell denounced the term “Trinity” but he held a fairly traditional undestanding of the Trinity except for how he construed “Son of God” as reference to the incarnation. Let the readers read for themselves, but I’m not particularly interested in a dialogue on my blog about this subject.

    I never warned about an emerging Trinitarianism. You misread my review of Foster’s lecture and have wondered how you could so misunderstand my point after reading your comments on your website. I was commending the rise of Trinitarian thinking in the 20th century among Churches of Christ though I did think that some forms of Apollinarianism were superficially present in some writings.

  10.   Kenneth Sublett Says:

    I don’t want to dialog: I just wanted to alert you that I was searching for the references. I will work on this one because it is a way to learn.

    So far, I have looked at most of the fathers on the notion of a trinity and I don’t know a one who thinks of the Godhead as seperated members of a “family” able to have communion. I just don’t know how one could know that God is in need of company.

    Theophilus was probably the first to speak of “trias” and then Tertullian does a good job. That was before the trinity was invented as everyone notes “to oppose Arius.” Even then the Holy Spirit seems to be something they believed in but did not include in the “godhead.”

    I understand the publish or perish but we “laidity” are now able to bypass the experts who think that truth got sifted away by philosophy, evolution and the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. I remember “postmodern” when it was being formulated as a campus prank. I really think that the once – Christian colleges as the training ground for preachers has about run its course. Then we can maybe restore the ekklesia or synagogue or school of the Bible–only of true Christianity.

    Anyway, I will post lots of links to most of the historic literature on Trinity and Music trying to find a loophole for the “new style church.”

    I will be happy to correct any errors: My thesis just took about two days so it is rough.

  11.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    I believe there are several problems with your statement above, including a misunderstanding of early theologians. I know you have misread my own writings, as a comparison of my books/lectures and your website will reveal to those interested. I will leave it for readers of the blog to investigate, if they desire, by reading your site and my materials. I will leave it there because I think my time needs to focus on other things at the moment.

    By the way, there is no “publish or perish” mentality at the institutions for which I have taught. You assume more than you know, my brother. But enough said. The resources are available to those who wish to pursue it at your website and mine.

  12.   Alan Scott Says:

    Congratulations, John Mark. If you have Ken’s attention, you must be doing something very right. 🙂

  13.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    🙂 Perhaps unwanted attention! 🙂

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