De Moor V:29: The Necessity of the Doctrine of the Trinity, Part 2

Simon Episcopius

The Remonstrants here set themselves in opposition, inasmuch as Episcopius in TRIGLAND responds to the Question concerning the Necessity of this Article, that to him the Arguments on the negative side appear to be of far more weight; see Antapologiam, chapter V, pages 78b, 86b-88.

The πρῶτα ψεύδη, fundamental errors, are, that the things necessary to be believed concerning God are the fewest possible; that the fundamental Articles are formally practical, concerning which there is agreement among all Christians, etc.

The Scope/Goal is to solicit the favor of the Socinians, to extend their borders. “In this manner,” says MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus III, § 41, note a, “they want to obtain reinforcements for their languishing Society, from the Socianians, Arians, and Sabellians, and to lead a mix of all the Heterodox into their snare.”

Of our men, Pierre Chauvin, a Gallo-Belgic Theologian, in his tractate de Religione naturali, published at Rotterdam in 1693 in octavo, part I, chapter VIII, pages 73-81, part II, chapter VIII, pages 294-296, also contends that man, if he but follow natural Light, is able to be made a sharer in eternal felicity; that Mysteries, as of the Trinity, do not pertain to us, because they are above us. To Hobbes the Salvation of men does not appear to rest in such trifling sophistries of words; see COCQUIUS’ Anatomen Hobbesianismi, locus VI, chapter XIII, number 8, page 133.

They Object, 1. that sometimes a more general Profession was exacted, Acts 8:37; 1 John 4:15. Responses: α. In these few words more things are implicitly contained. β. But the Deity of the Son, and so the Belief of the Trinity, is mention explicitly enough: apart from the fact that from this, that Luke alone described those words of the Eunuch, it is hardly granted firmly to conclude that he did not say more things; see GRABE’S Annotata ad Bulli Judicium Ecclesiæ catholicæ de Necessitate credendi, etc., chapter VI, § 5, page 63. γ. And from the profession of the Trinity in Baptism, required from the most ancient times, according to the very words of the Institution of Baptism, the Apostle’s Creed derived its origin. δ. Thus in Romans 10:9, the Confession of Jesus as Κυρίου/ Lord involves the acknowledgement of His Deity; no less does the Belief of His Resurrection from the dead imply Belief in His divine Filiation, Romans 1:4. ε. IRENÆUS, book III contra Hæresus, chapter XVIII or XX, page 210, observes that in the name of Christ the whole Trinity is understood: For in the name of Christ is understood He who anointed, and He who is anointed, and the anointing itself with which He was anointed. And indeed, the Father anointed, and the Son was anointed, in the Spirit, who is the anointing; as the word says by Isaiah, Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of God is upon me, wherefore He hath anointed me; signifying both the Father anointing, and the Son anointed, and the anointing, which is the Spirit.

They Object, 2. that the Revelation is quite Obscure under both Testaments. Responses: α. The Revelation of this doctrine was wisely accommodated to the Economy of the Church, and was made in both with sufficient clarity: β. It is not requisite in order for a doctrine to be a Fundamental Article, that it be literally extant in the Scripture with respect to all the words and syllables with which it is wont to be expressed; although this one is found here evidently enough with respect to the sum of the matter; see above, § 1, 2, 4, etc.

They Object, 3. The Obscurity of the Matter itself. But our AUTHOR rightly Responds that this Obscurity of the Matther has regard to τὸ διότι, the explanation, not to τὸ ὅτι, the fact, which, having been clearly related, is also simply to be believed by us, just as it is with all other Mysteries. Now, if besides τὸ ὅτι, the fact, of this Mystery, clearly related, and hence simply to be believed by us, we should also know τὸ διότι, the explanation, it would no longer be a Mystery: hence on account of τοῦ διότι, the explanation, ARNOLD, Abbot of Bonneval,[1] truly says de Baptismate Christi, after the opera of CYPRIAN, page 67b, that the Trinity is known to Himself alone.

Gisbertus Voetius

On § 29, compare VOETIUS, Disputationum theologicarum, part I, pages 467-476; SPANHEIM, Decadum Theologicarum quarta, § 5, opera, tome 3, column 1212; ARNOLDI, refutatione Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I, de Cognitione Dei, question 21, § LXXIII-LXXVI, pages 110, 111; GEORGE BULL’S Judicium Ecclesiæ catholicæ trium primorum Seculorum de Necessitate credendi, quod Dominus noster Jesus Christus sit Verus Deus, assertum contra Simonem Episcopium, aliosque, in which tractate Bull, 1. Adduces the Testimonies of the ancient Fathers, showing with sufficient clarity that it is altogether necessary to believe the doctrien of the true Divinity of Christ for salvation, chapter I. 2. From Ecclesiastical History he shows that no one in the first Centuries over denied the divine generation of our Lord Jesus Christ from God the Father before all Ages, without for that reason being immediately ejected from the communion of the Catholic Church of Christ, and being considered a Heretic, chapters II, III. 3. To the arguments whereby Episcopius attempts to prove the contrary he responds at great length. That through three entire Centuries the faith and profession of that special manner of Jesus Christ’s Filiation, whereby before all Ages He stands as the Son of God and God of God, was not judged to be necessary for Salvation, Episcopius attempt to prove:

α. From the Symbols of the Churches, neither mentioning nor determining this matter. BULL responds, a. from the first and most ancient Symbol, already in use from the very times of the Apostles in the administration of Baptism, chapter IV: b. from the Symbol called the Apostles’ Creed, chapter V, showing that the title μονογενὴς/only-begotten, given to the Son of God here, is no otherwise able to be explained excpet with regard to the divine Nature of Christ, whereby He existed, not only before His birth of Mary, but also before all Ages, from and with God the Father: c. from the ancient Eastern Symbol, chapter VI.

β. Episcopius also appeals to JUSTIN Martyr, and, a. In the first place, to a certain pericope in JUSTIN Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, page m. 267, from which he endeavors to evince multiple instances, that the ancient and primitive Christian Church, not only did not judge the belief and profession of the divine and eternal Filiation of Christ through Generation by the Father, and of His true and eternal Deity, through which He is ὁμοούσιος/homoousios/consubstantial with the Father in an Essence numerically one, to be necessary for salvation; but, on the other hand, they joined together in communion with those that were believing and professing Jesus Christ to be only ψιλὸν ἄνθρωπον, a mere man, and made the Christ by election. But BULL, both in chapter VII of the commended tractate, and in the Appendix to that chapter, pages 69-86, has so admirably and solidly refuted the individual arguments and instances of Episcopius on this passage, that it is amazing that anyone is any longer able to persuade himself after reading these things, that there is any strength in the argumentation of Episcopius. Since Justin was not able to affirm that anyone holding Christ to be a mere man was tolerated among the Christians at that time; nor that belief of His true and eternal Deity and divine Filiation was not held to be necessary; unless you believe him to assert, what is incompatible with the plain truth, and what was not at all able to proceed from Justin as a Gentile: Bull relates that Martyr here in context speaks of the Ebionites, and rejects their error gravely enough; but that the argument of the disputation with Trypho does not allow it to be imported into this place with greater keeness against them; that Justin is disputing with a Jew even from the hypothesis of the Jews, and makes use of an argument ad hominem; moreover and most aptly, that, when he treats of those that, in professing Jesus to be the Christ, were nevertheless esteeming Him as a mere man, in the place of καὶ γὰρ εἰσὶ τινες ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡμετέρου γένους, for there are also some of our race, with the mutation of one letter is read ἀπὸ τοῦ ὑμετέρου γένους, of thy race, to designate the Ebionites. That this slight correction in the words of Justin is to be made, BULL renders most probable, chapter VII, § 6, pages 72, 73; and Bull’s emendation against the objections moved unto the contrary by LE CLERC, Historia Ecclesiastica, Century II, year 140, § 9, 10, pages 635, 636, is confirmed and commended by STYAN THIRLBY[2] in his notis ad Justini locum, of whom we treat, editione Thirlbii, pages 234, 235: compare BUDDEUS’ Ecclesiam Apostolicam, chapter V, pages 501-514; MARESIUS’ Defensionem Fidei Catholicæ adversum Curcellæum, Dissertation I, de vocibus Trinitatis, etc., section X, § 166-169, pages 193, 194. b. To the opinon of JUSTIN Martyr concerning Socrates and Heraclitus,[3] whom he held to be Christians; whence a thing not at all strange is able to happen, that those that were considering Christ to be a mere man he held to be members of his Church. But to that Objection BULL also responds adequately in the place cited in the Appendix to chapter VII, § 5, pages 81, 82. c. To that which JUSTIN Martyr denies, namely, that Christ is the Creator of the Universe; from whom he asserts Him to be different, not only in person, but in nature. Both of which BULL demonstrates to be completely false, in the same place, § 6-8, pages 82-85.

[1] Arnold, Abbot of Bonneval (flourished c. 1150), was a friend of Bernard of Clairvaux. His writings on the Holy Spirit, the last sayings of Jesus, and Psalm 132 survive. [2] Styan Thirlby (c. 1686-1753) was an English scholar and critic; he published editions of Chrysostom, Nazianzen, and Justin. [3] Heraclitus of Ephesus (flourished c. 500 BC) was a Pre-Socratic philosopher, famous for the obscurity of his utterances.

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