Chap. 2: Para: 3: The Trinity: Part Three
For those who suffer from technologophobia (the fear of technical terms); or those those who suffer from disconeologophobia (the fear of learning new words); or who have Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words), today is going to be a living nightmare. We come to one of the most important teachings in the Bible, the Trinitarian nature of our God and this is an area where we are stretched to the ends of human language and conception to articulate what we understand the bible to be saying. I know there is a reactionary attitude that thinks that technical terms are somehow bad when it comes to Christianity. I suspect that this has something to do with the laziness we have embraced in our thinking, we look to people with strong opinions to combatively state what we ought to instantly believe in slogan type statements and give us an enemy to hate; we are suspicious of anything to do with the past considering ourselves smarter and better than those who have gone before us. Anti-institutionalism, anti-traditionalism, individualism, a hermeneutic of suspicion, and many other things make teaching on these matters very difficult.
Now we must begin by admitting a most important problem, modern evangelicalism is either ignorant of how the church has confessed the trinity up until around the 1700s; or rejects it for modern reconstructions that are seriously at odds with the traditional view. The 1689s doctrine of the Trinity is what we call a catholic doctrine, Catholic with a small c meaning simply, universal. It repeats and identifies itself with the long standing view of the Trinity that has been held by all orthodox Christian traditions. It is the view held by the Pre Roman Catholic Church, the RCC, the Orthodox Churches, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed and Presbyterian churches up until the 1700s. There were differing types of Baptists, the Anabaptists and General Baptists who for the most part are not aligned with the tradition and veered off into various errors, but the 1689 a Reformed Baptist document deliberately identifies itself with that which has been taught about the Trinity from the beginning.
Now we have spent some time putting forward the biblical data that establishes that God is one and God is three, that all the persons of the Godhead and are equally God. Some would be content to stop here, but heretics speak into the silence, questions get asked, mistakes have been made, and there is a long history of how the church has defended the biblical teaching which we need to be familiar with. This is necessary so that we do not reinvent the wheel, do not repeat past mistakes. Today we are going to map out how the things we confess in the 1689 were articulated through two key councils and the errors surrounding them, the first Council of Nicea 325; and the first Council of Constantinople 381.1