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Oliver Chase Quick

Chapter VI


Our discussion of Christian doctrines now reaches the Third Person of the Trinity, and our main task must be to suggest a few general considerations which may help us to see how belief in the Third Person is necessary to complete the knowledge of God, which His own revelation has imparted to us. It is, however, waste of time to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity at all, unless we first understand the original purpose which led to its formulation. We must therefore start with a digression.

In St. Augustine’s phrase, celebrated indeed, but deserving a much wider celebrity, the doctrine of the Trinity was formulated non ut diceretur, sed ne taceretur, not so much in order to convey the positive truth - for the truth is beyond language - as lest through the Church’s silence errors should usurp its place. It was not meant to explain or even to expound the Christian faith, but to prevent unworthy exponents from explaining it away into some fresh form of Western idolatry or Eastern pantheism. It was set forth in philosophic terms, but it was not meant to philosophise the Gospel, but rather to safeguard weak or doubtful or simple‑minded brethren from falling a prey to those who philosophised the Gospel badly. It is not too much to say that the doctrine of the Trinity sprang from the agnosticism of faith, an agnosticism far more profound and more searching than any which the modern unbeliever, with his cheap machine‑made universe, can conceive.[1]

How much of the intellectual troubles of the Church are due to failure to understand that this is the true reason and purpose of dogma? Certainly the Church has so often failed to understand it herself that she cannot blame her critics for following her example. It is profoundly true that the dogmas of the Catholic Church are directed against heresy; but they are properly directed, not against those who are doubtful about God, but against those who are falsely assured. Historically that is true, because agnosticism did not exist as a dangerous force when the creeds were composed. They were aimed entirely at confident teachers of a different, easier, and less mysterious faith. And that surely should be their purpose still. Christian dogma can never condemn those who are acutely conscious of the utter inadequacy of their knowledge of God. It is exactly such whom the Christian faith is meant to justify, to sympathise with and to help. Such men are intellectually the counterparts of the publican of the Gospels, men justified already by their sense of their own need, and much too distrustful of themselves to resent the voice of authority. The dogmas of the Church can only rightly exclude those who think they know better, those, for instance, who run eagerly after the latest intellectual whim of the universities, who are indignant that the Church does not provide a new belief as often as science provides a new theory, or fashion a new hat, who are far too firmly convinced of the superiority of their own undogmatic and broad‑minded faith to have the faintest inkling of what real agnosticism means. Christ condemned, and the faith of His Church rejects, not those who are blindly searching, but those who say, “We see.” And it is a striking feature of the modern world, and one far too often ignored, that such Pharisaism is found less and less among the orthodox and conservative, and more and more in the ranks of the “sceptics” and the liberals.

It is towards impressing upon man the essential mysteriousness of the Godhead that the whole weight of Christian dogma is directed. There are depths of mystery in the loving Fatherhood of God, utterly lost to those who identify Him merely with the spirit of love among men. There are depths of mystery in the divine condescension which united two natures in Jesus, utterly lost to those who offer Him the title of God merely as a sort of honorary title, because He has deserved so well of humanity. There are depths of mystery in the Personal Spirit, Who makes intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered, utterly lost to those who find in His operation merely the working of a “vital force.” The faith of the Church Catholic cannot make any terms with such reasonable and simple explanations. The Church may sin in an opposite direction. She may be afraid where no fear is, she may be slow to accept new light on the old revelation, she may justify her reputation for narrowness, by excluding from her outward fellowship those whom she should have welcomed. All these charges have been true in the past, and for their truth she must repent. Yet God is not limited by His Church: He is well able to reconcile to Himself those whom in her blindness she has shut out of her fold. But what if the Church betray the very mystery of the revelation entrusted to her stewardship? What if she allow the intellectuals of modern thought, preaching in her name, to make it so easy to understand that it is not worth believing, so swift to change that it is impossible to hold? What if the very salt lose its distinctive savour, if the very light be merged in the general fog of confusion, if the Christian’s very birthright of revealed truth be bartered for a freshly‑cooked mess of “undogmatic” generalities? Truly, whatever might then happen to the world, the Church would have committed a fault not less grave than that of using her authority to stifle the voice of the merely inconvenient critic.

If then we regard the doctrine of the Trinity as an authoritative dogma, its main function is negative rather than positive. It is, like all true dogma, a fence round the mystery of the gospel, designed to protect something which it does not by itself reveal. Its purpose is to be found rather in its exclusion of destructive errors than in its exposition of what God has made known. For the deepest revelation of God is His love, at the reality of which no intellectual forms of speech can even hint. It was only because false intellectual expressions of that revelation proved so dangerous, that an intellectual form had to be found to exclude them. Nevertheless that form had of necessity to be the least inadequate expression which the intellect could discover of what God had revealed about His Nature. Such a form could be agreed upon at the time the Athanasian Creed was written, because there was a more or less agreed system of philosophy to provide the form, and a more or less united Church to accept it. Today those conditions no longer exist, and the doctrine of the Trinity still stands clothed in the philosophic technicalities of a bygone age. For the modern Church restatement is impossible; rejection would be a betrayal of her trust. Her task is still to safeguard the mysterious revelation which the doctrine enshrines, to exclude the shallow explanations which would destroy it, and to encourage the fullest variety of reinterpretation which throws a fuller light upon its meaning.

For it is precisely the negative, exclusive purpose of the dogma which, when rightly understood, enables it to include ever fresh and different interpretations of the truth which it protects. If its aim were to state with authority one complete intellectual interpretation of the Christian faith, then obviously those who accept the dogma must regard its intellectual form as the only right one; all others must, in comparison with it, be false. In that case the dogma will, indeed, be the instrument of an intellectual tyranny crushing the freedom of human speculations. But if its aim be rather to protect a mystery, incapable of complete intellectual interpretation, from interpretations which by their false completeness[2] destroy the value of the mystery, then, while it will certainly reject some unworthy speculations, it will none the less find room for an unlimited variety of others, none of them claiming completeness but each enabling us to see a little further into the dim recesses of God’s Being. The acceptance of the dogma will not then tie us down to any particular intellectual theory; it will merely seal our rejection of any theory which would make the nature of God appear as anything other than the deepest, holiest and most precious mystery of the universe.

It often escapes the notice of those who rail against the exclusiveness of dogma, that in an imperfect world anything which is significantly inclusive must fix a limit of inclusion. A kingdom which has literally no boundaries cannot be said to contain anything. The Church could not be seeking to include the whole world, unless it had some definable boundaries, within which to bring what is at present outside. Even the infinite Being of God could not really include all the good in the world, unless it shut out all the evil. The Absolute of the Hegelians ceases to have any real character or meaning, just when it becomes impossible to hold that anything really falls outside it. So the dogma of the Trinity, wherein all Christian dogma is summed up, fixes the boundaries of Christian belief. It does not show us all the treasures that lie within; it offers us a field for research which we can never exhaust. But it does tell us where to look, and it does warn us that, if we reject the limit which it sets, our efforts will turn out in the end to be vanity and a striving after wind. It is the attempt of this whole book to suggest that the tracts which lie within the limits of the older trinitarian orthodoxy have not yet been adequately explored, and that before we remove the boundary‑mark we shall do well to dig deeper into the field which it defines. Perhaps if we do so, we shall yet live to bless the wisdom of those who marked it out.

But, as we have suggested, the doctrine of the Trinity had a secondary as well as a primary purpose, and the two may be distinguished, though the latter involves the former. The primary purpose was to exclude by an intellectual formula intellectual explanations of the Gospel, the acceptance of which would have fatally impaired the gospel‑message. But in order to fulfill that purpose the doctrine had in some sense to present a rival interpretation, in intellectual forms which were then agreed but have since become obsolete. The doctrine of the Trinity does then suggest some positive theory about God’s revealed nature, which, though it be utterly incomplete and is now capable of fuller expression in terms other than Aristotelian, does yet convey an essential truth which must abide through all formulations. In other words, the doctrine may be considered not merely and strictly as a dogma, but as a belief to which reason points as the least inadequate manner of expressing the deepest attainable conception of the Divine Nature. It must now be our task so to consider it. And if this prove to be the briefest discussion in the book, that does not imply that its subject is least important, or Christian belief here least firmly held. Rather, we approach the belief which sums up Christian faith, and for that reason we are taken into a sphere, where the forms of discursive reasoning are in any case so overtaxed that few words may well be as good as many. The main purpose of the dogma of the Trinity is negative; the positive purpose of the doctrine can be no more than a dim indication of possibilities. The agnosticism which springs from the reverence of faith must shrink from torturing into speech the truth after which it is groping. The motto, “God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few,” is in many contexts one to be remembered.

Under the Name of God the Father we think of God as the First Cause, Supreme Lord and Final End of all existence. Under the Name of God the Son we think of the same God revealed through manhood and thereby bringing salvation to a struggling, sinful world which has forgotten its First Cause, rebelled against its Supreme Lord, and turned aside from its Final End. God the Son is the Revealer and Redeemer, showing man the nature of the Father from Whom he has departed, and lighting up and making it possible for him to tread the way by which he may return to his eternal home. But, even so, our conception of God has not yet reached its full completeness. For God is also He Who within man enables his eyes to see the light, and is the Power moving him in every step that he takes along the road. The whole relation of God to man is not completed by thinking of God as Creator and End, and again as Revealer and Captain of Salvation. In these relations God, in a sense, remains outside man, though He reveals Himself through manhood. God must also move man from within to acknowledge His Creator and Lord, to press toward his goal, to accept and appropriate the message of salvation which God sends.

Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit even the reconciliation wrought by our Lord’s Atonement would not be all‑sufficient for the salvation of man. The Atonement, as it were, places the grace of reconciliation as a free gift within man’s reach. But man must be moved to accept that gift by faith, and thereafter to realise in Christian living the consequences which that faith involves. Thus the Divine Transcendence of the Father, the Divine Mediation of the Word, must be fulfilled by the Divine Immanence of the Spirit. For thus and thus alone is the whole process of earthly life taken up utterly into the Godhead.

The same truth may be expressed in a different form. There are two ways or directions in which the human soul may push its enquiry after God. It may seek after the Supreme object of all knowledge, all love and all desire. In the light of Christ’s revelation it will carry its search through outward things in the end to God above. Or the soul may turn in upon itself and ask what is that by which it is enabled to know truth, to love and to desire goodness. And again in the light of Christ’s revelation it will carry its search through its own interior life in the end to God within. But though God above and God within and God Who illumines the search are all One and the Same, yet there remain distinctions within the Godhead so sought and so finally attained. God Who is the one satisfying Object of knowledge and desire, God who inspires and moves the process of knowing and desiring, God Who teaches and reveals to us how we shall know and desire aright, are one and the same God, yet one and the same in otherness. The categories of human speech are strained to bursting by such thoughts as these, but spiritual experience does seem dimly to hint at some such Unity in triple distinction as that which the Christian Creed struggles to express.

The doctrine of the Trinity is commonly approached from a different point of view. We are invited to consider the nature of God as He is in Himself apart from the created world and to consider the Holy Spirit as the living bond of love joining Father and Son in an eternal Unity. We need not attempt to say that such a conception is false. But it may seem over‑bold to attempt to consider the Godhead apart from God’s self‑revelation in and through the world wherein we live.

Moreover we must be very cautious in allowing ourselves to apply to the Persons of the Godhead distinctions characteristic of our own individual personalities. To say that we believe in Three Divine Personalities, however fully united in the bond of loving communion, would surely be dangerously near to admitting an essential tritheism. A closer examination of the original trinitarian formulae will perhaps carry us a little nearer to the essential significance of the doctrine. In the Latin of the West the formula ran, Una Substantia (or Essentia), Tres Personae, translated quite literally, One substance (or essence), Three Persons. In the Greek of the East, however, there is a noteworthy difference of expression. Here the formula fixed is, Μία Ο_σία, Τρες_Υπoστάσεις, translated quite literally, One Essence, Three Substances. We shall therefore naturally conclude that in order to describe the “Persons” of the Deity the early Church was searching for some word the meaning of which should fall somewhere between that of the Latin persona and that of the Greek _πόστασις. The word persona does not imply what we commonly mean by personality. Its leading idea is usually that of representation. Thus dramatis personae are the characters or representations in a play. Persona ecclesiae is the representative of the church, or the parson. If therefore the trinitarian formula stood in the Latin version alone, it would convey rather the idea of One Being in Three Representations. It was not, however, intended to imply that (as the Sabellians held) the distinctions in the Godhead were mere distinctions of representation or manifestation, which had no real root in the essential nature of the Divine Being. Any such inference is excluded by the fact that the Latin persona is represented in the Greek not by πρόσωπov (which might easily mean a mere appearance) but by _πόστασις, which corresponds more nearly to “substance.” The Greek formula most clearly conveys that the distinction between the Persons is substantive and ultimately real. But again if the Greek formula stood by itself, the difference between o_σία, essence, and _πόστασις, substance, might seem hard to determine, and it must in its turn be interpreted by the help of the Latin version. Perhaps if we were to try to search for modern terms which would best express the essential meaning of the Greek formula as it stands, we might say that God is One Being, and that Being contains three distinct centres.[3] Combining then the Latin and Greek formulae, we understand them to teach that God is essentially One Being, that that Being is manifested in Three Representations, and that these distinctions are more than mere modes of revelation, and have their source in Three Centres within the Unity of the Godhead Itself.

The resulting conception of the Godhead seems to us abstract, neuter and impersonal, because the ancients thought of reality in terms of static being and substance, whereas we think of it rather in terms of dynamic life and personal activity. To give the doctrine a concrete meaning to the modern mind, it is therefore necessary to use a freer method of translation, and to import ideas which are alien to the philosophic categories of Aristotelianism. Perhaps we might attempt to do so thus. God is the One Perfect Personality. The characteristics of that Personality, almighty love, wisdom and power, belong to God always everywhere. Yet the life of the Personality operates and reveals itself through three distinct Activities. Since each of the Activities has in itself the fulness of the love, wisdom and power of God, each is by itself fully personal, yet are all Three contained in the One Personal Life.

What we have all already said concerning human experience may serve to give some concrete application to this statement. The true life of man consists in a searching and striving after a full communion of love and knowledge with the Deity. This process is accomplished through three distinct operations of God. In God as the ultimate Fount of all reality, the search finds its original source and supreme object. In God as revealed in humanity, it finds the guide to whom it looks for the direction of its effort. In God inwardly moving it, it finds its constant impulse to follow its guide and to achieve its end. Each of these three Divine Operations is by itself fully personal; each is the Love, Wisdom and Power, which we understand to be the Divine Nature, and therein each is identical with the others.

Yet as Personal Activities they remain distinct, and surely even in the end they cannot be reduced to a mere or bare identity. The eternal life of man must eternally be stirred by God with the inward desire to know and to love Him. That desire must eternally be satisfied by God as its object and end. And the communion between two different natures, which this satisfaction involves, is only possible in and through the mediation of God taking upon Himself the human nature which He created. The whole approach of man to the Father takes place in Christ and proceeds from the inner motion of the Spirit. This seems to offer one way in which man’s struggling intellect can begin to form for itself some conception of the truth of the Trinity. Of the ultimate nature of the distinction between the Persons we can say almost nothing. Yet we can see that to deny its reality would in the end be to reduce all distinctions to the level of an illusion; they would vanish if all life were taken up altogether into the Godhead thus conceived. We are concerned to insist that the fullest unity of all life wholly absorbed in the communion of God does not destroy distinctions within the unity. That truth is safeguarded by our faith in the existence of ultimate distinctions within the life of the Godhead Itself. We dare not think of God as He is apart from our experience and apart from the created world whereof we are members. Our experience of God as revealed in that world hints at distinctions within the Godhead, which we believe to have their source in His ultimate reality. More than this perhaps we dare not say.

We must now turn our attention more closely to that special function in the Divine Revelation, which our faith has taught us to assign to the Holy Spirit.


I.  The Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father.

The Nicene Creed teaches us to believe in God the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son, and this “double procession” indicates two points of view from which we may regard His work. The Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father and Creator. From the earliest birth of life, and even in the bringing about of the conditions which made life possible in our world, we trace a movement upward in the Creation, a struggle towards something higher and better, a process which we have been taught to call “evolution” in the truest and widest sense of the term. As we have already seen, the creative work of God in fashioning the world is gradual. He did not bring to birth a world perfect, developed and complete, in the first moment of time. Nor again has God created the world wholly from without. In the chaos, before the world was, the Spirit of God “moved upon the face of the waters,” and it is this Spirit of God in the world Who moves it and fashions it from within, until in its complete development it shall attain the Divine purpose which was the origin of its being. It is the same Spirit and the same Power Whose inward moving divided the cell of the amoeba, Who inspires the prophet in every age to guide his generation one step upward upon the steep ascent of heaven. The process is one, for the One Spirit of the Almighty Father works in the whole.

That is the Christian interpretation of the history of the world. True, it is an interpretation beset with difficulties still perplexing, and problems still unsolved. Yet, if it be true, it does at least provide (apart from the problem of evil already discussed) a real explanation of facts. It is exactly a real explanation, whether true or false, which naturalistic accounts of evolution are powerless to supply. Naturalistic accounts, in the widest sense, are those which endeavour to explain the course of the development of the world without admitting the operation of any cause or power beyond the natural creatures themselves in which the development takes place. Naturalism maintains that earthly natural life, whether animal or human, is in itself sufficient to explain its own progress from lower to higher forms. The name covers many theories which it is not now possible to discuss. But we may illustrate our contention from naturalism in its most modern and most spiritual form, as it is interpreted in M. Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution. M. Bergson’s metaphysical visions indeed seem to lead him to a position not very far from the Kingdom of God. He has often used really magnificent language about the one élan vital pulsing through all life and striving to lift it up towards self-conscious spiritual freedom. But the élan remains a natural impulse of the merely natural life which it raises, and M. Bergson’s rhetoric only shows up in clearer relief the impossibility of finding any spiritual explanation of evolution, so long as the motive force of evolution is sought wholly within the merely natural order itself. We may put the argument in the form of a dilemma. If the first impulse which originally started life upon its course did not direct it towards any goal, but blindly left the subsequent forms of life, in which it issued, to their own undirected spontaneity, clearly no explanation has been offered of any unity of direction which the whole course of the development of life displays. This mere spontaneity, which M. Bergson holds to be the essence of life, might account for development in different and apparently random directions; but in so far as life in its multiplicity shows any uniform effort and progress from “lower” to “higher” (or, indeed, in any one direction), that development remains utterly unexplained. In this case, therefore, when we speak of the unity of life shown in its progressive growth and evolution, we are merely giving a description of observed facts, which does not in itself contain or imply any explanation whatsoever, since no principle of continuity has been discovered. If, on the other hand, the primary original impulse does in any sense determine and explain the subsequent development of life in one direction, we can only attach an intelligible meaning to our assertion if we maintain that the primary impulse was in some sense provident and purposive, that it was not merely a striving of we know not what blind spontaneity, but that there was behind and within it a power which intended and endeavoured to achieve something like the results which life subsequently reached, and is still endeavouring to reach more fully in the future. No one, however, would contend that the “lowest” and most original forms of life possessed in themselves any such conscious purpose or intention. If then we would explain the facts, we are driven to the conclusion that there lay behind and within the primary impulse of life towards development some supernatural purposive power not belonging to the natural cells themselves, but working through them towards some end of which they were themselves unconscious. Clearly the nature and character of this power will be more clearly revealed in proportion as it achieves its purpose.

According to the Christian, the power is none other than the Holy Spirit of God breathed by God into the world from the first moment of creation and working out from within the development of its growth. In the soul of man for the first time the natural being begins to have some inkling of the divine spiritual life which is moving it. In Christ that divine life stands revealed as the Spirit of God’s love. Yet the purpose is not yet completely worked out in the world as a whole; it is still fighting the forces of evil which hamper its fulfilment. But thus it is, according to the Christian doctrine, that the Eternal Spirit reveals His operation gradually, as He works through the time process which measures the development of the world.


II.  The Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son.

The Holy Spirit proceeds not only from God the Father but also from God the Son. The Incarnation of the Eternal Word reveals the Spirit Who moves the world not only as the Spirit of the Creator but also as the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit has always proceeded forth eternally from the Eternal Word; the procession did not begin on the day of Pentecost. Yet that day revealed Him to man as the Spirit of the Incarnate Christ, and the fact of that revelation gives to His work on earth a new fulness of power. The discourses at the end of St. John’s Gospel state quite clearly, so far as human language can express it, the relation of Pentecost to the Ascension of our Lord, and we find essentially the same doctrine not obscurely present in the Epistles of St. Paul. Two points clearly emerge, (1) that the Holy Spirit is distinct from Christ, (2) that where the presence of the Spirit is, there also is the presence of Christ. The words, “I will send unto you another Comforter,” are immediately balanced by the promise, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you.” And a careful reading of Romans 8:9-11, shows a precisely similar distinction corrected by the implied assertion that where the Spirit of Christ is, there is Christ Himself. The Holy Spirit, though as a Person He is distinct from Christ, nevertheless brings the presence of the Ascended Christ into the souls of men.

By this difficult doctrine of the relation of the Spirit to Christ, the balance is held between the two complementary effects of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven. On the one hand, the Ascension implies the outward absence of our Lord from the earth into which He came in the flesh; on the other hand, the Ascension issues in an inward presence of our Lord on earth through His Spirit. The balance is between an outward departure and an inward return accomplished through the Person of Another.

By the Ascension the outward visible presence, manifested in the Resurrection appearances, is for a time withdrawn. In this sense the Ascension into Heaven is a real departure from the earth. The outward Presence will hereafter be restored fully and completely to the sight of men on that day when our Lord “comes again,” when Heaven and earth are made one, and this world passes for ever into the next. Meanwhile the withdrawal serves as the great reminder that the ascended victorious Christ has His home in another sphere than this sinful earth. We are bidden to look for the life of the world to come, exactly because in this world we can never possess the full fruition of His Presence. If anyone thinks it wrong to admit such a real absence of Christ from the world, let him consider again the value of St. Paul’s contrast between present faith and hope and future sight.

Nevertheless the outward departure marks the beginning of a fuller inward return. By speaking of the return as inward, not outward, we mean that our Lord does not present Himself now on earth as the object of direct perception, as He did in His appearances after the Resurrection. We do not see Him, as those apostles did, or again as we believe the redeemed shall for ever behold His face in Heaven. Mystic experiences which put forward any such claim must be treated with the utmost caution, if not with positive distrust; though probably one exception should be made in the case of the vision which sealed the apostleship of Paul, a vision which St. Paul himself clearly placed in an altogether different category from the other “visions and revelations” vouchsafed to him. It seems quite in accord with Scripture and reason to maintain that in so far as our Lord is the object of any human apprehension upon earth, He is the object not of direct perception but of faith, faith being interpreted in the Pauline sense as that faculty by which we reach forward to a future fulness of knowledge or perception, which must be at present withheld. Even he sacramental presence of Christ, though we believe it to be in the full sense objective, is nevertheless “veiled” under the outward sign.

But in any case we do not mean that our Lord is therefore cut off from the life of the world. Because He has ascended, He is present always everywhere, where sin does not reject Him, as the Leader and Head of the redeemed humanity which He represents. The presence is not outwardly manifested; it is inwardly apprehended by faith, and that faith is the gift of His own Spirit Whom He sends to stir men’s hearts to desire to follow and to love Him. To such faith everything Christlike in human life declares the presence of the Saviour. As St. John tried so hard to teach his disciples, Christ Himself is present in the life of Christian love, however commonplace be its circumstances. To have the Spirit of Christ therefore is to know the spiritual presence of Christ on earth. Our desire for that knowledge can never be wholly satisfied on earth, for here we have only the knowledge of faith which looks forward to full consummation hereafter. But just as our Lord is gone to prepare a place for His followers in Heaven that He may receive them there, so His Spirit on earth prepares their souls that there they may be enabled to receive Him by faith now, and hereafter in the fulness of knowledge and of sight. It is the Spirit alone Who stirs every true thought, every right perception, every holy feeling and Christlike action, that belong to humanity; and through them all man has fellowship with Him Who sent the Spirit to inspire them.

From this central doctrine of the procession of the Third from the Second Person of the Holy Trinity there follow important consequences, theological and practical. The whole operation of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the revelation of Christ is summed up in two descriptive terms which the Bible has taught us to apply to it, viz., witness and sanctification. It is important to notice at once that the two terms do not denote two departments of the Spirit’s work, but two aspects in which the whole may be regarded. Every activity which the Holy Spirit moves may be thought of either as a testimony leading man to Christian truth, or as an influence fashioning man into Christian holiness. We will consider each aspect in turn.


[1]Cf. St. Hilary de Trinitate, II, 2. “We are forced through the fault of heretics and blasphemers to do that which is unlawful, to climb inaccessible heights, to speak what cannot be uttered, to encroach upon what is forbidden.” Dr. Goudge makes some instructive remarks on this subject in his pamphlet on The Holy Trinity (New Tracts on the Creed, S.P.C.K., No. X).

[2]It is quite true that many modern and modernist interpretations of the faith, which orthodoxy must reject, would themselves be most anxious not to claim completeness. But herein their authors very commonly delude themselves. For their whole purpose, as a rule, is to simplify the intellectual interpretation of the Christian faith by saying in effect, “This is all it means.” E.g., they sometimes address us in language something like this: “You find the doctrine that Jesus Christ is God difficult? But after all, all good human nature is God‑like and all we need mean by calling Jesus Christ God is an acknowledgment that he was the most God‑like of men.” The moment such poverty‑stricken theories enter at the door, the mystery of God’s love vanishes out of the window. It is the purpose of dogma to keep such theories out. Teaching of this falsely simplifying tendency fails to understand that the simplicity of God’s Revelation is not an intellectual but an evangelical simplicity. The gospel as gospel is as simple as the stretching out of a hand, and the simplest faith may grasp it. But just as the simple act of stretching out the hand involves for him who seeks to understand the process involved, the most complicated interplay of nerves and muscles, so he who would reflect upon the process and implications of God’s revelation, must find himself involved in a complexity which is inexhaustible, in a mystery which deepens the further he seeks to penetrate therein.

[3]The Greek word _πόστασις means literally a substratum or foundation, hence in philosophy, that on which an object rests, the ground or substance of its objective reality. The word “centre” suggests the source or starting‑point of an activity, that from which it issues forth. In translating therefore the old philosophy of essence and substance into the more dynamic terms which modern philosophy prefers to employ, I venture to represent the word _πόστασις by “centre.”


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