This little book on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by the famous Princeton Theologian B.B. Warfield is an easy and helpful read. The author’s intent was not an exposition of the historical Trinitarian formula but to show the Biblical nature of the historical formulation. Warfield illustrates well the Scriptural method from which the ancient church derived their conviction of the doctrine of the Trinity.
While some authors might deal with this doctrine merely as an intellectual matter to be wrestled with and mastered. Warfield at his best gets to the heart of the matter. He borrows from St Augustine when he wrote, “the heart of man was restless until it found its rest in the Triune God, the author, procurer, and applier of salvation.” Warfield identifies Trinitarianism as the theological centerpiece of the early church fathers. He sees Christian salvation can only be rightly understood as a Trinitarian work and argues that this is the reason the ancient church defended the doctrine so vigorously. In other words, the Trinity isn’t a doctrine to merely think about but it is the doctrine of first significance. Trinitarianism must grip our hearts if we will be born again.
Toward the end of the book, Warfield discusses some of the historical terms and heretical movements from the past. For anyone new to the study of Trinitarianism may find themselves doing some homework because Warfield does not define these terms, but the research will be well worth it. One of my favorite excerpts in this book is in this last section where Warfield nicknames the Athanasian Creed as the “battle-hymn of the early church.”
Under the leadership of Athanasius this doctrine was proclaimed as the faith of the church at the Council of Nice in 325 A.D., and by his strenuous labors and those of “the three great Cappadocians,” the two Gregories and Basil, it gradually won its way to the actual acceptance of the entire church. It was at the hands of Augustine, however, a century later, that the doctrine thus become the church doctrine in fact as well as in theory, received its most complete elaboration and most carefully grounded statement. In the from which he gave it, and which is embodied in that “battle-hymn of the early church,” the so called Athanasian Creed, it has retained its place as the fit expression of the faith of the church as to the nature of its God until today.B.B. Warfield
Warfield’s biblical arguments are clear, helpful, and repeatable for anyone interested in learning to help others teach the biblical content that upholds the historic Trinitarian formula. The book is short in length and easy to read. I recommend this book for everyone interested to study this fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.
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