Trinitarian Spirit: Summary

The last ten blogs have covered what we confess about the Trinity. I’ll close with three ways of making that confession: one a brief statement from Augutine, the next a longer section in a confession, and the final one a hymn from Charles Wesley.


Earliest known portrait of Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-450), in a 6th century fresco, Lateran, Rome

In the briefest of forms, we can confess with Augustine, “as the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and that Holy Spirit who is also called the gift of God is neither the Father nor the Son, certainly they are three.”1Augustine, Trinity, 5.9.

Belgic Confession

Or in fuller form, we might profess what’s found in the Belgic Confession:

According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is the one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit have each His personality, distinguished by Their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God.

Hence, then, it is evident that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed; for the Father has not assumed the flesh, nor has the Holy Spirit, but the Son only. The Father has never been without His Son, or without His Holy Spirit. For They are all three co-eternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last; for They are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.2Belgic Confession, Article VIII.

Wesleyan Hymn

Charles Wesley, in John Wesley’s House & The Museum of Methodism

If that is too heavy-going for you, maybe we would do better to sing Charles Wesley’s hymn.3John Wesley and Charles Wesley, The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, ed. G. Osborn, vol. 3 (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1869), 346.

1 Praise be to the Father given!
Christ He gave
Us to save,
Now the heirs of heaven.

2 Pay we equal adoration
To the Son:
He alone
Wrought out our salvation.

3 Glory to the Eternal Spirit!
Us He seals,
Christ reveals,
And applies His merit.

4 Worship, honour, thanks, and blessing,
One in Three,
Give we Thee,
Never, never ceasing!


Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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