Tertullian on the Trinity

Posted: October 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

The early church wrote a considerable amount on the doctrine of the Trinity. As Christianity emerged the doctrine of the triune nature of God became a distinguishing factor. Within the religions of the world, none had a concept that mirrored the triune God of the Bible. Thus, articulating the doctrine and defending it became an important undertaking within the early church.

Tertullian  (A.D. 160-240) was a North African theologian and the first Christian leader to employ Latin. He addressed such doctrines as baptism and post-baptismal sins, Christology, and the initial Trinitarian understanding of God (for which he coined the term trinitas). Concerning the Trinity, I will quote him at length below.

“All [the Father, Son and Holy Spirit] are of one, by unity…of substance; while the mystery of the economy is still guarded, which distributes the unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in appearance. Yet they are of one substance and of one condition and of one power, inasmuch as he is one God from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned under the name of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Note: The preceding discussion was taken, at times verbatim, from Gregg Allisons, Historical Theology, 236-37.

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