Friday, August 8, 2014

William Livingston: "Primitive Christian"

William Livingston represents the truth that one errs when one looks superficially at the denominations America's Founders were associated with to try and determine what their religious convictions were.

The source of this common error is M.E. Bradford who derived the statistic using that formula, that 52 of the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention were "orthodox Christians." I don't blame him too much for it. For him, this seemed to be a minor aside. Rather it was other, later Christian Nationalists who tried to run with the ball and turn it into a "meme."

Livingston was formally associated with the Presbyterians. That means then he was a good Calvinist who believed in TULIP and the Westminster and every other creed and confession associated with them, right?

Well, no.

Livingston, in fact, was a self professed "Primitive Christian," who believed in Jesus as Messiah (with NO evidence of believing in the Trinity) and the Old and New Testament, and nothing else.

There is nothing in Livingston's writings that laud the term "orthodox," in fact, to the contrary. As he wrote, "I believe that the word orthodox, is a hard, equivocal, priestly term, that has caused the effusion of more blood than all the Roman emperors put together."

A good Whig, Livingston hated doctrinal Anglicanism, especially the "Athanasian Creed," which is formally endorsed by not only the Anglicans, but also the Presbyterians (the group he was affiliated with!). This led me to conclude previously, perhaps accurately, Livingston a theological unitarian.

This is how Livingston described his creed:

“Primitive Christianity short and intelligible, modern Christianity voluminous and incomprehensible,” The Independent Reflector, no. XXXI, June 28, 1753.

27 comments:

Bill Fortenberry said...

You seem to be presenting a false dichotomy, Jon. Athanasian trinitarianism and Arian unitarianism are not the only two options. There are several other views of the trinity which fall between these two. For example, Livingston could have held to a semi-arian view or an adoptionist view or any number of other views of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ.

I've not studied Livingston enough to know exactly what view he held, but I did notice that he once referred to Jesus as "our Savior."

http://books.google.com/books?id=OeqluqI1cm8C&lpg=PA435&ots=tAoFo-CW1B&pg=PA97

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, your post here draws the probative line:

the denominations America's Founders were associated with

That's their public behavior. Playing to the crowd. President washington conspicuously attended church for the first few years of his presidency, to set an example.

And when famously anti-Christ[ic] Thomas Jefferson still conspicuously attended religious services held in US Government buildings during the construction of Washington DC as president, there you have it.

The sentiments of the "crowd"--America at large--is what we're after. What the Founders secretly thought about God or Christ is irrelevant, in fact, misleading.

They wanted religion as a moderating influence on anarchy.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I'm not exactly sure of Livingston's Christology (I've looked hard and presented the evidence I've seen which is simply anti-Athanasianism). But I would deduce based on his explicit theology that he would go for the "simpler" doctrines/explanations.

Tom: Livingston is notable here in that his heterodoxy (or dis of "orthodoxy") was written in a public newspaper and indeed cause his enemies to sling mud at him.

As he wrote:

"It is well known that some have represented me as an Atheist, others as a Deist, and a third sort as a Presbyterian. My creed will show that none have exactly hit it. For all which reasons, I shall cheerfully lay before you the articles of my faith."

Art Deco said...

Livingston, in fact, was a self professed "Primitive Christian," who believed in Jesus as Messiah (with NO evidence of believing in the Trinity) and the Old and New Testament, and nothing else.

Which is to say that the antique oecumenical councils had the authority to assemble a canon of scripture but not to make authoritative determinations on other theological questions.


There is nothing in Livingston's writings that laud the term "orthodox," in fact, to the contrary. As he wrote, "I believe that the word orthodox, is a hard, equivocal, priestly term, that has caused the effusion of more blood than all the Roman emperors put together."

Sounds like a tedious protestant.


What the Founders secretly thought about God or Christ is irrelevant, in fact, misleading.

A Catholic wag offers this: "we're all material heretics". It's not surprising that flesh-and-blood men have variable, mutable, confused, and ambivalent views on questions that are ethereal and abstract (see above).

Bill Fortenberry said...

Livingston's view of primitive Christianity can be seen in his deference to the Quaker Robert Barclay. In his Articles of Faith, Livingston wrote:

I Believe, that, bating Robert Barclay's Enthusiasm, his Apology contains more of primitive Christianity, than one half of the theological Systems extant.

Now in Barclay's Apology, is found this statement about how one becomes a Christian:

God, who out of his infinite love sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world, who tasted death for every man, hath given to every man, whether Jew or Gentile, Turk or Scythian, Indian or Barbarian, of whatsoever nation, country, or place, a certain day or time of visitation; during which day or time it is possibl efor them to be saved, and to partake of the fruit of Christ's death.

http://books.google.com/books?id=4LRergbw6RsC&pg=PA132

And turning back to the writings of Livingston, we can see that he recognized the Moravians as Christians based on their compliance with a similarly minimalistic view of the fundamentals of Christianity:

But pray wherein consists the dreadful Heterodoxy of the Moravians? They believe that Jesus Christ was commissioned by God, to teach the Religion contain'd in the New Testament: That he prov'd his Mission by Miracles; died on the Cross to expiate Sin; rose from the Dead, and ascended to Heaven. So that it is impossible, they should maintain any Tenets, inconsistent with the Fundamentals of Christianity. For whoever believes, that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah, sent of God, to instruct Mankind, and practises the Morality he taught; is to all Intents and Purposes, a compleat Christian; tho' he be as incredulous about the Divine Right of Episcopacy, as the Divine Right of Geography; nor ever heard of the Synod of Dort in his Life.

http://books.google.com/books?id=1QpT_-SuR1AC&pg=PA92

All of this is consistent with yet another statement from Livingston in which he listed the differences between several sects and then both asked and answered the question of how one should discover which doctrines are correct.

Thus have I enumerated the principal Sects, into which Christianity is divided, and run over the Doctrines of many of them ... And now, among which of these Systems shall a candid Inquirer after Truth, look for Christianity? Where shall he find the Religion of Christ amidst all this priestly Fustian, and ecclesiastical Trumpery? They all claim to be orthodox, and yet all differ from one another, and each is ready to damn all the Rest...

Let us therefore hold fast the "Form of sound Words," and examine for ourselves. Let us assert and vindicate the Honour of our Nature, and disdain to have our Consciences enslaved by Priests and Bigots. Let it be our ultimate Ambition, to read the Scriptures with our own Eyes, and practise their Meaning without being Hood-wink'd by Jugglers and Visionaries. In a Word, let us never desert "the Law and the Testimony," for the airy Figments of Dreamers of Dreamers, Venders of Jargon, gloomy Impostors, devout System-Mongers, and spiritual Conjurers.


Thus, it seems that Livingston viewed primitive Christianity to be nothing more or less than a belief in the sacrificial death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ coupled with a sincere effort to adhere to His precepts as taught in the Bible.

Bill Fortenberry said...

By the way, it seems as if the view of the Trinity which was predominant amongs Quakers of this time was a semi-modalistic view. If Livingston followed the Quakers in this doctrine, he may have leaned towards a modalist view as well. The "official" position of most Quakers, however, was that the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was a mystery that was beyond man's ability to properly dogmatize upon. The Quakers accepted that God was both three and one as a bare expression of faith in the Scriptures and seldom ever engaged in speculation beyond the text of Scripture itself. Livingston may have followed this example as well which would explain why I have not found anything written by him on the subject.

For an excellent example of how the Quakers of that time answered questions about the Trinity you should check out this dialogue:

http://books.google.com/books?id=aiLpM9G98lUC&pg=PA159

Tom Van Dyke said...

So as to not lose the forest for the trees, what stands out most in these things is how much thought and study the men of this time gave the particulars of the Christian religion.

That they may have not been able to fully embrace the Trinity or other abstract doctrines pales next to the thoughtless acceptance of them by nominally "orthodox" Christians today--IOW, they don't give this stuff much thought atall!

That men like Livingston were more religious--Christian!--than the greater mass of of "morally therapeutic deists" today is the real knowledge to be gleaned here.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

I think you may be in erring in the sense that Livingston was a public intellectual. MTD is a product of non-thinking types among the masses.

A problem with creedal orthodox Trinitarian Christianity in general -- indeed a problem that the "primitive Christians," "Christian-Deists," "theistic rationalits" of that era pointed out -- was these doctrines can be so sophisticated that ordinary folks have a hard time understanding them, what they are asked to recite in church and so on.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Artie: That's a very good point.

That's a reason why some of the "Christian-Deists" who associated the early ecumenical councils with "corrupt clergy" began rejecting the notion of canon itself.

They believed in "some" revelation, but rejected entire books of the canon (everything St. Paul said, the Revelation of St. John) as corruption.

But the fact that the councils who formulated early ecumenical creeds were the same ones who selected and finalized the canon is a good argument for apostolic, clerical, creedal Christianity for those who take the concept of "the Bible" as a complete and final canon seriously.

What I noted elsewhere: The "Christian-Deism" of Bolingbroke and Jefferson is nothing new. It traces to Marcion.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Fortenberry:

Yes I see a more modest and hence "defensible" thesis than Frazer's is that America's Founding political theology was driven by an anti-creedalism.

It's a "Christianity" that doesn't seek to defend itself by appeals to the Nicene or any of the early ecumenical councils or creeds. Or by any of the councils, creeds or confessions of their era (i.e., those found on page 19 of Frazer's book).

I want to say "anti-clerical"; but some of these anti-creedal freethinking "Christians" were clerics themselves.

The Quakers weren't particularly well represented among the "Founders" because of their pacifism. But the theology of these Whig-rebels at times seemed very Quasi-Quakerish.

We've just seen this with the Presbyterian William Livingston.

Also illustrating this sentiment, the radical unitarian Joseph Priestley once penned a political tract and signed it, "A Quaker in Politics."

Indeed, I understand the sentiments of those who think they can easily defend the doctrine of the Trinity from the Bible alone and without the need for a creed.

But without a creed or top down dictation of what the Bible exactly says and means, the doctrine of the Trinity and every other doctrine of orthodoxy including which books belong in the biblical canon and whether said canon contains errors becomes entirely debatable.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Blogger Jonathan Rowe said...
Tom,

I think you may be in erring in the sense that Livingston was a public intellectual. MTD is a product of non-thinking types among the masses.

A problem with creedal orthodox Trinitarian Christianity in general -- indeed a problem that the "primitive Christians," "Christian-Deists," "theistic rationalits" of that era pointed out -- was these doctrines can be so sophisticated that ordinary folks have a hard time understanding them, what they are asked to recite in church and so on.


Not atall. First, it shows how deeply they considered these matters.

Second, it shows that there was a lot of latitude on doctrinal orthodoxy by Livingston's time. With the proliferation of so many sects and a prevailing disdain of ecclesiastical authority [as I recall, Livingston was quite vociferous in his opposition to the British appointing Church of England bishops, even though Livingston himself was Presbyterian!], "Protestantism" was in full swing.

The total picture--the forest--is that Christian religion, while latitudarian and pluralistic, was still quite prominent in the socio-political landscape.

Again, pointing up that the separation of church and state is not the same as separating politics and religion.

Bill Fortenberry said...

But without a creed or top down dictation of what the Bible exactly says and means, the doctrine of the Trinity and every other doctrine of orthodoxy including which books belong in the biblical canon and whether said canon contains errors becomes entirely debatable.

That is the same argument that the established churches used to defend their attacks against dissenters, and I'm not surprised to find you holding to the same view. However, that is not the view of the Bible which was predominant in American Christianity during the Revolution. The majority of those Christians agreed with the Baptists in their doctrine of the priesthood of the believers.

The Baptists, along with most other dissenters, taught that:

Every born-again believer has direct access to the throne of God. Therefore, since every child of God shares in the priesthood of the believers, all have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ's name.

http://www.allaboutbaptists.com/distinctives.html

John Owen, the great Puritan theologian of the 17th century, wrote of this doctrine in his commentary on the book of Hebrews:

Under the Levitical priesthood, the priests in their sacrifices and solemn services, did draw nigh unto God. The same now is done by all believers under the sacerdotal ministration of Jesus Christ. They now, all of them, draw nigh unto God ... all believers being made a royal priesthood, every one of them hath an equal right and privilege by Christ, of drawing nigh unto God.

http://books.google.com/books?id=6RJVAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA502

The Baptists, the Quakers, the Mennonites, the Brethren and several other sects saw this doctrine in the Apostle Paul's praise for the Bereans in Acts 17:11:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

And in the book Baptists, the Only Thorough Religious Reformers, John Quincy Adams (the pastor not the President), wrote concerning this passage that:

This is the reception that should always be given to those who aim to reform a community, whether that reformation be universal, or whether it have reference to a single doctrine or ordinance. Such a reception is all we ask for these Lectures. Such a reception is all Baptists ask anywhere. Those who hold the truth have nothing to fear from such a course. Respectful, candid, and patient attention, will enable them the more readily to detect sophistry and specious reasoning, and the study of the Bible will always expose what is unscriptural and erroneous.

http://books.google.com/books?id=jk5nQU7rzl0C&pg=PA35

The Baptists have never relied on creeds to provide them with a "top down dictation of what the Bible exactly says and means." They have always had a bottom up, grass roots approach to doctrine. They teach that each individual believer is able to search the Scriptures for himself to determine whether a doctrine is true or false. I mentioned previously that the Baptists were the fastest growing sect during this portion of America's history, and it is not surprising to find this bottom up approach to doctrine widely accepted among the founders.

By the way, this approach to doctrine explains Franklin's response to Stiles in regards to the divinity of Christ. Franklin wrote that "it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it." He did not say whether this doctrine was agreeable or disagreeable to a particular creed, but rather that he could not give an answer since he had not searched the Scriptures himself to see whether it was so. Franklin was not himself a Baptist, but he answered exactly as a Baptist (or a Quaker) of that time would have answered if he were in the same position.

Jonathan Rowe said...

You just love slipping stuff into Ben Franklin's words when you can:

"He did not say whether this doctrine was agreeable or disagreeable to a particular creed, but rather that he could not give an answer since he had not searched the Scriptures."

He said never studied "it." He says nothing about "searching the Scriptures."

In fact, he's said before that certain things in the scriptures -- or at least the Old Testament -- are impossible to have been given by divine inspiration.

Franklin doesn't confine his search for theological truth to the 4 corners of the biblical canon.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The Quakers take the concept of Priesthood of all believers to its most logical conclusion by having no ministers in Church services. Maybe the Baptists should try that one day. Just silence from the pulpit and when the spirit overtakes someone or anyone in the pulpit, let them speak.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"That is the same argument that the established churches used to defend their attacks against dissenters, and I'm not surprised to find you holding to the same view."

This is also the view of the non-Trinitarian freethinkers. Or the Trinitarian freethinkers who rejected other doctrines like eternal damnation.

I can read the Bible for myself and determine whether or not I "see" the Trinity or original sin or eternal damnation or anything else in there and make my own mind up.

As Benjamin Rush said:

"At Dr. Finley’s school, I was more fully instructed in those principles by means of the Westminster catechism. I retained them without any affection for them until about the year 1780. I then read for the first time Fletcher’s controversy with the Calvinists, in favor of the universality of the atonement. This prepared my mind to admit the doctrine of universal salvation, which was then preached in our city by the Rev. Mr. Winchester. It embraced and reconciled my ancient Calvinistical and my newly adopted Arminian principles. From that time I have never doubted upon the subject of the salvation of all men. My conviction of the truth of this doctrine was derived from reading the works of Stonehouse, Seigvolk, White, Chauncey and Winchester, and afterwards from an attentive perusal of the Scriptures. I always admitted with each of those authors future punishment, and of long duration."

Jonathan Rowe said...

"Franklin was not himself a Baptist, but he answered exactly as a Baptist (or a Quaker) of that time would have answered if he were in the same position."

As I noted before Baptists deserve their credit for what Leland and Backus walking in the shoes of Williams did.

That said, I see much more Quasi-Quakerism than Quasi-Baptist-ism.

Even Roger Williams -- the Founders almost never cited him. It's like with Thomism. You get it from other sources. You get it from the Locke-Hooker connection.

With Williams, Jefferson et al. got it from the Arian Brit. James Burgh who learned "separation of Church & State" from Williams.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Both the quasi if not actual Quaker John Dickinson, and even John Jay who is usually conceded as an "orthodox Christian" have written of looking for the concept of the Trinity in the scriptures and NOT being able to find it.

That's what the Bible/without a creed method results in (for good or ill).

http://tinyurl.com/q6dtlud

jimmiraybob said...

JR - "You just love slipping stuff into Ben Franklin's words when you can:"

Of course, it's not just Franklin. What he does to Pope and Bolingbroke here at AC and at Amazon(1) is worth some kind of award.

I'm waiting for Mr. Fortenberry's treatment of Beelzebub as a good, but maybe slightly heterodox, Christian.


1) In his review of Stewart's Nature's God, a book that he had not read as of the review posting.

Bill Fortenberry said...

I'm working on a more complete examination of Franklin's writings on faith which I'll share with the blog at a later date, but since you brought up your claim about John Jay and the Trinity, let me suggest that you should have done some more research on the context of his statement.

Jay made the statement in question as part of a response to a letter which he received from Samuel Miller. Miller's letter is available to read as part of the online collection of the Jay Papers hosted by Columbia University. Miller wrote:

Allow me to say that the volume which accompanies this note, and which I have lately published, as a tribute to Truth, and to our "common Salvation," waits upon You as a small testimony of the profound respect and veneration with which I am, Sir, your obedient servent.

http://wwwapp.cc.columbia.edu/ldpd/jay/image?key=columbia.jay.09111&p=1

In Jay's response, he thanked Miller for the book which had accompanied his letter, and he wrote of that book that:

I think it is an interesting work - well written - and in many respects well calculated to retard the Progress of the Errors which it combats.

http://wwwapp.cc.columbia.edu/ldpd/jay/image?key=columbia.jay.01174&p=1

It was within the context of giving his opinion of the book by Miller that Jay wrote the statement concerning the Trinity which you quoted. Therefore, it would be wise to ask which of Miller's books was being referenced in these two letters. Jay's letter is dated Feb. 18, 1822; Miller's letter was dated Jan. 30, 1822, and in December of 1821, Miller published a very famous book entitled Letters on Unitarianism. This is the only of Miller's books which I've been able to find that meets the criteria for being the one referenced in these letters.

In this book, Miller presented a scathing rebuke of Unitarianism claiming that it was:

Indifferent to truth -- Hostile to the exercises of Vital Piety -- Deficient in yielding support and consolation in Death -- Unfriendly to the Spirit of Missions -- Every where more agreeable to Infidels, than any other system which bears the Christian name.

This was the book which Jay described as being "well calculated to retard the Progress of the Errors which it combats." The only errors combated by this book are the errors of Unitarianism. By thus praising this book in a private letter, Jay affirmed for us his rejection of Unitarianism. But what should we then make of the portion of the letter which you referenced?

To answer that, let me finish transcribing Jay's letter beginning with the sentence immediately following his praise for Miller's book:

Bill Fortenberry said...

I ought not however to conceal my opinion, that the correctness of certain Positions in it, is at least questionable.

In forming and vetting my Belief relative to the Doctrines of Christianity, I adopted no Articles from Creeds, but such only as on careful Examination I found to be confirmed by the Bible.

It appeared to me that the Trinity was a Fact fully revealed and substantiated; but that the quo modo was incomprehensible, and consequently inexplicable by human Ingenuity. According to sundry creeds, the Divine Being whom we denominate the second Person in the Trinity, had before all worlds been so generated or begotten by the first Person in the Trinity as to be his coeval, coequal, and coeternal Son -- For Proof of this I searched the Scriptures diligently, but without Success -- I therefore consider this Position as being at least of questionable Orthodoxy.


There are several things which stand out when the quote from Jay is thus included in its full context. The first, of course, is that he is expressing disagreement with a particular position taken by Miller in the book. Thus, Jay's statement cannot be seen as a rejection of Arianism as OFT claimed on a previous occasion. Rather, I think that Jay is rejecting Miller's veneration (almost to the point of deification) of the Council of Nicea. For example, here is a quote of one of the sections that I think Jay was objecting to:

In estimating the degree of importance to be attached to this Creed, let it never be forgotten, that we are by no means to consider it as expressing the individual opinions of a few ecclesiasticks; but as the digested, solemn judgment of THE WHOLE CHURCH, by its representatives, assembled for the express purpose of considering and deciding the controversy to which it related. We have here, then, the creed of the WHOLE CHRISTIAN WORLD, on the point in question, professedly and formally stated, in a single document. And when those who are acquainted with the history of the Nicene Council, remember how amply the subject was discussed, and with what peculiar care and mature advisement, the strong language of their creed was selected and adjusted, they cannot fail of seeing in it evidence amounting to demonstration, that the doctrines of the Divinity and Personality of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, were universally deemed, at the time, as ESSENTIAL PARTS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

I think that it was portions of the book similar to this which Jay found questionable. In explaining his objection, Jay made three points. First, that he only accepted those portions of the creeds which he found to be fully supported in Scripture. Second, that the fact of the Trinity is fully confirmed by the teachings of Scripture. But third, that the specific method (the "quo modo") by which God manages to exist as a Trinity is not fully explained in the Scriptures. From these three points, Jay drew the conclusion that for the Council of Nicea to insist that God employs a specific methodology in His trinitarian existence was not good Orthodoxy.

Thus, when we consider the full context of Jay's statement, we find that there is nothing in it which can be correctly used to paint him as a Unitarian. The very book which Jay praised in this letter was a condemnation of Unitarians. He was not rejecting the Trinity; he was merely cautioning Miller not to equate the words of the Council of Nicea with the words of Scripture.

Bill Fortenberry said...

I forgot to include a link to Miller's book Letters on Unitarianism. It can be read online at: http://books.google.com/books?id=VP3FFyyQPq4C&pg=PA167

Jonathan Rowe said...

Taken at face value for what he actually says, Jay has issues with CONTENT of the Nicene Creed. Or at least he sees that content as not taught within the four corners of the Bible and hence of "questionable orthodoxy."

The "quo modo" or "The Way in Which" it was produced may have been the SOURCE of corruption. But as with J. Adams who asserted the "quo modo" produced a tie breaking vote in favor of a Trinity against a Quaternity with the Virgin Mary the 4th Person in the Godhead, Jay still questions the CONTENT of the Nicene Creed.

He doesn't reject "orthodox Trinitarianism" for Arianism or Socinianism. But he asserts that "the Divine Being whom we denominate the second Person in the Trinity, had before all worlds been so generated or begotten by the first Person in the Trinity as to be his coeval, coequal, and coeternal Son" was not, as far as he concluded, taught by his careful confirmation of the Bible.

If Jay believed in Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, but scrapped the other parts, that opens his mind up to all sorts of heresies, arguably to Arianism itself.

The Nicene Creed was a pretty airtight argument against Arianism, semi-Arianism and Sabellianism. It could have been written by a Manhattan attorney (as I've heard one source put it before).

If you start blacking parts of it out, you simultaneously lose the air-tightness of your position.

This reinforces my point that if you believe the Bible without the ecumenical creeds (like the Quakers do) it necessarily follows that the Trinity -- at least the orthodox understanding thereof -- will lose its place as a central part of the faith.

Bill Fortenberry said...

Well, Jon, I'm certain that Samuel Miller would disagree with you on that. After all, in the same book that he wrote against Unitarianism, he also wrote:

But, after all, Unitarians are in the constant habit of pressing into the list of their friends and advocates, many whose names ought never to be placed in such company. If any distinguished man be found to have speculated on the doctrine of the Trinity, or that of the Deity of the Redeemer, in an unusual manner; if he be found to doubt whether the common mode of speaking on these doctrines is the best, or whether the Athanasian creed is expressed with sufficient caution; he is immediately set down as a Unitarian. If one of this character happen to say a word against Creeds and Confessions; or to employ mild, indulgent language toward those who deny the Saviour's Divinity; he is unceremoniously affirmed to be a Unitarian. Nay, if in the honesty of his heart, the most thorough Trinitarian should drop an expression, which can be so construed, by a torturing logick, as to admit of a consequence never thought of by him who uttered it; he is forthwith pronounced a Unitarian.

http://books.google.com/books?id=VP3FFyyQPq4C&pg=PA106

By the way, Jay was not using the phrase quo modo in reference to the vote at Nicea. Rather, he was referring to the means by which the Trinity itself existed. He described the quo modo as incomprehensible and inexplicable, two adjectives which I doubt that he would have used in reference to a simple vote among men.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"By the way, Jay was not using the phrase quo modo in reference to the vote at Nicea."

For Jay, I meant the way it was constructed -- i.e., written, its content.

But fine, if it's simply how "the Trinity itself existed," he uses to adjectives "inexplicable" and "incomprehensible" and therefore of "questionable orthodoxy" to describe the Trinity as articulated by the Nicene Creed.

The vast majority of "orthodox" Sola Scriptura affirming Trinitarian Protestants (like Rev. Miller) have no problem affirming every single word of the Nicene Creed because they believe it's simply a clarification of what the Bible actually teaches.

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