“These N.T. facts do not give us something which is absolutely new. The N.T. principles involved in the doctrine of the trinity are contained in the O.T. teaching concerning creation, and in fact in the entire O.T. economy.” – Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God
Herman Bavinck is immensely helpful to me. The first book I read written by him was The Doctrine of God. Though I find myself having to re-read certain sentences (the problem is with me – not Bavinck!), it is well worth the time and effort. His precision and thoughtful exposition are impeccable.
When we read Scripture, the information we receive can be explicit or implicit. For example, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy” is an explicit teaching (Exodus 20:8). Sometimes, however, there is implicit teaching that is derived from various places in Scripture and brought together as a unified doctrine. For example, at Cross Creek I employ a call to worship which is a Scripture reading that signals the start of worship. There is no verse in Scripture that explicitly says that a call to worship must be used. However, there are ample places in Scripture that speak to the importance of orderliness in worship (John 4:23-24; 1 Cor. 14:40). Thus, my inclusion of a call to worship is in honor of orderliness.
The doctrine of the trinity is largely implicit (not to be confused with the term vague). The word appears nowhere in Scripture, yet its veracity is undeniable. In fact, so crucial is this doctrine that it is a mark of the Christian faith. To deny the trinity would ultimately lead to denial of the person and work of Christ, but that is for another post.
According to Bavinck, though the trinity is developed in the O.T., the N.T. brings forth much more clarity. How is this so? It is a matter of the unity of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father, as Creator of the universe, bears this name especially in relation to the Son and his children. All things come from him (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Son bears this name because of his relation to God (Col. 1:15-17). The Holy Spirit bears this name for he “adorns and finishes the work of creation (Rom. 1:4).”
Bavinck begins his argument for the trinity with the relationship that Father, Son and Holy Spirit share. What I particularly love about Bavinck’s treatment of the trinity is what he writes next.
“This trinitarian revelation is not limited to a few texts; the entire N.T. is trinitarian in character. God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the source of all blessing, comfort, and salvation.”
This is the point where Bavinck begins to unpack the doctrine of the trinity. He looks at specific instances that support the unique relationship that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share and precisely how the redeemed are blessed by virtue of this unity.
As I post further on this in the future, the version of Bavinck’s Doctrine of God I am using is William Hendriksen’s translation (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977).