The Triune God

Robert Letham

in The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195369441
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Triune God


In considering the connection between evangelicalism and the doctrine of the Trinity, it is necessary to concentrate on the tradition in relation to which evangelicalism is to be located. The Trinitarian crisis of the fourth century was precipitated by the views of Arius, who held that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father, since “there was when he was not”—he was another being, the agent employed in the creation but himself created. This meant he could be neither the revelation of God nor the savior of the church. The Council of Nicaea (325 CE) decisively rejected these arguments. In unfolding his understanding of the Trinity, Augustine expressed his agreement and solidarity with the church's doctrine in De Trinitate and various other writings, especially his Tractates on John. Augustine described the Trinity in terms of a lover, the beloved, and the love existing between them. In particular, there appears something of a quandary concerning the Holy Spirit. M. R. Barnes argues that Nicene theology underlies Augustine's Trinitarianism.

Keywords: God; Trinity; Augustine; Michel Rene Barnes; Holy Spirit; Nicene theology; Trinitarianism; evangelicalism; Son; Father

Article.  8066 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity

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