163. THE DIVINE TRINITY. God the Creator, together with creation, has been treated of; also the Lord the Redeemer, together with redemption; and lastly the Holy Spirit, together with the Divine operation. Having thus treated of the Triune God, it is necessary to treat also of the Divine trinity, which is known and yet unknown in the Christian world; for only through this can a right idea of God be acquired; and a right idea of God in the church is like the sanctuary and altar in a temple, or like the crown upon the head and the scepter in the hand of a king on his throne; for on a right idea of God the whole body of theology hangs, like a chain on its first link; and if you will believe it, everyone is allotted his place in the heavens in accordance with his idea of God. For that idea is like a touchstone by which the gold and silver are tested, that is, the quality of good and truth in man. For there can be no saving good in man except from God, nor any truth that does not derive its quality from the bosom of good. But that it may be seen with both eyes what the Divine trinity is, the explanation of it shall be divided into sections as follows:
(1) There is a Divine Trinity, which is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (2) These three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the three essentials of one God, and they make one as soul, body, and operation make one in man. (3) Before the world was created this Trinity was not; but after creation, when God became incarnate, it was provided and brought about; and then in the Lord God the Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ. (4) In the ideas of thought a Trinity of Divine Persons from eternity, or before the world was created, is a Trinity of Gods; and these ideas cannot be effaced by a lip-confession of one God. (5) A Trinity of Persons was unknown in the Apostolic church, but was hatched by the Nicene Council, and from that was introduced into the Roman Catholic church, and from that again into the churches separated from it. (6) From the Nicene Trinity and the Athanasian Trinity together a faith arose by which the whole Christian church has been perverted. (7) This is the source of that "abomination of desolation, and that tribulation such as has not been nor ever shall be," which the Lord foretold in Daniel and in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse. (8) So too, unless a new heaven and a new church were established by the Lord there could no flesh be saved. (9) From a Trinity of Persons, each one of whom singly is God, according to the Athanasian Creed, many discordant and heterogeneous ideas respecting God have arisen, which are phantasies and abortions. These propositions shall now be explained one by one.