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.
From the doctrine of three Divine persons from eternity, which in itself is the head of all the doctrinals in the Christian churches, there have arisen many ideas of God that are unbecoming and unworthy of the Christian world, which, on the subject of God and His oneness ought to be and might be a light to all peoples and nations in the four quarters of the globe. All who dwell outside the Christian church, both Mohammedans and Jews, and besides these the Gentiles of every cult, are averse to Christianity solely on account of its belief in three Gods. This its propagandists know; and therefore they are very cautious about divulging the doctrine of a trinity of persons as it is taught in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds; for if they did they would be shunned and ridiculed.
The absurd, ludicrous, and frivolous ideas that have sprung up out of the doctrine of three Divine persons from eternity, and that still spring up in every man who retains a belief in the words of that doctrine, rising from his ears and eyes into the sight of his thought, are as follows:
That God the Father sits on high overhead; the Son at His right hand; and the Holy Spirit before them listening, and forthwith traversing the whole world, dispensing according to their decision the gifts of justification, inscribing them upon men and changing men from children of wrath to children of grace, and from being damned to being elect.
I appeal to the learned of the clergy and well-informed of the laity, whether in their minds they cherish any other visual image than this, for this flows of itself from the same doctrine (see Memorable Relation, n. 16).
There flows from it also a curiosity for conjecturing what they conversed about before the world was made, whether about making the world, or perchance about those who according to the Supralapsarians were to be predestined and justified, or also about redemption; likewise what they have been conversing about among themselves since the world was created –
the Father from His authority and power to impute, the Son from His power to mediate; moreover that imputation, which is election, is from the mercy of the Son who intercedes for all in general and for some individually, and that the Father, being moved by love to the Son and by the agony witnessed in Him when on the cross, has grace for such.
But who cannot see that such things are silly conceits about God? And yet in the Christian churches these are the very sanctities, which are to be kissed with the lips, but not looked into by any mental vision because they are above the reason, and if they were lifted out of the memory into the understanding man would become insane. This, however, does not take away the idea of three Gods but induces a stupid faith, because of which a man, when thinking about God, may be likened to a sleep-walker wandering about in the darkness of night, or to one blind from birth wandering in the light of day.
That a trinity of Gods is fixed in the minds of Christians, although from shame they deny it, is very evident from the ingenuity of many of them in demonstrating by means of various things in plain and solid geometry, in arithmetic, and in physics, and also by foldings of cloth and paper, that the three are one and the one is three. Thus they play with the divine trinity as jugglers play with each other. Their juggling on this subject may be compared to the visions of those suffering from fever, who see one object (whether a man, or a table or a candle) as three, or three as one. It may also be compared to the tricks of those who work soft wax with their fingers and mould it into various shapes, now making it triangular to exhibit the trinity, and again spherical to exhibit the unity, meanwhile asking, “Is not the substance still one and the same?” And yet the Divine trinity is like the one pearl of great value, but when divided into persons it is like that pearl divided into three parts, whereby it is utterly and manifestly ruined.