Now here's Campbell on the Trinity. When Bro. Ken says that Campbell's view of the Trinity "was about the same as Stone's," he is mistaken. In fact, Campbell took Stone to task for his unorthodox, speculative views, with the result that Stone's views became increasingly more like Campbell's.
In October 1827 Campbell replied to an earlier letter Stone had written to him in the CB:
BROTHER STONE,--I WILL call you brother because you once told me that you could conscientiously and devoutly pray to the Lord Jesus Christ as though there was no other God in the universe than he. I then asked you of what import and consequence was all the long controversy you had waged with the Calvinists on the trinitarian questions. They did practically no more than pray to Jesus; and you could consistently and conscientiously do no less. Theoretically you differed, but practically you agreed. I think you told me that you were forced into this controversy, and that you regretted it. Some weak heads amongst my Baptist brethren have been scandalized at me because I called you brother Stone.
In April of 1833 Campbell answered a series of questions relative to his Christological views put to him by Baptist Bro. Henry Grew. Grew wanted Campbell to expound further on this paragraph from Campbell's editorial "Mr. Broaddus," an editorial responding to Baptist Andrew Broaddus' recent remarks on the Dover Decree:
For my part, I regard no man as a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, who denies that he is a divine person, the only begotten of God; or who refuses to worship and adore him with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. I fellowship no man nor people under the heavens, and I am sure none in the heavens, who are unwilling to admit that our Redeemer is Emanuel, God with us--God manifest in the flesh. [See an essay in the Christian Baptist, vol. 4, p. 230, on THE WORD that was in the beginning with God, and that was God.] As far as my acquaintance with all the brethren extends, North, South, East, or West, (whatever may have been their former opinions I know not,) they all accord in rendering the, same honor in thought, word, and deed to the Son, as they do to the Father who sent him. They are opposed, indeed, to both Trinitarian, Arian, and Unitarian speculations on the divine essence; but all harmonize in regarding Jesus in all the high character which Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles give him in the full import and meaning of their words.
Below is a portion of Campbell's response:
My principal objection to the popular doctrine of "the Trinity" is not that it is either irrational, or unscriptural, to infer that there are three Divine persons in one Divine nature. That these three equally have one thought, purpose, will, and operation, and so one God;--or, to use the words of the Westminster Confession, "In the Unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity;" I say, I object not to this doctrine because it is contrary to reason, or revelation, but because of the metaphysical technicalities, the unintelligible jargon, the unmeaning language of the orthodox creeds on this subject, and the interminable war of words without ideas to which this word Trinity has given birth. For example, in the same section from which I have quoted the above words is found the following jargon: "The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."
Were any one to ask me, Can there be three distinct persons, even beings, in one God? I would say, Reason informs me not, and revelation does not assert it. But if asked, Can three be one, and one three in the same sense? I reply, Both reason and revelation say No. But then no Trinitarian or Calvinist affirms that the three are one, and the one three, in the same sense.
Language fails and thought cannot reach the relation in which the Father and the Son have existed, now exist, and shall forever exist. But that there is, and was, and evermore will be, society in God himself, a plurality as well as unity in the Divine nature, are inferences which do obtrude themselves on my mind in reflecting upon the divine communications to our race. I will add, that common sense, reason, an revelation, give one and the same testimony, in my ear, upon this subject.
If you ask me how this can be, I will ask you, How can there be one self existent, independent, unoriginated, eternal God? You will say, I believe, but cannot comprehend. So say I. But while our faith has in its first effort to encounter a truth so incomprehensible and to receive it; a truth so mysterious, supernatural, unsearchable transcendent; a truth which, in its stupendous dimensions, encompasses infinite space, an eternity past--the universe, natural, intellectual, moral; a truth which leaves out no existence, past, present, or future; which overwhelms every intellect, and sets at defiance the combined efforts of all created intelligence:--I repeat it, since this must be the Alpha of our faith, where shall we place our Omega, or the mode of the Divine existence? He that comes to God, must first believe THAT HE IS.
I repeat it, I am not more bewildered than delighted, in the idea of the incomprehensibility of the same JEHOVAH. And while this name is before us, let me ask the wavering to reflect, how man could be created social, and in the image of God; man, having in his nature plurality, incomplete in one person; for man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in nature or religion. I ask, How could man be created in the image of God, incomplete in one person, social, and necessarily plural; and that God, in whose image and likeness he was created, could be a solitary eternal unit, without society and plurality in himself! This I can not comprehend, when I believe that God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let him have dominion;" and, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
While, then, I do most cordially repudiate the whole scholastic phraseology of the Trinitarian, Arian, and Socinian speculations, I do not, with some Trinitarians, regard my Lord Messiah as having always been an eternal Son; nor can I, with the Arian, view him as some super-angelic creature, filling an immense chasm between Jehovah and the supernal hosts; and still less can I degrade him, with the Socinian, to the rank of a mere man, the son of Joseph. Common sense, reason, and revelation, put their veto on such hypotheses. No; my Lord and Saviour is no creature, nor the son of a creature. In the beginning he was THE WORD OF GOD, is now the Son of God, and will, when government is no longer necessary, be again recognized as the Word of God, "a name which no man knows, but he himself."
I must be born again, and be endowed with other reasoning powers and have another revelation, before I can become an Arian. . . .