Answering Adam Clarke's detraction from the Second Person of the Trinity


I heard someone misrepresenting the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in front of a group of people, using the scholarship of a Protestant heretic named Adam Clarke. The issue comes down to denying the divine Sonship of Jesus. What is a good response for me to share with this person? How would a Catholic explain the errors in Mr Clarke’s position?

I don’t have the actual book the person was referring to, but here is a Wikipedia (I know, I know :stuck_out_tongue: ) excerpt on the subject:

Perhaps his most controversial position regarded the eternal Sonship of Jesus. Clarke did not believe it Biblically faithful to affirm this doctrine, maintaining that prior to the Incarnation, Jesus was “unoriginated.” Otherwise, according to Clarke, he would be subordinate to God and therefore not fully divine. This was important to Clarke because he felt that Jesus’ divinity was crucial to understanding the atonement.

Clarke’s view was opposed by many Methodists, notably Richard Watson. Watson and his allies argued that Clarke’s position jeopardized the integrity of the doctrine of the trinity. Clarke’s view was rejected by Methodism in favor of the traditional, orthodox perspective.


Any thoughts?


I’m not sure why this is a big deal. How was this person using Clarke’s ideas? What point were they trying to make? No one took Clarke up on this one–it was just one of his weird notions. Bear in mind that his purpose was to defend Christ’s Divinity and avoid Arianism, but clearly he was going in the other extreme and his particular Christian community rightly rejected the idea.

So what?

I actually think it’s neat that anyone these days has heard of Adam Clarke. He’s not that famous any more, though traditionally he was a well-respected figure among Methodists (in spite of his occasional lapse such as this one).



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit