Trinity, filioque and semantic ascent

Sophia 47 (2):149 - 160 (2008)
It is difficult to reconcile claims about the Father's role as the progenitor of Trinitarian Persons with commitment to the equality of the persons, a problem that is especially acute for Social Trinitarians. I propose a metatheological account of the doctrine of the Trinity that facilitates the reconciliation of these two claims. On the proposed account, ‘Father’ is systematically ambiguous. Within economic contexts, those which characterize God's relation to the world, ‘Father’ refers to the First Person of the Trinity; within theological contexts, which purport to describe intra-Trinitarian relations, it refers to the Trinity in toto-thus in holding that the Son and Holy Spirit proceed from the Father we affirm that the Trinity is the source and unifying principle of Trinitarian Persons. While this account is solves a nagging problem for Social Trinitarians it is theologically minimalist to the extent that it is compatible with both Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, and with heterodox Modalist and Tri-theist doctrines as well. Its only theological cost is incompatibility with the Filioque Clause, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son—and arguably that may be a benefit.
Keywords Trinity  Theology  Filioque  Analytic philosophy  Identity  Reference
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-008-0061-8
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