A Supervenient Trinity: An Alternative to Latin and Social Trinitarian Theories

Heythrop Journal 57 (6):964-973 (2016)
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Abstract

The Latin Trinity and the Social Trinity represent the two dominant approaches for interpreting the doctrine of the Trinity in contemporary philosophical theology. Both approaches have consequences for Christian theology, however, and I believe that neither sufficiently overcomes the charges of modalism or tritheism, respectively. Moreover, the charge of the overall logical incoherency of the doctrine of the Trinity remains a viable criticism. In order to defend the doctrine of the Trinity against charges of incoherency, while avoiding the modalistic and tritheistic leanings of the LT and ST models, I argue that the unitary nature of God-as-three-hypostases is best understood in terms of a relationship of supervenience between the revelation of Deut. 6:4 and the Gospel of John. The Hypostases of the Trinity supervene on the unitary identity of God insofar as to be ‘God’ is to entail the perichoretic relationship of unbegottenness, begottenness, and spiratation. The Supervenient Trinity, as an analogical model, provides a way to understand God as and that better avoids the modalist and tritheistic difficulties raised by the LT and the ST approaches.

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