Which Trinity? : the doctrine of the Trinity -- In contemporary philosophical theology -- Whose monotheism? : Jesus and his Abba -- Doctrine and analysis -- "Whoever raised Jesus from the dead" : Robert Jenson on the identity of the Triune God -- Moltmann's perichoresis : either too much or not enough -- "Eternal functional subordination" : considering a recent evangelical proposal -- Holy love and divine aseity in the theology of John Zizioulas -- Moving forward : theses (...) on the future of Trinitarian theology. (shrink)
Throughout his long intellectual life, Leibniz penned his reflections on Christian theology, yet this wealth of material has never been systematically gathered or studied. This book addresses an important and central aspect of these neglected materials—Leibniz’s writings on two mysteries central to Christian thought, the Trinity and the Incarnation. -/- From Antognazza’s study emerges a portrait of a thinker surprisingly receptive to traditional Christian theology and profoundly committed to defending the legitimacy of truths beyond the full grasp of human (...) reason. This view of Leibniz differs strikingly from traditional perceptions of the philosopher as a “hard” rationalist and quasi-deist. Antognazza also sets Leibniz’s writings in the context of the important theological controversies of his day. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity, Oxford, 2009, eds Michael Rea and Thomas McCall. In this essay, I assess a certain version of ’social Trinitarianism’ put forward by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, ’trinity monotheism’. I first show how their response to a familiar anti-Trinitarian argument arguably implies polytheism. I then show how they invoke three tenets central to their trinity monotheism in order to avoid that implication. After displaying these tenets more (...) fully, I argue that Trinitarians would do well to hold Moreland’s and Craig’s trinity monotheism at arms length. (shrink)
This 9,000+ word entry briefly assesses five models of the Trinity, those espoused by (i) Richard Swinburne, (ii) William Lane Craig, (iii) Brian Leftow, (iv) Jeff Brower and Michael Rea, and (v) Peter van Inwagen.
In this paper, I will offer an analogy between the Trinity and extended simples that supports a Latin approach to the Trinity. The theoretical tools developed to discuss and debate extended simples in the literature of contemporary analytic metaphysics, I argue, can help us make useful conceptual distinctions in attempts to understand what it could be for God to be Triune. Furthermore, the analogy between extended simples and the Trinity might surprise some who find one of these (...) at least plausibly possible and the other incoherent. (shrink)
In recent analytic literature on the Trinity we have seen a variety of "social" models of the Trinity. By contrast there are few "non-‐social" models. One prominent "non-‐social" view is Brian Leftow's "Latin Trinity." I argue that the name of Leftow's model is not sufficiently descriptive in light of diverse models within Latin speaking theology. Next, I develop a new "non-‐social" model that is inspired by Richard of St. Victor's description of a person in conjunction with my (...) appropriating insights about indexicals from David Kaplan and John Perry. I point out that the copula in tokens of statements like, "I am the Father," is an ambiguous term and when used by a certain divine person a different proposition is affirmed. Central to this model is the claim that the copula bears the "is of identity" and the "is of numerical sameness without identity." Further, I show that Leftow's model employs two concepts of "person," a Lockean one and a Boethian one, and mine employs Richard of St. Victor's. I describe Leftow's model as a "hard non-‐social" model and mine as a "soft non-‐social" model that is nearer to some social models. I conclude that Leftow's model is not the lone candidate among "non-‐social" models and that the variety of "non-‐social" models has yet to be exhausted. (shrink)
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 (...) class='Hi'>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. (shrink)
The studies on the history of the notion of “personhood” have largely recognized that Christian thought had a central role in the development and significance of this concept throughout the history of Western civilization. In late antiquity, Christianity used some terms taken from the classic and Hellenistic vocabulary in order to express its own theological content. This operation generated a “crisis” of classical language, namely a semantic transformation in the attempt to address some aspects of reality which were not envisioned (...) by the previous usage of these words. The term person is a paradigmatic example of this process. In fact, from the outset, it played a strategic role in formulating the idea of Incarnation, one of the central doctrines of Christianity. This essay aims to show how, during the first centuries of Christianity, the terms commonly used in order to express the notion of “personhood” became pivotal elements for the formulation of the discourse about the Trinity and progressively acquired new meanings. The analysis focuses only on the initial stage of the elaboration of this concept in Christianity and, based on some of the most significant texts, tries to bring out a series of theoretical problems that may be useful to understand the subsequent debate. In order to do so, the author divides the text in two parts. In the first one, he analyses two features strictly connected to the theological use of the term “persona”, which remained central also when this term was later referred to man. These features are individuality and ontological stability, along with the structurally relational status of personhood. In the second part, the author offers more details about the theology of the Cappadocian Fathers, in particular of Basil of Caesarea, and analyses two sectorial languages—mathematical and iconic language—used by Basil in order to describe the intra-trinitarian relationships. (shrink)
The paper argues that Sergej Bulgakov's sophiology was an attempt, via antinomism or the philosophy of antinomies, to overcome the rationalism, monism, and determinism (in a word, "pantheism") of Vladimir Solov'ëv's philosophy of the Absolute understood as an abstract Trinitarianism. After detailing Solov'ëv's thought on the Trinity and Bulgakov's criticisms of it, the study then describes Bulgakov's antinomism and its application to the doctrine of God. However, it is contended that Bulgakov's antinomism ultimately falls into the same problems with (...) pantheism found in Solov'ëv and so the last part of the paper tentatively proposes resources in his work, stated in the form of a suggested "fourth (Bulgakovian) antinomy" between ousia (divine Being as such) and Sophia (the revelation in God and the world of the divine Being), that might help to avoid a collapse of God and the world by making the divine Being proper utterly transcendent and unknowable. (shrink)
This paper develops an interpretation of the doctrine of the Trinity, drawn from Augustine and the Athanasian Creed. Such a doctrine includes divinity claims (the persons are divine), diversity claims (the persons are distinct), and a uniqueness claim (there is only one God). I propose and defend an interpretation of these theses according to which they are neither logically incompatible nor do they do entail that there are three (or four) gods.
Prima facie, relative identity looks like a perfect fit for the doctrine of the Trinity since it allows us to say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each of which is a Trinitarian Person, are the same God but not the same Person. Nevertheless, relative identity solutions to logic puzzles concerning the doctrine of the Trinity have not, in recent years, been much pursued. Critics worry that relative identity accounts are unintuitive, uninformative or unintelligible. I suggest that (...) the relative identity account is worth a second look and argue that it provides a coherent account of the doctrine of the Trinity. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Trinity developed in response to a range of theological interests, among them the project of reconciling claims about the divinity of Christ with monotheism and massaging Christian doctrine into the ambient (largely Platonic) philosophical framework of the period. More recently the Trinity doctrine has been deployed to promote normative claims concerning human nature, human relationships and social justice. During the past two decades analytic philosophers of religion have increasingly engaged with the doctrine. There are, (...) however, a number of foundational questions that have not been addressed in the philosophical literature. The Trinity: A Philosophical Investigation considers the competing accounts of the Trinity doctrine, whether orthodox or heterodox, and aims to respond to objections and explicate their motivations and entailments. (shrink)
Roughly, the problem of the Trinity is the problem of how God can be one and yet be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three, not one. That one thing is identical with three distinct things seems to violate traditional laws of identity. I propose a solution to this problem according to which it is just an ordinary claim of one-many identity. For example, one pair of shoes is identical with two shoes; and my one (...) body is identical with its six limbs of arms, legs, head, and torso. The pair of shoes is not identical with each one of the two shoes, nor is my body identical with each one of its six limbs, but rather identical with all of them taken together, or collectively. I argue that the problem of the Trinity should be understood accordingly: God is identical with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit collectively, but not with each one of them distributively. According to the way I develop this proposal, no traditional laws of identity are violated, but merely generalized in an intuitive way. I argue that this is compatible with Christian Orthodoxy as given by the Athanasian Creed. I end by responding to some anticipated objections. (shrink)
William Hasker replies to my arguments against social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
This book recounts the remarkable history of efforts by significant medieval thinkers to accommodate the ontology of the Trinity within the framework of Aristotelian logic and ontology. These efforts were remarkable because they pushed creatively beyond the boundaries of existing thought while trying to strike a balance between the Church's traditional teachings and theoretical rigor in a context of institutional politics. In some cases, good theology, good philosophy, and good politics turned out to be three different things. The principal (...) thinkers discussed are Augustine, Boethius, Abélard, Gilbert of Poitiers, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham. The aspects of Trinitarian doctrine dealt with are primarily internal ontological questions about the Trinity. The approach draws on history of theology and philosophy, as well as on the modern formal disciplines of set-theoretic semantics and formal ontology. Augustine inaugurated the project of constructing models of the Trinity in language drawn from Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, especially the conceptual framework of Aristotle's Categories. He used the Aristotelian notions of substance and relation to set up a model whose aim was not so much to demystify the Trinity as to demonstrate the logical consistency of maintaining that there is one and only one God at the same time as maintaining that there are three distinct persons, each of whom is God. Standing against this tradition are various heretical accounts of the Trinity. The book also analyzes these traditions, using the same techniques. All these accounts of the Trinity are evaluated relative to the three constraints under which they were formed, bearing in mind that the constraints on philosophical theorizing are not limited to internal consistency but also take note of explanatory power. Besides analyzing and evaluating individual accounts of the Trinity, the book provides a novel framework within which different theories can be compared. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Aquinas’ account of analogy provides resources for resolving the prima facie conflict between his claims that (1) the divine relations constituting the persons are “one and the same” with the divine essence; (2) the divine persons are really distinct, (3) the divine essence is absolutely simple. Specifically, I argue that Aquinas adopts an analogical understanding of the concepts of being and unity, and that these concepts are implicit in his formulation of claims about substance (...) and relation in the Trinity. I then show how Aquinas appeals to key structural features of analogical concepts, notably, the simpliciter/secundum quid characterization, to resolve apparent conflicts between the unity of substance and distinction of relations in the Trinity. (shrink)
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity poses a serious philosophical problem. On the one hand, it seems to imply that there is exactly one divine being; on the other hand, it seems to imply that there are three. There is another well-known philosophical problem that presents us with a similar sort of tension: the problem of material constitution. We argue in this paper that a relatively neglected solution to the problem of material constitution can be developed into a novel (...) solution to the problem of the Trinity. (shrink)
Latin models of the Trinity begin from the existence of one God, and try to explain how one God can be three Persons. I offer an account of this based on an analogy with time-travel. A time-traveler returning to the same point in time repeatedly might have three successive events in his/her life occurring at that one location in public time. So too, God’s life might be such that three distinct parts of His life are always occurring at once, (...) though without any succession between them, and this might give God the triune structure Christian theology believes He has. (shrink)
Dale Tuggy argues that my trinitarian views are in conflict with the theology of the New Testament; the New Testament, rather, is unitarian. I show several flaws in this argument, and point out the New Testament evidence that eventually led to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity.
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
I defend a relative identity solution to the identity puzzle posed by the doctrine of the Trinity. It has been argued that relative identity theories which admit absolute identity, such as the account proposed here, do not succeed in saving the doctrine of the Trinity from logical incoherence. I show that this argument fails. Relative identity theories that admit absolute identity are logically conservative, metaphysically innocent, and unproblematic. And, given the account I propose we can, without incurring any (...) logical or metaphysical costs, hold that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same being but not the same trinitarian person. (shrink)
The main contribution of this paper is a novel account of ontological dependence. While dependence is often explained in terms of modality and existence, there are relations of dependence that slip through the mesh of such an account. Starting from an idea proposed by Jonathan Lowe, the article develops an account of ontological dependence based on a notion of explanation; on its basis, certain relations of dependence can be established that cannot be accounted by the modal-existential account. Dependence is only (...) one of two main topics of this paper, for it is approached via a discussion of the category of substance. On a traditional view, substances can be characterised as independent entities. Before the background of a modal-existential account of dependence, this idea appears problematic. The proposed notion of explanatory dependence is shown to vindicate the traditional approach to substance. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Trinity poses a deep and difficult problem. On the one hand, it says that there are three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that each of these Persons “is God”. On the other hand, it says that there is one and only one God. So it appears to involve a contradiction. It seems to say that there is exactly one divine being, and also that there is more than one. How are we to make sense (...) of this? (shrink)
The focus of this paper is the social trinitarian account in Richard Swinburne's "The Christian God." After setting out the route Swinburne follows in reaching his conclusions about the Godhead, I endeavour to show two things: (i) that his account does not avoid the charge of tritheism and thus is not faithful to key elements in the Christian creeds; (ii) the philosophical moves behind his conclusions are not compelling if, as we can, we challenge his assumptions about divine necessity. A (...) better account of divine necessity takes us away from Swinburne's version of trinitarianism/tritheism. (shrink)
Theology is the preeminent academic discipline during the Middle Ages and, as a result, most of great thinkers of this period are highly trained theologians. Although this is common knowledge, it is sometimes overlooked that the systematic nature of medieval theology led its practitioners to develop full treatments of virtually every area within philosophy. Indeed, theological reflection not only provides the main context in which the medievals theorize about what we would now recognize as distinctively philosophical issues, but it is (...) responsible for some of their most significant philosophical contributions. To give just a few examples: it is problems with the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation that prompt medievals to develop the notions of ‘substance’ and ‘person’ in striking and original ways; it is problems with the doctrine of the Eucharist that lead them to consider the possibility of ‘accidents that do not inhere’; and it is problems of.. (shrink)
Justin Mooney advances what he calls The Problem of Triunity: each divine person is God, God is triune, and yet, each of the divine persons is apparently not triune. In response, I suggest that we ought to accept that each of the divine persons is in fact triune. First, I offer a plausible analysis of the claim that God is triune; second, I show that, given that analysis, there is nothing untoward about embracing the conclusion that each divine person is (...) triune. I suggest that, once we take care to clarify what affirming the triunity of each divine person does and does not commit us to, we will see that we are not thereby committed to anything that contravenes orthodoxy – contrary, perhaps, to initial expectations. Third, I argue that this view sits particularly well with the claim that triunity is essential to divinity, whereas other views falter on this score. After considering and responding to an alternative analysis of triunity, I consider an objection to my analysis based on the salutary nature of communities. Finally, I conclude by noting an important lesson we can glean from the problem of triunity vis-à-vis trinitarian theorizing. (shrink)
A number of thinkers today, including open theists, find reasons to attribute temporality to God. According to Robert W. Jenson, the Trinity is indispensable to a Christian concept of God, and divine temporality is essential to the meaning of the Trinity. Following the lead of early Christian thought, Jenson argues that the persons of the Trinity are relations, and these relations are temporal. Jensonâs insights are obscured, however, by problematic references to time as a sphere to which (...) God is related. Schubert M. Ogden gives the notion of divine temporality coherent content by arguing that Godâs actuality is best understood as an unending succession of experiences. This paper was delivered in the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)
This article examines Trinitarian themes in St. Augustine's City of God and in his On the Trinity. It argues that the scope and intention of the latter work can be clarified to some extent by noticing the apologetic commitments entailed in the exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity in the former. It argues against the tendency of some recent scholarship to restrict the intelligibility of the On the Trinity to converted Christians, even as it also defends (...) the irreducibility of the doctrine of the Trinity, in Augustine's thinking, to any doctrine of pagan learning. Without prejudice to recent scholarly clarifications of the polemical origins of some of the arguments in the On the Trinity, the article argues that the work is more than the sum of its polemical parts, and is intentionally addressed by Augustine to a wide readership, deliberately unspecified in identity except insofar as they are united as “human beings who are seeking God.” Just as ancient apologetics, including Augustine's, was addressed to a variety of people, pagan and Christian, in various states of conviction and conversion, so the On the Trinity is meant to address many types of readers, at various levels of conversion and understanding, hoping to bring all of them closer to—or to confirm and deepen their participation in—the true worship of the one true God, without which, Augustine believes, no one can ultimately find the God they seek. (shrink)
Paul C. H. Lim offers an insightful examination of the polemical debates about the doctrine of the Trinity in seventeenth-century England, showing that this philosophical and theological re-configuration significantly impacted the politics of religion in the early modern period.
1. To be is to be-in-relation -- 2. Cosmic being as relation -- 3. Human being as relation -- 4. Divine being as relation -- 5. Divine and cosmic being in relation -- 6. Creation as relation in an evolving cosmos -- 7. Incarnation as relation in an evolving cosmos -- 8. Grace as relation in an evolving cosmos -- 9. Living in trinitarian relation.
This review of Turner’s “Computational Artifacts” focuses on one of the key novelties of the book, namely the proposal to understand the nature of computer programs as a “trinity” of specification, symbolic program, and physical process, replacing the traditional dualist views of programs as functional/structural or as symbolic/physical. This trinitarian view is found to be robust and helpful to solve typical issues of dualist views. Drawing comparisons with Simon’s view of the artifact as an interface, the author suggests that (...) this trinitarian view may characterize not only computational artifacts but also artifacts in general. One ambiguity is however noticed on the denotation of what Turner actually calls the “physical process.”. (shrink)
Scott Williams’s Latin Social model of the Trinity holds that the trinitarian persons have between them a single set of divine mental powers and a single set of divine mental acts. He claims, nevertheless, that on his view the persons are able to use indexical pronouns such as “I.” This claim is examined and is found to be mistaken.
In this journal, Einar Bøhn has proposed a solution to the so-called Trinitarian Paradox. After summarizing the Paradox and Bøhn’s proposed solution, I argue that those committed to Christian orthodoxy cannot accept the solution, for three reasons: First, it requires positing more kinds of divine entity than God and the Persons of the Trinity; second, it is based upon a false assumption; and, finally, the proposed solution amounts at best to a form of obscurantism.
Tertullian is often portrayed as a prescient figure who accurately anticipated the Nicene consensus about the Trinity. But when he is examined against the background of his immediate predecessors, he falls into place as a typical second-century Logos theologian. He drew especially from Theophilus of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyons. At the same time, Tertullian did introduce some important innovations. His trinitarian language of ‘substance’ and ‘person’, rooted in Stoic metaphysics, offered the church a new way to (...) be monotheistic while retaining the full deity and consubstantiality of the Word. Tertullian also significantly developed the concept of a divine oikonomia, God’s plan to create and redeem the world. The Son and Spirit are emissaries of the Father’s will—not ontologically inferior to him, yet ranked lower in the way that the sent are always subordinate to the sender. For this reason, Tertullian denied that a Father/son relationship was eternal within the Trinity, seeing it rather as a new development emerging from God’s plan to make the world. Such temporal paternity and filiation distances Tertullian from the eventual Nicene consensus, which accepted instead the eternal generation theory of Origen. While Tertullian did propose some important terms that would gain traction among the Nicene fathers, he was also marked by a subordinationist tendency that had affinities with Arianism. Tertullian’s most accurate anticipation of Nicaea was his insistence on three co-eternal and consubstantial Persons. Historical theologians need to start admitting that Tertullian was a far cry from being fully Nicene. Rather, he offered a clever but still imperfect half-step toward what would become official orthodoxy.. (shrink)
Nicholas of Cusa (1402-1464) explored the boundaries of human reason for the sake of making religious belief believable. Unwillingly, he became a milestone in the process of rationalizing Christian theology. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is a proof to this perspective by the way he makes use of Cusanus’s approach. In his ’Spaccio de la bestia trionfante’, Bruno discusses Cusanus’s attempts at the geometrical problem of squaring the circle. Bruno not only promotes his atomistic geometry, he also uses the metaphoric meaning of (...) triangle for Trinity as an occasion to supplant ’faith’ with ’sincerity’. For Bruno faith is not anymore the true belief of religion, but rather ’good faith’ and fidelity, i.e., social and political virtues. (shrink)
P. T. Geach has argued that it is impossible to demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is consistent. I try to show why -- on a common understanding of the notion of consistency -- his reasoning is flawed and why, on Geach’s own principles, one should expect that if the doctrine of the Trinity is true then it will be possible to prove that the doctrine is consistent, and it will be possible to do this in a (...) way that makes no appeal to the truth of any religious doctrine. (shrink)
According to the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus, a whole can exist in three ways: before the parts, composed of parts, or in the part. To unify the diverging scholarly interpretations of this idea, this paper re-examines Proclus’ well-known definition of the three wholes in his Elements of Theology, analyses lesser-known arguments from his Platonic Theology, and discusses two examples of Proclus’ theorem from the Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus.