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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
The main goal of this paper is to argue the relevance of Hegel’s notion of the Trinity with respect to two aspects of Hegel’s idealism: the overcoming of subjectivism and his conception of the ‘I’. I contend that these two aspects are interconnected and that the Trinity is important to Hegel’s strategy for addressing these questions. I first address the problem of subjectivism by considering Hegel’s thought against the background of modern philosophy. I argue that the recognitive structure (...) of Hegel’s idealism led him to give the Trinity a decisive role in his philosophical account. Next, I discuss the Trinity by analysing the three divine persons. This analysis paves the way for the conclusion, where I argue that the Trinity represents a model for re-thinking the ‘I’ in a way that overcomes a ‘naïve realist’ and a ‘subjective’ account of the self. I suggest that Hegel’s absolute idealism can be conceived as an approach to the ‘I’ that considers the role of acts of mutual recognition for the genesis of self-conscious thought, and that the Trinity is the Darstellung of the relational and recognitive structure of the ‘I’. (shrink)
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)
This paper proposes a new orthodox Latin Trinitarian model of the Trinity, through employing current work from the metaphysics of powers. It outlines theses defended within the contemporary powers literature that form the backbone of the account and then shows how they can be combined to provide an orthodox metaphysics of the Trinity. Having done this it addresses a further element required for orthodoxy, the ontological priority of the Father, and then notes a particular benefit that comes along (...) with the model. The paper concludes by posing and answering some objections one might raise against the account. (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.
SUMMARYSchleiermacher's doctrine of the Trinity is constituted not only by his Glaubenslehre but also in Über den Gegensatz zwischen der Sabellianischen und der Athanasianischen Vorstellung von der Trinität . Schleiermacher can be seen to construe the persons of the Trinity as the circumscription of divinity. This point leads to consideration of divine wisdom as the ground of both the immanent and economic Trinity.
Divine temporality is all the rage in certain theological circles today. Some even suggesting that the doctrine of the Trinity entails divine temporality. While I find this claim a bit strong, I do think that divine temporality can be quite useful for developing a robust model of the Trinity. However, not everyone agrees with this. Paul Helm has offered an objection to the so-called Oxford school of divine temporality based on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. He (...) has argued that this form of divine temporality entails Arianism. In other words, divine temporality suffers from an inadequate doctrine of the Trinity. In this paper I shall first articulate the so-called Oxford school of divine temporality. From there I shall develop some of the Oxford school’s theological benefits that help flesh out the doctrine of the Trinity, and assuage the charge of Arianism. Then I shall offer an examination and refutation of the Arian charge to divine temporality in order to show that the divine temporalist can maintain a robust Trinitarian theology. (shrink)
From a post-structuralist position, it is problematic and seemingly impossible to refer to God as the Trinity. This article describes possibilities for thinking about the Trinity within a post-structuralist context. As an example of such thinking, the 2015 culture-critique film, The Brand New Testament, will be analysed. It is a creative retelling of the Christian story and of the Trinity in a secular and post-metaphysical vein. This ‘Brand New Testament’ reveals God as ‘one’ – as the encompassing (...) love, hope and life which we may experience in this life. The life-giving characteristics of this ‘god’ are surprisingly close to the biblical understanding of the Trinity. In the ‘Brand New Testament’, however, the Trinity is portrayed radically differently than in the Christian tradition. The personae of father, son and spirit are deconstructed in the film, in that a daughter and a mother also form part of the godhead. This deconstruction of the Trinity, which should not be confused with blasphemy, opens up a possible post-structuralist imagining of God. It playfully reveals a powerless god who shares some fundamental characteristics with the Trinity – such as love, joy and life. It allows for the ‘oneness of god’ to include more, and less, than the ‘Holy Trinity’. (shrink)
This paper is a reflection on two ontological analogies that have played a role in discussion about the Trinity---the Modalist and Social analogies. I argue that the Modal analogy commits one to a view of the divine persons that comports poorly with Scripture. I then consider two arguments to the effect that the doctrine of the Trinity commits one to tritheism. I argue that the Social analogy contains better resources for handling these arguments than the more traditional position, (...) which involves denying that the divine persons are substances. (shrink)
Brian Leftow has proposed a “Latin” doctrine of the Trinity according to which “the Father just is God,” and so also for the Son and the Spirit. I argue that Leftow’s doctrine as he presents it really does have the consequence that Father, Son, and Spirit are all identical, a consequence that is inconsistent with orthodox Trinitarianism. A fairly minor modification would enable Leftow to avoid this untoward consequence. But the doctrine as modified will still retain a strongly modalistic (...) flavor: it implies, among other things, that the prayers of Jesus in the Gospels are instances of God-as-Son praying to himself, namely to God-as-Father. If this is found unacceptable, Leftow may have been too quick to dismiss Social Trinitarianism. (shrink)
I develop a Latin Social model of the Trinity that is an extension of my previous article on indexicals and the Trinity. I focus on the theological desideratum of the necessity of the divine persons’ unity of action. After giving my account of this, I compare it with Swinburne’s and Hasker’s social models and Leftow’s non-social model. I argue that their accounts of the divine persons’ unity of action are theologically unsatisfactory and that this unsatisfactoriness derives from a (...) modern conception of personhood according to which distinct and incommunicable intellectual acts and volitional acts are necessary conditions for one’s being a person. I argue that the Latin Social model is preferable to the modern-personhood models because it is simpler in explanatory economy with regard to securing the necessity of the divine persons’ unity of action. (shrink)
In “Unity of Action in a Latin Social Model of the Trinity,” I objected to William Hasker’s Social Model of the Trinity (among others) on the grounds that it does not secure the necessary agreement between the divine persons. Further, I developed a Latin Social model of the Trinity. Hasker has responded by defending his Social Model and by raising seven objections against my Latin Social Model. Here I raise a new objection against Hasker on the grounds (...) that it is inconsistent with Conciliar Trinitarianism, and I respond to the seven objections and in so doing further develop the Latin Social Model. (shrink)
I EXPLORE ONE WAY IN WHICH THE THEORY OF RELATIVE IDENTITY (DEVELOPED ALONG LINES SUGGESTED BY GEACH’S WRITINGS) CAN BE USED TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS IN TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE. THIS INCLUDES A DISCUSSION OF REDUPLICATIVE PROPOSITIONS.