The fourth part of my series on the recent controversy on the Trinity and subordination has just been published over on Reformation21.
The manner in which various ESS positions speak of the relations between the persons of the Trinity and of the persons more generally is a further area of concern for critics. Within the ESS position there often seems to lurk at least an incipient social Trinitarianism. Social Trinitarianism conceives of the persons of the Trinity as if they were three distinct subjectivities—three ‘I’s—in communion and speaks of their relations accordingly.This is a significant departure from the Church’s historic doctrine of the Trinity, within which the language of ‘person’ functions rather differently and does not carry the meaning that it does in popular parlance. The ‘persons’ of the Trinity are not three distinct centres of consciousness or agencies–which would suggest something resembling tritheism and undermine the oneness (and the simplicity) of God. The persons, or hypostases, are three instantiations of the one divine nature. However, most of the things that we would associate with personhood—knowledge, will, love, wisdom, mind, etc.—are grounded, not in the three hypostases, but in the one divine nature. In this respect, if we were working in terms of our modern usage of the term ‘person’, in some respects God might be more aptly spoken of as one ‘person’ with three self-relations, rather than as one being in three persons. This language still falls far short, though.
Read the whole piece here.