Friday, October 16, 2015

The Trinity Is Not a Triplicity (John Burnaby)

Trinitarians normally do not say that the Father, Son, or the Holy Spirit are "parts" of the God since the Almighty is supposed to be non-complex or absolutely simple. Describing the Augustinian conception of the Trinity, John Burnaby writes: "The Trinity is not a 'triplicity,' an organism of parts: the equality of the 'Persons' means that each possesses the whole substance of Godhead" (Burnaby 22).


Matt13weedhacker said...

“...Pater enim tota substantia est, Filius vero, derivatio totius et portio...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A)

“...For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by Peter Holmes

“...For the Father is all being, the Son is a tributary, and a portion...” - Alexander Souter

“...For the Father is the whole substance, while the Son is an outflow and assignment of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by Ernest Evans

“...For the Father is the whole substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by Isaac Watts

“...For the Father is the whole substance, but the Son is a derivation from, and a portion of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by Daniel Whitby

“...For the Father is the entire substantia, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by ?

“...The Father is the whole substance, while the Son, indeed, is a derivation and portion of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A) by Jurgens

Matt13weedhacker said...

"...Quodsi spiritus dei, tamquam substantiva res, non erit ipse deus sed hactenus deus qua ex ipsius dei substantia, qua et substantiva res est et ut portio aliqua totius...” - Against Praxeas 26.6

"...But if the Spirit of God, as being a substantive thing, will not be God himself, but in that sense God as being from the substance of God himself, in that it is a substantive thing and a certain assignment of the whole...” - Against Praxeas 26.6 by Ernest Evans

“...But if a God belonging to God, so to speak, a self-existent thing, will not be God Himself, but only so far God as it comes from the being of God Himself, which is also a self-existent thing, and as some portion of the whole...” - Alexander Souter Trans...” - Against Praxeas 26.6 by Alexander Souter

"...Now that which is God of God, although He is an actually existing thing, yet He cannot be God Himself (exclusively), but so far God as He is of the same substance as God Himself, and as being an actually existing thing, and as a portion of the Whole...” - Against Praxeas 26.6 by Peter Holmes

Matt13weedhacker said...

How are three separate persons, who cannot be the one and the same person, not be considered as "parts" of a whole? If the Tri{3}nity is a whole, or one thing?

I guess that's whats all the wrangling has been about for all these centuries.

It all stems from a "simplicity". I agree. The "simply" got it wrong from the beginning.

Edgar Foster said...


Nicaea eventually decided that Tertullian's formulation of the tres personae was not sufficient. His thought is also ultimately characterized by subordinationism.

Trinitarians usually say that the tres personae are not separate, but distinct. Tertullian also used this kind of language in his formulation of the Three. The Trinity is the whole (in post Nicene thinking), but each "person" is also fully God (the divine substance)--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would each be identical with "God" (the divine substance).

Yeah, they got it wrong.

Matt13weedhacker said...

Sorry, I missed a reference in Tertullian. He calls the Son something derived from the Father, once in Adv. Prax. 9.2(A), and a portion of the substantia three times in Adv. Prax. 9.2(A), and 26.3, and 26.6:

“...derivatio totius et portio...” - Against Praxeas 9.2(A)

“...portionem totius...” - Against Praxeas 26.3

“...portio aliqua totius...” - Against Praxeas 26.6

Interesting that Ltn., ( portio ) is also crosses over into the semantic domain of: "part".

“...dicens autem, Spiritus Dei, etsi Spiritus Deus, tamen non directo Deum nominans portionem totius intellegi voluit quae cessura erat in Filii nomen...” - Against Praxeas 26.3

“...But by saying “the Spirit of God,” (although the Spirit of God is God), yet by not explicitly naming God, he wished a portion of the whole to be understood which was to pass into the Son's person...” - Against Praxeas 26.3 by Alexander Souter

“...Now, by saying “the Spirit of God” (although the Spirit of God is God,) and by not directly naming God, he wished that portion of the whole Godhead to be understood, which was about to retire into the designation of “the Son...” - Against Praxeas 26.3 by Peter Holmes

“...For when he said “The Spirit of God,” (although God is spirit), yet since he did not mention God in the nominative case he wished there to be understood an assignment of the whole which was to go to the Son's account...” - Against Praxeas 26.3 by Ernest Evans

Matt13weedhacker said...

Interesting how the Arian's made the connection between Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) and Ltn., ( consubstantialis ), and accused the Pro-Nicenes of favoring the doctrine/opinion of: "Montanus."

Which "Montan[tist]" did they have in mind? In reference to Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) and Ltn., ( consubstantialis )?

Perhaps Tertullian?

Of course, we can't tell for sure. They could have had the off-shoot, (τίνὲς δὲ αὐτῶν "some off them" referring to the Montantists), that Hippolytus mentioned in AH Book 8, Chapter 19, who he said, quote: "...agree[d] with the heresy of the Noëtians in saying that the Father is the same with the Son, and that this One became subject to birth and suffering and death."

But did the Noetians use Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) and Ltn., ( consubstantialis )?

Did Sabellius?

Yet, Tertullian, taught the equivalent of Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) and Ltn., ( consubstantialis ) in: "una substantia, tres personae."

The "una substantia" could just as well be interpreted in Greek as Gk., ( μονοούσιος ) "one-being/substance" instead of Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ).

SOCRATES OF CONSTANTINOPLE [Or: “SCHOLASTICUS”] (circa. 380-after 439 C.E.): “...Yet as we ourselves have discovered from various letters which the bishops wrote to one another after the Synod, the term [Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) Ltn., ( consubstantialis )] homoousios troubled some of them. So that while they occupied themselves in a too minute investigation of its import, they roused the strife against each other; it seemed not unlike a contest in the dark; for neither party appeared to understand distinctly the grounds on which they calumniated one another. THOSE WHO OBJECTED TO THE WORD [Gk., ( ὁμοουσίου ) Ltn., ( consubstantialis )] HOMOOUSIOS, CONCEIVED THAT THOSE WHO APPROVED IT FAVORED [Gk., ( τὴν Σαβελλίου καὶ Μοντανοῦ δόξαν ) Ltn., ( Sabellii ac Montani dogma )] THE OPINION OF SABELLIUS AND MONTANUS; they therefore called them blasphemers, as subverting the existence of the Son of God. And again the advocates of this term, charging their opponents with polytheism, inveighed against them as introducers of heathen superstitions....” - (Book 1, Chapter 23, Sections 57-58, “Church History,” Translated by A.C. Zenos. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.)

Anyway, it's a thought for the day.

Edgar Foster said...

I always appreciate the research you undertake on the Patristics.

Tertullian never reached full Trinitarianism (IMO) because of the subordinationism that informed his thought. A number of scholars have made similar observations, and they're detailed in my book on Tertullian. This blog also contains many posts about Tertullian. Additionally, you make a good point about the Latin "portio." You can see why the post-Nicenes distanced themselves from Tertullian.

Another thing to mnote about Tertullian is that we're not sur what he means by "substantia," but he likely does not use the term like those after Nicaea do.

Matt13weedhacker said...

JUust been having another look at Tertullian concept of creation/generation in Adv. Prax. 6 and 7.

In chapter 6, Tertullian teaches that God's, (i.e. the Father), impersonal and “inseparable” attribute of Wisdom/Reason did not go forth out of His own “intelligence”, when the “Word” was: “put forth” by Him. Thus showing a distinction between the person that was created, and the Father's im-personal thinking faculty.

Tertullian also teaches that everything, including the “Word” was first created IN-WARDLY, by, and as an act of the Father's will, IN His mind, so to speak.

An, then, at a later was made into substances, and given their respective outward forms.

[1.] Created and Generated IN-WARDLY
[2.] Caused to be put forth OUT-WARDLY
[3.] Recieves/is-made into FORM
[3(A).] Recieves/is-made into AUDIBILITY
[3(B).] Recieves/is-made into SUBSTANCES/SUBSTANCES
[4.] Thereby becoming PERSONS

The Logos/Word was the same = Chapter 7.1.