Today I answer a question about the classical doctrine of the Trinity. There is much that I’d love to say more clearly or carefully than I do in this video, or to elaborate upon further, so feel free to send me follow-up questions in the comments here or over on Curious Cat.
Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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7 thoughts on “The Threefold Personhood of God”
Enjoying the videos, Alastair! Could you give a biblical theology of death? Is mortality part of what it means to be human or only a result of the fall?
Alistair, I follow what you are saying about the error of saying that there are three ‘centers of consciousness’ in God’s Triune nature, and how that would involve a denial of the unity and simplicity of the Divine Being and ultimately involve tritheism. However, isn’t that different from affirming three subsistent consciousnesses, or three self-conscious Persons within the nature of God? Would not a denial of that involve the opposite error of modalism? I am concerned that in our right concern to flee from tritheism, we are not seeing an implicit embrace of modalism.
Throughout most of the video there is nothing which seems strongly incompatible with social trinitarianism, of the sort posited by a thinker such as Robert Jenson. There is of course the whole Grudem/Ware kerfuffle, but that has very little to do with social trinitarianism as originally understood since neither Grudem nor Ware identify with or have any obvious connection with the thinking of Jenson, Gunton, Zizioulas etc (who all affirm the eternal generation of the son and deny any notion of hierarchy in the trinity).
The only conflict with social trinitarianism proper would be the denial of three centres of self-consciousness towards the end of the video. What would you recommend in terms of a biblical defence of the notion that God does not possess three centres of self-consciousness? Perhaps you could do a video explaining from scripture why you deny the notion of three centres of self-consciousness?
Chris, I noticed that Alistair did a video answering that question on the Curious Cat site he linked to.
He doesn’t actually cite any particular scriptures. He says “a lot of the Biblical testimony” and refers to the idea of God being only one “self” (as opposed to three selves) but there aren’t any passages referred to. It would be great to hear him dig into some of these passages.
I’d be interested in hearing Alastair address Chris’ question directly, too.
I really enjoyed your video, but, as you say, the Trinity is a mystery, and although I deeply believe in it, I don’t think I could explain it to anyone who asked me to!
I like the title, ‘The Threefold Personhood of God’, just as I like the German ‘Dreifaltigkeit.’
I may be way off the mark. but I can imagine a cloth folded into three – three folds, but one cloth.