[Waltz:] Now, when we look at “the” Evangelical doctrine of the Trinty, one is forced to conclude that it is “doctrines”, not “the doctrine”, for the following are but a few examples of the different forms of Trinitarianism held within Evangelicalism. 1.) The Son and the Spirit are generated from the Father’s essence, who is the source, fountain-head of the Trinity (Melanchthon, Jonathan Edwards). 2.) It is the person alone, not the essence which is generated from the Father (John Calvin, Francis Turrettin, and most Reformed theologians). 3.) There is no generation of persons within the Godhead; the Logos became the Son at the incarnation (Oliver Buswell, Walter Martin, early writings of John MacArthur). 4.) The Godhead is one person, and within the being of this one person there are three personal subsistences (Cornelius Van Til). 5.) The Trinity is not composed of persons in the modern sense (i.e. three distinct centers of conscious personal beings), but rather of three modes of existence (Donald Bloesch). 6.) Social Trinitarianism (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Millard Erickson, Edward Wierenga).
[Annoyed:] I don’t take a dogmatic stand on any one Trinitarian view. However, I find #2 (maybe in conjunction with #4) attractive. It’s the default position I defend and tentatively/provisionally hold to for the sake of argument and because it seems better in 1. affirming the unity of God, 2. affirming the plurality of God, 3. affirming the full deity of the Son and Holy Spirit, 4. preserving the genuine and eternal generation/filiation of the Son and the procession/spiration of the Holy Spirit. It also goes without saying that if the New Testament contradicts Trinitarian theories, it may depend on which Trinitarian theory. One or more may survive Dale’s criticisms.
Yeah 2 and 4 are arguably compatible, and 4 is arguably the majority view for modern-era Magisterial Reformation Protestant theologians, and for modern Catholics too, I think. Annoyed, yes, different objections may apply to different theories. But as all the theories that you mention identify the one God with the Trinity (thus as you say, “affirming the plurality of God”), they are all equally subject to the simple objection of my original post. I harp on some biblical problems for your view #4 here. I think you are firmly in what I call the one-self camp of trinitarians. Your later quotations, which I here omit for length, bear this out. For you the “Persons” aren’t selves, but are something possessed by or in the one divine self, God.
the most successful forms of Christianity have been Trinitarian. I’m including Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy even though as a Protestant I have serious problems with both communions
To the contrary, Christianity exploded all over the world while unitarian, c. 33-380. And forms of Christianity which are ambiguously or half-heartedly trinitarian, in particular, non-denominational Protestantism, the heirs of some in the “Radical” wing of the Reformation, and the various forms of pentecostalism, have been very successful. I think there are interesting reasons why British and American unitarianism of c. 1650-1850 imploded; but I don’t think that its identifying the one God with the Father was one of those reasons.
But I fully agree with you that many, probably most great Christians have either been trinitarian, or at least belonged to churches that were so at least on paper. This association that you have on unitarian theologies with “liberal” Christianity is a relatively new thing since only around 1830 or so. A big part of the reason why there are few unitarian Christians and really no unitarian seminaries is that trinitarians closed ranks against them, in fellowship, in publishing, in academia, in the latter half of the 19th c. Seemingly, this was because many accepted the old catholic view that non-trinitarians go to hell, and they are not Christians, as they reject a central and essential teaching. A partisan and harsh stance to be sure, but one that goes right back to the council of 381.
Other Christians besides myself would be better able to deal with the deductive logic of your argument. I don’t know how to analyze a deductive argument to the degree that a philosopher can.
No! This is the beauty of the arguments. You already have and constantly employ the concept of numerical identity. About the arguments, you can tell that they’re valid – that if each’s one’s premises were to be true, then that conclusion would be true. And you can also “see” that both arguments can’t be sound (valid, with true premises), because you know that T2 and U3 are contradictory – one must be true and the other false. That’s all you need; you have all you need.
You can’t change the various premises into different ones; that is to change the subject. T2, which says t = g, is logically equivalent to g = t. You can substitute g = t (God just is the Trinity), and the first argument is still valid. Despite your suggestions about changing or rephrasing the various claims, I see you as endorsing the first argument as sound. About T3, in your view the Father is in some sense a mode of God, a way God is. But that, that isn’t identical to God, anymore than my persona Professor-Dale (which I switch into in class) is me. (Though no doubt in the God case you would hold the mode to be intrinsic, eternal, and essential to him – things which don’t apply to my mode Prof-Dale.)
Thus, you are consistent when you deny U2. I think you go against the clear teaching of the NT here. But this post is long, so I won’t do more than gesture at John 17:1-3, 1 Cor 8, and John 20:17, all of which I’ve podcasted and blogged about more than once.
There’s much Biblical data supporting plurality in the unity of God.
Too much to get into in this post – you provide us with seven links to you posts to show this. Let me for now give a superficial, first reply: so what. Many unitarians, like me, admit plurality in God, for instance, that he has distinct essential properties or modes or aspects of wisdom and righteousness. And he has the property of having made the heavens and the earth, which is different from the property of having sent Jesus to save the human race. There’s more plurality. But of course you mean that there are multiple “Persons” in God. Well, we’d have to be clear about just what you mean by “Persons,” then ask if the OT authors could plausibly have meant to teach that.
I’m weary, honestly, of endless hint-hunting, and the finding (or rather projecting!) of “suggestions.” Another time, perhaps.