Seven years ago when i was exploring other Christian traditions and reading heavily in the early fathers (and all the leading monographs), I came to the conclusion that if you don’t make Triadology (or its correlate Christology) central, you risk getting your whole theological method wrong.
A number of Conference Calvinists said, “Nuh-uh.”
Well, here we are today. My thoughts on the current fighting on the Trinity regarding complementarianism:
- CMBW (or complementarian advocates on the Trinity) say you shouldn’t exalt the Fathers over the Bible. Well, it’s not the simple. As Torrance pointed out, once you terms like Ὁμοουσιον become enshrined in Christian discourse, you can’t go backwards. Ὁμοουσιον safeguards the ontological structure and identity of of the essence. If you jettison this doctrine, you risk jettisoning everything that goes with it.
- As it stands, the complementarians/EFS guys are wrong. But they aren’t 100% wrong. It is wrong of them to read roles and functions into the eternal being of God. You end up with Arianism. Since God’s being is simple and identical among the Persons, it just doesn’t work. If the Son’s being is eternally subordinate and the Father’s isn’t, then by definition they don’t have the same Being.
- But they have noticed something. There is a difference of taxis in the Trinity. That’s what the Fathers call “monarchia.”
- Neither side has really come to grips with that.
- I suspect one of the reasons is that the Evangelical world only has two categories for the Trinity: Ontological and Economical. The Fathers had a third category: The Person.
- But the real reason is we just don’t talk about the Trinity, and if we do we don’t let the full import of Athanasius’s ontology change how we do everything. For one, it’s hard. Athanasius’s most important work is Contra Arianos. It isn’t On the Incarnation. And the former work is quite demanding. You won’t get invited to TGC conferences speaking on an Athanasian metaphysics.