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Great links

I know I still have a couple of posts on the Piper quote to write.  I'll get to that...

Have you noticed the recent addition to my sidebar?  You can read some recommended posts I've found helpful or at least provocative.

They all seem to be by Peter Leithart.  How did that happen?  Simple.  He writes far and away the most interesting stuff.  And it makes me wonder what the rest of us are playing at...

Anyway - of particular interest to me recently has been his blogging on Athanasius and especially how we must conceive of the divine attributes in thoroughly Trinitarian ways. (e.g. here or here on 'the dependent God')

Athanasius argued that the Son was and is the Wisdom of the Father eternally so, such that the Father without the Son would not be wise.  Athanasius is so sure of this logic that he uses it as an argument against the Arians.  The argument goes like this - The Son is the Wisdom of the Father, the Father has never been without wisdom, therefore the Son is eternal.  Good argument huh?

But do you see the assumptions?  It does not assume that each Person has each attribute 'in Himself' considered apart from the Others.  Rather they possess each attribute because they possess each other.

Leithart puts it like this:

Does the Father have wisdom “in Himself”? Yes, because the Wisdom that is the Son dwells in Him  by the Spirit.  Does the Father possess His being “in Himself”?  Yes, because the Son is the fullness of His deity, and the Son indwells Him through the Spirit.  Vice versa: Does the Son have wisdom considered in Himself?  Yes, because what is “in Himself” is the fact that the Father dwells in Him in the Spirit, so that His existence “in Himself” is His existence as the Son indwelt by the Father.

And so on.

This allows us to speak of Father and Son distinctly; it also makes it clear that the Father is not Himself except as He has and is indwelt by His Son, nor is the Son Himself except as He has and is indwelt the Father.

Halden picks up on these thoughts in this stimulating post on Trinity and attributes.

It's stuff I tried to argue a while back in these two diagrams

Another brilliant Leithart post is here on Gethsemane - Christ crushed that the oil of His anointing Spirit might spread to the world.

And you can't beat the Old Adam doing what he does best here - offering the gospel in all its beautiful and stark freedom.

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0 thoughts on “Great links

  1. theologymnast

    I have an ambition: at some point in my life to understand a whole week's worth of Peter Leithart blog posts.

    He's a bit of a brain. But his books are quite varied; A House for my Name is a cracking introduction to the Old Testament, highly readable. However, 'From Silence to Song' takes some real fighting to get through.

  2. theoldadam

    Thanks, Glen.

    If anyone knows the gospel in it's purity and sweetness, it is you.

    It is proclaimed loudly and boldly and in it's purity by you, in your preaching and teaching and on your blog.

    Thanks for that!

    - Steve (the Old Adam)

  3. pgjackson

    I have to say I've been really enjoying his Athanasius posts too.

    "It does not assume that each Person has each attribute ‘in Himself’ considered apart from the Others."

    I'm not sure what all this 'in himself apart from the others' is even on about to be honest. If there's no Son then there simply is no Father either.

  4. Tim V-B

    Pete, I've come across quite a lot of 'with respect to himself' or 'in himself' stuff on the Trinity. E.g. The second person of the Trinity is Son "with respect to the Father" and God "with respect to himself." As Glen indicates, it always goes hand in hand trying to show that the Son has all the (pre-determined) attributes of divinity.

    I love this quote from Paul Miller's A Praying Life:

    Jesus defines himself only in relationship with his heavenly Father. Adam and Eve began their quest for self-identity after the Fall. Only after they acted independently of God did they have a sense of separate self. Because Jesus has no separate sense of self, he has no identity crisis, no angst. Consequently, he doesn't try to "find himself." He knows himself only in relationship with his Father. He can't conceive of himself outside of that relationship.

    Imagine asking Jesus how he's doing. He'd say, "My Father and I are doing great. He has given me everything I need today." You respond, "I'm glad your Father is doing well, but let's just focus on your for a minute. Jesus, how are you doing?" Jesus would look at you strangely, as if you were speaking a foreign language. The question doesn't make sense. He simply can't answer the question "How are you doing?" without including his heavenly Father.

    (page 45)

  5. Glen

    Yeah - and what's fascinating about Augustine is how he wrestles with Athanasius' reasoning on this and eventually rejects it. It's all part of his methodology - De Deo Uno (on the One God) comes before De Deo Trino (on the Threefold God).

    And who has the West followed - Athanasius or Augustine? Just open a systematics textbook and you'll see. 600 pages on the One God defined by His attributes. Only *then* do we bring in the Three.

    Calvin himself though was good on this (though I'd say he had an over-reliance on Augustine). In the Institutes, he pretty much dives straight into trinity and doesn't really bother with the classical attributes. But the Augustinianism in him has been picked up by reformed theologians since - and the 'attributes first' methodology seems to reign supreme.

  6. pgjackson

    Thanks Tim.

    I'm aware of the 'in himself' talk, but I think i basically reject it as a non-starter. It's in the formula you highlight that I think it actually becomes problematic. To say the Son derives his sonship from the Father but not his deity drives too much of a wedge between deity and personhood methinks.

    People like Hilary De Poitiers were very clear that the Son was God because he was eternally begotten of the Father (God from God/ Light from Light etc.), whereas only later on it became common to say he was only Son by begetting and was God 'in himself.' I think. :)

    Hi Glen,

    Is that Augustine line really all that accurate? I know it's been quite common to paint him as where it all went wrong, and to pit east v west, but I seem to remember quite a lot of what we saw of Augustine in Doc of God seemed to suggest he paid far more attention to the three (and indeed to salvation history - another charge levelled against him) than many of his critics allow. I seem to remember a fair bit of 'east and west reconciled' stuff in 2nd year doctrine too.

    I take your point about starting from 'God' and abstracted 'attributes' though, without approaching it all Trinitarianly. I guess I'm just pondering whether that all went off track at Augustine or was it even later than that (Aquinas?) and not adequately corrected by those who have claimed Augustinian descent?

  7. Glen

    Well Mike Ovey's PhD thesis was all about how Augustine wasn't the man in the black hat. So we got a lot of that at Oak Hill. But I think the different direction he took to Ath. on this 'Wisdom' question is instructive.

    As are comments like "I don't know what difference they [the Cappodocians] intend between ousia and hypostasis." !

  8. pgjackson

    'As are comments like “I don’t know what difference they [the Cappodocians] intend between ousia and hypostasis.” !'

    Sorry, I'm probably being slow but you've lost me there. Who's saying/ said that? St Gus? Mike Ovey? And why/ what do they mean?

  9. Glen

    Sorry Pete - sloppy late night comment. No it was what Augustine said in De Trinitate when discussing the Cappodocians. He recognized the importance of the Cappodocian settlement (one ousia, three hypostases) but then said he didn't understand what difference they intended between ousia and hypostasis. Which is a major misunderstanding if you ask me. His own account of oneness and threeness then didn't look very much like Greg/Basil's - which makes you wonder whether he really *is* upholding the Cappodocian settlement.

    That kind of thing.

    By now you've realised I'm more with Gunton than Ovey on these sorts of questions.

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