Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Random Thought

Do not the names "Father" and "Son" imply ontological priority to the first hypostasis, and ontological dependence of the second and third hypostases on the first?

5 comments:

Eric Langborgh said...

If I understand your question correctly, didn't the Athanasian Creed say just that?:

"As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten;
the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father;
the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.
And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other;
but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons."

Andrew Matthews said...

Thanks Eric, this is what I'm getting at. The ontological priority of the Father is orthodox teaching that the catholic church has held since Nicea. Therefore, the "ontological subordination" of the second and third hypostases is not the same as the Arian "subordinationism" of Jesus to God (denying the Son's full divinity) that was condemned at the council. The first is fully orthodox, the latter is heresy.

Eric Langborgh said...

Hi Andrew,

I confess we are getting into territory that I am not well grounded in, but from what I do know I agree with you wholeheartedly.

If I may ask, what prompted the question? It is certainly an important one - as you point out and as history shows - but I'm wondering if there was a proximate reason for it?

In Christ,
--Eric

Andrew Matthews said...

Well, this is a whole can of worms, but there is a mentality that supposes the subordination of something to somehow makes it less. For instance, you can read this article which argues against subordination in the Godhead in order to promote "gender equality."

Likewise, I suspect that Calvin's resistence to subordination is related to the general Protestant aversion to hierarchy.

There is a family resemblance between revolutionary egalitarianism, anabaptism, and certain construals of the Priesthod of all Believers doctrine, I believe.

Eric Langborgh said...

Ah, I see. And I agree: subordination does not equal inferiority. And I agree that those who think it does are introducing all sorts of bad ideas into the church. For similar thoughts and applications, see my "Feminism and Patriachy" category" at my blog.