Friday, August 04, 2017

Turretin: Why was the Father not incarnated

V. (2) The Father could not be incarnated, for as he was the first in order he could not sent by anyone or act a mediator to the Son and the Holy Spirit. … [Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 2.13.IV.5]

According to Turretin, the ad intra ordering (ταξις) of the Father as first is the reason why the Father (ad extra) is not incarnated, but the Son, by virtue of being second, was incarnated.


Benjamin Wong said...

Dear Daniel:

1. Do you have an opinion on this quotation of Francis Turretin?

As you quoted Turretin, I do not find his reasoning convincing.

Indeed, there is an ontological ordering in the Trinity "ad intra".

But as Orthodox Nicene Trinitarians, we rejected any ontological subordination within the Trinity.

If "Fatherhood", "Sonship", and "Holy Spirithood" are economic divisions of labour of the Trinity "ad extra", then the ontological ordering of the Trinity is not a good reason why the First Person of the Trinity is not incarnated.

2. As one who is theological conversant and has familiarity with Gordon Clark, I would appreciate any comments you may have on the following blog post:

"A Clarkian Solution to the Ontological Trinity : A Proposal"


Benjamin Wong

Daniel C said...

Hi Ben,

1. Yes, I agree with Turretin.

That is not ontological subordinationism. Ordering does not imply anything about ontology, unless the person who is proposing the order explicitly applies it to ontology.

"Fatherhood," "Sonship" and "Procession" are personal qualities. When applied to the persons ad intra, they are "Unbegotten," "Begotten," and "Spiration." These are personal distinctions within the one being of God. But just as the Son being begotten never once imply ontological subordination, so likewise the personal ordering within God has no implication on the ontology of God.

Turretin's point is that the workings of the Trinity ad extra is not arbitrary. The workings of the Trinity reflect (but are not equal to) the ad intra ordering of the Persons. Thus, the reason why the Father is not incarnated (ad extra) is that He is first in order (ad intra).

If people are uncomfortable with the idea of an immutable ad-intra order within the Trinity, they should stop reading modern "defenders" of "pro-Nicene" orthodoxy concerning the Trinity, and instead read the writings of older orthodox theologians, who were more interested in wrestling with the biblical data than kneejerk reactions to contemporary controversial statements.

Daniel C said...

2. Gordon Clark's view of the Trinity focuses on attempting to propose a new solution to how God is both one and three. As far as I remember, Clark did not use traditional terminology and interact with them well. Clark's view of the Trinity therefore focuses on the self-conscious act of knowing and knowledge in general. So in my view, it has some utility but it does not help in settling the main issues of ontology on which most Trinitarian discourse occurs.

Your blog post seems to have more than one view of "essence." You mention both many "essences," and also "one essence." Assuming you do not agree that equivocation of meaning is a good thing, I do not see how what you are proposing actually contributes to the topic. Also, "essence" and "person" are different categories, while historically "essence" (Latin essentia) and "nature" (Latin natura or "being"(Greek ousia) are closely related.