Monday, November 29, 2021

Lossky on Will and choice

The nature wills and acts, the person chooses, accepting or rejecting that which the nature wills. (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 125)

In the Christology controversies of the 6th-7th centuries, monothelitism asserts that Jesus Christ has only one will, while the 5th and 6th Councils (Constantinople II and III) assert that Christ has two wills. The dyothelite position asserts that because Christ has two natures: one human, one divine, therefore he has two wills, for the will is a property of nature. The argument proceeds on through the category of energies, for energies come from the nature. Two natures imply two energies which imply two wills.

Whatever the merits of such an argument, the interesting part is this relation of "will" to "nature." If the nature is the one that wills, then does that mean the person does not will anything? Here, we see Vladimir Lossky coming up with an interesting solution to the problem. Since it is the nature that wills, a distinction is made between "will" and "choice." It is undeniable that the human person is the one that chooses one thing or the other, so Lossky asserts that the choice is made by the human person, AFTER the nature wills and acts. That way, Lossky can seemingly do justice to both Constantinople II and III, and the common sense notion of how human beings actually decide one way or the other. Such a solution would seemingly solve the problem of Pelagianism and the Eastern view of Synergism. If a distinction is made between "will" and "choice," then the human person can have no "will" not totally affected by sin, and yet he is free to choose God or reject Him.

Such a view of the doctrine of man would certainly be strange, and contrary to the Augustinian and Calvinist view of Man. Yet it seems necessitated if one wants to hold to the philosophy behind dyothelisim and also hold that the person chooses. That leads us to a problem: If we hold to the philosophy of will behind Constantinople II and III, we must either reject the view that a persons wills, and reject the Calvinist and Augustinian view of Man. Alternatively, we could hold to the philosophy of will behind Constantinople II and II, reject dyothelitism, and we can continue to be Calvinist and Augustinian in our doctrine of Man. Or, we could be dyothelites, reject the philosophy behind Constantinople II and III, and continue to be Calvinist and Augstinian. I think the third option is a more viable project to explore, and one I intend to look into in the future.

From a modern perspective, it is weird to assert that the nature wills following which the person then chooses. What does it even mean in saying that the person rejects what the will wants, since what I want is what I will to want? Is "willing" to be equated to "desire"? Such a move would make the concept plausible in the context of discipline and self-denial, yet "will" as "desire" is not how "will" is normally understood. "Desire" is normally understood in the context of the emotions, not the will. It is therefore unclear just what exactly is meant by stating as Lossky does that "the nature wills and acts," with "the person chooses, accepting or rejecting that which the nature wills." It sounds positively incoherent, but who knows?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Book Review of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Parts 6-8)

The final installment of my book review of the book Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind, consisting of Parts 6-8, is now on The Daily Genevan website here. In this 3-parter, I re-engaged the sciences from a presuppositional point of view, focused our attention on Yuval Noah Harari's fixation on humankind as opposed to real humans, and through that and his futurism exposes his idolatry, up to and including repeating the lie of the serpent "You shall be as God" (Gen. 3:5).

Harari's history of humanity is indeed a fascinating book, but it is also disturbing because of what it tells us about the anti-Christian vision of the futurist. Do read more about it in the review.

Why defining immutability according to Aristotelian categories is problematic

In Aristotelian (meta)physics, "motion" is a change of state. A moving ball has motion, just as a piece of burning wood which is in motion from being wood to becoming ash. Basically, anything is motion is changing in some form or another. This use of the word "motion" is alien and confusing to those of us trained in the sciences, which presumably should include most educated people in this modern 21st century world. Nevertheless, one must conceptually split the word "motion" into is older, Aristotelian meaning, and the modern (and what I would think correct) meaning. I will use motion(A) for the Aristotelian sense of "motion" and motion(M) for the modern sense of motion. A moving ball has motion(A) because moving implies change. A moving ball has motion(M) because its displacement is changing over time. However, a moving ball according to Aristotelian metaphysics is constantly changing because it is moving (A). Whereas, a moving ball in the modern sense is not changing because it is in constant motion (M).

This concept of "motion" is important because much of classical theism draws upon Aristotelian philosophy and Aristotelian categories, even centuries after the modern world has consigned them to the realm of archaic history. It is therefore hard for the modern man to understand classical theism, seeing as how they have to learn not just a different philosophy but also to experience cognitive dissonance in the different definitions and concepts of terms. Grasping the Aristotelian notion of "motion" is like a gestalt switch—seeing things differently from how most people normally think. And for those who continue to want to live in the modern world and especially treasuring the sciences, even teaching the sciences, one has to learn how to hold two almost incommensurable concepts simultaneously, switching from one to the other when the situation demands it.

In classical theism, immutability is the doctrine that God does not change, and change is defined in terms of motion in the Aristotelian sense of the term. Thus, immutability is not the same as immotility (no movement (M)), since immotibility is built upon motion (M). That said, by sticking to the Aristotelian sense of the term, motion cannot do justice to the Scriptures, as I will show now.

We note in the beginning that for a moving ball, the ball is moving in both the Aristotelian and modern sense. However, the moving ball is changing according to motion (A), while not changing according to motion (M). The reason why the ball is not changing according to motion (M) is because there is no resultant unbalanced external force acting on the ball (assuming a ball moving at constant velocity). In other words, the ball continues to move because it does not change. For the ball to stop moving, it experiences a change. Since modern physics is a much better approximation of how the world works, we know that motion (M) is the correct notion of motion, and motion (A) is intesting conceptually but it does not reflect anything in the real world.

In the doctrine of God, the doctrine of immutability focuses on the fact that God does not change. But is Aristotelian physics, inadequate for the real world, adequate for one's doctrine of God? Since it is not applicable to the real world, we should be skeptical that it would be applicable here. But let's look further into the matter. Let us look at how immutability works in the Bible concerning God. Now, we say that God is love. Immutability as it is applied to God teaches us that God is always love. He does not change to be less loving, or more loving. That applies to all the attributes of God. But note one thing: "love" is an action attribute. "Love" is always to be expressed from the lover to the beloved. In other words, "love" is like a moving ball. As we remember, in Aristotelian physics, a moving ball has motion because it is moving. For a ball to not have motion, it must be stationary. But if love is like a moving ball, in that both are actions, then surely to asseert that there is no motion (A) in God is for God's love to cease? But if God's love does not change to be more or less loving, then there is no change in God's love according to motion (M). So which idea of "motion" is suitable when we deal with immutability and the love of God, if not the modern notion of motion, not the Aristotelian notion of motion?

Thus, we see here that definiting immutability according to Aristotelian categories is indeed problematic. While I will not claim that the immutability of classical theism is immotility, I will assert that the Aristotelian notion of "motion" is incompatible with the immutability of God's active atttributes. Aristotelian metaphysics, when applied to God's love, must say that God is immutable only when he has not love ad intra. Since that is not true, Aristotelian metaphysics about motion must be false, at least when applied to God's love.

Should we therefore change to the modern notion of motion and change? That is an interesting proposition to explore, but I will not claim that this is the path we should necessarily take. Rather, define immutability as God not changing, let the Bible informs us what change would be like if applied to God, and hold one's philosophy about what constitues "change" or "motion" at arm's length.

[Note: I know many classical theists believe God is love. This article is asserting that it is inconsistent to hold to Aristotelian metaphysics of motion and still believe God is love. So one has to decide whether to follow Scripture, or follow Aristotle. Thankfully, classical theists follow Scripture where it counts, however inconsistent that is with their Aristotelianism.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Mika Edmonson: Facts are irrelevant to the narrative

Mika Edmonson, a black pastor who was formerly pastoring in the OPC, is the husband to race hustler Christina Edmonson. In this tweet that alludes to the Rittenhouse incident, he prays for "an end to racial vigilantism," parroting one accusation of the left. Nevermind that the three people shot by Kyle Rittenhouse were all white. A white man shooting other white men in self-defence is considered "racial vigilantism."

A major problem with those calling for "racial justice," the supposed moderates who claim to reject CRT (Critical Race Theory) in the Evangelical and Reformed camp, is its aversion to facts. I have shown that in my brief response to Justin Gibony's video over at TGC. The fact of the matter is that these supposed moderates lie about the facts. Just like the American mainstream media, they seem to be pathological liars. Mika Edmonson lies about the Rittenhouse incident, and unfortunately nothing will happen to him. He is supposed to be a minsiter of the Gospel, so that makes his sin all the more egregious. Sad to say, but unrepentant lying and misrepresentation is not the disqualifying sin it once was for the ministry in the United States of America.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Christina Edmonson is a racist

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a racist theory. Those who embrace CRT are at least theoretically racist. Those who promote CRT as a living are race hustlers. One such race hustler is Christina Edmonson, wife of a pastor who was at one time in the OPC. Here are two analyses of Edmonson's racism:

Some stuff on CRT in Singapore

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a racist, divisive ideology that is metastasizing throughout the world. It is appearing in Singapore, creating needless division and dissension. Recently, the rapper Subbhas Nair has been charged with "attempting to promote ill will over religion, race", and he does so by dealing with social issues through the lens of CRT. While one can discuss CRT academically, the toxic fruit of CRT is clear in its promotion of racism and racial division through its "antiracist" praxis.

Regarding CRT in Singapore, here are two articles (from a Singapore perspective) analyzing CRT by Reckless.Sg:

What's the Big Deal with Critical Race Theory (Part 1)
What's the Big Deal with Critical Race Theory (Part 2)

It is hoped that CRT will be rejected as the racist garbage that it is, but the growing (il)liberalism in Singapore is cause for worry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lossky on the term "person" with regards to the Trinity

Purged of its Aristotelian content, the theological notion of hypostasis in the thought of the eastern Fathers means not so much individual as person, in the modern sense of this word. Indeed, our ideas of human personality, of that personal quality which makes every human being unique, to be expressed only in terms of itself: this idea of person comes to us from Christian theology. The philosophy of antiquity knew only human individuals. The human person cannot be expressed in concepts. It eludes all rational definitions, indeed all description, for all the properties whereby it could be characterized can be met with in other individuals. Personality can only be grasped in this life by a direct intuition; it can only be expressed in a work of art. (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 53)

On the doctrine of God, some of the new Thomistic Classical Theists have stated that the term "person" as used in the Trinity is different from the modern notion of "person." Whether that is so is an interesting question to be explored. What we can say however is that, according to Eastern Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky, the modern notion of "person" comes from Christian theology when "purged of its Aristotelian content." If what Lossky says is true, then the current attack against so-called "Social Trinitarianism" may be robbed of one of its argument concerning what a "person" is in the persons of the Trinity.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The shift towards medievalism?

In response to critics of EFS/ ERAS, Own Strachan had released a podcast episode decrying the shift towards "popeless and Trentless Catholicism." This shift has come about as much of Evangelical academia has shifted towards Thomism in its metaphysics. Strachan's charge of popeless and Trentless Catholicism is a charge that Evangelical academia has become like Roman Catholicism with the exception of having no pope and having the Gospel. In response to Strachan, at least one person claims that Protestantism is indeed a popeless and Trentless Catholicism. But is Protestantism merely Roman Catholicism with the Gospel and without the Pope?

The 16th century Reformation did not happen in a vacuum. It was preceded by the Renaissance, where new forms of learning and innovation came onto the scene. Most of the Reformers came from the (Renaissance) humanist tradition, as opposed to the establishes scholars steeped in medieval scholasticism. Calvin for example wrote against the scholastics of the Sorbonne, and much of the Protestant Reformation began with a rejection of Medieval Scholasticism.

Now, it is correct to say the none of the Reformers thought to thoroughly reject scholasticism, and that later Reformed scholasticism did not see the Protestant faith and the methods of Scholasticism as being incompatible. This is not a rehash of the discredited "Calvin versus the Calvinist" historiography. It is also not to claim that the first two generations of Reformers would disagree with Medieval Scholasticism on the doctrine of God; they did not. The key point here is to note that the initial point was not that of scholasticism. When Reformed Scholasticism began to take shape, the Reformed theologians of that era thought that the tools of scholasticism could be used in service of explicating the truths of the Christian Reformed faith. Generally, none of them thought that scholasticism in itself would become THE method the way medieval scholastics did. Does the method change the message? That can be discussed but none of the Reformed theologians thought it did, or they would not embrace scholastic methods as tools in theology.

The key point to observe here is to assert that Protestantism is not a "popeless and Trentless Catholicism," at least consistent Protestantism (we can exclude the via media Anglicans from the discussion). Protestantism did not just reject the pope or get the Gospel right. Without rejecting tradition, they nonetheless were willing to question it and dissent from it if they believed it to be false. They held to what Jaroslav Pelikan called "Tradition 1," treasuring tradition while keeping it at arm's length. They did not see any tradition as necessarily sacrosanct, unlike the way today's "Evangelical academia" seem to treat the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, which is basically slipping into a form of Tradition 2.

Is there a movement in church history that corresponds to "popeless Trentless Catholicism"? Yes, there has been such movements. The 17th and 18th century Jansenists in France is one such movement. But even bigger than that is Eastern Orthodoxy, which has no pope neitther does it hold to Trent. The fact is that Protestantism is more than just "popeless" and "Trentless." A major issue of the Reformation was also on the nature of authority, and this unfortunately is the major issue of our time as well, as American Evangelical academia flirts with Tradition 2 in its embrace of Thomas Aquinas.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Owen Strachan and the Trinity on the Antithesis podcast

Dr. Owen Strachan has just released an episode on his podcast The Antithesis (available on Spotify and iTunes and RedCircle which you can access through the tweet above or through searching on those platforms) on the topic of the Trinity, specifically on the issue of EFS (Eternal Functional Submission), or, as he prefers, ERAS (Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission).

I find the podcast informative, even though I do not agree with Strachan on everything. First, I am a confessionalist so I do treat the Creeds and Confessions as a secondary authority. Second, I hold to the Pactum Salutis, not just a plan of salvation.

Thirdly, I do not think we have the same definition of "economic." "Economic" has to do with what God does, so for me it encompasses more than just the Incarnation, but all extra-Trinitarian works in eternity as well. Strachan says that it is more than just economic, but his view of "economic" seems to be related to God in relation and act to creation. Strachan obviously does not mean God in his being, because he denies ontological inequality, and therefore he does not believe in subordination in the imminant (ontological) Trinity. If we are dealing with something that cannot be well fitted as God's works but neither is it of God's being, may I suggest exploring the categories of "energies," and the Eastern view of the Monarchy of the Father?

That said, I have been much edified, and reminded, of the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scripture. It is very easy even for us who believe in the doctrine to not practice it when we deal with such high and lofty philosophical and theological concepts. There is a tendency for us, for me, to drift away from Sola Scriptura as we explore and think through different philosophies and different conceptual lenses to deal with objections on a topic where the use of philosophy is necessary. This is not to reject the use of those different philosophies and conceptual lenses, but rather, it is easy for us to not practice Sola Scriptura and become proud in our philosophical knowledge in service of theology and God—the bane of all theologians everywhere.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

God as pure act, and actions

In the tradition we are considering it was taken almost for granted that God’s knowing is His doing, or put the other way around, God does things through His knowing. (Katheryn Rogers, "The Traditional Doctrine of Divine Simplicity," Religious Studies 32:2 (June 1996): 174)

The question remains: How can God, Who is a person, possibly be an act? If actions are what people do, it seems obvious that a person cannot be an action. (Ibid.: 172)

In this journal article by Katheryn Rogers (which you can only access if you have ATLA or some other method to access the article), Rogers made some interesting points concerning the doctrine of divine simplicity as understood by her. What is rather interesting to me is how she takes the classical theist view that God is pure act and puts it with the idea that in God there is only one single act (assuming simplicity), which means God's actions are one and immutable. I do not believe that is how classical theists actually understand purus actus, but I could be wrong. In my view, there seems to be a categorical confusion on Rogers' part.

To my understanding, God as pure act (purus actus) has to be understood in the way it is formulated. It is based on Aristotelian ideas of actuality and potentiality. God being pure act means there is no potentiality in God. Any potentiality has the potential to become actual, thus the presence of a potential implies mutability and imperfection. God as pure act simply means that God is fully actual, with no potential.

There is no doubt that the words "actual" and "act" are cognate words. Nevertheless, that does not imply that one is always related to the other. The ideas of actuality and potentiality, while related to action, deals with the nature of a being. Actualization is the process by which what is potential become actual. But if action merely refers to doing, then it seems that action as a "doing verb" can have no relation to actualize as a "being verb." Again, there seems to be an assumption that act follows being, which seem to come from Aristotelian final causation, but what if we reject that? Then act does not necessarily follow being, and as such God's actions is independent of the issue of God being purus actus.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Own Strachan on the factious charge of semi-Arianism

In light of the resurrection of the EFS controversy on social media, Owen Strachan has published a response denying semi-Arianism on his substack here. Pertinent portions are as follows:

Some of these people agreed with my view, and some did not, but many have recognized—long ago—that this “debate” is more an attempted purge than a genuine conversation.


First, equating Arianism with ERAS is fundamentally unsound. There is much conversation around authority and submission, and there are born-again Christians on all sides of this issue. But in both biblical and historical terms this charge will not hold; ERAS is a viable view, even a well-supported one, against the stereotypes.

Second, equating Arianism with ERAS is a zero-sum game. Either ERAS-affirming theologians like me are heretics, or else the other side is leveling a slanderous and divisive charge, the most damning there is. These are the only options available; the accusers apparently wanted to play a game of chicken, and they got it.

Third, equating Arianism with ERAS means that numerous theologians must be seen as heretics. Packer, Hodge, Hilary, and others never have been treated as heretics, but now—if the accusers are correct—they must be (see 1 John 2:22-23). I am no one’s huckleberry, but I am eager to see that case be made in public: I. Packer, Heretic. Charles Hodge, Heretic. Hilary of Poitiers, Heretic.

Fourth, equating Arianism with ERAS means the preceding theologians are in hell. Heretics do not live eternally with God. They suffer God’s just wrath for all eternity. This means that Packer, Hodge, Hilary, and others are in hell. It also means that Wayne Grudem and John Frame are headed for hell. I can scarcely type such blasphemous and evil words, but this is what these charges entail. Of course, these charges also entail that I am right now, at this moment, a child of wrath surely bound for destruction (Ephesians 2:3).

Fifth, equating Arianism with ERAS shows just how off the rails a handful of anti-ERAS voices are. Praise God, the super-majority of evangelical pastors and theologians have not made the case sketched in this piece. They understand that ERAS has many trusted advocates; whether they hold this view or not, they understand—biblically and historically—that it is a viable view, one worthy of study and careful consideration. Perhaps some of this number end up disagreeing with ERAS, and yet they follow two millennia of Christian tradition in honoring brothers who hold this view and not anathematizing them.

I will add this: The anti-ERAS/ EFS/ ESS crowd are not truly interested in dialogue. So far, all I have seen are pontifications and denunciations, with no desire to actually engage their opponents. I challenge any of the anti-EFS crowd to do one simple thing: Actuallly engage one of us! You can try it with me anytime.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Eastern Orthodox view of the persons of the Trinity with regards to the monarchy of the Father

The Latins think of personality as a mode of nature; the Greeks think of nature as the content of the person. (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Easatern Church, 58)

The Father—πηγαία θεότης, source of all divinity within the Trinity—brings forth the Son and the Holy Spirit in conferring upon them His nature, which remains one and indivisible, identical in itself in the Three. (Ibid., 59)

What does Eastern Orthodox believe concerning the monarchy of the Father? One way to think about it from a Western perspective is to believe that the Son and the Spirit have derivative being from the Father, a form of subordinationism. However, given that the East rejects subordinationism, that is obviously not the way they think of the Trinity, so how do they conceive of the Trinity?

To this, Eastern theologian Vladimir Lossky, when speaking of the Trinity, asserts that the monarchy of the Father teaches that the "source of all divinity within the Trinity" is the Father. But since nature is the content of the person, this merely asserts primacy of the Father within the Trinity, a "functional subordination" if you will speak anachronistically. The "being" in Western thought is untouched by this doctrine. The person can be said to consist of the content of the person (the "what") and alongside the person as hypostasis (the "who"). The conferrence of the nature of the Father deals with the content of the Son which derives from the Father.

If that is truly what the Eastern view of the Trinity is, as Lossky asserts and I make inferences based upon what is said, then it seems that the Eastern view of the Monarchy of the Father is way superior to any Western view of the Trinity.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Gregory Palamas versus followers of Thomas Aquinas

Hence the formulation of the doctrine as an antinomy: the energies express by their procession an ineffable distinction—they are not God in His essence—and yet, at the same time, being inseparable from His essence, they bear witness to the unity and simplicity of the being of God. The opponents of St. Gregory Palamas—eastern theologians who had been strongly influenced by Aristotelianism (in particular the Calabrian monk Barlaam who had received his theological training in Italy, and Akindynus, who quotes the Greek translation of the Summa theologica)—saw in the real distinction between the essence and the energies a derogation of the simplicity of God, and accused Palamas of ditheism and polytheism. Having become alienated from the apophatic and antinomical spirit of eastern theology, they set up against it a conception of God which saw Him, primarily at any rate, as a simple essence, in which even the hypostases assumed the character of relations within the essence. The philosophy of God as pure act cannot admit anything to be God that is not the very essence of God. From this point of view, God is, as it were, limited by His essence; that which is not essence does not belong to the divine being, is not God. Thus, according to Barlaam and Akindynus, the energies are either the essence itsself; that which is not essence does not belong to the divine being, is not God. Thus, according to to Barlaam and Akindynus, the energies are either the essence itself, understood as pure act, or are produced by the outward acts of the essence, that is to say, the created effects which have the essence for their cause—creatures, in other words. The adversaries of S. Gregory Palamas recognized the divine essence, they recognizes also its created effects; but they did not recognize the divine operations or energies. [Vladamir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Creswtood NY: St Vladamir's Seminary Press, 1957), 76-7]

In his time, Gregory Palamas was charged by followers of Thomas Aquinas to be a ditheist or polytheist due to his belief in the essence- energies distinction. In 2021, those who do not follow Thomas Aquinas are likewise charged by Matthew Barrett to deny the simplicity of God. Matthew Barrett is the modern day Barlaam and Akindynus, attacking Christians with charges and arguments based upon the faulty philosophy of Thomas Aquinas.

Book Review of Simply Trinity by Matthew Barrett

Chapter 8 of Matthew Barrett's book is where he goes after the teaching of EFS (Eternal Functional Submission). How is the book Simply Trinity in general? There are positive things to note for sure, but there are also problems, in fact many problems with the book. Here is my review of the book. An excerpt:

Christianity believes in a triune God, a God who is both three and one. Most of the earliest controversies in the church have been over the doctrine of God, as pastors and theologians wrestle with the notion that there is one God, yet there are three persons who are God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How that is possible is a serious question since it deals with the object of our worship. If we get the doctrine of God wrong, we are not worshiping the true God but a false idol of our own imagination.


Contra Barrett on the Issue of EFS

Chapter 8 of Matthew Barrett's book Simply Trinity is where he viciously attacks and misrepresents the doctrine of EFS (Eternal Functional Submission). I have reworked all my responses into a coherent article, which can be read here. Here is an excerpt from the new introduction:

Matthew Barrett, an associate professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a book that claims to be all about a recovery of Nicene Orthodoxy, and in particular the doctrine of simplicity of the Trinity. The blurb at the back calls it a “groundbreaking book,” although how groundbreaking it truly is is a matter up for debate. What it does however is to dig down hard on a strong version of Thomistic Classical Theism, and label all alternatives as doctrines that manipulate the Trinity, “recreating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our own image.” ...


Friday, November 05, 2021

Contra Barrett (Part 12): The Pactum Salutis

92. ...

(1) Even if (for the sake of argument) subordination were to be located in the covenant of redemption, we are still speaking of the economy ...

(2) It is illegitimate to read subordinatioon back into the covenant of redemption. EFSers like to read their definition of subordination into Reformed pactum language. .. In other words, the Son's agreement to the covenant does not stem from some intrinsic subordination between the Father and the Son, but the Son accepts the covenant for the specific purpose of accomplishing redemption. The covenant is economic and therefore optional. If the Father and the Son never entered into a covenant, nothing within the Trinity would change.

(Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 344-5)

A key element of the Reformed variant of EFS is to see the eternal submission of the Son primarily in the Pactum Salutis. For obvious reasons, classical theists who hold to the Pactum think otherwise. Barrrett decided to address this in an endnote, so we will look at the endnote and the main reasons why Barrett rejects the claim that the Pactum shows the truth of EFS.

Barrett's first reason is to assert that the Pactum is economic not immanent. On that we agree, and I will add that EFS is economic not immanent. Barrett's second (and third) reason is a bit trickier. Since in the Pactum the Son voluntarily takes on the role of the servant of the covenant, therefore what is optional cannot be person-defining. But is that really as good an argument as Barrett makes it out to be?

Consider this question: Is it necessary for Christ to go to the Cross? If it is necessary, then that makes atonement necesssary, sin necessary, and creation necessary. If it not necessary, then the Pactum is not necessary, Jesus Christ is not the eternal Savior, and so on. The fact is that it is neither necessary for Christ to go to the Cross, nor is it unnecessary for Christ to go to the Cross. Rather, we must have a third category—that of hypothetical necessity. It is not necessary in the sense that Jesus' sacrifice was purely voluntary. It is necessary in that Jesus must be the Savior of the world. Therefore, it is a hypothetical necessity for Jesus to go to the Cross— necessary in all possible worlds, yet He did not have to do so if He chooses not to.

We can see this in the Pactum. Was the Pactum necessary? On the one hand, it is optional for Jesus because He did enter it voluntarily. On the other hand, no Pactum, no Cross, no salvation, not an eternal Savior. Therefore, it is a hypothetical necessity that Jesus would eternally submit to the Father. How does this bear on the issue of EFS? EFS is therefore a hypothetical necessity, and the person-defining properties of the persons of the Trinity are likewise necessary in that sense. We can never say that who goes to the Cross is a matter of rolling the dice and see which person becomes the Son; it was always the Son who would be the Son and go to the cross. There is no possible world in which the Father would incarnate and die on the Cross. In this sense, the personal property "being incarnated" is always and only the personal property of the Son.

The Pactum is indeed voluntary. Yet, it is also necessary. The failure to see that it is both lies at a main reason of Barrett's rejection of the Pactum as a form of EFS, and shows also that many classical theists have not thought much through the concept of necessity as it relates to God and salvation.

ADD: The term "hypothetical necessity" here is applied as seen from God's perspective. From God's perspective, whatever he chooses to do or not do is possible and hypothetical. From our perspective, it is no more hypothetical, as in God could do otherwise and get what He wants, but for us it is a consequent absolute necessity (i.e. God must send Jesus to die on the Cross once he has decided to save us).

Contra Barrett (Part 11): Subordinationism, Attributes and persons

Third, EFS has robbed the divine essence of power and authority and segregated power and authority to the persons, but the Father above all, violating the simplicity of the Trinity. Nicene orthodoxy was very careful in its affirmation of simplicity: essence and attributes are not different things; attributes are not parts of God's essence. Rather, God's essence is his attributes and his attributes his essence. As subsistences of the same divine esssence, no one person possess one attribute more or less than another—God's power and authority included. (Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 237)

What do we mean by the term "attributes"? We talk about the attributes of God because that is the way we can describe and know God. God possess these attributes in the sense that God has these things in His being. In other words, God logically procedes His atttributes. There is a God, and we come to know God through the revelation of His attributes. We do not come to know attributes first, then come to know God. Now, what does this mean for us in our knowledge of God? The logical precedence of God to His attributes mean that atttributes are primarily descriptive rather than substantive. They are words used to describe, to express God. Therefore, the words in themselves are not tied to the attributes of God, since descriptions are not tied to the substance/ subsistences they describe.

How does that tie in with Matthew Barrett and EFS? Barrett, in his final accusation of subordinationism, supports his case with a variety of arguments. The first two shows Barrrett's confusion over the functional, since he wrongly thinks that functional is in the immanent Trinity. In this final attack, he claims that power and authority are attributes of the one divine essence, and thus any talk about power and authority in the persons is a violation of divine simplicity and espouses ontological subordinationism. But if we take attributes as primarily descriptive, then we can agree that the divine attribute of power and authority is indeed equal among all persons of the Trinity, such that there are not three almighties but one almighty, AND at the same time state that there is personal properties of power and authority that are distributed differently between the persons. The power and authority of the divine persons as personal properties are NOT the same power and authority that is equally shared among the persons of the Trinity in their subsistences! The former is the Trinity in action ad extra; the latter the Trinity in being ad intra.

In this final attack, Barrett continues with his ignorant attack upon EFS. EFS does not rob the divine essence of power and authority, neither does it segregate power and authority over the divie subsistences, nor violate the simplicity of the Trinity. Rather, EFS differentiates between power and authority as attributes, and power and authority as personal properties. By refusing to see the attributes as primarily descriptive, and only substantive when used to describe the one essence, Barrett continues to fail in his misguided quest to destroy EFS.

Contra Barrett (Part 10): Ontology and functionality

It may sound neat and tidy to say there is something ontological (essence) and something functional (hierarchal roles) in the immanent Trinity, and one need not affect the other. But that bifurcation divorces essence and person and misunderstands what a divine person is and how each person relates to the essence. The person don't have an ontological side to them and a functional side (let alone one of hierarchy). As subsistences of the essence, the persons are ontological through and through. EFS doesn't recognize this because it has added a novel category, a social category (roles of authority/ submission) that does not fit with Nicene language. We would be wise to listen to the Great Tradition, which does not miss the connection between essence and person: "For to God it is not ony thing to be and another to be a person, but it is altogether the same thing," says Augustine. "Just as for him to be is to be God, .... thus also for him to be is to be personal" (The Trinity 7.6). Or as Bavinck explains, in "each of the three persons ... the divine being is completely coextensive with being Father, Son, and Spirit" (Reformed Dogmatics 2:304, 305).

(Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 234)

The funny thing about Matthew Barrett is how vehement he is in attacking straw men. Just to repeat one more time, function is not part of the immanent Trinity, but rather function is in the inner life of the Trinity, because the Triune God has an inner life that is not part of His being. Anytime we talk about the intra-Trinitarian love of God, there the inner life of the Trinity can be seen.

Therefore, there is nothing wrong with agreeing with Nicene language, and agreeeing with the quotes from Augustine and Bavinck. All of them pertain to the being of God, and the persons of the Godhead obviously subsist ontologically in that one essence. Again, functions pertain to God ad extra, which includes both the works of God as well as the workings of God. Unless this supposed "Great Tradition" excludes Eastern Orthodoxy, otherwise the "Great Tradition" does have a social category in the energies of God.

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Contra Barrett (Part 9): Sabellianism?

Traces of Sabellianism also appear like invisible ink held under fluorescent light when EFS says that the Father doesn't need the Son and Spirit to act in creation and salvation. He can act unilaterally; nevertheless, he is generous enough to include them. Not only is this a blatant violation of simpicity and a flagrant dissolution of God's one will, but this is something very close to Sabellianism. (Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 231)

Tritheism and Sabellianism are almost at opposite ends on the spectrum of one's view of the numericity in the Godhead, where tritheism stands at one end, and Unitarianism at the other. In Sabellianism, there is only one person, and this one person changes either depending on manifestation or in a certain sequence. It is indeed surprising to see Barrett attempt to tar EFS with both tritheism AND Sabellianism, since how can something be accused of being A and not-A at the same time?

To tar EFS with Sabellianism, Barrett refers to the problematic expression of Bruce Ware (as I have mentioned in Part 4 of this series). But let us give the most uncharitable reading to Bruce Ware, and what we get are three distinct gods in a society. Just because one works and the other two doesn't, does this tritheistic society suddenly morph into a single person who manifests the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in differing manner, or to do so in a particular sequece? How does three distinct deities suddenly become one single three-faced deity just because two of them are not working?

To ask the questions is to see how ridiculous this charge is. While the charge of tritheism comes about by reading EFS according to Aristotelian philosophy, the charge of Sabellianism seems more like trying to find more charges of heresy to stick to EFS, flinging them and watching if they stick. Such conduct is unbecoming of a scholar, and serves to corrode the credibility of Barrett's book further.

Contra Barrett (Part 8): Actions, authority and submission, and tritheism?

Furthermore, the three persons cannot perform a single action if one or more persons are, by definition of their personhood, inferior in authority to another person. As soon as you insert gradations of authority within the immanent Trinity, gradations that are person-defining and therefore essential for the Trinity to be a Trinity, you forfeit one will in God. You forfeit the Trinity's one, simple essence. Our God is simply Trinity ... no more. (Matthe Barrett, Simply Trinity, 229)

What does actions have to do with being? In Aristotelian metaphysics, the final cause of an object is part of the determiner of the object, alongside the other three causes (material, formal, efficient). A being acts towards its final cause, therefore being determines actions. However, that is a philosophical position that is simply not true. In the modern scientific world, what a thing is is independent of its purpose, and its purpose is independent of what it does. For the second, the clearest example of this is the human person, whose purpose or final cause is to be the image of God representing Him in front of creation, yet humans routinely rebel against God. Actions therefore have absolutely no link to the purpose of a thing. For the former, as being a modern scientific person and in rejection of Aristotle, the purpose of a thing is not part of the being of a thing. The Statue of Liberty is used as an American national monument, but if taken away and placed in a remote jungle, it could be used as an idol to be worshipped. Purpose is ascribed by the one who utilizes the object. What a thing's purpose is is determined by its owner or user or creator, depending on the object and its environment.

What does this have to do with one's doctrine of God? We see in the paragraph above an extremely condensed argument by Matthew Barrett. Unfortunately, Barrett does not make his argument plain, so we have to explicate them. Why does Barrett believe his argument to be foolproof, and why does he condense it? Perhaps the exposure of Aristotle is not a good thing to have?

What then is Barrett's argument? The first sentence links the idea that an inferiority in authority means that the three persons cannot perform a single action. What is that the case is not stated, since one can think of any group of ranked individuals who can perform a single action. Likewise, the second sentence states that gradations that are "persons-defining" would forfeit the one will in God. Again, why that is the case is not shown. Without an idea of the philosophy behind such statements, such statements are just mere assertions that make no sense whatsoever. What needs to be added are the Aristotelian philsophical principles so that the arguments can start to make sense.

The first sentence can be explicated as follows:

P1: If one or more persons are inferior in authority to another person, then their lower rank would correlate with a different final cause than the other person.

P2: A different final cause would mean a different action.

C1: Therefore, the three persons cannot perform a single action.

We note here that this "different action" may not be an altogether different action. It just needs to be not the exact same action. Once it is written down this way, we see here the smuggling of Aristotelian philosophy in order to create this argument, and therefore we can reject this argument in the same light.

The second sentence can be explicated as follows:

P3: Gradations that are person-defining are essential for the Trinity to be a Trinity.

P4: Gradations of authority within the immanent Trinity are gradations that are person-defining.

IC1: Gradations of authority within the immanent Trinity are essential for the Trinity to be a Trinity.

P5: Inserting gradations that are essential for the Trinity to be a Trinity would result in multiple wills in God.

C2: Insering gradations of authority within the immanent Trinity would result in multiple wills in God.

There are major problems with this second argument. For premise 3, it is true that gradations that are person-defining are essential for the Trinity to be a Trinity. However, the premise is only true if the word "essential" here is synonymous with "necessary," and not with "pertaining to the essence of a thing." This is because in classical theism, the taxis or order of the Trinity are a type of gradation that is person-defining and yet does not deal with the essence of the Trinity. Now, this is important because in intermediate conclusion 1, the fallacy of amphiboly is committed here. Whereas premise 3 is true only if the word "essential" is taken as "necessary," the word "necessary" in intermediate conclusion 1 has shifted to pertaining to the nature of a thing. This is the definition of "essential" in premise 5, which when combined with intermediate conclusion 1, creates conclusion 2. The whole argument is invalid as it runs on equivocating on the word "essential."

The premises themselves are problematic. First, premise 4 assumes EFS teaches gradations of authority within the immanent Trinity, which is a false statement no mattter how many times it is repeated. Premise 5 is basically a form of argument 1, and therefore false. The number of wills in God is a separate question altogether from gradations in the Trinity or the lack thereof. Thus, Barrett's second statement shows an invalid and unsound argument, with premises smuggled in from Aristotelian philosophy and not Scripture.

Barrett uses these arguments to claim that there is a danger of tritheism within EFS. That is however false, since EFS does not even teach mutiple wills in God. The reason why Barrett accuses EFS as tending to tritheism is because EFS as interpreted within Aristotelian metaphysics would lead to tritheism, but EFS does not follow Aristotle at all. Barrett's assertions and accusations therefore should be rejected as mere assertions based upon a faulty metaphysics. EFS does not "forfeit" the one will in God, because EFS rejects Aristotelian metaphysics altogether. Since Aristotle's writings are not Scripture, and neither is Thomas' Summa Theologica part of the biblical canon, we can safely reject them while holding on to the biblical relevation concerning who God truly is.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Contra Barrett (Part 7): Multiple wills

But if one considers how EFS has introduced a new, novel category of functional relations of authority-submission into the immanent Trintiy, suddenly this language is very alarming. Especially talk of an authority exclusive to the Father and a subordination exclusive to the Son. It screams, "Multiple wills!" Here is EFS's social trinitarianism—distinct centers of consciousness— coming through thick and heavy. Point is, EFS segregates the persons of the Trinity from one another, even sets them over against one another. (Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 228)

"Talk of a paternity exclusive to the Father and a spiration exclusive to the Spirit," "segregates the persons of the Trinity from one another, even sets them over against one another"! Of course that is nonsense, but this is what happens when one is more interested to find fault than to actually note the difference. The fact of the matter is that personal properties are always exclusive to the persons, or they would not be called personal properties at all. Noting that a personal property is exclusive to a person is like noticing that water is wet; nothing to make a big fuss about.

More significantly, Barrett asserts that such talk of functional relations of authority-submission screams of multiple wills. Barrett does not indicate why that is the case. A possible case might be made saying that stative words exclusive to the persons are fine, so there is nothing wrong with paternity or spirtaion, but action words are not, since actions are dynamic and refer to wills. However, that is not true even in classical theism. Only the Son is incarnated, so the property of "being incarnated" is exclusive to the Son only. Only the Son atones for sin, so the property of "atoning for sins" is likewise exclusive to the Son. Therefore, whether a property is stative or active should be irrelevant to the issue at hand.

What other reason is there for the charge of multiple wills? Perhaps it can be argued that authority requires a separate will from submission, but since we think of God analogously not univocally, why can we not speak of a single will that consists of an authority exclusive to the Father and submission exclusive to the Son?The fact of the matter is that I have not seen anyone positing three separate wills of the Trinity, only three distinct wills. If Barrett cannot connceive of a single will subsisting in the authority of the Father and the subission of the Son, that is a failure of his imagination and a failure to think analogously.

The charge of multipe wills is therefore flawed. Barrett has asserted over and over that EFS holds to multiple wills, by which he means multiple separate wills. However, he has failed to substantiate the claim. EFS does not believe in three separate wills of the Trinity, but three distinct wills or willings of the Trinity. Distinct, not separate. One and three at the same time.

Contra Barrett (Part 6): EFS and the marks of social trinitarianism

Now that you're seen the EFS view, notice how so many of these marks are an exact match:

  • Starting point (and emphasis) is not simplicity but the three persons—some reject simplicity altogether
  • Trinity redefined as society and community, analogous to human society
  • Persons redefined as three centers of consciousness and will
  • Persons redefined according to their relationships and roles
  • Large overlap (sometime collapse) of immanent and economic Trinity
  • Social Trinity is paradigm for social theory (ecclesiology, politics, gender, etc.)

EFS lines up with each of these marks, which makes EFS a species of social trinitarianism.

[Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 226]

Is EFS a form of social trinitarianism? It depends on how you defined "social trinitarianism." Matthew Barrett has defined social trinitarianism with these 6 points. Thus, defined, Barrett then asserts that EFS has all 6 points, and therefore this "makes EFS a species of social trinitarianism." But is this a valid characterization of EFS? In order to answer this question, we must ask ourselves: (1) Are these 6 points valid markers of social trinitarianism, and (2) Does EFS fulfill these 6 marks?

First, are these 6 points valid markers of social trinitarianism? Social trinitarianism, if defined just according to its name, is any view of the Trinity that defines the Trinity socially. In other words, if the Trinity is defined as a society of persons, then by virtue of the adjective "social," that view of the Trinity is a version of "social trinitarianism." Of course, things are much more complicated, but let's take that as a basic marker of social trinitarianism. Note that any marker for social trinitarianism must be something that is in some manner definitive of it. In other words, if a point (Point X) is shared between social trinitarianism and a non-social trinitarianism view of the Trinity, then Point X cannot be definitive of social trinitarianism.

When we look at it this way, only point 2 (Trinity redefined as society and community, analogous to human society) is definitive of social trinitarianism. What about the other points? Point 1 is not definitive of social trinitarianism, otherwise Eastern Orthodoxy would be considered social trinitarianism. Point 3 would be needed for social trinitarianism, but to claim it is necessary does not make it definitive of social trinitarianism. Nevertheless, since it is necessary, we can grant it as a marker for social trinitarianism. This goes the same for points 4 and 6. As for point 5, that is a very subjective criterion: what is seen as a small overlap can be seen as a large overlap by others, and vice versa. Regardlesss, that is in no way definitive of social trinitarianismm, since social trinitarianism is independent of one's view of the relation between the immanent and economic Trinity.

We are left with points 2, 3, 4 and 6. Now, how does EFS match to these points? EFS in its generic variety simply is a teaching that the Son submitted to the Father in eternity. Generic EFS therefore does not correspond to any of the points. How about specific variants of EFS? The dominant variant of EFS promoted by Bruce Ware, Wayne Grduem and others would line up with points 4 and 6. Wih regards to point 2, a case could be made that Bruce Ware in his earlier work Father, Son, and Holy Spirit seem to hold to point 2, although as have shown, Ware is using it for deriving practical applications. Regarding point 3, I have not seen any EFS proponent assert that each person is an individual center of consciousness and will. Barrett is inferring from phrases talking about the will of the Father, the will of the Son, and the will of the Spirit as distinct wills, that therefore EFS teaches three centers of consciousness and will. However, that does not follow (Non Sequitur). Classical Theism holds to the Father loving the Son, the Son loving the Father, and so on. Yet, the Father loving the Son in Classical Theism does not imply two wills, so why should any phrase or sentence discussing the will of the Father, the will of the Son and so on imply three centers of will?

Therefore, is EFS a version of social trinitarianism? Not necessarily. Is the dominant variant of EFS a version of social trinitarianism? No. We have said that only point 2 is definitive of social trinitarianism, while allowing points 3, 4 and 6 as they are necesary for social trinitarianism. But necessity is not the same as sufficiency. Points 3, 4 and 6 are necessary for social trinitarianism, but they are not sufficient for social trinitarianism. Therefore, merely having points 4 and 6 does not mean that the dominant variant of EFS is a version of social trinitarianism. Is Bruce Ware's version of EFS a form of social trinitarianism? It depends on how one interprets his earlier work Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Correctly read and interpreted, the focus of that work uses relationality for application, not for definition. If however, one reads that as reflective of his view of the Trinity, both immanent and economic, then it can be argued that Bruce Ware's view embraces point 2. Nevertheless, we note here the one simple fact that EFS is not necessarily a version of social trinitarianism, and only if one's version of EFS holds to point 2 can that version of EFS be considered a version of social trinitarianism.

Barrett assserts that EFS exactly matches all 6 ponts of social trinitarianism. That is a false statement. The reason why Barrett can make such a statement is because he misunderstands and misrepresents EFS, as we will continue to show to be the case.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Contra Barrett (Part 5): On the new post-2016 EFS

At first, Ware prommises he is orthodox and Nicene, but the more he elaborates, the more noticeable it becomes that he is dissatisfied with the way the Nicene fathers and the Great Tradition have articulated the Trinity. For example, the oorthodox "appeal to divine apprpopriations falls short of expressing fully what Scripture indicates regarding the functional relations." "Yes, the order of operations ad extra is expressive of the order of relations ad intra, but saying only this excludes a significant portion of scriptural indications." What exactly is excluded and "missing""? Authority. Hierarchy. Inside the Trinity. Without authority-submission within the immanent Trinity, Ware believes the Father sending the Son is but a "mechanical" and "impersonal outworking of the relations of origin." (Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 224)

The fallout from the 2016 ESS fiasco did indeed result in some positive changes, in that more orthodox language and concepts were adopted by many biblicists. Nevertheless, according to Barrett, all changes are at best cosmetic and at worst make the "heresy" even worse. Reacting to Bruce Ware's 2019 article, Barrett charges that (1) Ware is "dissastified with the Nicene fathers and the Great Tradition," and Barrett thinks that anyone who thinks the Nicene doctrine of God is not the pinnacle of orthodoxy to be one of at least questionable faith, and (2) still thinks that EFS teaches authority-submission within the immanent Trinity. We will look at these in turn.

First, Barrett is highly critical of anyone who is "dissatisfied with the Nicene fathers" and the 'Great Tradition.' Note here the elevation and capitalization of the "Great Tradition." But just what is this "Great Tradition"? Barrett is using it as a short form for classical theism, but not just any classical theism but Thomism. Saint Thomas Aquinas is now his patron saint it seems! But this whole idea that there is a Great Tradition which holds to everything Barrett is teaching is a mirage. Thomas Aquinas's view is not the only claassical theist view concerning the doctrine of God. This is not to mention the total neglect of Eastern Orthodox views with its idea of the essence- energies distinction. The "Great Tradition" Barrett is promoting is as much a modern phenomenon as EFS. The only difference is one has Saint Thomas while the other doesn't.

It must be noted that the doctrine of God is never static. The idea that even pro-Nicene thought is the same as Thomist classical theism is a figment of Barrett's imagination. If the Nicene doctrine of God is the pinnacle of orthodoxy, then why should the charge that Thomas Aquinas is "dissastified with the Nicene faith" not be true, since he adds to the Nicene doctrine of God as well? The fact of the matter is that everyone by virtue of being a theologian "adds to" the Nicene faith, as long as one attempts to formulate what one believes to be the biblical view of the Trinity.

That goes to the heart of the problem with Barrett's attack on Bruce Ware. It is false to think that dissastifaction with the Nicene fathers is a bad thing, because everyone including Barrrett alters or improves upon the beliefs of others. The only difference is that some are more honest about their theological project than others. Barrett himself is not content with the Nicene faith but embraces Thomas' views of the Trinity. And, as we shall see in future posts, Barrrett's view of the Trinity is itself not the same as older classical theist views.

Secondly, Barrett doubles down on his accusation that EFS teaches that authority and submission is within the immanent Trinity. However, he gave no proof that this is the case. As I have mentioned earlier, any talk of the inner life of the Trinity should not be read as pertaining to the immanent Trinity. Since immanent Trinity refers to God in His being, and EFS is not about being but function, therefore EFS by definition is not about the immanent Trinity, no matter what Barrett says.

Contra Barrett (Part 4): Optional involvement of the Son and jealousy within the Trinity?

Ware went so far as to compare the Son to creation: "In many ways, what we see here of the Father choosing not to work unilaterally but to accomplish his work through the Son, or thhrough the Spirit, extends into his relationship to us. Does God need us to do his work?25 The answer is no, but for EFSers the reason why stems from the Trinity: the Son's involvement is optional. The Son is not involved, because he is the Son. He is only involved because the Father chooses to include him. The Father could have asked the Son to stand aside the watch him do all the work. Likewise with the work of creation. (Matthew Barrett, Simply Trinity, 219)

Generosity is key to the EFS view. Otherwise, the Son might be ungrateful, buck his place of submission, and attempt to exalt himself to the Father's position of authority within the Trinity. But EFSers say the Son won't do that because he "accepts his role" and minds his place below the Father.29 There is, then, "neither jealosy nor pride"; rather, each person "works together with the others for one unified, common purpose."30 ... Jealosy, pride, discord? Why would EFSers feel the need to preclude these within the eternal, immanent Trinity? (Barrett, 219-20)


25. Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 57

29. Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 20

30. Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 20

While it is true that Barrett does much misrepresentation, some of the criticisms he has leveled are indeed valid. That said, where he goes with it is another thing altogether.

The next criticism of EFS is that EFS teaches that the "Son's involvement [in the works of God] is optional." Barrett cites Bruce Ware there, and that is certainly an error on the part of Ware. It is certainly true that Ware is talking about a hypothetical here, but still if we are to preserve the fact that there is one God who is simple, then this hypothetical is nonsense. Ware is in error on this point.

Barrett's next criticism however is ridiculous. Citing Ware again, Barrett states that EFS teaches that there is "neither jealosy nor pride" within the Trinity. But certainly just denying that such things exist within the Trinity does not give anyone the license to insinuate that somehow something nefarious is happening? (Note also how Barrett asserts that the Son being in a certain role is equivalent with the negative phrase "minds his place below the Father.") It is unfair to infer from something that Barrett himself will agree with (i.e. there is neither jealosy nor pride within the Trinity) to cast shade on one's opponents.

Ware is indeed wrong on this point. The problem with Barrett here however is using this to somehow insinuate that all EFSers hold to the same teaching that the Son's involvement in the works of God is optional. Presumably, Barrett would bristle if somebody attacks all classical theists as teaching questionable doctrine X if one classical theist promotes teaching X. Yet Barrett violates the law of charity in this attack upon EFS, as if others like Waynge Grudem, John Piper, Owen Strachan and others hold to the same view.