Tuesday, November 02, 2021

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.

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