Making sense of Doyley’s final point

Posted: February 1, 2012 by J in Church history, Theology

In trying to figure out what I think of RD’s argument, I’ve made a summary of it. I think he’s saying:

Augustine, in thinking of essence as well as person, is in the Greek tradition.

Essence is all about unity.

Modern dudes rubbish this idea of essence in the Trinity. But this gives them problems with unity. They’re left only with persons, so must define the unity in terms of  personhood. Also define equality this way. So they don’t like hierarchy in the Trinity.

Gunton’s critique was that Augy saw God’s oneness as a substratum underlying his personal threeness: modalist thinking.

Barney and Ayres have debunked that. People thought that way because they couldn’t read latin and relied on bad English translations.

The actual guilty party here is Thomas Aquinas. Not St A.

Augustine’s other writings (not ‘On the Trinity’) clarify that he was not modalist. E.g. in one of his letters, Augy says God’s unity comes from ‘the inseparability of his operations.’ Not from essence.

So the ‘essence’ of the persons’ unity is the inseparability of their operations.

Within this unity there is a priority of the Father as source. Hence only the Son, not the Father also, was incarnated.

Has Augustine connected the 3 persons to the 1 essence effectively? He tries with the inseparability of their operations. BUT his insistence that ‘person’ is a relative or logical idea, not a concrete ontological one, suggests NO. Essence is left impersonal.

Didymus the blind says the Son gets his ‘sonnish’ (i.e. personal) existence from the being (essence) of the Father. i.e. Diddums makes existence (essence)  personal.

If Augy had been thinking the way Didymus was, he would have got further!


Have I got that right?


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