3.4 Course Project: Calvin Analysis Paper Prep
Jonathan Edwards' theory is related to the living, triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Edwards the greatest theologian of American antiquity, was a prolific writer and prodigious and also an innovative thinker. Although much attention could be given too many different areas of his thought, it is his Trinitarian thought that we are most concerned with in this paper. The paper will explore and evaluate the Trinitarian thought of Jonathan Edwards with specific attention given to three clear aspects: His explication of the Trinity “ad intra”, His understanding of the Trinity “ad extra”, and his teaching on the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity “Ad Intra”
Edwards begins his discussion with God being “infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself,” and from this, arising a “most perfect idea of himself an exact image and representation.” This idea is the divine understanding and since God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16), there is a beloved, "an eternal and necessary object." From this image, in turn, "arises" pure, perfect energy, that is, "the divine love, complacency, and joy.” Speaking more fully of this idea, he writes: if God beholds himself so as thence to have delight and joy in himself, he must become his own object: there must be duplicity … this idea of God is a substantial idea and has the very essence of God, is truly God, to all intents and purposes, and that by this means the Godhead is really generated and repeated.
This idea, then, possesses all deity and is “another person.” Although another person, he is “ the same God, the very same divine nature.” Christ is this “personal idea … God hath of himself.” He goes on to elaborate on Christ as the idea of God by discussing various biblical texts which describe him as the image of God (citing, e.g., 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). He argues from this that an idea is “the most immediate representation,” and, thus, the more “primary … image” of something. The idea of God, Christ, is the “object of God’s … love.” Just as God delights in and enjoys himself, in the same way, he enjoys his image, his Son.
He goes on to explain on Christ as the idea of God by discussing various biblical texts which describe him as the image of God (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). He argues from this that an idea is “the most immediate representation,” and, thus, the more “primary image" of something. In sum, the mutual love and joy between the Father and Son give rise to the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity “Ad Extra”
Edwards' articulation of the life of the Trinity ad intra is reflected in his articulation of this same life ad extra. One of the key aspects of his thought in this area is his use of the Augustinian-idealist model, which, in sum, describes the delight and love every person of the Trinity has with one another. The Father is the lover, the Son represents the object of the Father’s love, and the Holy Spirit is the bond of love existing between the Father and the Son.
At another point, we find an in-depth discussion of the involvement of the Trinity in redemption. He begins by stating that "with respect to the creature," "there is a subordination of the persons of the Trinity," with the Son submitting to the Father, and the Holy Spirit submits to the Father and the Son, yet, at the same time, "each person is not inferior one to another in glory and excellency of nature."
The Holy Spirit
The Spirit is the connection of love between the Father and the Son. It is the breathing out of the divine essence which gives the connection between the Trinity ad intra and ad extra, the Spirit ad extra operates as he does ad intra which is, as the divine love/will be poured forth. Edwards further argues for the equality of the Holy Spirit with the other persons of the Trinity. Interestingly, in arguing for the honor of each person, he says that the Holy Spirit is equal “for he is that divine excellency and beauty itself [which the Father and Son possess].”
Similarly, the Father and Son “are infinitely holy [and] happy,” yet, the Spirit is “holiness [and] infinite happiness itself.”
In my view, it is clear that Edwards’ love of the Triune God and his zeal to defend it, both directly and indirectly, against opponents is the same zeal that led him to the excesses detrimental to an orthodox account of the Trinity.
Within the Neoscholastic tradition, the terms Economic and immanent came to be used in Trinitarian discourse, having evolved from St Augustine and augmented by St Aquinas. This lexicon was taught in seminaries and dominant in the Catholic Church in the early 20
The century, but Rahner criticized it as dichotomizing the Trinity by treating the inner life of God as one thing separate to how God participated in creation. Within this framework, the term Economic Trinity refers to that knowledge shared by God which is revealed to us by His presence and action in the economy of salvation history as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Immanent Trinity refers to the mysterious existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their eternal life. The economic Trinity communicates and reveals the immanent Trinity.
Migliore stresses on a responsible Trinitarian beginning with economic trinity because the economic Trinity communicates and reveals the immanent Trinity. The difference is brought up by his argue that anything we know about the immanent Trinity is because of the economic Trinity and therefore actually is the economic anyhow. Migliore also says that anything we know about the Trinity is useful to us and that the idea that the Immanent Trinity is so far removed from us as to have no purpose would be ultimately useless anyhow. It is precisely, for this reason, more than any other, that Migliore challenges our definition of the traditional concept of what the immanent Trinity is.
Augustine. On the Holy Trinity. In vol. 3 of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1.Edited by Philip Schaff. 1886 – 1889. 14 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.
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