Sunday, March 20, 2016


William G. T. Shedd rejects the view of some scholars including Neander (II.470, Note 2) who said that Augustine's doctrine of the Trinity 'kept at a distance everything that bordered on subordinationism.'

Shedd identifies three kinds of subordination:

(1) the filial or Trinitarian
(2) the theanthropic
(3) the Arian

He says that 'the first is taught, and the second is implied in the Nicene creed. The last is denied and excluded."

... dogmatic historians... contend that the Nicene creed, in affirming the filial, but denying the Arian subordination; in teaching subordination as to person and relationship, but denying it as to essence; enunciates a revealed truth, and that this is endorsed by all the Trinitarian fathers, Eastern and Western. And there certainly can be no doubt that Augustine held this view. He maintains, over and over again, that Sonship as to relationship is second and subordinate to the Father; that while that while a Divine Father and a Divine Son must necessarily be of the very same nature and grade of being, like a human father and a human son, yet the latter issues from the former, not the former from the latter.... [Augustine calls the Father the beginning of the Son] Augustine employs this term "beginning" only in relation to the person, not to the essence. There is no "beginning," or source, when the essence itself is spoken of. Consequently, the "subordination" (implied in a "beginning" by generation and spiration) is not the Arian subordination, as to essence, but the trinitarian subordination, as to person and relation.

(Shedd's introduction to Augustine, On The Trinity, Fig books edition, p3)

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