Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Son - God from Himself (Calvin)

One of the things I would like to think about a little more when time and energy allow (perhaps on a rainy day in retirement) is Calvin's doctrine of the Son.

For Holmes, Calvin has "one distinctive emphasis... in stressing the autotheotic existence of the three hypostases. For Calvin, the Son is God of himself, not God by gift of the Father - similarly he Spirit. Calvin's argument is essentially that the fullness of deity possessed by the Son and Spirit must include aseity, and so that it is improper to speak of the Son's deity as derived from the Father. (Holmes, Quest for the Trinity, p169f).

Holmes says that Helm's John Calvin's Ideas is probably the best account of his doctrine of the Trinity. Sadly it is 40 quid for the Kindle version!!!

Also, Kurt A. Richardson, 'Calvin on the Trinity' in John Calvin and Evangelical Theology (ed. S. W. Chung)

Holmes also points to the then forthcoming book by Brannon Ellis, Calvin, Classical Trinitarianism, and the Aseity of the Son (OUP, 2012). That is a mere £66!

Mark Jones gives a useful clarification of Reformed thought on this subject here (proposition 11):

The Father communicates the whole Godhead to the Son, “for Essentiae communicatio facit omnia communia; the Godhead being Communicated by the Father, all things of the Godhead…only the distinction of the Persons excepted” (Goodwin). The classic Reformed position on the eternal generation of the Son includes the communication of the divine essence from the Father to the Son.  However, there is no generation of a new essence.  Hence, the Son’s deity, being communicated from the Father, is not derived from another essence, but is identical to the Father’s essence and therefore the Son is a se.  On this point, the majority position differs from Calvin’s. We may argue that although the Son is from the Father, he may still be called “God-of-himself,” that is, “not with respect to his person, but essence; not relatively as Son (for thus he is from the Father), but absolutely as God inasmuch as he has the divine essence existing from itself and not divided or produced from another essence (but not as having that essence from himself).  So the Son is God from himself although not the Son from himself” (Turretin). Turretin is making the distinction between aseitas personalis, a trinitarian heresy, and aseitas essentialis.

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