January 27, 2021

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.


I was looking at Bosserman for a little while and saw that he makes some of the same observations about Eternal Generation(in it’s historical and traditional sense) that I have tried to get across to people. Here are a few quotations from his book:

First, in addition to creating the universe (Mark 13:19), and predestining believers unto salvation (1 Pet 1:2), the Father is responsible for directing the Son and the Spirit in their creative and redemptive work (Luke 11:13; John 3:16). Second, the Son is the mediator between God and creation (John 17:23; 1 Tim 2:5) and especially between the Father and believers, as the vessel through whom the Spirit is poured out (John 15:26; Luke 3:16). Third, the Spirit glorifies and completes the work of the Father and the Son by directing the creation back unto God in praise and worship (John 14:26; Gal 4:6). In fact, the Spirit is the archetypal glory of God (1 Pet 4:14; Gen 1:2 with Exod 24:16–17)646 and the chief object of the Father and the Son’s affection (Isa 43:7; Matt 12:31–32). Points such as these have led theologians to discern that even before creation, the Father has eternally generated the Son (rendering him a “second” person), while the two together have eternally sent forth the Spirit (rendering him a “third” person). Furthermore, the Trinity seems to lend itself to psychological analogies where the Father is like unto an individual person/mind, the Son to an eternal expression of God’s self-knowledge (John 1:1–3; 1 Cor 1:24; Ps 33:6), and the Spirit to the mutual affection and good will between the two (John 17:5). Hence, even those Reformed theologians who have stressed most of all the equal originality the divine persons (e.g., Calvin, Hodge, Warfield, Van Til, etc.) have discerned that the Father must, in some fashion “generate” the Son, and spirate the Spirit through the Son, from eternity (see fig. 28).647 However, if our minor premise regarding economy is correct, and there is a sense in which the persons of the Son and Spirit are “from” the Father, then several undesirable results seem to follow. The Father would represent an aboriginal unrelated person for whom personal relations are secondary, and the oneness of God would seem to precede his threeness as its logical ground/source. But, as we have seen, Trinitarian covenantalism demands the absolute equality of the three divine persons in order to evade an impersonalist worldview.

Bosserman, B. A.. The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox: An Interpretation and Refinement of the Theological Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til (pp. 182-183). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The chief obstruction to appreciating that an ontological equality implies an equally basic order between the divine persons is the failure to regard all three persons of the Trinity as self-existent (Exod 3:14; John 5:26; Acts 17:25),648 in the sense that they are identical with their activity toward one another, as contrasting persons. Too often theologians have presumed, with Aristotle, that self-existence can only pertain to a unitary mind—“thought thinking itself”—who sheds the sorts of distinction that accompany concrete relationships. With this point of view in the background, Western theologians have often compared the Father to a unitary mind, and the Son and the Spirit to primeval acts of self-knowledge and self-will. In this case, they are eternal and at the same time owing their personal existence to an activity of the Father.649 Insofar as the psychological analogy for God is stressed, ontological equality diminishes, and the Father alone is preserved as a self-existent ground of being, to Whom the Son and Spirit are much indebted for their secondary and tertiary existences, respectively. Once more a self-defeating unitarianism looms in the background, where, in himself, the Father is far more like an impersonal, indefinable void. Second, others, who have drawn inspiration from Calvin’s emphasis on the equal originality of the divine persons, have understood the three persons’ unity to be closer akin to a unity of interest or intention between three human beings, than to that sort of unity which obtains within a single mind.650 This view runs the risk of reducing the unity of the Godhead to a synthetic product of the mutual deliberation between three wholly separate persons. Even though it may be eternal, the order between the divine persons does not enter into the very essence of the Godhead, but is more like a “group” ethos produced by the three persons. This sort of Trinitarianism veers in the direction of tri-theism, and would reduce (with polytheisms of all stripes) to impersonalism, if unrestrained.

Bosserman, B. A.. The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox: An Interpretation and Refinement of the Theological Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til (p. 184). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.