The Significance of the Eternal Generation Doctrine
in the Contemporary Trinitarian Trends
Jung S. Rhee
The revival of evangelical Christianity around the world in the last two decades has contributed to the purification of the Church from Neo-Liberalism which arose in the 1960s and vigorously attempted to secularize the historic Christian faith. However, the modern idea of God more or less polluted evangelical theologies, including the doctrine of the Trinity. Even among the evangelicals, there is a confusion in the threeness/oneness problem. Though it is a traditional problem, modern resurgence of modalistic trinitarianism has caused this confusion.
However, it is fortunate that social trinitarianism appeared with a strong emphasis upon the threeness of the triune God and an ontological concept of the "person", as a counterforce theology to modalistic trinitarianism of Karl Barth and economic trinitarianism of Karl Rahner, for example. In this recovery of the Nicene trinitarianism, the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son is crucial because without its proper recognition it could fall into the pitfall of tritheism.
On the other hand, the rise of metaphoricalism in the modern biblical scholarship including evangelical and most radically in the feminist theology threatens the traditional doctrine of the Son's eternal generation. While those biblical theologians are eager to delete the word "begotten" from "the only-begotten Son" in John 3. 16, the feminist theologians even attempt to delete the revealed divine titles of the Trinity, that is, the "Father" and the " Son" out of the Scripture and Christian dictionary. This fact that the object of their attack is focused on this doctrine of the Son's generation is a strong proof of its crucial importance in keeping the orthodox Christian faith.
In this discussion, I will concentrate
on the role and significance of the doctrine of the Son's eternal
generation in the contemporary trinitarian tension between
Barthianism and social trinitarianism, and the destructive
emergence of contemporary metaphoricalism.
Barthian Modalism and
Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of our century, is often regarded as a trinitarian modalist. Jurgen Moltmann referred to him as "a late triumph for Sabellianism which the early church condemned."1 However, there is some ambiguity in his doctrine of the Trinity. Moreover, Barth and his followers strongly deny this charge. The translator of Barth's Dogmatics, Geoffrey W. Bromiley contends that "where the Dogmatics is read carelessly or superficially, or known only at second hand, the term["mode of being"] is even cited in favor of the absurd idea that Barth advocated modalism."2 Karl Barth himself repeatedly criticised modalism and made a special request of his translator to be very careful in rendering this term in the English translation so that the readers would not get the wrong-impression that Barth was a modalist.3
His own strong denial of modalism embarasses his critics. In some sense, he is quite different from the traditional modalism. Fred H. Klooster correctly pointed out that "Barth's view of God has some resemblance to the monarchianism of the ancients, although his modalistic view of the Trinity is more complex than the earlier forms of modalism."4 First, he rejected the older modalistic idea of successive temporary appearances of the three modes of one God one by one. Against this idea, he insisted that three modes of being are eternal.5 Second, he rejected the modalistic idea of "the hidden Fourth", which necessarily "entails a denial of god."6 Barth believed in a God who encounters man in the event of revelation. Third, he rejected a modalistic idea of the Trinity as three different experiential modes of God. This modern immanentism was developed by Schleiermacher who rejected the personal idea of God.7 This was one of the main targets of Karl Barth who asserted that God is "the real person and not merely the ideal."8 He clearly rejected the liberal understanding of God, in which "the divine subjectivity is sucked up into the human subjectivity which inquires about a God who does not exist."9 He wrote a pneumatology entitled The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life(1938), to "refute the modern Liberal Protestant doctrine of Divine immanence, which assumes that 'the Holy Spirit is man's own spirit'."10 R. S. Franks pointed out that "although Barth thus speaks of the Mode of the Divine Being, he says that his doctrine is not Modalism, by which he here means not historical Sabellianism, but the 'Sabellianism' of Schleiermacher."11 Fourth, he rejected a modalistic idea of Jesus' docetic divinity. "The main point of Modalism", Barth contends, "is to try to keep the true deity of the humiliated and lowly and obedient Christ, but to interpret the being of this Christ as a mere mode of appearance or revelation or activity of the one true Godhead, beside which there are the other three modes of the ruling Father and also of the Holy Spirit."12 If so, Barth insisted, Jesus could not reconcile this world with God as the real representative of the world.
However, the concept of modalism from which Barth disassociated himself is neither traditionally understood nor universally accepted. Though he did his best to escape from the swamp of modalism, he was enslaved to his own idea of modalism. His choice of the term "mode of being" instead of the traditional "person" proves his stubborn insensitivity. According to him, "What is called 'personality' in the conceptual vocabulary of the 19th century is distinguished from the patristic and medieval persona by the addition of the attribute of self-consciousness."13 Because this traditional term "person" is critically spoiled now, Barth preferred to use the term "mode of being"(Seinsweise) rather than "person."14 He is very confident of his understanding that the orthodox concept of "person" is not that of "personality."15 It was because he thought that the concept of three personalities necessarily results in an heretical tritheism.16
However, Barth fails to convince on this crucial point. For in the history of trinitarian doctrine a discussion of modalism has been concerned with the choice of the terms "person" or "mode." If there was no decisive difference between the terms "person" and mode," the early Church would not have made it a matter for excommunication as heresy. If "person" had meant simply "mask," with no significant difference from the term "mode," as Barth insists,17 the early Church would not have been insisted on the term "person." If "person" of the early Church is equivalent to "mode of being" in today's world, what then is the corresponding concept today for the term "mode," to which the early church so strenuously object? J. N. D. Kelly, in his solid Patristic study entitled Early Christian Doctrines, absolutely declares Barth's understanding of "person" as "errorneous".18
Accordingly, everyone who believes in the Triune God as "one" Person, individual, subject, or personality is a Sabellian modalist in its traditional sense. And, Karl Barth exactly fits in this category, for he believes in "Yahweh-kyrios which embraces both the Old Testament and the New...the name of a single being, of the one and only Willer and Doer."19 Only whom he believes in is one triune God of one personality, "the One who lives and loves, and therefore One, the One, and therefore, if we want to call it so, personality."20 After excellently making "the definition of a person, that is, a knowing, willing, acting I,"21 Barth clarifies his belief that there exists no "three divine I's", but "the one divine I."22
Indeed, it is regrettable that Karl Barth, "the major trinitarian theorist of the twentieth century,"23 happens to be a modalist.24 However, he has significantly stimulated the contemporary trinitarian scholars to re-examine the meaning of the Nicene term "person" and the inner-trinitarian relationship of the ontological Trinity, as embodied in the orthodox formula, "three persons in one substance."
As a counteraction to the modalistic trinitarianism of Karl Barth and his followers, there arose a group of theologians, the so-called "social trinitarians." Leonard Hodgson, the late professor of theology at Oxford University, initiated this new movement in the 1940s,25 and the scholars like Jurgen Moltmann, William Hasker, Joseph A. Bracken, Daniel L. Migliore, and recently Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. have participated in this social trinitarian movement.26
The social Trinity theory is an attempt to explain the doctrine of the Trinity by the analogy of "society" . It is well defined by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.: "The holy Trinity is a divine society or community of three fully personal and fully divine beings: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit or Paraclete."27 Indeed, the social trinity theory strikes a deadly blow to the modern resurgence of the Sabellian modalism by clearly stating that the Trinity is the divine society of three distinct individual persons. It is reaffirmation of the orthodox formulation "three persons in one substance" with a clarification that the orthodox term "person" is not "mode" but same "person" or even "personality" in the modern connotation. Thus, the social trinity theory safeguards the Christian Church from the Hegelian Christology and Pneumatology of the modern liberal theology. In this sense, it is evangelical, biblical, and orthodox. In this analogy, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three members of the divine society, among whom dynamic social relations are supposed. Also, the biblical records and the ecclesiastical creeds of the Trinity can be literally and really accepted without any modernistic modification.
However, the social trinitarianism has a possible defect behind it. According to the social analogy, the three divine Persons share unity only because they are living in the same society and belonging to the same "sort" or "species".28 If that's all, it is no more than our human unity in its ideal state. Here is a serious problem. Strikingly, it does not like to talk about the birth of the Trinity. Essentially, the social trinity theory presupposes the equal membership of the Trinity as its starting-point. Anything which might endanger the perfect equality of the three persons is avoided, discarded, and criticized. In this there is a great danger of subordinationism and the resurgence of the medieval tritheism of the condemned Roscellinus and Joachim of Fiore: the social and moral unity of three persons of divinity without ontological relationships. Therefore, "chief" among its criticism is the issue of tritheism. Though social trinitarian theorists complain that the charge serves "to disguise the writer's own modalism,"29 or that "even if within some classically accepted boundary, is often called a tritheist,"30 the tritheism charge is not without reason.
Leonard Hodgson, the pioneer of
contemporary social trinitarianism,31 cannot escape
from being called a tritheist. For, out of the fear of
subordinationism, he rejected the doctrine of eternal generation
of the Son:
Subordinationism, as I have indicated earlier, attempts to preserve the unity by making one Person ultimately the real God and the other divine because of their relation to Him.32
The main thesis of these lectures, I have said, is that the act of faith required for acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity is faith that the Divine unity is a dynamic unity actively unifying in the one Divine life the lives of three Divine persons. I now wish to add that in this unity there is no room for any trace of subordinationism, and that the thought of the Father as the Source or Fount of Godhead is a relic of pre-Christian theology which has not fully assimilated the Christian revelation.33
Furthermore, praising the Quicunque
Vult as "the only one which explicitly and unequivocally
states the full Christian doctrine of God," he depreciated
the Nicene Creed, for it seems "to assert that the Son and
the Spirit only share in the Divine substance by derivation
from the Father."34 It is interesting for him to
wish that Augustine, Aquinas and Calvin would discard the
neo-Platonic doctrine of eternal generation, if they were still
alive.35 His idea of a social unity of three divine
persons without any ontological relationship made him a
tritheist. this deviation is not followed by Jurgen Moltmann and
Plantinga, Jr. Moltmann vigorously defends the doctrine of
eternal generation with the conviction that only this doctrine
could defend the Trinity "against any danger of
monotheism" and "Sabellian" modalism.36
His perception of generation also follows the orthodox conception
of derivation: "But if the Son proceeded from the Father
alone, then this has to be conceived of both as a begetting
and as a birth."37 Here, we see a
plausible form of social trinitarianism, which does justice both
to the "threeness" and "oneness." Beyond a
simple mechanical and socialistic equalitarianism, Plantinga too
includes the "mysterious" origin in his social theory
of the Trinity: "He[the Son] is related to the Father not
only by being equally divine; he is also 'from' him, or 'of' him,
in some mysterious way: 'begotten of the Father before all
worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God."38
Therefore, it is totally right for him to "deny that the
social analogy of the Trinity is tritheist."39
Resurgence of Metaphoricalism
In Feminist Theology
and Biblical Scholarship
Leonard Boff, a Liberation theologian favors this social trinitarianism, because it promotes social egalitarianism for the liberation of society.40 Mixing his Liberation Theology with Karl Rahner's economic trinitarianism and evolutionistic Christology, Boff lays claim to a new kind of social trinitarianism. But, he cannot be a genuine social trinitarian, though he may be a socialist, because he accepts neither real distinction of three persons, nor real generation of the Son. Following the Roman Catholic tradition of psychological trinitarianism, he conceives the Son's generation as follows: "The Father knows himself absolutely and the expression of this(Logos, Word) is the Son. This is the first procession, and has the character of a begetting. This begetting is described in the same terminology as that used of human cognitive processes(conceiving, concept, reproduction)."41 Also, he follows Karl Barth and Karl Rahner in exhibiting discomfort with the traditional term "person."42
In fact, his favor on social trinitarianism is not because of its strong ontological nature but because of its social implications. The most aggressive form of Liberation Theology in this aspect is Feminist Theology. As Rosemary Radford Ruether, a leading feminist theologian summed up, the three major directions in contemporary feminism is liberalism, socialism, and romanticism.43 It has a vision of a new society and "societal egalitarianism."44 Inspired by the biblical idea of redemptive liberation from sexism, a group of feminist theologians are engaged in the improvement of women's social status and the realization of sexual equality. Sexism is a great and deep sin, and the recoveryy of human dignity in the redemptive history includes abrogation of sexual discrimination.
However, they are climbing up beyond equality to claim feminine superiority. When they attempt this project within the Christianity, the fundamental problem they are facing is the trinitarian designations in the Scripture, especially the Father and the Son. Accordingly, they are very aggressive in attacking those titles and denigrating the Scripture which uses those terms as culturally-biased. Therefore, as Donald G. Bloesch correctly pointed out in The Battle for the Trinity, two essential problem with this feminist theology is "the viability of the doctrine of the Trinity as well as the authority of the Scripture."45 Feminist theologians agree with him. To liberate the Scripture "from its patriarchal bondage," the revision of the orthodox view of the Scripture is inevitable.46 Even more radical is Ruether's proposal to construct "a new canon,"47 because "feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible."48 Among them, it is agreed that the crucial issue is the nature of the God-language,49 and that it is metaphorical in nature.
Their metaphorical understanding centers on the trinitarian names "Father" and "Son", whose ontological denotations they absolutely reject. "The Father" or "the Son" has no meaning at all and therefore they are to be abrogated and replaced by inclusive language. So, they are condemning not only biblical but also confessional statements which include the divine names "the Father" and "the Son" as patriarchal.50 Therefore, it is a major departure from traditional trinitarianism, when they reject the triune God and create a "new god" and goddess religion.51 Though a few conservatives try to preserve the threeness with some feminization,52 the general attitude toward the threeness of the Trinity is very negative. The Trinity is understood, either as a culturally spoiled concept of God, or as three modes of one God. "Possessing many names and therefore no name," Judith Ochshorn contends, "he(God) is nominally nonsexual, nonfamilial, and thus neither the parent nor the offspring of other deities" but this monotheism was spoiled by the Near Eastern polytheism as to revise it into three-personed divinity.53 In a metaphorical theology, no sexual concept of God is accepted and therefore Jesus as the Son of God is denied.54 Also, the traditional term "person" is rejected, "because the stereotypic concept of a person is a physical, spiritual, and emotional being with traits of only one sex."55
Here, the doctrine of the Son's generation is distorted by the feminist ideology. It seems that they religiously emphasize the significance of feminine fertility. However, the concept of metaphysical generation of the Son is denied due to their metaphoricalism.56 As a matter of fact, they are not satisfied with desexualization of God and the concept of sexually neutral or sex-transcendent God, which they could achieve with the means of metaphoricalism. Rather, a full-scale feminization of God is attempted by changing the patriarchal terms in the Scripture and Confessions into their feminist alternatives. Strictly speaking, God-language is metaphorical and three Persons of the Trinity including the Father and the Son are sexually transcendent. Therefore, Deborah M. Belonick's contention that the Fatherhood means not maleness but generation57 is fair. But, they are inconsistent and even dangerous when the change of metaphorical language is attempted for the so-called "literalized metaphor,"58: from "God the Father" to "God the Mother."
This change of the biblical language is
intolerable, because it changes the meaning and thus paganize the
Christian concept of the triune God. For meaning is integrally
bound up in language, "when foundational symbols are
altered, the meaning also changes."59 For its
violation of the fundamental literary principle, Roland M. Frye
clearly states as follows:
The most dangerous kind of tampering changes biblical texts and language from what they say to what we prefer they should say....The assumption that we can alter the figurae is not only historically and theologically false but equally false linguistically and literarily. The fundamental literary principle is that figures cannot be abandoned, symbols cannot be substituted, images cannot be altered without changing the meaning they convey....Scripture relies on figurative language for God not because such language is stylistically inviting but because it is the most effective mode for conveying God's self-disclosure.60
It is a serious challenge to the authority and inspiration of the Scripture. They seem not to believe the verbal inspiration of the Scripture that every word of the Scripture, especially "the Father" and "the Son", is God-selected for the purpose of revelation.
The modern rejection of the Scripture as the inspired Word of God originated from the Liberal and Bultmannian biblical scholarship. The doctrine of the Son's eternal generation is cynically ignored on the liberal assumption that it is a post-resurrection innovation of the early Christianity. In spite of the traditional belief of the Son's eternity and identification of Jesus with the eternal Son, they continue to ask about the pre-existence or self-consciousness of Jesus, as well as the cultural meaning of the title "Son of God." Therefore, real generation is regarded as a myth and the time of generation, which is a matter of faith only, not of reality, is negotiated among them: "In this earliest expression[Romans and Acts], the Messiah was begotten of God at the time of the resurrection. Later, the moment was pushed back to the time of Jesus' baptism experience--as reflected in the Codex Bezae. Finally, in the canonical versions of Matthew and Luke the moment was pushed back to the time of conception/birth."61 However, the evangelical scholars understand the happenings of such moments as a "honoring" or "affirming" of His Sonship rather than its beginning, i.e., generation.62
The Christological debate in New Testament scholarship is mainly concerned to the christological titles, especially "the Son of Man" and "the Son of God." Though some contend that these two titles are antithetical, it is generally accepted that they are complementary.63 And, the title "the Son of God" has a great importance and significance, because it deals with the trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son. Therefore, "it is no coincidence that the most fully developed christology of the Gospel of John has particularly attracted thinkers like Schleiermacher and Bultmann who have been so strictly concerned with 'demythologizing'."64 Of all the Christological titles, "Son of God" is best fitted to express the idea of Jesus' divinity and "the Johannine writings contain a fuller discussion of the relationship between Father and Son than any other part of the New Testament."65 One of the most beloved designations of our Lord appears here, that is, "the only-begotten Son.'"
However, it is the phrase that is hotly
debated now: whether to newly render it into "the only
Son" or to keep it.66 As Dale Moody notes,
"the removal of the term 'only begotten' was prompted, not
by theological interest, but by the plain demands of linguistic
study."67 As a matter of fact, some Greek
lexicons renders monogenes simply as "one of a
kind," "only," or "unique," without
mentioning "only begotten." Especially, Moulton and
Milligan's The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (1930)
contends that it needs another n to be rendered into
"only begotten," that is, monogennetus(pp.
416f.). As early as 1883, B. F. Westcott insisted that the
thought of monogenes "is centered in the Personal
existence of the Son, and not in the Generation of the Son."68
This new rendering has an old history.69 However, it
is certainly undergoing a resurgence in our time, as we see it in
RSV, NEB, and NIV ("one and only"). Though its primary
argument is linguistic by nature, its theological implication may
not be denied because the real Sonship of Jesus is under a
serious attack. Concerning the reason why such a new rendering
does not disturb the Church, James M. Bulman has an excellent
The popular acceptance of the translation of monogenes as "only" instead of "only begotten" does not seem to have caused much concern theologically, probably because the ancient axiom of the Generation of the Son has come to have little meaning.70
With the omission of
"begotten," the doctrine of the Son's eternal
generation is relatively weakened in the consciousness of
Christians. It has a theological impact. When
"begotten" is omitted and separated from the Son, the
concept of the Sonship could be questioned. What is the Sonship
without "begottenness," or "generation"?
Though they contend that "begottenness" is
"remotely related" and therefore "only begotten
Son" is a "mistranslation or over-translation,"71
the concepts of "begottenness" and "Sonship"
cannot be separated if the Son is by nature, not by adoption. The
former is implicit in the latter. Moreover, "each time monogenes
is used in John and I John it is in a context in which it is
preceded by a prominent occurence or occurences of gennao."72
However, it is true that "honest translation is according to
truth, not tradition."73 When the majority of
biblical theologians agree that monogenes should be
translated without "begotten," this may be accepted. In
fact, the doctrine of the eternal generation does not depend upon
a mere word. What it depends upon is what cannot be omitted in
the Scripture, that is, "the Son." While all the other
Christological titles are functional, "the Son" is the
ontological title which describes His relationship with the First
Person of the Trinity. Therefore, the confession of Jesus as
"the Son" is central in the Gospel. And, as far as
"the Son" is confessed in the natural sense, the
concept of "begottenness" is still alive whether it is
additionally translated or not. However, it is true that the
inclusion of "begottenness" will reinforce the doctrine
of the Son's eternal generation. Therefore, it could be wise to
retain the traditional rendering while it is disputed, because
translation of the Scripture requires not only linguistic but
also contextual consideration of the text as well as the
contemporary theological situation.
Today, we are living in a world of theological confusion. Numerous humanistic theologies are flourishing and threathening the traditional orthodox understanding of the triune God. It seems that we are living in a Nicene or Reformation world where it is necessary once more to fight the battle against all the anti-trinitarianisms and pseudo-trinitarianisms. The modern resurgence of modalism in Neoorthodoxy as well as humanistic polytheism in Liberation Theology and Process Theology brings to mind a lesson from the Nicene and Reformation controversies, that we need to return to the biblical realism over philosophical or ideological distortions.
In this movement, we have to revive the doctrine of eternal generation of the Son with its realistic belief. It safeguards the eternity and full divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the orthodox belief in the Trinity from modalism, tritheism, and any other trinitarian heresies. In the Scripture, some apparent theological characteristics of Antichrist are revealed, and one of these is the denial of the Father and the Son: "Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2.22b). What it means is the denial of the Sonship of Jesus and the Fatherhood of God, and essentially the denial of "the Father-Son relationship" (Simmon J. Kistemaker). To deny the Sonship of Jesus is to deny the Father. Because Jesus is the Only Begotten Son, God is not Father when Jesus' sonship is denied. Now, such a denial is flourishing before our eyes.
Modern existentialism seeks meaning
rather than being. However, meaning without ontological basis is
meaningless. His incarnation, resurrection, ascension, and second
coming as well as heaven and hell have not only meaning but also
real being. We are losing biblical realism in these matters
through modernistic reductionism. The recovery of a strong belief
in the real generation of the Son in eternity will revive our
faith biblically and realistically. Who is your Savior? Praise
the Lord! He is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father.
1 Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God, tr. Margaret Kohl (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 139.
2 Geoffrey W. Bromiley, An Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pubiishing Co., 1979), p. 16.
3 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/1. viii.
4 Fred H. Klooster, The Significance of Barth's Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961), p. 32.
5 Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/1. 350.
6 Ibid., I/1. 382.
7 F. W. Camfield, Revelation and the Holy Spirit; An Essay in Barthian Theology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934), pp. 234-239.
8 Barth, Church Dogmatics, II/1. 285.
9 Ibid., I/1. 382.
10 Barth, The Holy Ghost and the Christian Life, tr. R. Birch Hoyle (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1938), p. 5.
11 R. S. Franks, The Doctrine of the Trinity (London: Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd., 1953), p. 181.
12 Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/I. 196-197.
13 Ibid., I/1. 357.
14 Ibid., I/1. 355, 359.; However, in his article entitled "On Keeping 'Persons' in the Trinity: a Linguistic Approach To Trinitarian Thought," Theological Studies 41 (1980): 547-548, Lawrence B. Porter persuasively suggests three reasons why we must still to keep the term "person" in the trinitarian discussion today: (i) This language preserves and conveys with laudable concision and emphasis the distinctive character of the scriptural revelation of God as pre-eminently and always personal. (ii) There is the apologetic and probative value of such problematic language. The language "persons" is instructively provocative as a challenge to the unitarian images of God common to humanistic and philosophical notions of deity. (iii) It preserves and vitalizes a link between theology and life. As he concludes, though the choice of term may be switched when its connotation is seriously changed, such is not the situation today.
15 Barth, Church Dogmatics, II/1. 297. "In our treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity we took the view that the concept 'person' should be dropped in the description of this matter, because in all classical theology it has never in fact been understood and interpreted in the sense in which we are accustomed to think of the term today. The Christian Church has never taught that there are in God three persons and therefore three personalities in the sense of a threefold Ego, a threefold subject."
16 Ibid., I/1. 351. "'Person' as used in the Church doctrine of the Trinity bears no direct relation to personality. The meaning of the doctrine is not then, that there are three personalities in God. This would be the worst and most extreme expression of tritheism, against which we must be on guard at this stage."
17 Ibid., I/1. 355.
18 J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, rev. ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 115: "...the term 'prosopon' and 'persona' were admirably suited to express the otherness, or independent subsistence, of the Three....The primary sense of 'persona' was 'mask'...but as employed by Tertullian it connoted the concrete presentation of an individual as such."; pp. 122-123. "One point which seems to be established is that the traditional belief that he spoke of Father, Son and Spirit as three 'prosopa', in the sense of masks or outward appearances, is erroneous. The term 'prosopon', as we have already seen, was used by Hippolytus to signify the otherness, or separate subsistence,...i.e., individual or Person."
19 Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/1. 348.
20 Ibid,, II/1. 297. "There are not three faces of God, but one face; not three wills but one will; not three rights, but one right; not three Words and works, but one Word and work", and "The one God is revealed to us absolutely in Jesus Christ."
21 Ibid., II/1. 284.
22 Ibid., I/1. 351.
23 Plantinga, "The Hodgson-Welch Debate", p. 8.
24 In three ways, it can be explained why he became to be a modalist in the doctrine of the Trinity. (i) he formed his doctrine of the Trinity not by the synthesis of the biblical data, but by the analysis of a statement, which was for him the summary of the whole revelation: "We may sum all this up in the statement that God reveals Himself as the Lord."(I/1. 306); "This statement...as attested by Scripture, we call the root of the doctrine of the Trinity."(I/1. 307); "God reveals Himself as the Lord: in this statement we have summed up our understanding of the form and content of the biblical revelation."(I/1. 314); (ii) he tended to emphasize oneness of the Trinity rather than threeness. Threeness of the Trinity was not really a threat to the Church of Karl Barth, and rather it was unitarianism or monotheism denying the divinity of Jesus and the personality of the Spirit. Therefore, his approach is strange and mistaken.; (iii) he conceptualized revelation as "event". Accordingly, his understanding of the Trinity, which is the analysis of revelation, happens to reflect the idea of the Triune God as "event"(p. 30), and "the singularity of this being of God as event", which entails modalistic idea of three persons as a momentary happenings. As Eberhard Jungel explains, in his The Doctrine of the Trinity: God's Being is in Becoming (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), "Barth's doctrine of the Trinity" was "an attempt to formulate the being of God as event"(p. 28), which was Barth's main concern.
25 Leonard Hodgson, The Doctrine of the Trinity (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944); Leonard Hodgson, "The Doctrine of the Trinity: Some Further Thoughts'" Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 5 (1954): 49-55.; Leonard Hodgson "Trinitarian Theology: The Glory of the Eternal Trinity," Christianity Today 6 (1962): 827-829.; However, it is suggested that this social theory of the Trinity has been originated from Tertullian, Athanasius, and Cappadocian Fathers. See William Hasker, "Tri-Unity," Journal of Religion 50 (1970): 7-11; and Plantinga, "Hodgson-Welch Debate," pp. 252ff.
26 For example, Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God, tr. Margaret Kohl (New York: Harper & Row, 198l); William Hasker, "Tri-Unity," Journal of Religion 50 (1970): 1-32.; Joseph A. Bracken, What are they saying about the Trinity? (New York: Paulist Press, 1979); Bracken, "The Holy Trinity as a Community of Divine Persons," Heythrop Journal 15 (1974): 166-182, 257-270.; Bracken, "Subsistent Relation: Mediating Concept for a New Synthesis?", Journal of Religion 64 (1984): 188-204.; Daniel L. Migliore, "The Trinity and Human Liberty," Theology Today 36 (1980): 488-497.; Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. "The Hodgson-Welch Debate"; Plantinga, "Gregory of Nissa and the Social Analogy of the Trinity," mimeographed (1984); Plantinga, "Images of God," mimeographed (1984); Plantinga, "The Threeness/oneness Problem of the Trinity," Calvin Theological Journal 23 (1988): 37-53; Plantinga, "The perfect family: our model for life together is found in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," Christianity Today 32 (1988): 24-27.
27 Plantinga, "Gregory of Nissa and the Social Analogy of the Trinity," p. 190.
28 Ibid., pp. 198, 201.
29 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, p. 243. n. 43.: "As the history of theology shows, there has never been a Christian tritheist. Even Barth does not name any, although he argues so vigorously against tritheism....The standard argument against 'tritheism' practically serves everywhere to disguise the writer's own modalism."
30 Plantinga, "The Hodgson-Welch Debate", p. 224.: "Meanwhile, for modalist-tending theologians, someone to their pluralist side, even if within some classically accepted boundary, is often called a tritheist."
31 Ibid., pp. 9-10. "...the British-American 'social analogy' tradition of trinitarian theology. Anglican divines have favored the social analogy since World War I(in example, Clement C. J. Webb, God and Personality, 1918), but the tradition did not receive a truly skillful and widely-discussed expression until Leonard Hodgson's 1943 Croall lectures, The Doctrine of the Trinity." However, he does not make Hodgson a genuine social trinitarian: p. 10. n. 21. And indeed Hodgson's theory, as we shall see, mixes social and psychological analogies. But I shall use 'social analogy,' or, alternatively, 'strong trinitarian theory,' for any theory which holds that the Trinity includes three fully personal subjects. In that general sense Hodgson's theory is a social analogy. Though it is true that once Hodgson disvowed his theory not to be a social analogy, it is hardly understandable.
32 Hodgson, The Doctrine of the Trinity. p. 100.
33 Ibid., p. 102.
35 Ibid., p. 143. "It would seem at first sight as though there might be wide divergences between their(Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin) teaching and mine in two directions. First, in their discussions of the filiation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit they include in their doctrinal statements a great deal that I exclude as belonging to the realm of imagination." And, then p. 157. "...and I am of opinion that if St. Augustine, St. Thomas and Calvin were alive to-day they would be glad in this respect to revise what they have written."
36 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, pp. 164-165.
37 Ibid., p. 164.
38 Ibid., p. 224.
40 Leonard Boff, Trinity and Society, tr. Paul Burns (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), pp. 11-16, 111-154. "Human society holds a vestigium Trinitas since the Trinity is 'the divine society.' This idea of the Trinity as the supreme society, the model for any society seeking participation and equality, was sketched out by M. J. Scheeban, and later elaborated by the Belgian theologian d'Eypernon and by Jurgen Moltmann," p. 119.
41 Ibid., p. 91.
42 Ibid., pp. 117-118.
43 Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1983), pp. 41-45, 216-232.
44 Carolyn Osiek, "The Feminist and the Bible: Hermeneutical Alternatives," in Feminist Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship, ed. Adela Yarbro Collins (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985), p. 95.
45 Donald G. Bloesch, The Battle for the Trinity: The Debate over Inclusive God-Language (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1985), p. xv.
46 Letty M. Russell, Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1985), pp. 11-18, 137-146.
47 Rosemary Radford Ruether, Womanguides: Reading Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), p. xi.
48 Ibid., p. ix.
49 Alan E. Lewis, ed., The Motherhood of God: A Report of a Study Group appointed by the Woman's Guild and the Panel on Doctrine on the invitation of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1984), p. 11.
50 Cf. Roberta C. Bondi, "Some Issues Relevant to a Modern Interpretation of the Language of the Nicene Creed, with Special Reference to 'Sexist' Language," Union Seminary Quarterly Review 40 (1985): 21-22. She contends that the Nicene Creed, affected by the contemporary rise of monasticism, use "the apparently patriarchal language."
51 Naomi R. Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), pp. 4-5, 8-9; Feminist theologians prefer the term "goddess" to "god" and develop the goddesses of ancient religions, and even Protestant feminists are very respective to the Roman Catholic tradition of Mary worship. For example, see Joan Chamberlain Engelsman, The Feminine Dimension of the Divine (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1979).
52 The Holy Spirit is sexualized as a feminine divinity, for example, in Erminie Huntress Lantero, Feminine Aspects of Divinity (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Bill Publications, 1973), pp. 17-20. Christians have some gentle and warm feelings of the Holy Spirit, but it may not be assumed as feminine, when we reflect nativity account which says that the Holy Spirit made Mary conceive Jesus. There appears rather masculine role of the Holy Spirit if we have to understand the Holy Spirit as having a sex.
53 Judith Ochshorn, The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), pp. 136-137.
54 Sallie McFague, Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), p. 19. "In such a theology[metaphorical theology], no finite thought, product, or creature can be identified with God and this includes Jesus of Nazareth."
55 Rebecca Oxford-Carpenter, "Gender and the Trinity," Theology Today 41 (1984/85): 9.
56 Marjorie Suchocki, "The Unmale God: Reconsidering the Trinity," Quarterly Review 3 (1983): 38-39. She denies the real generation and ontological sonship on the cultural and linguistic assumptions.
57 Deborah Malacky Belonick, "Revelation and Metaphors: the Significance of the Trinitarian Names, Father, Son and Holy Spirit," Union Seminary Quarterly Review 40 (1985): 34, 35, 39.
58 Sandra M. Schneiders, Women and the Word: The Gender of God in the New Testament and the Spirituality of Women (New York: Paulist Press, 1986), p. 27. Here, she is critical to the literalized metaphor(i.e., God the Father, or God the Mother), but feminist ideology proceeds further beyond a simple inclusivism to the literalized metaphor of feminism.
59 Bloesch, The Battle for the Trinity, p. xvi.
60 Roland Mushat Frye, "Language for God and Feminist Language: A Literary and Rhetorical Analysis," Interpretation 43 (1989): 48.
61 Neil Richardson, "The Old Testament Background of Jesus as Begotten of God," Bible Review 2, No.3 (1986): 26-27.
62 Royce Gordon Gruenler, The Trinity in the Gospel of John: A Thematic Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, l986), pp. 25-26; Charles G. Dennison, "How Is Jesus the Son of God?: Luke's Baptism Narrative and Christology," Calvin Theological Journal 17 (1982): 23-24.
63 Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, tr. Shirlay C. Guthrie and Charles A. M. Hall(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, l963), p. 282. "He did not avoid the title 'Son of God' but he used it so seldom that we can hardly consider it a typical self-designation like 'Son of Man'. And yet the conviction that in a unique way he was 'God's Son' must belong to the very heart of what we call the 'self-consciousness' of Jesus."; Seyoon Kim, The Son of Man as the Son of God (T座 J. C. B. Mohr, l983), p. 5. "Thus all four Gospels identify the Son of Man with the Son of God. Perhaps it is natural, because for the Evangelists the divine Sonship of Jesus is a firm datum." He refered to 2 Sam 7.l2-l5 as the ground to affirm Jesus' messianic self-understanding which correlates those two self-designations in the Biblical Heilsgeschichte, in pp. 79-8l.
64 Martin Hengel, The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion (Philadeiphia: Fortress Press, l976), P. 9l.
65 Arthur W. Wainwright, The Trinity in the New Testament (London: SPCK, 1962), p. 191. "...the title 'Father' occurs 121 times in the Fourth Gospel and 16 times in the Johannine Epistles as against 123 times in the rest of the New Testament....The title 'Son' occurs 28 times in the Fourth Gospel and 24 times in the Johannine Epistles as against 67 times in the rest of the New Testament," p. 192.
66 Dale Moody, "God's Only Son: The Translation of John 3.16 in the Revised Standard Version," Journal of Biblical Literature 72 (1953): 213-219; Francis Marion Warden, "God's Only Son," Review and Expositor 50(1953): 216-223; R. L. Roberts, "The Rendering 'Only Begotten' in John 3:16," Restoration Quarterly 16 (1973): 2-22 support the new rendering of "Only Son," while the following argue for the legitimacy of the old rendering, i.e., "Only Begotten Son.": John V. Dahms, "The Johannine Use of MONOGENES Reconsidered," New Testament Studies 29 (1983): 222-232; James M. Bulman, "The Only Begotten Son," Calvin Theological Journal 16 (1981): 56-79.
67 Moody, "God's Only Son," pp. 213-214. Particulary, Moody's argument was prompted by Francis Marion Warden's dissertation.
68 Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistle of St. John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955), p. 170. However, he did not negate some usages of monogenes which means "only begotten."
69 Roberts, "The Rendering 'Only Begotten' in John 3:16," pp. 2-3. "For from being the new rendering, 'only' is one of the oldest." He listed all the English versions which have "only" upto William Tyndale(1525).
70 Bulman, "The Only Begotten Son," p. 56.
71 Roberts, "The Rendering 'Only Begotten' in John 3:16," p. 15.
72 Dahms, "The Johannine Use of MONOGENES Reconsidered," p. 230.
73 Moody, "God's Only Son," p. 219.
A History of the Doctrine of Eternal Generation of the Son and Its Significance in the Trinitarianism: Introduction
The Doctrine of the eternal generation in opposition to the hellenistic logos doctrine in the early church
the triumph of ontological realism and eternal generation in the nicene creed
John Calvin and Reformed Theology on the Doctrine of Eternal Generation
Karl Rahner's Philosophical Understanding of the Trinity