repeat the details of our objections here.6 Instead, we'll simply summarize by saying that we reject both the Social-Trinitarian solution and existing versions of the Relative-Identity solution because they fail to provide an account of the Trinity that satisfies the following five desiderata:
(D1) It is clearly consistent with the view that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are divine individuals, and that there is exactly one divine individual.
(D2) It does not conflict with a natural reading of either the Bible or the ecumenical creeds.
(D3) It is consistent with the view that God is an individual rather than a society, and that the Persons are not parts of God.7
(D4) It is consistent with the view that classical identity exists and is not to be analyzed in terms of more fundamental sortal-relativized sameness relations like being the same person as.
(D5) It carries no anti-realist commitments in metaphysics. The Social-Trinitarian solution violates D1—D3. Extant versions of the Relative-Identity solution violate D1, D4, or D5. As will emerge shortly, our solution, which may fruitfully be thought of as an appropriately supplemented version of the Relative Identity solution, succeeds precisely where these others fail—namely, in satisfying all five desiderata.
6 See Rea 2003 and Brower 2004a. Proponents of the Relative-Identity strategy include Cain (1989), Anscombe & Geach (1961, pp. 118-20), Martinich (1978, 1979), and van Inwagen (1988). Proponents of the more typical versions of the Social-Trinitarian strategy include Bartel (1993, 1994), Brown (1985, 1989), Davis (1999), Layman (1988), C. Plantinga (1986, 1988, 1989), and Swinburne (1994). The position is commonly attributed to the Cappadocian Fathers. (See, esp., Brown 1985, Plantinga 1986, and Wolfson 1964). It is against these relatively typical versions of ST that our previously published objections most straightforwardly apply. Among the less typical versions of STare, for example, Peter Forrest's (1998) (this volume, ch. 2), according to which the Persons are three ''quasi-individuals'' that result from an event of divine fission, and C.J.F. Williams's (1994), according to which ''God is the love of three Persons for each other.'' We reject Forrest's view because it implies (among other things) that there is no fact about whether there are one or many Gods, and there is no fact about whether there are three or many more than three Persons. On his view, 'one' is the lowest correct answer to the question 'How many Gods are there?' and 'three' is the lowest correct answer to the question 'How many persons are there?'; but it is sheer convention that allows us to say that 'one' and 'three'—rather than, say 'twenty' and 'two hundred and forty one'—are the correct answers to those questions. As for Williams's view, we take it that his, along with other less common versions of ST, will fall prey to objections similar to those we raise against the more typical versions. For further critical discussion of both the Relative-Identity strategy and the Social-Trinitarian strategy, see Bartel 1988, Cartwright 1987, Clark 1996, Feser 1997, Leftow 1999, and Merricks 2005.
7 Note that the point of D3 isn't to deny that the Persons compose a society. Of course they do, if there are genuinely three Persons. Rather, the point of D3 is to deny both that the name 'God' refers to the society composed of these Persons and that the Persons are proper parts of God. But if the society of Persons is the Trinity, and the Trinity is God, doesn't it follow that 'God' refers to the society of Persons after all? No. Each member of the Trinity is God, and God ''is a Trinity'' (that is, He exists in three Persons). But nothing in orthodoxy seems to require that the Trinity is itself a whole composed of three Persons and referred to by the name 'God'. Moreover, in light of objections to Social Trinitarianism raised here and elsewhere, it seems that orthodoxy actually precludes us from saying such a thing (which is part of why we reject Social Trinitarianism).
Was this article helpful?