The Latin View

On LT, there is just one divine being (or substance), God. God constitutes three Persons. But all three are at bottom just God. They contain no constituent distinct from God.3 The Persons are somehow God three times over, since as the Athanasian Creed puts it, "we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord.''4 Thus too the Creed of the Council of Toledo has it that

*© Faith and Philosophy, vol. 21 (2004). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

1 The Book of Common Prayer (N.Y.: Seabury Press, 1979), 864—5.

2 Others start from the threeness of the Persons, and try to say just how three Persons can be one God. I discuss these in "Anti Social Trinitarianism," in Stephen Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O'Collins eds., The Trinity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 203-48.

3 LT's partisans up to Scotus all accept a strong doctrine of divine simplicity. So while they acknowledge that Father and Son stand in the generative relations of paternity and filiation, they deny that these relations are constituents of the Persons. Aquinas, for instance, asserts that the Father is identical with the relation of paternity just as God is with the divine nature, deity (ST Ia 29, 4). While divine simplicity no longer commands the wide assent it did, we would still not incline to see relations as constituents of particulars standing in them — save on ''bundle'' theories of substance, which few now favor.

4 Common Prayer, 865. So also Barth: ''in ... the inner movement of the begetting of the Father, the being begotten of the Son and the procession of the Spirit from both... God is once and again and a third time'' (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II: 1, tr. G. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1957), 615). At the back of this is of course John 1:1, ''the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'' If the Word is God and is with God, God is with God — and so (it seems) we have God twice over.

although we profess three persons, we do not profess three substances, but one substance and three persons ... they are not three gods, he is one God... Each single Person is wholly God in Himself and... all three persons together are one God.5

Again, Aquinas writes that among creatures, the nature the one generated receives is not numerically identical with the nature the one generating has... But God begotten receives numerically the same nature God begetting has.6

To make Thomas' claim perfectly plain, let us talk of tropes. Abel and Cain were both human. So they had the same nature, humanity. Yet each also had his own nature, and Cain's humanity was not identical with Abel's: Abel's perished with Abel, while Cain's went marching on. On one parsing, this is because while the two had the same nature, they had distinct tropes of that nature. A trope is an individualized case of an attribute. Their bearers individuate tropes: Cain's humanity is distinct from Abel's just because it is Cain's, not Abel's.

With this term in hand, I now restate Thomas' claim: while both Father and Son instance the divine nature (deity), they have but one trope of deity between them, which is God's.7 While Cain's humanity =Abel's humanity, the Father's deity = the Son's deity = God's deity. But bearers individuate tropes. If the Father's deity is God's, this is because the Father just is God: which last is what Thomas wants to say.

On LT, then, there clearly is just one God, but one wonders just how the Persons manage to be three. If the Father "just is'' God, it seems to follow that

If "each single Person is wholly God in Himself,'' and both Son and Father have God's trope of deity, it seems also to follow that

3. God = God, it seems to follow that

4. the Father = the Son, and that on LT, there is just one divine Person.

(1) and (2) raise another problem. Cornelius Plantinga writes that an

5 Quoted in Cornelius Plantinga, "Social Trinity and Tritheism,'' in Cornelius Plantinga and Ronald Feenstra, eds., Trinity, Incarnation and Atonement (Notre Dame, IN.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 21.

6 S. Thomae de Aquino Summa Theologiae Ia (Ottawa: Studii Generalis, 1941) 39, 5 ad 2, 245a. My translation. See also Edmund Hill, The Mystery of the Trinity (London: Geoffrey Chapman,

7 For Thomas, talk of tropes is not strictly appropriate here, since in fact God is identical with the divine nature (so e.g. Aquinas, ST Ia 3, 3). For the nonce this need not concern us.

incoherence ... comes out in the generation statements: the divine thing does not generate, get generated or proceed, despite the fact that Father, Son and Spirit, identical with it, do. How are we to imagine this?8

Plantinga's point is this. According to the Nicene Creed,

5. the Father generates the Son. But the claim that

6. God generates God is either unorthodox or necessarily false. Nothing can "generate" itself, i.e. bring itself into existence. So if (6) asserts that something "generates'' itself, it is necessarily false. But if (6) asserts that one God "generates'' a second God, it implies polytheism, and so is unorthodox. Now the Nicene Creed commits Christians to (5). In conjunction with (1) and (2), (5) yields (6). So if LT is committed to (1), (2) and (5), LT entails either unorthodoxy or a necessary falsehood. Of course, avoiding this problem by rejecting (5) is just unorthodoxy of a different stripe.

The other options for LT are to reject all or just some of (1), (2), and the cognate claim that the Spirit is God. Rejecting all also seems to wind up unorthodox. For then there seem to be four divine things - Father, Son, Spirit and God. But if "each single Person is wholly God in Himself,'' each includes God somehow. So surely God is not a fourth divine thing in addition to any Person.9 And in any case, on the doctrine of the Trinity, there are at most three divine things. That's why it's a doctrine of Trinity, not Quaternity. Rejecting just some can trim the number of divine beings to three - e.g. by accepting (1) but denying (2) and that God = the Spirit. This would retreat to a form of Trinity rejected well before Nicaea. It also raises the question of just what the relation between God and the Son is.10

Everything is either God, an uncreated object distinct from God or a creature. To call the Son a creature is to embrace Arianism. If the Son is a creature, it's hard to see how He can be fully divine, or even divine at all - divine/creaturely seems an exclusive disjunction. But Scripture does not let Christians deny all deity to the Son.11 Further, whether or not the Son is as divine as God, if He is created, He is a divine being who is not God. The positing of divine beings in addition to

9 A common constituent of three things which never existed save as included in one of them might to philosophers seem a fourth thing in addition to any of the three though included in all. But the language of the New Testament sits ill with this. References to ''the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ'' and ''God the Father,'' or to God simply as Father, are too numerous to list. These would not be appropriate if God were something like a part of the Father. Again, according to John 1:1, the Word was God. This does not suggest that God was part of the Word.

10 Henceforth I will not discuss the Spirit where the points to be made exactly parallel those made about the Son.

11 So e.g. John. 1:1 and 20:28; Romans. 9:5; I Corinthians 16:22; I John 5:20.

God is of course polytheism. So it is easy to see why the early Church found Arianism unacceptable.

If the Son is an uncreated item discrete from God, it is false that God has made all that He does not include, which flies in the face of Scripture and Creed.12 To call Him divine, uncreated and discrete from God is to opt for a polytheism even clearer than Arianism's. But if the Son is not a creature or an uncreated item discrete from God, He is in some way God.13 How then, if not by simple identity? One option here would be to say that God is always Father, but only temporarily Son, or necessarily the Father but only contingently Son. This avoids polytheism: God is in some way Son. If there are no temporary or contingent identities, it is consistent with denying (2). But of course it leaves us the question of just what God's relation to the Son is. The clearest account of this seems to be Modalism: the being who is always, necessarily the Father, contingently and temporarily takes on a second role, as Son, in such a way that (so to speak) when the Son was on earth, nobody was home in heaven, and the Father counts as crucified. Modalism sits ill with Scriptural passages which seem to treat Father and Son as two separate persons, e.g. Christ's saying "I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me'' (John 6:38) and praying "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the creation of the world'' (John 17:5). Such texts make it clear why the early church found Modalism unacceptable. It thus seems that LT cannot be coherent, monotheist and orthodox. I now suggest that LT can be all three, and speculate as to how it may be so.


You are at Radio City Music Hall, watching the Rockettes kick in unison. You notice that they look quite a bit alike. But (you think) they must just be made up to look that way. After all, they came on-stage at once, each from a different point backstage, they put their arms over each others' shoulders for support, smile and

12 So e.g. Isaiah 44:24 ''I am the Lord, who has made all things,'' Romans 11:36: ''from Him and through Him ... are all things,'' and the Nicene Creed's statement that orthodox Christians believe in ''one God... creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible'' (Common Prayer, 358)(putative uncreated items presumably are visible or invisible).

13 There is one other alternative, that the son be divine, uncreated, and distinct but not discrete from God. If the son is not discrete from God, the son overlaps God. If he overlaps God but is distinct from God, either (a) God has a constituent the son lacks, but every constituent of the son is a constituent of God, or (b) the son has a constituent God lacks, but every constituent of God is a constituent of the son, or (c) God and the son share a constituent but each also has a constituent the other lacks, or (d) they overlap despite sharing no constituents. Or (a) the son is part of God: God is a whole composed of persons. As parts are basic and wholes derived on (a) the three are basic, the one derived: (a) is not a version of LT. (b) was rejected in n. 9. (c) is a form of polytheism. (d) would assert a primitive constitution relation between God and the son. I am skeptical that there is such a relation.

nod to each other, and when the number is over, they scatter offstage each in her own direction. So they certainly seem to be many different women. But appearances deceive. Here is the true story. All the Rockettes but one, Jane, called in sick that morning. So Jane came to work with a time machine her nephew had put together for the school science fair. Jane ran on-stage to her position at the left of the chorus line, linked up, kicked her way through the number, then ran off. She changed her makeup, donned a wig, then stepped into her nephew's Wells-o-matic, to emerge in the past, just before the Rockettes went on. She ran on-stage from a point just to the right of her first entry, stepped into line second from the chorus line's left, smiled and whispered a quip to the woman on her right, kicked her way through the number, then ran off. She then changed her makeup again . . . Can one person thus be wholly in many places at once? The short answer is: she is in many places at the same point in our lives, but not the same point in hers. If Jane travels in time, distinct segments of her life coincide with the same segment of ours. To put this another way, Jane's personal timeline intersects one point in ours repeatedly.

Now in this story, there is among all the Rockettes just one trope of human nature. All tropes of human nature in the Rockettes are identical. But consider this argument:

1a. the leftmost Rockette = Jane.

2a. the rightmost Rockette = Jane.

4a. the leftmost Rockette = the rightmost Rockette.

The argument appears sound, but doesn't shorten the chorus line. There is just one substance, Jane, in the chorus line. But there is also an extended chorus line, with many of something in it. Many what, one asks? Some philosophers think that Jane is a four-dimensional object, extended through time as well as space that not Jane's life but Jane herself has earlier and later parts.14 If this is true, each Rockette is a temporal part of Jane. If (as I believe) Jane has no temporal parts, then not just a temporal part ofJane, but Jane as a whole, appears at each point in the chorus line, and what the line contains many of are segments or episodes of Jane's life-events. This may sound odd. After all, Rockettes dance. Events do not. But what you see are many dancings of one substance. What makes the line a line is the fact that these many events go on in it, in a particular set of relations. Each Rockette is Jane. But in these many events, Jane is there many times over. She plays different causal roles, once (as the leftmost Rockette) supporting the second-from-left Rockette, once (as the second-from-left) being supported by the leftmost, etc. And she has genuine interpersonal relations with herself in her

■4 So e.g. Mark Heller, The Ontology of Physical Objects (N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

other roles. She leans on herself for support, smiles to herself, talks (and talks back) to herself. The talk may even be dialogue in the fullest sense. In changing makeup, wig, etc., Jane might well forget what she said when she was leftmost in the line, and so a remark she hears when she is one in from the left might well surprise her, and prompt a response she did not anticipate.15 The Wells-o-matic lets the one Jane be present at one time many times over, in many ways, as the leftmost Rockette, the rightmost, etc. It gives us one Jane in many personae. If we give the name "Rockette" to what we see many of, it lets the one Jane be (or be present in) many Rockettes. The Wells-o-matic allows this by freeing the events composing Jane's life from the general order of time.

Is time travel genuinely possible? I travel in time into the future if, with no gaps in my existence, periods of suspended animation, time spent unconscious, or subjective slowing in my experience, I find myself at a point in world-history beyond where the biological aging of my body and (say) the time on my watch would date me: if, say, I step into a machine, step out 10 seconds later by watch-and body-time, and find that it is next year. If this is an acceptable description of futureward time-travel, then the Special Theory of Relativity entails that it occurs. For the theory entails that the time of an accelerated object dilates: if we mount a sufficiently precise clock on a body A, accelerate A a while, then compare the A-clock with one which has not been accelerated, the A-clock will be found to have run more slowly. If A-time thus dilates, the A-clock travels into the future per the description above. Experiments have confirmed that time-dilation occurs.16

In some models of the universe consistent with General Relativity's field equations and requirements on the universe's mass-energy distribution, physical objects can travel into the past. This is reason to call pastward time travel physically possible.17 Paradoxes threaten stories of pastward time travel ("suppose I went back and killed my earlier self before he got into the time machine...''). Some think these reason to call it conceptually impossible.18 But they may not be. According to Earman, these paradoxes bring out a clash between Godelian time travel and what might be held to be conceptual truths about spatiotemporal/causal order. But in the same way the twin paradox of special relativity theory reveals a clash between the structure of relativistic space-times and what

15 Even if Jane later in her life knows what Jane earlier in her life is going to say to her, this need not unfit the analogy for Trinitarian purposes. It is hard to see how one Person could surprise another.

16 See e.g. Edwin Taylor and John Wheeler, Spacetime Physics (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Co., 1963), 89, and J. Hafele and Richard Keating, "Around-the-world Atomic Clocks: Predicted Relativistic Time Gains and Observed Relativistic Time Gains,'' Science 177 (1972), 166—70.

17 So John Earman, ''Recent Work on Time Travel,'' in Steven Savitt, ed., Time's Arrows Today (N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 268-310.

■8 So e.g. Richard Swinburne, Space and Time (N.Y.: The MacMillan Co., 1968), 169.

were held to be conceptual truths about time lapse. The special and general theories of relativity have both produced conceptual revolutions. The twin paradox and the [timetravel paradoxes] emphasize how radical these revolutions are, but they do not show that these revolutions are not sustainable or contain inherent contradictions.19

In other words, if the physics clashes with our pre-theoretic intuitions, it may be the intuitions (and a fortiori philosophical theories built on them) which should give. And the paradoxes are not necessarily intractable. It would take a full paper of its own fully to motivate a solution to the time-travel paradoxes. But it would be good to say something to suggest that these can be solved, or at least come as close to solution as matters for my purposes. For I go on to model the Trinity on a time-travel case.

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