To continue on the trinitarian theme, let me ruminate on something I’ve thought for a long time. In a typical discussion of the doctrine of the divine attributes most theologians have been careful to say that all three of the divine persons posses all the exact same attributes equally and identically. Thus, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Spirit is omnipotent, etc. Some of this impulse is rooted in the affirmations of the Athanasian Creed. Regardless, though there is a general assumption that the divine persons are identical in every way, excpet in regard to their particular relations. Thus the Father is exactly like the Son in every way except that he is the Father, etc.
Now, obviously this approach has some difficulties. Most notable of which is the fact that its been pretty hard to figure out what “Father-ness,” “Sonship,” and “Holy Spiritude” really mean. The best we’ve ever been able to do is talk about eternal generation-type terms like begetting, being begotten, spirating, being spirated, and so on. Of course what those relations mean and how they are different from each other has never really been well-described.
But, what would happen if we didn’t just assume that the divine persons must be identical in every way except for the illusive categories of relations of origin? Why must we assume that the Father, Son, and Spirit must be exactly the same in all of their characteristics in order to be equally and fully divine? Does it not make sense to see them as perhaps quite different in their attributes, but by virtue of their complete, eternally actual indwelling of one another together constituting one divine reality, the Godhead? This would definitely make sense of the scriptural language which routinely speaks of the divine persons in very distinctive terms. Jesus is “the power and wisdom of God”; the Spirit is “the truth”; and so on.
On this reading it is not necessary to jump through hoops to prove how Jesus was omniscient when the gospels pretty clearly show that there was stuff he didn’t know. Equality in deity does not require identicality of attributes between the persons. Only a prior ontological commitment to what has been termed “substance metaphysics” would incline us to assume that it would. Rather it is precisely the differences between the Father, Son, and Spirit, utterly and sublimely united in one eternal divine reality, that constitute the perfections of the Trinity.