Skip to content

Trinitarian Asymmetry

Leithart has another great thought-porovoking post on trinitarian theology, this time reflecting on the asymmetry of the trinitarian relations. He concludes with a few reflections:

First, it is the failure to reckon with the asymmetry of the relations that has sent certain forms of social Trinitarianism down a blind alley.  The Trinity is not a modern egalitarian democracy.  The Persons are indeed equal, but asymmetrically so.  Second, and this is equally important, more traditional Trinitarian theologies need the help that social Trinitarianism provides.  At its best, social Trinitarianism has been a plea to take the Personhood of the Persons seriously; it has been a plea for a Scriptural exposition of the ontological life of the Trinity in which the Persons converse together as they do in the gospel story.  Third, the response to Trinity-as-democracy should not be the implicit subordinationism that has infected some traditional Trinitarianism; we don’t need to resort to a unilateral hierarchical Trinity, paternal monarchianism or paternal causality, to avoid the problems of social Trinitarianism.  An asymmetrical account of Triune life takes the pleas of social Trinitarianism seriously, and can get at all the dynamism and personal interactivity that social Trinitarianism wants, without threatening to collapse into tritheism.


  1. dan wrote:

    Reading this, I was reminded of Paul’s reflections in 1 Cor 12 on the Church as a body wherein the shameful parts are to be treated with special honour (and where Paul thus speaks of assymetrical relationships within the Church — but assymetrical relationships that do not fall into the pits that those like social trinitarians wish to avoid). Perhaps this image could assist with Leithart’s formulation of an assymmetrical account of Triune life (after all, 1 Cor 12 also starts with some pretty trinitarian language). Thus, for example, Jesus would be the obvious example of the more shameful member who, precisely in his shamefulness, is granted this special honour. I don’t know… just a half formed thought that popped into my head.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 2:21 am | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, I think that’s good.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

Switch to our mobile site