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Wednesday
Oct012008

Theological Term of the Week

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ontological Trinity
The Trinity as it exists apart from any relation to creation. Viewing the Trinity ontologically puts the emphasis on the equality of the nature and attributes of the three persons. Also called the essential or the immanent Trinity.
  • From the Athanasian Creed:

    [T]he godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

    Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

    The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

    As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

    …And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

  • From the Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 11:
    Q. 11. How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?

    A. The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only.
  • From Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame, page 36:
    Ontological Trinity is the Trinity in itself, as it (or rather, he) exists apart from the creation, as he would have existed if he had never created anything. In the ontological Trinity there is no subordination among the persons. Father, Son, and Spirit are equal; that is to say, they are equally God, equally divine.
Learn more:
  1. R. C. Sproul: What’s the Difference Between the Ontological and Economic Trinity?
  2. Christian Apologetics and Research MinistryThe Ontological and Economic Trinity
  3. Ra McLaughlin: Equality in the Godhead
  4. Bruce Ware: Equal in Essence, Distinct in Roles: Eternal Functional Authority and Submission among the Essentially Equal Divine Persons of the Godhead (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Trinity.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion, and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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