Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week


Defining a term used in defining the Trinity

Used in regards to the Trinity: center of consciousness or expression; personality;  “a distinct subject which regards himself as ‘I’ and others as ‘You’”1; a “who”2—but not a separate, independent individual.
  • From the Bible:
    To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…. (1 Peter 1:102 ESV)
  • From the Belgic Confession, Article 8, The Trinity:
    In keeping with this truth and Word of God we believe in one God, who is one single essence, in whom there are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties— namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has his own subsistence distinguished by characteristics—yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God. It is evident then that the Father is not the Son and that the Son is not the Father, and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.

    From Francis R. Beattie, The Presbyterian Standards, Chapter IV:
    1. The Godhead subsists in three persons. The names of these three persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. These three are properly called persons, because in the Scriptures the qualities of personality, such as individuality, intelligence, and free agency, are ascribed alike to these three. In other words, self-consciousness and self-determination, the elements of personality, are applied in the Scriptures equally to the three persons of the Godhead. The Father stands first in the order of being and operation. Hence, he is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding. Uniformly he is spoken of as first in order. The Son always stands second in order, and is eternally begotten of the Father. He is, and ever has been, the only-begotten and well-beloved Son of the Father. The Holy Ghost, or Spirit, always stands third in order, and is represented as eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son, for he is called alike the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ. On account of this order of subsistence and operation, they are called the first, the second, and the third persons of the Godhead. But this does not denote that there is any inferiority of essence, or any limitation of attributes, in any of the three persons. It is only meant that there are eternal and abiding relations subsisting between the three persons, in the indivisible essence of the Godhead.

    2. The second point relates to the peculiar property pertaining to each person.  …These personal properties are to be carefully distinguished from the divine attributes already described. The attributes qualify either the essence, or the modes of the activity of the essence. The personal properties are possessed by the three persons, and modify them separately. The attributes pertain equally to all the persons, while the properties pertain only to each of the several persons in order. This distinction must always be kept carefully in mind.
Learn more:
  1. James White: Loving the Trinity
  2. Christian Research Institute: Is the Trinity Biblical?
  3. John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 2 and Section 6
  4. John Piper: How Do You Understand the Trinity? (mp3)
  5. James White: The Biblical Truth of the Trinity (mp3)
1 What Is the Doctrine of the Trinity? by Desiring God Staff.
2 Loving the Trinity by James White.

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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Reader Comments (3)

Calvin has a pretty good discussion in the Institutes (Book 1, Chapter 13, Sections 2 and 6).

September 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

I read that, actually, in preparation for this post. I thought about quoting it, but decided to go for something that was a little easier to understand.

I hadn't thought about finding it online and linking it under "Learn more", but I think I'll do that.

September 9, 2008 | Registered Commenterrebecca

I suspected that, actually (I didn't know if you had read it for this post in particular, of course but I knew you probably knew of the passage). I agree it's probably best to think of it as 'intermediate level'.

September 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

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