Featured Poythress and ERAS?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by py3ak, May 14, 2018 at 3:22 PM.

  1. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    In Dr. Poythress's Redeeming Philosophy (p.101) he makes two statements which raise some questions for me:

    God the Father is the authority to whom God the Son responds in love.

    By his power the Father eternally begets the Son.​

    I have not read a lot of his other writings, and am interested in hearing whether these statements reflect a position that embraces the idea of eternal submission in some way. Any input?
     
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    I would have to tease out the meaning in the surrounding context of the first quote:

    God is eternally triune. Having created the world and human beings in it, God now relates to mankind in accord with who God always was and is. For example, God’s authority over us expresses in relation to us and the world the fact of God’s absoluteness as moral standard, which is associated with the role of God the Father as source. God the Father is the authority to whom God the Son responds in love.​

    Does he mean to see the absolute moral standard resides within God the Father, given that the Father is the source of this absolute moral standard? If so, that seems to mean he is advocating eternal subordinationism per my read on the whole Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission (ERAS) debate:
    https://www.puritanboard.com/thread...here-are-things-now.92059/page-2#post-1126091

    The "by His power" aspect of the second quote will require more thinking and reading of what exactly Vern means here. Surely it does not mean God the Father possesses some power not so possessed by the Son.
     
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  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Yes, that's an interesting question; of course, you run into that if the Father has authority that the Son does not have.... The language of begetting by power has some historical precedent in Richard of St. Victor, but it does need to be carefully parsed.
     
  4. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I can't imagine a professor at WTS getting away with error, especially on something so fundamental as God Himself. Look at how they ripped Norman Shepherd apart, and Pete Enns. If it is a matter of substance as opposed to phrasing, I think the other men there will deal with it. Even if just phrasing, he teaches future pastors and they will want him to be very clear with precise parsing of words.

    Several years ago something came up where I actually called Vern at WTS. He was in his office and they put me right through and I talked to him for a little while, and he is the nicest most gracious and helpful guy. Hub overlapped with him at WTS and everybody spoke well of his fine character. You can just call him.
     
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My understanding of what the scriptures teach to us would be the Lord Jesus was subordinate to the Father when he came in the Incarnation, but that once ascended and re glorified by the the Father with the glory that Jesus had from all Eternity in heaven. So would be but only a temporary subordination time for Him.
     
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Indeed. He's one of the nicest, most accessible guys you'll meet. There's no reason to speculate on what he means. Just ask him.
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I think it is mainly an error in phrasing. Most people aren't attuned to the fact that "power" in Nicene theology had an insanely technical background to it. If Poythress is using power in the same way that Gregory of Nyssa used it, then he is clearly wrong.

    For the ancients, power was the causal capacity that a nature (physis) had. This is why it is dangerous to say that the Son is a result of the Father's power, if one is using power in its Nicene sense.

    I suspect, though, he isn't.
     
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  8. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    In the following paragraph from the above quotes, VP writes:

    God’s presence with us expresses God’s omnipresence, which has an eternal manifestation in the presence of the persons of the Trinity to one another (John 1:1), and this eternal presence among the persons of the Trinity is associated with the Holy Spirit. God the Father has always been authoritative, God the Son has always been all-powerful, and God has always been present to himself in the fellowship of the persons of the Trinity through the Holy Spirit.​

    Later in Appendix B, pg. 274:

    We can see a relationship between the redemptive-historical analogy and the speech analogy. Speaking is a perspective on everything that God does. We can say that he does everything by speaking. In his speaking, God the Father acts more like a planner. God the Son as the one associated with the speech itself is the one who puts the plan or thought into execution. The Holy Spirit as the breath of God is the one who brings the word in power to its destination and works effects on those who hear. That is to say that he is the empowerer and consummator. Thus, God’s actions in history express the speech of God, which has innately Trinitarian structure.​

    Perhaps VP associates "authority" with the role of God the Father as the overall architect (planner). It is difficult to extract the root of what is meant by the Father's authority as VP is keying off of Frame's triad of God's authority, power, and presence—as relates to God's Lordshipwhich permeates much of the discussions in the book. On page 66 he writes:

    The triad for lordship obviously linked itself to the long-standing Calvinist emphasis on the sovereignty of God. But the triad was also designed to express aspects of the way God related to human beings, both in his words and in his deeds. The classical Reformed tradition was accustomed to speaking about God’s relation to humans as a covenant (14).

    14: See the Westminster Confession of Faith, 7; Westminster Larger Catechism, 30–36

    Authority comes into God’s covenant with us because God is the authoritative covenant maker, and we are to submit to his authority. God controls the covenant relation both by protecting his people and by punishing and disciplining covenant violations. God is present via his covenant in inaugurating and sustaining a relation of personal intimacy between God and man. Thus, Frame’s triad for lordship can be seen as reexpressing some of the classic themes in covenant theology in the Reformed tradition (15).

    15: In “Backgrounds to My Thought,” 6–7, Frame also indicates a connection between this triad and Van Til’s treatment of the correlation of God, man, and nature in Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God, 2nd ed., ed. William Edgar (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2007).
     
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  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    I have done so, via his contact form at his website, just a few moments ago.

    I hope he will have the time to respond and informed Dr. Poythress that I would be happy to provide his response unless he prefers otherwise.
     
  10. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Dr. Poythress provided the following response:

    Dear Patrick ("Ask Mr. Religion"):

    I appreciate you making an inquiry.

    The passage to which you refer, on p. 101 of Redeeming Philosophy, is set in the context of a discussion of John Frame's triad for lordship (p. 100, and p. 101, paragraphs 1 and 2). The triad for lordship consists in authority, control, and presence. The context of the quotation implies that authority, control, and presence are perspectives on the whole of God's relations to the world. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit each has divine authority, control, and presence. Yet the forms of biblical language also suggest some prominent association of each perspective within the triad with a particular person of the Trinity (John Frame, "A Primer on Perspectivalism," subsection on the Trinity, https://frame-poythress.org/a-primer-on-perspectivalism-revised-2008/; John Frame, Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and its Significance [P & R, 2017], 19-22; John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God [Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987], 15-18).

    I discuss this issue somewhat more elaborately in Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P & R, 2018), especially chapter 14. In addition, Appendix I discusses order (taxis) among persons of the Trinity. I would also draw attention to the care in formulation used by John Owen, when he discusses distinctions in mode in our communion with persons of the Trinity (ibid., pp. 85-86).

    Redeeming Philosophy was written before the explosion of discussion on the question of eternal subordination of the Son and ERAS. I did not intend to express any opinion on these recent discussions.

    Blessings,
    Vern Poythress​
     
  11. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Thank you for pursuing that, Patrick. I believe that tells me what I was wondering about.
     
  12. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    He would then seem to be suggesting that the Father would indeed be seen as being the First among equals, as in being the Chairman of the Trinity, so to speak.
     
  13. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So he would then be stating that while all 3 persons are equally God, each one of them has a unique and specific sphere of activities they would do on a eternal basis?
     
  14. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for writing Mr R.

    Were you satisfied with his reply?
     
  15. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Yes. I had assumed the words he was using were related to the perspectivalism commonly shared between he and Frame. His response confirmed the same.
     
  16. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks.

    And I still consider your imput into that ESS thread to be one of the best if not the best posting I ever read at PB.
     
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree. I've read a fair bit of the literature on the topic and that post was the plainest and clearest.
     
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Do you agree with how John Frame has presented the outworking of the Trinity then?
     
  19. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    As circumspect as I can be, I do have issues with Dr. Frame's notions that God is both one person and three persons. Then again, something akin to this has been averred by Van Til, albeit for different reasons. Frame wrote a book about Van Til's thought processes, and noted that if the three persons, in situ and in toto, are co-terminus with the divine essence, that then exhausts the essence and thusly, the divine essence must be personal. Therefore, if God is an absolute person, God is one, so there must be some sense by which we can say God is one Person.

    I think here Frame misreads Van Til's modern usages of person a wee bit versus that of the ancient Nicene Creed, as I have not found Van Til, nor Dr. Frame, to claim other than God is one in one sense and three in another sense...as must we all.

    It is a small nit and not worth much discussion among those that do not specialize in theology proper matters (as I do). Frame's discussions of the Trinity are edifying and worth a read in his The Doctrine of God. I have read and often consult all of Frame's major theological tomes, so unless someone has done the same (not just reading what others have to say about what Dr. Frame has to say) it is best not to take him to task on this particular point.

    In fact, if you want a fine defense against notions of libertarian free will, especially as relates to nonsensical open theism, Frame's Doctrine of God is well worth the price of admission. ;)
     
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I though that the orthodox way to view God though would be as one Being, who exists eternally as 3 Persons?
     
  21. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Exactly what, in the above that I have posted, do you find in disagreement with your statement? Please elaborate.
     
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I was addressing the part of God being One person, is that different from one Being?
     
  23. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Insufficient elaboration, David.

    I clearly noted:
    I think here Frame misreads Van Til's modern usages of person a wee bit versus that of the ancient Nicene Creed, as I have not found Van Til, nor Dr. Frame, to claim other than God is one in one sense and three in another sense...as must we all.​

    So again, I ask, what is it about what I have written, that you find disagreeable to what you have stated as "the orthodox view"?

    Is your issue with me or Dr. Frame? I do not know. If the latter, I have explained the matter at hand. If the former, you need to explain your concerns.

    AMR
     
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I was addressing what the sentence meant when was stated that God was one Person, as I thought he is called one Being usually. Not that you were saying this, but think that was in the quote that you was given.
     
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Van Til, and perhaps Frame, did speak of God as "One Person" in some sense. That was unfortunate and caused no small mischief. Of course, they believe in 3 Persons/One Essence.
     
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    That phrasing that God would be exhausting His essence also was troubling to me, as to what was really meant?
     

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