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See section 2 below. In current terms, one reduces all but one of the three or four apparent divine selves Father, Son, Spirit, the triune God to the remaining one. One of these four is the one god, and the others are his modes. Because the New Testament seems to portray the Son and Spirit as somehow subordinate to the one God, one-self Trinity theories always either reduce Father, Son, and Spirit to modes of the one, triune God, or reduce the Son and Spirit to modes of the Father, who is supposed to be numerically identical to the one God. See section 1. Because God in the Bible is always portrayed as a great self, at the popular level of trinitarian Christianity one-self thinking has a firm hold.

At the level of official doctrine, among large Christian groups, only the theology of the United Pentecostal Church a. One-self trinitarians often seem to have in mind the last of these. Or the Son is the event of God's taking on flesh and living and dying to reveal the Father to humankind. Or the Son is the eternal event or state of affairs of God's living and relating to himself in a son-like way.

If an event is in the simplest case a substance thing having a property or a relation at a time, then the Son etc. By a natural slide of thought and language, the Son or Spirit may just be thought of and spoken of as a certain divine property, rather than God's having of it e. Modes may be essential to the thing or not; a mode may be something a thing could exist without, or something which it must always have so long as it exists. There are three ways these modes of a eternal being may be temporally related to one another: maximally overlapping, non-overlapping, or partially overlapping.

First, they may be eternally concurrent—such that this being always, or timelessly, has all of them. Second, they may be strictly sequential non-overlapping : first the being has only one, then only another, then only another. Finally, some of the modes may be had at the same times, partially overlapping in time. But three divine selves would be three gods. All of Barth's capitalized pronouns here refer to one and the same self, the self-revealing God, eternally existing in three ways.

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Similarly, Rahner says that God. Thus, in one epoch, God exists in the mode of Father, during the first century he exists as Son, and then after Christ's resurrection and ascension, he exists as Holy Spirit Leftow , ; McGrath , —5; Pelikan , Sabellian modalism is usually rejected on the grounds that such modes are strictly sequential, or because they are not intrinsic features of God, or because they are intrinsic but not essential features of God.

The first aspect of Sabellian modalism conflicts with episodes in the New Testament where the three appear simultaneously, such as the Baptism of Jesus in Matthew —7. The last two are widely held to be objectionable because it is held that a doctrine of the Trinity should tell us about how God really is, not merely about how God appears, or because a trinitarian doctrine should express some of God's essence.

While Sabellian one-self theories were rejected for the reasons above, these reasons don't rule out all one-self Trinity theories, such as ones positing the Three as God's modes in the sense of his eternally having certain intrinsic and essential features.

Ward , In contrast to these, he asserts that. Leftow considers his theory to be in the lineage of some prominent Latin-language theorists. See the supplementary document on the history of trinitarian doctrines, section 3. It is crucial to understanding Leftow's use of the time travel analogy that in his view time-travel does not require believing that entities are four-dimensional Leftow b, If a single dancer, then, time travels to the past to dance with herself, this does not amount to one temporal part of her dancing with a different temporal part of her. If that were so, neither dancer would be identical to the whole, temporally extended woman.

But Leftow supposes that both would be identical to her, and so would not be merely her temporal parts. He holds that if time travel is possible, a self may have multiple instances or iterations at a time.

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His theory is that the Trinity is like this, subtracting out the time dimension. God, in timeless eternity, lives out three lives, or we might say exists in three aspects. In one he's Father, in another Son, and in another the Holy Spirit. But they are all one self, one God, as it were three times repeated or multiplied.

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Leftow wants to show what is wrong with the following argument , —6; cf. His point is that creedal orthodoxy requires 1—3 and 5, yet 1—3 imply the unorthodox 4, and 1, 2 and 5 imply the unorthodox and necessarily false statement 6. So what to do? Lines 1—4 seem perfectly clear, and the argument seems valid. So too does the argument from 1, 2, and 5 to 6.

Why should 6 be thought impossible?


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One would expect Leftow, as a one-self trinitarian, to deny 1 and 2, on the grounds that neither Father nor Son are identical to the one self which is God, but rather, each is a mode of God. But Leftow instead argues that premises 1 and 2 are unclear, and that depending on how they are understood, the argument will either be sound but not heretical, or unsound because it is invalid, 4 not following from 1—3, and 6 not following from 1, 2, and 5. A temporally rigid term refers to a being at all parts of its temporal career.

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And then such identity statements can only be true or false relative to times, or to something time-like Leftow , Relative to the Father-strand of God's life, 1 will be true but 2 will be false. Relative to the Son-strand, 2 will be true, but 1 will be false. Leftow's theory crucially depends on modes, that is: intrinsic, essential, eternal ways God is, that is, lives or life-strands.

But they, all three of them, just are are numerically, absolutely identical to that one self, that is, God thrice over or thrice repeated. Some philosophers object that Leftow's time-travel analogy is unhelpful because time-travel is impossible Hasker , Similarly, one may object that Leftow is trying to illuminate the obscure the Trinity by the equally or more obscure the alleged possibility of time travel, and timeless analogues to it.

One may wonder whether Leftow's life stream theory is really trinitarian.

About the cry of abandonment, Leftow urges that the New Testament reveals a Christ who although divine and so omniscient did not have full access to his knowledge, specifically knowledge of his relation to the Father, and so Christ could not have meant what Hasker said above. Hasker also objects that Leftow's one—self theory collapses the personal relationships of the members of the Trinity into God's relating to himself, and suggests that in Leftow's view, God would enjoy self—love, but not other—love, and so would not be perfect Hasker , —2; Hasker a, On this sort of argument see section 2.

The Son suffers, and both he and the Father are identical to God.

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Any one-self theory is hard to square with the New Testament's theme of the mutual love of Father and Son. Any one-self theory is also hard to square with the Son's role as mediator between God and humankind. These teachings arguably assume the Son to be a self, and not a mere mode of a self, and to be a different self than his Father. Theories such as Ward's section 1.

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Either way, the Son seems not to be qualified either to mediate between God and humankind, or to be a friend of the one he calls Father. Again, traditional incarnation theory seems to assume that the eternal Son who becomes incarnate who enters into a hypostatic union with a complete human nature is the same self as the historical man Jesus of Nazareth.

But no mere mode could be the same self as anything, and the New Testament seems to teach that this man was sent by another self, God. Some one—self theories run into trouble about God's relation to the cosmos. If God exists necessarily and is essentially the creator and the redeemer of created beings in need of salvation, this implies it is not possible for there to be no creation, or for there to be no fallen creatures; God could not have avoided creating beings in need of redemption. One-self trinitarians may get around this by more carefully specifying the properties in question: not creator but creator of anything else there might be , and not redeemer but redeemer of any creatures in need of salvation there might be and which he should want to save.

See the supplementary document on unitarianism. Not implying modalism about the Son, this position is harder to refute on New Testament grounds, although mainstream theologians and some subordinationist unitarians reject it as inconsistent with New Testament language from which we should infer that the Holy Spirit is a self Clarke , See Burnap , —52; Lardner , 79—; Wilson , — One-self Trinity theories are motivated by the concern that three divine selves implies three gods.

Three-self theories, in various ways, deny this implication. Why can't multiple divine selves be one and the same god? But then, they it can't be different divine selves. Relative identity theorists think there is some mistake in this reasoning, so that things may be different somethings yet the same something else. They hold that the above reasoning falsely assumes something about numerical sameness.

They hold that numerical sameness, or identity, either can be or always is relative to a kind or concept.

Things identical to the same thing must also be identical to one another. Doing this, one may may say that the argument is invalid, having true premises but a false conclusion. But does this rebuttal work? Thus, while it is senseless to ask whether or not Paul and Saul are identical, we can ask whether or not Saul and Paul are the same human, same person, same apostle, same animal, etc. The doctrine of the Trinity, then, is construed as the claim that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God , but are not the same person.

The resulting trinitarian theory avoids the inconsistencies mentioned above.

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Geach's approach to the Trinity is developed by Martinich , and Cain This sort of relative identity trinitarianism, however, depends on the very controversial claim that there's no such relation as non-sortal-relative, absolute identity. Most philosophers hold, to the contrary, that the identity relation and its logic are well-understood.

One might turn to a weaker relative identity doctrine; outside the context of the Trinity, philosopher Nicholas Griffin ; cf. Rea , —6 has argued that while there are identity relations, they are not basic, but must be understood in terms of relative identity relations. On either view, relative identity relations are fundamental.

Rea objects that relative identity theory presupposes some sort of metaphysical anti-realism, the controversial doctrine that there is no realm of real objects which exists independently of human thought Rea , —6. But this is precisely what relative identity trinitarians deny, and this denial leads to the resulting relative-identity trinitarian claims being unintelligible we have no grasp of what they mean. Tuggy , —4.