The Eusebians (David Gwynn)

Gwynn, David M. The Eusebians: The Polemic of Athanasius of Alexandria and the Construction of the ‘Arian Controversy’. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

This book is everything you expected a dissertation to be. It is a historical reconstruction of Athanasius’s writings that seeks to show when he began to speak of a “Eusebian party” that was the driving force behind the Arian controversy.  (The Eusebians refer to Eusebius of Nicomedia and not to the church historian of the same name). As such, it is somewhat light on theology but it advances an interesting idea. Given that Arius was the heresiarch, Athanasius may have seen deeper forces involved.  It isn’t simply that Arian-friendly emperors opposed Athanasius.  It’s doubtful how committed to metaphysical Arianism they really were.  There must have been something else, a network of bishops and clergy who promoted Athanasius and stood in his way.

The best way to approach this volume is to open the volume of Athanasius in the Schaff series.  Look at the table of contents.  Gwynn then analyses the possible dates when each was written and how that would determine whether Athanasius was operating with a Eusebian network in mind.

It is in the Epistula Encyclica “that we are able to identify all the essential elements of Athanasius’ construction of his opponents as ‘hoi peri Eusebion.’ Here, as throughout Athanasius’ works, the ‘Eusebians’ inspire persecution and violence, and are patrons of both secular power (Philagrius) and episcopal office (Gregory)” (Gwynn 53).

This book is about politics, not theology.  True, in the ancient world the two couldn’t be separated.  Notwithstanding, you won’t get detailed analyses of what Arians and Athanasians believed. The last chapter, however, does give a somewhat detailed account of what “the Eusebians” believed.

While Gwynn gives the impression that Athanasius routinely misinterpreted his opponents, Gwynn grudgingly admits that section 15 of De Synodis is an accurate account of Arius’s theology, which is: The Father was not always a Father, which means the Son is a creature (190ff). Moreover, Christ is God by participation and does not know the Father exactly, as only someone who has the essence can know that essence. The Son is called Word by name and not because he is the true word.

Gwynn says that pro-Athanasian scholars like Gregg and Groh ignore Arius’s distinction between seeing the Son as a creature vs. the Son as one of the creatures (Gwynn 197).  I can’t understand how that distinction is relevant or even coherent.

Notwithstanding some of Gwynn’s nitpicking, he does highlight key distinctions that more moderate Arians made.  Arians like Asterius or Eusebius could in fact say that the Son was ek tes ousias tou Patros.  They simply said he was a product of the Father’s will.  This is why Athanasius countered by saying the Son was the Father’s Will. The union “is not ontological and great emphasis is placed on the distinct identities of the individual hypostases of the Trinity” (226).

Gwynn makes a good point that Athanasius does not use homoousios as a construct in his early writings.  This is important because some popular accounts of Nicea have Athanasius heroically championing the homoousion at the council.  Nothing of the kind happened.  Athanasius started consistently using it as a construct in De Decretis and De Synodis (230-231).  It only appears once in three of the “authentic orations against the Arians. 

In what could be confusing to the initial reader, Gwynn correctly notes, citing Torrance (1995, 206-212), that the terms ousia, physis, and hypostasis were initially synonymous. Using Torrance’s reading, hypostasis is ousia with an outward direction, whereas ousia refers to the internal relations.

It’s not that Gwynn rejects Athanasius’s account of the history.  He sees it as a polemic and while it might be true, it can’t be trusted.  That conclusion appears more than once.  It makes for ironically somewhat tendentious reading.  The book’s prohibitive price means that it will not replace more standard accounts of Nicea in the near future.

Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity

Giles, Kevin.  The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017.

This is a great snapshot of the Trinitarian debate of 2016. Kevin Giles gives a good summary of the teachings of Ware/Grudem and the Nicene refutation of those teachings.  While this is certainly a five star book, it does have its shortcomings.  Giles sometimes gives the impression he is the star of this show.  To be fair, he stood against Evangelical Arianism when few would.  Further, the book repeats itself many times (usually in terms of quotations from blogs).

He defines complementarian as one who believes God differentiates man and woman on the basis of “roles,” primarily that of submission (footnote 1). An egalitarian is someone who believes that man and woman co-ruled before the fall.  Submission is a result of the fall.  I think the debate is a bit more nuanced than that, but it is workable for the moment.

Giles notes that some long-time advocates of ESS, men like Denny Burk, have finally broken rank with Ware and Co. 

Giles notes that George Knight III was the first person to speak of “role subordination” in the latter’s 1977 book, New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women.  Knight argued that Kephale in 1 Cor. 11:3 meant a subordinating chain of hierarchy.  He then applied it to the Trinity (Knight 33).  This is almost word-for-word Neo-Platonism.  It comes very close to Arianism.

Giles’ main problem with “role” language is that its common examples aren’t relevant.  The early examples were that of a ship captain and a sailor.  Those, however, are due to training, expertise, etc.  If he wanted a closer parallel he would have to find superiority by birth: slavery, apartheid, etc. As Giles notes, “Some are born to rule. Some are born to obey.” That is a more relevant example.  We will come back to it.   

In 1991, the Danvers Statement took Knight’s use of “role” and coined the term, as far as I can tell for the first time, “complementarian.”  This was unfortunate, as almost everyone before then thought his view was “complementarian.”  But even in the Piper/Grudem book, the Trinity wasn’t that big a factor in the argument.  It wasn’t until 1994 when Grudem issued his Systematic Theology did it become a factor.

In an almost throwaway sentence in a section explaining Grudem’s beliefs, Giles nails it: “In the New Testament, the title ‘the Son’ when used of Jesus Christ speaks of his royal status and power, never his subordination.”

Giles’ theological takedown of ESS is certainly worth your time, but his telling of the 2016 story is even more fascinating.  By early June 2016, it had appeared that the Grudem/Ware camp had won.  Then two Reformed women, Byrd and Miller, began pointing out the semi-Arianism of this position.  This had a snowballing effect.  Carl Trueman got involved.  Finally, Michel Barnes and Lewis Ayres, the two leading Patristics scholars in the English language, buried ESS.  It was beautiful. When someone of Ayres’ stature refutes your work, the game is over.

According to Giles, Miller “fired the first shots that led to the civil war among complementarians.”

Giles raises a good question that is worth considering: why did many confessional theologians who are definitionally precluded from accepting ESS wait so long to condemn it?  I have some ideas.  Reformed people were fighting Shepherdism, FV, theonomy, etc.  Those are worthwhile conversations, but the Trinity didn’t figure into them.

The problem with “we just get it from the Bible:”  the main problem is that the Bible doesn’t say the persons are homoousios.  Yes, Jesus and the Father are “one,” but what does that even mean?  One in nature?  One in goals?  One in love?  A good Mormon apologist can run laps around that.  Rather, we need to submit to the structure and grammar of the text.

To be fair, many in the CBMW camp say that complementarianism doesn’t depend on the Arian view of the Trinity.  I don’t think they can get off that easily. For decades that’s exactly what it depended on.  They camped out at 1 Cor. 11:3 and never left.  I’m glad that most have repudiated their early erroneous Trinitarianism.  I do wonder, however, if it will come back up in future exegeses of 1 Cor. 11.

A note on 1 Cor. 11: What does being head over mean?  Does it mean “source” or “authority?”  Source makes more sense, since women are allowed to prophesy alongside men, and the office of prophet is just beneath that of prophet.  If you read kephale as source, then you get the doctrine of eternal generation thrown in (which you are obligated to believe per Nicea).

Ware says only functions and authority can differentiate the persons.  That’s simply false.  For one, I can distinguish between two persons without knowing which one is in charge.  In any case, the Fathers were clear you distinguish them by their modes of origination. Full stop.  If you project human authority structures back into the Godhead as a way to define the persons, you are a pagan.  That’s literally no different from Greek mythology.

And lest anyone appeal to “Rahner’s Rule,” with Giles we can say, “Why they so enthusiastically embraced this rule given by a liberal Roman Catholic; a rule he never explains, a rule that virtually no two theologians can agree on what it means,” is anyone’s guess.

Towards a Critique

There are many angles from which to critique the doctrine of ESS.  I’ll start with some observations.

(1) Complementarians cannot simultaneously claim the Son’s subordination is merely functional on one hand and eternal and person-defining on the other. The latter is ontological, which entails (not just implies) a difference in essence.

(1.1) Phil. 2:4-11 says the Son willingly chose this role in the economy.  If that’s the case, then it isn’t a matter of eternal function.

(2) ESS reads Christ’s state of humiliation back into eternity past.

(3) You cannot affirm the Westminster/LBC’s use of the persons of the Godhead being “equal in power and glory” and hold to ESS.  ESS specifically rejects that they are equal in power (since exousia and dunamis) can sometimes be used interchangeably.

Federal Vision’s bad Trinitarianism

Leave aside the abuse scandals.  Leave aside justification by faithfulness alone.  Let’s just take the Trinity.

So Fatherhood is ultimate, and Fatherhood is ad intra. The Fatherhood of the Father did not come into existence after the decision to create the world. It is not in any way dependent upon the decision to create the world. And so there should be no more difficulty in saying that the Son is eternally obedient than there is in saying that He is eternally begotten. His existence is obedience — eternal obedience, obedience that could not be otherwise. The Father’s existence is authority.

Here is some basic Patristic theology:  anything that is ad intra applies to the being of God.  Wilson is saying that Fatherhood applies to the being of God.  Since the Son isn’t the Father, then that excludes the Son.  This is why you don’t project human analogies onto the Trinity.

Besides being a complete break with Nicene Christianity, it is also a break from Reformed teaching.

Subordination:  talk of Christ’s subordination referred to his mediatorial kingdom, when he handed it over to the Father (115).

Richard Muller, Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.  Triunity of God.

Is the Holy Spirit a product?

I don’t want to get into Filioquist metaphysics.  Confessionally, I am a Protestant and that means I am in the Filioque tradition.  So let’s get this out of the way up front:  do I hold to the Filioque?  I think later Protestant thinkers, in terms of seeing it in Speech-Act format, perhaps have the resources to constructively engage this debate.  But if we are asking do I hold to the Filioque in terms of Augustine, Thomas, and the 4th Lateran Council, the answer is absolutely not.  It is dialectics.

I want to thank Jay Dyer for doing the leg work on this.  Here is the problem: if you say that the Holy Spirit is from the Father’s (and Son’s) will, you are an Arian. Or so St Athanasius says:

Hence the Son, not being (for He existed at the will of the Father), is God Only-begotten , and He is alien from either. Wisdom existed as Wisdom by the will of the Wise God. (De Synodis).

That’s straightfoward enough.  Arian theology says that the Son is a product of the Father’s will (and presumably, the Holy Spirit is a product of the Son’s).    But here is what Western theology states:

Ludwig Ott: “The Holy Ghost proceeds from the will or the mutual love of the Father and Son.” (Sent. certa.). 

Augustine:  “But if any person in the Trinity is also to be specially called the will of God, this name, like love, is better suited to the Holy Spirit; for what else is love, except will?” (De Trinitate, Schaff edition, p.234).

Here a person of the Trinity is identified with the operation or attribute of God.  The Filioquist can get out of this by saying Augustine is saying that the Holy Spirit *is* (=?) the will of the Father, not a product of the will of the Father.   True, that is a different claim.  But if will is a faculty (or operation or function) of essence, then the Holy Spirit is an operation of the essence–and now we are right back at saying he is a product of the essence.

Review: Arius: Heresy and Tradition

by Rowan Williams

Date: January 2014

Being faithful to church teachings does not mean merely chanting former slogans, but critically receiving the church’s witness and faithfully putting it into a new context in response to a new crisis.  Rowan Williams has cogently suggested that we saw such a handling of philosophical issues in the Nicene crisis (Williams 2002). According to Williams’ reading, Arius conservatively employed a number of respected (if pagan) philosophical traditions which compromised the biblical narrative of the Son‟s being with the Father.

Williams begins his narrative with a review of earlier treatments of Arius, most notably that of John Henry Cardinal Newman.  Newman plays off the Alexandria vs. Antioch thesis, putting Arius in the latter camp (along with anyone who champions secular power and literalistic exegesis).  Newman’s move, Williams tell us, is actually a parable of his own day in the Oxford controversy.  While Newman’s own conclusions were painfully mistaken, he does illustrate a tendency in all church historians of this controversy:   reading Nicea as a template for our times.  Williams himself acknowledges that he will do the same thing (Barth/Bonhoeffer = Athanasius; Hitler = Arius, LOL)..

Williams has a very interesting suggestion that there were two models of “communal theology” (my phrase) in Alexandria and Egypt around the time of Arius.  There was the model of students gathering around a venerated teacher (Origen is a good example; Williams calls this the Academic model) and the rising church-centered episcopacy model.  Williams places Arius in the former, and notes that part of Arius’ failure is that he tried to maintain the former model when both his friends and enemies had switched to the latter model.

From this Williams has a number of illuminating suggestions about church unity, boundaries, and identity.  After surveying history, he notes that the “church around Alexander in 313 was not a harmonious body” (41). He notes elsewhere concerning such a pluralism that “the church before Constantine was simply not in an institutional position to make binding pronouncements” (90). While we may certainly say that there was a proto-Nicene theology in embryonic form in the early church, it’s harder to make the claim that “the boundaries of Catholic identity were firmly and clearly drawn in advance…[T]he whole history of Arius and Arianism reminds us that this is not so” (83).

Alexandrian Theology

It is tempting to conclude since Athanasius was an Alexandrian, that Alexandrian theology was always pro-Nicene, and, conversely, that Antiochean theology is Arian.  Williams provides a brilliant summary of Philo, Clement, and Origen to demonstrate that both Nicene and Arian conclusions were found in earlier Nicene models.  We first see this in Philo.  As Williams notes, “Philo is clearly concerned to deny that there is anything outside God that has a part in creation, and so it is necessary for him to insist upon the dependence of the world of ideas on God” (118).  This leads us to the discussion of the Logos.  Is the Logos God, part of God, Demiurge, or creature?   Philo is surprisingly conservative on this (from our standpoint).   He sees the Logos as the arche of existing things…”God himself turned towards what is not God” (119).  Indeed, this sounds a lot like Justin Martyr’s teaching.  

Yet Philo’s theology is inadequate from a Christian perspective.   The Logos functions more like  a mediator between Creator/creation, neither begotten or unbegotten. Williams anticipates later discussion with the insightful comment that “What is metaphor for Philo is literal for Arius” (122).  Philo’s importance, however, and Williams demonstrates this clearly, is he “mapped out the ground for the Alexandrian tradition to build on,” and Arius is firmly in that tradition (123).  

As Christianity became more prominent in Alexandria, Christian thinkers began to take up Philo’s mantle.  Foremost of these is Clement.  Clement adopts Philo’s scheme but is bolder with his language.  While preserving the transcendence of God Clement can say that God descended to us (126).  Clement’s problematic focuses on the knowability of God:  “How can the essence of God be partly knowable as Logos and partly unknowable” (130)?  

Discussion of Clement leads us to the undisputed master of antiquity, Origen.  In Origen, among other things, we see the ambiguity of terms like ousia and hypostasis.  Origen loosely employs both as “real individual subsistence” (132).  This point is key for it illustrates why many semi-Arians and homoiosians were reluctant to embrace Nicene language:  ousia was seen as indivisible and positing another hypostasis in God seemed to divide the essence or create two gods.  

Most importantly for our discussion of Origen is his treatment of the Son’s relationship to the transcendence of the Father.  The Father is supremely transcendent because he has no “defining coordinates” (137).  He is not a member of any class but above all classes.  Origen actually makes several advances in noting that the Son participates in the Father’s glory and is more than simply an instrument connecting God and the world.   However, Origen was still an Alexandrian:  God-Father is completely unknowable and the source of all. The Logos is the source of the world of ideas.  “God is simple and the Son is multiple” (139).  To put it another way, “The Father is the arche of the Logos and the Logos is the arche of everything else” (142).  

Did Origen cause Arius?  It’s hard to say.  Arius certainly took key moves from Origen but not the whole package.  Origen’s “Logos” is eternal.  Arius’s is not.  However, Origen left too many loose ends to prevent something like Arianism from happening.

The Neo-Platonist Philosophers

Understanding the philosophical worldview of Neo-Platonism is key for this discussion.  

Plato:  distinguishes between what always exists and what comes into existence.  He envisions something like a process leading up to the creation of time (183).  This problem is bound up with the issue of form and matter.  Aristotelians deny that there can be form without matter; hence, eternal creation.  Origen, Plotinus, and the Neo-Platonists did not have this problem because they posited an eternally active Form-er in the ideal world.  There is an object to the Forming, but it is an ideal object(s).  This makes sense of Origen’s positing a dual-creation:  the intelligible world precedes the material world.  

Paradoxically, this pre-temporal activity raises the strange question of whether the Father-One-The Beyond can even know anything.  The “One” (for lack of a better term) is utterly simple.  Williams captures the problem perfectly:  “Thinking and understanding, even the perfect understanding of simple nous, involves duplication and distancing” (201, emphasis added).  He goes on to say, “The paradox of understanding is that, as pure need or openness, nous is truly in contact with the One; but in its seeking to realize itself actively as understanding, it produces the multiplicity of the world of ideas, which separates itself from the One” (ibid).  

As bizarre as this sounds, it is not too far removed from some Christian formulations.   Certainly, Christianity can see “echoes” in Neo-Platonism (One-Nous/Logos-World Soul).  Another problem is raised:  as noted above in the Alexandrian milieu thinking and knowing involves duplication and distance.  Yet who is going to say that there is “distance” between Father and Son?  The only apparent alternative is to identify subject and object within the divine mind, which raises the question of how one can distinguish the persons of the Trinity.  

This perhaps allows us to view Origen in a more sympathetic manner.  As Wiliams’ remarks, “Origen’s Logos contemplates the father, and finds in that contemplation the whole world of rational beings coming into existence in its (his) own life…He sees the Father’s simplicity in the only way he can see it, as the wellspring of an infinite (or potentially infinite) variety and so gives multiple and determinate reality to the limitless life flowing into him in his contemplation” (205).  As beautiful as it is, Origen still has a huge epistemological problem:  he has a gulf between the simple Father and the multiple Logos (207).  

The above paragraphs simply put Arius’s (and his opponents’) issues into context.  Arius didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’ a-gonna hate me some God today.”  No,

Conclusion:

As relates to Williams handling of philosophical texts and their conclusions, this book is nothing short of brilliant. Further, Wiliams’ thesis is basically sound:  Arius received a number of conservative philosophical traditions which made it difficult to affirm the biblical narrative.   However, one cannot help but wonder if Williams has a deeper project.  Is this book not also a commentary upon his own reign as Archbishop of Canterbury, particularly in light of the Anglican communion’s problem with modernism? If Arius is in the “conservative” camp and Athanasius combated him by deconstructing Arius’ philosophical premises, then we cannot help but ask, “Who is the conservative in today’s controversy?”  

While Williams himself is not a liberal, one cannot help but suspect his own reign has been disastrous for the Anglican church’s continuing self-identity.  With gay bishops and female priestesses on the rise, one cannot help but ask what is Williams really trying to say?  Is he not trying to give a justification of his own ambiguous handling of the sexuality question?  

Athanasius, Orations Against the Arians

This work is a step up from Athanasius’s smaller treaty on the Incarnation.  Here we begin to see a fully worked-out theological ontology.  This review, however, will not deal with the controversies concerning Proverbs 8 in the Nicene world.  That would take up too much space.Saint-Athanasius-life-4

One needs to see Arius’s thought in context before one can appreciate how Athanasius fundamentally destroyed the Hellenistic mindset.  It’s not simply that Arius thought Jesus was created.  He did, but Arius also thought he was being faithful to the conservative philosophical tradition in Alexandria.  That tradition is best seen as the shadow of Neo-Platonism.  It’s not a pure Neo-Platonism (if such a monster even exists), but it’s close enough on issues like simplicity.

Disclosure: I relied heavily on Joseph Farrell’s (D.Phil Oxford, Patristic Theology)  analysis of the Athanasian crisis, as well as conversations with several of his students.  Any faults are entirely my own.

Establishing the Dialectic

Short answer: Arius defined the deity in terms of a specific property of the Father (unbegottenness), but behind this definition was embedded a philosophical dialectic, which, if left unchecked, would control orthodox categoreis. The Arians saw divine simplicity unicity of a nontransferable monadic state, to use John McGuckin’s fine phrase. If the Father is simple essence, and the Son is not the Father, then the Son is of a different essence.  The problem is that the Hellenistic/Arian mind identified God’s essence with a particular property (unbegottenness). It was Athanasius’s genius to break the back of this system by noting that essence isn’t the same as person or property.

Arius shows what Origenism looks like if taken to its Neo-Platonic conclusion.  The One is utterly simple and beyond.  It is beyond subject and object, yet if the One “thinks” (or makes any kind of distinction, be it the idea to create the world or the decision to beget the Son), and given that person-will-essence are identical, and that ideas/operations are now simply effluences of the essence, Arius is forced to one of several conclusions:

  1. a) The ideas produced by the one are also identical to the one
  2. b) It is completely separate from the one by means of duplication and distance.
  3. c) If the Son is eternal, then Creation, being an object of willing, is also eternal, since the act of will is equal to the eternal essence per Arian simplicity.  Simply put, for this tradition, there can’t be distinctions between operation and essence, because the essence itself does not allow for any distinctions!

Why does (c) follow? If God has the property of being-Creator as well as the property of being-Father, and the essence is eternal, and the essence is identical to the act of will/property, then he must be eternally creator, which draws out another inference

cc) Creation is eternal

Smashing the Dialectic

d) The generation of the Son is according to the essence, since the being is from the Father, while the creation of the world is according to the divine will.  

As James Kelley notes, for “Arius the category of what God is (nature) is the same as what God does (operation).”

Now for the actual text….

Discourse I

* The Father and Son were not generated from some pre-existing origin….but the Father is the Origin of the Son and begat him (I.5).

*The Difference between Work and Begetting: “The work is external to the nature, but a son is the proper offspring of the essence” (I.8.29).

Discourse II

* The Word must be the living Will of the Father, and an essential energy (enousion energia), and a real Word” (II.14.2). Athanasius’s point is that the Word can’t be a product of the Father’s will since he is the Father’s will.  

That blunts Arius on one point but it raises another problem: isn’t making the Word the Father’s will confusing person with nature, which is what Arius did?  One could say that Athanasius isn’t defining the Deity of the Son in terms of a specific divine property.  

Elsewhere Athanasius notes that the Son is in the Father and the Son’s being is proper to the Father.  And given that Athanasius follows the Patristic ordo in reasoning from Person to Operation to Essence, then the Son’s being the living will points to a unity of operation.  Hence, we now see that the Son reveals the common operation and energy, and so reveals the common essence.

Discourse III

* The Son doesn’t “participate” in God.  This is a break with Platonism (III.23.1).

* The Son is in the Father….because the whole Being of the Son is proper to the Father’s essence….For whereas the Form and Godhead of the Father is the Being of the Son, it follows that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son” (III.23.4).

Christ’s being in the flesh deifies the flesh, and only God can properly deify (III.27.38).

Nota Bene:

Athanasius has a robust angelology

  1. Angels are not the same as the Thrones, nor the Thrones the same as the Authorities (II.16.19).

 

Getting caught with their pants down

Seven years ago when i was exploring other Christian traditions and reading heavily in the early fathers (and all the leading monographs), I came to the conclusion that if you don’t make Triadology (or its correlate Christology) central, you risk getting your whole theological method wrong.

A number of Conference Calvinists said, “Nuh-uh.”

Well, here we are today.  My thoughts on the current fighting on the Trinity regarding complementarianism:

  1. CMBW (or complementarian advocates on the Trinity) say you shouldn’t exalt the Fathers over the Bible.  Well, it’s not the simple.  As Torrance pointed out, once you terms like Ὁμοουσιον become enshrined in Christian discourse, you can’t go backwards. Ὁμοουσιον safeguards the ontological structure and identity of of the essence.  If you jettison this doctrine, you risk jettisoning everything that goes with it.
  2. As it stands, the complementarians/EFS guys are wrong.   But they aren’t 100% wrong.  It is wrong of them to read roles and functions into the eternal being of God.  You end up with Arianism.  Since God’s being is simple and identical among the Persons, it just doesn’t work.  If the Son’s being is eternally subordinate and the Father’s isn’t, then by definition they don’t have the same Being.
  3. But they have noticed something.  There is a difference of taxis in the Trinity.  That’s what the Fathers call “monarchia.”
  4. Neither side has really come to grips with that.
  5. I suspect one of the reasons is that the Evangelical world only has two categories for the Trinity: Ontological and Economical.  The Fathers had a third category:  The Person.
  6. But the real reason is we just don’t talk about the Trinity, and if we do we don’t let the full import of Athanasius’s ontology change how we do everything.   For one, it’s hard.  Athanasius’s most important work is Contra Arianos.  It isn’t On the Incarnation.  And the former work is quite demanding.  You won’t get invited to TGC conferences speaking on an Athanasian metaphysics.