In the Fall issue of the Center for Theology, we have reprinted Douglas Dobbins’ essay on the trinitarian theology of Thomas Aquinas. Originally part of the series Dogmatics in Dialogue, which appeared on the pages of this blog, Doug’s post argued that Thomas offered a healthy trinitarianism that establishes the Father as the “first principle” of the Godhead.
Even though Doug’s essay offers some potentially confusing philosophical ideas (how can you not when discussing the Trinity?), it is important to understand the principles under discussion. Too often our discussions of the Godhead devolve into a unhealthy tri-theism that positions the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit against each other in the work of redemption (in practice, we often see this tri-theism in the tension between charismatics and rationalists, between those who privilege the Spirit and those who privilege the Son, or the Logos). Doug argues that Thomas’ philosophical principles help us understand and talk about God in a way that prevents an unhealthy tri-theism, and helps us understand the Fatherhood of God in relation to the Son and the Spirit.
All discussions of the Trinity are difficult to maintain without slipping into heresy. But in Doug’s short and concise essay, he helps us begin to talk about our great and glorious God without compromising his fundamental character. Take some time to wrestle through Doug’s essay. We’ll all be better for it!