Volume 90, Issue 4, Fall 2016
Thomas Joseph White, OP
Nicene Orthodoxy and Trinitarian Simplicity
Classical Trinitarian dogma affirms that God is simple—a teaching also advanced by major proponents of classical monotheism. Nevertheless, as each one knows, this notion is controversial in modern analytic philosophy, where it is commonly contested. It is also largely ignored in contemporary continental dogmatic theology. Nevertheless, the teaching that God is simple is requisite for any authentic interpretation of the Trinitarian dogma of Nicaea. It is also eminently defensible from a rational, philosophical point of view. In what follows I will begin with (I) a theological consideration of the notion of Trinitarian simplicity before considering (II) the metaphysics of the simplicity of the divine essence. (III) I will then consider briefly two special problems that are associated with the metaphysics of divine simplicity: divine knowledge and divine freedom. (IV) Finally, I will consider briefly the significant Christological consequences of the acceptance (or non-acceptance) of the traditional affirmation of divine simplicity.