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Divine Persons and Their ‘Reduction’ to Relations: A Plea for Conceptual Clarity



Contemporary trinitarian ‘revisionist’ theologians frequently accuse ‘classical’ or ‘Western’ (e.g. Augustinian, Thomistic) trinitarian theologies of ‘reducing’ the divine Persons to their relations with and to one another. In response, many defenders of the Western tradition of trinitarian theology suggest that the alternative accounts of contemporary revisionists, likewise, ‘reduce’ the Persons to relations. Thus, the same charge (the reduction of Persons to relations) is employed in two opposing viewpoints as a way of critiquing the other. This article aims to note this (apparently hitherto unremarked) phenomenon and to explore the theological rationale for its development. In conclusion, the article suggests how a new conceptual clarity may be achieved in light of this semantic confusion and points toward the possibility of a renewed dialogue between classical forms of trinitarian theology and their contemporary critics.