Summary of Edwards’ View Of The Trinity

Here’s John Piper’s summary of Jonathan Edwards’ view of the Trinity, that Piper says was revolutionary for him when he first started to read Edwards. It also blew my mind when I read this for the first time a few years back. This quote is taken from Jonathan Edwards On The Good Life, by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney.

“In brief, there is God the Father, the fountain of being, who from all eternity has had a perfectly clear and distinct image and idea of himself; and this image is the eternally begotten Son. Between this Son and Father there flows a stream of infinitely vigorous love and perfectly holy communion; and this is God the Spirit. God’s image of God and God’s Love of God are so full of God that they are fully divine Persons, and not less.”

2 thoughts on “Summary of Edwards’ View Of The Trinity

  1. Well, it needs to be said that, although the Son is the exact image of the Father (see Hebrews 1.3), it is important to point out that the Son of God is a completely and fully divine Person Himself, not merely a reflection of the Father, something Edwards doesn’t make clear, at least in this quotation. In addition, tthe Holy Spirit, also, is a completely and fully divine Person, as are the Son and the Father – again, something Edwards doesn’t point out, at least not here. To say that the Holy Spirit is “a stream of infinitely vigorous love and perfectly holy communion” connecting, so to speak, the Father and the Son could be misunderstood as denying the Spirit’s Personhood. For that reason, this formulation has sometimes been called heresy.

    I realize that one can’t judge Edwards by only one paragraph, and I also realize that the Trinity can be very difficult to write about accurately (not to say to think about accurately, as well!). I’m sure Edwards, in the piece this paragraph is excerpted from, as well as his other writings, will reveal himself as thoroughly orthodox regarding the Trinity. I just wish he had been more careful here.

    For an excellent and fascinating look at the doctrine of the Trinity, you should read “The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons” by Thomas F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996). It’s carefully written, and is one of those rare theological books that can actually be read doxologically and devotionally.

    1. Richard,
      thanks for the comment. I appreciate the interaction. And as you’ve said, one can’t form a complete summary of Edwards’ theology of the Trinity from such a short quote.

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