The Simplicity of the Divine Nature and the Triune Persons

trinityOne of the questions I get when I discuss my model of the Trinity is how Divine Simplicity can function with the level of distinction that I hold in the persons. This is a great question, and one that I think is relatively easy to answer. This will be the first entry in a short series on various attributes of the divine nature that determine and shape Trinitarian thought.

Divine Simplicity, put simply (see what I did there…), is the concept that the divine nature is not composite. That is, it is not composed of parts. It is a single, indivisible thing. It is not one part love, one part omnipotence, one part omnipresence. It is simple a single cohesive and unified thing. If a composite nature was expressed mathematically as “.5+.5=1” then a simple nature is expressed mathematically as “1.”

Now, this may seem unrelated to the Trinity at first, but we shall see over the next few posts how this plays out. Today I want to focus on a simple logical entailment of the divine nature being simple.

If a given hypostasis possesses ANY of the divine nature, it possesses ALL of the divine nature. There is no such thing as “part” in relation to this kind of nature. So, it is not possible for a hypostasis to possess a portion of the divine nature, since it is not possible for there to BE a portion of the divine nature. Either a hypostasis possesses ALL of the divine nature, or it possesses NONE of the divine nature.

This means that the Father, who possesses the divine nature, necessarily possesses all of the divine nature. The same could be said of the Son, and the Spirit. This is what is meant when we say that the three persons fully possess and share the divine nature. The Father possesses ALL of the divine nature, as does the Son, as does the Spirit. The Father is no more divine (possessing more of the divine nature), the Son is no less divine (possessing less of the divine nature).

Now, this leads to a logical question: How can three persons fully possess a single divine nature? That question will be answered in the next entry: Infinite