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The TrinityAn Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Trinity$
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Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall SJ, and Gerald O'Collins SJ

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246122.001.0001

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Substance and the Trinity

Substance and the Trinity

(p.179) 8 Substance and the Trinity
The Trinity

William P. Alston

Oxford University Press

William Alston defends the use of substance metaphysics in formulations of the doctrine of the Trinity. The use of substance categories has been criticized by various contemporary theologians on the grounds that this leads to philosophically and theologically inadequate views of God as absolutely simple, impassible, inert, atemporal, unrelated to his creatures, and the like. By an examination of Aristotle, the fountainhead of substance metaphysics, Alston shows that features like the above are by no means necessarily connected with substance metaphysics. This is clear just from the fact that the category of substance was developed to deal with finite creatures, primarily organisms, that are far from absolutely simple, inert, atemporal, and so forth. Hence, even if the contemporary theologians in question are justified in objecting to these characterizations of God, that gives them no basis for objecting to substantialist construals of the Trinity in general.

Keywords:   Alston, Aristotle, category of substance, finite creatures, substance metaphysics

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