Substance and the Trinity

William P. Alston

in The Trinity

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199246120
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600531 | DOI:
                      Substance and the Trinity

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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

Chapter.  9611 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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