Immanent and Economic Trinity

Could you explain further immanent and economic Trinity? I am still confused about the difference and how they relate. Are they two different Trinities or just two aspects of one Trinity?

There is one Trinity and the terms immanent and economic are ways for us to think about the Trinity. Referring to the immanent Trinity is a way of referring to God’s eternal existence and the internal relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Referring to the economic Trinity is a way of considering God’s activity in creation.

One way of thinking about the economic Trinity is to think of the…

  • Father as creator.
  • Son as redeemer.
  • Holy Spirit as sustainer.

I think that these descriptions may be helpful but at the same time do not leave much room for mystery. I am not satisfied with this way of assigning tasks to each person of the Trinity, because in the unity of the Trinity all persons are active in each of these roles as well as in many different ways

I believe that the way that God exists eternally (immanent Trinity) is the way that God is active in the world (economic Trinity) and vice versa. I do not believe that God acts in creation in a different way than God exists eternally.

What do you think?

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?

3 thoughts on “Immanent and Economic Trinity

  1. I would agree that God acts in creation the same as the way in which God exists eternally. The fact, however, of the Incarnation, forces some very distinct ways of thinking to be held; hence the numerous councils that dealt with the nature of Christ and the Trinity.

    Per the historical orthodoxy re: the Incarnation, the fullness of God was in Jesus Christ- the Logos, the Word, the Son, the second Person of the Trinity- became flesh. However, unless we maintain the distinctions of the persons in the Trinity, we would be forced to say that Father was incarnated and that the Spirit was incarnated, which is Sabellianism and was dealt with over a thousand years ago.

    However, since each of the persons of the Trinity is the nature of God, and since the divine nature was fully present in Jesus, that the Word because flesh is not contrary to the perichoresis of the Trinity since to become flesh is not an addition to the nature of God that the Word assumed. (Paul talks rather about an emptying in relation to Incarnation, in reference, no doubt, to the human nature assumed.)

    I think that these descriptions may be helpful but at the same time do not leave much room for mystery. I am not satisfied with this way of assigning tasks to each person of the Trinity, because in the unity of the Trinity all persons are active in each of these roles as well as in many different ways

    I agree- sometimes it is helpful, but more often than not it causes us to chop the Trinity up into 3 slices.

  2. deviantmonk – Sabellianism. Can’t say that I would have known what you were referring to without the context or looking it up. So thanks for (dare I say) “fleshing” that out a bit.

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