Chapter 5: Puritans on the Trinity
The Self-Existence of the Son
The puritans differed from Calvin about how the Father eternally begets the Son. We confess in the Nicene Creed that the Son is “God of God.” The Son has His beginning in the Father, but the Son is also self-existent (aseity). Calvin thought the Son’s divine essence wasn’t involved in His eternal generation. If it was, the Son wouldn’t be self-existent. The Puritans generally said that the Father communicates the divine essence to the Son. But since it’s the same essence, there’s no problem saying the Son is self-existent. Beeke/Jones quote Turretin as differing from Calvin, but Turretin lands where Calvin does: “So the Son is God from himself although not the Son from himself.” Having thought about this for all of 10 minutes, I think I’m with Calvin. Jesus isn’t really self-existent if His divine essence is received from the Father. The danger with this view, Calvin’s, is that it separates the unity of the Persons too much. The danger with the Puritan view is that it merges the Persons too much.
The Proceeding Spirit
The Reformed advocate the Western Church’s view that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, not just from the Father. To assert the latter would subordinate the Son to the Father.This procession is not to be confused with the sending of the Spirit to the Church in history. Instead, it is the eternal procession of the Spirit within the Trinity. We can partially understand that action within God by reading about the sending of the Spirit in history, though, in John 14:26; 15:26; 16:15.