Johnson, Terry L.
Classical Trinitarianism holds that every action of Trinity in the world is inseparable. That is, the divine persons are equally active in every operation. But then, in what way did the Father create the world through Christ? How can only the Son be incarnate, die, and be resurrected? Why does Christ have to ascend before the Spirit may come? These and many other questions pose serious objections to the doctrine of inseparable operations.
In the first book-length treatment of this doctrine, Adonis Vidu takes up these questions and offers a conceptual and dogmatic analysis of this essential axiom, engaging with recent and historical objections. Taking aim at a common “soft” interpretation of the inseparability rule, according to which the divine persons merely cooperate and work in concert with one another, Vidu argues for the retrieval of “hard inseparability,” which emphasizes the unity of divine action, primarily drawing from the patristic and medieval traditions.
Having probed the biblical foundations of the rule and recounted the story of its emergence in nascent Trinitarianism and its neglect in modern theology, Vidu builds a constructive case for its retrieval. The rule is then tested precisely on the battlegrounds that were thought to have witnessed its defeat: the doctrines of creation, incarnation, atonement, ascension, and the indwelling of the Spirit. What emerges is a constructive account of theology in which the recovery of this dogmatic rule shines fresh light on ancient doctrines.
Table of Contents
1. A Biblical Theology of Inseparable Operations
2. The Rise and Decline of Inseparable Operations
3. Unity and Distinction in Divine Action
4. Creation and Trinitarian Mediation
5. The Incarnation of the Son Alone
6. Christology and Trinitarian Agency
8. Ascension and Pentecost
9. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit as Love
Adonis Vidu is professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
“In keeping with the recent movement of evangelical theological retrieval (with good work done on eternal generation and eternal procession, for example) and the renaissance of trinitarian theology, Adonis Vidu makes a truly exceptional contribution to the doctrine of inseparable operations. The depth of historical investigation, the careful work in Scripture, the acumen of theological formulation, and the clarity of thinking and writing will ensure that this volume is and remains the gold standard on this essential doctrine for decades to come. I could not recommend this book more highly!”
— Gregg R. Allison
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The venerable doctrine that all of God’s ‘external’ works are always undivided is nearly ubiquitous in traditional Christian theology, and it has been seen as an important affirmation. It has not, however, always been well understood, and in recent years it has fallen out of favor in some circles. In this wide-ranging book, Adonis Vidu seeks to sharpen our understanding and defend the doctrine against its critics. His work will be a very helpful aid to further clarification and development of the doctrine, and it will repay careful study.”
— Thomas H. McCall
“This is one of the meatiest books I have read in years. Vidu takes up his theme of the Trinity’s inseparable operations and the missions of the Son and Spirit, and he applies himself to the great dogmatic loci: creation, incarnation, atonement, ascension, the sending of the Spirit, and the indwelling of the Spirit. The leading figures of Protestant and Catholic theology past and present take their places in the resultant debates, gracefully choreographed and guided by Vidu. There will be disagreements aplenty on all sides, thereby vindicating Vidu’s bold project which aims to rekindle the passion and pastoral relevance that once made dogmatic theology the preeminent work of the queen of the sciences.”
— Matthew Levering
“Contemporary theology has suffered from the absence of a careful, patient investigation of inseparable trinitarian operations. Any book meeting this need would be cause enough for gratitude. But we are especially fortunate to have such a book from Adonis Vidu, whose work combines analytic precision, scriptural depth, and a fully systematic scope of vision. The Same God Who Works All Things is sure to rank among the most important studies in trinitarian theology published in this decade. I consider it required reading that will sharpen current thinking considerably.”
— Fred Sanders
Torrey Honors College, Biola University
“Adonis Vidu takes the reader on an instructive historical tour of the doctrine of inseparable divine operations as he weaves together an impressive series of closely related theological themes. A well-grounded notion of revelation, vivid awareness of divine incomprehensibility, and able appropriation of multiple classical theological traditions all bear good fruit in this carefully argued monograph.”
— Gilles Emery, OP
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
“Here Adonis Vidu thoroughly addresses an important and neglected concept. While long and demanding, this book offers some insightful analogies and important distinctions. As a result, contemporary theologians can become more aware of how a classically Trinitarian perspective might affect a range of Christian doctrines.”
— Daniel J. Treier