Yesterday, at Spurgeon’s College, Graham Watts presented a paper entitled ‘Stephen Holmes on the Trinity: Is Modern Trinitarian Theology a Revival or a Repudiation of Fourth Century Settlements?’
As is my custom when listening to papers, I latched onto a number of particular things rather than the overall argument. First, says Watts, apparently Holmes has indicated that he does not see – or no longer sees – a necessary link between the Trinity and ecclesiology. This suggests to me something very similar to the line of thought that sees no necessary link between the relations within the Trinity and male/female relationships in the Church or in families. Secondly, as part of his paper, Watts advocated the need for greater attention to be paid to Reformation discussions of Christology, for he suspects that the difference between Lutherans and the Reformed on the extra calvinisticum is behind many of today’s social trinitarianism models. However, I’d need to read Watt’s paper to appreciate this point fully (on the paper’s publication, see below). Thirdly, following Torrance, Watts is convinced that Athanasius, etc., knew what they were doing when they employed ‘Christianised’ Hellenistic terminology, and so we ought not to discard fourth-century theology. And finally, focussing solely on God in relation to the world risks connecting God only to created history, with the potential entrapment of God in created structures this perhaps entails.
At the beginning of the session, Watts said that the paper is part of a book planned for publication by Paternoster in 2014. He offered no more details, but it sounded to me that the whole book was a response to Holmes’s The Holy Trinity. As with so many things, I could be wrong on this front! Regardless, if you’re able eventually to read Watts’s paper, you won’t be wasting your time.