Defending the Social Trinity by Extending the Concept of Perichoresis

This paper presents two new constructive proposals in defense of a social model of the Trinity. In this model Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are understood to be fully united yet eternally distinct centers of knowledge, love, and will––related in ways analogous to a society of three human persons. The first proposal (I) extends perichoresis to the distinct––but not divided––states of consciousness of the three Persons of the Trinity. The second (II) grounds the ontological unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in fully reciprocal, fully congruent, nested relationships––subsisting eternally and necessarily in the one undivided divine essence. The first proposal guards against the heresy of modalism. The second guards against the heresies of tritheism and subordinationism. In the course of the argument modernized versions of Gregory Nyssa’s three man analogy for the Trinity, and of Gregory of Nazianzus’ three suns analogy are presented.