Two recent psychological analogies for the doctrine of the Trinity: are they viable?

This paper describes and assesses the creedal and theological-developmental viability of two recent analogies for the doctrine of the Trinity –the “Dialogical Self Model” and the “Perfect Plural Person Model.” These models are both “one self” models of the Trinity that been proposed in the context of debates to do with whether or not God may be regarded as a person. Additionally, both models also draw upon the resources of psychological science for their plausibility. Both models are also attempts to provide contemporary representatives of Augustine’s psychological models for describing the life of the Trinity. After providing a description of these constructive proposals, the viability of each of the “Dialogical Self Model” and the “Perfect Plural Person Model” is tested according to their creedal fittingness, and their general suitability within the development of trinitarian doctrine. By drawing on the work of Anglican theologians such as John Henry Newman and Graham Cole, the question of what creedal and developmental criteria for orthodoxy mean for analogies for the Trinity is treated first. Are analogies merely speculations, or opinions, or are they proper theological claims? What is the significance of a claim being an analogy for how it is treated with reference to normative criteria that are usually used in the context of trinitarian theology? Having reckoned with how creedal and developmental criteria relate to analogies of the Trinity, these are applied to the two models at hand.

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