The Triune God is the One and Many

“According to Calvin, the ground and presupposition of self-knowledge is the knowledge of God. Accordingly, the self-knowledge “transcends the theoretical attitude of thought.” This means that, because man is not self-created and because the universe is not man’s creation, man’s knowledge of himself and his world must be governed therefore by the prior interpretation of the Creator. Man’s knowledge is thus not creative, but in the Christian sense, analogical. To follow Van Til, whose formulation here is the decisive one, the Christian motive is basically that of the ontological trinity as revealed in Scripture. God is eternal and uncreated being, and the universe is His creation (and thus created being) which has meaning only in terms of Him since He is its creator and sustainer. This triune God is the eternal One-and-Many as distinct from the temporal one and many. “In God the one and the many are equally ultimate. Unity in God is no more fundamental than diversity, and diversity in God is no more fundamental than unity. The persons of the Trinity are mutually exhaustive of one another. The Son and the Spirit are ontologically on a par with the Father.” Moreover, “It is only in the Christian doctrine of the triune God, as we are bound to believe, that we really have a concrete universal. In God’s being there are no particulars not related to the universal and there is nothing universal that is not fully expressed in the particulars. It goes without saying that if we hold to the eternal one and many in the manner explained above we must hold the temporal one and many to be created by God.” If the creation doctrine is thus taken seriously, it follows that the various aspects of created reality must sustain such relations to one another as have been ordained between them by the Creator, as superiors, inferiors or equals. All aspects being equally created, no one aspect of reality may be regarded as more ultimate than another.” The whole body of Van Til’s writings is given to the development of this concept of the ontological trinity and its philosophical implications.

For our purposes, briefly stated, very important implications are clearly apparent. There is in this position no dialectical tension. Because of the Trinity, the equal ultimacy of the one and the many, we are not faced with the insoluble Scylla and Charybdis of all theoretical thought. We are not faced with a vast, undifferentiated and meaningless ocean of being which swallows up all things. Neither are we faced with an infinite and atomistic particularity, in which the many are without contact with one another. There is no need for the cultural yawning between a destructive collectivism and an atomistic particularity. Both the one and the many are equally created and hence equally concrete–and equally under the absolute law of the eternal One-and-Many. Instead of a cultural tension, for example, between state and man, there is a cultural unity as both are undergirded and have meaning in terms of the fundamental law of God, which governs and delimits all things.”

(Rushdoony, One and Many, 31-33)

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