*Note: Let me say first, that I am even in a process of learning and seek always to correct myself, in speech and in manner. If I cease to grow, then let me perish. In writing my Unus Deus, someone pointed out that early on I made mention that both ‘oneness’ and ‘modalism’ were not biblical terms and chided me a bit for continuing to use them. Thus, my mind begin to work on developing a term for use, if by no one but myself, to describe this particular theology of the Godhead. Upon reading Dr. Kelly’s closer examination of ‘modalism’, I have to say that my original distast for that word, and that fact that it implies that God exists in ‘modes’, grew to the point that I have to spit it out. Besides that, the hypocrisy of oneness believers accusing the Trinitiarians of having non-biblical language in their theology is clearly seen when we use ‘oneness’ or ‘modalism’.
‘Oneness’ believers, or Modalists, tend to attack Trinitarians for the non-biblical language, such as ‘Trinity’, that they employ in discussing their doctrine, yet, these same believers readily use ‘oneness’, or Modalists, both terms never found in the bible.
In Dr. Kelly’s book, Early Christian Doctrines, he makes the assumption that Ignatius was the first ‘economic Trinitarian’ who ‘regard God as an undifferentiated monad in His essential being, the Son and the Spirit being merely forms of modes of the Father’s self-revelation, only distinguishable from Him in the process of revelation.’ The term ‘economic Trinitarian’ is a backwards applied word; however, several of the Apologists used the word ‘economy’. Ignatius used the word in his letter to the Ephesians (18.2)
For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the economy of God.
Irenaeus could, along with Ignatius, claim that ‘by the very essence and nature of His being there is but one God’ and yet ‘according to the economy of our redemption there are both Father and Son.’
The word ‘οἰκονομία’ is used in 10 or 11 times (depending on the textual tradition) in the Greek New Testament. It is the word from which we derived our English word ‘economy’ (transliterated οἰκονομία is oikonomia). Within the word are the concepts of administration, dispensation, and household management. The Latin translation used the word ‘dispensatione‘, from which the KJV translators get the word ‘dispensation’. In examining the possibly of using this word as theological label, let us examine Paul’s words.
(Eph 1:10 NKJV) That in the οἰκονομία of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.
(Eph 3:2 NKJV) If indeed you have heard of the οἰκονομία of the grace of God which was given to me for you,
(Col 1:25 NKJV) Of which I became a minister according to the οἰκονομία of God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,
It is in Colossians that Paul refers to the economy of God, or ‘divine economy’ as Gill says. If we can understand the Son in the entire plan of God, we can see that ‘economy’ entails for Paul a deeper meaning that a mere administration. In Ephesians 1.10, Paul speaks not of the dispensation, or act of distribution by a steward, but more along the lines of an Economy to complete God’s plan of salvation. If we understand that God’s plan of salvation was to gather together His creation back to Him, and that the only way that they could be done is through the Son – Logos – and that the Spirit of God empowers the new creation (as it did with the old) with grace, then both the Son and the Spirit as manifestations of God are the essential part of the goal of consummation. It is the economy of grace through Jesus Christ.
A second word, which has biblical support, no Traditional support, and can easily be summed up in the previous word, is emanation. It is found in two places in the Bible, Hebrews 1.3 and Wisdom 7.26.
For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness. (Wis 7:26 KJV)
ἀπαύγασμα γάρ ἐστιν φωτὸς ἀιδίου καὶ ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλίδωτον τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνεργείας καὶ εἰκὼν τῆς ἀγαθότητος αὐτοῦ. (Wis 7:26 LXX)
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Heb 1:3 KJV)
ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου φερων τε τα παντα τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου δι εαυτου καθαρισμον ποιησαμενος των αμαρτιων ημων εκαθισεν εν δεξια της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις (Heb 1:3 GNT-TR)
The simple idea that is both the Word and the Spirit are emanations from God, flowing from and back to Him. This is understood in Isaiah 55.11, which reads
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isa 55:11 NKJV)
In this word, as a theological label, is contained the idea that the Son and the Spirit are both emanations from God, that during the work of Redemption and Regeneration, flow from Him, but once those works are compete, they flow back to him.
I have not decided yet for myself, but I am leaning to ‘economic’ or ‘economist’. What do you think?