Here is an interesting quote I found this morning. One has to remember that Tertullian can be credited with creation of the word ‘Trinity’ and with the heavy use of the holy spirit in the Trinity. My thoughts are interspersed.
Chapter V.—The Evolution of the Son or Word of God from the Father by a Divine Procession. Illustrated by the Operation of the Human Thought and Consciousness.
But since they will have the Two to be but One, so that the Father shall be deemed to be the same as the Son, it is only right that the whole question respecting the Son should be examined, as to whether He exists, and who He is and the mode of His existence.
What we have to understand is that Tertullian is describing for us his view of the doctrine taught by Praxeas; we do not have any of Praxeas’ work extent. It would be more proper to say that the Son is the same as the Father, as a Word is the same as the Speaker.
Thus shall the truth itself secure its own sanction from the Scriptures, and the interpretations which guard them. There are some who allege that even Genesis opens thus in Hebrew: “In the beginning God made for Himself a Son.”
As far as I know, their is no textual variant in any textform that alludes to this. I would think that Tertullian is placing this thought here to add a foundation to his argument, although he agrees that there is no ‘ground for this’ variant. Tertullian is a master debater and like any debater, his main goal is to place questions and doubts in the audience’s mind about the other’s position.
As there is no ground for this, I am led to other arguments derived from God’s own dispensation, in which He existed before the creation of the world, up to the generation of the Son. For before all things God was alone—being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason.
Here, Tertullian and I would agree. God was alone, as attested in numerous scriptures from the Prophets. He did not share His glory, even with the angels or Adam nor would He. The issue arises as to what level of distinctness did the Reason/Logos/Wisdom have from God. I would say none, for if you insist on separating God from His Reason/Logos/Wisdom then you are left with a unreasoning, unspeaking, and unwise God. Not to be coy here or speak in oneness cliches, but the issue is quite simple; it would be impossible to have an eternal distinction.
For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call λόγος, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word was in the beginning with God;
Here again, an issue arises that does lead to misunderstanding. Tertullian admits that the usual interpretation is applied. That is usually the case, however, theology is dangerously built with drawn from mere interpretations. One has to remember that Tertullian was a Latin philosopher, and that his mind was active in Latin (and rightly called the Father of Latin Theology, or the first Latin Father).
although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance.
Tertullian begins to separate Reason and Word, but yet we do have an eternal quartet. He also says that Reason had its own substance. A common mini-creed for the Trinitarians is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is of one substance, yet here Tertullian admits that their existed another substance apart from the substance of God.
Not that this distinction is of any practical moment. For although God had not yet sent out His Word, He still had Him within Himself, both in company with and included within His very Reason, as He silently planned and arranged within Himself everything which He was afterwards about to utter through His Word.
I don’t disagree with Tertullian here, that God communicated with Himself, planning with Himself what He would utter through His Word. I would also agree that that some point, God did send out His Word from Himself. What Tertullian is slowing proving is that the Son is a created being, and that the Trinity was not from eternity.
Now, whilst He was thus planning and arranging with His own Reason, He was actually causing that to become Word which He was dealing with in the way of Word or Discourse. And that you may the more readily understand this, consider first of all, from your own self, who are made “in the image and likeness of God,”for what purpose it is that you also possess reason in yourself, who are a rational creature, as being not only made by a rational Artificer, but actually animated out of His substance. Observe, then, that when you are silently conversing with yourself, this very process is carried on within you by your reason, which meets you with a word at every movement of your thought, at every impulse of your conception. Whatever you think, there is a word; whatever you conceive, there is reason. You must needs speak it in your mind; and while you are speaking, you admit speech as an interlocutor with you, involved in which there is this very reason, whereby, while in thought you are holding converse with your word, you are (by reciprocal action) producing thought by means of that converse with your word.
Tertullian begins good, by drawing attention to the fact that we have Words and Reason within us, but then he goes on to say
Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, (by reciprocity of process,) in uttering speech you generate thought.
Which is a bit of a stretch. When as a man ever been separate from his Reason or his Word? Would it be possible to extract a man’s Reason or Word and have three of the man’s substance? And if it were possible to do such a thing, to what extent is a man a man without reason or word?
The word is itself a different thing from yourself. Now how much more fully is all this transacted in God, whose image and likeness even you are regarded as being, inasmuch as He has reason within Himself even while He is silent, and involved in that Reason His Word! I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself.
At which point Tertullian, trying to disprove Praxeas, looses all accountability with his ability to outsource his logic. What he has done, however, is to prove that early Trinitarian thought included the idea that the Son was generated at some point by God; he has proved that at some point God was alone and generated the Son into existence.