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Trinitarian Dogmatics

Exploring the Grammar of the Christian Doctrine of God

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This introduction draws on the breadth of the Christian tradition to present a biblically grounded, globally informed, and conceptually precise account of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Trinitarian Dogmatics analyzes eight trinitarian doctrines, systematically exploring key themes and concepts that constitute trinitarian discourse. Offering an alternative to introductory texts on the Trinity that are arranged historically/chronologically, this book proceeds locus by locus, offering chapters dedicated to doctrines like divine simplicity, perichoresis, and the inseparable operations--doctrines that are fundamental to a robust understanding of the Trinity but are often treated only briefly in other survey works. Butner's account of the Trinity is consciously orthodox in its aspirations, following historic creeds and confessions in defending doctrines like eternal generation and divine simplicity that have often fallen out of favor in much modern theology. Yet it is also ecumenically orthodox, intentionally drawing on Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions while referencing other groups falling beyond those categories.

Trinitarian Dogmatics incorporates majority world theology, engages important debates in contemporary biblical studies, and draws on neglected historical figures. It also contains a glossary of trinitarian terms and annotated bibliographies of major works on the doctrine of God, making it suitable for students in courses on the doctrine of God and the Trinity as well as scholars working in those areas.

Knowing the Triune God
The Structure of This Book
For Further Reading
1. Consubstantiality
The Biblical Roots of Consubstantiality
Nicaea and the Doctrine of Consubstantiality
Three Historical Explanations of Consubstantiality
The Dogmatic Meaning of Consubstantiality
For Further Reading
2. Processions and Personal Properties
Recent Challenges to Eternal Generation
Eternal Generation in Christian Tradition
The Dogmatic Meaning of Eternal Generation and Eternal Procession
The Exegetical Foundations for the Divine Processions
The Personal Properties
For Further Reading
3. Simplicity
Versions of Simplicity and the Divine Attributes
The Dogmatic Function of Divine Simplicity in the Doctrine of the Trinity
The Biblical Case for Divine Simplicity
The Logical Problem of the Trinity and Simplicity
For Further Reading
4. Persons and Relations
The Filioque Controversy: Processions, Relations, and Persons
Defining Divine Personhood
Definition of Divine Persons
Filioque, Persons, and Relations
For Further Reading
5. Perichoresis
Conceptions of Perichoresis
Perichoresis in Modern Theology
The Dogmatic Function of Perichoresis
Perichoresis and Salvation
A Concluding Ecclesiological and Eschatological Note
For Further Reading
6. Missions
Scripture and the Divine Missions
The Economic and Immanent Trinity
A Dogmatic and Metaphysical Understanding of the Divine Missions
The Missions and the Divine Economy
For Further Reading
7. Inseparable Operations
The One Power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
The Inseparable Operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Inseparable Actions and Personal Distinctions
For Further Reading
8. Communion
Koinōnia and Communion
Three Models of Communion
For Further Reading


"This book is exactly what we have been needing: an evenhanded introduction to trinitarianism that displays the conceptual foundations, building up the doctrine precept on precept, in proper sequence. By organizing the material conceptually rather than historically, Butner frees himself to call on an exceptionally wide range of witnesses from all eras of theological history and all corners of the theological world. Trinitarian Dogmatics resources contemporary readers with much-needed clarity, breadth, and depth."

Fred Sanders, professor of theology, Torrey Honors College, Biola University

"Butner offers a true dogmatic account of the doctrine of the Trinity that is generous, engaging, and clearly tied to our life and work. He approaches each topic in a fresh way, while remaining grounded within the pro-Nicene tradition. For those new to the doctrine and for those who have studied it for many years, this book is for you."

Madison Pierce, associate professor of New Testament, Western Theological Seminary

"What an impressive book! I don't think there is another book like this one, and it is high time that the lacuna is rectified. Its scope of topics, breadth of scholarship, and balanced judgments in defense of classical trinitarian doctrine are just extraordinary--and the book is beautifully written, to top it off. Every element of trinitarian doctrine here receives a cogent, biblically grounded presentation. Highly recommended!"

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

"Trinitarian Dogmatics tackles the many questions surrounding Christian belief in the trinitarian God in a manner that is clear yet rigorous. Considering both the ancient unfolding and the contemporary revival of trinitarian theology, this book demonstrates the biblical foundation of the analytical concepts traditionally employed for making sense of God as Trinity. In doing so, Butner offers an understanding of the Trinity that is coherent, timely, and practical. Trinitarian Dogmatics is both a good place to start and an original contribution to current discussion on the Trinity."

Aristotle Papanikolaou, professor of theology, Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, and cofounder and codirector of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University

"Modern and contemporary theology has lost sight of orthodox trinitarianism, as seen in its rejection of divine simplicity, its suspicion of eternal generation, its nominal enthusiasm for inseparable operations, and its radical attempt to reconfigure the divine persons as a social Trinity. Glenn Butner's Trinitarian Dogmatics is a sign of hope, proof that the recovery of classical trinitarianism is not only possible but profitable for a new age of dogmatics. Equally astute in his retrieval of Nicene trinitarianism and unwavering in his commitment to scriptural revelation, Butner illuminates the countless ways our trinitarianism is malnourished, desperate for a dose of dogmatics. May this book be the firstfruits of a plentiful harvest to come in the recovery of trinitarian dogmatics."

Matthew Barrett, associate professor of Christian theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of Simply Trinity

The Author

  1. D. Glenn Butner Jr.

    D. Glenn Butner Jr.

    D. Glenn Butner Jr. (PhD, Marquette University) is assistant professor of theology and Christian ministry at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas, where he also directs the honors program. He is the author of The Son Who Learned Obedience: A Theological...

    Continue reading about D. Glenn Butner Jr.


Christianity Today 2023 Award of Merit (Academic Theology)

"This book helpfully lays out the landscape of Trinitarian dogmatics. Butner does a fine job at presenting the major issues and carefully defining the edges of orthdoxy from the vantage points of Scripture, history, and philosophy. He is refreshingly reserved, too, on many difficult issues on which orthodox theologians have historically differed. In that sense, while Butner is clear, persuasive, and convictional, he is also modest in his aims. I predict this book will become standard in the classroom for a long time. The truly curious reader will not walk away empty-handed."

Samuel G. Parkison,

Christianity Today