Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level





Thomas Senor

Committee Member

Eric Funkhouser

Second Committee Member

Richard Lee


Trinity, Christian doctrine, positive Social Trinitarian model


The doctrine posits that God is one being, but three persons. The orthodox parameters for affirming the Trinity are found in the early Ecumenical Creeds of Christendom, especially the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. Four primary affirmations emerge as a summary of the essential content of the doctrine: (ONE): There is one God; (THREE): The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct divine persons; (FATHERSOURCE): The Father is the source of the Son and the Holy Spirit (perhaps with the Son, perhaps not); and (EQUALITY): The three persons in the Trinity are ontologically equal; none is greater than any of the others. These four desideratum reveal a logical tension that must be alleviated to consistently uphold the doctrine. This dissertation argues that the doctrine of the Trinity is logically coherent and seeks to reconcile the tension between ONE and THREE by means of the Composition as Identity (CAI) thesis, and seeks to reconcile the tension between FATHERSOURCE and EQUALITY by presenting as will-independent the generation of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The motivation for the doctrine comes from both a posteriori analysis of Christian Scriptures and creeds, and from a priori Perfect Being Theology. This dissertation presents an a priori argument for the Trinity based on the concept of love. If God is the Greatest Conceivable Being, it is argued that God must possess the great-making property of love to a maximal degree. It is argued that only a being who efficiently and essentially engages in all four aspects of love—self-love, love-given, love-received, and love-shared—is perfect, and that only a triune being can efficiently and essentially love maximally. This dissertation presents and defends a positive Social Trinitarian model of the Trinity which argues that God is identical to the Trinity, and that incorporates CAI and emphasizes the will-independent generation of the Son and Holy Spirit. Because the doctrine requires precision, recommended usage of key terms is also presented.