The doctrine of inseparable operations states that the three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) act as a single agent in creation, while their operations are distinct (Jesus dying on the cross, not the Father or the Holy Spirit). It is not that the three persons cooperate in their work with one another since this implies polytheism. But, in their divinely simple nature (of one essence) and perichoretic relationship (mutual indwelling), for our redemption, the Trinity works as One agent through the incarnation of Christ. The Trinity is One Being and acts as One Being. He is a numeric unity (Divine Simplicity). Yet, He is also three persons (The Trinity). Furthermore, the Father initiates. The Son acts. The Holy Spirit perfects. But these are all from the One God who will, act, and move as One Agent.
“…the doctrine of inseparable operations affirms that the triune persons act as a single agent externally, while internally their operations are divided.” (https://credomag.com/article/why-is-inseparable-operations-such-a-hard-sell)
Scriptural Support for Inseparable Operations
John 5:19, “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
John 5:30, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,”
John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
Notice that in John 5:19, there is no distinction in time reference. The Father does not first do something, and then the Son follows. Instead, they are simultaneous. They are all one in essence and work as one, simultaneously. Yet, the Son can do nothing of His own initiative (John 5:30), the same as the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Jesus is sent by the Father (John 5:30; 6:38), and the Spirit is sent by Jesus from the Father (John 15:26). So, we see single and simultaneous action among the three Persons. But, we must be clear to avoid functional tri-theism by stating that the three persons act independently of each other in the Trinity. They do not. They operate and function as one Being.
“But Gregory’s inference seems unjustified. Simply because we creatures cannot distinguish the persons who carry out such operations, one cannot therefore conclude that there are not three instances of the divine nature at work; moreover, the very fact that these operations originate in the Father, proceed through the Son and are perfected by the Spirit seems to prove that there are three distinct if inseparable operations in every work of the Trinity toward creation.” (Moreland, James Porter; William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (p. 584). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.)
“…the doctrine of the inseparable operations of the Trinity ad extra contends that all of the works of the Triune God with respect to the creation are works of all three persons of the
Godhead. This doctrine, often expressed by the Latin axiom, opera trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa has been a staple of orthodox Trinitarian theology for centuries.” (https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/56/56-4/JETS_56-4_781-800_Claunch.pdf)
What is the Trinity?
The Trinity, the hypostatic union and the communication idiomatum
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