Arianism subordinated the Son is being and authority

Many think that Arianism involved solely the eternal subordination of the Son in being/nature/essence. This is not so. All the Arians subordinated the Son in being and authority. The two were correlated by the Arians, who advocated both, and by the Nicene theologians, who rejected both. Both sides agreed they were two sides of one coin. If the Son is subordinate in being, he is subordinate in authority; if he is one in being with the Father, then he is one in authority.


The Terms "The Father" and "The Son" giving the names "the Father" and "the Son" to the first and second persons of the Trinity, eternally differentiates and relates them analogically in terms of a human father-son relation. These names supplied by divine revelation strongly suggest that no better human word can be found to speak of the eternal self-differentiation of the Father and the Son than the words "generation" or "begetting."


In His Relationship with Creation

[Scott Oliphint] is not primarily concerned with “God in himself” but with “God in his relationship with creation.”10

“The first thing that we want to highlight about the characteristics of God, therefore, is that a basic distinction must be maintained between the Triune God as he is and exists in himself (i.e., the ontological Trinity) and God as he condescends (i.e., the economic Trinity). The theological (i.e., biblical) reason for this distinction is that it is obvious that before anything was created, there was and has always been the Triune God.” Oliphint, God With Us, 2nd ed., 16; emphasis his. See Oliphint, God With Us, 13. The noted distinction between God in his Triune essence (i.e., the ontological Trinity) and God in his relations to creation (i.e., the economic Trinity) is critical for understanding what covenant characteristics are. The distinction is not in God; there are not two Gods or one God with two natures; rather, the distinction is one made in theological predication to differentiate between the character of God as God, on the one hand, and the character of his works and relations ad extra, on the other. For Oliphint, covenant characteristics are critical for understanding the latter; and for affirming that these works and relations do not alter or subtract from the former (i.e., God as God). See Oliphint, God With Us, 9, 13, 29, 40, 43, 182; for his self-conscious method of dealing with God’s attributes first as related to himself and second as related to creation. After affirming, as he does repeatedly, the absolute essential independence of God, Oliphint writes, “… when we look at God’s condescension throughout Scripture, certain things are beyond controversy. First, there can be no question that God appears to his people from the beginning. These appearances of God entail that he is making himself known by way of properties and qualities that would otherwise not belong to him.” Oliphint, God With Us, 182

Matt Fortunato, Reconsidering Covenant Characteristics: A Study on God, Creation, and The Mediating Son, pg. 9-10

Covenant Characteristics in the Mutable Creation

In this context, the articulation of covenant characteristics will unambiguously locate any “real change” or “newness” outside God rather than in God. This means, simply, that covenant characteristics exist in the mutable creation, not in the immutable God. They do not suggest that God has a new, creaturely nature in the context of his relations ad extra. They do not exist in him essentially; and they do not exist in him in the context of his works and relations ad extra.


Matt Fortunato, Reconsidering Covenant Characteristics: A Study on God, Creation, and The Mediating Son, pg. 4-5

Faithfully Representing Oliphint's Proposal

The difficulty in terms of scholarship will be finding a way forward that communicates the main claims of and deals with the central issues surrounding covenant characteristics in such a way that honors and faithfully represents their underlying theological commitments.


Matt Fortunato, Reconsidering Covenant Characteristics: A Study on God, Creation, and The Mediating Son, pg. 4

Properties with Respect to God

"[P]roperties or attributes respecting God will be those aspects that inhere and obtain with respect to him, though not in the same way in every sense."


Scott Oliphint, God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God, 2nd edition, pg. 83

Oliphint and Properties

[Scott Oliphint] means that some properties inhere in God essentially and others inhere in him relationally. For Oliphint, “properties” are not things in themselves, but features of another thing’s existence or expression in the world, e.g., God’s self-expression in the world. Ultimately, he locates “covenant characteristics” of God in God’s revelatory self-expression in the world, not in God properly speaking.


Not all “properties” or “characteristics” inhere in God properly speaking; but all of them are true of God in some sense. Immutability inheres in God. Relenting, on the other hand, is truly predicated of God but does not inhere in him....covenant characteristics do not inhere “in God” but are truly predicated “with respect to God” in some way.


Matt Fortunato, Reconsidering Covenant Characteristics: A Study on God, Creation, and The Mediating Son, pg. 3