March 7, 2008

Orthodox deification in depth - and Quakerism

I wrote a lot here over the holidays about parallels between early Quakers and Orthodox deification ideas, but I've been quiet for a while. Why? Well, Angelika got me the incredibly rich The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, Norman Russell's dense but powerful survey of the development of Orthodox views.

It's not easy reading - there's just too much going on. While Russell provides a lot of background on theological and philosophical issues contributing to the story, it's simply a lot to take in. Russell's own perspective as author is sometime a bit confusing as well, as he sounds relieved (to me) when he discusses deification as a metaphor rather than reality, but also sounds very excited when he reaches the conclusion, discussing deification in the work of Maximus the Confessor and very briefly in Gregory Palamas. Given the contentious nature of the subject, however, that doesn't seem particularly troubling.

Over the course of reading, it became pretty clear that while there are parallels between Orthodox thought and Quaker thought, there are also strong divergences. The main practical barrier is, I think, the Orthodox emphasis on the sacraments - baptism and the eucharist especially - as critical means toward connecting with Christ and with God. Quakerism's non-sacramental approach would simply be a non-starter for most of this theology.

I do think that, while the Orthodox writers and Russell would probably disagree, Quakers could consider convincement parallel to baptism, and gathered meeting parallel to the eucharist. However, I'm not sure how far that can be pushed without breaking.

The other major barrier is that the Orthodox approach depends strongly on a very well-developed Christology, a Christology honed by years of contention with Arians, Gnostics, Nestorians, Monophysites, Muslims, and many others. These writers are either part of the conversation which led to the development of the Trinity or building on that conversation explicitly. Quakers, on the other hand, didn't spend a huge amount of effort in this space, and their contemporaries often accused them of confusing God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

As those two pieces are pretty much the foundation of Orthodox thought on the subject, there are limits to the parallels that can be drawn. However, it does seem clear that these writers and early Quakers drew on similar verses in similar ways, and I'll use some quotes from Russell to suggest paths worth exploring in Quakerism.

I'll start with something Russell says about an earlier writer on the subject:

Gross... denied that deification was an importation from Hellenism, claiming instead that it was a biblical idea in Greek dress, the equivalent of the Western doctrine of sanctifying grace... he saw the doctrine of deification fundamentally as the re-expression by the Greek Fathers in the language of their own culture of two themes already present in the New Testament, namely, the Pauline teaching on mystical incorporation into Christ, and the Johannine idea of the incarnate Logos as the source of divine life. (5-6)

This story strikes me as one with deep parallels to the early Quaker experience. Yes, even the early Quakers were much later, and responding in some ways against the existing Christianity of their day. (In that, though, they're not too different from the Greek fathers, who were often also writing in opposition.) The early Quakers' quest for "Primitive Christianity Revived" is in some ways similar to the Orthodox avoidance of innovation. Fox and other Quakers practically breathed the language of the Bible and spoke it back out, constantly seeking inspiration from Scripture and finding in it a promise of further inspiration from the Light.

There's an open question of whether Orthodox or Quaker beliefs come directly from the Bible, something that Russell asks:

Did Paul have an idea of deification? He uses various expressions for participatory union - 'in Christ', 'with Christ', 'Christ in us', 'sons of God', and so on, but does not isolate 'participation' for special consideration. Moreover, these expressions are images. 'Deification' as a technical term only emerged later when Paul's metaphorical images were re-expressed in conceptual language. The same may be said with regard to the Johannine writings, which reveal an approach to participatory union with Christ not unlike that of Paul. (11)

My reading, as I've said before, is that the New Testament lights up in a very different way when I read it now, seeing many more connections between humans and God (and Christ, and the Holy Spirit) than I'd seen previously. God remains unknowable, transcendent - but at the same time can be approached, transforming us.

The first few chapters of the book are excellent reading for anyone approaching these questions, whether or not they are interested in the Orthodox formulation specifically. The section on deification and the Greeks has some fine moments, my favorite of which is Roman Emperor Vespasian's deathbed quote, "'Vae, puto deus fio' ('Oh dear, I think I'm becoming a god')". The section on Judaism has a fascinating look at Enochic Judaism, a branch best known for the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also accessible through 1 Enoch and the canonical letter of Jude.

The section on early Christianity is fascinating, starting with Paul and then looking at Jewish and Johannine Christianity. While Paul seems less and less popular a figure these days, the language of participation he uses throughout his letters (and which the pseudo-Pauline letters emulate) is a central discussion of Christ's transformation of the believer. The section on Jewish Christianity focuses on Hebrews, a book I was surprised to find George Fox used regularly in his writings. Johannine Christianity came with a story I hadn't realized, though perhaps one that adds flavor to the description of John as "the Quaker Gospel":

The pre-Gospel community had strong Palestinian connections rooted in the eyewitness testimony of the Beloved Disciple. The Gospel was written in about 90 CE, when the community had been expelled from the synagogues (John 9:22), the 'Jews' were its opponents, and 'the world' stood for those who preferred darkness to light.

The divided Johannine community portrayed in the Epistles belongs to a third stage. There were now two groups who were interpreting the christology and ethics of the Gospel differently. The secessionists drew on the Fourth Gospel's high christology, with its emphasis on the pre-existence of God's son. They were convinced they were sinless and already enjoyed intimacy with God.

As a corrective, the author of 1 John stresses the need for ethical behavior and for following the teaching of the earthly Jesus. His pessimistic remark that the world is paying heed to his opponents (1 John 4:5) suggests that the secessionists were enjoying greater success.

Finally the Johannine community was dissolved. The secessionists moved in the direction of Gnosticism, taking the Fourth Gospel with them, while the remainder was absorbed into the Great Church.... With the corrective of 1 John, the Gospel was accepted early into the canon of the New Testament... (87-8)

The secessionists sound much like the Ranters early Quakers opposed, though the charges leveled against them also echo the charges leveled against Quakers.

Other early Christians developed these ideas in ways that connect to other aspects of Quakerism:

In both Justin [Martyr] and Irenaeus becoming a 'god' is a way of expressing a realized and internalized eschatology. Participation in immortality and incorruption is not postponed to the eschaton but attained in principle as a result of the believer's incorporation into Christ through baptism. (113)

It's not a simple match for Fox's "Christ is come to teach his people himself," but it's not that far a leap from it. (Now I need to re-read Apocalypse of the Word again!)

One final point I'd like to make before leaving Russell hinges on the basic question of the Incarnation: why did Christ come? That basic question gets thousands of variations in answer, but in this context there are some interesting options:

We see Irenaeus moving towards the tantum-quantum or 'exchange' formula, namely, that the Son of God 'became what we are in order to make us what he is himself. (106)

The 'exchange' formula has its roots in Pauline thinking: though Christ was rich, 'yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich' (2 Cor 8:9; cf Phil 2:6-8). The 'exchange' signifies precisely that: an exchange of properties, not the establishment of an identity of essence. He who was Son of God by nature became a man in order to make us sons by adoption (AH 3. 19. 1). Our sonship by adoption, which is effected by baptism, endows us with one supreme property in particular: the Son's immortality and incorruption.

There is nothing automatic, however, about our progress towards incorruption and immortality. It depends on our moral behaviour and on our participation in the sacraments, which together attain the divine likeness, morality being linked with the freedom and the sacraments with the life of the divine likeness.... (108-9)

Irenaeus... holds that God himself has intervened directly in human life through the Incarnation in order to bring the created realm into a close relationship with the divine. The sons of the Most High who are 'gods' are those who have received the grace of adoption. This is then used by Irenaeus to support the reality of the Incarnation. If Christ had not really become human, there could be no true baptism with its bestowal of incorruption and immortality. The inward renewal and transformation of the Christian was only possible if the Incarnation was real....

The notion if not the language of participation... is fundamental to him. For Irenaeus, created things are fundamentally inferior to the Creator. But in Christ the created is united with the uncreated, and we in turn are related to the uncreated through Christ. The Incarnation is part of a larger economy that enables us to participate in the divine attributes of immortality and incorruption and attain the telos which had been intended for Adam. (112-3)

There's a lot there to consider - and I think the early Quakers were asking these kinds of questions, much to their peers' discomfort. They may not have started with an intricate theological framework, but they came to similar places by reading the same Scripture and following slightly different paths.

I suspect that readers with an interest in deification per se will be vastly better served by reading Russell's works than my excerpts and thoughts, but at the same time I think I've only just started on a path that proved very fruitful for the founders of Quakerism.

(And no, I don't expect to convert to Orthodoxy, despite my enjoyment of their ideas. The overlaps are fascinating, but the difference are also very real.)

December 19, 2007

Limits of the union

Immediately after describing deification, Ware adds two key clarifications. The first distinction makes clear that the Orthodox view of deification does not create many gods with equal standing to God:

The idea of deification must always be understood in the light of the distinction between God's essence and His energies. Union with God means union with the divine energies, not the divine essence: the Orthodox Church, while speaking of deification and union, rejects all forms of pantheism. (232)

This distinction is not one I've found in Fox's writings, though I've only begun to look for it specifically. Perhaps, though, this distinction is one that had never particularly been emphasized in the British Isles, or dismissed as a purely scholarly theological matter. Ware explains the distinction - and what it means for our ability to approach God - earlier in the chapter:

(1) God is absolutely transcendent. 'No single thing of all that is created has or ever will have even the slightest communion with the supreme nature or nearness to it.' (Gregory Palamas) This absolute transcendence Orthodoxy safeguards by its emphatic use of the 'way of negation', of 'apophatic' theology. Positive or 'cataphatic' theology - the 'way of affirmation' must always be balanced and corrected by the employment of negative language. Our positive statements about God - that He is good, wise, just, and so on - are true as far as they go, yet they cannot adequately describe the inner nature of the deity...

(2) God, although absolutely transcendent, is not cut off from the world which He has made. God is above and outside His creation, yet He also exists within it. As a much used Orthodox prayer put it, God is 'everywhere present and filling all things'. Orthodoxy therefore distinguishes between God's essence and His energies, thus safeguarding both divine transcendence and divine immanence: God's essence remains unapproachable, but His energies come down to us. God's energies, which are God himself, permeate all His creation, and we experience them in the form of deifying grace and divine light. Truly our God is a God who hides Himself, yet he is also a God who acts - the God of History, intervening directly in concrete situations. (208-9, emphasis in original)

God is here with us, we can partake of God's energies, and even become divine - but we cannot encounter God's essence directly. Christ's incarnation, of course, was a coming of God's essence to his creation, and that is why the faith is Christian specifically. This perspective, however, while recognizing that God is around us, available to us, capable of deifying us, also keeps us separate from God, partaking of the divine nature and becoming divine without becoming God.

Ware's next paragraph on deification provides more description of the limits this creates:

Closely related to this is another point of equal importance. The mystical union between God and humans is a true union, yet in this union Creator and creature do not become fused into a single being. Unlike the eastern religions which teach that humans are swallowed up in the deity, Orthodox mystical theology has always insisted that we humans, however closely linked to God, retain our full person integrity. The human person, when deified, remains distinct (though not separate) from God.

The mystery of the Trinity is a mystery of unity in diversity, and those who express the Trinity in themselves do not sacrifice their personal characteristics. When St. Maximus wrote 'God and those who are worthy of God have one and the same energy,' he did not means that the saints lose their free will, but that when deified they voluntarily and in love conform their will to the will of God. Nor does the human person, when 'it becomes god', cease to be human: 'We remain creatures while becoming god by grace, as Christ remained God when becoming man by the Incarnation.' The human being does not become God by nature, but is merely a 'created god', a god by grace or by status. (232)

This seems to me to fill a gap in early Quaker conversations - taking the Trinity, which Quakers acknowledged, though briefly, as a foundation for explaining that the boundaries between God and humans is blurred, while also using it as a line. We can't join the Trinity ourselves, but we can partake in the joining of humans and the divine that Christ's incarnation demonstrates. It also fits well with the Biblical references Fox used.

To put it to a harder test, though, did early Quakers share that rough understanding, especially the boundary between the divinity that we can achieve and the divinity of God and Christ?

It may seem pretty clear to us today that George Fox and James Nayler remained humans, however tightly bonded to God they may have been, but it seems to have been unclear to their followers. At the same time, though, their actions in retrospect suggest that even if Fox and Nayler weren't certain of their distinct position as individuals in the period from 1652 to 1656, they were certainly very aware of it afterwards. Douglas Gwyn explores Nayler's testimony and that of his followers after they had re-enacted Christ's entry into Jerusalem in Naylor's entry into Bristol:

In his interrogations at Bristol and before Parliament, Nayler made it clear that he did not confuse the indwelling Christ with his own creaturely person. He explained that he had performed the sign by God's leading, which he could not refuse. As for the exalted language applied to him in the procession, he stated,

I do abhor that any honors due God should be given to me as I am a creature, but it pleased the Lord to set me up as a sign of the coming of the righteous one.... I was commanded by the power of the Lord to suffer it to be done to the outward man as a sign, but I abhor any honor as a creature.

Unfortunately, Nayler's own clarity did not speak for the thoughts and motives of those who had led him through the performance. Indeed, the testimony of his followers indicated real confusion between the sign and the person of James Nayler. The Strangers viewed Nayler as the "Prince of Peace." Dorcas Erbury testified that Nayler was "the only begotten Son of God," and that she "knew no other Jesus" and "no other Saviour." She also claimed that Nayler had raised her from the dead. Martha Simmonds was less blatant; she testified to "the seed born in him" but later added that "when the new life should be born in James Nayler, then he will be Jesus." (Douglas Gwyn, The Covenant Crucified, 167-8)

The testimony presented in the Quakerpedia entry on Nayler conveys rather less of a sense of separation, but his later writings seem to make clear that he no longer sees himself as Christ, if he ever did.

In Fox's case, it's somewhat more complicated. He never had a moment like Nayler's entry into Bristol, though his statements in other trials leave the question open. Again, though, his later actions suggest that whatever his position in 1652 to 1656, he could not in the end accept the many accolades of his followers, including phrases like "the first and the last", which he personally crossed out, with Margaret Fell likely removing more. His Journal, written from the later perspective, leaves us asking just how far he went.

It's hard to know just how much of early Quaker belief was lost in the aftermath of the Nayler trial and the continuing challenge of surviving in a Protestant world that was largely hostile to claims of direct inspiration. I do think, however, that there are still powerful echoes, a transforming (even deifying) Inner Light rather than a merely informing one.

In future posts, I'll take a look at how this perspective can suggest different meanings in early Quaker writings, and examine the Bible itself in this light.

December 15, 2007

Partakers of the divine

I'm going to spend a few posts exploring the Eastern Orthodox idea of "deification" to see how it is similar to - and where it differs from - early Quaker beliefs. For this part of the discussion, I'll be using Timothy Ware's excellent The Orthodox Church as a more detailed source of broad information on Orthodoxy.

The opening of his section on 'Partakers of the Divine Nature' is a reasonably clear explanation of the foundations of deification:

The aim of the Christian life, which Seraphim described as the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God, can equally well be defined in terms of deification. Basil described the human person as a creature who has received the order to become a god; and Athanasius, as we know, said that God became human that we humans might become god. 'In My kingdom, said Christ, I shall be God with you as gods.' Such, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, is the final goal at which every Christian must aim: to become god, to attain theosis, 'deification' or 'divination'. For Orthodoxy our salvation and redemption mean our deification.

Behind the doctrine of deification there lies the idea of the human person made according to the image and likeness of God the Holy Trinity. 'May they all be one,' Christ prayed at the Last Supper; 'as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so also may they be in us. (John xvii, 21). Just as the three persons of the Trinity 'dwell' in one another in an unceasing movement of love, so we humans, made in the image of the Trinity, are called to 'dwell' in the Trinitarian God. Christ prays that we may share in the life of the Trinity, in the movement of love which passes between the divine persons; He prays that we may be taken up into the Godhead. The saints, as Maximus the Confessor put it, are those who express the Holy Trinity in themselves.

The idea of a personal and organic union between God and humans - God dwelling in us, and we in Him - is a constant theme in St. John's Gospel; it is also a constant theme in the Epistles of St. Paul, who sees the Christian life above all else as a life 'in Christ'. The same idea recurs in the famous text of 2 Peter: 'Through these promises you may become partakers of the divine nature (i, 4).

It is important to keep this New Testament background in mind. The Orthodox doctrine of deification, so far from being unscriptural (as is sometimes thought), has a solid Biblical basis, not only in 2 Peter, but in Paul and the Fourth Gospel. (231-2, paragraph breaks added)

Quakers haven't spent that much time discussing the Trinity, though Fox wrote a bit about it. I doubt that the early Quakers had as developed a theological argument for their claims of unity with the divine, though they did cite many of the same verses, and the Gospel of John is sometimes called the "Quaker Gospel".

There's much here that's similar to (early) Quakerism, but also the beginnings of divergence.

January 11, 2007

Fox on the Trinity, Spirit

I wrote about early Quakers and the Trinity last month, and Zach recently asked about whether early Friends:

seemed to confuse the second and third persons of the Trinity. When I've explained traditional Quaker theology to Protestants, they quite often say that the Inward Christ, etc. sounds like what they would call the Holy Spirit (a phrase I think they very rarely used).

Zach has a good point, especially with the Quakers of the 1650s and early 1660s. I did look up the Trinity and Holy Spirit in Lewis Benson's Notes on George Fox, and found a fair number of entries, but it's clear that Fox didn't spend a tremendous amount of time theorizing about the Trinity specifically. In The Great Mystery (1657), he writes:

As for the word trinity, and three persons, we have not read it in the Bible, but in the common-prayer-book, or mass-book, which the pope was the author of. But as for unity we own it, and Christ being the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his substance (of the Father) we own; that which agrees with the scriptures, and for that which the scriptures speak not, which men speak and teach for doctrine, their own words, that the scriptures speak not nor teach, such the scriptures shut out, and we deny. (180)

That suggests a lack of fondness for the Trinity as a doctrine, but just above that, Fox also wrote:

And are there not three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the word, and the spirit, are not they all one? How then are they distinct? And there are three that bear record in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood, which agree in one. And Christ saith 'I and my Father are one;' and 'I in the Father, and the Father in me,' and he is in the saints, and so not distinct. (180)

That response to a challenge over the nature of Christ's soul and its relation to human souls is filled with the Trinitarian language of the I John 5:7-8 insertion.

Fox does write about the spirit regularly, as in this later piece, A distinction between true liberty and false:

God pouring out of his spirit on all flesh, both on sons and daughters, handmaids and servants, &c. all are to walk in the liberty of this holy, pure, peaceable, gentle spirit of God, that keeps in humility, and in tenderness and kindness, and leads into righteousness, godliness, and holiness, and into modesty, sobriety, virtue, and chastity, and into things that be of a good report.

In this holy spirit of God is the pure holy liberty, the fruits of which, are love and peace, &c. And this holy pure spirit of God leads out of strife, contention, hatred, malice, and envy, and all unrighteousness and ungodliness, and false liberty of the will and the flesh, and the inordinate and loose affections that are below.

And if the will and the flesh and inordinate affections have their loose liberty, they set the whole course of nature on fire with the unruly will and tongue, which is to be limited, kept down, and mortified with the holy spirit of God; in which spirit is the unity kept, which is the bond of peace, in the church of Christ among all true christians, that are called the 'household of faith,' and 'of the son of God,' who is over his house.

And the holy, divine, pure, and precious faith, which is the victory, and purifies the heart, Christ is the author and finisher of; and the mystery of this faith is held in a pure conscience; by which faith all the faithful have access to God, and in it do please God. (Works, VI, 329, paragraph breaks added.)

When I explain Quakerism to other Christians, I usually talk about the Holy Spirit's continuous activity, and sometimes "Christ is come to teach his people himself." I don't think these are contradictory. Early Quakers might well have explained it differently, though.

December 14, 2006

Early Quaker Trinity questions

I don't hear a lot of Quakers or Quaker blogs talking about the Trinity. I worry that perhaps I'm a bit unusual in finding it interesting, but then I've had some worship experiences that were definitely Trinitarian, though it's hard to describe. (As the Trinity is, frequently.)

Early Quakers seem to have been Trinitarian - or at least they didn't find the Unitarianism of their day an acceptable choice, and were generally willing to accept a Trinitarian view when pushed. William C. Braithwaite's The Second Period of Quakerism notes changes the Quakers managed to secure in the Toleration Act of 1688, which eased (if not completely ended) the persecution Quakers had faced. Originally, there was a declaration in the bill - to be made by those not willing to take an oath - which read:

I, A. B., profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, His eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, co-equal with the Father, and the Son, one God blessed for ever: and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the revealed Will and Word of God. (155-6; italics original)

With Quaker input, it became:

I, A. B., profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, His eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore: and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by Divine Inspiration. (155)

Braithwaite explains the process, and some biblical contingencies, that led to the changes:

Friends, at the risk of finding themselves excluded from the Bill, were put under the necessity, says George Whitehead, of offering some form of confession. The words were confined to scripture terms, though Whitehead bases his willingness to accept the Trinitarian formula, except the unscriptural phrase, "co-equal with the Father and the Son," upon the spurious insertion in I John v. 7, 8, which Erasmus had admitted into his third edition of the Greek Testament, in redemption of a rash promise. It is tempting to speculate on what might have happened to Friends under the Toleration Act if this proof-text for the Trinity, on which they relied in many another doctrinal difficulty, had been absent from the Authorized Version.

Representative Friends were called before the Committee, and answered it clearly as to their owning the Deity and accepting the scriptures as given by Divine inspiration. The latter was the point most in doubt.... (156)

So Friends were willing to accept a description of the Trinity so far as it fit with their understanding of the Bible, which in this case included a likely insertion that supported the Trinity. They wouldn't go so far as the "co-equal", which wasn't supported directly even by that insertion, but they accepted the notion generally.

There is, of course, more to the question of early Quakers and the Trinity than that, and the second edition of the book includes Henry Cadbury's helpful update notes. One of those expands on this question of the Trinity in greater depth:

absent from the Authorized Version Isaac Penington also in 1659, in answer to the charges at Boston in New England that the Quakers denied the Trinity, had declared that on the contrary Friends "set their seal to the truth of that scripture I John v. 7 .... That these three are distinct, as three several beings or persons, this they read not" (Works 1681, i. 203).

In a somewhat later writing he says concerning the "God-Head, which we own as the Scriptures express it, and as we have the sensible, experimental knowledge of it," quoting again I John v. 7. "This I believe from my Heart and have infallible demonstrations of: for I know three and feel three in Spirit" (ibid. ii. 452).

Richard Claridge in an undated essay on the Trinity expressed doubt on the authenticity of the verse (Works, 1726, p. 414).

The exception of Penington is like that of Penn, Sandy Foundation Shaken (1668; Works, 1726, I. 252-4), to the notion of three distinct and separate persons. Thirty years later in his Defense of ... Gospel Truths (Works, 1726, ii. 885) Penn and others cite I John v. 7 as representing Quaker belief.

It was the words "trinity" and "person" to which Friends earlier, such as Fox, Burrough, and Howgill, took exception (cf. T. C. Jones in F. Q. 1959), as did such English fore-runners of Quakerism as Richard Coppin and William Erbury and later Friends, such as Job Scott. See The Later Periods of Quakerism, p. 291 (where on the last line "three external persons" should be corrected to read "three eternal persons").

There is evidence that after the Toleration Act of 1689, which excluded Unitarians from its benefits, Friends were more careful with their language. Cf. J.F.H.S. xlii. 76 (Whitehead); John Robertson's Rusticus ad Clericum, 1694, p. 261; "We own the Nicene Creed." (665-6; paragraph breaks added)

The questionable citation, I John 5:7-8, reads in the Authorized (King James) Version:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.

I'll be exploring more Quaker sources on the subject over time, but I'm especially interested in a few angles here:

  • First, perhaps most intriguing, is Isaac Penington's "infallible demonstrations of [the Trinity]: for I know three and feel three in Spirit." I'm clearly not the only one who has felt three.

  • The second angle that's interesting to me here is the reliance on Scripture: Quakers plainly weren't interested in "schoolmen's terms", and insisted on citing Scripture, without terms created later.

  • And the third angle - there have to be three - is the shift over time from these perspectives to the present, where I'm not used to hearing "Trinity" in a Quaker context.

Lots more to consider, as there always is.

Update: In the course of more searching, I did find some Quaker blogging on the trinity.