God is Triune, He is Not a Monad
An old, hackneyed, and rather obnoxious philosophical problem facing “theism” in general is Euthyphro’s Dilemma. This philosophical dilemma derives its name from a Platonic dialogue which bears the same name as its title. Socrates, in Plato’s dialogue, asks Euthyphro: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” Within the context of theism in general, the question takes the following form: “Is what is commanded by God morally good because it is essentially morally good? Or is it morally good because God has commanded it?” The question, then, is asking about the nature of the moral demands placed upon mankind by a nameless generic Deity.
And that is where the problem lies: There is no generic conception of God, strictly speaking. Rather, there are different religions in the world, some of which claim to worship the God of the Bible (but may or may not in fact do so) and some of which are Unitarian in their monotheistic beliefs, and others of which are very straightforward about their polytheism or pagan conceptions of who God or the gods is/are. An argument that does not define its terms is flawed from the outset, since it may or may not be dealing with its supposed subject at all. Such is the case with Euthyphro’s “dilemma,” which, when applied in the context of Christian theology completely falls apart, finding nothing against which to argue. It is, in other words, completely inapplicable to the Christian understanding of God as a necessarily Triune Being – One in Essence and Three in Subsistence – since the “dilemma” presupposes Unitarian monotheism and not Trinitarian monotheism.
That the “dilemma” presupposes Unitarian monotheism is evident from the horns of the dilemma itself which state that either (a.)morally good actions are only arbitrarily good because God has commanded them, or (b.)God Himself is subject to a moral law that exists outside of Him and, therefore, commands those things which are essentially good apart from His commanding them. Implicit to these two options is the conception of a God who is a single monad who must either (a.)only have relation to a law that looms over Him and dictates His every move, or (b.)only have relation to a law that He arbitrarily imposes upon humans. In other words, Euthyphro’s Dilemma is assuming that because morality is by definition relational, God is either related to the law as an inferior subject (who is, really, no different from mankind) or related to men as an arbitrary lawgiver. If God only has relation to that which is outside of Himself, then He is essentially alone, a Unitary singlet or monad.
Euthyphro’s Dilemma is, therefore, a false dilemma, since it completely fails to take into consideration the fact that Christianity teaches that God is not a monad; He is a Trinity of Persons. As Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the One God of the Bible is not subject to Euthyphro’s dilemma, for within the One Essence of God the Three Persons of the Trinity relate to One Another necessarily and, hence, create the very basis of morality, their interrelations serving as the basis for all subsequent creature-Creator and creature-creature relations. The Three Persons of the Godhead relate to One Another eternally. This eliminates Euthyphro’s dilemma, as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit relate to One Another freely, not out of compulsion by an external Law they serve under, nor out of subservience to the arbitrary demands of One or Another, but out of perfect, infinite, and equal love for One Another. Euthyphro’s dilemma also does not take into consideration that (a.)God is love and that (b.)the essence of the Law is love. It is because God is essentially love and that He is Triune, that His commands are a reflection of His very character. God, therefore, does not command and forbid arbitrarily, nor does He command and forbid on the basis of a law to which He is externally related. Therefore, Euthyphro’s Dilemma falls apart.
All divinely given Law is, according to Scripture, embodied in love for God and one’s neighbor. And within the Godhead itself we see this Law exemplified eternally. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and these Two love the Spirit, who loves them equally. Each Person of the Godhead is both God and Neighbor. As these interrelations are Divine, however, they differ from the manner in which mankind is to love God and neighbor. God cannot go against His very own nature which is embodied in the moral law, and which He has written upon the hearts of all bearers of His image; therefore, there is absolutely no possibility of God (a.)commanding what is essentially good apart from Him (i.e. in relation to Him as a superior code of conduct) or (b.)that God is commanding something arbitrarily. God is good; therefore, there is no higher Good under the authority of which He stands. God perfectly loves Himself; therefore, He has made man in His own image to reflect this love for God and neighbor; therefore, no command given by Him is ever given arbitrarily.
The Bigger Problem Facing Euthyphro’s Dilemma
The failures of Euthyphro’s Dilemma to in any way create a real problem for Christianity, seeing as it argues against a monadic deity who has only two possible relations in (a.)his inferior relation of subjection to a law higher than himself or (b.)his superior relation to men as their arbitrary law-giver, is compounded by the fact that dilemma rests upon the presupposition that God’s commands are wholly external to the nature of man, i.e. the dilemma assumes the moral autonomy of man by assuming that God’s commands to be imposed from without, failing to recognize that the Law, according to God’s Truth, is written upon the hearts of all men. Therefore, God’s commands are, again, never arbitrary. Rather, man as the bearer of the image of God already has knowledge of what is good, just, and holy; God’s commands are not deviations from this – for God cannot deny Himself – and are, in a sense, implicit to the Law that is written upon the hearts of all men.
To be a bit more to the point about things: Euthyprho’s Dilemma assumes that God imposes Laws upon morally neutral beings that do not bear His image. So again, the “dilemma” is not one that applies in any way to the Christian faith. Christianity asserts that God is love, eternally related to Himself in the three Persons who constitute the One True God (Father and Son and Holy Spirit), and that He has made man in His image – i.e. as a being who is to exist in relationship with others like himself, loving them as he loves himself, which is an analogy of the perfect love among the three Persons of the Godhead who love both God and Neighbor (i.e. the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son) essentially and eternally.
To conclude, then, there is no dilemma for the Christian faith contained in Euthyphro’s Dilemma. The gods of other Unitarian monotheistic faiths may have a real problem facing him, but the Triune God of Scripture is untouched by the arrogantly ignorant shouts of the atheist who thinks that he has an objection to the Christian faith.
 E.g. Judaism and Islam