In his brilliant Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine) , Khaled Anatolios notes that some recent theologians have criticized the Cappadocian “reduction” of the distinction of divine Persons “to the order of causality” (232).
Speaking of Gregory of Nyssa in particular, Anatolios responds: “such criticism is based on an artificial abstraction of condensed doctrinal formulations . . . from the larger context of these theologians’ engagement with the biblical narrative as a whole. The statement that the only ontological ground for the distinction of hypostaseis is the order of causality [e.g., the Father is uncaused, the Son is “immediately” from the Father] is not equivalent to the statement that the only characterization we can make of the trinitarian persons is that of correctly naming their location in the order of causality.” Ironically, “the very motifs that later critics have latched onto in order to attain a thicker description of the distinctions and relations between the hypostaseis , such as kenosis and mutual glorification, are already anticipated in Gregory.”