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Greeting; Alexei II. The Trinitarian Dilemma; D. Perichoretic Monotheism; S. Trinitarian Willing and Salvific Initiatives; M. The Trinity and Personal Identity; P. Three Persons in One Being; P. The Trinitarian Teaching of St. Gregory Nazianzen; H. Word and Trinity; E. The Trinity and Natural Reason; C. Glossary of Terms.

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How to Overcome Your Childhood. Philosophers Their Lives and Works. He points to many vestiges of the Trinity such as: 1 lover, loved, and their love ; 2 being, knowing, and willing; 3 memory, understanding, and will; and 4 object seen, attention of mind, and external vision. In fact, Tertullian already gave similar illustrations of the Trinity from nature in order to argue that the three members of the Trinity are distinct yet inseparable: 1 root, tree, and fruit; 2 fountain, river, and stream; and 3 sun, ray, and apex.

Description: The Trinity

All this has a further implication, which is that our human relationships of love are a reflection of the trinitarian relationships of love within the Godhead. In the words of Georges Florovsky, a Greek Orthodox theologian, "Christian 'togetherness' must not degenerate into impersonalism.

The idea of the organism must be supplemented by the idea of a symphony of personalities, in which the mystery of the Holy Trinity is reflected. The doctrine of the Trinity on the face seems to be logically incoherent as it seems to imply that identity is not transitive: the Father is identical with God , the Son is identical with God, and the Father is not identical with the Son. Recently, there have been two philosophical attempts to defend the logical coherency of the Trinity, one by Richard Swinburne and the other by Peter Geach. The formulation suggested by the former philosopher is free from logical incoherency, because it says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should be thought of as numerically distinct Gods, but it is debatable whether this formulation is consistent with historical orthodoxy.

Regarding the formulation suggested by the latter philosopher, not all philosophers would agree with its logical coherency, when it says that a coherent statement of the doctrine is possible on the assumption that identity is 'always relative to a sortal term. Again, the logical incoherence of the doctrine of the Trinity means that only one God exists and not three Gods, while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each God. This incoherence between oneness and threeness emerged historically when Tertullian took an incoherent middle position between the oneness of the Modalistic type and the threeness of the Dynamistic type.

Given this origin of the logical incoherence of trinitarianism, one possibly workable solution is to see the Trinity comprehensively and boldly enough to be able to accommodate both Modalistic and Dynamistic Monarchianism instead of just rejecting them. It can basically contain two sets of the Trinity structurally: one set in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all divine merely as three attributes or modes of God like Modalistic Monarchianism ; and the other in which only the Father is God and the Son and Holy Spirit are discrete from God himself as creatures like Dynamistic Monarchianism.

The relationship of the two sets is that the latter is the economic manifestation of the former. According to Greek Orthodox theology, even creation can be divine. This comprehensive solution can coherently retain both the oneness of God and the discreteness of each of the three members of the Trinity at the same time. When looked at from the viewpoint of the received distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity, this solution seems to be feasible, although it makes its latter set of the Trinity far more economic than the received economic Trinity.

Some contemporary theologians including feminists refer to the persons of the Holy Trinity with gender-neutral language, such as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer or Sanctifier. Since, however, each of the three divine persons participates indivisibly in the acts of creation, redemption, and sustaining, traditionalist and other Christians reject this formulation as suggesting a new form of modalism. Some theologians and liturgists prefer the alternate expansive terminology of "Source, and Word, and Holy Spirit. Responding to feminist concerns, orthodox theology has noted the following: a that the names "Father" and "Son" are clearly analogical, since all trinitarians would agree that God has no gender per se , encompassing all sex and gender and being beyond all sex and gender; b that using "Son" to refer to the second divine person is most proper only when referring to the "Incarnate Word," who is Jesus, a human who is clearly male; and c that in Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Aramaic, the noun translated "spirit" is grammatically feminine, and also images of God's Spirit in Scripture are often feminine, as with the Spirit "brooding" over the primordial chaos in Genesis 1, or grammatically feminine, such as a dove in the New Testament.

The last point on the possible femininity of the Holy Spirit is further explored by saying that if the Son is considered to be masculine as the incarnation of the Logos, the masculine term for Word in Greek, then the Holy Spirit can be considered to be feminine as something related to the Sophia, the feminine counterpart that means Wisdom in Greek.

So did Zinzendorf , the founder of Moravianism. More recently, Catholic scholars such as Willi Moll and Franz Mayr have decided that the Holy Spirit be feminine on the analogy of family relationships. Some Protestant Christians, particularly members of the Restoration Movement, are ambivalent about the doctrine of the trinity.

While not specifically rejecting trinitarianism or presenting an alternative doctrine of the Godhead and God's relationship with humanity, they are not dogmatic about the Trinity or do not hold it as a test of true Christian faith. Some, like the Society of Friends and Christian Unitarians may reject all doctrinal or creedal tests of true faith. Some, like the Restorationist Churches of Christ, in keeping with a distinctive understanding of Scripture alone, say that since it is not clearly articulated in the Bible it cannot be required for salvation.

Others may look to church tradition and say that there has always been a Christian tradition that faithfully followed Jesus without such a doctrine, since as a doctrine steeped in Greek philosophical distinctions it was not clearly articulated for some centuries after Christ. Since trinitarianism is central to so much of church doctrine, nontrinitarians have mostly been groups that existed before the Nicene Creed was codified in or are groups that developed after the Protestant Reformation , when many church doctrines came into question.

In the early centuries of Christian history, Arians, Ebionites , Gnostics , Marcionites, and others held nontrinitarian beliefs. After the Nicene Creed raised the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures, Monophysitism "one nature" and monothelitism "one will" were heretical attempts to explain this relationship. During more than a thousand years of trinitarian orthodoxy, formal nontrinitarianism, i.

The Protestant Reformation of the s also brought tradition into question, although at first, nontrinitarians were executed such as Servetus , or forced to keep their beliefs secret such as Isaac Newton. The eventual establishment of religious freedom, however, allowed nontrinitarians to more easily preach their beliefs, and the nineteenth century saw the establishment of several nontrinitarian groups in North America and elsewhere. Twentieth-century nontrinitarian movements include Iglesia ni Cristo, and Oneness Pentecostals. Nontrinitarian groups differ from one another in their views of Jesus Christ, depicting him variously as a divine being second only to God the Father, Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible in human form, God but not eternally God , prophet, or simply a holy man.

It is interesting to note that nontrinitarians are basically of two types: the type of Modalistic Monarchianism and the type of Dynamistic Monarchianism. The concept of the Trinity has evoked mixed reactions in other world religions.

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

Followers of Islam have often denounced this Christian doctrine as a corruption of pure monotheism. They see the doctrine as "evidence" that Christianity has fallen away from the true path of worshiping the one and only God, Allah. Muslim rejection of the Trinity concept is sometimes associated with the view that Christians are misguided polytheists. However, when the Qur'an speaks of the "trinity," it refers to God , Jesus and Mary —a threesome that is not recognizable as the Christian Trinity. Hence there may be room for dialogue on this issue.

Other religions have embraced a much more positive attitude towards the Trinity. Correspondences with parallel "threefold" concepts in non-Christian religions have been the foci of much inter-religious dialogue over the last century. For instance, the concept of Trimurti three forms of God in Hinduism has been an active topic in much Hindu-Christian dialogue. Additional discussions centering on the Trinity have addressed how the doctrine relates to Hindu understandings of the supreme Brahman as "Sat-Cit-Ananda" absolute truth, consciousness and bliss.

It has also been noted by scholars that many prototypes, antecedents, and precedents for the Trinity existed in the ancient world including examples in so-called "pagan" religions , and therefore Christianity was not likely the first religion to cultivate this theological idea. The doctrine of the Trinity as a central Christian doctrine attempts to disclose a deep truth about the nature of God and the triadic nature of reality. Yet it remains beset by difficulties and criticisms. Hence, it can be expected that theologians will continue to reach for new ways of describing this concept.

The issue of logical incoherence between oneness and threeness originated with Tertullian's third-century formulation, in which he chose a middle position between the oneness of Modalistic Monarchianism and the threeness of Dynamistic Monarchianism, as discussed above. Actually, to this day all nontrinitarian Christians are basically of these two types—either Modalistic Monarchians or Dynamistic Monarchians.

The Trinity

One proposal to address this issue seeks alternative ways to bridge the divide between both schools of Monarchianism—to affirm simultaneous oneness and threeness without any incoherence. It would structurally involve two different sets of the Trinity: one set affirming the oneness of the triad, the other set recognizing the threeness of the One as expressed in the realm of creation. The latter set would be regarded as the economic manifestation of the former. This proposal, by upholding the oneness of the Godhead, the unity of the essential Trinity, would thus seek to answer the charge of tritheism.

And by recognizing the three distinct personalities of the economic Trinity as it manifests in the created order as God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that descended at Pentecost, it does justice to the Christian experience of salvation and sanctification. The feasibility of this proposal can be tested by how relevant it is to the received distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity.

The gender issue is a bit more complicated. According to the Bible, however, men and women were created in the image of God , which therefore can be considered to be both male and female. There is a rich Christian mystical tradition that "parallels Zen meditation. Zen gives us a method to put contemplation into practice. The Zen training sesshin does not allow the student to analyze or theorize about prayer. Instead it plunges him at the outset into the contemplative act in which there is no subject or object. The koan mu in not an object of meditation. Rather, by becoming mu in unthinking concentration, the retreatant is no longer aware of an "I" standing against a "Thou.

The phrase "Jesus emptied himself' reads "Jesus became mu. Zen sesshin, directed by an accomplished master, can help the Christian to achieve precisely this goal.

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J-Thou relationship is problematical even at the deepest levels of Christian mysticism. John of the Cross or other great Christian mystics, however far they may have traveled by way of via negativa, did not find it necessary to leave the I-Thou relationship aside, and to say that Zen gives Us a method to put contemplation into practice, or that me sesshin does not.

It is already assumed that zazen is prayer, and is contemplation in action, when that is not clear from the Christian point of view at all. Nor is it clear that the kenosis of the Letter 10 the Phillipians is the emptying that Zen promises. In Zen Gifts 10 Christians Kennedy follows the path of his earlier book. It is mostly a rather lyric appreciation of Zen and what it could do for Christianity, and he rarely deals with the more pointed issues of East-West dialogue that flow beneath the surface of what he is saying.

Nor, it might be noted, does he speak about Christian gifts to Zen BUddhists.


He addresses, for example, the issue of the relationship between the creator and creatures, but smoothes away the differences between 70 a Buddhist nonduality, and what could be called a Christian one. Together we enter into the presence of mystery and mutual service. Indeed some interfaith dialogue takes place precisely to confront philosophical problems.

And while it is true that we may all experience the emptiness of our ideas in zazen, we are still confronted, whether on the meditation cushion or off of it, with whether the experience that Zen leads to is identical to what the life of Christian prayer and contemplation is meant to lead to. He writes later: "Zen teaches that the absolute simply is unknowable and cannot be known or described through reason.

For this reason Zen categorically rejects the various essentialist philosophies that are based on reason and that flourish in both Buddhist and non-Buddhist cultures.