Trinitarian Theology

Introducing Trinitarian Theology

Tom Torrance lamented an approach to the knowledge of God, substantially developed by Thomas Aquinas that began with the philosophical idea of the one essence of God, “and only subsequently offers an account of the three Persons in God, without any intrinsic relation between them” (The Mediation of Christ, 1992, p.99-100). As a result philosophical notions of what God is came to characterise Western theological method.

After returning to Britain from missionary service in India,  Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote that “the ordinary Christian in the Western world who hears or reads the word ‘God’ does not immediately and inevitably think of the Triune Being – Father, Son, and Spirit. He thinks of a supreme monad. … The working concept of God for most ordinary Christians is – if one may venture a bold guess – shaped more by the combination of Greek philosophy and Islamic theology which was powerfully injected into the thought of Christendom at the beginning of the High Middle Ages than by the thought of the fathers of the first four centuries” (The Open Secret, 1978, p.30).

Trinitarian theologies argue that our method should be based in questions of who is God, beginning with the self-revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the foundational doctrine that permeates all areas of theology as opposed to being just one point of doctrine in systematics.

The Relevance of Trinitarian Doctrine

Trinitarian theology might at first seem a little like squabbling over definitions. But Trinitarian theology goes beyond definitions by leading to a reevaluation of our practices. The insights of Trinitarian theology are now making their way into conversations about ecclesiology,  preaching, public theology, gender roles ethics, social teaching and mission.

Trinitarian reflections in life

“If we are made in the image of God, we are made in the image of the Trinity; and the life of the Trinity must in some sort be reflected in the pattern of our human life.”  John F. X. Harriott

In recent times, attention has been drawn to an understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity within the Anglican Diocese of  Sydney that agues for an eternal subordination of function within the Trinity and then argues from this basis for the exclusion of women from governmental leadership in the church of God.

A Trinitarian Theology of Proclamation

For a new generation of theologians trinitarian grammar is considered the best grammar by which to proclaim the Christian faith.

Michael Pasquarello III argues that “Christian preaching, in contrast to “effective communication,” is a personally involved, participatory, and embodied form of graced activity that is the Triune God’s gift to the church”. (p.10, 2006).

Further Reading: References: Torrance, T.F. (1992). The Mediation of Christ (Rev. Ed.) Helmers & Howard, Colorado Springs, CO. Trinitarian theology. (2007, October 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:33, November 6, 2007, from


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