Christendom: Historical Context and Christology

The Trinity

Three persons in one God


God is relational

Mystery – can be contemplated but always remains beyond human comprehension

The Trinity in Terms of Role and Functions

Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Creator, redeemer, sanctifier

Being itself, builder, life-giver

The Trinity in Terms of Analogies

Lover, beloved, love

Sun, sunbeam, sun on face

Stream, river, ocean

Geometry: triangle, tetrahedron, three circles

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis has three sides. You can see all three sides at once at different distances but no more than two at the same distance. (JPG)

(Or just accept that humans will never grasp God’s nature)

The Trinity in Terms of Biblical Interpretation

Genesis 1:1-2, When God began to create heaven and earth the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the deep. Then God’s breath blew over the water and God said, “Let there be light.’ Then there was light.
Genesis 1:26-27, Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness… God created human in God’s image; in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.
Genesis 2:7, God formed the human out of the dust of the ground and blew into its nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living being.

Note influence on Nicene Creed, textbook

God the Father = God the creator

God the Son = The Word as Instrument of Creation

God the Holy Spirit = God’s breath = God’s spirit

Christology: Origin

Time of origin implies rank of divinity

If originated 2000 years ago then only human

Arius: first begotten before the rest of creation

Council of Nicaea: eternally begotten

Christology: Incarnation

God becomes flesh

Adoptionist view: born human and promoted to divinity

Docetism: God appearing human

Nicaea: fully God and fully human

Christology: Resurrection

If a single human escaped death then resuscitation

If God only then immortality is boring and has no implications for humanity

Resurrection of Christ, being fully God and fully human, becomes cosmic defeat of death and extends to all humans

“We look for the resurrection of the dead.”

Contemporary Debate: How Deep is the Incarnation?

God became a man (shallow incarnation)

God became man

God became human, one of us

God became flesh

God became nature (deep incarnation)