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Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity

Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity

Paul Petersen
Robert K McIver
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity
    Book Description:

    The word ’trinity’ is not in the Bible. The expression of the doctrine was developed over a long period and finalized only in the fourth century. Many Christians who want to be biblical have questioned the official church doctrine on the Godhead. The following collection of articles from a a Seventh day Adventist conference in Sydney emphasizes, however, that the concept of the trinity is thoroughly biblical. The book covers a variety of aspects of the discussion of the doctrine, both biblical, historical, and theological, such as the trinity in the gospel of John, the meaning of ’monegenes’, Kellogg and the trinity, and Islam and the trinity.

    eISBN: 978-1-921511-40-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Paul Petersen and Rob McIver

    The Trinity has long been a standard topic in theological education. Students either revel or tolerate the complexities of the development of the doctrine, but until quite recent years, the topic is one that largely remained as a historical study in the professional life of pastors and academics. A dramatic change has taken place in recent years. As will be documented in the following chapters, the doctrine of the Trinity has emerged as a ‘hot topic’ within academic circles both within the academic sphere, and within the theological topics of greatest controversy amongst the laity of Churches of all denominations,...

  5. PART 1 Biblical Studies

    • 1. Some Aspects of the Christology of the Fourth Gospel Relevant to Contemporary Christological Controversy
      (pp. 3-28)
      Robert K McIver

      The Gospel of John has been at the heart of christological debate from earliest times. As TE Pollard observed,

      At the turn of this century, FC Conybeare … wrote: ‘If Athanasius had not had the Fourth Gospel to draw texts from, Arius would never have been confuted.’ This is however only part of the truth, for it would also be true to say that if Arius had not the Fourth Gospel to draw texts from, he would not have needed confuting. Without in any way diminishing the importance of other biblical writings in the development of the church’s doctrine, it...

    • 2. Jesus—the ʹOne and Onlyʹ, or ʹOnly Begottenʹ: The Meaning of Monogenes
      (pp. 29-34)
      Paul Petersen

      One of the most beloved texts of the Bible is John 3:16. Let me quote from three major translations: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV).’ ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (NKJ).’ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son …’ (RSV).¹

      Which is it? Is Jesus the ‘the only’ or ‘one and only’, or is...

    • 3. Worshipping Jesus—the ʹEternally Blessed God!ʹ (Romans 9:5)
      (pp. 35-46)
      Paul Petersen

      The foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity is the divinity of Jesus, and this chapter will outline the main theological arguments for that foundation. The Church Fathers argued for his divinity from three sources: the biblical texts, the drama of salvation, and the devotion to Jesus.

      Worship directed towards Jesus played a major role in the development of what is now known as the doctrine of the Trinity. In the ancient world, the first Christians’ all-decisive commitment to Jesus did not go without notice. Pliny the Younger, governor of the province of Bithynia, wrote to the Roman Emperor Trajan...

    • 4. A Study of Paulʹs Concept of the Saving Act of 1 Corinthians 15:27–28
      (pp. 47-64)
      Roland D Meyer

      This chapter will argue that though Christ’s redeeming act described in 1 Corinthians 15:27–28 took place in time, it does not exclude his pre-incarnation nor his glorification. Indeed, the resurrection of the Son through the Father marks the end of death’s rule. This is what the Apostle Paul attempts to assert to the Corinthians. In revealing this, he clearly distinguishes the responsibilities of God the Father from those of Christ made human. The Son’s mission is to reduce all enemies and death to powerlessness: ‘then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father.’¹...

    • 5. The Firstborn in Colossians 1:15
      (pp. 65-86)
      Ekkehardt Mueller

      Colossians 1:15 is part of one of the elaborate christological hymns in the New Testament.¹ CR Holladay states: ‘If Christ is the theological centerpiece of Colossians, the magnificent Christ hymn in 1:15–20 is the defining flower of the whole arrangement. Perhaps most striking is the boldness of its christological claims. Roles or status previously reserved for God are now asserted to Christ.’²

      However, the interpretation of this verse and especially the term ‘firstborn’ has been quite controversial during church history. In the early trinitarian and christological controversies Arianism taught that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not God...

  6. PART 2 Historical and Theological Studies

    • 6. Trinity: Toward a (Somewhat) Postmodern Perspective
      (pp. 89-100)
      Ray CW Roennfeldt

      During the latter part of the twentieth century Christian theologians have shown great interest in the doctrine of the Trinity and that interest continues to intensify. Previously, many theologians and pastors saw the doctrine as having ‘no apparent pastoral value’ and as something that church people ‘wouldn’t properly understand anyway’.¹ Immanuel Kant had stated (almost triumphantly) that ‘The doctrine of the Trinity, taken literally, has no practical relevance at all, even if we think we understand it; and it is even more clearly irrelevant if we realise that it transcends all our concepts’.² Karl Rahner lamented that ‘Despite their orthodox...

    • 7. The Trinitarian Basis of Christian Community
      (pp. 101-112)
      Richard Rice

      Few developments in Christian history has had greater theological significance than the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, for nothing is more fundamental to any version of Christian faith than its understanding of God.¹ A trinitarian understanding of God has important implications for the entire range of Christian beliefs, but its connection to the doctrine of the church is particularly significant. In fact, the Trinity and the church are intimately connected. It was the experience of God within the community of faith that gave rise to the trinitarian understanding of God. And a trinitarian understanding of God illuminates the...

    • 8. Alexandrian School and the Trinitarian Problem
      (pp. 113-126)
      Darius Jankiewicz

      Among the ancient schools of theology, Alexandria holds special prominence. The school began about 185 AD with the exclusive purpose of instructing converts from paganism to Christianity. Very quickly, and under the leadership of its principal theologians, Clement and Origen, it evolved into a major theological think-tank of ancient Christianity. As such, the school played an important role in influencing the development of many Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Trinity. One of the important characteristics of the school was its positive approach towards Greek philosophy. While many early Christian thinkers attempted to utilise the wisdom of ancient Greeks...

    • 9. The Holy Spirit: His Divinity and Personality
      (pp. 127-144)
      Frank M Hasel

      The nature and role of the Holy Spirit has significant theological and practical implications. At stake is nothing less than the very conception of God, of meaningful worship, and how believers should live their everyday lives.

      Controversy about the Holy Spirit has swirled through the worship practices of most Christian denominations. Beginning with Topeka, Kansas (1901) and Azuza Street in Los Angeles (1906 – 1913), where the classical Pentecostal Movement had its modern origin, in each of the various waves of the Charismatic Movement¹ the emphasis of the Holy Spirit is almost on every lip. Several developments show that the...

    • 10. Trinity and Tawhid in Islam—An Appraisal
      (pp. 145-162)
      Børge Schantz

      The Christian doctrines of the divinity of Christ and the Trinity are the greatest obstacles for Muslims to accept. The core of the Christian faith, as it is expressed in human language, that the one and only God exist in three persons (Father, Son an Holy Spirit) in one being (substance), is completely misunderstood by many Muslims and unacceptable to all. Dialogues with and missionary approaches to Muslims will not get anywhere unless the fundamental doctrines of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the triune nature of the Godhead, and the atonement by Jesus Christ are also accepted.

      Christians admit that...

  7. PART 3 Studies in Seventh-day Adventist History and Theology

    • 11. The Influence of Restorationism on Early Seventh-day Adventism and the Emergence of a Trinitarian Perspective
      (pp. 165-180)
      Karl Arasola

      That anti-trinitarianism was widely spread in early Seventh-day Adventism has been well documented since Erwin Gane’s ground-breaking research on the topic more than four decades ago.¹ Russell Holt, LeRoy Edwin Froom, Merlin Burt, Jerry Moon, have developed further and substantiated Erwin Gane’s conclusions.² It is now understood that not only Joseph Bates, James White, and Uriah Smith, represent Adventist anti-trinitarian sentiments, but that virtually all key Adventist pioneers including John N Andrews, Daniel Bourdeau, Dudley M Canright, Hiram Edson, DW Hull, John N Loughborough, Ellet J Waggoner, Joseph H Waggoner, and SB Whitney, held views varying from mildly Arian (Christ...

    • 12. The Trinitarian Issue in Seventh-day Adventism
      (pp. 181-192)
      Gunnar Pedersen

      Early Adventism reflects the anti-trinitarian polemics of the era of the Enlightenment Deism. Their understanding of the classical Trinity doctrine appears to have been defined by the polemics of the restorationist groups from which some of its key founders emerged.¹ Nevertheless, their Christology in general reflected the Nicene view that Christ in a pre-historic event was ‘begotten’ by the Father, that is, issued in some mysterious ways from the Father. While they thus affirmed this aspect of Nicene Christology yet in line with the restorationist anti-trinitarian polemics they held a hierarchical view on the relationship between the Father, Son and...

    • 13. John Harvey Kelloggʹs Concept of the Godhead
      (pp. 193-218)
      John Skrzypaszek

      This chapter examines John Harvey Kellogg’s¹ understanding of the Godhead within the context of his steadily developing views which were seen by the many contemporary leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as views akin to pantheism.² After the first official presentation of his ideas at the 1897 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Lincoln, Nebraska, Kellogg’s views peaked in his bookThe Living Temple(1903).³ Eventually, at the 1905 General Conference, while reacting to Kellogg’s insinuation that ‘she believed and taught the same things,’ as presented in his book, one of the leading Adventist pioneers, Ellen White referred to her...

  8. Appendix: Consensus Statement
    (pp. 219-220)
  9. Index of Persons and Authors
    (pp. 221-226)
  10. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 227-236)
  11. Index of Christian Scriptural References
    (pp. 237-250)
  12. Index of Islamic Scriptural References
    (pp. 251-252)