The Mystery of the Holy Trinity: A Paradigm for Christian Living?

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity: A Paradigm for Christian Living?

Philip Kariatlis
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College
 
Abstract: Renewed interest in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in the latter part of the twentieth century resulted in a surge of studies which sought to shed light not only on its intrinsic relation to other major Christian doctrines but also, and equally importantly, gave prominence to its salvific impetus. In contrast to prior understandings which had reduced the doctrine of the Trinity to speculative abstractions of the inner life of God resulting in understandings which had little if no relevance to everyday life, these studies sought to highlight a connection between trinitarian theology, the human person and Christian living more broadly. Whilst this approach was a dominant and recurring motif in Eastern Orthodox Theology, so much so that it became customary in the last century to speak of ways in which the communal or perichoretic mode of God’s existence could offer a value blueprint for human communities, more recently this understanding—commonly referred to as ‘social Trinitarianism’— has occasioned considerable criticism in certain Orthodox quarters and beyond. More specifically studies have begun to appear which have questioned the appropriateness of understanding the concept of human personhood in light of the divine Persons and equally significantly to what extent the notion of Trinitarian koinonia can inform Christian living. This paper will examine the extent to which a plausible case can continue to be made for deriving a framework for Christian living from the Trinitarian doctrine, and if so, what this might look like.