Theology Symposium 2017 Abstracts

The Mystery of the Trinity: Implications for Everyday Living

Friday 1 September - Saturday 2 September, 2017 

Within the premises of the College
 

View Symposium Program
 

Organised by:

Dr Philip Kariatlis & Professor James R. Harrison
 

Keynotes

Keynote Speaker 1

Dr Aristotle Papanikolaou

Archbishop Demetrios Professor in Orthodox Theology and Culture, Co-Director, Orthodox Chrisitan Studies Centre, Fordham University

Title

From Sophia to Personhood: The Development of 20th Century Orthodox Trinitarian Theology

Abstract

This presentation will trace the development of trinitarian theology, beginning with Sergius Bulgakov and including Dumitru Stăniloae, Vladimir Lossky and John Zizioulas.  It will demonstrate how much of contemporary Orthodox theology on the Trinity, although projecting itself as a neo-Patristic synthesis, is, in large part, a footnote to Bulgakov.  I will also argue how the development of a contemporary Orthodox theology of the personhood is both consistent with patristic theology and a result of hermeneutical and existential contextuality.  


Keynote Speaker 2

Revd Dr Gerard Kelly

President, Catholic Institute of Sydney, Professor of Theology, Sydney College of Divinity

Title

The Action of God in the World and in the Life of the Believer: the Trinity and the Sacraments

Abstract

In order to consider the action of God in the world as an act of the Trinity, this paper will begin by setting up some building blocks.  One will be the axiom of Karl Rahner that the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity and vice versa.  Another will be St Augustine’s consideration of the Trinity in terms of (mutual) love.  Once these building blocks have been established the paper will examine how the Christian believer is brought into communion with God.  Attention will be given to sacramental initiation (baptism, and confirmation/chrismation), as well as to the Eucharist.  Through participation in the sacraments the believer is engaged in the worship of the Triune God not only in the liturgy, but also, outside the liturgy, in the existential context of life.  In this sense, Christian living is properly a participation in the life of the Trinity.



Papers

Dr Kirsty Beilharz

Sydney College of Divinity (Sydney NSW)

Title

Trinitarian Iconography in Messiaen’s Music and Applications of Trinitarian Imagery in Contemporary Thought

Abstract

This paper examines in detail the Trinitarian iconography and symbolic imagery in the music of French Twentieth Century composer, Olivier Messiaen. The paper focuses on his solo organ work, Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité (Medtiations on the mystery of the Holy Trinity), the pinnacle manifestation of the composer’s system of signs and symbols, in which the Messiaen uses various inter-textual methods to represent, evoke and symbolise Trinitarian relationality. It considers ways that contemporary interdisciplinary explorations of Trinitarian relations can influence personal communion with the Holy Trinity, and inform practical thinking. French philosopher, Jean-Luc Marion’s philosophy of  ‘saturated phenomena’ – an extension of the phenomenological idea of embodied integrated sensory, somatic, cognitive and spiritual experiences – is the primary lens applied to personal encounter with the Divine through arts, symbolism and music. Rahner famously criticised the in-distinction between monotheism and Trinitarianism in practice. Interdisciplinary methods of modelling, perceiving and exploring the uniquely Christian Triune God, attempt to frame the practical implications of the Trinity from a fresh perspective.

Reformed Christians have notoriously distanced iconographic interpretations of Triune relations for fear of idolatrous overtones, while the Roman and Orthodox traditions enjoy a rich heritage of icons, symbols, representations and metaphoric tools. This paper will argue that the precedent for image finds its origin in the Biblical language of the supreme image of the invisible and ineffable, Jesus Christ, whose humanity is essential to the salvific economic mission of the Trinity; and in God’s creation of humankind in the image of the Divine, bestowed with intrinsic value due to this relationship. This mirroring is instrumental to personhood that supersedes creaturely limitations. The modality of music lends itself to contemplating the transcendent and ineffable qualities of the Triune Mystery.


Sr Dr Margaret Beirne RSC

Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

The Trinity in the Fourth Gospel

Abstract

In his workThe Trinity, Karl Rahner’s central thesis is that the immanent Trinity (God per se) is identical to the economic Trinity (God who creates and saves humanity out of love). Among the debates and variations of this Rahnerian position is that the latter does not exhaust the former but rather, using Rahner’s own words, ‘the “Economic Trinity” is grounded in the “Immanent Trinity”’ (p.101). In this paper, I will briefly show how these concepts are borne out in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel. The greater part of the paper will then explore the evangelist’s presentation of the ‘economic Trinity’ and how it provides an immensely rich source for a deep and consoling spirituality for everyday living.


Revd Anastasios Bozikis

Lecturer in Church History

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

The Trinitarian Basis of the World Council of Churches and its Implications for the Orthodox Ecumenical Endeavour

Abstract

In 1961 in New Delhi the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) amended its Basis to include a Trinitarian reference for the first time. This was done largely at the instigation of the Orthodox Church which considered the Christological Basis of Amsterdam, 1948, insufficient to inform and contextualise the lofty aspiration of this ecumenical body to bring visible unity to a divided Christianity. This presentation will consider the imperatives  that prompted this move and explore some of its ramifications for the work of the WCC since that time.  In particular,  certain implications for the ecumenical endeavours of the Orthodox Church, as a result of this Trinitarian paradigm, will be discussed with a view to highlighting potential possibilities and limitations for Orthodox relations with other Christians.


Very Revd Dr Silouan Fotineas

Lecturer in Patristics

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

St Basil of Caesarea: The Koinonia of the Church and the Koinonia of the Trinity  

Abstract

This paper will focus on Basil’s ecclesiology, with a particular emphasis on κοινωνίαin the church and κοινωνίαin the Trinity. Here it will become evident that Basil’s ecclesiology is centred on the church as having its existence in communion, and that it is through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the church’s “being in communion” is realised and participated. According to Basil, communion in the Holy Spirit is constitutive of the church’s existence. Nicene theology made this possible, which through its proclamation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit declared that communion is accessible to all. For Basil, communion in the Holy Spirit brought about communion in otherness, which was realised in the life of the church and modelled on the Holy Trinity. Otherness, Basil emphasises, is no distortion to communion but rather constitutive of it, in the same way that the modes of being within the Holy Trinity maintain their personal hypostasis through their relationship with each other. Conversely, unity that emanates from communion with the Holy Trinity does not destroy otherness butrather affirms and realises its ontological presence. In this way communion is not antithetical towards otherness; it generates and manifests it.


Revd Dr Ian Coutts

Adjunct Lecturer, Charles Sturt University and St Mark’s National Theological Centre

Title

Thinking Theologically about ‘Family’, from a Trinitarian Perspective

Abstract

It could be argued that family and family relationships form a key part of everyday living, with potentially very considerable consequences for children, adults, and for society. The Western Christian Church appears to have had an active interest in issues of ‘the family’. Surprisingly, however, there has been little or no theological consideration of ‘family’. Furthermore, there are concerns that theologising in this area might idolise or idealise particular social constructs, or overlook the dominical and eschatalogical relativisation of family ties, or issues of social justice, or indeed the significance of the church.

The re-emergence of trinitarian theology, with proper safeguards against anthropomorphic projection and any mis-use of the ‘Social Trinity’, may have a number of important contributions to make to how we think theologically about ‘family’ and ‘familying’. This paper considers these contributions, examining ontology, attachment theory, love, mutuality, personhood, and the significance of relationships and of ‘significant others’ through the lenses of hypostasis, ekstasis and perichoresis.


Revd Dr Perry Hamalis

Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion

North Central College (Naperville, Illinois; USA)

Title

The Trinity and the City: Insights from Archimandrite Sophrony’s Trinitarian Theology for Christian Community Development

Abstract

Residents of impoverished urban areas face a multitude of challenges—from unemployment, addictions, and violence to racism, police mistrust, and lack of access to healthy food and medical services. While care for the poor and the marginalized has been basic to Christian identity from apostolic times, industrialization and urbanization over the past two centuries have required fresh thinking and approaches to urban ministry. Beginning in the late 1980s, a group of Christian leaders in the United States established the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in order to promote collaboration and share experience-based insights among those dedicated to urban ministry. Today, over a thousand urban ministries—spanning multiple continents—subscribe to the CCDA’s approach, which is characterized by eight “key components.” These “key components” (relocation, reconciliation, redistribution, leadership development, listening to the community, being church-based, a wholistic approach, and empowerment) encompass valuable practical teachings and are grounded in Christian theological-ethical principles; however, they would benefit from a deeper understanding of the Holy Trinity and of human beings as persons created in the image of the Holy Trinity. Orthodox Christians in the diaspora have tended to lag behind other Christian communities in developing thoughtful responses to urban challenges. The CCDA thus provides a promising partnership for shaping and strengthening Orthodox urban ministry. Yet recent Orthodox thinkers, like Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov (+1993), have expressed profound understandings of “personhood” as it related to both the Holy Trinity and human beings that could enhance the theological-ethical foundation of the CCDA’s “key components.” After presenting several teachings of the CCDA on effective urban ministry and of Archimandrite Sophrony on the meaning of “persona-hypostasis,” I argue for the need to bring together these two sets of teachings in order to articulate lineaments of an Orthodox Christian vision of urban community development.


Sr Dr Virginia Hutchinson

Independent Scholar

Title

In Silence with God

Abstract

St Basil the Great’s, famous letter 234 to  Amphilocius. In reply to the question as to whether we know the God whom we worship, he defines a difference: we know our God: His power, wisdom, goodness … but not His very essence: “There is a distinction between His essence and each one of the attributes enumerated. The operations (energies Gk.) are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations but do not undertake to draw near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach.” We may explore models such as the revolving circle of glory moving from Like to Like of St Gregory of Nyssa or Vladimir Lossky’s more recent renderings but the Essence/ Energy distinction remains solid. God is known in His energies: as Light, the divine Light and the glory of God. I will focus on the use of the term ‘glory’. St John Chrysostom in commentary (at Rom.8:23) notes that many may hear this term but do not understand it. He directs their attention to Phil.3:21 in order to expand their spiritual vision. Later translators of the Greek NT into English took a more reductionist approach to that which eluded their comprehension (Cf. Barlaam in Palamas Triads CWS P.86) and rendered the noun ‘glory’ by the adjective ‘glorious,’ with considerable distortion of meaning in several of the seven instances. Example Col. 1:11 ‘the might of His glory’ becomes ‘His glorious might.’ Those who seek to avail themselves of ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God’ 2 Cor.4:6-7 for their everyday living, may well seek to focus on the preparation of their hearts for reception of the grace of this Uncreated Energy. Do we have eyes to perceive this shining?


Dr Michelle Jones

Lecturer in Theology

Broken Bay Institute – The Australian Institute of Theological Education (Sydney NSW)

Title

Insights into the Mystery of the Trinity from the Carmelite Tradition: The Riches of Our Human Poverty

Abstract

The mystics give us rich insights into the mystery of the Trinity, and the implications of this mystery for our daily lives. As Anne Hunt writes, ‘the mystics offer not an explication of the mystery per se but rather, as near as possible in this world, a rendering of an unmediated experience of the Trinity’ (Anne Hunt, The Trinity: Insights from the Mystics, ix). This paper will explore some of the lived Trinitarian insights of the Carmelite mystical tradition through looking at the life and work of the contemporary Carmelite nun Ruth Burrows. Burrows’ pilgrimage of spiritual darkness and non-experience has revealed to her that ‘human poverty is a deep mystery that plunges us into Trinitarian depths’ (Ruth Burrows, Love Unknown, 11).Throughout our everyday living the Son expresses his ‘Yes’ to the Father within our lives, and this requires us to accept the raw nothingness of our humanity as pure capacity for the love of God. Immersed in the crucified and risen Jesus, we are taken into the Triune God with empty hands.


Mr Samuel Kaldas

PhD Candidate

University of Sydney

Title

“A Cross for Human Ways of Thought”: The Interplay of Reason and Mystery in Trinitarian Theology

Abstract

“The dogma of the Trinity,” wrote Vladimir Lossky, “is a cross for human ways of thought.” This is a powerful statement, and one that captures the characteristic “mystical turn” of Orthodox theology, often contrasted with the overly rationalistic thought of the Schoolmen. The underlying idea for practicing theology in this way is that God is not a puzzle for us to solve, or a scientific phenomenon to minutely dissected, but an ineffable mystery to be worshipped. But one can go too far in the opposite direction as well; as Metropolitan Kallistos is fond of remarking, we must not use the mystical aspect of theology as an excuse for “mere inarticulateness and mental laziness … [or] muddle and mystification.” Many of the Church Fathers were trained philosophers after all, and despite their obviously mystical bent, knew the importance of being methodical, logical and precise when speaking about God. But how should a theologian balance these two “poles” of theological discourse; the mystical and the rational? In this paper, I make some preliminary observations about how this delicate tension between analytic, rational thinking and wordless, worshipful silence plays out in the Trinitarian theology of Vladimir Lossky, Gregory of Nyssa and various modern theologians.


Dr Philip Kariatlis

Academic Director, Senior Lecturer in Theology (Systematic)

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

The Mystery of the Trinity: a Paradigm for Christian Living?

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 shed light not only on its intrinsic relation to other major Christian doctrines (mysterium centralis), but also, and equally importantly, gave prominence to its salvific impetus (mysterium salus). Nevertheless, whilst such multidisciplinary studies continue to abound on this central mystery of the Christian faith today, there are only modest monographs exclusively focusing on the existential consequences of this teaching, namely the way that this can be incorporated into all aspects of life. Given this deficiency, this paper will explore possibilities in which this teaching, chiefly as articulated from within the Eastern Orthodox tradition, can specifically apprise Christian living. In particular, it will aim to examine the extent to which the communal, or perichoretic, mode of God’s existence can offer a valuable blueprint for human communities—one, which preserves the cohesion of its citizens yet celebrates, at the same time, their uniqueness and diversity. In suggesting such a paradigm, this paper hopes to make a contribution to the existential ramifications of this foundational teaching for Christian daily living.


Br Dr Robert Krishna

Graduate

Catholic Theological College/University of Divinity

Title

The Trinitarian Creation and Redemption of the World in Augustine of Hippo and Cyril of Alexandria

Abstract

I will look at the pro-Nicene project of reading Gen 1:1-2:3 as revealing the Trinity in the works of Augustine of Hippo and Cyril of Alexandria. Both authors read Genesis as a narrative of redemption and creation by the Trinity. In both, particular verses, such as Gen 1:26-27, are more significant than others, but the Trinity remains evident throughout the first creation narrative, in assertions of fiat, mentions of day and night, divine repose, God’s pleasure in the goodness of creation, as well as in omissions in the account. Cyril and Augustine differ, not only in which intertexts and received understandings inform their readings, but also in how they relate creation and redemption. Cyril reads redemption as the recapitulation in Christ of creation, a recapitulation foreseen from the beginning, and made possible by the gift of the Spirit. Augustine sees the relationship between Creator and universe in both creation and redemption as a gratuitous reaching out of the Father through his Son and Spirit toward formless nothing to order it. The Trinitarian reading of the first creation account by Augustine and Cyril is called for, not only by anti-Arian concerns, but also by their respective controversies with the Manichaeans and Pelagians, and with the Anthropomorphites and Nestorians. Thus, both Augustine and Cyril see the Genesis account as not merely casually Trinitarian, with stray verses providing support for the Nicene position, but as revealing the continuing loving concern of the Trinitarian God for the created world.


Revd Canon Professor Dorothy Lee

Dean of the Theological College, Frank Woods Professor in New Testament

Trinity College Theological School (Melbourne VIC)

Title

The Gospel of Mark and the Trinity

Abstract

Does the Gospel of Mark possess a trinitarian perspective? Readers of this text, particularly in post-Enlightenment critical exegesis, might tend to answer in the negative. Mark is often seen as emphasising the humanity of Jesus over against, for example, the Gospel of John, with the former representing a so-called 'low Christology' while the latter displays a 'high Christology'. An example of this view is the portrait of the Markan Jesus at Gethsemane who, in great distress, asks the Father to allow him to bypass the cross (14:33-36), despite his own confident predictions of the passion on the journey to Jerusalem (8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34). This scene is interpreted as Mark's stressing of the vulnerability of Jesus, unveiling a messianic figure whose humanity enables him to identify with mortal weakness and frailty. Such an interpretation of Markan Christology is arguably limited and one-sided, bpassing the significance of the two key stories which shape unequivocally Jesus' unique identity in this Gospel: the baptism at the beginning of his ministry (1:9-11) and the transfiguration at the centre, which is also the turning-point of Jesus' ministry (9:2-13). These two stories together form and re-form the entire Markan narrative, outlining its core Christology and theology. They express a narrative trinitarianism that is also apparent elsewhere in the Gospel: in the conflict with the demons, for example, which pervades Jesus' ministry and above all on the cross, as the paradoxical climax of Mark's story. This paper argues that there are distinctive literary and theological grounds for recognising an implicit trinitarianism within the narrative framework of Mark's Gospel.


Dr David McEwan

Associate Professor in Theology

Nazarene Theological College (Brisbane Queensland)

Title

“A Continual Enjoyment of the Three-One God”: John Wesley and The Life of God in the Soul 

Abstract

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had a holistic vision of the God-human relationship being centred in love and trust, rather than an intellectual comprehension of propositional truths about God. Consequently, his interest in the doctrine of the Trinity was not speculative but practical. From his studies of Scripture and the rich tradition of the church (particularly the early Fathers), he firmly believed that the God’s essential nature is love and all other aspects of his character and work must flow from, and be in harmony with, this core affirmation. Human beings are created in the image of the Triune God and this implies that we are created in love for love—both the love of God and the love of neighbour. The gift of salvation provided by the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit led him to affirm the centrality of ‘heart religion’, with its strong relational emphasis, as the essence of genuine Christianity. When it came to the pastoral task of guiding his people in their spiritual development, he emphasised God’s transforming work is best accomplished by a full awareness and personal experience of divine love. It is the indwelling presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the heart that enables the restoration of the divine image. Wesley unequivocally identified holiness with happiness and with love; they are one and the same thing considered under different heads. Holiness is active love to God and neighbour based on God’s prior love poured into the heart; happiness is the enjoyment and security in such a love.


Dr Peter John McGregor

Lecturer in Theology

Catholic Institute of Sydney (Sydney NSW)

Title

“Uniting Protology and Soteriology: John Paul II’s Creative/Salvific Mission of the Trinity”

Abstract

Presently there exist some tensions between some expressions of what has come to be called ‘creation theology’ and ‘creation spirituality’ and the notion of salvation in and through Christ. Are these notions compatible or contradictory? This paper proposes that St. John Paul II’s missiology provides one avenue for resolving these tensions. For John Paul II, the mission of the Church is based on the missio Dei, the sending of the Son and the Holy Spirit into the world in accordance with the plan of the Father. John Paul grounds this Trinitarian mission in the Trinitarian communion. This communion is revealed through the Incarnation. However, John Paul holds that the first ‘sending’ of the Son and Holy Spirit is in the act of creation. The Father creates the cosmos through the Son since the Son is his image. Creation as ‘gift’ takes place through the Holy Spirit. God creates not just through giving existence to things, but by his presence in them. This is especially true of the creation of human persons. Human persons are created in the image of Christ, and as gifts to themselves, others and God. The mission of the Incarnation is to recreate human persons in that image and as that gift. The Incarnation is the ‘end’ of creation. It completes creation. However, for John Paul, the Incarnation is also the ‘beginning’ of creation. From a temporal perspective, creation begins with ‘Let us make’, but from God’s eternal perspective, it begins with ‘And the Word became flesh’. God creates and redeems the universe through a single, simple, eternal act. This is why John Paul II can speak of the creative/salvific mission of the Trinity, even when referring to creation alone.


Mr Daniel Madigan

Senior Lecturer in Religious Education

University of Notre Dame (Sydney NSW)

Title

Embroidering the Fabric of Family Love with the Trinitarian Mystery

Abstract

The Holy Family is an ideal source of inspiration regarding implications of the mystery of the Trinity for everyday family life. With the consent of the All-pure Virgin Mother, the Son of God the Father became incarnate by the Holy Spirit in a family. Leo Scheffczyk asserted that a deepened understanding of the precise relationship between Mary and the Divine Persons would help “make the mystery of the Trinity more fruitful in the life of the faithful.” This paper takes up that challenge. First the question of the precise relationship between Mary and the Divine Persons will be explored. Is the three-fold devotion to Mary as Mother of God the Son, Daughter of God the Father and Spouse of God the Holy Spirit based on theologically sound foundations? The paper will then examine the implications of two key privileges of Mary which flow as a result of her privilege as Theotokos: namely that she is both All-pure and Ever-virgin. These privileges help us understand the roles played by St Joseph as husband, and Sts Joachim and Anna as her parents, in the saving mission of Mary’s divine Son, Jesus. This exploration of the unity of the All-pure Virgin Mother’s roles as Jewish daughter, bride and mother within her immediate Family challenges the reductive conception of the ‘nuclear’ family promoted in Western culture. It is hoped that these considerations of the impact of the insertion of the mystery of the Trinity into the Holy Family might suggest implications for the way we love members of our own family, whether as Christian children, spouses or parents.


Mr Andrew Mellas

Lecturer in Church History

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

Glorifying the Mystery with One Voice in St Romanos the Melodist’s On Pentecost

Abstract

 Although Romanos the Melodist composed hymns rather than theological treatises, the theology of his poetry echoes the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers. Indeed, his hymns embody Byzantine theology. By articulating the mystery of the Trinity through the performance of the kontakion during the liturgical life of Byzantium, Romanos employed sacred song to convey dogma and theology to the faithful. In retelling the scriptural stories that defined the Byzantines, Romanos’ hymns sought to frame and shape an emotional community in Constantinople. The singing of hymns was a sacramental act wherein the passions of the singer’s soul could mirror the text. Poetry, music and sacred drama showed forth the hidden fears and desires of biblical characters amidst the overarching narrative of Pentecost, inviting the faithful to become part of the sacred drama unfolding before them and experience the mystery of the Trinity. This paper will explore how the Melodist reimagines the opening events of Acts in the performance of On Pentecost. Alongside the descent of the Holy Spirit, Romanos dramatises the adventure of human angst, evoking the despondency the Apostles felt following the Ascension of Christ and their separation from the incarnate Logos. The hymnographer bids the congregation to feel this affliction and pray for “swift and stable comfort” as they sing “be near us, be near, you who are everywhere.” Against the backdrop of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9, the dialectic of division and unity is recapitulated in the tongues of fire, which call the nations to harmony and invite Christianity to glorify the mystery of God with one voice. Romanos teaches the faithful to approach the Trinity as a personal God; not as a mystery that should be understood but as a source of wonder and joy. 


Dr Gerard Moore

Associate Professor, School of Theology

United Theological College, Charles Sturt University (Sydney NSW)

Title

Spirit, Experience and Worship

Abstract

One of the consistent criticisms of the Roman tradition is its weakness in the way the Spirit is expressed in the liturgical tradition.  It is clear that the texts of the tradition have little that is explicit concerning the work of the Spirit, though a more subtle and inclusive case could be argued.  However the pneumatological sense of strong worship traditions, such as the Orthodox traditions and the Roman tradition, may not be an entirely reliable indicator that those liturgical worlds are as open to the ways of the Holy Spirit as the textual witness would recommend.  There is an important question to be explored around the presence of the Spirit in contemporary believers and indeed in the world as it currently experienced.  Further, the work of the Spirit is not to be seen as relevant only through the past and present, but also from the perspectives of the future.  Does our worship sufficiently allude to, far less capture, the workings of the Spirit?


Revd Dr Glen O’Brien

Associate Professor of Theology

School for Christian Studies Booth College (Sydney NSW)

Title

A Trinitarian Theology of Sanctification for the Weslyian Tradition

Abstract

St. Gregory of Nyssainsisted inOn the Holy Trinity that ‘The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit alike give sanctification, and life, and light, and comfort, and all similar graces.  And let no one attribute the power of sanctification in an especial sense to the Spirit [alone].’ Yet this attribution of sanctifying grace to the Holy Spirit alone is precisely what many in the Wesleyan theological tradition did in the nineteenth century, an era in which Wesleyan-Holiness denominations such as The Church of the Nazarene and The Salvation Army were formulating their doctrinal statements. This paper will suggest a revision of the Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification along Trinitarian lines. Such a revision can open up toward future iterations of the doctrine which overcome the tritheistic tendencies in its current formulation.


Professor Neil Ormerod

Professor of Theology

Australian Catholic University (Sydney NSW)

Title

Participation in the Trinitarian Relations and the Theological Virtues

Abstract

The paper draws on proposals in the Trinitarian theologies of Bernard Lonergan and Robert Doran to find a connection between four created participations of the Trinitarian relations—paternity, filiation, active spiration and passive spiration—with the life of grace and the theological virtues, faith, hope and charity. This connection generalizes a more traditional approach that links the two processions of the Son and Spirit with the two divine missions of Incarnation and grace. This approach helps highlight the significance of the virtues, somewhat neglected at present, by giving them a Trinitarian basis. The paper will explore how the virtues contribute to the mystery of salvation by indicating their role in the overcoming of evil in human history. In this way the plan of salvation is found to be thoroughly Trinitarian in nature.


Dr Meredith Secomb

Independent Scholar and Graduate Student

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

The Trinity, the Theotokos and Us: Incarnationg Christ in Everyday Life

Abstract

The Theotokos knew fully the implications for everyday living of the mystery of the Trinity. She knew what it was to listen and to surrender in obedience to the will of the Father. The fruit of such obedience was the incarnation of Christ who always did what he saw the Father doing (Jn 5:19) and spoke what he heard the Father speaking (Jn 12:49). Later Mary instructed Christ’s followers to “do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). We too are called to incarnate Christ in our lives and to do whatever he tells us. We are called to be receptive to the Holy Spirit as the Theotokos was receptive. Questions arise as we reflect on the dynamic of the Trinity’s engagement with a human being. What are the ontological, Christological and anthropological conditions for such receptivity? The paper will consider St Maximus the Confessor and St. Gregory Palamas in its efforts to address these questions. The Maximian notion of the human person as inherently dialogical, as well as his holistic concept of the human person, serves my argument. The “organ of vision” for perceiving God is beautifully articulated by St Gregory Palamas. It is an organ that yields a divine sense for spiritual realities. Origen’s spiritual senses give us insights into the reverberations in the human psyche of engagement with the Holy Spirit. I explore how the spiritual senses become evident in human consciousness and suggest that theological reflection needs to attend to a highly refined form of pneumo-somatic data that is available for attentive receptivity. I will present the notion of a connatural attunement to God mediated through the gift of wisdom as a channel for the grace of God whereby we are enabled to respond to God in the ordinary moments of everyday life.


Ms Florensia Theograsia

PhD Candidate

University of Newcastle

Title

The Trinity through the Fourth Gospel

Abstract

Living in today’s society, possessed with a positivist empiric mindset, it can sometimes be tricky to explain the meaning of Trinity to people who do not share the same faith and knowledge as practicing Christians; indeed, neither is it easy to explain the concept of Trinity to most Christians adequately. This paper will look at ways in which this central doctrine might be presented to today’s world focusing on the Scriptures and not as has often been the case, from the theological disciplines of systematic theology or for that matter spirituality. It will do so by specifically focussing on the Fourth Gospel, which, as will be shown, is replete with Trinitarian references, in order to underscore the importance of this Gospel in particular, in any scholarly quest to present the Trinitarian mystery for today.


Revd Constantine Varipatis

Lecturer in Christian Life and Ministry

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney NSW)

Title

The Holy Trinity and Marriage

Abstract

The Christian view of the human person is revolutionary, revealing and challenging to modern isolationist understandings in today’s secular society. Christian anthropology is grounded on an understanding of ‘persons’ who,  radiating with light because they have been created in God’s image and likeness, have been endowed with freedom and responsibility. This relational understanding of personhood has radical implications for human persons in general, but also for two persons within the context of marriage. A couple is called to mirror Christ’s mystical relationship to the Church as indicated by St Paul. And in showing forth the love of God, the incarnate Christ provides the potential for a couple to love with Christ’s unitive love, resulting not only in freedom, but also a profound communion – indeed ‘holy communion’ with God, each other and creation more broadly. This paper will explore some of the implications of Christian marriage when seen from within this distinctly Trinitarian framework. It will do this by mainly focusing on the theology and poetry of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia.