The Doctrine Of The Trinity

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Augustine and the Trinity Introduction The doctrine of the Trinity is often viewed as an archaic and abstract theory many churches and theological study programs settled on long ago, and therefore, has little relevance to modern Christian faith. Over the past fifteen centuries, the doctrine of the Trinity has played a peripheral role in Christian theology. Formulated in Nicea (325 C.E.) and later revised in Constantinople (381 C.E.), it has been generally accepted by most Christians. However, this was not always the case; over 1600 years ago, according to Gregory of Nyssa, it was near impossible to enter the marketplace without hearing or becoming engaged in a debate about whether God the Son is equal to or less than God the Father.…show more content…
At the same time, Augustine sought to defend the doctrine of the Trinity established in Nicea and Constantinople against heretical formulations such as Arianism. In his Trinitarian formulation, Augustine argued the Latin expressions of one essence (essentia), three persons (personae), was more precise than the Greek of one essence (ousia), and three substances (hypostases). Citing the Exodus passage of God naming Himself, “I AM that I AM” (The Holy Bible, 3:14), Augustine believed substance (hypostases) could not properly be predicated of God as if God were something in which accidental properties could subsist. The distinction between the persons of the Trinity (the usual starting place for Augustine) is found in causation. Augustine understood the distinction between persons according to eternal and immutable relation (Gilson 1960). He used a psychological analogy in which the unity of the Trinity is likened to the human soul composed of “the mind [intellect], and the knowledge by which it knows itself [memory], and the love by which it loves itself [will]” (Augustine and Stephen McKenna 2002). The intellect is not the will nor the memory; memory, neither the will nor intellect; and will, neither the intellect nor memory. Yet there is only one mind. Augustine moved from exterior realities of creations to the interior realities of the human souls in the hope of encountering God in the image of God (imago

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