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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

5 - The Trinity from Schleiermacher to the end of the twentieth century



Between the time of the Reformation and the beginning of the nineteenth century a number of intellectual developments took place which impacted on the theology of the Trinity. First, the separation of faith and reason, already begun in the late medieval period (Condemnation of 1277) became even more pronounced during the Reformation and its aftermath. In the light of the religious conflicts within Western Christendom, an appeal to mere reason without any reference to the tradition proved popular. Descartes' Meditations (1641) is a clear example of this approach. This modern understanding of reason as ‘autonomous’, separate from faith, led in our view to the impoverishment of both reason and faith, for it led to the decline of the contemplative disposition, which had been central to the approach to the mystery of the Trinity amongst medieval schoolmen. A merely rationalistic or a merely fideistic approach was alien to them. A second major development was the rise of empirical sciences which ultimately led to the concept of a mechanistic universe which was explicable in its own terms, without reference to God. In philosophical terms, British empiricism, by acknowledging only sense data as a source of true knowledge, led to the marginalisation of traditional religion, to deism, and even to scepticism. The titles of some of the main works of this time speak for themselves.

Suggested readings
Bauckham, Richard, The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996).
Grenz, Stanley, Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Hunt, Anne, Trinity: Nexus of the Mysteries of Christian Faith (New York: Orbis, 2005).
Pitstick, Alyssa Lyra, Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007).
Powell, Samuel, The Trinity in German Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Jürgen, Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God (London: SCM Press, 1991), 6
Henri, Lubac, Medieval Exegesis 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998ff.).
Friedrich, Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994)
George, Lindbeck's study The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1984).
Bernard, M. G. Reardon, Hegel's Philosophy of Religion (London: Macmillan Press, 1977), 85.
Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion from the second German edition (1840) in three volumes by Speirs, Ebenezer B. (London: Routledge, 1974).
Charles, Taylor, Hegel and Modern Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 41.
William, Desmond, Hegel's God: A Counterfeit Double? (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), 152.
Wallace, William as Hegel's Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 298.
Charles, Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 494.
Karl, Barth, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956–75).
Nieuwenhove, Rik, ‘St Anselm and St Thomas Aquinas on “Satisfaction” – or How Catholic and Protestant Understandings of the Cross Differ’, Angelicum 80 (2003): 159–76
Trevor, Hart, ‘Revelation’, in Webster, John, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 49.
Rowan, Williams, ‘Barth on the Triune God’, in Sykes, Stephen, ed., Karl Barth: Studies of his Theological Methods (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 147–93.
David, Coffey, ‘Trinity’, in Marmion, Declan and Hines, Mary, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 98.
‘Trinity, Divine’, in Rahner, Karl, ed., Encyclopedia of Theology: A Concise Sacramentum Mundi (London: Burns & Oates, 2004)
‘Remarks on the Dogmatic Treatise “De Trinitate”’, in Theological Investigations, vol. iv (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966), 77–102.
Karl, Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 135
Elie, Wiesel, Night (New York: Avon Books, 1969), 75
Jürgen, Moltmann, ‘Cross, Theology of the’, in Richardson, Alan, ed., Dictionary of Christian Theology (London: SCM Press, 1983), 136.
History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology (London: SCM Press, 1991), 174.
John, O'Donnell, ‘The Trinity as Divine Community. A Critical Reflection upon Recent Theological Developments’, Gregorianum 69/1 (1988): 21
Veil-Matti, Kärkkäinen, The Trinity: Global Perspectives (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007), 115–22.
Thomas, Weinandy, Does God Suffer? (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000)
Brian, Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 58–79
Brinkmann, Bruno R., ‘The Cross in Question. I’, The Clergy Review 60 (1975): 286.
Hans Urs, Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, 7 vols. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982–9)
Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, 5 vols. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988–98)
Theo-Logic, 3 vols. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000–5)
Mark, McIntosh, Christology from within: Spirituality and the Incarnation in Hans Urs von Balthasar (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 41.
Hans Urs, Balthasar, ‘The Holy Spirit as Love’ from Explorations in Theology, vol. iii. Creator Spirit (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 128.
Hans Urs, Balthasar, A Theology of History (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 81–111.
Dalzell, Thomas G., The Dramatic Encounter of Divine and Human Freedom in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Studies in the Intercultural History of Christianity 105 (Bern: Peter Lang, 1997), 161–93.
Hans Urs, Balthasar, My Work in Retrospect (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 89.
Aristotle, Papanikolaou, Being with God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine–Human Communion (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 32.
Catholic International 7/1 (January 1996), 36–43
Yves, Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, 3 vols. (New York: Crossroad, 1997), vol. iii, 180–1.
Trevor, Hart, Faith Thinking: The Dynamics of Christian Theology (London: SPCK, 1995).