‘Trinity’ Andrei Rublev (1360-1427)

Course Description

The greatest mystery of the Christian faith is the mystery of the Trinity. All the other mysteries God has revealed concern what he has done for us, whether these be Creation, Redemption or even the Incarnation. The Trinity on the other hand speaks of who God is in himself. From all eternity God has been a Trinity of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Without a correct understanding of the mystery of the Trinity we will struggle to understand what the Church has consistently taught about all the other mysteries revealed by God. For instance, if we think that the doctrine of the Trinity simply means that there are three names for God, “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit,” but that he is really only one person, then we will not be able to understand the Incarnation. For we could not possibly see that God the Father (the first Person of the Trinity) has sent his only-begotten Son (the Second Person of the Trinity) through the power of the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the Trinity) into the world for our salvation. Such a concept simply wouldn’t make sense. Therefore, since the Trinity is the greatest mystery, it is also the most important mystery that God has revealed.

In this course we will begin by looking at what is known as the Simplicity of God. This does not mean that God is lacking in intelligence. Rather, it means that God is without parts: i.e., he is not composed. God could not have any composition in him, for if he did he would require something to have existed before him to have composed those parts together in him. For this reason too, God cannot possibly be created, nor could he have any physicality about him. In other words, God must be without matter; he is not a body. After looking at God’s simplicity we will look his unity. Since there are no parts in God he must be completely one! In other words, there cannot be many gods. These two truths, the simplicity and the unity of God, can be philosophically demonstrated from reason, unassisted by any special Revelation given by God.

Once these fundamental truths of God have been established the course will turn its attention by looking at the essential truth God has revealed about himself. We will discover that despite his simplicity and unity, there are three really distinct divine Persons in God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is something we could never have known unless God had revealed it to us. Not even the greatest philosopher or wisest sage could have reasoned to this truth about the inner life of God.

The course will not only look at the inner life that God has revealed about himself but it will also investigate how God revealed his life to us throughout human history: this is otherwise known as the Divine Economy. We will see how the Trinity of Persons in God was implicitly revealed in the Old Testament and only later, with Jesus in the New Testament, did God fully and explicitly reveal himself as the Trinity of Persons. We will also look at the important Councils of the Church that defined and clarified the doctrine of the Trinity.

So come and join us for this enthralling course on the Trinity and the Divine Economy!

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the Church’s teaching on the Trinity.
  2. To see the necessity of the Simplicity and Unity of God.
  3. To gain an appreciation of the Divine Economy through which God has revealed himself in Salvation History.
  4. To learn about the three Divine Persons in the Trinity and their relation to one another.
  5. To fall more deeply in love with each of the three Divine Persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Cantalamessa, Raniero. Contemplating the Trinity: The Path to the Abundant Christian Life. Translated by Marsha Daigle-Williamson. Frederick, MD: Word Among Us Press, 2007.

Emery, Giles. The Trinity: An Introduction to Catholic Doctrine on the Triune God. Translated by Matthew Levering. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2011.

Popular Level Reading:

Aquinas, Thomas. Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas. Edited by Paul A Böer Sr. Translated by Rev. Joseph B. Collins. Veritatis Splendor Publications, 2012.

Kelly, Joseph F. The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: A History. Collegeville, MN: the Liturgical Press, 2009.

Ratzinger, Joseph. The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God. Translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

_________. Introduction to Christianity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

Sheed, Frank. Theology and Sanity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Hombush: St Pauls, 1994.

_________. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Emery, Giles. Trinity on Aquinas. Florida: Sapientia Press, 2006.

_________. The Trinitarian Theology of St Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Francesca Aran Murphy. Oxford: Oxford

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aquinas, Thomas. ‘Light of Faith’: The Compendium of Theology. Sophia Institute, 1993. (Reprint of Herder edition 1958).

_________. Summa theologiæ, vol. 1. Westminster, Merryland: Christian Classics, 1981.

Augustine of Hippo. The Trinity (De Trinitate). Translated by Edmund Hill. New York: New City Press, 2012.

Ayers, Lewis, ed. The Trinity: Classic and Contemporary Readings. New York: Blackwell, 2000.

Davis, Stephen T., David Kendall, Gerald O’Collins, eds. The Trinity: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Trinity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

De Margerie, Bertrand. The Christian Trinity in History. Translated by Edmund J. Fortman. Still River, Mass.: St Bede’s Publications, 1982.

Fortman, Edmund J. The Triune God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1972.

Hill, William J. The Three-Personed God: The Trinity as a Mystery of Salvation. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1982.

O’Collins, Gerald. The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity. New York: Paulist Press, 1999.

Dauphinais, Michael and Matthew Levering (ed.). Reading John with St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Exegesis and Speculative Theology. Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2011.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. The Trinity and God the Creator: A Commentary on St. Thomas’ Theological Summa, Ia, q.27-119. Translated by Frederic C. Eckhoff. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1952.

_________. Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought. Translated by Patrick Cummins. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1950. (Revised Printing: Ex Fontibus Company, 2012).

Levering, Matthew. Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

McDonough, William K. The Divine Family: The Trinity and Our Life in God. New York: Macmillian, 1963.

Olson, Roger E. Christopher A. Hall. The Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.

Toon, Peter, and James D. Spiceland, (eds.). One God in Trinity: An Analysis of the Primary Dogma of Christianity. Westchester, Ill.: Cornerstone Books, 1980.