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Summary Christianity claims that there is a God and that he is or consists of three persons. There is a range of views: some take the three persons to be nearly identical or to be three aspects of the one God, others take the three persons to be three distinct persons who form a unity which makes it right to say that there is one God. The texts in this category discuss how the doctrine of the trinity is to be spelled out.
Key works Davis et al 1999 contains recent articles about the trinity. Swinburne 1994 contains a social theory of the trinity. Brower & Rea 2005 discusses material constitution and the trinity.
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  1. Marilyn McCord Adams (2008). The Metaphysics of the Trinity in Some Fourteenth Century Franciscans. Franciscan Studies 66 (1):101 - 168.
  2. James Anderson (2005). In Defence of Mystery: A Reply to Dale Tuggy. Religious Studies 41 (2):145-163.
    In a recent article, Dale Tuggy argues that the two most favoured approaches to explicating the doctrine of the Trinity, Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, are unsatisfactory on either logical or biblical grounds. Moreover, he contends that appealing to ‘mystery’ in the face of apparent contradiction is rationally and theologically unacceptable. I raise some critical questions about Tuggy's assessment of the most relevant biblical data, before defending against his objections the rationality of an appeal to mystery in the face of (...)
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  3. Maria Rosa Antognazza (2001). Leibniz de Deo Trino: Philosophical Aspects of Leibniz's Conception of the Trinity. Religious Studies 37 (1):1-13.
    This paper discusses Leibniz's Trinitarian doctrine in the light of his philosophy, as revealed by a set of virtually unstudied texts. The first part of the paper examines Leibniz's defence of the Trinity against the charge of contradiction as a necessary precondition to the development of his own conception of the Trinity. The second part discusses some of the key features of Leibniz's Trinitarian doctrine, notably his conception of person, the analogy between the human mind and the Trinity, and the (...)
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  4. Maria Rosa Antognazza (2001). The Defence of the Mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation: An Example of Leibniz's 'Other' Reason. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 9 (2):283 – 309.
    In this paper I will discuss certain aspects of Leibniz's theory and practice of 'soft reasoning' as exemplified by his defence of two central mysteries of the Christian revelation: the Trinity and the Incarnation. By theory and practice of 'soft' or 'broad' reasoning, I mean the development of rational strategies which can successefully be applied to the many areas of human understanding which escape strict demonstration, that is, the 'hard' or 'narrow' reasoning typical of mathematical argumentation. These strategies disclose an (...)
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  5. H. E. Baber (2008). Trinity, Filioque and Semantic Ascent. Sophia 47 (2):149 - 160.
    It is difficult to reconcile claims about the Father's role as the progenitor of Trinitarian Persons with commitment to the equality of the persons, a problem that is especially acute for Social Trinitarians. I propose a metatheological account of the doctrine of the Trinity that facilitates the reconciliation of these two claims. On the proposed account, ‘Father’ is systematically ambiguous. Within economic contexts, those which characterize God's relation to the world, ‘Father’ refers to the First Person of the Trinity; within (...)
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  6. Allan Bäck (1998). Scotus on the Consistency of the Incarnation and the Trinity. Vivarium 36 (1):83-107.
    Medieval theologians discussed the logical structure of reduplicative propositions in the midst of their discussions of the Incarnation and the Trinity. Aquinas has the usual medieval analyzes of reduplicative propositions: the specificative and the strictly reduplicative. But neither analysis resolves successfully the problems of the consistency of the statements about God while avoiding making the Trinity or the Incarnation a merely accidental feature of Him. However, Scotus introduces another analysis: abstractive. I shall conclude that Scotus’s view of reduplication, one, if (...)
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  7. John Barresi (2006). On Earth As It Is in Heaven: Trinitarian Influences on Locke's Account of Personal Identity. The Pluralist 1 (1):110 - 128.
    Locke’s concepts of person and self as they first appeared in the 1694 essay were not original to him but had already appeared in the Trinitarian controversy in England in the early 1690s. In particular, William Sherlock, who in 1690 argued that the Trinity might be understood as composed of three distinct self-conscious minds or persons in one God, previously used not only concepts but also phrases that Locke used in his definition of person. Both Sherlock and Locke defined person (...)
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  8. Timothy W. Bartel (1988). The Plight of the Relative Trinitarian. Religious Studies 24 (2):129 - 155.
    SOME PHILOSOPHERS RESORT TO RELATIVE IDENTITY IN ORDER TO DEFEND THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY AGAINST ACCUSATIONS OF INCOHERENCE: THEY CLAIM THAT FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT ARE NUMERICALLY THE SAME DEITY BUT ALSO NUMERICALLY DISTINCT PERSONS. I ARGUE THAT THEIR CLAIM IS EITHER INCOHERENT OR IMPOSSIBLE TO MOTIVATE. I ALSO ARGUE THAT THE SOCIAL INTERPRETATION OF THE TRINITY, ACCORDING TO WHICH FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT ARE DISTINCT "SIMPLICITER", IS NOT OBVIOUSLY UNORTHODOX.
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  9. Werner Beierwaltes (1994). Unity and Trinity in Dionysius and Eriugena. Hermathena 157:1 - 20.
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  10. John Bligh & J. S. (1960). Richard of St Victor's de Trinitate: Augustinian or Abelardian? Heythrop Journal 1 (2):118–139.
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  11. Paul Richard Blum (2004). Trinity and Triangle -- Giordano Bruno's Secularizing of the Cusanian Trinity. Soter 14 (42):41 - 48.
    Nicholas of Cusa (1402-1464) explored the boundaries of human reason for the sake of making religious belief believable. Unwillingly, he became a milestone in the process of rationalizing Christian theology. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is a proof to this perspective by the way he makes use of Cusanus’s approach. In his ’Spaccio de la bestia trionfante’, Bruno discusses Cusanus’s attempts at the geometrical problem of squaring the circle. Bruno not only promotes his atomistic geometry, he also uses the metaphoric meaning of (...)
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  12. Boethius, The Trinity is One God Not Three Gods.
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  13. Bracken (1978). Process Philosophy and Trinitarian Theology. Process Studies 8 (4):217 - 230.
    RECENT THEOLOGICAL SPECULATION ON THE TRINITY HAS CONCEIVED THE DIVINE NATURE AS AN INTERPERSONAL PROCESS. WHITEHEADIAN PHILOSOPHY MAY POSSIBLY BE USEFUL HERE. ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT NOT ONLY ACTUAL ENTITIES, BUT LIKEWISE WHITEHEADIAN SOCIETIES POSSESS AN ONTOLOGICAL UNITY AND EXERCISE AN AGENCY PROPER TO THEMSELVES, THEN THE TRINITY MAY BE VIEWED AS A DEMOCRATICALLY ORGANIZED STRUCTURED SOCIETY WITH EACH OF THE DIVINE PERSONS AS A SUBORDINATE PERSONALLY ORDERED SOCIETY OF ACTUAL OCCASIONS.
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  14. Joseph A. Bracken & J. S. (1974). The Holy Trinity as a Community of Divine Persons, I. Heythrop Journal 15 (2):166–182.
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  15. Joseph A. Bracken & J. S. (1974). The Holy Trinity as a Community of Divine Persons, II Person and Nature in the Doctrine of God. Heythrop Journal 15 (3):257–270.
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  16. Jeffrey Brower (2004). Trinity. In The Cambridge Companion to Abelard. Cambridge Univ Pr.
    This article provides a sympathetic treatment of Abelard’s account of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It argues that the key to Abelard’s account lies in his ingenious defense of a form of numerical sameness without identity--a relation whose application to the Trinity he justifies on the grounds that it must be invoked to explain familiar cases of material constitution. The conclusion is that, although Abelard’s discussion provides the resources to establish the coherence of the Trinity, his attempt to reconcile (...)
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  17. Jeffrey E. Brower (2004). The Problem with Social Trinitarianism: A Reply to Wierenga. Faith and Philosophy 21 (3):295-303.
    In a recent article, Edward Wierenga defends a version of Social Trinitarianism according to which the Persons of the Trinity form a unique society of really distinct divine beings, each of whom has its own exemplification of divinity. In this paper, I call attention to several philosophical and theological difficulties with Wierenga’s account, as well as to a problem that such difficulties pose for Social Trinitarianism generally. I then briefly suggest what I take to be a more promising approach to (...)
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  18. Jeffrey E. Brower & Michael Rea (2005). Material Constitution and the Trinity. Faith and Philosophy 22 (1):57-76.
    As is well known, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity poses a serious philosophical problem. On the one hand, it affirms that there are three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each of whom is God. On the other hand, it says that there is one and only one God. The doctrine therefore pulls us in two directions at once—in the direction of saying that there is exactly one divine being and in the direction of saying that there is more than (...)
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  19. Jeffrey Brower & Michael Rea, Understanding the Trinity.
    The doctrine of the Trinity poses a deep and difficult problem. On the one hand, it says that there are three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that each of these Persons “is God”. On the other hand, it says that there is one and only one God. So it appears to involve a contradiction. It seems to say that there is exactly one divine being, and also that there is more than one. How are we to make sense of (...)
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  20. David Brown (1999). Colin E. Gunton the Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998). Pp.×+246. £14.95 Pbk. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 35 (4):493-504.
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  21. Oleg V. Bychkov (2008). What Does Beauty Have to Do with the Trinity? From Augustine to Duns Scotus. Franciscan Studies 66 (1):197 - 212.
    The issue of why God, the Trinity and Christ in Christianity can be called "beautiful" has been muddled in literature on theological aesthetics. John Duns Scotus’s detailed discussion of relations within the Trinity helps resolve this issue. The Trinity can be called "beautiful" in at least three senses, depending on whether one considers Trinitarian relations at all, whether one looks at the relation of equality, or whether one analyzes relations of origin.
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  22. James Cain (2006). Trinity and Consistency. Faith and Philosophy 23 (1):45-54.
    P. T. Geach has argued that it is impossible to demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is consistent. I try to show why -- on a common understanding of the notion of consistency -- his reasoning is flawed and why, on Geach’s own principles, one should expect that if the doctrine of the Trinity is true then it will be possible to prove that the doctrine is consistent, and it will be possible to do this in a way that (...)
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  23. James Cain (1989). The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Logic of Relative Identity. Religious Studies 25 (2):141 - 152.
    I EXPLORE ONE WAY IN WHICH THE THEORY OF RELATIVE IDENTITY (DEVELOPED ALONG LINES SUGGESTED BY GEACH’S WRITINGS) CAN BE USED TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS IN TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE. THIS INCLUDES A DISCUSSION OF REDUPLICATIVE PROPOSITIONS.
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  24. Brandon Carey (2011). Social Trinitarianism and Polytheism. Religious Studies 47 (1):97 - 107.
    Social Trinitarians attempt to solve the logical problem of the Trinity by claiming that there are three numerically distinct divine persons. A common objection to this view is that it is seemingly committed to the existence of multiple Gods and is therefore polytheistic. I consider Edward Wierenga’s response to this objection, as well as two other possible responses, and show that each faces serious philosophical problems. I conclude that, in the absence of a better method of distinguishing the property of (...)
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  25. Charles J. Cassini & GLoria L. Schaab (2009). Transcendentals and Trinity. Heythrop Journal 50 (4):658-668.
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  26. Kelly James Clark (1996). Trinity or Tritheism? Religious Studies 32 (4):463 - 476.
    The focus of this paper is the social trinitarian account in Richard Swinburne's "The Christian God." After setting out the route Swinburne follows in reaching his conclusions about the Godhead, I endeavour to show two things: (i) that his account does not avoid the charge of tritheism and thus is not faithful to key elements in the Christian creeds; (ii) the philosophical moves behind his conclusions are not compelling if, as we can, we challenge his assumptions about divine necessity. A (...)
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  27. William Lane Craig (2006). Trinity Monotheism Once More: A Response to Daniel Howard-Snyder. Philosophia Christi 8 (1):101 - 113.
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  28. William Lane Craig (2005). Does the Problem of Material Constitution Illuminate the Doctrine of the Trinity? Faith and Philosophy 22 (1):77-86.
    Michael Rea and Jeffery Brower have offered a provocative new model of the Trinity on the analogy of the Aristotelian solution to the problem of material constitution. Just as a fist and a hand can be distinct entities composed of a common matter and yet numerically the same object, so the persons of the Trinity can be distinct entities (persons) composed of a common "matter" (the divine essence) and yet numerically the same object (God). I express doubts about the degree (...)
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  29. Richard Cross (2003). Duns Scotus on Divine Substance and the Trinity. Medieval Philosophy and Theology 11 (02):181-201.
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  30. Richard Cross (2002). Two Models of the Trinity? Heythrop Journal 43 (3):275–294.
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  31. Richard Brian Davis (2002). Haecceities, Individuation and the Trinity: A Reply to Keith Yandell. Religious Studies 38 (2):201-213.
    In this paper I reply to Keith Yandell's recent charge that Anselmian theists cannot also be Trinitarians. Yandell's case turns on the contention that it is impossible to individuate Trinitarian members, if they exist necessarily. Since the ranks of Anselmian Trinitarians includes the likes of Alvin Plantinga, Robert Adams, and Thomas Flint, Yandell's claim is of considerable interest and import. I argue, by contrast, that Anselmians can appeal to what Plantinga calls an essence or haecceity – a property essentially unique (...)
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  32. Stephen T. Davis (1999). A Somewhat Playful Proof of the Social Trinity in Five Easy Steps. Philosophia Christi 1 (2):103 - 105.
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  33. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O'Collins (eds.) (1999). The Trinity. Oxford UP.
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  34. John Dillon (1989). Logos and Trinity: Patterns of Platonist Influence on Early Christianity IN The Philosophy in Christianity. In . Cambridge Univ Pr.
    A study of the influence of Platonism on two central areas of Early Christian doctrine, the relation of God the Son to the Father, and the mutual relations of the persons of the Trinity. In the former case, logos-theory and the figure of the demiurge are important; the latter, particularly Porphyry’s theory of the relation between Being, Life and Mind.
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  35. Einar Duenger Bohn (2011). The Logic of the Trinity. Sophia 50 (3):363-374.
    Roughly, the problem of the Trinity is the problem of how God can be one and yet be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three, not one. That one thing is identical with three distinct things seems to violate traditional laws of identity. I propose a solution to this problem according to which it is just an ordinary claim of one-many identity. For example, one pair of shoes is identical with two shoes; and my one body (...)
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  36. E. Feser (1997). Has Trinitarianism Been Shown to Be Coherent? Faith and Philosophy 14 (1):87-97.
    Macnamara, La Palme Reyes, and Reyes have recently claimed to have shown decisively that the doctrine of the Trinity is internally consistent. They claim, furthermore, that their account does not commit them to any exotic emendations of standard logical theory. The paper demonstrates that they have established neither of these claims. In particular, it is argued that the set of statements they show to be consistent in fact expresses Sabellianism, not Trinitarianism; and that they can avoid this result only via (...)
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  37. Lewis S. Ford (1975). Process Trinitarianism. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 43:199 - 213.
    CLASSICAL THEISM HAS USED THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY TO EXPRESS GOD’S SIMULTANEOUS TRANSCENDENCE OF, AND IMMANENCE WITHIN, THE WORLD, BUT HERE A TWOFOLD DISTINCTION, SUCH AS THAT PROPOSED BY RICHARDSON OR HARTSHORNE, WILL DO: GOD AS ABSOLUTE AND GOD AS RELATED. WHITEHEAD HAS SEEN A DOUBLE PROBLEM, FOR THE WORLD ALSO TRANSCENDS, AND IS IMMANENT WITHIN, THE WORLD. FOR THIS DOUBLE PROBLEM A THREEFOLD DISTINCTION IS NECESSARY: THE PRIMORDIAL ENVISAGEMENT, THAT DIVINE INSTANTIATION OF CREATIVITY WHICH UTTERLY TRANSCENDS THE WORLD, (...)
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  38. Peter Forrest (1998). Divine Fission: A New Way of Moderating Social Trinitarianism. Religious Studies 34 (3):281-297.
    This paper is a contribution to the programme of moderating Social Trinitarianism to achieve a fairly orthodox result. I follow Swinburne in relying heavily on divine thisnessless and in the important speculation that the Trinity arose from a primordial 'unitarian' God. In this paper I explain why I disagree with Swinburnes's account of how the Trinity came into being and I propose an alternative in which the primordial God fissions into three divine persons for the sake of a loving community.
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  39. Michael Gorman (2000). Uses of the Person-Nature Distinction in Thomas's Christology. Recherches de Théologie Et Philosophie Médiévales 67 (1):58-79.
    Thomas Aquinas considers the distinction between nature and person indispensable for Christology. Failure to appreciate this distinction is, he thinks, the root of Christological heresy. Surprisingly, however, Thomas gives us little help in understanding how the distinction is to be used. Nor have his commentators discussed the matter adequately. As I shall try to show, Thomas has a variety of uses for this distinction, some more helpful than others. I will first explain the person-nature distinction as Thomas conceives it, and (...)
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  40. Christopher B. Gray (1993). Bonaventure's Proof of Trinity. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 67 (2):201-217.
    Bonaventure’s third distinction in the first book of his ’Commentary on the Sentences’ is the focus of argument, after situating the question within contemporary Bonaventure interpretation and current Trinity philosophy. It is argued that Bonaventure had sufficient philosophical grounds to conclude to the existence of Trinity from its image in memory, intelligence and will. Suggestions are made for why he did not do so.
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  41. William Hasker (2011). Deception and the Trinity: A Rejoinder to Tuggy. Religious Studies 47 (1):117 - 120.
    Dale Tuggy argues that his divine-deception argument against social Trinitarianism remains unscathed, in spite of my recent objections. I maintain that his argument is question-begging and exegetically weak, and does not succeed in refuting social Trinitarianism.
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  42. William Hasker (2010). Constitution and the Trinity. Faith and Philosophy 27 (3):321-329.
    Jeffrey Brower and Michael Rea have proposed a model for the Trinity using a particular understanding of the relation of material constitution. I examine this model in detail and conclude that it cannot succeed. I then suggest, but do not fully develop, a model of the Trinity using an alternative notion of constitution.
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  43. William Hasker (2010). Objections to Social Trinitarianism. Religious Studies 46 (4):421 - 439.
    This article reviews a number of objections to social Trinitarianism that have been presented in the recent literature, especially objections alleging that social Trinitarianism is not truly monotheistic. A number of the objections are found to be successful so far as they go, but they apply only to some versions of social Trinitarianism and not to all. Objections to social Trinitarianism as such, on the other hand, are not successful. The article concludes with a proposal for a social Trinitarian conception (...)
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  44. William Hasker (2009). A Leftovian Trinity? Faith and Philosophy 26 (2):154-166.
    Brian Leftow has proposed a “Latin” doctrine of the Trinity according to which “the Father just is God,” and so also for the Son and the Spirit. I argue that Leftow’s doctrine as he presents it really does have the consequence that Father, Son, and Spirit are all identical, a consequence that is inconsistent with orthodox Trinitarianism. A fairly minor modification would enable Leftow to avoid this untoward consequence. But the doctrine as modified will still retain a strongly modalistic flavor: (...)
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  45. Paul Helm (1998). Time and Trinity. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), Questions of Time and Tense. Clarendon Press. 251.
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  46. Daniel Howard-Snyder, Trinity. The Routledge Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This 9,000+ word entry briefly assesses five models of the Trinity, those espoused by (i) Richard Swinburne, (ii) William Lane Craig, (iii) Brian Leftow, (iv) Jeff Brower and Michael Rea, and (v) Peter van Inwagen.
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  47. Daniel Howard-Snyder (2003). Trinity Monotheism. Philosophia Christi 5 (2):375 - 403.
    Reprinted in Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity, Oxford, 2009, eds Michael Rea and Thomas McCall. In this essay, I assess a certain version of ’social Trinitarianism’ put forward by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, ’trinity monotheism’. I first show how their response to a familiar anti-Trinitarian argument arguably implies polytheism. I then show how they invoke three tenets central to their trinity monotheism in order to avoid that implication. After displaying these tenets more fully, I argue (...)
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  48. Leroy T. Howe (1981). Ontology, Belief, and the Doctrine of the Trinity. Sophia 20 (1):5 - 16.
    IN THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION, IT IS GENERALLY AGREED THAT THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY REPRESENTS CHRISTIANITY’S MOST CAREFULLY ARTICULATED CONCEPTUALIZATION OF DIVINE BEING. AS PAUL TILLICH HAS POINTED OUT, TRINITARIAN "THINKING" IS PRESENT IN MANY RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS, BUT THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A "DOCTRINE" OF THE TRINITY TO BE FOUND EXCEPT IN CHRISTIANITY. THIS ESSAY ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THAT, PRECISELY AS DOCTRINE, TRINITARIANISM REPRESENTS A UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO HUMANKIND’S REFLECTION ABOUT TRANSCENDENT REALITY.
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  49. G. E. Hughes (1963). The Doctrine of the Trinity. Sophia 2 (3):1 - 12.
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  50. S. J. John J. O'donnell (1982). The Doctrine of the Trinity in Recent German Theology. Heythrop Journal 23 (2):153–167.
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