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Making Sense Of The Trinity: Crucial Questions By J. Erickson (Research Paper Sample)


There will be two opportunities throughout the semester for students to research one of the theological topics in greater depth. Using the “Theologian Research Guide” posted on Blackboard, pick one theologian for each paper whose name corresponds with the chosen topic. This individual's writing will serve as primary source material for this paper. Students are encouraged (but not required) to choose a figure that is part of his or her denominational heritage or a topic of interest to his or her tradition. (6-7 pages total)
First, select one of the assigned author's shorter writings (80-100 pages) appropriate to the assigned topic and explore how s/he's work shaped the theological topic. Provide a summary of this material. It may be helpful to refer to a systematic theology book (see “Systematic Theology Texts” for a list of books in our library), a theological dictionary, or another author's writing on the theologian. Such sources are intended to supplement the student's reading of the theologian, not replace reading the theologian. Students are not to use a writing that is already part of the required course readings. (3 pages)
Second, interact with the theologian's argument. Compare and contrast this with your own growing theological perspective or tradition. (3 pages)
Third, respond to ONE of the following: (1/2 page)
• Refer to the journal question used during the week this theological topic was introduced in class. How might this theologian respond to this question?
• Imagine a church or community of Christians shaped by this theologian's writings. What commitments, values, or practices might characterize these people? In other words, how might this theologian shape the lived theology of these people?
Instructors use the following rubric to assess papers:
Demonstrates understanding of the general topic /10
Explains the theologian's ideas clearly and accurately /20
Critically interacts with theologian's ideas /20
Reflects substantively on present day situation /10
Utilizes theological language and ideas /10
Uses appropriate style and syntax /10
Uses appropriate citation /10
Organizes argument and presents clear ideas /10
TOTAL /100


Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions by Millard J. Erickson
The Holy Trinity
The debate on the holy trinity is one that is as old as the bible and one that brings out some of the heated conversations. This is relative to the fact that, most of the people will simply assume that they know the basics while others are completely objected to the idea. Others simply have a vague idea of the same. It is for this reason that in his book, Making Sense of the Trinity: Three crucial questions, Millard J. Erickson, bring to the light the concept with a rather simplistic approach. This is a crucial read and one that sets the stage for the future of any debates on the topic. What is more appealing is the way that the author is able to argue out the concept with subtle simplicity even for those that are not avid readers. He simplifies the concept into three main questions; is the doctrine of the Trinity biblical? Does the doctrine of the Trinity make sense? And lastly, does the doctrine of the Trinity make any difference?
Erickson on the Trinity
Erickson as a theologian has made a significant contribution to the way that people understand the holy trinity. This is a concept that relates to Christians believing the idea that there is God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. For most people this a topic that draws some element of confusion and it this that Erickson, elaborates in his book. One of the basic elements of faith is that it requires the subjects to believe in what they have not seen (Erickson, pg. 18). As young Christians, followers are required to follow the doctrine without question. However, as is most common, this is hardly the case. We live in an age where people are used to the scientific method of questioning even basic elements such as air they breathe. People want to know why they are required to believe in the certain concept and it all means to them and ways it impacts their lives (Pritchard). It is this element that, Erickson seeks to address in his book to make sure that readers are fully aware of the concept and how it applies to faith and their lives.
For starters, the theologian is very clear on what is acceptable relative to the first question, where he refers to the bible. If a doctrine according to theologian is mentioned and taught in the Bible, then this means that is the truth and should be accepted as so (Erickson, pg. 17). To ensure that readers understand the golden standard that he sets, he brings out the biblical foundations upon which the argument is based on (Erickson, pg. 17). He clear on the fact that, it is not just the Old Testament that brings out the concept of the holy trinity but also the New Testament. He refers to the baptism of Jesus when the latter mentions that He is also God and this is a message that carried on within the Gospel of John. He has seen to come to the conclusion that there is one supreme God and there are other two persons that are the son and the Holy Spirit, who make the holy trinity (Erickson, pg. 42).
After making the argument for the biblical foundation of the holy trinity, he brings the readers to the second question which relates to the element of the doctrine making sense. This is one of the most sensitive parts of the debate as form most people, they will point out to the fact that it does not make sense to them. According to the theologian, there are those that approach the concept from one God and try to explain the three persons and there are those that try to take the three persons and try to explain the one God (Pritchard). As such, at this stage, for most believers, this is a confusing concept taking on the egg and the hen analogy. Instead of the monotheist or the tritheism approach, the autho...

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