Theology Assign Two

The Doctrine of the Trinity: Why is it so?

Part I – Précis

The Question

The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the core tenets of the Christian Faith. The question I hope to

answer through this presentation is:

What were the driving factors behind the official Church position on The Doctrine of the Trinity and

the formulation and affirmation of the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE?

What is The Doctrine of Trinity

To introduce The Doctrine of the Trinity I used article I of the Articles of Religion of the Anglican

Church, “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity”1, and “The Dogma of the Trinity” from the Catholic

Encyclopaedia2. I chose these references because of the intended audience for the presentation.

Alternate Doctrines

I then moved onto a list of some alternate doctrines (heresies) that were being argued throughout

the early Christian Church these included: Unitarianism, Binitarianism, Modalism, Gnosticism, and

Arianism discussing where they differ from the Trinitarian view of the Church.

Readings from the Early Church Fathers

In this section of the presentation I focused on two of the Church Fathers; Irenaeus of Lyons “a rule of

faith”, and arguments against Gnostics3, and Athanasius of Alexandria and his defence against

“Binitarianism” and “Arianism/universalism”4.

First Council of Nicaea

Focus then moved to the First Council of Nicaea, discussing the different arguments for and against

the affirmation of the Doctrine of the Trinity and the formulation of the Nicene Creed as the

‘Confession of Faith” for the Church.

Pattern of the Trinity in Scripture

Finally, I discussed the pattern of the Trinity in both the New and Old Testaments concentrating on

John and Matthew. In my conclusion I summarized the Doctrine using the image that shows the

different relationships between the Persons of the Trinity.

Audience

The presentation was given to a small group of mature practicing Anglicans and Roman Catholics

that I know through my work place, and my wife Carol Ann. The group all have tertiary level

education which include business, information technology, science and engineering.

Part II – Summary and Analysis

Introduction

The purpose of this part of the document is to summarise and provide an outline of the feedback

received from the participants after the completion of the presentation.

Presentation

The presentation was delivered to the group described in the précis above. During my presentation I

asked one of the participants to give me a warning 5 minutes before my expected 15 minute

timeframe, I exceeded the time limit by 2 minutes making the duration of the presentation 17 minutes.

As such the summary and conclusion of the presentation were a little rushed.

Formal Evaluation

To help evaluate my presentation style I provided a modified version of the “Presentation Evaluation

Form” which I sourced from the internet, I have provided a copy of the evaluation form as Appendix

A to this document. 5

The following is a list of categories and the average out of 5 for each of the categories

1. Introduction: 4.2

2. Organization: 4

3. Content: 4.2

4. Visual Aids: 4.4

5. Conclusion: 4.2

6. Delivery: 4.2

7. Discussion: 4.2

Several comments were provided in the General Comments section of the evaluation which I will

cover in the next section.

Discussion Points and Comments

What is the Doctrine of the Trinity?

I read the content of Article I and The Dogma of the Trinity from my notes. One of the comments on

the evaluation form was that I read the text from the slide. Not sure that with text extracts like this

that you would do anything else but read it directly, but I will ensure that next time I keep reading

from the notes to a minimum.

My Roman Catholic friend suggested that rather than use the Catholic Encyclopaedia that I should

have used the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I agree with that comment.

The general comment on my explanation was that some were still confused by the language used to

describe the Trinity and were unsure why we make it difficult to understand.

The Alternate Doctrines

There were a few comments regarding this topic, during the presentation I used the words ‘false

doctrine’ and ‘heresy’.

1. It was pointed out to me that rather than ‘false doctrine’ it was ‘alternative’ or ‘other’ belief

or doctrine. I do agree with this and it has made me think about how we use language.

2. Another comment was that the word ‘heresy’ has negative connotations. When I asked why

I was a little taken back with the answer. My friend said, “when I hear the word ‘heresy’ it

makes me think of the burning of heretics during the medieval period, and I find that very

uncomfortable”. I agree that words can be linked to the darker periods of history, but do we

stop using these words because of it, or should we be more careful where and when we use

these words?

3. Others found it very interesting that I provided a list of ‘alternate beliefs’ and a short

description, one said they were going to follow up on what other beliefs were out there

during the early Church period.

Early Church Fathers

I chose the readings by Irenaneus of Lyons6 and Athanasius of Alexandria7. The group commented

that by tying together the readings, ‘alternate doctrines’, arguments at the First Council of Nicaea,

and the formulation of the Nicene Creed helped them to understand the content of the

presentation, and the necessity for the Doctrine of Trinity.

First Council of Nicaea

As we ran out of time the group said that I could have spent a little less time on this slide and used

the slide on the Church Fathers and the Nicene Creed to emphasise the connection between the

‘alternate doctrines’ the readings, and council.

Nicene Creed

I added bold highlighting to the Nicene Creed to emphasise the link between the Irenaeus2 reading

and the shape of the creed the comments were positive and they said it helped to drive this point

home. Two of the participants felt that I should have provided an English translation of the original

Council of Nicaea creed rather than the version from the Book of Common Prayer8.

The Pattern of the Trinity in Scripture

I ran out of time to go too far into the list of scripture references I provided so I concentrated on the

Baptism of Jesus scene (Matthew 3:17, Luke 3:22) and Matthew 28:19. The general feedback was

that maybe I could put this slide in at the beginning to emphasise why the Early Church Fathers

rejected the various ‘alternate doctrine’ of the times.

General Questions and Comments

I did have some notes which I referred to on a couple of occasions one of the members of group

commented that they found the rustling of papers distracting, which I have taken on board. Another

member of the group asked me to go through the diagram again because the language and

relationships of the Persons of the Trinity was still not clear. I am not sure that it made a difference

but the group seemed satisfied with the explanation.

Conclusion

I have addressed the outline and a summary of the feedback by topic received from the attendees of

the presentation on the “Doctrine of Trinity: Why is it so?”. I have also provided a summary of the

Presentation Evaluation form provided by the participants.

Bibliography

England, The Church of. “The Book of Common Prayer, Articles of Religion.” (1662): 299-

307.

———. “The Book of Common Prayer, the Order of the Ministration of the Holy

Communion.” (1662): 143-53.

McGrath, Alister E. Editor. “The Christian Theology Reader: 25th Anniversary 5th Edition, 3.3

Irenaeus of Lyons on the Trinity (157).” (2016).

———. “The Christian Theology Reader: 25th Anniversary 5th Edition, 3.10 Athanasius of

Alexandria on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity (166).” (2016).

New Advent, ed. “The Catholic Encyclopedia, “the Dogma of the Trinity”, [Cited 18 April

2017], Online: http://www.newadvent.org/Cathen/15047a.Htm.”

“Presentation Evaluation Form Cited 13th April 2017

https://www.tidyform.com/Download/Presentation-Evaluation-Form-3.Html.”

Appendix A Presentation Evaluation Form (modified)

Presentation Evaluation Form

Presentation Grade [5= Excellent; 4 = Good; 3 = Satisfactory; 2 = Some problems; 1 = Many

problems; 0 = Did not present

Presenter: Gordon Hooker

Topic: The Doctrine of the Trinity: Why is it so?

____1. Introduction: Did the introduction capture your interest? Was necessary background

given? Was a clear purpose conveyed?

___2. Organization: Was there a clear organization? Were transitions between sections

clear and effective? Did the organization lead to a clear conclusion?

___3. Content: Did the speaker support their points? Was the supporting material relevant,

up to date?

___4. Visual Aids: Were visual aids used effectively and appropriately, carefully prepared?

___5. Conclusion: Were key points reinforced? Was a sense of closure provided? If

appropriate, was a course of action proposed?

___6. Delivery: Was the speaker natural, enthusiastic? Did they speak clearly? Were

appropriate gestures, posture, expressions used?

___7. Discussion: Were questions answered accurately, clearly, effectively?

___8. General Comments (use back):

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