Trinitarian Theology of Prayer and Healing Essay

There has been considerable contemplation more late on the nature of Trinity and its topographic point in church life and theological thought. Feminists. liberationists. procedure minds. and more hidebound Catholic and Protestant theologists every bit good as Eastern Orthodox desire to liberate the Three from its isolation in traditional statements with the attendant deficiency of relation to practical Christian religion and life. The realisation that in the economic system of redemption we have to make with God as he is in himself has radically focused thought in a new manner on the being and act of God as triune. The dual context of redemption and release in relation to the Trinity has been the premier ground for renewed involvement in the philosophy today and in its practical deductions.

Recent greening of the Trinity has owed much to the attempts and success of theologists in puting out a broad scope of trinitarian deductions. It is as we properly understand God as triune that we win have a right position of the religion. of its philosophies. and of the relevancy of all this for every domain of human life and activity. It is in many ways remarkable that this penetration. ever latent in our traditions. has now. about all of a sudden and out of the blue. emerged as a cardinal facet of current divinity.

Current thought is really varied ; here the work will concentrate on that which relates straight a trinitarian footing and the deduction for our apprehension of the nature and end of mending. Before we go on to make this in some item in the work. we must state something about the Trinity itself as the general model for understanding spiritual diverseness. After discoursing that general model. we will bespeak some of its deductions for Christianity’s internal life.

Three means the world of one God who is three individuals. There are non three Gods someway joined together. which would be expressed tritheism. nor can one imagine the three individuals as together doing up the Deity. This would cut down the “persons” to partial Gods and intend that the Trinity was some sort of mathematical riddle. Nor can the integrity in Trinity be seen as merely a assortment of properties or flawlessnesss which constitute the being of God. Rather. the Three affirms that while each individual is entirely godly both per Se and in relation to the others. there is merely one God. God’s being is a integrity in Trinity and non otherwise.

This of course excludes the position that one can get down with a different construct of integrity to which the Three must in some step conform. It besides indicates that the being of God as one can merely be known as enigma in the actions of his grace and redemption in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit or. to set it otherwise. in disclosure and rapprochement. But if God is the 1 God as the Father directing the Son by the Holy Spirit. how make these three individuals or ways of God’s being in action express his integrity? That is the inquiry.

Two chief replies have been given but elaborated in assorted ways. The first favored by the Orthodox East and by many Western theologists today is summarized enigmatically as “being in relationship” or “being as communion” or “ontorelational unity” ( Vanhoozer 188 ) . The 2nd traditional Western position sees the individuals as inhering in the being of God as the focal point of integrity.

Christians believe God is per se relational. Redemption is Communion with the triune God. Salvation is non a realisation of pure individuality. the integrity of one absolute Self. a one without a 2nd. That spiritual terminal would be relationless. because there is nil outside the One with which to associate. Any relation of the One to something outside it could merely be a diminishment or taint of the godly flawlessness. Redemption is besides non emptiness. the dissipation of any go oning consciousness of being at all.

This excessively is a relationless terminal. In the first instance there was one absolute with nothing/no one to associate with. In this instance it is non the absence of an other that regulations out relation. but the extremist insubstantiality even of one. Alternatively of one without a 2nd to associate with. we might see this terminal as pure relation. with no “ones” — distinguishable individuals or entities — to hold the relation. These spiritual terminals differ from redemption because they exclude relation itself. seeing it as extrinsic to spiritual fulfilment. In that visible radiation. redemption appears excessively synergistic. excessively wedded to difference.

Christians believe that the apprehension of God as Trinity. the understanding whose accelerator is the embodiment of Christ. allows us to hold on cardinal characteristics of God’s character and God’s relation with us. If relationship itself is an impossible. unneeded. or counterproductive spiritual purpose. so this belief is in mistake.

But if relation is genuinely an irreducible constituent of the spiritual terminal. so word pictures of God are non merely go throughing tools. They are in some step constitutive of that terminal. Redemption is shaped by a peculiar vision of the God with whom we are in relation. Here we glimpse the manner in which Christ is built-in to redemption. both incarnating the relation with God that constitutes redemption and distinctively stand foring to us the nature of the God with whom we have communion in redemption.

The Trinity is non about degrees of Godhead being but about dimensions of God. Height. length. and breadth are characteristics of a whole organic structure and of every portion of it. and yet the three are non the same. If emanations from God or Acts of the Apostless of God are put on a ladder of being. so worlds. who are further down the ladder of creative activity. can associate merely to the rounds instantly above or below them. Ultimate deity lies further above and beyond.

If the three godly individuals of the Trinity are treated in this manner. they become degrees of being. But in fact no individual of the Trinity is a lower or earlier measure. and none is “less far in” to God. For the Christian. redemption is non go throughing beyond the Spirit to the Son or the Son to the Father. Redemption is engagement in the godly life that is the Communion among the three individuals.

The philosophy of the Trinity has its footing in God’s self-revelation in Israel and in Jesus Christ his Son by the Holy Spirit. In other words. it is to be found entirely in this disclosure as the Scriptures bear informant to it. This positive avowal carries a negative within it. Since the integrity of God is a integrity in three no other conceived or purportedly proved integrity of God is a Christian construct of the true God. Traditional philosophy has sometimes been at mistake here.

It brought a division into the whole construct of God get downing with a general philosophy of the one God and his properties on the footing of some scriptural stuff or philosophical cogent evidence and so went on to talk of God as triune. This clearly has assorted dangers which are being recognized today. It could take to the Trinity being subordinated to an already preconceived thought of God with a consequent weakening and undermining of its true nature in a modalistic manner.

Again. it could be seen as a Godhead God as Father being mostly divorced from Son and Holy Spirit so that the Father was known otherwise than by religion. whereas Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were the true objects of our belief and worship. This could convey a serious division into our construct of the Trinity. jeopardizing the equality and nature of the individuals and misconstruing their common relationships. This duality in the philosophy of God meant a existent trouble excessively in associating it to Christian life. religion. and worship.

Augustine considers what is involved in the flawlessness of the image of God in humanity when through exercising of the three of religion the head is purified and comes to contemplate God the Trinity. The image of God in the psyche is memory. apprehension and love. which is manifested ( and can ne’er be finally lost ) when the head remembers itself. loves itself and knows itself. but which is genuinely the image because it is the capacity the psyche has to retrieve. cognize and love God – and it is in such cleaving to God that the image is perfected:

When its cleaving to him has become absolute. it will be one spirit with him. . . The head will be raised to the engagement of his being. truth and cloud nine. though nil thereby be added to the being. truth and cloud nine which is its ain. In that being. joined to it in perfect felicity. it will populate a immutable life and bask the immutable vision of all that it will lay eyes on ( Cavadini 103 ) .

What is go oning here is less the soul’s acclivity to God than the soul’s subjecting to be refashioned by God: “the beginning of the image’s reforming must come from him who foremost formed it. The ego which it was able to deform. it can non of itself reform” ( Cavadini 115 ) . It is a procedure which begins in the minute of baptism. and is perfected in a long gradual procedure of repentance and endurance: “the cure’s beginning is to take the cause of the illness: and that is done through the forgiveness of wickednesss. Its promotion is the healing of the illness itself. which takes consequence by gradual advancement in the reclamation of the image” ( Cavadini 121 ) .

The soul’s return to God is the honing within it of the image of God in which it was created. It is a motion off from the “land of unlikeness” in which it finds itself as a consequence of the autumn. But Augustine emphasizes in the last book ( XV ) of De Trinitate that the similitude to God we have discovered in humanity is no equality: it is a similitude between two utterly different existences. God and the animal. and so he says. boding the linguistic communication of the 4th Lateran Council. that we must “rather discern in its step of similitude a greater unlikeness too” ( Cavadini 122 ) .

For the love of God. beware of unwellness every bit much as you can. so that every bit far as possible your ego is non the cause of any failing. . . For the love of God. command your organic structure and psyche with great attention. and maintain every bit fit as you can. Here speaks the positive. life-affirming voice of Christian spiritualty. in this instance from plague-ridden England of the 14th century. The voice is besides realistic: “should unwellness come in malice of everything. hold forbearance and delay meekly for God’s mercy” ( Peel 255 ) . Between the twin poles of the inactive credence of ineluctable agony and the active attention of wellness and work for mending. Christian spiritualty moves with changing accents. foremost in one way. so in the other.

In the 20th century. Christian spiritualty in its literature and pattern has moved in the 2nd way. demoing a more ambitious attitude towards disease. and a wider concern for human development. personal and societal. Wholeness in organic structure. head and spirit is presented as a end to which abstainers need non run counter. and should so subserve. Wholeness and sanctity. if non exactly synonymous. are regarded as related. “Properly understood. supplication is a mature act which is indispensable for the complete development of the personality. . . It is merely in supplication that we can accomplish the complete and harmonious brotherhood of organic structure. head and spirit” ( Dr Alexis Carrel. quoted in H. Caffarel 20 ) .

The embodiment is seen to hold deductions for the salvation of every facet of the world’s activity. At the same clip. in society by and large. a larger construct of wellness has begun to take clasp. as intending non simply the absence of illness. but the realisation of human potency. Progresss in clinical medical specialty. pharmacological medicine and psychopathology have helped to make a new clime of outlook. Partially through the growing of atomic natural philosophies and a changed scientific and philosophical mentality. some authors have questioned the really differentiation between the physical and the religious. as hitherto understood.

It is in this altering atmosphere that the Christian ministry of mending. as distinguishable from signifiers of ‘faith-healing’ which deny the value of scientific medical specialty. has been renewed in the churches. A fruitful meeting-point between spiritualty and medical specialty prevarications in the fact that it is the six medicatrix naturae. the recreative power of nature. which brings healing.

Doctors and sawboness do non straight heal anybody: they seek by their accomplishments to take obstructions to nature’s mending energies. as when they correct chemical instabilities in the organic structure. or take away morbid tissue. Means which touch the human spirit. such as are employed in the ministry of mending by supplication and sacrament. may every bit be seen as seeking to emancipate and accelerate by grace the God-given forces within human nature. Three facets of the topic attract attending. and developments in each can be expected.

Christian Science arose at a clip when Protestantism left small room for the instruction and pattern of religious healing ( Kelsey 69 ) . It offered a alone merchandise – blend of metaphysics with an irregular reading of Christian Bibles – that appealed to a big figure of people during the late nineteenth century. With the origin of the Pentecostal motion early in the twentieth century and its spillover into historic Christian denominations since 1950. healing was one time once more incorporated with Orthodox Christian divinity.

Despite some obvious similarities between Christian Science and mainline Christian mending groups. really small resonance exists between the two attacks to spiritual healing. Christian Science accepts as an premise that unwellness is a signifier of immorality. and all immorality is an semblance ( Peel 254 ) . Each individual has it within her/himself to counter semblance with truth. As Christian Science foundress Mary Baker wrote: “That which [ God ] creates is good. and He makes all that is made. Therefore the lone world of wickedness. illness or decease is the atrocious fact that unrealities seem existent to human. mistaking belief. until God strips off their disguise” ( Peel 256 ) .

Faith in God’s power to mend has to think with the fact that at that place look to be ‘blocks’ in a broken universe and within human personality to having God’s mending energies. Such obstructions may be moral. in the signifier of unrepented wickedness. They may besides be due to emotional perturbations caused by past ‘wounds’ to the spirit. Inner healing is concerned to convey to illume the causes of the interior hurting ; to assist the sick person to construe them right ; and to let go of the individual from the emotional clasp of the yesteryear. Prayer and speculation play a important portion in this hegira from imprisonment.

Deeper degrees of the head are reached in brooding supplication. when the focal point is upon God entirely. and the psyche waits upon him. Inner mending comes besides in corporate worship. when the regard is Godward and the believer is lifted by the Spirit out of self-centredness or narrowness of vision. Closer brotherhood with God in the deepness of the spirit therefore brings an integrating of the whole individual around the new Centre. and it is rather usual for physical wellness to be improved. Diseases are caught in a morbid society. Environment counts. for better or for worse. “It is barbarous and false to trade name every sick person as a evildoer: much agony and illness is due to the wickedness either of other individuals. or of society in general” ( Peel 269 ) .

There is in some churches a growing of less formal sorts of making out to curate to the sick in the name of Christ. alongside the sacramental ministries of Eucharist. anointing. puting on of custodies. rapprochement of penitents. and on occasion dispossession. The dedicated usage by every member of Christ of his or her personal gift of the Spirit enables the local church to go an actively healing community. Where some have a physical gift of mending through the custodies ( a phenomenon still small understood. though existent ) . they may utilize it as members of a parish squad. and are sometimes licensed by a bishop for a wider ministry.

I believe that Jesus Christ is in fact constitutive of mending. Christ is constituent of mending for all people who attain it. Christ is constituent in this manner non as some separate and extra histrion besides God. but exactly as an look of the triune life of God. Christ is one who comes from the triune life into human life but besides one who brings human life into its fullest engagement in the triune life. Christ is non extrinsic to the love of God. non merely a representation of it. but besides the working of it. Christ is in such integrity with God that Communion with God involves a cardinal relation with Christ.

Healing is constituted entirely by God’s everlasting love. Jesus does non represent healing ; Christ represents the God who does. Ordinary Christian sacraments and prophesying can merely typify God by stand foring Christ. Jesus represents God by representing these lesser representations. Whereas they represent God’s love by besides stand foring him. he represents God’s love by besides representing them. Christ’s particular function is non to represent mending but to represent the Christian symbols for it. Other faiths may hold their ain representations. The job with this analysis is that it makes “God’s everlasting love” an abstract quality and agent. some sort of anterior determination in the head of God. and downplays its personal nature.

That love is exactly a characteristic of the personal Communion that is the godly life. of which the 2nd individual of the Trinity is a constituent member. Prior to being an thought or a determination. this love is an event. And Christ. the Godhead Word. is participant in that event. constitutive of that everlasting love. Likewise the extension of this love to humanity which constitutes mending is non an abstract possibility. The way for human engagement in the triune Communion is laid in the integrity of God and humanity in Christ.

Though Christ is surely the manner. in the Christian position. Jesus is besides the life and the truth in whom we rest and grow while on the manner and at the terminal of the manner. The proposition that Christ is the exclusive Jesus of the universe is non adequately translated by stating that everyone must do usage of Jesus for at least one important minute. long plenty to negociate portion of the transition to the promised land of “salvation. ” after which clip Jesus can be discarded or replaced.

In ask foring his followings into a relation with God like his ain. Jesus presumed that those in such relation were one organic structure that they lived in him and he lived in them. merely as Christ lived in God and God in him. Jesus did non advocate his followings to travel out and independently approach God as Jesus did. Jesus invited them to portion in that relationship by virtuousness of their connexion with him. There is nil strictly instrumental about this: the images and substance are all organic. Sacramental manduction is the manner Christ saves. and it is the redemption that consequences.

Mending seems to be restored as a normal portion of the Church’s ministry and of the Christian experience. wherever the Church is alive with religion in Christ. But. as with the mission to evangelise the universe. so with the mending work of Christ in his Church. resistance abounds and the narrative is one of failure every bit good as success. God reigns. and the word is preached ‘with marks following’ . But the terminal is non yet. and in Christian perspective the entire healing of people and states delaies for the consummation of all things. when God shall be all in all.

Deep duologue with others can get down with supplication. the deepest duologue with the Ultimate Other. Within this deepest duologue. active and receptive supplication procedures proposed by the Relational Prayer Model have been related to eastern and western historical descriptions of the supplication of the Holy Name. A comparing of the method and map of the supplication of the Holy Name has revealed several similarities between eastern and western religious traditions.

These points of common land between religious traditions support the enlargement of the original Interpersonal Christian Prayer Model to account for more than a solely western religious tradition. In add-on. intercultural spiritual duologue and supplication between eastern and western religious traditions has been developed with several illustrations. Such spiritual socialization could take to farther development and/or alterations of the Relational Prayer Model.

Most modern positions on the Trinity and worship see supplication as a cardinal facet of this relationship. The transitions in the New Testament that distinguish most clearly between the Father. the Son and the Holy Spirit are those that trade with supplication. Jesus as our conciliator and peace giver is the 1 through whom we have entree by one Spirit to the Father. “It was when he was believing about supplication that Paul besides thought about how in their different ways the Son and the Spirit enable us to near the Father” ( Thompson 70 ) . While all three individuals in the Three are necessary decently to talk of God as one it is chiefly to the Father that the Son and the Spirit lead us in supplication. This is summed up by Paul when he says. “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our Black Marias shouting ‘Abba. Father’” Thompson 65 ) .

Cardinal to this is the Son. who reveals the Father. and whom. when we see. we see the Father. This leads us back to our Lord’s Prayer and his relation to God where the typical name he gives him is “Father. ” Prayer is “through Jesus Christ our Lord. ” that is. through all he was and said and did in his fife. decease. and Resurrection. He is the manner. every bit good as the truth and the life. If supplication is to the Father and through the Son. it is enabled by the Spirit. Merely the Spirit enables us to cognize God as Father or to squeal Jesus as Lord or to pray to the Father in a manner that is acceptable to him.

The function of Son and Spirit in this is deeply expressed in Romans. “Christ who died for us is now our great High Priest and Intercessor by his presence with the Father in the power of his finished work on the cross” ( Thompson 96 ) . Yet we can cognize this and be able to come in into its intending merely by the Holy Spirit. He is the One who lays hold upon our failings by his strength and intercedes for us with suspirations excessively deep for words. Through Jesus we become kids of God and this relationship is made possible. continued. and brought to its completion by “his Spirit which dwells in you” ( Thompson 98 ) . He is the gift and power of the present and the hope of immortality. It is the Spirit ( who is Godhead ) who intercedes for us.

God the Father who knows us and our failings knows his ain Holy Spirit and God. talking to us through God. as it were. prays for us and with us as the Spirit. as God wants and as supplication ought to be. At the same clip. paradoxically. it is non merely the Spirit’s supplication but ours every bit good. So close is the work of Son and Spirit in conveying us to the Father that each is spoken of as Advocate and Intercessor. The trinitarian facet of supplication has profound significance for worship. It is non seen chiefly as our work but God’s ain gift through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Thus “prayer and worship are non chiefly difficult undertakings that God sets us ; they are gifts that through his Son and in his Spirit he portions with us” ( Thompson 99 ) .

The triune God in his life is both one and three in his being and relationships. This penetration is applied in relation to the church in two countries. the local and the universal. The New Testament speaks non merely of the church but besides of the churches. By this is non meant denominations in our modern sense of the term. but the assorted ecclesiae. the assorted local communities wherever found. In this sense the churches represent the cosmopolitan church. Each peculiar fold portions in this comprehensiveness and entirety in both vicinity and catholicity. In the diverseness of churches or communities the one church appears in each topographic point.

One can set it in image signifier by stating that the whole cosmopolitan church looks out in the local church. The Conference of European Churches ( C. E. C. ) made the point clearly: “The whole church of Christ is constituted non by adding together portion church to portion church. but is expressed by the Communion of local churches in common interpenetration. Conciliar community of churches is therefore an built-in portion of the construct of the trinity” ( Bockman 89 ) . By this it means non that church can and should seek to populate by and for itself but. by its very footing and being. is one with the church universal and must show that relationship correspondent to the Trinity. in concrete structured signifier. nevertheless one may construe this.

“The primary end of the engagement of the church in the mission of God is. as expressed by Jesus in his missional authorization. to do disciples” ( Bockman 89 ) . Put otherwise. it is to convey work forces and adult females into populating family with the triune God and with one another through him. The church is therefore non a inactive merchandise of the Spirit’s work. but a dynamic instrument in the service of others. “You are God’s ain people that you may declare the fantastic workss of him who called you out of darkness into his fantastic light” ( Bockman 89 ) . The church is. on the one manus. the probationary consequence of mission but. on the other manus. it is God’s agent of it. The end of the church is therefore non itself but the universe. The church participates in God’s mission to convey to humankind righteousness and redemption and to accommodate a broken creative activity.

There are many avenues for the reading of faiths. The distinctively Christian manner base on ballss through the trinitarian moral force we have been depicting. the bosom of a Christian divinity of faiths. We saw that Trinity is a non-reductive spiritual ultimate. in whom the three individuals and their alone dealingss subsist as co-equal dimensions of a individual Communion. This is like a musical polyphonic music. a coincident. non-excluding harmoniousness of difference that constitutes one unique world. Each voice has its ain typical character by virtuousness of its relation with the others. We can every bit good state that each receives its particular voice by engagement in the unity of the whole musical work. In the three we are covering with three topics who are in return witting of each other by ground of one and the same consciousness which the three topics ‘possess’ . each in his ain proper manner.

This means that Father. Son. and Holy Spirit are witting of one another through their united consciousness and ownership of the one Godhead kernel and therein lies the integrity of God. This does non travel every bit far as either the Eastern tradition or the statement of Torrance. It is impossible to overemphasise the importance of the Christian philosophy that God is one in three individuals. This has right been called the learning distinctive of the Christian religion. that which sets the attack of Christians to the “fearful mystery” of the divinity apart from all other attacks. To be human is to be separated from God in some grade.

To be Christian. the Christian believes. is to be separated from him least. The cognition of the Trinity which we have from the New Testament is above all personal. We are introduced to the Three and invited to portion the felicity of the Godhead company. This is genuinely the great enigma of Christianity. the enigma of love. In the New Testament there is none of the farness in gestating God which today tends to divide Christians from their triune Lord.


Bockman. Peter Wilhelm “Trinity. Model of Unity – Relationship between Unity and Communion the Universal and the Local. ” inThe Reconciling Power of the Three. p. 89. Cf. Moltmann.

Cavadini. John “The Structure and Intention of Augustine’s De Trinitate. ”Augustinian Surveies23. 1992.

Dr Alexis Carrel. quoted in H. Caffarel.The Body at Prayer. London. SPCK. 1978.

Kelsey. Morton T.Psychology. Medicine & A ; Christian Healing. San Francisco: Harper & A ; Row. 1988.

Peel. Robert.Religious Healing in a Scientific Age. San Franciso: Harper & A ; Row. Publishers. 1987.

Thompson. John.Modern Trinitarian Positions. Oxford University Press: New York. 1994.

Vanhoozer. Kevin J.The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. England. 2003.


Bockman. Peter Wilhelm “Trinity. Model of Unity – Relationship between Unity and Communion the Universal and the Local. ” inThe Reconciling Power of the Three. p. 89. Cf. Moltmann.

Cavadini. John. “The Structure and Intention of Augustine’s De Trinitate. ”Augustinian Surveies23 ( 1992 ) . 103-23.

Dr Alexis Carrel. quoted in H. Caffarel.The Body at Prayer( London. SPCK. 1978 ) . 20.

Kelsey. Morton T. .Psychology. Medicine & A ; Christian Healing. ( San Francisco: Harper & A ; Row. 1988 ) . 69.

Peel. Robert.Religious Healing in a Scientific Age. ( San Franciso: Harper & A ; Row. Publishers. 1987 ) . 254-69.

Thompson. John.Modern Trinitarian Positions. ( Oxford University Press: New York. 1994 ) . 69-85.

Vanhoozer. Kevin J. .The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology. ( Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. England. 2003 ) . 188.