The Philosopher’s Trinity: Philosophical Parallels to the Doctrine of the Trinity
One of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith happens to be one of the most mysterious: the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity, despite its seeming contrariety to reason, has seen several philosophical parallels—divine triads resembling the Christian
doctrine but lacking a basis in divine revelation. In this paper, I analyze such triads, as well as their historical-theological counterparts, in an attempt to identify the merit and limitations of pure reason in Trinitarian theology. I specifically examine the work of Plotinus and Augustine, Hegel and Rahner, and several theologians utilizing contemporary philosophical developments in Trinitarian theology. Ultimately, I conclude that while reason apart from divine revelation may produce a system approximating the fundamental elements of the Christian Trinity, there remain several components inaccessible to philosophy alone. Additionally, I suggest that the discussions concerning reason and revelation have important implications for the relationship between the ‘economic’ and ‘immanent’ Trinities.