Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 2, 1998 - Pages 1-18
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most difficult and mysterious Christian doctrines. For one thing, the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. Although the New Testament many times refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together as a group, nowhere can we find the word “trinity” to describe their relations. “Trinity” is a technical term coined in a later era. Theophilus of Antioch in the second century was the first to use the word trias in Greek, and Tertullian in the beginning of the third century used the word trinitas in Latin.
Since the doctrine of the Trinity is a central doctrine in Christianity, we are willing to make a concession and accept this non-biblical term as authoritative. But there is yet a second difficulty even more disturbing than the first, for the word contains a numerical contradiction. The contradiction is evident when the word intends to say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each God, and also at the same time that there is only one God. The three are equal to the one. This is beyond intellectual comprehension. Hence the doctrine of the Trinity has been called a mysterium logicum. Thomas Aquinas decided that this doctrine belongs to revealed theology which is to be accepted by faith beyond reason.
The doctrine of the Trinity is thus truly difficult to comprehend. Despite its central position in Christian theology, therefore, it has long tended not to be dealt with very openly. In the words of a contemporary Catholic theologian, "Among the doctrines and symbols of Christianity perhaps none has been subject to theological neglect as that of the Trinity" due to its received status as a mystery. According to another contemporary theologian, one widespread reaction to the doctrine of the Trinity today is "one of hostility, dismissal or indifference" because this inherited dogma is "of no interest or relevance the modern mind."
The present essay will attempt to solve the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity, first by analyzing why it became a mystery historically, and then by explaining the Unification doctrine of the Trinity, which offers a good solution. By so doing, we aim to restore the original central importance of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which should never be abandoned as an unintelligible or troublesome thing. We must reach its essence and understand what it was intended to explain. If we do so, we will be able to see what Christianity originally sought to accomplish through this doctrine.
In this century, theologians including Karl Barth, Karl Rahner and Jürgen Moltmann revived the doctrine of the Trinity by making it more relevant to the domain of creation. This was an important phenomenon from the standpoint of restoring the original importance of the doctrine. Hence, the present essay will also assess and appreciate their new views on the Trinity from the viewpoint of the Unification doctrine of the Trinity.
1. Why the Doctrine of the Trinity Became a Mystery
The reason the doctrine of the Trinity became a mystery, beyond intellectual comprehension, stems from the Church’s combat with the two heresies of Monarchianism in the third century.
Monarchianism, in describing the relations of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, sought to defend the unity of God and his sole rule or monarchy (monarchia). In so doing, it had as its laudable motive to combat the errors of pagan polytheism. Unfortunately, perhaps even because of its good motive, Monarchianism ended up being heretical. Monarchianism had two different schools: Modalistic Monarchianism and Dynamistic Monarchianism. Their positions can be described concisely as follows: Modalistic Monarchianism defended the unity of God by maintaining that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three different successive modes of one and the same God. As modes of God the three are all one and the same and equally divine. By contrast, Dynamistic Monarchianism defended the unity of God by regarding the Father alone as God and deciding that the Son and the Holy Spirit are merely creatures, although very close to God. Modalistic Monarchianism, because of its teaching of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three successive modalities of the same God, held that God the Father suffered as the Son at the time of the crucifixion. Hence this Monarchian school is also called Patripassianism. Dynamistic Monarchianism asserted that the Son, a created man subordinate to God the Father, received a power (dynamis) from the Father at the time of his baptism to be adopted as the Son of God. Hence this school is also called Subordinationism or Adoptionism.
These two Monarchian schools had a laudable purpose to defend the unity of God, but their views on the Son sounded extreme to many in the Church. The former regarded the Son as one mode of God himself, neglecting his human nature, whereas the latter viewed the Son merely as a man, disregarding his divine nature. Christian leaders such as Hippolytus vigorously opposed both schools.
Historically, Modalistic Monarchianism became more popular than Dynamistic Monarchianism. Even so, the former was still a heresy in the eyes of the Church, which therefore sought to refute it. Tertullian’s refutation was outstanding and accepted by the Church. In a nutshell, his refutation rejected both Monarchian schools, going beyond their two extreme positions to pioneer a middle position belonging to neither of the two schools. As will be seen, this middle position turned out to be obscure and difficult (perhaps profound, if taken positively). In our opinion, this is the reason why the Christian doctrine of the Trinity became a mystery beyond intellectual comprehension.
2. Tertullian’s Doctrine of the Trinity
The trinitarian position of Tertullian was presented after he left the Church to join a heretical spiritual group called the Montanists, yet even so it became the orthodox formulation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The mainstream of the Church, being unable to accept either of the two Monarchian schools, thought that Tertullian’s formulation succeeded in properly representing Church teaching by avoiding both. He first used such terms as persona and trinitas which became indispensable in later formulations of the doctrine.
Tertullian first refuted Modalistic Monarchianism. He complained that Modalistic Monarchianism favored the monarchy of God over his dispensation or economy (oikonomia). He asserted that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not one and the same, as the Modalistic view suggested, but three persons (tres personae) which are distinct from one another in the divine economy. According to Tertullian, this distinction (distinctio) among the three persons of the Trinity can be clearly understood and definitively established in the context of the divine economy in which the salvific activities of the Trinity historically occur. In this sense, the word "person" (persona), as used by Tertullian, assumed much more individuality than the Modalistic word "mode."
What we have to know carefully here, however, is that the Latin word persona in the days of Tertullian never meant what the modern English word “person” means, i.e., a self-conscious individual person. The term meant only legal ownership or a mask used at the theater. According to Tertullian, therefore, there is no separation (separatio) among the three persons (tres personae), although there is a clear distinction (distictio) among them, given the divine economy. The three persons are of one substance (una substantia). In this way Tertullian was also able to criticize the error of Dynamistic Monarchianism.
To explain his own position further, Tertullian gave illustrations from nature, referring to the relations of root, tree and fruit, of fountain, river and stream, and of sun, ray and apex. In each of these cases, the three elements involved are distinctly three by procession, but they are inseparable from one another because they are correlatively joined. To these relations he likened those of the three persons, which he called trinitas, Trinity.
3. The Doctrine of the Trinity after Tertullian
The trinitarian formulation presented by Tertullian determined the course of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity for centuries to come. The terms he coined, una substantia and tres personae, had a considerable influence on the Councils of Nicea (325) and of Constantinople (381), the first two Ecumenical Councils in the history of Christianity. The Council of Nicea affirmed the consubstantiality (homoousion) of the Father and the Son against Arianism, while the Council of Constantinople in turn upheld the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son against Semi-Arianism. The Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa), who were instrumental in the decision of the Council of Constantinople, made a distinction between the two Greek words of ousia and hypostasis, having them mean substance and person, respectively. They made their distinction in accordance with the thought of Tertullian because they wanted to maintain that God has only one ousia (substance) but three hypostases (persons). Since the time of the Cappadocian Fathers many people have made various statements about the Trinity, but the fundamental trinitarian teaching about one substance and three persons has never altered.
But what does it really mean to say that God has one substance, while there are three distinct persons? How can there be three distinct persons, each one God, and yet be just one God? It seems that this notion cannot escape the apparent numerical contradiction between the threeness and the oneness of God. This problem was newly created by Tertullian and his followers. Neither of the two schools of Monarchianism had this problem; for Modalistac Monarchianism the oneness had the priority, while for Dynamistic Monarchianism the threeness had the priority. The problem was created because Tertullian avoided both Monarchian schools and came up with a middle position which turned out to be rather unintelligible: "By way of a quick evaluation, we note that there is something of a vagueness about this view of the Trinity [by Tertullian]. Any effort to come up with a more exact understanding of just what it means will prove disappointing." With Tertullian’s formulation, the doctrine of the Trinity became a difficult mystery.
At least three significant attempts were made during the early centuries of Christian history to solve the problem of the Trinity’s numerical contradiction. Yet each one ended up compromising the real distinction among the three persons by securing some kind of additional unity among them in view of the one substance of God. Therefore, each of these attempts ended up with a tendency towards Modalistic Monarchianism, leading to a strong tendency in the Latin trinitarian tradition to emphasize the intradivine unity of the three persons in God. Hence none of them really succeeded in solving the problem. Let us briefly look at these attempts, however.
One attempt to address the problem, put forth by Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, was to propose the mutual indwelling or interpenetration of the three persons. According to this, one person is as inevitably in the other two as they are in the one. This mutual indwelling of the persons was later called perichoresis in Greek and circumincessio (or circuminsessio) in Latin. This proposal emerged from mysticism rather than from any serious logical thinking of the matter.
Second, as a natural result of the first proposal, Medieval theologians after Augustine suggested that although God's three main external operations of creation, redemption and sanctification may be attributed primarily to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, respectively, nevertheless these external operations of the Trinity are indivisible (opera trinitatis ad extra indivisa sunt), so that all the three persons are involved in each of those operations. But this suggestion makes it difficult for us to have any understanding of the real distinction of the three persons.
A third attempt to address the problem in question was Augustine's doctrine of relations in the Trinity, which encourages us to say that in God there are not three particular persons but only one person:
|Because the Father is a person, the Son a person, and the Holy Spirit a person, there are assuredly three persons; because the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Spirit God, why, therefore, are there not three gods? Or since these three together are one God on account of their ineffable union, why are they not also one person, so that we cannot say three persons, even though we call each singly a person, just as we do not say three gods, even though we call each singly God, whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit?
This approach clearly had a tendency towards Modalistic Monarchianism, even though Augustine himself was aware that he should be on guard against that heresy.
4. The Unification Doctrine of the Trinity
How does Unificationism propose to cope with these difficulties? Instead of taking an middle position between Modalistic and Dynamistic Monarchianism, Unificationism seeks a comprehensive doctrine of the Trinity which can contain both schools of Monarchianism without any contradiction.
First of all, the Unification doctrine of the Trinity contains an element of Modalistic Monarchianism. Recall that this Monarchian school regarded the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three modes of God which are all divine. In a similar vein, the Unification doctrine of the Trinity describes three main attributes of God which are all divine: Heart, Original Sungsang and Original Hyungsang, and regards them as equivalent to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, respectively. Heart is equivalent to the Father. As "the core of the attributes of God," Heart is his irrepressible impulse to obtain joy by loving his objects of love, and this impulse makes it "absolutely necessary" for God to create human beings as his objects of love. The Original Sungsang is equivalent to the Son, because as "the part of God corresponding to mind" it entails the formation of the Logos within itself. Finally, the Original Hyungsang is equivalent to the Holy Spirit because it is "a kind of energy" in God. When within God the Original Sungsang (the Son) and the Original Hyungsang (the Holy Spirit) "engage in give-and-receive action" centering on Heart (the Father), they form a "harmonized body" or "union." This union within God can be called the "inner Trinity." This threeness within God is acknowledged also in the Divine Principle: "God is the one absolute reality in whom the dual characteristics interact in harmony; therefore, He is a Being of the number three."
At the same time, the Unification doctrine of the Trinity contains an element of Dynamistic Monarchianism. As was previously seen, Dynamistic Monarchianism regarded God alone as the Father, while declaring that the Son and the Holy Spirit are merely creatures. In much the same way, Unificationism, when treating God alone as the Father, places perfected Adam and perfected Eve outside of himself as his creatures, and regards the two as the Son and the Holy Spirit, respectively. When perfected Adam (the Son) and perfected Eve (the Holy Spirit) engage in give-and-receive action centering on God (the Father), they together with God form a harmonious union, which constitutes what can be called the "outer Trinity." Regarding this, the Divine Principle says:
|Originally, God's purpose for creating Adam and Eve was to form a trinity by raising them to be the True Parents of humankind united in harmonious oneness as husband and wife centered on God in a four position foundation. If Adam and Eve had not fallen, but had formed this trinity with God and become the True parents who could multiply good children, their descendants would have also become good husbands and wives with God as the center of their lives. Each couple would thus have formed a trinity with God.
Thus Dynamistic Monarchianism and the Unification notion of the outer Trinity agree that the Father alone is God. It is noteworthy, however, that the two traditions somewhat differ from each other regarding the creaturely status of the Son and the Holy Spirit. For the sense in which Unificationism says that perfected Adam and perfected Eve of the outer Trinity are creatures is interestingly different from the sense in which Dynamistic Monarchianism said that the Son and the Holy Spirit are creatures. Unificationism has a unique theological ontology of fundamental affinity between God and creation. Accordingly, it teaches that perfected Adam and perfected Eve are created humans who have perfected "the purpose of creation," assumed "deity" (divinity), and are perfectly united with God. By contrast, Dynamistic Monarchianism, lacking the theological ontology to see this sort of basic affinity between God and creation, regarded the Son and the Holy Spirit as mere creatures without divinity. Because of this fundamental difference in the ontology of the two traditions, perfected Adam and perfected Eve of the outer Trinity in Unificationism are much closer to God than are the Son and the Holy Spirit in Dynamistic Monarchianism.
It should be clear from the above that Unificationism has a comprehensive doctrine of the Trinity, involving both an inner Trinity and an outer Trinity, which are similar to the trinitarian formulations of Modalistic and Dynamistic Monarchianism, respectively. What, then, is the relationship between the inner Trinity and outer Trinity? The latter is the substantial manifestation of the former as a result of God's act of creation. This outer manifestation is completely realized when God's purpose of creation is perfected in the realm of creation. Furthermore, it is important to know that in Unificationism the outer Trinity, once it is completely realized, becomes the perfect reflection of the inner Trinity. By “return[ing] joy to God,” it is taken up into the inner Trinity. Thus the two types of the Trinity have an inseparable mutual relationship. Therefore, Unificationism sees a close relationship between the two, while at the same time making a clear distinction between them. In this way, the Unification doctrine of the Trinity avoids the obscure middle position as first formulated by Tertullian. Thus it is able to solve the difficult mystery of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity.
In the Unification doctrine, the inner Trinity is constituted by three "attributes" of God, while the outer Trinity is constituted by three "self-conscious" individual entities, who are discrete yet deeply related centering on perfect fulfillment of the purpose of creation. Therefore the obscure word persona, which means neither an attribute of God nor a discrete self-conscious individual entity, is no longer needed in the Unification doctrine of the Trinity.
Jesus' Death and the Doctrine of the Trinity
We learned that the Church adopted Tertullian’s middle position between Modalistic and Dynamistic Monarchianism. The question remains: Why this formulation? From the viewpoint of Unificationism, theologians such as Tertullian had no choice but to take such a position because Jesus, who was supposed to be in the position of perfected Adam, died on the cross 2,000 years ago and thereby formed the "spiritual Trinity." According to the Divine Principle, "the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit in oneness with God could form only a spiritual trinity." The spiritual Trinity can be located somewhere between the inner Trinity and outer Trinity.
God's original will during the life of Jesus Christ was that the inner Trinity be substantially manifested to constitute the outer Trinity. Specifically, Jesus as the Logos incarnate was expected to become the Son of the outer Trinity as the second, perfected Adam and to find his bride who was to be the Holy Spirit of the same outer Trinity as the second, perfected Eve. Unfortunately, however, he was murdered on the cross, thus losing his physical body. Therefore, the outer Trinity, which is the substantial manifestation of the inner Trinity, was not formed with respect to the Son. For the same reason, this substantial manifestation was not formed with respect to the Holy Spirit as well. That is to say, Jesus was not able to find his bride in the position of perfected Eve in the outer Trinity.
Under those circumstances, the resurrected Jesus, having lost his physical body, could only unite with a manifestation of the Holy Spirit whose locus and identity were not clear. The spiritual Jesus and the Holy Spirit united centering on God to form the spiritual Trinity. The status of this spiritual Trinity is very unclear because it is, strictly speaking, neither the inner Trinity nor the outer Trinity. The mysterious and obscure nature of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity can, in actuality, be attributed to this status of the spiritual Trinity.
5. The Immanent Trinity and the Economic Trinity
As was discussed above, the Unification doctrine of the Trinity includes within its scope both the inner Trinity and outer Trinity, which are clearly distinct yet closely related. In truth, however, this is not a patent of Unificationism; it can be seen also in the Christian tradition in a vivid way. For there are also two sorts of the Trinity in the Christian tradition, called the "immanent Trinity" and the "economic Trinity." The former refers to the relations of the Father, the Son (the eternal Logos) and the Holy Spirit immanent within the essence of God; hence it is also called the "essential Trinity." By contrast, the latter pays attention to God's economy of creation, salvation and sanctification, which is the outer expression of his essence and purpose; hence the economic Trinity refers to the relations of the Father, the Son (the Logos incarnate) and the Holy Spirit as they concretely work in the divine economy. Many observe that the Bible, early creeds and liturgical doxologies were much more concerned with the economic Trinity than the immanent Trinity, basically regarding God and the Father as synonyms.
It is easily surmised that the inner Trinity in Unificationism is quite similar to the immanent Trinity in the Christian tradition, while the outer Trinity is quite similar to the economic Trinity. Strictly speaking, however, the outer Trinity in Unificationism and the economic Trinity in Christianity are not completely equivalent. The divergence between the two traditions concerns the identity of the Son and also the identity of the Holy Spirit. The Son of the outer Trinity in Unificationism is perfected Adam as a discrete self-conscious individual man, who has perfected the purpose of creation, assumed divinity and united with God perfectly. On the other hand, the Son of the economic Trinity in Christianity is not a discrete created individual man; it refers rather to the Logos incarnate, whose hypostasis, given that Christ’s human nature has no hypostasis of its own, is still identical with the hypostasis of the eternal Logos within God himself. Similarly, the Holy Spirit of the outer Trinity in Unificationism is perfected Eve as a discrete self-conscious individual woman who works as the bride of the Son in the domain of creation. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity in Christianity is identical with the Holy Spirit within God himself, still with the gender of masculinity, emerging out of God to work in the outer realm of economy. This divergence emerges from the fact that due to the death of Jesus, Christianity has not yet been able to find perfected Adam and perfected Eve as bridegroom and bride in the realm of creation.
Despite this divergence, however, Christianity is still very similar to Unificationism in that it makes a distinction between its own two sets of the Trinity. In fact, Tertullian was aware of this distinction. So was Hippolytus, his contemporary. They both believed the economic Trinity to be more important than the immanent Trinity because God's will should be realized in the world through the divine economy. We saw that it was based on their appreciation of the economic Trinity that they could refute Modalistic Monarchianism. Yet they also wanted to avoid the error of Dynamistic Monarchianism. Hence they chose a middle position, which fell short of what is called the outer Trinity in Unificationism and therefore failed to be thoroughly economic. In this way was established the obscure and incomprehensible tradition of the doctrine of the Trinity.
In the years following the formulation of this obscure middle trinitarian position, theologians unfortunately tended to downplay about the importance of the economic Trinity while engaging in ever more discussion of the inner divine life of the immanent Trinity. This tendency was noticeable especially in the Latin West, which was interested in the priority of the oneness over the threeness of the triune God.
6. A New Direction
The traditional doctrine of the Trinity has always occupied a central part of Christian dogma. But with all its obscurity and mystery, it has long been neglected as not very useful and relevant. Even the Reformers of the sixteenth century were not particularly interested in the doctrine of the Trinity. They simply accepted the past trinitarian tradition. They had little new to comment on it from the viewpoint of the Bible that they so adored. To that degree, the doctrine of the Trinity has not been a matter of much concern.
This changed with the twentieth century, as new departures in formulating the doctrine of the Trinity emerged from European theologians including Karl Barth, Karl Rahner and Jürgen Moltmann. These thinkers reemphasized the economic Trinity as they sought to overcome the failure of the traditional trinitarian doctrine to be thoroughly economic. From the viewpoint of Unificationism, their theologies moved in a healthy direction, helpful for solving the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity. This new direction in twentieth century thought about the Trinity helped to revive people's interest in that hoary doctrine. Since the time of Karl Barth there has been much serious theology written on the Trinity, and many books and articles on the Trinity were published. It seems that today people throughout the Christian world are more and more recognizing the importance of the doctrine.
The new approaches of Barth, Rahner and Moltmann will each be briefly discussed. It should be noted at this point, however, that we cannot expect them to find a perfect solution. None of their formulations of the doctrine (perhaps with the exception of Moltmann’s) is as thoroughly economic as we desire. But as they are moving in the right direction, we treat them with appreciation.
a. Karl Barth
Karl Barth took God's special revelation in the realm of creation very seriously. Hence he attached importance to the economic Trinity in which God's special revelation is witnessed. According to Barth, the economic Trinity should be sharply distinguished from the immanent Trinity because the former does not result from the latter out of necessity but rather through God's own freedom to reveal himself. But Barth also recognized a close connection between the two kinds of the Trinity, as it is the immanent Trinity that is the "basis" and "prototype" of the economic Trinity.
Given his great appreciation of the economic Trinity, did Barth maintain, as Unificationism does, that the Son and the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity (the outer Trinity in Unificationism) are not any more God himself but discrete perfected human individuals in the domain of creation? Unfortunately, not. To Barth, the Son and the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity, even if they are outer manifestations of the immanent Trinity, are each still basically God. This is the reason why he was afraid that his new appreciation of the economic Trinity could lead to tritheism, if it continued to use the traditional word “person,” which today is taken to mean a self-conscious individual entity. Hence he proposed that we not say three persons but three "modes of being" (Seinsweisen). Here we can see Barth’s continuous allegiance to monotheism.
Nevertheless, Barth's emphasis on the economic Trinity would give rise to a more appropriate understanding of the status of the Son of the economic Trinity. For in his lecture The Humanity of God, delivered in 1956, he acknowledged that Jesus Christ is God's loyal partner as the true man. To be God’s partner as man means to be different from God himself. Also, in his lecture Evangelical Theology: An Introduction, delivered in 1962, Barth made an appropriate distinction between God and Jesus Christ, saying that the former is "the primary partner of the covenant" while the latter is "the other, the secondary, partner of the covenant." This was a celebrated shift of emphasis in the later years of Barth. It evinced a strong tendency towards the idea of the Son of the economic Trinity as a discrete perfected individual man. Although he showed no shift or change regarding the status of the Holy Spirit, Barth’s appreciation of the economic Trinity coupled with his new Christological understanding is very encouraging and noteworthy.
b. Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner complained of the lack of relevance of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity for the rest of the system of Christian dogma, as well as for our practical life of piety:
|The treatise on the Trinity occupies a rather isolated position in the total dogmatic system. To put it crassly, and not without exaggeration, when the treatise is concluded, its subject is never brought up again. Its function in the whole dogmatic construction is not clearly perceived. It is as though this mystery has been revealed for its own sake, and that even after it has been made known to us, it remains, as a reality, locked up within itself. We make statements about it, but as a reality it has nothing to do with us at all… In final analysis, all these statements say explicitly in cold print that we ourselves have nothing to do with the mystery of the Holy Trinity except to know something “about it” through revelation.[28
In order to solve this problem, Rahner took God’s self-communication to us in the world seriously and emphasized the importance of the economic Trinity as where we experience that self-communication of God. It is in this context that he identified the economic Trinity with the immanent Trinity: “The ‘economic’ Trinity is the ‘immanent’ Trinity and the ‘immanent’ Trinity is the ‘economic’ Trinity.” This was not a statement of ontological identity between the two, which would result in pantheism, but was rather a way of saying that the economic Trinity is the starting point of theology. Rahner still saw a “relative” or “relational” distinction between the two sets of the Trinity, saying that the economic Trinity is “grounded” in the immanent Trinity.
Did his avowed emphasis on the economic Trinity, then, lead Rahner to go so far as to say, as the Unification doctrine does, that the Son and the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity are discrete self-conscious human individuals? The answer is No. Regarding the Son, Rahner still basically followed the Nicene-Chalcedonian tradition, maintaining that the Son of the economic Trinity, in spite of his human nature assumed through the incarnation, is identical with the Son of the immanent Trinity: “here the Logos with God and the Logos with us, the immanent and the economic Logos, are strictly the same.” Regarding the Holy Spirit, Rahner did not believe the Holy Spirit is an incarnation. It is in this context that he tried to avoid tritheism, proposing that we not say three persons but rather three distinct “manners of subsisting” (Subsistenzweisen). This proposed term is similar to Barth’s “modes of being” (Seinsweisen).
This may seem a bit disappointing. But the language of Rahner's discussion of the theology of symbols in his Theological Investigations has a tendency towards the idea of Jesus Christ as a discrete exteriorization of God: "in [God's] self-exteriorization he goes out of himself into that which is other than he." Whether or not this language was a result of his emphasis on the economic Trinity is not known. But his celebrated identity of the two sets of the Trinity has had a great impact on theology, and as a result many people started paying more attention to the economic Trinity.
c. Jürgen Moltmann
Jürgen Moltmann accepted Rahner's axiom that the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, and vice versa, but his way of doing so was uniquely eschatological because it meant to take up the economic Trinity into the immanent Trinity upon the eschatological completion of the former in history:
|The economic Trinity completes and perfects itself to immanent Trinity when the history and experience of salvation are completed and perfected. When everything is 'in God' and 'God is all in all', then the economic Trinity is raised into and transcended in the immanent Trinity.
What is unique about Moltmann's eschatological affirmation of the identity of the economic and immanent Trinity is that it comes from his keen interest in the theology of the cross and also in the history of God. On the cross Jesus experienced the agony of being forsaken by the Father, according to Moltmann. The Father in turn experienced the suffering of separation from the Son. But by surrendering to this kind of misery for the sake of the salvation of sinful humanity, the Father and the Son experienced a new unity with each other in the Holy Spirit. Thus the economic involvement of the Trinity is constitutive of the internal divine life of the immanent Trinity. Hence the unity of the economic and immanent Trinity. Therefore, Moltmann did not approve of separating the economic Trinity from the immanent Trinity, according to which usually "the cross comes to stand only in the economy of salvation, and not within the immanent Trinity."
Interestingly, Moltmann’s idea that the economic Trinity, once completed, is taken up into the immanent Trinity is very similar to the Unification assertion that the outer Trinity, once completely realized, returns its result in the form of joy to the inner Trinity.
Moltmann in his radical appreciation of economic history regarded the three persons of the economic Trinity as "three distinct centers of consciousness and action," thereby avoiding Barth's "modes of being" and Rahner's "manners of subsisting." Moltmann wanted to see the genuine work of each person of the Trinity in the economy of the salvific love of a suffering God. This, we declare, was a very healthy development in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity. Although Moltmann did not go so far as to say, as Unificationism does, that the Son and the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity are discrete self-conscious human individuals, nevertheless he noticed independent self-consciousness in each person.
With his new emphasis on the real threeness of the Trinity, Moltmann critiqued Barth and Rahner for being still too preoccupied with the monotheistic oneness of the Trinity despite their openness to the economic Trinity. The God of monotheism, according to Moltmann, is cold and uninvolved in the suffering of humans. He declared that monotheism should be replaced by genuine trinitarianism, which understands the love of God. Moltmann did not believe that this was tritheism. His thesis was that the one God has alienated himself from himself on the cross and is returning to himself through the Holy Spirit.
7. Significance of the Doctrine of the Trinity
As was seen above, the new trinitarian insights of theologians including Barth, Rahner and Moltmann have been attempts to overcome the difficult mystery of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. At the same time, these insights have helped people in Christendom towards a better understanding of the original significance of the doctrine of the Trinity.
What, then, is the original significance of the doctrine of the Trinity? It consists in the completion of the economic flow from the immanent Trinity to the economic Trinity, so that the economic Trinity may manifest its completeness to the immanent Trinity as its perfect reflection. Thus we should not hold to the immanent Trinity alone without embracing the economic Trinity; otherwise, the doctrine of the Trinity is but an empty theory which has nothing to do with the world of reality. Neither should we hold to a formulation of the Trinity that is somewhere in between the immanent and economic Trinity; otherwise, the doctrine of the Trinity will remain as mysterious and incomprehensible as the traditional trinitarian doctrine. A complete comprehension of the economic Trinity is vitally important in the doctrine of the Trinity. After all, it is through the economic Trinity that God’s essence and purpose is completely realized on earth. Barth, Rahner and Moltmann all developed their theories in view of this, although whether they were successful or not is another question.
According to Unificationism, the problematic of the economic Trinity in Christianity is due to the premature death of Jesus. Christianity has not yet borne witness to restored perfected Adam and perfected Eve as the Son and the Holy Spirit of the economic Trinity. Because of this, there remains quite a gap between the economic Trinity in Christianity and the outer Trinity in Unificationism. Even Barth, Rahner and Moltmann, despite their newly developed tendency towards the idea of the Son as a discrete self-conscious individual (and of the Holy Spirit as another discrete self-conscious individual in the case of Moltmann), could not bridge this gap completely. Shall we have recourse to the present-day trend amongst liberal-minded theologians, such as Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng, Hendrikus Berkhof and John Hick, to regard Jesus Christ as a man discrete from God and without real divinity? No, we shall not have recourse to this, since their liberal views, denying Jesus’ divinity, place him too distant from God.
Perhaps Christianity can learn from the insight of Unificationism that there is an ontological affinity between God and creation. If Christian theology could secure some kind of divinity even within the realm of creation, and therefore have the courage to regard the Son and the Holy Spirit as created human individuals who are discrete yet somehow divine, then it could bridge the gap to a thoroughly economic Trinity. So far, Christianity has not had that type of theological ontology; on the contrary, Christian ontology has isolated God from creation, looking upon him as “supreme substance” or “absolute subject,” in the words of Moltmann. Moltmann once suggested replacing these notions with genuine trinitarianism which would have “a new kind of thinking about God, the world and man.” Such a new thinking might be able to help Christianity eventually to introduce a theological ontology of affinity between God and creation. It is beyond the scope of the present essay to explore this kind of theological ontology.
Although the gap still remains, we regard the very fact that Barth and others in the twentieth century attempted to appreciate the economic Trinity as signifying that the time has come when God (the Father), perfected Adam (the Son) and perfected Eve (the Holy Spirit) of the outer Trinity in Unificationism emerge in the world as husband and wife to fulfill God's "second blessing" based on "the four position foundation in their family." Furthermore, today's heated discussions on the gender of the persons of the Trinity, especially from feminist perspectives, might somehow show the way towards a view of the Trinity in which the divine economy is understood in terms of the relationship of husband and wife centering on God the Father. In our opinion, the doctrine of the Trinity in the end serves to point us towards this second blessing. It also points us towards the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the completion of the divine economy. The real significance of the doctrine of the trinity consists in this.
 William J. Hill, The Three-Personed God (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. xi.
 Colin E. Gunton, The Promise of Trinitarian Theology (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991), p. 2.
 The Unification doctrine of the Trinity can be found in Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), pp. 171-72. It can be seen, if implicitly yet importantly, also in "Theory of the Original Image," Essentials of Unification Thought: The Head-Wing Thought (Seoul, Korea: Unification Thought Institute, 1992), pp. 1-40. This Unification doctrine has been discussed briefly by Young Oon Kim and Sebastian A. Matczak. See Kim, Unification Theology and Christian Thought (New York: Golden Gate Publishing, 1975), pp. 127-28; and Unification Theology (New York: HSA-UWC, 1987), pp. 180-81. See also Matczak, "God in Unification Philosophy and the Christian Tradition," in M. Darrol Bryant and Herbert W. Richardson, eds., A Time for Consideration: A Scholarly Appraisal of the Unification Church (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1978), pp. 241-44; and Unificationism: A New Philosophy and Worldview (New York: Learned Publications, 1982), pp. 305-9, 418-20. Kim and Matczak have two very different assessments of the same Unification doctrine of the Trinity, perhaps because the former has a somewhat liberal Protestant bias and the latter a Roman Catholic perspective.
 See “Triumph of the Logos Christology in the West” in Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (New York: Scribner’s, 1970), pp. 67-71.
 See his "Against Praxeas," in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. III (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), pp. 597-627.
 Ibid., pp. 602-3.
 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), p. 333.
 The Trinity, trans. Stephen McKenna (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1963), 7.4.8, p. 232.
 To get acquainted with these terms, read "Theory of the Original Image," in Essentials of Unification Thought: The Head-Wing Thought, pp. 1-40.
 Ibid., p.17.
 Ibid., pp. 3-5, 22-25.
 Ibid., pp. 6-8.
 Ibid., p. 28.
 I coined this term as well as "the outer Trinity" which will be discussed right below. See my "Unification Christology: A Fulfillment of Niceno-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy," in Theodore T. Shimmyo and David A. Carlson, eds., Explorations in Unificationism (New York: HSA-UWC, 1997), pp. 30-31.
 Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 41.
 Ibid., p. 172.
 For this kind of theological ontology and the notions of "the purpose of creation" and "deity" in Unificationism, see "The Principle of Creation," Ibid., pp. 15-51.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 Ibid., p. 172.
 See, for example, Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (San Francisco: Harper, 1991), p. 215.
 Traditional Christology has a doctrine of the physis anhypostastos and the physis enhypostatos, which asserts that the human nature of Christ has no hypostasis or person of its own, so that it finds its hypostasis only in the hypostasis of the eternal divine Logos within God. For a detailed discussion of the difference between Unification and traditional Christologies, see Theodore T. Shimmyo, "Unification Christology: A Fulfillment of Niceno-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy," Explorations in Unificationism, pp. 17-36.
 Church Dogmatics I/1, trans. G. W. Bromiley (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), pp. 172, 371.
 Ibid., p. 383.
 Ibid., pp. 349-51.
 Ibid., pp. 355, 359.
 The Humanity of God, tr. John Newton Thomas and Thomas Wieser (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1960), p. 46.
 Evangelical Theology: An Introduction, trans. Grover Foley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp. 19-20.
 The Trinity, trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Seabury Press, 1974), p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 22. Italics his.
 Ibid., pp. 101-3.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 Ibid., pp. 103-15.
 Theological investigations, vol. IV, trans. Kevin Smyth (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1966), p. 239.
 The Trinity and the Kingdom, trans. Margaret Kohl (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 161.
 Ibid., p. 160.
 Ibid., p. 146.
 Ibid., pp. 139-48.
 For the liberal views of Christ, see, for example, Klaas Runia, The Present-day Christological Debate (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984) and John Hick, ed., The Myth of God Incarnate (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977).
 The Trinity and the Kingdom, trans. Margaret Kohl (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), pp. 10-16.
 Ibid., p. 16.
 Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 34.
 Rosemary Radford Ruether, for example, considers the option of regarding the Holy Spirit as feminine, although she doubts that it is a good option. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon, 1993), pp. 60-61.
 Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 36.