The Triune God

THL316 / THL468

This subject explores the development of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity, from the biblical origins of the doctrine to key historical and theological developments in the first five centuries, in the medieval and reformation periods and the rejuvenation of the doctrine in recent decades. It considers the implications of renewed trinitarian thought for theology, Christian anthropology, eccelesiology, worship, ethics, mission and interfaith dialogue.


One Semester


Semester 1 every odd year

Subject Points




Delivery Mode

On site at St Francis College Milton


THL111, THL113 and THL215 (recommended or prior knowledge)


Prescribed Texts

Short essay - Critical analysis of a text from the Church Fathers
2500 words, 40%

Long essay - Choice from a number of topics
3000 words, 60%



This subject will cover the following topics:

  • Biblical foundations

  • The philosophical, Christological and political underpinning of trinitarian theology

  • The Arian controversy

  • Pivotal thinkers: Church Fathers, the Cappadocians, Aquinas, Calvin

  • The loss of trinitarian consciousness

  • The contemporary renewal of trinitarian theology

  • Modern thinkers: Barth, Rahner, Moltmann, Gunton

  • The social Trinity

  • Implications of trinitarian thought for Christian theology, Christian anthropology, ecclesiology, worship, ethics, mission, ecology and interfaith dialogue

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate familiarity with the biblical origins of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity;

  • be able to critically reflect on the early emergence of trinitarian themes in Christian debates about God;

  • be able to discuss classical developments in trinitarian doctrine, with special reference to Athanasius, the Cappadocian theologians and Augustine;

  • be able to critically review recent developments in trinitarian thought and their contemporary implications, particularly in the Australian context;

  • be able to analyse various critiques of trinitarian theology; and

  • be able to demonstrate self-guided learning, including advanced research, writing and communication skills.