Spiritual Formation and the Trinity by Steve Thomason
A Term Paper Presented to Professor Gary Simpson
As a Requirement in Course CL8950 Trinity and Mission
St. Paul, Minnesota, 2012
This paper will explore how the doctrine of the Trinity informs the topic of spiritual formation in the missional church that finds itself in the increasingly global, pluralistic, late/post-modern era. I will pursue this exploration in four movements. First, I will establish preliminary definitions of the aforementioned terms in reverse order: missional church, spiritual formation, and Trinity. Second, I will briefly discuss the history of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Western church and demonstrate how this history has impacted the understanding of spiritual formation and has created a seeming dichotomy between the idea of spiritual formation as the inner journey and as communal action. Third, I will discuss how this dichotomy can be traced back to Augustine and how a reinvestigation of Augustine’s theology may lead to a helpful constructive move. Fourth, I will present a biblical image for spiritual formation in the missional church by attending to the upper room discourse in John 13-17.