Tag Archives: zizioulas

Book | Communion and Otherness by John D. Zizioulas

6a00e54ef86de9883400e55004fb418833-800wiZizioulas, Jean, and Paul McPartlan. Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church. New York: T & T Clark, 2006.


zizioulasJohn Zizioulas (Greek: Ιωάννης Ζηζιούλας; born 10 January 1931, Kozani) is the Eastern Orthodox metropolitan of Pergamon. He is the Chairman of the Academy of Athens and a noted theologian.[1]

My Thoughts on Communion and Otherness

I will be brief and to the point in this reflection. There is one thing that I glean from this book that is very beneficial for my research and the missional conversation. There is also one thing that I struggle with. The piece that I glean from Zizioulas is his definition of personhood. He moves away from the classical obsession with substantivist ideas about human ontology and defines personhood as relational ontology. The uniqueness of the individual person is not found in the substance of the individuum that possesses certain classifiable universal categories. Rather, the uniqueness of the individual is constituted by the relationship with the other. The person is other to the other first, and thus, by standing in contrast to the other, is differentiated as unique. Left to the individual self-as-substance, the self is isolated, in Hell, and ceases to exist. Personhood, therefore, is relationality. This is evident in the Trinitarian Personhood of God. God is not unified substance that possesses three modes of being. God is three persons-in-relationship. The church, and all of creation, is thus constituted in relationality, and the ministry of Jesus, the personhood of Son, is to reconcile all things into relationality by demonstrating the incapacity to be self-sufficient through death, and bringing all things into communion through the capacity of life-in-relation to God through resurrection. read more

The Social Trinity, Part 1: A Quick Overview

The Deep in the Burbs Research Project is off to a good start. The team has met twice and is gelling nicely. We’ve been wrestling with the nature and purpose of Spiritual Formation. This week we turn our attention to the Trinity. What is it? Does it matter? How does it relate to spiritual formation?

I have created a series of videos to introduce the conversation. This is the first video in that series. This video provides the basic overview of, what some theologians call, the Social Trinity. (view part 2) read more

A Short, Animated Introduction to the Social Trinity

The four videos in this playlist introduce the Social Trinity and were created for the Deep in the Burbs Research Team.

Here is a Prezi that includes these 4 videos, but goes deeper into the history of the discussion and the theological texts.

Here are links to some of the key ideas and thinkers referred to in these videos.

The social Trinity begins with the three persons of the Trinity (as described in the Christian Scriptures) and seeks to understand how the relationship1 between the persons is the very essence2 of life itself. The fancy-schmansy word for this is relational ontology.3 The social Trinity is also known, by some, as the Economic Trinity.  The term economic comes from the Greek word oikos–meaning house. It does not refer to money, as we understand economy, but, rather, refers to the activity of God within the “house” of the created universe. The social–or Economic– Trinity stands in contrast to the traditional view of God as three persons within Godself. This traditional view is known as the Immanent Trinity (immanent means “operating or existing within”) and emphasizes the oneness of God as God relates to the world from outside of creation. read more

  1. thus the term “social” []
  2. the Greek word for essence can also be translated substance. The discussion of the substance of God–and of all things–is called ontology. Thus, the social Trinity speaks of a relational ontology as opposed to a substance ontology []
  3. Zizioulas is a Greek Orthodox theologian that speaks about this. read a review of his book. Or, view the relational ontology tag for all the related posts. []

Book | The Quest for the Trinity by Stephen R. Holmes

quest-for-the-trinityHolmes, Stephen R. The Quest for the Trinity. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2012.

ImageThe Author – Stephen R. Holmes

My Thoughts

This book is a helpful and refreshing counterbalance to my growing bibliography concerning the 20th century Trinitarian conversation in the West. Stephen Holmes is a brilliant scholar from the UK who speaks to this topic from the English Evangelical perspective.

The book itself is essentially an historical survey of the Doctrine of the Trinity in Western theology. What makes it fresh, and relevant to my research, is that Holmes frames his historical survey around the “revival” of Trinitarianism in the late 20th century. He begins there, then traces the big historical landmarks of the doctrinal evolution, and ends with a re-evaluation of the conversation. He is kind, and truly appreciative of this Trinitarian “revival,” but in the end, finds it lacking. read more