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.


  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. []

4 thoughts on “A Short, Animated Introduction to the Social Trinity”

  1. I think that the illustration you offer presents three incompatible world views. The world view of Immanent Domain is not attempting to unravel the mystery of the kingdom of God as the other two world views are. Instead it is attempting to unravel the mystery of the universe in which we live and in the process of that to also resolve the issue of who we are and how we should live in this world.

    Unlike the Liberal Immanence Theologians and as the Conservative Transcendent Theologians who are given orbits in your illustration, the early apostles were not interested at all in unraveling the mystery of the kingdom of God. The NT Apostles were interested instead in an entirely different world view from any of those in your illustration… The world view of one that has encountered the Risen Christ. And from this unique world view the Apostles were also interested in helping us to define who we are and how we should live in this world.

    I would recommend shooting down both the Immanence World View and Transcendent World View Satellites (because they are both wrong in their attempts to define God) and in their place I would launch a Christocentric World View satellite.

    1. 623, reread this quote from your statement, “I would recommend shooting down both the Immanence World View and Transcendent World View Satellites (because they are both wrong in their attempts to define God) and in their place I would launch a Christocentric World View satellite.”

      You recommend “shooting down” two out of the three world views. Try to hear that language from a person’s perspective who operates within the Immanent Frame. “shooting down” those who think differently than the church is what the church of Christendom has been doing for centuries and is one of the reasons the Immanent Frame exists.

      These videos are not proposing that we should could create these three horizons. I am simply stating that these three horizons are the current landscape of the Western world. Millions of people exist with the core belief that there is nothing beyond the physical reality that can be explained by math and science. Shutting them down and presenting the risen Christ, demonstrated in scripture, to completely replace them might not be the most effective, or even Christ-like approach to sharing the Good News of that same risen Christ.

      A fusion of horizons–or what Habermas calls A Communicative Rationality–seeks first to listen, to understand, and to incorporate the good in each perspective. The beauty of this methodology is that, I believe, it is what Jesus and his first disciples modeled.

      I agree whole-heartedly that the apostles cared little of the things these videos discuss. That is because they were funtioning from the place of marginalized minority in the shadow of the Roman Empire. We, on this side of Christendom in the West, do not have that luxury. A large part of our core theology has been formed through the lens of Empire itself and we must be careful in how we frame the Gospel.

      Just some thoughts.

  2. Here is how I see your model breaking up. In order for a model like this to work there needs to be relationships. But… The Liberal camp building relationship with the conservative camp? I just don’t see that ever happening! Each one in their own world view of unraveling the mystery of God thinks that they are right. Why would they even consider listening to the other camp, much less building relationship? And when the Immanent Domain of the scientific world sees this rivalry between these two OPPOSING Christian world views it will simply confirm their already negative view of Christianity and they will want no relationship as well.

    But what if, instead of placing into orbit our liberal and conservative failings in the church, we actually put on high our UNITY in Christ and putting on high the MYSTERY of Gods love and grace that has been revealed to all Christians through faith in Jesus Christ?

  3. In close similarity with the Immanent Domain of Science which is wrestling with the mysteries of the universe… The one who has encountered The Lord Jesus Christ(the greatest mystery of the universe) is not any longer interested in unraveling the mystery of God, but he/she is rather greatly interested in the created universe around us and defining who we are and what our role is in it. And so it is the Christocentric World View satellite that is clearly most compatible with the Immanent Domain Satellite and therefore most likely to succeed.

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