Monday, 27 July 2009

Trinity and Incarnation: Hellenization of Christianity?

The doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity are anything but the Hellenization of Christianity. Of course they couch the gospel in terms set within the Graeco-Roman world. The doctrine of the Incarnation demands it! If you are one of those who thinks that the two mentioned doctrines were a capitulation to paganism, here are a couple of thoughts.

First, and this is more readily recognised these days, the doctrine of the Trinity with its internal relations within true divinity is not Hellenic. Moreover, these relationships are not hierarchical. A non-hierarchical relational God is Christian, not Hellenism in thin disguise.

Second, the doctrine of the Incarnation, with the union of humanity and divinity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, introduces change and new experience into God's own life. This has been cause of some reluctance amongst even the greatest theologians of the Incarnation over the ages, which just goes to show how un-Hellenic the doctrine itself actually is.

Third, the death of the Word-made-flesh is not Hellenism. It can't be, and is why the usual christological heresy in some way tries to split the human and the divine, or subordinate the divinity of Jesus to that of the Father. In so doing the heretics maintain the Hellenistic aversion to the real world of flesh, blood, sweat and death.


  1. Well thought out warren, as always. I would just like to add like I always like to do something about the Resurrection of the incarnate word made flesh. In Hellenistic thought flesh does not matter so a physical resurrection is not needed. However, Christian thought has always been that Jesus was physically raised from the dead.

  2. Thanks Stephen, and you are quite right. Our core doctrines are anything but hellenism. Resurrection as you say, and we could include sacraments in this category here. And, as we have discussed before, the Christian doctrine of transcendence is most definitely not hellenistic.