A Study of the doctrine of the Trinity in Seventh-day Adventist theology and Roman Catholic theology
A common argument within some circles of Seventh-day Adventism is the suggestion that the denomination should return to the antitrinitarian position of the early Adventist pioneers concerning the nature of God. The argument is based on the assumption that the Adventist trinitarian position is the same as the Roman Catholic understanding of the Trinity. The present study studies and compares the doctrine of the Trinity between these two traditions. This dissertation seeks to accomplish this goal by using the descriptive-analysis methodology, and compares and contrasts the concept of the Trinity as generally understood by Adventists and Roman Catholics. The descriptions of the trinitarian views of each church are based on primary sources drawn from the writings of significant theologians available through the Leslie Hardinge Library and the Arnoldus Library. The introductory chapter defines the problem, purpose, significance, delimitations, and methodology of the dissertation. The thesis briefly summarizes the historical development of the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian theology from the postapostolic period up the present. Chapters 2 and 3 analytically describe the respective Seventh-day Adventist and Roman Catholic doctrines of the Trinity. Each chapter seeks to identify their main philosophical presuppositions and hermeneutical determinants as related to their doctrines and concept of the Godhead. Chapter 4 studies both the commonalities as well as the differences between the trinitarian theology of each tradition. The findings that emerged from Chapter 5 demonstrate that the source of this divergence lies in a different explanation about how to define God’s reality. As a consequence, it is impossible to say that their understanding of the Trinity is identical. On the most basic level, both the Seventh-day Adventist and the Roman Catholic Church affirm the historic stance on the Trinity as three separate persons, while at the same time affirming the Jewish understanding of one God. Yet the ontological dimensions, particularly those developed by RCC theologians during the Middle Ages, demonstrate that their understanding of the Trinity is not the same. Thus, the arguments presented by fringe antitrinitarian Adventists are unsubstantiated. The final chapter briefly summarizes the main points of the research and presents conclusions and recommendations for further study.