Florence: The International Symposium on the Trinity

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Published:
July 21, 2019

The International Symposium on the Trinity, held from June 19-22, 2019, has concluded; the event took place in Florence, on the campus of the Italian Adventist University “Villa Aurora”.

The symposium, jointly organized by the Adventist Theological Society and the Italian Adventist University, brought together prominent theologians and young Adventist researchers:

Christopher R. Chadwick (UNASP); Greg Howell (Sacramento Adventist Academy); Denis Kaiser (Andrews University); Jiří Moskala (Andrews University); Ekkehardt Müller (Biblical Research Institute); Teresa and John Reeve (Andrews University); Alberto Timm (Ellen G. White Estate); Matthew Tinkham (Andrews University); Clinton Wahlen (Biblical Research Institute). The morning worship sessions were presided over by Hanz and Miguel Gutierrez. 

One of the most beautiful lessons that the symposium highlighted was that the Scriptures reveal to us that the nature of the relationships between the three Persons of the Trinity and their manner of interaction with one another is based on love. This is a remarkable message on “unity in diversity”, which should stimulate reflection at a time when our Church, on both an international and a local level, is being torn apart by winds of division.

During the symposium, an in-depth analysis of the concept of the Trinity occurred, based on the Sacred Texts. There was also a reiteration of the Adventist Church’s understanding of the theme:

There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2.). 

(For a more detailed study, see here: https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/)

Despite the lack of experience in organizing events of international significance (although we would like to remember an important past event: the seminar “Challenges in Bioethics Today”, attended by theologians and ethicists from the Center For Christian Bioethics at Loma Linda University, in May 2008), we can say that, thanks to God and the patience of the attendees, this event went above and beyond expectations.

In fact, the symposium was attended by more than forty individuals including lay persons, pastors, and professors from the Theology department. These individuals, overcoming the language barrier (the official language was English), gave significant contribution to the success of the event by dint of their steadfast presence, stimulating questions, and the general sharing that occurred during meals and breaks.

Discussions have already began for plans regarding another event in 3-4 years. Of course, several things could be better organized, as was remarked on by some participants (improve the translating system, give more time for debate, highlight the dialogic profiles and don’t exaggerate the apologetic ones, etc.).

Here are some other participants’ impressions:

“The symposium was beneficial to me. I appreciated the variety of perspectives on the doctrine of the Trinity. I was impressed by the presence of young lecturers who were so passionate about a theme that could be considered ‘mature’ “ (Felix Cobbinah).

“This was very exciting: engaging in discussions with high-level professional and intellectual lecturers on the theme of the Trinity. I especially appreciated the humility of the approach in exploring the reality of God with the awareness that we will never fully understand it. This experience gave me new ideas in how to present the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in Bible studies” (Patrizio Calliari).

“I was really drawn to the historical presentation and the information on the current church, too. I think the most important lesson for me was the fath that there are no doctrines that are so theoretical that “human ingenuity” cannot convert them into reasons for discussion and division!” (Miguel Gutierrez).

“Participating allowed me to develop a wider perspective of the motives behind one understanding versus another, as well as helping me obtain a more articulate historical point of view” (Maria Antonietta Calà).

“The choice of subject matters was extremely interesting. The approach was rather exhaustive on the general theme, which undoubtedly offered new lines of understanding and research” (Daniele Benini).

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This article was written by Tiziano Rimoldi and originally appeared on the Inter-European Division website. Image courtesy of the Inter-European Division.

 

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