The implications of the trinity for Christian unity : an examination with particular reference to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church & Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
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Few Christians would dispute the claim that the doctrine of the Trinity is an indispensable doctrine among all Christian churches, both in the Christian West and in the Christian East. Despite differing interpretations of the way the doctrine is best formulated, there is a consensus that Trinity, as stipulated in the Nicene Creed, is a distinguishing mark of the faith. In the words of Jurgen Moltmann the so-called true church is the church that participates in the truth of the triune God,
they (i.e, the statements about the church in the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed) belong to the article about faith in the Holy Spirit, and are only justified and comprehensible in the framework of the creative workings of that Spirit ... The church receives the attributes named from the activity of Christ in the workings of the Spirit for the coming kingdom. But as these extend and link together, the attributes become the inalienable signs of the true church, which is to say the church in the truth of God.The Church of Christ, wherever or however it is found, receives its existence and meaning, its identity and its calling through its union with the triune Godself within its historical context. This basic understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity in relation to the Nicene Creed, however, does not mean that the doctrine is a finished doctrine. There is a strong need in both the Christian West and the Christian East to reclaim and recreate the original ecumenical, thus catholic, understanding of this cardinal doctrine.
The objective of this paper is to reflect upon the Cappadocian Fathers' understanding and interpretation of the Trinity, as shared by both the Orthodox and Protestants/Lutherans, and its implications for ecumenical relations between the two traditions, with a particular reference to the Ethiopiap--Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. These two churches need to discover the dynamic for unity which is slowly but surely making itself more apparent. Activating the dynamic for unity based on the doctrine of the Trinity entails nurturing dialogue and cooperation in order to achieve a common mission. This paper seeks to locate in the doctrine of the Trinity, in the very relational nature of the being of God, the foundation for Christian communion between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Evangelical Church Mekene Yesus. The doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of the Church can be viewed in the light of the particularity of each church. With this approach there is a distinct Orthodox or Lutheran perspective. But these two doctrines can also be viewed and interpreted in the light of their universality/catholicity. Then they can be seen as the testimonies of the one church of Christ.