Florence: The International Symposium on the Trinity

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).


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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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9749

Question –
Was this like the “reinvention of the wheel”?
We already have the Nicene Creed which is a description of the interactions
of “Father” God, “Son” God, “Holy Spirit” God.

QUESTION-- How do the FINDINGS of this Symposium differ from the Creed?
No subordination. Each one “working” in harmony with each other and enjoying
each other. Having “fun” together making the Universe, whatever that is. Enjoying
the company of everything they create.
We actually “know nothing” about the rest of the Universe. But what we see here
on Earth lets us KNOW that the PROCESS of the Gods creating continues in
the present NOT the past
Each one involved in reuniting Human Beings of Earth back into the Family of God.

PROBLEM-- All we KNOW about our “Gods” is limited by what HUMANS wrote about
“God” in what we call Scriptures. We do have the Natural World to view as God’s
gift to Humans.
We DO NOT have any Scriptures that non-Earth persons may have written over
their lifetimes of their creation.
So we Only have a very LIMITED understanding of our God-Trio to draw upon.
Which may mean we “Know Nothing” about God as opposed to all the information
about God in the rest of the Universe.

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Steve,Those people are not aware that there are some very smart individuals around that can pick up the real intent of the “symposium”… People like Steve Mga, aka niteguy2!!!
What an opportunity for tourism!!! Apparently they liked the experience because they will be organizing another event in 3- years! It must be fun! The author said, “an in-depth analysis of the concept of the Trinity occurred,…”

Well, maybe they didn’t conclude anything therefore they need 3-4 more years to have a “more in-depth analysis of the concept of the Trinity…” A second wheel being re-invented in 3-4 years? I hope their vehicle doesn’t have too many wheels to be re-invented…

Forty people attending? Am I reading it correctly? Why not using modern technology and do it all via WEBINAR or so, and publicizing it so that people around the world can watch? I guarantee the audience will be more than forty… :wink:

This was apparently a typical Adventist picnic in Italy, while they visited Italy…

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I’m smiling as I consider an Adventist symposium on the Trinity, in Florence, at
beautiful Villa Aurora, in June, with only 40 attendees. The world church doesn’t really have a problem with the Trinity. However, issues in the US, come from two sources. First, some prominent early Adventists were not fully trinitarian, and traditionalists believe that position is closer to original Adventism. The second is the the influence of the headship doctrine which when pushed to its logical conclusion requires that everything have a “head,” including the Godhead, giving preference to the Father over the Son and Holy Spirit. As triumphalistic as the report sounds, the Biblical data is far from slam dunk, and that also produces a smile.


Meanwhile… the traveling experience must be very pleasant! :wink:

Such an absurdity! Who those people think that they are fooling? Are they going to disclose the TOTAL cost of this foolish exercise???

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“giving preference to the Father over the Son and Holy Spirit.”
If we carefully search through the New Testament, we will clearly see in the teachings of Jesus that His Father is greater than Himself; that he owed his very life to the Father; sent from the father, to do His will; brought forth by the father (Pro. 8); begotten by the Father; went back to the father; received all power from the Father, - all this add up to show that the Father is supreme, and Jesus acknowledged this.

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Theology is a very lonesome profession. Who do they talk to.? The critical issue is the human nature of Jesus. It is what makes official Adventism a cult. So the next time they meet let the topic be Romans 5 Or maybe Tooth Corinthians.

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Side trip to available to Swiss, Bavaria, reroute flights to Paris and
catch the next plane in several days. Or, go home via Rome.
It did not say if their wives came with them.

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Don’t the wives get one trip per year with their spouse?

This is the foundation of the Last-Generation Theology heresy, perfection exceeding that of a “human” Jesus. Of course, it is also the basis of the Headhip Heresy, or the Neosubordinationism theory @phil

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Chris –
Jesus the Man’s journey of Earth was showing us Human Beings what a TRUE
Human Relationship can be with God.
But we HAVE to live like Jesus in our mind-set. As Jesus told the 70 –
1.No extra clothes
2.No money
3.No extra pair of shoes
4.No guarantee of a place to sleep, or what food one gets.
5.Disregard ALL Kosher rules. Eat what the host fixes.
THIS was the life of Jesus the Man. So, YES! Jesus the Man relied on God
His “Father” to direct Him where to go, who to see, who to heal. And relied
on God His “Father” to do the healing, casting out the spirits, quieting the
storm, feeding the masses TWICE.
And apparently MORE than 2 persons were raised by Him. His report to
John in prison was BEFORE the widow of Nain’s son and Lazarus.
When the risen Christ went back to heaven their relationships returned to
“normal”. 1John 5:7 – Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these
Apparently NO Superior, NO Inferior in their relationship.

If one will recall when speaking to the disciples, you have seen all the things
I have done. You will do these things and even greater things.
Has ANY Human been BRAVE enough to live a life like Jesus the Man???

‘A big lemonade’ is the phrase that comes to mind when reading of this weekend ‘symposium’ for the in depth study of the the trinity. While the meeting and circumstances of this meeting bear no resemblance to the original meeting that was referred to as ‘a big lemonade’, I feel certain that it captures the the general regard of many regarding it.

Were the expenses paid from the tithe? Does this concern anyone?


The Trinity seems to be the most attacked doctrine of the Church for a century. I would support in-depth study of the Trinity from scholars any time. I can’t think of anything more ripe for heresy in our church at this time. More $$$$ devoted to this study would be fine.

I am reminded of a symposium in London to study “unity” where scholars invited to present were threatened and forbidden to attend, and funding for such a trip was not reimbursable by their employers.

Why wouldn’t a church whose greatest threats in decades include Headship and Neosubordinationism (@phil) be holding more conferences, symposiums, scholarly presentations, and invitations for (RFPs) many intensives on these and other topics. All in the open, live-streamed, and published. Spouses invited, too.

Better spent $$$$ than spreading cheap paperbacks by mail.


Yes, the church rejected Dr Heppenstall’s book The Man Who is God in which he is emphatic by writing that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and thus was without the sin of Adam.

Rome makes it by the Immaculate conception of Mary.

Brinsmeads tried to establish that the soul temple would be cleansed at the time the Most Holy Place was cleansed.

Yet Adventism insists that we do it ourselves.Big deal huh…?


Is this blasphemy since it denies that Christ “finished” and sealed our salvation at the cross?


Of course, It is the same as the exchange of Eve and the serpent.

SYMPOSIUM | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
symposium definition: 1. an occasion at which people who have great knowledge of a particular subject meet in order to discuss a matter of interest:…

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Let’s have symposia!

And colloquy, conference , council, forum, panel, panel discussion, parley, powwow, round-robin, roundtable, seminar . Words Related to symposium . colloquium. caucus, town meeting. assembly, conclave, congregation, congress, consistory, convention, convocation, synod. --Merriam Webster

Let’s have workshops, summits, forums, testimonials, retreats, Let’s have plenaries, keynotes, inclusive events. Before any so-called “split,” let’s communicate.

I’d like to attend a conference on ordaining women with ordained women, commissioned women, women in seminary, women in undergrad, women in academy, moms of ordained women, daughters of pastors; you know, “people who have great knowledge of a particular subject.” In other words, a symposium at the least. The Trinity is the basic, underlying issue with Headship.

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I got a kick out of Fall Counsel when all the men wore beards. The issue should have been the ability to grow hair on the scalp. Women would win without question.


Sounds like a blast. I’d attend if it gave me a reason to return to Florence (where there is a little restaurant in the alley next to a church with the best lasagna on earth.)

Still, it sounds like it was an event to reinforce the church’s official position, which I find basically untenable:

At the least it is not biblical. There is no place in the bible where you can find the Trinity described.

The nature of Jesus was a hot topic in the early church for 400 years. There were many ideas promoted by various church fathers who were respected and learned biblical scholars. The Trinity as we have inherited it was only one. Even after the Councils settled on one idea, and first wrote and then re-wrote their Creeds, two more centuries passed before the other ideas were stamped out. So, overall it took 600 years to arrive the Catholic creed, which teaches the Trinity. This would not have happened if the bible taught the concept, which it does not.

It seems to me that Jesus own words deny the church’s statement quoted above:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." - Mark 13.

So, neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit know when Jesus will return. This is an overt statement that not all the individuals that make up the Trinity are all knowing.