The Trinitarian Self: The Key to the Puzzle of Violence

By Charles K. Bellinger

An ambitious and creative treatise on the roots of human violence, bringing together insights from theology and cultural anthropology.

ISBN: 9780227173336


The Trinitarian Self argues that the insights of three key authors – Søren Kierkegaard, Eric Voegelin, and René Girard – can be synthesized to produce a Trinitarian theological anthropology. Their reflections on the deep roots of human behavior illuminate three structural dimensions of human existence: the temporal trajectory of selfhood, the vertical axis (God and nature), and the horizontal plane of cultural formation. An understanding of these dimensions and how they interrelate proves very fruitful in making sense of a wide variety of pathological forms of behavior that human beings have engaged in during the modern era.

This work links together in thought-provoking ways various realms of thought, such as Trinitarian theology, a plea for a “New Copernican Revolution” that will result in a broadly held psychological understanding of violence, the ethics of war and peace, atonement theologies, and critical commentaries on terrorism and the “War on Terror”. The interplay between these topics will likely prove very stimulating to a wide variety of readers.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 190

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Charles Bellinger is an Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas.


List of Charts
Abbreviations for Books by Kierkegaard, Voegelin, and Girard

Part One: Scientists of the Spirit
1. Introduction
2. Askesis: Introduction to Søren Kierkegaard
3. Anamnesis: Introduction to Eric Voegelin
4. Mimesis: Introduction to René Girard

Part Two: Perichoresis
5. Theses on Trinitarian Anthropology and Violence

Part Three: Rhetoric
6. Kierkegaard’s Critique of the 9/11 Hijackers: Or, Does a Human Being Have the Right to Commit Suicide While Also Committing Mass Murder for His Idolatrous Notion of the Truth?
7. A Speech Not Given on Sept. 20, 2001
8. Hypocrisy Is the Human Condition
9. Conclusion

Index of Names


Endorsements and Reviews

Bellinger has thrown a clarifying spotlight on the question of violence as the crucial intersection between our human sciences and theology, a dialogue that proves as fruitful in theory as it is necessary in practice. His telling readings of Søren Kierkegaard, Eric Voegelin, and René Girard are woven together into an interpretive framework that multiplies the diagnostic relevance of each one for our conflicted human condition. Ambitious, clear, and creative, this book is a welcome contribution to the theological understanding of humanity and to the struggle to overcome violence.
S. Mark Heim, Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology, Andover Newton Theological School

The lethal blow is as ancient as Cain, and it is this mystery of human malice that Charles Bellinger explores with creativity and verve. His ambitious theological anthropology, closely tied to the doctrine of God and ethics, consistently provokes insights into our painfully predictable tendency toward pyscho-social pathology – and gives us valuable hints about the way toward peace.
R.R. Reno, Professor of Theological Ethics, Creighton University

Why are human beings violent? Charles Bellinger suggests that this question is not asked in contemporary discourse, and so sets out to answer the question himself. There is, he believes, an ‘ethical imperative’ to develop a ‘psychological comprehension of violent behavior’. For Bellinger, this will involve a ‘New Copernican Revolution’, a shift in our understanding that is comparable to the great scientific revolutions of the past.
Simon J. Taylor, in Modern Believing, Issue 54.2, April 2013