In trying to help our contemporaries appreciate and understand the vitality of trinitarian reflection we may be failing to consider how three great separations of modern Western culture have damaged many modern intellectuals' ability to understand the achievements of pre-modern thought, especially trinitarian theology. These three fatal modern separations are: the separation of feeling and thought; the separation of theory and practice; the separation of form and content. All three of these peculiarly modern separations are related to one another. Moreover, each is based on an originally helpful scholastic distinction that became, in modernity, a separation. Let us recall the original distinctions and their modern separations in our attempt to turn these separations back into distinctions.
The modern separations contrast sharply with the relative ease with which either the ancients (see the work of Pierre Hadot) or the medievals (see the work of Jean Leclercq on the monastic schools and Marie-Dominique Chenu on the scholastics) developed, in their different contexts and schools, valuable distinctions that they all insisted must not be made into separations: the distinctions of feeling and thought, practice and theory, form and content.
I will not discuss in this essay the first two distinctions which became separations: feeling and thought; and practice and theory. In contemporary theology, the separation of feeling and thought has been the most 'healed'—i.e. rendered into a useful distinction, and no longer a separation. Consider the many discussions of