Imatge de l'autor

Colin E. Gunton (1941–2003)

Autor/a de The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine

29+ obres 2,026 Membres 8 Ressenyes 3 preferits

Sobre l'autor

Until his sudden death in 2003, Colin E. Gunton was Professor of Christian Doctrine at King's College, University of London

Obres de Colin E. Gunton

The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine (1997) — Editor; Col·laborador — 240 exemplars
A Brief Theology of Revelation (1995) 68 exemplars

Obres associades

The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth (2000) — Col·laborador — 175 exemplars


Coneixement comú



revbill1961 | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | May 4, 2023 |
This is a brilliant and wonderful book exploring creation and Trinitarian theology.
Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Gunton was part of a trinitarian revival in western theological circles, and was especially helpful in surveying some of the weaknesses in Augustine's theology when seen alongside the views of many eastern Christians. He manages to reclaim the doctrine of the Trinity as being essential to our understanding of the ontology (being) of God, by noting that 'there has for long been a tendency to treat the doctrine as a problem rather than as encapsulating the heart of the Christian [G]ospel. It is as if one had to establish one's Christian orthodoxy by facing a series of mathematical and logical difficulties rather than by glorying in the being of a God whose reality as a communion of persons is the basis of a rational universe in which personal life may take shape.' (p. 31) After critiquing contemporary western theology and the state it found itself in the mid-80s (and arguably, for many theological departments, its current state too), he then goes on to model how this also impacts upon the ontology of the church itself and its relationship with its maker, as well as any number of other implications including politics and even science.

Gunton was also successful in rededicating academic theological pursuit to a classical understanding of biblical revelation, and as a result a missional and pneumatological (Spirit-lived) theology of worship and faith. In Gunton's theology, the work he is accomplishing is itself a form of worship. In his first chapter, he starts as he means to go on, by stating that 'Theology … is the enterprise of thought which seeks to express conceptually and as well as possible both the being of God and the implications of that being for human existence on earth.' (p. 7) He goes on to give his reasoning for writing the book at all by writing that 'the first [reason for writing] is the articulation of the faith for its own sake as the faith of the worshipping community … [and] the second focus of theological activity is the elucidation of the content of the faith for those outside the community of belief: the apologetic or missionary function. It is part of the pathos of Western theology that it has often believed that while trinitarian theology might well be of edificatory value to those who already believe, which must therefore be facilitated by some non-trinitarian apologetic, some essentially monotheistic "natural theology". My belief is the reverse: that because the theology of the Trinity has so much to teach about the nature of our world and life within it, it is or could be the centre of Christianity's appeal to the unbeliever, as the good news of a God who enters into free relations of creation and redemption with his world. In the light of the theology of the Trinity, everything looks different'. This is, perhaps, one of the most striking introductions to anything theological I have ever read. What's more, he succeeds in drawing out the implications of the doctrine upon all the key elements of modern life, including our relationship with other people, including some striking thoughts on otherness in relationship between the Trinity and us, and how this impacts upon our relationship with the 'other' in our societies. Read, for example, to this fantastic quote in his final chapter: 'We live in a fallen world, and need to be reminded that to speak of otherness and relation, even to institute programmes for realising them, is not enough. The world, and not only the human world, is re-established in the cross of him through whom it came to be and through whom it is re-constituted by the free act of the eschatological Spirit. The church, however lamentably it has failed in its calling, continues to be a reminder, through its orientation to the triune God, of the shape a true human society must take. But the being of the church, too, if it is not to fall ever and again into ideological distortions, must be shaped, formed, by its relation to the triune God, and so thought by analogy with his being.' (p. 204).

In one of the passages which spoke most clearly to me, Gunton places the spotlight on the church and claims that worship is the real purpose of the church, amidst the modern world's search for meaning and answers to a plethora of problems. Gunton writes that 'the focus on worship is … important because it avoids a merely moralistic definition of the church (p. 175) … such a community plays the positive role of representing the promise: that hope does not depend upon playing god, upon economic development, upon technological progress, but upon response to grace and truth. It is there to witness to the God who is indispensable because he is the sovereign lord who calls all into reconciled relationship with him through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit. … the church is indispensable to society as a minority community calling upon the wider world also to worship, and prepared to pay the price for that witness.' (pp. 176-177).

Throughout the book, Gunton retains a cruciocentric focus to his writing, acknowledging that the cross and resurrection are the heart of God's story of rescue of his people. He maintains a substitutionary understanding of the cross, explaining that 'metaphors of victory show that the atonement is a battle against evil, fought by God as man, and with the weapons only of defenceless human action. Metaphors of legality show the atonement as making possible the forgiveness of sin conceived as breach of divine law, by God the Son himself enduring as man the consequences of that breach. Metaphors of sacrifice show the atonement as a cleansing of the pollution incurred by the creation as the result of human sin.' (p. 187) What is most helpful, in the chapter on the atonement, is the Spirit's role in the atonement and resurrection. Gunton manages to focus on the importance of the historical Christ as well as the 'cosmic' Christ, while emphasising the role the Spirit plays in bringing about the eschatological rescue plan. 'Redemption must also be an authentically human action – a true and unpolluted sacrifice of praise to God. Here it is that Jesus, taking flesh from the polluted whole, must – through the Spirit – become perfect, because it is only as such that his gift is acceptable to God and so in turn is able to become the means of the perfecting of others ("being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey … " Hebrews 5:9). The cleansing of one, particular, person becomes the means of the cleansing of the whole, though only at the end will this be complete. In the meantime, particular transformations and so projecting towards eschatological perfection take place as by the Spirit other created beings are brought through Christ to God the Father.' (p. 189)

In his conclusion, Gunton sums up the problem with so much theology dedicated to the Trinity and reclaims it for worship: '… the fact is that trinitarian theology has come into disrepute as being concerned chiefly with the defence and articulation of given and apparently paradoxical statements of dogma. It has rarely seemed to be the living heart of worship and life.' (p. 194).

Throughout, Gunton's focus on the overarching story of salvation and especially on the Bible's eschatology and promise of perfection – not merely a return to Eden, but something (incredibly) much greater (p. 180, cf. Romans 8) – results in real excitement for the 'living hope' that Christians experience here and now, as well as hearing echoes of a tune we have not yet fully heard and news from a country we have not yet visited (C. S. Lewis, 'the Weight of Glory'). Theology as worship, with all of the implications that it brings for real life, both in the present and in all of eternity, is spine-tingling, and what makes it even more extraordinary is that the excitement that this living hope brings in the here and now is just a glimpse upon God's perfected and planned new creation.
… (més)
m-andrews | Jul 27, 2016 |
Systematic theology makes me nervous.

Think about it for a moment. Systematic theologians organize and distill the Bible (a diverse library of literature composed over many centuries) into one structure. The constant danger for systematists is to improperly exegete scripture to make it fit, not unlike trimming a puzzle piece to force it into place. The best systematic theologians are faithful to scripture and treat their own edifice as provisional. I appreciate Gunton's acknowledgement in the preface: "the Christian faith cannot without falsification be systematized" (xi).

Gunton has done a remarkable job at condensing the heart of the Christian faith into less than 200 pages. He writes with concise precision. Structurally, he uses the tripartite division of the creeds to focus on the Father and creation, the Son and salvation, and the Spirit and eschatology. Gunton's theology is deeply trinitarian.

Most helpful is Gunton's understanding of eschatology. Eschatology is not something that only happens in the future when this world is over. Eschatology is the in-breaking of the Spirit of God in the midst of our time in order to bring all creation to its rightful end. This has powerful implications for us. A right understanding of Spirit baptism leads us to reject escapist fantasies that place all hope in the future. Instead, we value the present as the time when we experience God's perfecting power in our daily lives.

"[The Spirit] teaches us to find perfection in the ordinary and power in weakness. That is the way things are transformed this side of the end" (172).

The Christian Faith is nothing to be nervous about. Colin E. Gunton has provided a clear and concise overview of the Trinity and His creation.
… (més)
StephenBarkley | Jul 19, 2016 |

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