In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1 Where Do We Stand in Trinitarian Theology? Resources, Revisions, and Reappraisals Christoph Schwöbel The “Renaissance of Trinitarian Theology”—Revisited TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY TODAY Twenty years ago, I wrote a brief introduction to a volume of essays entitled Trinitarian Theology Today: Essays on Divine Being and Act, under the heading “The Renaissance of Trinitarian Theology: Reasons, Problems and Tasks.”1 The book is a collection of papers, originally delivered at the first international conference of the Research Institute in Systematic Theology, King’s College London, in 1990. Apart from giving a brief overview of the papers published in the volume, the introduction was intended as a kind of interim report on the new interest that had been given to the doctrine of the Trinity and its significance for the task of Christian theology at the end of the twentieth century. While noting the tremendous variety of approaches to the doctrine of the Trinity and the fact that the increased engagement with the doctrine of the Trinity is not restricted to one discipline of theology but somehow embraces all theological disciplines and the whole project of Christian theology in relation to its cultural settings, the introduction tried to point to a number of factors 1. Christoph Schwöbel, “The Renaissance of Trinitarian Theology: Reasons, Problems and Tasks,” in idem, ed., Trinitarian Theology Today: Essays on Divine Being and Act (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), 1–30. 9 and motives that had contributed to the increased interest in the doctrine of the Trinity. The first of these factors mentioned is the encounter of Western theology with the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy in ecumenical conversations. These encounters have not only confronted Western theology with the significance that Eastern theology has ascribed to the doctrine of the Trinity, but also have pointed to effects this focus on the Trinity has for the practice of worship and for views of community organization in the church in the wider society. Apart from the notorious question of the filioque that once led to schism between Eastern and Western Christianity, there is also the issue of the personhood of the Holy Spirit, which Eastern theology raised as a problematic aspect of Western traditions. Encountering another tradition in ecumenical conversations not only leads to discovering the riches and problems of the other tradition but also encourages the critical engagement with one’s own tradition and its history as it is reflected in the eyes of the other. It is in this context that the question of the differences and similarities between both traditions arises. Is it correct to see decisive differences between both traditions with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, although they both profess the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed? If so, where would these differences then be located—in doctrine, in forms of church order, or in the practice of Christian worship? How should one assess the influence of complex historical and cultural factors? The second of the factors mentioned for the new interest in trinitarian theology draws attention to the charge that the doctrine of the Trinity has been marginalized, as Karl Rahner so memorably diagnosed. Is it true that the distinction between the dogmatic treatises De Deo uno and De Deo trino indicates that the doctrine of the Trinity had become largely irrelevant for Western theology, relegated to spheres of abstract speculation and the liturgy? Is Rahner’s diagnosis correct that this marginalization, which has the effect that many Christians have a monotheist faith, lacking a distinctive Christian trinitarian profile, is connected to a separation of the inner processions and the economic missions of the Trinity? Do we find here the reason that the immanent and economic Trinity were not seen as constitutively related so that matters of biblical exegesis and questions of dogmatic reflection are pursued as independent exercises, despite all Protestant protestations that doctrine should be based on Scripture alone? If the diagnosis is correct, will Rahner’s therapy, expressed in the slogan “the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity, and the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity,” bring the desired recovery, restoring the doctrine of the Trinity to the center of the Christian faith? 10 | Recent Developments in Trinitarian Theology The third group of factors mentioned in my 1995 introduction refers to the relationship between philosophical theism and its modern twin, philosophical atheism, and a trinitarian doctrine of God. It is noted that the philosophical debate on the existence of God and the coherence of theism have, at least sometimes, ignored the Christian confession that...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.