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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Systematics Journal Entry #5

We continued our look at the Trinity today with Rowan Williams. Williams has three chapters devoted to the topic: considering trinitarian theology through the concepts of revelation, ontology and pluralism. I will start by freely admitting that I found this reading contained some of the densest, most difficult to penetrate material we have covered to date-- and that I felt pretty dense in trying to tackle it! Specifically, the middle chapter (“Trinity and Ontology”) lost me early, and I was never quite able to grasp the point at which he was driving in this chapter.

In the other two sections, however, I (eventually!) came to appreciate Williams’ efforts not to so much redefine trinitarian understanding, as in Migliore and LaCugna’s works, as a reinterpretation of the concepts of revelation and pluralism in light of his understanding of the Trinity. Based on his arguments, revelation is not so much an event, as the ongoing process of humanity becoming aware of God through “what is generative in our experience... that break[s] existing frames of reference and initiate[s] new possibilities of life.” (p.134). Similarly, he sees pluralism not with a pantheistic “all paths lead to God” approach, but instead as “resistance to the homogenization of human beings... resistance to the forces in our world that make for the reduction of persons and personal communities to units in large-scale, determined processes.” (p. 174). In both cases, he circles around to our familiar understanding of Trinity as community; and, as a consequence, the idea that it is through community that God is most ably understood.

In this way, Williams' more academic theological discussion ties in beautifully with the semon on "True Inclusiveness," in Fleming Rutledge's Help My Unbelief, also assigned for today. Her holding up of the Gospel message of “justification of the ungodly and the undeserving” (p. 77) as revelatory, as generative of a new understanding, as “more inclusive than anyone who does not know scripture could ever imagine,” sends the same message (albeit in a manner far more easily grasped).


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