Problem and Promise in Colin E. Gunton's Doctrine of Creation


While much dialogue has focused on aspects of Colin Gunton’s Trinitarian theology, there has been a need for a full-scale study of Gunton's doctrine of creation that locates the significance of his understanding of creation within the wider spectrum of his theology. Problem and Promise demonstrates how Gunton's doctrine of creation cannot be read in abstraction from his Trinitarian theology and argues that creation remains a central feature in Gunton’s writing that holds lasting importance for understanding ethical and moral aspects of Gunton’s theology. William B. Whitney establishes how this Trinitarian account of creation goes beyond offering a theological description of the created realm and also provides the basis for understanding human involvement in creation through the enterprises of culture.

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William B. Whitney, Ph.D. (2011, Fuller Theological Seminary), teaches Systematic Theology at Fuller Seminary and Psychology at Azusa Pacific University.
"William Whitney's careful and insightful investigation into the important work of the late British Colin Gunton in the areas of creation and theological anthropology makes a solid contribution to the study of the Twentieth Century theology. Gunton's decisive critique of the effects of Modernity, his call for a return to the best of the patristic sources, and highly nuanced engagement of Barth's theology are discussed sympathetically and critically in this fine study by the young American scholar." – Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA and Docent of Ecumenics, University of Helsinki, Finland
"Colin Gunton is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading theologians of the late-twentieth century. In the decade since his death, work has begun on examining and extending the many stimulating leads provided in his work. William Whitney’s study of Gunton’s account of the Doctrine of Creation and its implications for a theology of culture is a very welcome contribution to that task. Above all, Whitney shows the profundity of Gunton’s analysis of the distortions in contemporary culture that inhibit the created order from being truly itself, and so alerts us to challenges that remain in our own day." – Murray Rae, Professor of Theology and Head, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, New Zealand

Introduction ... 1

1. Gunton’s Critique of the Christian Doctrine of Creation ... 11
Introduction ... 11
1.1. The Effects of Platonism ... 12
1.2. The Effects of Later Greek Cosmology: Plotinus and the Gnostics ... 14
1.3. The Influence of Irenaeus ... 17
1.4. Augustine and the Influence of Platonism ... 23
1.5. Comments on Gunton’s Interpretation of Augustine ... 29
1.6. Evaluation ... 37
1.7. Concluding Remarks ... 40

2. The Contours of Modernity: The Enlightenment and the Doctrine of Creation ... 45
Introduction ... 45
2.1. Gunton’s Account of Modernity ... 46
2.2. Modernity and Christology ... 51
2.3. Modernity and Metaphor ... 54
2.4. Modernity and Theological Language ... 55
2.5. The Effects of Modernity on the Doctrine of Creation ... 59
2.6. The Effects of Modernity on Theological Anthropology ... 62
2.7. Evaluation ... 65
2.8. Conclusion: Refashioning the Doctrine of Creation ... 72

3. The Triune Creator: The Shape of Colin E. Gunton’s Doctrine of Creation ... 74
Introduction ... 74
3.1. Creatio Ex Nihilo ... 75
3.2. God’s “Two Hands”: A Trinitarian Mediation of Creation ... 78
3.3. Christ and Creation ... 87
3.4. The Spirit as the Perfector and the Project of Creation ... 90
3.5. The Correlation between the Doctrine of Creation and Soteriology ... 93
3.6. Evaluation ... 98

4. Personhood and Relation: Colin E. Gunton’s Theological Anthropology ... 110
Introduction ... 110
4.1. Imago Dei ... 111
4.2. Christ and the Image ... 119
4.3. Sin and the Imago Dei ... 125
4.4. Evaluation ... 136
4.5. Concluding Remarks ... 144

5. Creation, Christ and Culture: The Conception of Culture in Karl Barth and Colin E. Gunton ... 146
Introduction ... 146
5.1. Barth and Culture: An Orientation ... 147
5.2. Barth and Culture: An Overview ... 148
5.3. The Limits of Natural Theology ... 150
5.4. Culture as Sign ... 153
5.5. Jesus Christ, The Light of Life ... 158
5.6. Gunton and Culture: An Orientation ... 162
5.7. The Inter-Relation of Divine and Human Agency in Perfecting ... 169
5.8. An Ethic of Createdness ... 174
5.9. Correlations and Divergences ... 177
5.10. Evaluation ... 183
5.11. Closing Remarks ... 191

Conclusion ... 194

Bibliography ... 203
Index ... 211
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