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God as Trinity: Relationality and Temporality in Divine Life [Paperback]

By Ted Peters (Author)
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Item description for God as Trinity: Relationality and Temporality in Divine Life by Ted Peters...

Peters examines the works of Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, Eberhard Jungel, Jurgen Moltmann, Catherine Mowry LaCugna, and other theologians, as he highlights talk about the becoming of God by process theologians, sexism in trinitarian language by feminists, and divine and human community by liberation theologians.

Publishers Description

Ted Peters brings Trinitarian theology conversation to a new level by examining the works of Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, Eberhard Jungel, Jurgen Moltmann, Robert Jenson, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Catherine Mowry LaCugna. He highlights talk about the becoming of God by process theologians, sexism in Trinitarian language by feminists, and divine and human community by liberation theologians. Peters addresses the relationship of God's eternity to the world's temporality, and claims that thinking of God as Trinity affirms that the word "God" applies to both eternity and temporality.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1993
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664254020  
ISBN13  9780664254025  

Availability  105 units.
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More About Ted Peters

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ted Peters is a professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and a research scholar at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.

Ted Peters has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Family, Religion, and Culture
  2. Theology & the Sciences

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Pneumatology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about God as Trinity?

A perceptive book  Mar 17, 2007
After reading this book, I was left with a sense of admiration for Ted Peters ability to be somewhat prophetic, both in his identification of key trinitarian thinkers (e.g. LaCugna, Pannenberg, Jenson) and also for his ability to clearly outline the discussion in such a way that few books on the trinity and its recent resurgence in theology have been able to match it. This book can still be considered a very sharp overview of trinitarianism, which is itself an amazing accomplishment given the fact of the sheer volume of trinitarian literature that has appeared since this book was published.

Peter's task is outlined by a question similar to one that Catherine LaCugna asks in her book "God For Us." Where LaCugna asks why the Trinity has been marginalized in theology (and her answer being roughly because of the conceptual split between theologia and oikonomia) Ted Peters asks "why have theologians given us brain-knocking problem(s) and then frusterate us by consigning the answer to the impenetrable mystery of God?" (p.123) He is adamant that the Trinity can be (provisionally) explained by "human attempts," because, "what is in truth mysterious is the being of the inneffable God. But the doctrine of the Trinity is just that, a doctrine. And like other doctrines, it is the analytic and synthetic construction of evangelical explication for the purpose of bringing faith to understand, for the purpose of explaining the significance of what happened in the Christ event." (p.17) Hence Peters chides those who excuse doctrinal obscurity by appealing to divine mystery (p.17).

The problem, thinks Peters, is that we have traditionally approached the doctrine of God's relationship to the world in terms of a timeless "relation," to time-bound creation. Hence immediately there seems to be a split between, to use again LaCugna's term, "God-for-us," and God as He is "always," in his eternal life. Hence this entire book is really an attempt to outline and provide a model for understanding the God/world relationship that allows us to understand God in the economy of salvation as that same God-of-Himself, namely that God is not "timeless," but is both beyond and within time as time's condition and consummation (if this sounds familiar to those of you who have read either Pannenberg, Moltmann, or Jenson, this is no coincidence). In doing so, he overviews and gives summaries of traditional problems (briefly) in the first two chapters, attempting to say where he thinks the discussion should be headed (God's relation to the world as essentially eschatological, ala Pannenberg and Jenson, and the "model" of that relation along the lines of LaCugna's chiastic example), and where it fact has been (e.g. the filioque controversy, the arian controversy, feminist language about God, whether or not the Trinity is tied to a 'substantialist metaphysic," etc...)

What occurs then is an interesting blend of Pannenberg, Jenson, and LaCugna (with a little Moltmann, though Peters is generally more critical of Moltmann than the others). He wants to adapt a concept of eternity as the "Wholeness of time" that is achieved eschatologically when God will be "all in all," (Pannenberg, Jenson) but the basic model for this, that is, the conception of the relation between the "economic" and "imminent," Trinity, is a chiastic emanation and return, from the Father through the Son and perfected in the Spirit back to the Father through the Son (LaCugna's Patre ad Patrem). Essentially what Peters is very adamant about is that most Immanent/Economic models of the relation assume a God that is first essentially unrelated to the world, but that is in Himself relational and hence has the ability to become in a relation to the world because he is antecedently relational in himself (e.g. Barth, Jungel, Rahner, Pannenberg). But what Peters does, following very closely in LaCugna's steps, is to reject this assumption. The God of the Bible, according to Peters, is not the philosophers a se Deity who first exists for Himself, and then for us, but is always "for us." "Immanent," no longer, for Peters, refers to "God-in-Himself," but is akin to LaCugna's definition of theologia: theologia is the incomprehensible dimension of what is experienced of God in oikonomia, it is, we might say, the mystery of the oikonomia. God's mystery for Peters is the inexplicaple scope, the unmanipulable presence, of what occurs in time. Oikonomia is not God working "outside Himself" as a "coming-into-relation," of what was an original distance of the a se God, but is the unfolding of the plan contained in theologia.

Hence "God is both temporal and eternal," says Peters in a last series of summary "Trinitarian thesis": "My first thesis is more forcefully antidocetic than Chalcedonianism because it posits with utter seriousness the experience of God as human within finite time, an experience that includes passage, decay, and even death." (p.174) What we need to see is "that God's eternity cannot be understood as existing outside of time. Rather, it consists in overcoming the destruction that normally accompanies passage...God's eternity is gained through the victory of resurrection and transformation." (p.175) But it is the "eschatological future," that containes the key to understanding the paradox of this relation (p.175-179) and ultimately "there need not be a split between the absoluteness and the relatedness of God if we think of God as the absolutely related one." (p.179).

Ultimately, though, I'm not sure that this book accomplishes what it sets out to do. Its thesis' are not wholly novel, and appear as bits and pieces of other thinkers systems (which is, of course, generally what any theology actually is). But these pieces seem to be fitted in ways that, while some of their strengths are preserved, more weaknesses are revealed. For example, though Peter's wants to affirm at least that God is not wholly constituted by his relationship to creation, it seems that 1.) his procurement of LaCugna's chiastic model does seem to collapse God into "God for the world," despite Peters also aquiring Pannenberg's notion of the "wholeness" of time. Indeed his appropriation of the understanding of "wholeness," if indeed derived from Pannenberg in the way it appears that Peters wants, deconstructs itself precisely because PEters is unwilling to speak of God before the world. This is a key component of Pannenbergs program. Nor does Peters "wholeness," then, in attempting to make up for this, gain the complexity of Jenson's dialectical understanding of the Trinitarian relationship to the tenses of time. Unable in this manner (at least in my opinion) to account for the "wholeness" that he wants to posit (and is, to limited extent, successful) his eschatology which he is so adament about, really boils down into the basic modern approach, where eschatology is really only a function of protology.

2.) The chiastic model also seems to make the world eternal. If God is "God-for-us," and we do not need to posit a God-for himself prior to this (as Peters explicitly rejects in conversation with Barth, Rahner, and Jungel) then the world is not only a necessary component of God, but an eternal one. God cannot, on this account, be thought of without this world even as the unthinkable "otherwise" in Jenson's system. The irony here is two-fold: For their cannot be a "moment" where, God, even though He is always-going-to-be "for" the world, does not yet have the world. If God is only "God for us," then the "for us" is integral to God. Hence we might say that the antecedent identity of the "God" in "God-for-us", has been weakened and so goes the very concept of God for us as He is. The second is that, despite Peters dialogue with contemporary science, this model has a very difficult time incorporating the absolute beginning of the world, and hence excludes (unless reconcpetualized) the "big Bang" and all the miscellanies that go along with it. I, of course, could be wrong, but I am as of yet unwilling to posit a rejection of the absolute beginning for the world.

Otherwise, though this book is a valuable, and relatively brief read. In fact it still stands as one of the better modern Trinitarian summaries that you can find. It does, in the end, suffer not so much from its composition, which overall is tight and well thought out, but the time period in which it was written. His overal dialogue with Jenson and Pannenberg were truncated simply because the full volumes of their respective systematic theologies had not yet appeared, though this is, of course, not Peters fault at all. I highly recommend it, if for nothing else, the wonderful summaries of trinitarian thought.

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