Thursday 2 April 2009

Jesus and the immanent Trinity

“If God is neither a quasi-Hegelian organizing principle, nor an abstract postulate, nor yet an agent among other agents, what is to be said of him? Christian practice begins to answer that question by repeating the story of Jesus: what is to be said of God is that Jesus of Nazareth was born, ministered in such and such a way, died in such and such a way, and was raised from death. This is an odd statement, in that it treats the narrative of a human being as predicated of a substance or subject which is God…. God is what is constitutive of the particular identity of Jesus; that is what can be said of him, and it is what the homoousion of Nicaea endeavoured to say…. The ‘essential’ or ‘immanent’ Trinity can finally be characterized only as that which makes this life (and death and resurrection) possible and intelligible.”

—Rowan Williams, “Trinity and Ontology,” in Christ, Ethics and Tragedy: Essays in Honour of Donald MacKinnon, ed. Kenneth Surin (Cambridge UP, 1989), 79-80, 83.


kim fabricius said...

The essay is reprinted in Rowan Williams, On Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 148-66.

R.O. Flyer said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

George Hunsinger said...

possible and intelligible

Yes, not concrete and actual.

On divine simplicity as related to the inexhaustible depth and beauty of the eternal divine being, see Rowan Williams, Arius: Heresy and Tradition, pp. 119-26.

George Hunsinger said...

Just to be clear, it is the essential and immanent Trinity that is concrete and actual in and for itself.

It is so in the inexhaustible and golrious simplicity of the eternal divine ousia of the Holy Trinity.

It is this divine reality that makes Jesus's death and resurrection possible and intelligible. Not the reverse.

Tony Hunt said...

man I love Rowan Williams. I'm so glad he's our Archbishop

bruce hamill said...

Thanks for engaging here George. As I am looking forward to attending the upcoming conference on Trinitarian theology after Barth I find this statement helpful. It reminds me of David Bentley Hart's book.
Are you saying that the immanent Trinity is what we must assume to account for Jesus. Not that God is nothing more than this life (ie Jesus life) but that God is THE MORE without which this life would not be what it is nor could be, and within which this life is what it is?

George Hunsinger said...


Yes. Very well put.


roger flyer said...

the guy could make an exile consider coming back to the church...

Thomas (Murphy) Bridges said...


Has anyone else noticed a slight shift in Williams reading of Hegel? From essays such as this one, to the later ones, such as “Hegel and the gods of postmodernity” and “Logic and Spirit in Hegel”?
It seems to me that he is a little more positive in these latter essays than in "Trinity and Ontology."


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