Saturday, July 14, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry for the light blogging around here lately.  I have been sick (bronchitis in June) and away (to visit my brand new grandson in Alberta) and now I'm going canoeing for the next week.  When I haven't been sick or preoccupied with cute grandchildren, I've been madly trying to finish this book, The Triune God and the Acids of Modernity, before the end of sabbatical (Sept.). 

I've been knee deep in fourth century Trinitarian debates and re-reading Lewis Ayres has confirmed how utterly without foundation the popular myth is that there is a fundamental difference between the Eastern (Cappadocian) Fathers and the West (Augustine) in that the East starts from the Three and the West starts from the One.  Anyone who reads Gregory of Nyssa's, To Abladius: On Not Three Gods, could never swallow this interpretive scheme.   This narrative is used to justify modern social Trinitarianism even though the Cappadocians explicitly and firmly reject it as heresy.  It is also used as the basis for accusing Augustine of modalism even though he is just rejecting tritheism and saying exactly what the Cappadocians say: that the three persons simply are the one God and this is the mystery of the Divine Being.  So much mischief is wrought by this innocent and technical-sounding narrative.  People today think their tritheism is orthodox and grounded in the Greek Fathers when it is really closer to the theology of Eunomius the Heteroousian.  The record has been set straight by Ayres, Michel R. Barnes, R. Williams and others, but the truth must be pounded in repeatedly if it is to have the needed effect. 

Helping out in this regard is Keith E. Johnson's Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism: An Augustinian Assessement (IVP, 2011), which is a wonderful example of Ressourcement combined with polemic.  It is a sign of hope that not all Evangelicalism is being led astray by bad Trinitarian theology.  It has a great appendix refuting Gunton's attacks on Augustine and a commendation by Ayres (as does Green's book).  Wonderful to see.  This is really what Catholics and Evangelicals Together is all about - defending the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.

Now I'm focused on Augustine and his doctrine of the Trinity.  I've just read Brad Green's book on Colin Gunton's over-the-top attacks on Augustine; Green is very kind to Gunton and gently corrects him.  Such patience! 

I'm just now reading Stuart Caldecott's Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education.  The first 50 pages are excellent.  Apparently I've discovered another kindred spirit.  I need to read his The Power of the Ring: The Spiritual Vision Behind the Lord of the Rings.

So many good books; so little time.  But I'm off to experience God in the beauty of nature.  Have a nice summer!