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The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation, and the Culture of Modernity
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The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation, and the Culture of Modernity

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  69 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
This study, which is based on the 1992 Bampton Lectures delivered in the University of Oxford offers a theological analysis of and response to the modern world, and is at once a theology of culture and of creation. In the first half of the book, Professor Gunton expounds some of the distinctive and often contradictory features of modern culture. It is contended that the di ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1993)
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Joseph Sverker
Well, another reading done and I still think this book is quite brilliant in its argumentation. There are certainly seem problems. I think Gunton's view of all attempts to solve the question of human's place in context as theological might be one. It doesn't allow for there to be something 'other' than theology, which goes against his main idea about the need for God to be trinitarian in order for creation to be able to be other than God. Furthermore, I find it a bit strange that Gunton tak
Jacob Aitken
Gunton's thesis is that Modernity plays the one and many against each other (6). Antiquity and modernity are alike in having defective accounts of relationality. Third, the fragmentation of the three transcendentals (begun with Plato) makes the modern world an uneasy world. Understanding that modernity is difficult to define, Gunton sees it as a family of dogmas best represented in the French and Russian Revolutions. What modernity gives us is "displacement," shifting transcendentals from God to ...more
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Apologies to Colin Gunton, as I am only a wannabe intellectual and I don't understand this as well as I should. However, I have really enjoyed TRYING to understand.

The One, the Three, and the Many by Colin Gunton

Gunton seems to be saying that Christianity (and possibly theism more generally) has come apart in modernity because it was unstable from as early as Augustine who minimized the roles of the Christ and the Holy Spirit, asserting that the creation was the product of divine arbitrary will—
Michael W.
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting plunge into a whole different way of thinking theologically. And it was quite an intellectual stretch. It seems to me that Gunton was addressing the valuable critiques from Modernity and later Modernity (post-modernity) as well as it's deep short-falls. But the author also worked slowly into the material, massaging into the this work bit by bit, what he sees as the remedy to the critiques and the short-falls: a renewed and reworked theology of creation through the lens an ...more
Jeffrey Brannen
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. Ok, four stars because I don't know enough to say whether Gunton has a convincing argument because I don't know what he's trying to prove. Or rather, I know enough to feel around the edges and know that there is so much here that merits further study.

In short, we are caught between between the Parmedian One and the Heraclitian Many which can only be resolved by the Irenean Three (his doctrine of the Trinity with the S and Spirit being the two "hands" of the Father in Creation).

In modernit
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, theology
Gunton's aim is to give a satisfying account of relationality to both the one and the many, particular and universal, and the basis of his analysis is with the Trinity who is both One and Three (Universal in Substance and Particular in Persons).

I found his account of the modern problem of disengagement to be fascinating. Modernity is marked by displacement of God by other wills vying to take God's place. Individualism sought to liberate the person, to assert the rights of the many, but instead a
Joshua  Butler
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
another of my all-time favorites. gunton attempts to address the classic philosophical tension between the one & the many (is reality a unity or plurality?) through the lens of the Trinity. tracing the philosophical discussion through classical thought, pre-modern, modern and into the present, he highlights the massive dangers to humanity and creation as the pendulum of our societal worldviews swing from the One to the Many and back again.

he proposes the Trinity as a matrix of mediation betw
Joshua Ray
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wildly ambitious book that argues modernity is essentially a displacement of God and that an anemic doctrine of both creation and trinity are the main contributors to this displacement.

Gunton spends the first half of the book diagnosing the problems of modernity and the second half suggesting corrections to our understanding of the Trinity and God's work of creation that lead to a metaphysic not leading to monistic overemphasis on unity or plurality demanding homogeneity.

If that last sentence w
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While I might want to better refine/define the way Gunton sets up some of his questions, and also critique his engagement (or lack thereof) with certain sources that would seem to be relevant to his discussion, this is a five-star attempt at doing theology. In terms of tone, breadth, clarity, and creativity, and in its attempt to ask and answer big questions in a broad cultural context in relation to the fullness of God's triune identity, it is a rather brilliant theological account of "God, Cre ...more
G Walker
I read this to pay may Gunton dues... alas, I am not perhaps the best person to critique Gunton... andyway, I found it to be interesting and provocative look at the idea(s) of perichoresis... and how that really is worked out in the day to day events of world history, society and personal life etc... the idea was good (truly, I think he IS onto something) but the ultimate analysis and solutions were confusing, frustrating and inadequate...
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
One of the most challenging reads I have faced in a while. Very complex thoughts that are hard to grasp but life-changing when understood. A refreshing look at God in all aspects (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). The author does an amazing job of critiquing without becoming cynical. He challenges modernism and provides great insight for how life should be lived.
Matt Kottman
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm probably just not as clever as others, but I found this a difficult read (although thought provoking). Definitely written for scholars. If you're game for a slow read which helpfully challenged modernity and postmodernity, you may want to wade through this one.
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
beautiful, despite the poor ending.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Helpful in parts.
Douglas Wilson
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Nov 25, 2008 marked it as to-read
Tim Keller recommends the works of Colin Gunton, especially this one, for "some extremely stimulating reflections on the promise of Trinitarian thought."
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Colin Ewart Gunton (1941-2003) was a British systematic theologian. As a theologian he made contributions to the doctrine of Creation and the doctrine of the trinity. He was Professor of Christian Doctrine at King's College London from 1984 and co-founder with Christoph Schwoebel of the Research Institute for Systematic Theology in 1988. Gunton was actively involved in the United Reformed Church i ...more
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“For theologians groaning under the oppression of demands to justify their discipline before the bar of what is supposed to be universally valid scientific method the appeal of non-foundationalism is immense. It liberates a celebration of the rights of particularity. It enables the theologian to say that theological method must be different from other methods because it shapes its approach from the distinctive content with which it has to do - just as, indeed, other disciplines shape their approaches in the light of their distinctive content. Non-foundationalism, that is to say, is a way of advocating the autonomy of distinct intellectual disciplines.” 0 likes
“In the imposition of a unitary and homogeneous popular culture, disseminated now throughout the world by the spread of Western technology and communications, is to be found one of the central features of modernity's distinctive way of achieving the priority of the one over the many. Homogeneity derives from the creation of an undifferentiated social or other reality...It is not therefore the priority of the many that distinguishes modernity from other cultures, but the shape the priority of the one takes in practice. Thus both the ancient and modern eras, in so far as they can be distinguished in the way often attempted, share in a tendency to elevate the one over the many: to enslave the many to the heteronomous rule of the one. The pathos of the modern condition is that, after rejecting what it rightly sees to be the oppressive forms of unity deriving from the past, it has itself succumbed to various false universals that replicate or even exacerbate the bondage from which it had hoped to free itself.” 0 likes
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