For many believers today the doctrines of Atonement, Christology and the Trinity seem like puzzling constructions produced by academic theologians. They are cast in unintelligible forms of thought derived from Platonism or from feudal society, and for many their existential relevance for life today remains unclear. This book introduces these doctrines and proposes a reinterpretation in the light of the claim of many Christian mystics that ultimate happiness is to be found in enjoying the loving fellowship of God. This claim is amatrix of faith in terms of which these doctrines are shown to be relevant for the life of faith of believers today. Furthermore, since this matrix can be defended within all three Abrahamic traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the proposed understanding of these doctrines can also contribute usefully to the necessary dialogue between these traditions in a globalised world.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements -- Part 1 Prologue -- 1 The Intelligibility of Christian Doctrine -- Mysteries and Puzzles -- The Limits of Metaphorical Thinking -- The Puzzles of Metaphorical Thinking -- Theology and the Puzzles of Doctrine -- Conclusion -- Part 2 Fellowship with God: The Matrix of Faith -- 2 Ultimate Happiness and Fellowship with God -- Rich and Famous -- Human Love -- Divine Love -- Unhappiness as Estrangement from God -- 3 Estrangement and Reconciliation -- Estrangement -- Reconciliation -- The Price of Reconciliation -- Divine Forgiveness -- Change of Heart -- The Matrix of Faith -- Part 3 Christian Doctrine: Interpreting the Matrix -- 4 The Doctrine of Atonement -- A Point of Departure -- Patristic Ideas on Atonement -- The Universal and the Particular -- Penal Substitution -- Atonement as Reconciliation -- 5 The Doctrine of Christology -- Atonement and Christology -- Natures or Functions? -- Reconciliation and the Divinity of Christ -- Reconciliation and the Humanity of Christ -- 6 The Doctrine of the Trinity -- Atonement and the Trinity -- Social Trinitarianism -- Latin Trinitarianism -- Part 4 Epilogue -- 7 Dialogue and the Matrix of Faith -- The Children of Abraham -- Dialogue and Christian Doctrine -- Exclusivism -- Index.
Vincent Brummer is a philosopher of religion who takes systematic theology seriously. In his new book he uses his philosophical acumen to elucidate central topics of Christian doctrine: the Atonement, Christology, and the Trinity. For him they are not mere theological constructions but have their meaning and function in the context of the believer’s search for ultimate happiness. There is much to be learned from his clear and careful philosophical reworking of classical views of Reformed theology. New and controversial is the idea of a 'matrix of faith' by which Christians claim to attain ultimate happiness and which Brummer believes can be defended not only within the Christian, but also the Jewish and Islamic traditions. This will no doubt provoke discussion, and it should.