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The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity / The 1992 Bampton Lectures [Paperback]

Colin E. Gunton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 27, 1993 0521421845 978-0521421843
This study, based on the Bampton Lectures delivered in the University of Oxford in 1992, examines what is often called the crisis of modernity, with reference not only to modernity but to modern culture in general. Problems of social, theological, and philosophical thought are traced back beyond the Enlightenment to the very roots of Western Christian theology. A response to these problems is essayed by constructively developing conceptual possibilities to be found in ancient and modern theology of the Trinity.

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The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity / The 1992 Bampton Lectures + The Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study (Edinburgh Studies in Constructive Theology) + The Promise of Trinitarian Theology
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"By suggesting that many of the ills of modernity reflect the displacement of God, Colin Gunton helps us to see our problem in a new light. Anyone concerned with theology and with its relation to the modern predicament must read The One, the Three and the Many." Stanley Hauerwas

"[Gunton's] work merits wide and careful consideration. His study is meticulously structured, replete with signposts that enhance its readability as well as sturdily conveying his vigorous and thoroughly theological intellectual program." Nancy A. Dallavalle, Theological Studies

Book Description

Based on the Bampton Lectures delivered in the University of Oxford in 1992, this study examines the crisis of modern culture. Problems of social, theological, and philosophical thought are traced back to the roots of Western Christian theology in search of a constructive response.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521421845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521421843
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking! April 2, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gunton's thesis is that the doctrine of the Trinity, specifically in the concept of perichoresis, sheds light on the relational nature of all created reality and can serve as a conceptual model for the restoration of fragmented modern culture. In the perichoretic maintenance-in-tension of the one God and the three Persons, we find a model for a balanced integration of truth, goodness, and beauty in culture that is both unified and particular, coherent and true to diversity. As Gunton puts it (177): "But just as a unitarily conceived ultimate reality encourages fragmentation [reviewer note: i.e., by right, rebellious insistence on the reality and value of the particular], so by contrast a God conceived trinitarianly, a God who contains within himself a form of plurality in relation and creates a world which reflects the richness of his being, can surely enable us better to conceive something of the unity in variety of human culture."
The book is in 8 chapters (originally lectures), arranged, as Gunton notes explicitly (e.g., 130), chiastically: the problems described in chap.1 are resolved in chap. 8; the problems of chap. 2 are resolved in chap. 7; etc.
Part One: The Displacement of God
1. From Heraclitus to Havel. The problem of the one and the many in modern life and thought
2. The disappearing other. The problem of the particular in modern life and thought
3. A plea for the present. The problem of relatedness in modern life and thought
4. The rootless will. The problem of meaning and truth in modern life and thought
Part Two: Rethinking Createdness
5. The universal and the particular. Towards a theology of meaning and truth
6. `Through whom and in whom...' Towards a theology of relatedness
7. The Lord is the Spirit. Towards a theology of the particular
8. The triune Lord. Towards a theology of the one and the many
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colin Gunton, The One, the Three and the Many February 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Speaking as a British theologian to the English academic community, Gunton exhibits considerable erudition along with concern about the disintegration of traditional Christianized culture into what he calls "modernism" and "postmodernism." His analysis of the cultural shift reaches back to pre-Christian philosophy, from Idealism to the reality of relationships. The book is not an easy read, but for those who want to think about the course of the American culture, it is informative and stimulating.
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19 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Western Book April 3, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gunton's book is amazing. It covers a vast away of knowledge, but he has woven the strands together too well to notice at times. What he has done in essence is acknowledge the failings of Christianity that caused modernity to react so violently against it, but he has used this to champion a fuller, more Trinitarian concept of Christianity. The only caveat I place on this book is that it tends to be Western: it deals with the culture of modernity well, but one must always bear in mind this book does not deal directly with other cultures.
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1 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trinity as snake oil June 1, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Colin Gunton hopes to show in The One, The Three, and The Many (OTM) that all the problems of the world would be solved if everyone could just understand the Christian doctrine of the trinity (thus "The Three"). This sounds so incredibly ambitious that it may look like I'm pitching a straw man, but Gunton thinks the trinity is so powerful that any attempt to downplay this feature of his argument would injure him more than my apparently overwrought summary does. For Gunton the trinity is humanity's only hope to establish genuine truth, morality, beauty, and unity in diversity.

I do not think Gunton makes his case.

First, OTM is a use-mention error. Even if Gunton is right that the concept of the trinity is 100% necessary to achieve unity in diversity, that would not imply the trinity actually exists. Trinity and god then are handy metaphors at best. Gunton seems to concede this near the end, and tries to retreat from ontology to transcendentalism. OTM is unparsimonious, though, because even the concept of the trinity is not necessary. The "universe" is a simpler metaphor for unity in diversity, and has the benefit of existing, so we can leverage it without resorting to superstition. Finally OTM is unscientific. Gunton thinks modernity has unleashed a legion of social ills that he hopes the Trinity will cure. But he fails to support this claim with empirical data.

When Gunton manages to wear the right outfit he is late to the party. He defends evolution on grounds that young-earth creationists have misunderstood Genesis chapters 1-2. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But it is incredible if not insulting to believe anyone is waiting around for a British theologian to uncover the true meaning of an iron age creation myth before believing that evolution is true.
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