Maarten Wisse scores some points against Trinitarian “participationist” ontology in his 2011 Trinitarian Theology beyond Participation: Augustine’s De Trinitate and Contemporary Theology (T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology). But there are irritations. Early on, he points out that participationist theologies attempt to redress the modern disenchantment of the world. Wisse argues, rather boldly, that a certain kind of disenchantment is inherent in Christian faith, and I agree. But he describes the participationist response this way:
“Against the idea of a world that is devoid of God, a participation ontology in Trinitarian terms describes how the world is in fact part of God’s very being, as the world exists in God” (p. 9). The obvious needs to be stated: These are not two statements of the same position. One can claim (as Paul does) that we live, move, and have existence in God, and that in Christ all holds together, without drawing the conclusion that the world is “part” of God’s being. (Does God’s being have parts in any case?)
Wisse’s book puts me in mind of van Til’s homely solution to this problem: We are small children, sitting on God’s lap, slapping His face, able to reach His face only because we are on His lap.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, September 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm
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