Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism: An Augustinian Assessment, By Keith E. Johnson

Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism

An Augustinian Assessment

by Keith E. Johnson

Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism
  • Length: 286 pages
  • Published: September 02, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3902
  • ISBN: 9780830839025

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Increased interest in the doctrine of the Trinity has led to its use in formulating new, pluralistic approaches to the theology of religions. But theologian Keith Johnson is convinced that many of these forays are not salutary for Christian faith.Here Johnson critically engages the diverse proposals of Mark Heim, Amos Yong, Jacques Dupuis and Raimundo Panikkar.

Johnson grounds his evaluation in an extended study of St. Augustine?s trinitarian theology. Not only has this doctor of the church provided an ecumenical theological standard down through the ages, but, Johnson argues, one that should continue to serve as a criterion for faithful trinitarian thinking now.

Locating the points at which the four proposals diverge from the Augustinian norm, Johnson delves into essential aspects of the trinitarian doctrine including immanence and economy, the relations of the divine Persons, and the proper use of the vestigia trinitatis in creation. Johnson?s critique of these intriguing experiments draws attention to the methodological errors that plague attempts to apply the doctrine of the Trinity to a wide range of topics.

"Over the past two decades an ecumenical reengagement with classical trinitarian theology has gathered pace. This revival moves powerfully beyond stale oppositions of East and West, and refutes accusations of classical Christian theology's failure. This is the true trinitarian 'revival,' and here we see its latest fruit. Keith Johnson's wonderful book brings the mighty voice of Augustine into debates about the theology of religions, and has ramifications for evangelical theologians everywhere. Johnson offers a penetrating critique of the manner in which the Trinity has been used as a theological source for considering the diversity of religions, and then he very helpfully places this whole discussion within the far wider context of debate over classical trinitarian doctrine. The game has been changed."

Lewis Ayres, Bede Chair of Catholic Theology, Durham University, UK

"Keith Johnson's clearly written and theologically incisive Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism makes a critical contribution to Christian dogmatics on at least three fronts: It provides an invaluable resource for thinking about the relationship between two of contemporary theology's most important topics, the doctrine of the Trinity and the reality of religious pluralism. It introduces readers to the most up-to-date scholarship on the oft-misunderstood and oft-maligned Augustine of Hippo. And it serves as a model of evangelical ressourcement, exhibiting a loving attention to the theological riches of the past for the sake of theological renewal in the present."

Scott R. Swain, Reformed Theological Seminary

"Following the turn to trinitarian theology, a cadre of evangelical theologians is making a substantial contribution to the doctrine of the Trinity. With this book, Keith Johnson distinguishes himself as a significant member of this important group. Drawing upon the historical resource of Augustine's formulation of the doctrine to address and assess current appeals to the Trinity as grounding for a theology of religions, Johnson is exemplary in terms of evaluative methodology and fairness as he sounds a cautionary note to those who would claim a trinitarian foundation for their theological proposals. I highly recommend this work!"

Gregg R. Allison, professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism has two considerable merits. The first is clear and eloquent summary of recent advances in understanding Augustine's trinitarian doctrine. The second is application of that doctrine to a creative proposal in the sphere of the Christian theology of religions. Either merit would make the book worthwhile; to have both together is to have something truly excellent."

Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Chair of Catholic Theology, Duke Divinity School

"In this carefully researched and clearly written book, Keith Johnson explores how the doctrine of the Trinity has been developed by some leading voices in the theology of religions. Johnson's trenchant critique of some current approaches and his reaffirmation of the importance of trinitarian theology for a theology of religions make this a very significant contribution to ongoing debates over the relation between Christian commitments and other religions."

Harold Netland, professor of philosophy of religion and intercultural studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Lucidly written and deftly argued, Keith Johnson's book advances an urgently needed Augustinian analysis and critique of recent attempts at a 'trinitarian' foundation of religious pluralism. Johnson convincingly demonstrates that these attempts end at best in theological cul-de-sacs, and adds on top an urgently needed rebuttal of recent Protestant critiques of Augustine's theology of the Trinity. This Augustinian assessment is a welcome witness to the ongoing resourcefulness and relevance of Augustine for contemporary trinitarian theology."

Reinhard Huetter, professor, Duke University Divinity School



1. The Turn to the Trinity in the Theology of Religions
The Contemporary Trinitarian Revival
The Christian Theology of Religions

2. Introducing the Trinitarian Theology of Augustine
Contextualizing Augustine?s Trinitarian Theology
Introducing De Trinitate

3. The "Economic" Trinity and the "Immanent" Trinity in the Theology of Religions
S. Mark Heim's Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends
The Economic Trinity and the Immanent Trinity in De Trinitate
Heim?s Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends: An Augustinian Evaluation
Implications for the Christian Theology of Religions

4. Divine Relations in the Theology of Religions
Amos Yong's Pneumatological Theology of Religions
Jacques Dupuis' Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism
Augustine on the Relations of the Divine Persons
Yong?s Trinitarian Pneumatology: An Augustinian Evaluation
Dupuis's Trinitarian Christology: An Augustinian Evaluation
Implications for the Christian Theology of Religions

5. Vestiges of the Trinity in the Theology of Religions
Raimundo Panikkar's Theandric Spirituality
Augustine on Vestiges of the Trinity
Panikkar?s Trinitarian Spirituality: An Augustinian Evaluation
Implications for the Christian Theology of Religions

6. Rethinking the Relevance of the Trinity
Implications for the Christian Theology of Religions
Similar Trinitarian Problems in Contemporary Theology
Rethinking the Relevance of the Trinity: Augustinian Reflections

Appendix: Reclaiming Augustine on the Trinity
Colin Gunton's Criticisms of Augustine?s Trinitarian Theology
Rereading Augustine

Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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