A penetrating critique of Gunton's analysis of Augustine, illuminating Augustine's insight into the relationship between creation and redemption.
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Available as: Paperback, PDF
Specifications: 229x153mm, 236pp
Published: January 2012
Published: May 2012
The British systematic theologian Colin Gunton argued that Augustine bequeathed to the West a theological tradition with serious deficiencies. According to Gunton, Augustine's particular construal of the doctrine of God led to fundamental errors and problems in grasping the relationship between creation and redemption, and in rightfully construing a truly Christian ontology. In Colin Gunton and the Failure of Augustine, Bradley G. Green's close reading of Augustine challenges Gunton's understanding.
Gunton argued that Augustine's supposed emphasis of the one over the many severed any meaningful link between creation and redemption, contra the theological insights of Irenaeus, and furthermore that because of Augustine's supposed emphasis on the timeless essence of God at the expense of the three real persons, he failed to forge a truly Christian ontology, effectively losing the insights of the Cappadocian Fathers). For all of Gunton's many insights, Green argues that on the contrary, Augustine did not sever the link between creation and redemption, but rather affirmed that the created order is a means of genuine knowledge of God, that the created order is indeed the only means by which redemption is accomplished, that the cross of Christ is the only means by which we can see God, and that the created order is fundamentally oriented toward a telos – redemption. Concerning ontology, Augustine's teaching on the imago Dei, and the prominent role that relationship plays in Augustine's doctrines of man and God, provides the kind of relational Christian ontology that Gunton sought. In short, Green argues, Augustine could have provided Gunton key theological resources in countering the modernity he so rightfully challenged.
Foreword by Lewis Ayres
1. Colin Gunton and the Failure of Augustine
2. Creation and Redemption in the Theology of Colin Gunton
3. Being and Ontology in the Theology of Colin Gunton
4. Creation and Redemption in Augustine's De Trinitate
5. Being and Ontology in Augustine's De Trinitate
6 A Critique of Colin Gunton
Bradley G. Green is Associate Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition at Union University (Jackson, Tennessee). He is the author (editor and contributor) of Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians (2010) and the author of The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life (2010).
The late Colin Gunton was an ardent and influential critic of Augustine's Trinitarian theology. His work was influential on many in the English speaking theological community. Brad Green's book offers the most sustained critique currently available of Gunton's work and should be read by anyone who has been swayed by Gunton's presentation. But more than this, Green's work also makes available a very different Augustine. Building on the work of a growing body of scholarship, Green reveals to the theological community a vision of Augustine that will help us to think again about this most important of the Church Fathers in the west. Lewis Ayres, University of Durham
Brad Green offers a persuasive reading of Augustine that corrects misapprehensions found, not just in the work of Colin Gunton, but much more widely across contemporary theology. He also shows us how Augustine, rightly understood, can be recovered as a positive resource for contemporary theology. The book is not merely corrective, however: the reader will discover a perceptive and sympathetic reading of Gunton's own thought that gives us insight into a significant contemporary figure. This book will open up ancient and modern theology, and how they should be related. These are important matters, and I hope it will be widely read. Stephen Holmes, University of St Andrews
Dr. Green is an accomplished scholar with a deep knowledge of Augustine and other church fathers. His proposed reply to the line recently taken by Colin Gunton and others is necessary and timely. Professor Gunton overplayed his hand and distorted Augustine's perspectives in various ways, which Dr. Green aims to elucidate. There is a growing body of secondary literature that takes Gunton at face value on this subject, and it is essential to refute it before it becomes a new orthodoxy. Dr. Green's proposal is therefore most welcome. Gerald Bray, Beeson Divinity School
Through an appreciative yet critical examination of Gunton's project, and an equally cogent treatment of Augustine, Brad Green has gently corrected Gunton's reading of Augustine, showing that the Bishop of Hippo left Western theology far more seaworthy than Gunton believed. In the process, Green strengthens Gunton's case against modernity by providing some Augustinian equipment. This is theology of a high caliber – judicious, clear, convincing, and, above all, serviceable to the church as it navigates the roiling seas of modernity and postmodernity. Peter Leithart, New Saint Andrews College
In his carefully argued and lucidly written dissertation, Green shows that Augustine's Trinitarian communalism – especially as it engaged ancient pagan culture – offers the real antidote to the perilous individualism that is the chief legacy of the Enlightenment. Ralph Wood, Baylor University
Bradley G. Green's book presents a picture of Augustine as an ally and resource to Gunton's trinitarian theology of creation, 'a renewed theological vision of truth that does justice to the concerns of modernity and offers a way forward that is free of some of the weaknesses of the Western tradition'. (p. 7) ... Green's book is an instructive reading and a serious accomplishment in the art of theological conversation with the Church Fathers and Mothers. Alfred H. Yuen, in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol 63 (2)
Green's study shows that thinking of the founders of the Christian doctrine, like Augustine, and their critics in the twentieth century, like Gunton, is relevant for the contemporary discourse and we – although we may not always agree with them – time and again should enter into dialogue with them. Anthony Dupont, in Tijdschrift voor Theologie, Vol 52:2
... challenges the late Colin Gunton's argument that Augustine bequeathed to the West a theological tradition with serious deficiencies. Lewis Ayres, in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol 66
Bradley G. Green challenges what he argues are misguided reading of Augustine, which are found in some interpretations of the divide between Western and Eastern theologies. Church Times, 13 September 2013