Withought getting into a heavy theological discussion of these texts, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention some of the stuff I’ve been reading lately, particularly on the theme of participation in God, which is clearly a recurring theme in my thought.
Firstly, Andrew Purves’ Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation does a great job of exploring what it might mean to understand pastoral ministry from a distinctly theological and Christological standpoint. He decries the ministerial dependence on phsychology and insists that pastoral practice must be grounded in Christology, the doctrine of the Trinity and Soteriology. The key theme informing his account is union with Christ by the Spirit as the basis for the church’s participation in the missio dei. He relies heavily on Barth and T.F. Torrance. Worthy guides indeed.
Second, Samuel Powell’s Participating in God: Creation and Trinity offers a helpful discussion of divine-human participation from the standpoint of the relation between theology and science. Powell does a good job exploring the biblical framework for thinking about what it means for creatures to participate in the life of God and goes on to explore what that might mean for thinking about the nature of creation and science.
Third, Alan Torrance’s rigorous study, Persons in Communion: Trinitarian Description and Human Participation does an incredible job of exploring the nature of the lanaguage of “persons” for the members of the Trinity and exploring how we are able to speak of the participation of human persons in the Triune life. Torrance, I think does what the British do best: rigorous, detailed, and distinctive dogmatic theology.
Fourth, Ian McFarland offers a helpful discussion of theological anthrpology in his Difference and Identity: A Theological Anthropology. His whole thesis centers on the contention that knowing how we are constituted as persons in relation is less important than understanding the One who thus constitutes us. He argues that we come to be human persons in all our difference from and relatedness to God and one another through being brought into conformity with Christ by the Spirit, thereby being drawn into a sharing in the Triune life of God.
Finally, Kathryn Tanner’s little book, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology offers some helpful discussions of how we allow the Trinity to inform our understanding of the human person and salvation. Tanner critiques those that have advanced relational understandings of personhood based on the idea of human persons as the image of the Triune God’s relational nature. Rather, she argues that we are first called to become persons through our incorporation into Christ, thus sharing in the trinitarian relations. While I think Tanner gets some key points wrong, here and elsewhere, her work is very helpful.