Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Colin Gunton and the doctrine of God

There are just two theological tasks. One is to say what Christian doctrine is, and the other is to offer it to the world. The second depends on the first. First, Christian doctrine must be done for its own sake, just as we worship God just for the sake of it, for joy. We wonder at the creation of God and we express that wonder, despite ourselves. Doctrine is likewise doxological.

Colin Gunton was a student of the Christian doctrine of God. It is true that he was at centre of a revival of trinitarian theology and rediscovery of the Holy Spirit. But trinitarian theology is simply Christian theology, and theology is Christian when it understands that God may be known, only, as Father, and he may be known in this way only by the Son, and those the Holy Spirit includes in the Son. Any other account is the theology of another religion. Colin Gunton was never taken in by the belief that something more sophisticated than doctrine is just around the corner. He remained intrigued and delighted by that whole vast package, and only as we are so too will we have anything to contribute, to the church, to the university and to the world. The first responsibility of the Christian is to learn their own tradition, and the second is to tell the waiting world what they find there. Only if we know our own tradition, do we have something to say.

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