Transcendence, Immanence and the Triunity of God : A Study of William Temple's Philosophical Theology

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Fullerton, James Andrew 

This thesis is not, strictly speaking, an essay in the Christian doctrine of God, nor is it an exhaustive study of William Temple's life and thought. Its subject lies in the area where these two coincide. There are characteristic themes and approaches in Temple's philosophical theology - principally in his three major works, Mens Creatrix (1917), Christus Veritas (1924), and Nature, Man and God (1934) - which it is the purpose of this study to examine with a view to understanding God's relation to the world.

Temple's dialectical method of relating natural and revealed theology depends, in some measure, on his concept of revelation. Revelation establishes a pervasive relation between God and the world. The meaning of history is found in the immanent expression of the transcendent will-in-act; and history is therefore the essential self-expression of God. The nature of this relation is formulated by Temple's sacramental model of the relation between God and the process of creation and redemption in history. Temple's understanding of the universe as a sacrament, not simply of God to creation, but of God to himself through creation, is his unique contribution to the problem of framing a coherent doctrine of God.

The sacramental formulation of God's relation to the process of creation and redemption, considered both soteriologically and cosmologically, demands a doctrine of the Trinity. Temple suggested this, but never fully formulated it. The thesis demonstrates how trinitarian categories, both "economic" and "immanent", are implied by Temple's understanding of the relation of God to creation.

Finally, the thesis considers the freedom of God, a problem Temple never resolved. The sacramental relation between the Trinity and creation appears to establish a necessary relation between God and the activities of creation and redemption. The thesis shows, through a brief consideration of Hegel, that the paradox of freedom and necessity in God's activity is resolved only throught the affirmation that God is love.


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Hebblethwaite, Brian
William Temple, God, Trinity, Creation, Redemption, Hegel
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge