The One the Three and the Many – Colin Gunton

Posted: October 2, 2013 by J in Bible, Book review, Church history, Theology

I’ve just finished this extraordinary book. I’ll try to review it later, but for now I can say that it’s one of the biggest books I’ve ever read.

Actually it’s a small paperback – Gunton is always brief, that’s why I love him – but the achievement, the project he undertakes is overwhelmingly massive. Just restructuring a world view to improve on that of the West over the past 2 millenia – that’s all.

What does it mean to have being? What does it mean to be a created being? What does it mean to be a particular person? What does it mean to be human? What is human society? Does community matter more, or the individual? Why can’t our societies and institutions maintain a respect for the ‘other’? What place do truth, beauty and science occupy in the created order? Are they important? How is the human world related to the material non-personal world around us (i.e. to nature)? How should we behave towards it? How does God’s Triune nature inform our understanding of the world he made?

Yup, all the biggies. Gunton tackles the lot. He attempts a coherent, unified world-view that incorporates and speaks to all these issues.

The book’s structure is simple enough: first half he critiques the views that have prevailed over the past 2000 years. Shows how they got us into the mess we’re in. First half tears down. Second half he goes in reverse order, proposing a new model to tackle these issues. A view derived from God’s trinity.  Second half rebuilds. Overall a chiastic structure.

It’s breathtaking. The scope of it, that is. I can’t quite believe that one man has attempted all this. In one book! Other Gunton books are big. But not quite this big.

AND it’s explained simply enough for a non-philosophy type like myself to get it. Remarkable.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever be competent to critique this book. But I have to say I found it pretty persuasive. Trinity of God is a good place to start when talking ontology!

I’ll need to read it again. Of course.

The One the Three and the Many goes straight into my top five most important ever books.

  1. Marty says:

    Yeah, breath taking stuff!! Shame you didn’t Bookclub it with us at college. Would’ve loved your input. Looking fwd to ur blog reviews…

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