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Veli-Matti Karkkainen, Trinity and Revelation.

Veli-Matti Karkkainen, Trinity and Revelation. A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World 2. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014. Pp. 472. $40.00, paper.

Trinity and Revelation is the second in a planned five-volume series, by Pentecostal scholar and systematic theologian Karkkainen. In this work, he presents an in-depth, systematic, and constructive theology of the Trinity for contemporary theology, based on a broad survey of recent scholarship. In Part I, he discusses revelation in the Christian tradition, covering an impressive swath of themes cogently and concisely, including the inspiration of scripture, scripture and tradition in community, revelation and symbolism, natural and revealed theology, and revelation and scripture among the world religions. In Part II, he discusses traditional and contemporary methodology in trinitarian theology, the economic and immanent Trinity, Eastern and Western Christian views, hospitality and inclusion, and the Trinity, pluralism, and world religions.

Karkkainen seeks to engage in constructive theology in the tradition of such theologians as Tillich, Pannenberg, and Moltmann, yet to engage much more thoroughly with science, other religions, and non-European methods, such as liberation theology. His goal is to develop a theology and a theological method that is much broader and more globally inclusive, integrative, and relational, including the perspectives of a greater array of Christian traditions, other religions, and women. He also wishes to move away from abstract, formal theological discussion and toward a practical and dialogical method. He argues that traditional trinitarian theology became too abstract and thus was marginalized, but recently a more dynamic, engaging doctrine of the Trinity for today has begun to emerge. He argues that such a theology should be based on the dynamic biblical narrative of God, a complex and diverse story of God's interacting with humanity in the world. He also argues that the triune nature of God should have priority over God's unity as our starting point for theology, since this offers a strongly relational view of God that emerges from our collective stories or experiences.

As with the previous volume, Karkkainen is able both to affirm the essence of traditional Christian theology and further develop it dynamically in dialogue with contemporary theological voices and insights emerging from our postmodern, pluralistic, and interreligious world. He elucidates a trinitarian theology of revelation that is both rich and complex in its doctrine and themes and also rich in its practical application of that doctrine to our contemporary global context, such as in interreligious contexts and the growing consciousness of liberationist perspectives that challenge our traditional understanding of what has been a largely Eurocentric theological method. He analyzes the Trinity through a theological method that is more outward-looking and dialogical, as well as inclusive and hospitable, and that integrates interreligious work and insights. His constructive method takes seriously the voices and insights of liberation theologians and other theologians who have been traditionally marginalized, acknowledging that established tradition is itself contextual and is rightly being developed and influenced from a variety of local contexts around the world.

This book is a skillful synthesis and analysis of traditional theology and emerging world theology around the Trinity in a pluralistic and interreligious context. The author cogently presents a vast amount of scholarship with clarity and careful analysis. As a systematic theologian, he intentionally includes the theology of religions and comparative theology based on the Trinity as revealed in the world as essential to contemporary Christian theology.

Karkkainen's book would be of particular interest to both systematic theologians and specialists in revelation or trinitarian theology, as well as anyone interested in contemporary Christian theological method and engagement in doctrinal development in a global, multiperspectival, dialogical, and interreligious context, with an emphasis on an inductive or bottom-up constructive method that starts with the human experience of God in the world.

Todd E. Johanson, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
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Author:Johanson, Todd E.
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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