The Creator

3.1.1 Maximal greatness

That there is an absolute distinction between Creator and creation, between God and the world, is fundamental to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and many other religions too. The classical expression and defence of this doctrine may be found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, in particular in Books I and II of his Summa Contra Gentiles.1 These have been explored in detail by Norman Kretzmann in The Metaphysics of Theism and The Metaphysics of Creation.2 These are not only fine studies of natural theology in its classical form but also fine examples of how natural theology can be practised today. Kretzmann's discussion of the kind of objections to natural theology associated with the name of Alvin Plantinga is required reading for anyone interested in the question of the relation between natural and revealed theology. The first of Kretzmann's books traces the way in which Aquinas, after arguing that the world requires a first cause or ultimate explanation, then goes on, by a process of elimination, to show the characteristics which this first cause must have, if it is to fulfil its explanatory role and not be just part of what cries out for explanation. These largely negative arguments, although with far from negative conclusions, show that the first cause must be 'the transcendent, personal, omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good creator and governor of the universe'.3 Kretzmann puts great emphasis on arguments from perfection. It is from God's perfection that we are to infer his infinity, his intellect, his will (agent causality yielding the best explanation of the world's existence) and his personhood. And in the final chapter Kretzmann shows how Aquinas infers joy, love and liberality in God from all that has gone before. Two features of the Aquinas—Kretzmann metaphysics of theism that have given rise to much debate and disagreement among contemporary philosophical theologians are the arguments for divine simplicity and for the necessity of some creation or other. To these controversial themes we shall be returning later in this chapter.

Another version of the argument from perfection is to be found in the work of T. V. Morris.4 Morris gives the name 'Anselmian theism' to the approach in philosophical theology that seeks to spell out the implications of 'maximal greatness'. The idea goes back to Anselm's famous definition of God as 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. It is important not to interpret this as the greatest conceivable being, since our human powers of conception are weak, and Anselm is certainly pointing beyond anything we can conceive. 'Maximal greatness' is a much more objective, as well as positive, way of putting the idea. Morris expands on this notion with an intriguing definition of God, which will govern much of what follows in this book: 'God is to be thought of as exemplifying necessarily a maximally perfect set of compossible great-making properties.6 The properties comprising maximal greatness must, of course, be 'compossible' (possible together) if we are to have a coherent idea of God. We cannot ascribe to God two or more properties, however exalted, if they are contradictory or incompatible.

It is this criterion of maximal greatness that pushes the idea of God beyond the reach of the child's question, 'Who made God?', which often occurs to the child when told that the world was made by God. As with Aquinas, developed theism is driven to insist on God's necessity as opposed to the world's contingency, God's infinity as opposed to the world's fini-tude, God's self-explanatoriness as opposed to the world's being of such a nature as to call for explanation. All these considerations exemplify the metaphysical pressures that drive the theist to insist on the distinction between God and the world, Creator and creation.

Let us contrast this idea of the Creator God's maximal greatness with Plato's cosmogonic myth in the Timaeus. There the divine architect or

'demiurge' is pictured as shaping up pre-existent matter in accordance with the eternal Forms. So, in Plato's scenario, there are three unexplained ultimates: (a) the demiurge himself — a somewhat anthropomorphic mythical figure, (b) pre-existent matter, which is just there, waiting to be formed up, and (c) the eternal Forms, or paradigms, or ideal essences of all the kinds of thing that come to be when matter gets shaped up in accordance with these Forms. Even if the three ultimates — Forms, matter and demiurge — are eternal, in the sense of being without beginning or end, they are still unexplained. The picture may not be quite as crude as the Indian story of accounting for what holds up the Earth by saying that it rests on the back of a cosmic elephant, and accounting for what holds the elephant up by saying that it rests on the back of a cosmic turtle, and then just stopping. But the lack of ultimate explanation is equally clear. Plato does, in the Republic, introduce a more ultimate, metaphysical, first principle, the Form of the Good, to account for everything, Forms as well as particulars. And the Form of the Good, he says, rather obscurely, is itself'beyond being, surpassing it in dignity and power'.9 But it is not surprising that Christian Platonists saw in Plato's analogy between the Good and the Sun a philosophical intimation of developed theism.

The greatest difference between Plato and the Christians was not only the doctrine of Incarnation, which Augustine singled out, but precisely the doctrine of Creation with which we are at present concerned. For Christian Platonists, the Forms became ideas in the mind of God, and not just matter but the whole finite world came to be thought of as created out of nothing and sustained in being by the continuous activity of God. So, in place of three ultimates, Forms, matter and demiurge, we get a world crying out for explanation, and explained by reference to the creativity of an absolute, necessary, infinite, self-explanatory ground, best conceived of by analogy with Spirit, if justice is to be done to the intellect, will and agency held to constitute the best explanation for the whole world process.

We are not so much concerned here with the arguments in natural theology, by which Aquinas, Kretzmann and Morris seek to establish the reality of God. We are concerned more with the coherence of the doctrine of the Creator God that emerges from these arguments, or indeed with the coherence of the doctrine of God developed and handed down in allegedly revealed theology. Not that the two sources of the doctrine are unrelated. The philosophy or natural theology needs to be complemented by the revealed theology, and the revealed theology needs to be refined and tested by the philosophy. But our prime concern is with the coherence of the idea that this evolving universe in which we find ourselves depends for its very being, for its nature and for its destiny upon the creative will and intention of an absolute, infinite, self-existent Spirit, who is both transcendent to this finite world and immanent within it, and who is known in the great theistic religions of the world as God.

3.1.2 Creatio ex nihilo

This notion of the world's ontological dependence on the creative act of a God conceived of in terms of maximal greatness is summed up in the traditional doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. It is one of God's basic great making properties to be able to posit in being a whole universe 'out of nothing'. Reviewers of George Gamow's book, The Creation of the World, complained that the author totally ignored absolute creation in this sense. The book was entirely concerned with previous states of the universe and how its present state had emerged. Gamow replied that he was using the word 'creation' in the sense in which Paris dress-designers talk of their 'new creations' — that is, new states or forms of the fabric. This idea is quite different from the theistic doctrine, for which there is no pre-existent stuff out of which the world was made. It was, or is, simply actualized by God in an act of pure and absolute creation. And it is a fundamental error to regard 'nothing' as a shadowy sort of something — 'meontic' being (from the Greek for non-being) — as in some Neoplatonist theories of emanation.

The contrast between creation and emanation is sensitively explored by Keith Ward in his Rational Theology and the Creativity of God,12 in terms of the very different views of Aquinas and Hegel. For Aquinas, the universe is posited in being and held in being by simple divine fiat. Its origin is God's creative act, but it is not made out of anything. For Hegel, by contrast, the developing world of nature and finite Spirit is an unfolding of Absolute Spirit itself. Put crudely, the world is not made out of nothing. It is formed out of God's own substance in a process of self-expression. There is a sense in which, for Hegel and the Hegelians, God and the world are one reality, not two. For Aquinas, there remains an ultimate dualism between God and the world. It is not that the world has no origin or source. Its source is God. But it is not made out of the divine substance any more than out of any other substance.

The difficulties of this notion of pure creation out of nothing will be addressed in later sections of this chapter. But one particular question can be tackled at once. Does the creatio ex nihilo doctrine entail that the world had an absolute beginning in time? It is well known that, for Aquinas, reason could not prove this to be the case. For him, creatio ex nihilo meant sheer ontological dependence, whether or not the world had a temporal beginning. But T. V. Morris's discussion of 'Creation ex Nihilo' in his Anselmian Explorations takes the doctrine to entail a temporal beginning, say in the Big Bang, some fifteen to twenty billion years ago. Certainly, Morris succeeds in showing the intelligibility of this notion, by contrast with Bertrand Russell's fanciful suggestion that there is no way of telling whether or not the world was created five minutes ago, with all the apparent signs of a long history built into it.15 (Actually, Russell's suggestion is not just fanciful; it is illogical. A human being, for example, could not — logically could not — be posited in being fully grown, with apparently developed character traits and apparent memories. One would not be a person at all, let alone the actual person that one is, without a real-life story of interpersonal relations.) But it is odd to find Morris, at least in this article, failing to recognize that creatio ex nihilo applies equally to a temporally unbounded ontological dependence.

One philosopher of religion who explicitly rejects the creatio ex nihilo doctrine is Richard Creel.16 Creel does not suggest that God requires some stuff or medium out of which to create a world. But he does argue that creation presupposes the existence of a realm of unactualized possibilities — he calls it 'the plenum' — between which God freely chooses in actualizing a world. For Creel, therefore, the Absolute is not equated with God simpliciter, rather with God and the plenum. (We are reminded, once again, of Plato's independently existing eternal Forms.) This view is rejected by most philosophical theologians and, in a later section on 'Other Necessities', we shall survey alternative ways of accounting for abstract ideas, numbers and possibilities.

3.1.3 Continuous creation

A further implication of the view that, in creation, God actualizes a world out of nothing is that creation is a continuous affair. The world is not only posited in being, but is sustained in being at every moment by God's creative act. On this view, divine creation and divine conservation are virtually equated. The view is ably defended against, and contrasted with, the deistic view that, once posited in being, the world is self-sustaining by Jonathan Kvanvig and Hugh McCann, in their essay, 'Divine Conservation and the Persistence of the World'. The argument rests partly on the incoherence of the idea of created things sustaining themselves, and partly on the incoherence of the idea of the Creator God releasing his creation from the scope of his act and power. Maximal greatness requires both transcendence and immanence where the God—world relation is concerned.

These arguments apply whether or not it is held that the world had a beginning in time. But clearly the constant ontological dependence of creation on Creator is more obviously required if there was no temporal beginning.

The problem that now arises is whether the virtual equation of creation and conservation leaves any room for the relative independence of what Aquinas called secondary causation. If the sustaining hand of God is necessary to the continuing existence of the world and all that it contains, can we maintain that creatures possess their own causal powers, and in particular that humans have free will? These issues will be considered further when we turn to the nature of the created order itself, but some attention must be paid here to the divine side of the God—world relation. So convinced have some theists been of the universality of God's creative power that they have seen it operative not only in the continuing existence of the world, but in every change and every instance of causal efficacy in the world process. This doctrine is known as 'occasionalism', and is particularly associated with the seventeenth-century French philosopher-theologian Nicolas Malebranche (1638—1715). This, however, is an extreme view and not an inevitable implication of the equation of creation and conservation, as is ably argued by Philip Quinn in his essay 'Divine Conservation, Secondary Causes, and Occasionalism'. Put briefly, and in terms of the maximal greatness criterion, it is greater to be able to create and sustain in both being and potency creatures with their own God-given causal powers, including freedom, than for God to have to do everything as well as make and sustain everything himself.

3.1.4 Analogies for creation

The idea of God creating the world out of nothing remains a difficult idea for the human mind to grasp. Believers have explored a range of analogies for such absolute creation, in order to try to throw some light on this idea. Philosophers are quick to point out the limitations of the biblical analogy with a potter fashioning a pot out of his clay.20 There may be some features of the analogy that can be retained: the potter's purpose governing the process, and his control over the whole process and its end product. But it is a simplistic analogy, and it succeeds no better than Gamow's dress-designer analogy in capturing the unique idea of the positing in being of a whole finite world.

So the theist looks for alternative analogies to express this notion of the sheer creation of a material universe with all its capacities for evolution and novelty. The analogy with human creativity in great art presents itself. Something absolutely new appears on the scene as a result of the creative powers of the human mind and imagination: a great symphony, for example. (Such a musical analogy was used very powerfully by J. J. R. Tolkien at the beginning of The SilmariUion21) One of the most suggestive analogies is Austin Farrer's 'author' analogy, thrown out in the course of a treatment of divine providence:

The Creator of the world is not to be compared with those bad novelists who make up the plot of their story first and force the characters to carry it out, all against the grain of their natures. He is like the good novelist who has the wit to get a satisfying story out of the natural behaviour of the characters he conceives. And how does he do it? By identifying himself with them and living them from within?22

According to Farrer, this is true at every level of nature and history. God 'thinks all the natural processes at any level into being themselves and into running themselves true to type. And yet without faking the story or defying probability at any point he pulls the history together into the patterns we observe.'

A similar analogy is suggested by the Swiss Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, this time from the composition of an opera. He notes the unimaginable creative freedom with which Mozart could produce a consummate work of art like The Magic Flute. We shall return to this analogy in a later section of this chapter.

These are very illuminating analogies, but they, too, clearly have their limitations. There is no real parallel between thinking up a symphony, a novel or an opera and thinking up and actualizing a substantial universe. Not only is the creation of the whole world's being not really captured by such analogies. Unlike the characters in a play or an opera, however subtle and 'natural' the characterization and the plot, God's human creatures have a life of their own and the power freely to interact, as they make or mar their own world history.

3.1.5 Is creation necessary for God?

The question, 'Why does God create a world?' and 'Is creation necessary to God?' are clearly linked, since if the answer to the second question is 'yes', the first does not arise. Traditionally, most Christian theists have held that creation is not necessary to God. Rather, creation is a matter of free grace.

Certainly, both the ability to create and creativity as such are part of God's nature. That is undeniable. But the dominant intuition, in maximal greatness theology, has been the view that free creativity is greater than any compulsion, even inner compulsion, to create.

A number of philosophical theologians, however, have recently urged that, while it is up to God's free choice which world to create, God is bound by his own nature to create some world or other. I have already mentioned that this was Kretzmann's view.24 And Keith Ward, in Religion and Creation,25 admits that, while he used to think creation a free act on God's part, he now believes that God's essential nature as love compels him to create an object for his love, namely a world of finite persons. The reasoning behind this move calls for much reflection. Ward seems now to think that God's perfection — his maximal greatness — can only take the form of love if there are created persons to be loved. And since maximal greatness must include love, it must include some creation or other, provided that creation comes up with creatures capable of entering into loving relations with God. In other words, there would be a major great-making property lacking in God were he not to create.

But this argument is premised on the analogy between God and an isolated individual. As we shall see in chapter 5 on the Trinity, contemporary trinitarian theology attempts to articulate a differentiated, relational concept ofGod, in which love given, love received and love shared still more are held to belong to the very essence of maximal greatness — that is, to God as such. In which case the theist can hold that creation is not necessary to God, ifGod is love. Rather, God's own nature as love is simply expressed and reflected in the free creation of yet more centres of love and communion.

If creation is not necessary to God, the question 'Why does God create a world?' does indeed arise. This question gets its traditional answer in terms of the sheer goodness of free creativity, as the perfection of God's inner trinitarian love finds further expression in the gratuitous creation of finite realms of personal and interpersonal being, where God's creatures can come to know and love each other and their maker in perfected communities which reflect God's glory and God's love. As we shall see in chapter 7, the process of creation, on a theistic worldview, is seen as heading, under God's providence, for just such a future and final consummation.

3.1.6 Must God create the best?

God's freedom in creation is also challenged by the supposition, put forward most notably by Leibniz, that this must be the best of all possible worlds, since God, being absolutely perfect, must, if he is to create, create the best.

This too seems to rule out choice. Only the best of all possible worlds can be actualized by maximal greatness. Voltaire mocked the Leibnizians for this doctrine in his Candide, not least in face of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which killed thousands ofpeople, many ofthem worshippers in churches on All Saints Day. Objections based on the problem of evil will be considered briefly in the final section of this chapter. Here we address the threat to God's freedom.

One response has been to say that the notion of the best of all possible worlds makes no sense, any more than the notion of the largest possible number. Possible worlds simply cannot be ranked in a single scale, with a lowest and a highest member. As Richard Swinburne argues, any world could always be improved by the addition of one more valuable state of affairs. Another response is to say, with Robert Adams, that God is under no obligation to create the best, since no one is wronged by not being created. One could perhaps supplement the point by repeating our earlier remark that free creativity is better than having no choice, so maximal greatness will include the former rather than the latter.

A particularly interesting discussion of this whole issue is to be found in T. V. Morris's article, 'Perfection and Creation'. To those who argue that the possibility of the creation of a better world entails the possibility of a more perfect Creator, Morris replies that is makes no sense to try to correlate degrees of goodness in creation with degrees of goodness in the Creator. Maximal greatness theism means that God's perfection is absolute. That perfection is simply expressed in the creation of any one of innumerable possible good worlds, irrespective of their degrees of goodness.

Another response is to try to block the idea of degrees of goodness in creation. I mentioned Balthasar's analogy from Mozart's composition of The Magic Flute. He deploys this explicitly against Leibniz in a footnote well worth quoting:

Does it make any sense to ask of this work whether it might not have been even more perfect? Obviously the question can be put in the abstract, but it is impossible to come up with any meaningful concrete suggestion as to the direction in which the improvement might be made. On the other hand, the work of art radiates so much freedom that it would be just as mistaken to label it 'best' once and for all, in such a way that, had Mozart lived longer, he would have been unable to write a more perfect opera.31

Balthasar concludes his footnote with the obvious point that God's goodness will ensure that whatever he creates is good (on this, see below), but this does not dictate a single option.

3.1.7 Does creation increase the total quantity of goodness?

Another problem raised by critics of the traditional doctrine of Creation is that, if the Creator is defined in terms of maximal greatness, there seems to be no room for further good states of affairs, such as the perfected consummation of the whole creative process. Maximal greatness presumably includes maximal goodness. Yet it would appear that the goodness of the Creator God plus the goodness of the perfected creation would be greater than the goodness of God alone. This problem, too, is well handled by T. V. Morris in the chapter on creation in his book, Our Idea of God. He points out that one cannot treat God and the world as if together they comprised a single individual, whose combined goodness would be greater than God's goodness alone. God and the world do not constitute an individual. The world's created goodness is indeed something other than God's infinite, necessary goodness. But God's goodness is expressed in, not increased by (or for that matter diminished by) the world's goodness. There is little more that need be said about the resolution of this problem.

3.1.8 Is creation a timeless act?

A much more complex and controversial difficulty concerns the relation between eternity and time. Much classical theism has thought of God as eternal in the very strong sense of absolute timelessness. In contradistinction to the developing, changing, space-time structure of the created world process, God is wholly outside time. God's maximal greatness must exclude temporality. God is absolutely simple, pure actuality, in every way immutable. On this view, creation has to be thought of as a timeless act on God's part, the whole story of the created universe, past, present and future, being posited in being in a single atemporal creative act. All change is on the creature's side of the God—world relation only.

This view has come to seem very problematic to many philosophical theologians today. For one thing, such an understanding of God contrasts very sharply with the living, interacting God of the Bible and religion. It is held to reflect more the influence of Plato, for whom time was 'the moving image of eternity'. But Plato's Forms, even the Form of the Good, were impersonal ideal essences, hard to equate with a God of love. Classical theism, it is true, was moved by a very proper unwillingness to bring the Creator down to the level of creation. For, in our world, our time is a matter of beginnings and endings, of dissolution, loss and decay. None of that can possibly be attributed, even analogically, to the eternal, transcendent Creator.

Certainly the infinite, necessary God, Creator and Lord of all, must be without beginning or end. But does that mean that God is utterly atemporal? Of course God cannot just be part of our space-time world. But maybe loss and decay are not aspects of the temporal as such, but only of a spatio-temporal universe like ours. And if God is creating a genuinely temporally structured, open-futured world, does he not have to relate to it in a manner appropriate to the actual nature of what he is doing, namely in a temporal manner, involving real relation and reciprocal interaction with the world process? The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, which we shall be considering in the next chapter, is very hard to square with the classical view of timeless eternity. But so is the notion of a timeless act of creation. For an act is surely a novel realization of a prior intention, an actualization of a potentiality.

To theists brought up on the classical (Aristotelian-Thomist) view of God's pure actuality excluding all potentiality, this may take some swallowing. But philosophers of religion such as Richard Swinburne and Keith Ward have made a very good case for it, along the lines sketched here. Indeed, Ward has shown how in four major theistic contexts — Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu — leading thinkers have been qualifying the traditional static, timeless conception of deity in favour of a much more dynamic, freely interacting and creative God, able to relate personally to his creatures as he fashions a world in which genuinely free creatures make their own responses, and either cooperate with the divine Spirit or not. Such a view, including the ascription of analogous, primordial temporality to God, was already being adumbrated by Austin Farrer in the 1960s in the interests of safeguarding personal language in talk of God.

To revert to the concept of maximal greatness: the issue at stake here is whether it is greater to possess the capacity — the potentiality — freely to create, and interact with, an open-futured world than to actualize, atempo-rally and immutably, a whole world story. Paul Helm has dubbed the latter view the 'no-risk' view of creation and providence, by contrast with the 'risk' view, whereby God's creative work is seen as genuinely open and undecided in the manner of its outworking.37 We shall return to this distinction in a later section of this chapter and in chapter 8. But clearly the arguments of Farrer, Swinburne and Ward (and Morris38) favour the temporal, dynamic, reciprocal nature of God's creative work as itself constitutive of maximal greatness. Their case is all the stronger, of course, if the 'no-risk', atemporal view of the Creator God can be shown to lack coherence.

These questions are hotly debated in contemporary philosophy of religion. Helm himself defends the 'no-risk' view of creation and, with it, the traditional notion of divine timelessness. Unlike the Thomists, however, he admits that these ideas entail the impossibility of genuine freedom in creatures. We might well take this as an argument for the other side of the debate. The cognate ideas of divine immutability and divine simplicity also find defenders, notably among those nurtured in the Thomist tradition.40 But the weight of current opinion goes the other way. On immutability, Richard Swinburne argues that, while God cannot change in character and power, creation and incarnation both require continual and reciprocal interaction with a changing and developing world. And on divine simplicity (the traditional view that there are no distinct attributes, no complexity of any kind, in God) Morris argues that Anselmian theism does not require this. All that is required is the permanent stability of the core defining attributes of God.42

One question that does not arise if the idea of creation as a timeless act is maintained, but which does arise on the dynamic, temporal view of the divine nature, is why God did not create the world at an earlier, or later, stage in God's time. To this, Morris replies, first, that in infinite time there can be no reason or advantage in earlier or later creation. Maximal greatness simply includes the power freely to create at some time or other. Secondly, he hazards the suggestion that maybe God has other creative enterprises anyway, unconnected with this universe, at other times.

3.1.9 Process theology and the prior actuality of God

Space prevents more than a brief look at a powerful school of philosophical theology, more influential in North America than in Britain, that has pushed the kind of arguments just surveyed even further in the interests of a whole metaphysic of'becoming', namely 'process theology'. The fountainhead of this school was the philosopher A. N. Whitehead, who collaborated with Bertrand Russell on Principia Mathematica, then later went to the United States, where, much to Russell's astonishment and disgust, he developed a whole new philosophy, sometimes known as 'the philosophy of organism', in which the fundamental categories were not 'being' and 'substance', but 'becoming' and 'event'. Whitehead's ideas were taken up by Charles Hartshorne, David Griffin, Norman Pittenger and a number of theologians who came to constitute a notable strand in twentieth-century Protestant theology in America. For these 'process theologians', God and the world are not wholly distinct, but mutually involved in a single process. God is the chief exemplification of the basic categories of process, giving all other entities their initial aim, inspiring their creative advance and accepting their achievements into the eternal divine memory. God is thought of more as anima mundi, the soul of the world, surpassing himself and growing in knowledge as the world process continues. On this view, the world, or at least a world, is necessary to God as the sphere and object of God's love.

The strengths of process theology lie in the way in which it provides a philosophical underpinning of the biblical idea of God, one which reckons, much more than classical theism does, with the activity and involvement of God, and with the fundamental idea ofthe interactive, suffering love ofGod.

But, despite some affinities with the arguments of Farrer, Swinburne, Ward and Morris in favour of a more dynamic, interactive concept of God, process theology is judged by all these writers to have gone too far. It blurs the distinction between Creator and creation, and tends to bring God down to the level of worldly categories, albeit as their supreme exemplar, making the world necessary to God and limiting God to his relations with the world. Farrer is particularly interesting in this connection. In his last book,46 and in a lecture on 'The Prior Actuality of God',47 Farrer mounted a strong attack on process theology, while at the same time, as I have indicated, recognizing the need to modify classical theism in the direction of admitting temporality, change, real relatedness to the world and suffering in God.

For Farrer, there are two main reasons why God cannot be thought of as the soul of the world. On the one hand we cannot compare the world to a single organism that could be thought of as informed by a purely immanent soul. The world is, rather, a vast system of interacting energies and subsystems, each going their own way, yet combining, through cosmic and biological evolution, into a theatre of life and the many forms of life. And, on the other hand, for God truly to be the Creator of the whole process, God must transcend the world and have, as it were, a life of his own prior to the world, not necessarily temporally prior, but logically and metaphysically above and beyond his creative work. Farrer spells out this 'prior actuality of God' with reference to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Prior to creation, God exists in the fullness of interpersonal relation and love. Recent work on the logic of trinitarian belief will be surveyed in chapter 5.

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