Order Chaos and Relationality

According to Gunton, the doctrine of the Trinity was developed "to show that God's being is not motionless, impassible eternity but a personal taxis of dynamic and free relations."42 That this is more wishful thinking than fact is shown not least of all by Elizabeth Johnson's discussion of Trinitarian theology. Johnson also develops her doctrine of the Trinity in the light of the concept of relation. Her rhetorical question—"Not an isolated, static, ruling monarch but a relational, dynamic, tripersonal mystery of love—who would not opt for the latter?"43—outlines her Trinitarian theological approach. With regard to the traditional Trinitarian frameworks, she criticizes the use of exclusively male images, which tend to place men and the role of God on the same level and to put women in the role of dependent and sinful humanity. She also takes issue with the notion of a hierarchical structure of the Trinity whose sole goal is to define who proceeds from whom, who gives what to whom, and who receives what. As an alternative, Johnson chooses the approach for which I have also opted in this study: She does not proceed from definitions, but rather from relationality. For this reason, she distances herself from the attempt to base a doctrine of the Trinity on a definition of what constitutes a person.44 Instead, she develops her thoughts from a relational model of mutual giving and receiving, in order to bring the equality, the mutuality, and the reciprocal dynamism of the Trinitarian relationships into the discussion.45

Two Trinitarian understandings of God oppose each other: a Trinitarian God understood as the guarantor of order who establishes what is to be, and a Trinitarian God who is experienced as the guarantor of life who liberates what is bound, so that a life in community is possible in the presence of diversity. The ontological priority of relation to substance implies that relationality, and not a solitary ego, is the heart of all reality.46 There is no absolute divine person, but only the three relative persons. God is not a monolithic, undifferentiated block, but rather a living mystery of relationship who has turned to the world. The divine secret is not monarchy, but rather community; not an absolute ruler, but rather a threefold koinonia.41 Here it becomes clear how theological reflection is linked to the criticism of social order in Church and society. A social order that is modeled on monarchy must look quite different than one that is oriented toward a divine communion of persons that is constituted in free loving relationships. Even if a warning here against projections in one direction or the other is appropriate, it can hardly be denied that an interaction exists between the conception of God's nature and the understanding of the natural and social orders.48 The reflections on Newton and Leibniz already showed this (see pp. 125-40). Johnson legitimizes Trinitarian thinking by claiming that it emerged from the historical experience of salvation. Trinitarian thought is more than speculative philosophy; Johnson says that it is, instead, synthesized experience of salvation that is expressed in this "symbol of holy mystery." Thus, the doctrine of the Trinity is indeed a legitimate concept, although a secondary one.49

When Johnson says that the fear of chaos, among other things, is hidden behind the defense of a static, hierarchically structured concept of the Trinity,50 she thereby addresses a thought that deserves to be further developed against the backdrop of chaos research. Such a static concept of God is used to legitimize and maintain order and to keep at bay all chaos that is felt to be threatening. This fear of chaos is a symptom for the fact that chaos is not understood correctly, however. As shown on pp. 169—72, chaos is an ambivalent concept that certainly contains disorder, but it also is not free of ordering structures and it contains thoroughly creative aspects. This means that the supposed dualism of order and chaos must, at the very least, be radically revised. In the context of the discussion of weak causality, it became clear that only a minority of processes can be explained using strong determinism, while for the overwhelming majority of life processes, it is precisely chaotic behavior that is the norm. If some type of correspondence between Creator and creation can be assumed, then it is more reasonable to link chaotic dynamism to God's nature than it is to link God to a static order. Then it may also be more than pure accident that both the depiction of chaos research (pp. 169—72) and Johnson's Trinitarian model end with the same metaphor. It is the metaphor that already appeared in the first chapter of this study, namely, the metaphor of the dance. As an image of the Trinity, Johnson draws a triple helix engaged in aperichoretic dance, as an expression of apparent chaotic and, nevertheless, highly disciplined movement and complexity.51 The dance is creative: "The circular dynamism within God spirals inward, outward, forward toward the coming of a world into existence, not out of necessity but out of the free exuberance of overflowing friendship."52

Proceeding from these reflections, I believe we should reassess the traditional talk of God as the highest simplicitas. I see a promising alternative in the possibility of taking up the stimuli of complexity research and pursuing the question of what happens when we instead speak of God as the highest complexitas. Naturally, one of the responsibilities of theology is to examine critically how, for example, the concepts of monotheism, natural laws, strivings for unity, and the concepts of order affect one another and then show the consequences that result from this. If, in light of this background, we again consider how scientific authors deal with the concept of God, then our impression is confirmed that their concepts of God often stay very close to Newton's level of theological sophistication. They tend to fall short of taking into account the current state of theological knowledge and discourse.

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