Trinitarian Models of Time

In the second chapter, I showed that the strength of Trinitarian models lies in the possibility of conceiving multi-temporality and relational dynamics between time and eternity. Their weakness, however, consists in the arbitrary assigning of Trinitarian aspects and time-eternity aspects to each other. The theology of the Trinity is thus quite suitable for referring to the significance of the that of relationality, but the doctrine of the Trinity cannot contribute much to the how of a relationality. At this point, the results of our reflections on the scientific concept of time have also not altered the conclusion of the second chapter, namely, that a theology of time cannot be based on a Trinitarian theology without running into problems. There is neither a good reason to project some type of temporal-theological distinctions into a doctrine of the Trinity nor an appropriate cause to explicate the time-eternity relationship with a Trinitarian theology.

Nevertheless, the results of the scientific chapter lead me to revisit the topic of the Trinity. The observation that an absolute understanding of God has a certain correspondence to the Newtonian worldview raises the question of whether modern physics then requires a relational understanding of God. Of course, physics does not "require" an understanding of God. Something more general can be said, however, namely, that the basic characteristics of modern physics are more consistent with a relational under standing of God than with an absolute understanding. If the physical theories adequately describe the basic structures of reality, then the statement— that no complete dissimilarity of the basic structures of creation and Creator exists—can be considered theologically rational. If what I found to be essential features in the formation of modern theories of physics agrees with reality, i.e., if 1) a relative concept of time, 2) the problems of distinguishing between subject and object, 3) the dynamics between observer and the observed, as well as 4) the description of the development of dynamic systems far from equilibrium are appropriate descriptions of reality, then an interpretation of the concept of God as a relational fellowship corresponds more closely to this description of reality.

From this starting point, I think it makes sense to present some further concepts of Trinitarian theology that go beyond our treatment in the second chapter and to the understanding of which our findings in the third chapter contribute substantially.28 These concepts share a tendency to move from the metaphysical notion of a divine substance or nature toward a relational-ly constituted conception of God. The latter cannot avoid thinking also in the direction of God's temporality.

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