THE GIFT OF PARTICIPATION: ON THE TRIUNE GOD AND THE CHRISTIAN MORAL LIFE

Robert Vosloo

Abstract


This paper argues for an affirmation as well as a qualification of a relational
understanding of the Trinity through the notion of participation. This suggests that
the “analogy” between the Trinity and the Christian moral life is not merely about
correspondence that requires imitation, or about the funding of the moral
imagination with metaphors, images and stories, but about participation in the
Triune life. This claim is developed mainly in conversation with two recent studies in
trinitarian theology, namely These Three Are One by David Cunningham and
Participating in God by Paul Fiddes. The paper also argues that participation in the
Triune life is a participation through the Spirit. Without such a pneumatological
focus – without the gift of the Spirit – the moral life is robbed of the resources that
enable a life of freedom, responsibility, generous hospitality and joy. Participation
is, however, not a vague “spiritual” notion, because the participation in the Triune
life through the Spirit is a participation in Christ. This participation is, as suggested
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a participation in reality. It is a participation in life.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/79-0-775

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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