Fortress Press

Participating in God: Creation and Trinity

Participating in God

Creation and Trinity

Samuel M. Powell (Author)


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In this exciting work, Samuel Powell offers a new constructive and systematic vision of creation by interpreting it in terms of contemporary science and trinitarian theology.

Powell's work unfolds in three stages, building on the multiple ways the doctrine of creation actually functions for Christians. He first analyzes its regulative dimension. Even in all the multiplicity of historical Christianity, he shows, the doctrine commits Christians to a particular set of normative beliefs about the world and God's relation to it. Second, Powell builds on the doctrine's hermeneutical potential. It allows Christians both to interpret the meaning of creation in terms of other prevalent philosophical, religious, or scientific ideas and also to interpret the world, as disclosed by scientific theory, in theological terms. In the heart of his book, Powell correlates creaturely characteristics with their participation in God through the trinitarian persons. Finally, in light of his findings, Powell drives home the often ignored ethical dimension of the doctrine, especially in relation to the environment, our consumerist lifestyle, and eschatology.

Powell's bold proposal harvests from two of the most fruitful fields of recent theology – trinitarian theory and religion-and-science – and crafts a creative new vision of how we and all creation participate in the life and work of the triune God.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800636029
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 256
  • Publication Date May 14, 2003


"This is the right book on the right topic at the right time. By intimately linking Trinity and creation, Powell successfully integrates recent science with a distinctively Christian view of the nature and acts of God. His profound meditation on the world's participation in God falls neither into a world-abandoning transcendence nor a God-obscuring spirituality of immanence. One by one, the core chapters explore the implications of trinitarian participation in the physical, biological, and human worlds.... I read this book with growing excitement: rarely does one find theology so powerfully and systematically applied to state-of-the-art scientific knowledge of the world."
— Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology

"I appreciate the way in which Powell uses the dialectic of identity and difference first to explain a communitarian model of the Trinity and then to set forth an up-to-date understanding of the natural world. He gracefully integrates current scientific data from the natural and social sciences with a conceptual scheme derived from philosophy and theology. I recommend this book..."
— Joseph A. Bracken, S.J., Brueggeman Center for Interreligious Dialogue, Xavier University, Cincinnati

Table of Contents



  1. The Historical Development of the Doctrine of Creation
  2. The Regulative Dimension of the Doctrine of Creation
  3. The Hermeneutical Dimension of the Doctrine of Creation
  4. Creatures' Participation in the Trinitarian Life of God


  5. Persistence and Change in Time
  6. Generic and Individual Features
  7. Part-Whole Relations
  8. The Relatedness of All Things


  9. The Ethical Dimension of the Doctrine of Creation
  10. The Ethical Dimension of the Doctrine of Creation Today