Fortress Press

The World in the Trinity: Open-Ended Systems in Science and Religion

The World in the Trinity

Open-Ended Systems in Science and Religion

Joseph A. Bracken S.J. (Author)


Joseph A. Bracken argues that the failure of theology and science to generate cohesion is the lack of an integrated system of interpretation of the Christian faith that consciously accords with the insights and discoveries of contemporary science.

In The World in the Trinity, Bracken utilizes the language and conceptual structures of systems theory as a philosophical and scientific grammar to show traditional Christian beliefs in a new light that is accessible and rationally plausible to a contemporary, scientifically influenced society. This account opens new possibilities for rethinking the God-world relationship, the Trinity, incarnation, creation, and eschatology within the context of a broader ecological and cosmological system. In re-describing these articles constitutive of Christian belief, the author is conscious of the vital importance of retaining the inherent power and meaning of these concepts. This volume freshly retrieves pivotal themes and concepts constitutive of the Christian tradition in a conscious rapprochement with current scientific understandings of nature.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451482058
  • eBook ISBN 9781451487558
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 224
  • Publication Date September 1, 2014



Part I
1. Language and Reality
2. The “Inside” and the “Outside” of Everything
3. Philosophical/Scientific Models of the God-World Relationship in the Current Religion and Science Debate
4. Theological Models of the God-World Relationship in the Current Religion and Science Debate
5. Panentheism: Hierarchically Ordered Systems of Existence and Activity

Part II
6. “Incarnation” as Key to the Argument for Panentheism
7. Divine and Human Personhood in a Systems-Oriented Approach to the Trinity
8. Tradition and Traditioning: Church as both   System and Institutional Entity?
9. Miracles and the Problem of Evil
10. Resurrection and Eternal Life


"In this bold volume, Joseph Bracken seeks to do in our day what St. Thomas did in his: to interpret classical Christian doctrine using the best of contemporary scientific and philosophical resources. The escalating warfare between naturalists and supernaturalists will end, he suggests, only if science and theology both embrace a shared metaphysic built on integrated systems or processes of activity. In chapter after chapter, Bracken effectively demonstrates the fruitfulness of these new concepts for overcoming traditional challenges to the theology of the Incarnation, the Trinity, the church, miracles, resurrection, and life after death. A cutting-edge contribution to today’s theology-science dialogue…"
—Philip Clayton
Claremont School of Theology  

“Our Trinitarian God is in the world, and the world is in God. Just how do we explain this so that God doesn’t get stuck in the world, like a fly gets stuck in flypaper? Joe Bracken has been trying to explain this for decades. This is his most thoughtful and illuminating explanation yet."
—Ted Peters
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union

"Bracken continues his long-term project of transforming a Whiteheadian base into a religiously powerful framework. With an interpretation of reality as hierarchically ordered and internally related dynamic systems, he develops a comprehensive worldview compatible with modern science and at the same time excellent for providing new understanding of Christian doctrines about the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Church, Providence, and eternal life. It is an impressive accomplishment."
—Michael H. Barnes
University of Dayton

"This book encapsulates and further develops Bracken's life-long synthesis of Whitehead's process philosophy and Christian systematic theology. By placing creativity in God, rather than outside of God, God appears as a verb always in touch with all of reality rather than as a self-enclosed noun. In this view, the Incarnation is not a paradox but a unique expression of the coexistence of God and material life. Bracken’s vision is not only clear; it's eye-opening for contemporary theology and science."
—Niels Henrik Gregersen
University of Copenhagen