Original Research

Being for the other: The asymmetrical Christology of Rowan Williams

Auke L. Compaan
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2091 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2091 | © 2020 Auke L. Compaan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 March 2020 | Published: 14 September 2020

About the author(s)

Auke L. Compaan, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


What does it mean for the Christian Church to proclaim that God revealed Godself in Jesus Christ? This article tries to capture the answer given to this question by Rowans Williams, who defines and understands Christ as the ‘heart of creation’. The problem at the heart of Williams’ thought is the relationship between the finite and the infinite. If God is merely a being amongst others, the finite and infinite disintegrate into identity. If God is totally other to creation, we end up with a duality between God and creation. For Williams, the answer lies in the non-competitive union of the eternal Logos and the human individual in Jesus Christ, in whom the finite entirely and asymmetrically depends on the infinite, whilst retaining its own integrity. In clarifying Williams’ answer to the question above, firstly, I will illuminate his philosophical and metaphysical assumptions to shed light on his interpretation of Christ as the logic (logos) of creation. Secondly, Williams’ reading of the history of Christology, steering between identity and duality, will be narrated; and, thirdly, the political and ethical implications of his Christology will be discussed for the Church today.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This philosophical and dogma- historical study into Christology as narrated by Rowan Williams claims that God reveals Godself in a non-competitive relationship between the infinite and the finite, between God and the human individual in the person of Jesus Christ. This asymmetrical relationship challenges our modernistic competitive view of history, societies and human beings as consumers.


Christology; Rowan Williams; Christ the Heart of Creation; identity; duality


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