Original Research - Special Collection: Trinity

A low-flying trinitarian theology

Douglas F. Ottati
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2674 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2674 | © 2022 Douglas F. Ottati | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2022 | Published: 21 December 2022

About the author(s)

Douglas F. Ottati, Department of Religious Studies, Davidson College, Davidson, United States


The claim is sometimes made (and also contested) that, following contributions of Karl Barth and Karl Rahner, there has been a renewal of interest in the doctrine of the Trinity among Christian theologians. This essay further develops the metaphysically circumspect or ‘low-flying’ trinitarian theology I present in A Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Drawing on the work of Donald Baillie, B. A. Gerrish, James M. Gustafson, Hans Küng, H. Richard Niebuhr, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Paul Tillich and others, I argue that such a theology better accords with the New Testament than many realise, and that it has a broad and robust significance for theological ethics. Whether my theology contributes to the recent renewal of interest, however, depends on whether one judges that explicitly revisionary critics of orthodoxy’s metaphysical heights qualify as trinitarian theologians.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The essay indicates that traditional assumptions about trinitarian claims in the New Testament are too narrow, that it is important to attend to the fuller range of trinitarian reflections in the field of Church History and that a pragmatic, metaphysically circumspect trinitarian theology has profound implications for Christian life and faithfulness.


Christology; ethics; Spirit; theology; Trinity.

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