Review of The World in the Trinity: Open-Ended Systems in Science and Religion by Joseph A. Bracken, S.J.” Interpretation 70, no. 1 (Winter 2016): 99-100.

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  Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology2016, Vol. 70(1) 99  –126© The Author(s) 2015Reprints and permissions: 10.1177/ Shorter Reviews   The World in the Trinity: Open-Ended Systems in Science and Religion by Joseph A. Bracken, S.J. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014. 274 pp. $39.00. ISBN 978-1-4514-8205-8.P ROGRESS   IN   THE   SCIENCE   AND  theology dialogue requires a shared philosophical worldview acceptable to both, contends Joseph Bracken, and he constructs a revised process-relational scheme for this very purpose. Evincing con-temporary scientific data and drawing on key modern thinkers, Bracken mounts a convincing argument for a worldview that is through and through social, inter-relational, inter-subjective, and activity-based (as opposed to entity-based). In Bracken’s metaphysics reality is socially organized into integrated processes or systems where momentary, event-like individual enti-ties as the constituents of reality both condition and are conditioned by the systems to which they belong. He goes on to show this propos-al’s promise for resolving longstanding theo-logical problems. A systems model alone can adequately account for how creatures are simul-taneously “in” God yet retain their own exist-ence and activity in a panentheistic model of the God–world relationship. That systems over-lap without losing their distinctive identities (in contrast to substances, which cannot simultane-ously be in the same place) obviates Trinitarian and christological conundrums precipitated by older metaphysical categories. Bracken simi-larly shows how the theologies of divine provi-dence, evil and suffering, the church, and even the theology of miracles, can benefit in novel and interesting ways.This book has much to commend. Bracken explains Alfred North Whitehead’s thought and its scientific underpinnings in easily accessi- ble, non-technical ways. His engagements with major theologians on subjects like panentheism and the Trinity provide helpful surveys of the state of the discussions. The theoretical quickly  becomes practical in concrete applications to controversial topics like beginning and end-of-life decisions, individualism and the common good in social ethics, and ecumenical efforts (including the Catholic church’s relationship to the World Council of Churches, and inter-religious dialogue). Bracken’s willingness to revise process-relational thought in view of more recent scientific advancements is a virtue: field theory in physics now dictates prioritiz-ing the enduring structured fields of activity over Whitehead’s momentary “actual entities” themselves. More complete theories of time and causation, similarly informed by the best recent science and robust treatments in con-temporary analytic philosophy, could buttress Bracken’s case. Given other viable options for the theology of religions today, some may wish for a fuller justification of the claim that various religions are all different ways of acknowledg-ing the invisible workings of the divine. These  possible areas of development notwithstanding,  100  Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 70(1) those looking for a satisfying recasting of Christian theology in light of the most recent science, as well as ways forward in the dialogue  between the two, will be amply supplied here.MARC A. PUGLIESE SAINT LEO UNIVERSITYRICHMOND, VIRGINIA The Entangled Trinity: Quantum Physics and Theology by Ernest L. Simmons Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014. 205 pp. $39.00. ISBN 978-0-8006-9786-0.T HIS   IS   A   TIMELY   BOOK    ON  topics of enduring con-cern to Christian theology and ethics: the ongo-ing challenges of understanding Trinitarian relations within the Godhead and their impli-cations for divine action within nature and his-tory. Several aspects of Simmons’s discussion are noteworthy. In Part One (“Foundational Concepts”), three chapters provide an accessible introduction to fundamental issues in debates on science and religion, especially the formal  parallels that can be drawn between the func-tions of analogy and metaphor in the paradigms of science and theology. He draws judiciously from the writings of other recent contributors to the literature to offer both a telling critique of modern theism and a defense of panentheism as the clearest perspective on divine agency. In Part Two (“Trinitarian Development”), Simmons provides a broad survey of Trinitarian  perspectives. A helpful fifth chapter surveys writings from the Cappadocian period through Luther, and a sixth chapter explores contem- porary Trinitarian developments, with particu-lar attention paid to Barth, Rahner, Moltmann, and Pannenberg. Simmons’s overview under-scores a point often ignored by those who espouse doctrinal “purity”: in every era, theo-logical understandings have been enriched and expanded by incorporating characteristic influ-ences from successive sociocultural contexts. In Part Three (“Science and the Trinity”), Simmons offers his own constructive account of Trinitarian relations by drawing on two central features of quantum physics: the idea of entan-glement or “nonlocal relational holism” (p. 146) and the notion of superposition, associated with Bohr’s understanding of complementarity and Schrodinger’s formal mathematization of the wave-particle duality. In relatively user-friendly fashion, Simmons employs these admittedly difficult concepts as metaphors for depicting God’s internal relations of mutual indwell-ing (perichoresis) in the immanent Trinity and God’s panentheistic relations with creation in the economic Trinity. Simmons emphasizes the significant shift that such metaphors require of classical Trinitarian formulations, with what he views as the “demise of substance” and its replacement by an intrinsically relational ontol-ogy, whereby “the incarnation means that God exists in the world in a new way” (p. 107). There is much here worth pondering, but one problem lingers. As is the case with most  broadly process approaches, Simmons views evil as an inevitable aspect of creation itself rather than as a disordering of God’s srcinal will. Echoing Holmes Rolston, Simmons sees creation as necessarily cruciform, with the divine kenosis mirrored by sacrificial relations within nature. Yet Christ’s self-emptying is a voluntary choice, whereas the suffering of the created non-human order is systemic and invol-untary, and thus only distantly analogous. As a result, certain problems central to theodicy in an ecological context remain largely unaddressed. B. ANDREW LUSTIG DAVIDSON COLLEGE DAVIDSON, NORTH CAROLINA  Shorter Reviews 101 The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science by Mark Harris Biblical Challenges in the Contemporary World Series. Durham: Acumen, 2013. 194 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-1-84465-725-4. M ARK   H ARRIS ’ S    NEW  book, The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science ,  begins with a thoughtful overview of what we are learning about the srcin and ongoing opera-tion of the world from contemporary science. Insights from cosmology and evolutionary biol-ogy as well as current discussions of lawfulness, contingency, and emergence are drawn into the  presentation. With this in place, Harris then takes up the creation motif in biblical writings. His review goes beyond the obvious texts of Genesis 1 and 2 to span a full range of creation texts, including narrative materials and the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Revelation. In these texts he finds “theologies” of creation. As he brings these into dialogue with insights from science, he resists two common tendencies: (1) to treat these texts as literal, historical account-ings (thus bringing them into unnecessary con-flict with science) and (2) to treat them as strictly metaphorical/poetic texts (thus failing to see them in their full complexity, attending as they do to the natural world through the rudimentary scientific approach of observation and hypothe-sis). These texts resist categorization in either lit-eral historical or poetic/metaphorical genres—or in any genre. Harris concludes that they need to  be treated in their full complexity. He is particu-larly interested in their theological interpretation, as they seem to be more about God in relation to creation than about the creation as such. Harris deals honestly and carefully with both the scientific and the biblical material. He offers distinctive insights throughout. He consults sources from across the theological spectrum and offers a refreshing challenge to both natural and supernatural readings of the biblical material. Harris takes up a number of questions evoked by reflection on science and the Bible to reconsider several matters: creation out of nothing ( creatio ex nihilo ) in light of Big Bang cosmology, the stories of Adam and Eve and the “fall” in light of evolutionary biology, the problem of theodicy as it is sharpened by the full extent of suffering entailed in evolutionary process, and Christian eschatology (the promise of “new creation”) in light of scientific pictures of the end of the world. In every case Harris openly and honestly grapples with the issues and suggests helpful approaches and creative responses. This book  brings biblical interpretation and contemporary science into fruitful interaction. It is accessible enough for the theologically interested layper-son and would be a fine textbook for religion and science courses offered in seminaries. ANNA CASE-WINTERS McCORMICK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life by Stanley Hauerwas Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 269 pp. $24.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-6959-3. S TANLEY  H AUERWAS   HOPES   THIS  latest book will surprise his readers. Perhaps the first sur- prise is that the titular “end” of the book is not Hauerwas’s retirement. Instead of reflections on an academic life well lived, this book is preoccu- pied with eschatology as an orienting Christian conviction that properly shapes Christian theol-ogy and ethics.  102  Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 70(1) While the volume’s chapters are bound together by attention to eschatology, it is diffi-cult to summarize “the argument” herein, since (characteristic of Hauerwas’s books) this is a collection of essays written for particular occa-sions and not necessarily arranged in linear pro-gression. Hauerwas develops the theological importance of eschatology most directly in the first section, where he insists that a Christian per-spective on life, death, creation, history, politics, and ecclesiology is shaped by “looking forward.” With Karl Barth, and in critical dialogue with Jean Porter, he reclaims creation as an eschato-logical doctrine grounded in what Christ tells us about the Creator, which in turn decisively shapes how we think about the moral life and so-called natural law. Identifying Jesus’s crucifixion as the “end of all sacrifices,” he questions how Christians can maintain that eschatological axis and yet remain complicit in the ideological sac-rifices of war. With Charles Pinches, he explores the duty to witness, insisting that Christians tell the truth through the narratives they live, in ways that transcend simple “argument.” The sec-ond and third sections of the book work out the implications of eschatology in a variety of issues. They directly inform Hauerwas’s assertion of the church’s true politics, with consequence for our understanding of both politics and ecclesiology (including ecumenism). More subtly, eschatol-ogy also animates the author’s reflections on suf-fering, medicine, and cloning. While the portrait of the church offered in this volume will not surprise readers, the  breadth of Hauerwas’s conversation partners may. Reading Hauerwas can sometimes feel like interrupting a conversation, though he does a better job in this book than in others of bring-ing the reader up to speed with the arguments of his dialogue partners. Especially noteworthy in this volume is Hauerwas’s indebtedness to Karl Barth; the engagement with Barth itself is worth the read. This is a rich volume, a fitting revisiting of Hauerwas’s well-known theologi-cal priorities, but with distinct attention to the ends that give them meaning.JAMES CALVIN DAVIS MIDDLEBURY COLLEGEMIDDLEBURY, VERMONT  Worship and the New Cosmology by Catherine Vincie Liturgical and Theological Challenges Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2014. 136 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8146-8272-2. C HRISTIAN   WORSHIP   HAS  always attended to cosmic concerns—celebrating the presence and action of the triune God in time, space, and matter. Yet in its liturgical theology, language, and practice, the church has failed to keep pace with scientific rev-elations on the srcins of the universe, the nature of quantum mechanics, and the evolution of life. Consequently, we are faced with an increasing disconnect between the life of the mind and the life of the spirit—a dilemma that jeopardizes authentic prayer and even the planet entrusted to our care. This is Catherine Vincie’s contention in Worship and the New Cosmology , an imaginative and challenging call for liturgical reform. Vincie begins with doctrine ( lex credendi ) and moves to worship ( lex orandi ). While seek-ing to lift up constructive, mutually enrich-ing conversations between faith and science, she engages the insights of Ilia Delio, Denis Edwards, John Haught, Elizabeth Johnson, and Arthur Peacocke on creation theology, pneuma-tology, and Christology. On the basis of these investigations, she offers new approaches to sacramental theology, specifically with respect to baptism/confirmation, Eucharist, and recon-ciliation. The final chapter presents concrete  proposals for further work and examples of new  prayers and rites that take science seriously.  Shorter Reviews 103 Vincie is to be commended for her elegant synthesis of recent developments in a variety of scientific disciplines; she offers the church a new narrative about the universe and our place in it. Similarly, her summaries of contemporary theo-logical voices and movements are clear, concise, and compelling. Vincie is particularly persuasive in her description of the destructive ecological impact of an exclusively anthropocentric theology, and in her invitation to a more expansive spiritual-ity of cosmic consciousness and interconnected-ness. I find the examples of new prayers to be less satisfying, but this only underscores Vincie’s call for creative and constructive work in this area.While Vincie seems to address this work  primarily to a Roman Catholic audience, she acknowledges that recent revisions of Roman Catholic liturgies have been more concerned with faithfulness to srcinal Latin texts than they have been attentive to emerging scien-tific discoveries and new theological hori-zons. Perhaps Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical  Laudato Sí  , with its injunction to “care for our common home,” signals an ecclesial paradigm shift and a new openness to these critical con-versations. In the meantime, those who are in a  position to explore new texts and rites would be well advised to take up Vincie’s charge. DAVID GAMBRELL OFFICE OF THEOLOGY AND WORSHIPPRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.) LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY A Political Theology of Climate Change by Michael S. Northcott Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 335 pp. $30.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-7098-8. A S  I WRITE ,  NEWS  abounds of governmental and scientific warnings on the existing and future dan-gers of climate change. For Michael Northcott, the threat is truly apocalyptic and threatens to “render much of the planet uninhabitable by human beings  by the end of this century” (p. 158), a “‘new crea-tion’ of tragically human making” (p. 6). He declares ineffective all current governmental efforts to solve the problem (including “cap-and-trade”). Only an eschatology rooted in “revolu-tionary messianism” can offer some hope.  Northcott argues that the science of climate change necessarily entails a political theology, one that stands over against much of Western  political philosophy. Such a political theology  provides the conceptual underpinnings of why we do need to wage a “war on coal,” and why, on the other hand, deniers of climate change are so ideologically entrenched, not in science, but in the dualistic separation of nature and culture, the dominance of individual self-interest over the common good, the arrogance of autonomous human agency, and the tyranny of unsustainable capitalism. The list of authors whose work is considered is long, including the famous (John Locke, René Descartes, Adam Smith, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton) and the relatively obscure (Giambattista Vico, Karl Schmitt). Alongside the villains there are also heroes, primarily Alfred North Whitehead and William Blake, who envisioned the interdependence of all creation. Connections between weather and human behavior (cf. Deut 12:13–17), which once were ridiculed as superstitious, are ironi-cally relevant. “Christian narrative and ethics” combined with “modern moral psychology” offer a moti-vation for changing “ritual practices of daily living” focused primarily on saving energy. Indeed, beyond saving energy, Northcott argues that we must cease the very extraction of fos-sil fuels and convert to sustainable sources. His concluding sentence deserves quotation: The climate crisis indicates that, to honour the God who rules over earth and heaven, local
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