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A Trinitarian Theology of Law: in conversation with Jurgen Moltmann, Oliver O'Donovan and Thomas Aquinas

McIlroy, David H. (2008) A Trinitarian Theology of Law: in conversation with Jurgen Moltmann, Oliver O'Donovan and Thomas Aquinas. PhD thesis. Spurgeon's College, University of Wales.

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Abstract

This thesis considers the approaches of Jürgen Moltmann, Oliver O’Donovan and Thomas Aquinas to the role of human law in the light of their use of the doctrine of the Trinity in their thought. Moltmann’s social trinitarianism is found to be largely unhelpful, but his conception of the Spirit as an ordering power and his recognition that human law must be judged by its effect on the poor and the powerless are salutary. O’Donovan’s emphasis on judgment as the core of human political authority in the light of Christ is illuminating, but by focussing on the Spirit’s role in the Church he offers insufficient explanation of God’s providential use of human law. Aquinas, it is argued, is a trinitarian theologian who offers a teleological account of law, in which human law is, like natural law and the law of Moses, inadequate to achieve the true inner righteousness which God desires. Nonetheless, human law has a role to play in God’s purposes in controlling external actions in respect of temporal goods. The Trinity is considered as a reality to which we respond and into which we are drawn, rather than an image which we appropriate. In the life of the Christian, the Holy Spirit is the new law, working in Christians to sanctify them and ultimately, to glorify them so that their love and obedience for God reaches its consummation. Reflection on the actions of the triune God in salvation history gives rise to an affirmation of the positive but limited role which human law is called to play in maintaining ‘shallow justice’ and relative peace. It is argued that human law is overshadowed by the work of the Son, included in the purposes of the Father, and used as an instrument by the Holy Spirit.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: Trinity Theology of Law Justice Political Theology
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisors Name: Nigel G. Wright
Depositing User: David McIlroy
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2010 15:35
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/5401

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