Gunton begins his study by showing the uniqueness of the Creation Ex Nihilo to the Christian faith. Other mid east legends are dim copies. Despite the universality of evidence, there is a corresponding universality of failure to read it correctly (Calvin). Creation is the outcome of God's unrestrained love.It is Christo-centric. It is through and to Christ. The incarnate one entered into history and creation to redeem it.
Gunton then sets the stage by showing the biblical context out of which the doctrine of Trinitarian Creation was realized. Old Testament. God's creation is rooted historically. It is not eternal. New Testament. God freely willed creation. velation 4:11). Christ is the mediator and sustainer of creation (Heb. 1:2).Christ's miracles over demons is a oretaste of the future liberation of creation (Romans 8).As Christ is the mediator of creation, the Holy Spirit is the animator of it. This ties together in the resurrection of Christ.The freedom of God in the created order. The destiny of the created order is related to the resurrection of Christ.
Next he examines the Greek Worldview, showing it be pessimistic and dualistic, incapable of answering the ultimate questions. Ontology:
Pantheism: Is the universe divine?
If God is not personal creator, we then have an impersonal force governing reality (c.f. John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, p.35-40 for an excellent discussion of personality and deity). To personalise the non-personal is to succumb to crude forms of superstition.Only a theology which distinguishes God from the world ontologically justifies the practices of science.
What's interesting, however, is what Gunton did not say. If we are talking about Pantheism and combatting it with a Personal creating God, then this is an excellent moment to bring up discussions of absolute divine simplicity, which Gunton did not do
The Hero of the study is Irenaeus. Trinitarian Mediation: Irenaus of Lyons
If God the Son takes upon himself a material body, then nothing material can be intrinsically bad. God creates out of nothing. There are no degrees of being but only two realities: God and everything else. Although very good, creation, even before the fall, was not yet complete and perfected. It is waiting for an eschatological perfection. Salvation is that which returns creation to its directed purpose. The world is to be understood as a process, but not--as in contemporary process theologians--a linear process.
Okay, a few problems with Gunton's ontology and reading of Irenaeus. Yes, there are only two different realities (Creator and created), but there are "folds" within the latter reality (e.g., the realm of angels and the multiple dimensions that ascetics experience). Secondly, in (rightly) making Irenaeus the hero of his study, how can one really talk about Irenaeus without devoting most of the discussion on "recapitulation?" A curious omission.
All in all it was a fascinating study, save a few faults. He tried his darndest to exonerate Darwin, to no avail. Despite all of Gunton's brilliant reasoning--and mind you he is sharp--Darwin, given Gunton's own admissions elsewhere, could not account for human personality and dignity given his premises.