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HeyJ XLIV (2003), pp.




Washington Theological Union, Washington DC, USA


The relationship between God and creation is, fundamentally, a theological one that begs the question of how God acts in the world. The Scriptures are replete with examples of the mighty acts of God. The Old Testament recounts how God parted the Red Sea, fed the Israelites in the desert, and raised Lazarus to life, among other myriad examples of divine action. While divine action presupposes a transcendent God who acts, the nature of such action is subject to scrutiny today as evidence of the new science points to an evolving universe marked by uncertainty, chance, chaos and self-organization. The apparent ability of nature to organize itself into new patterns of order challenges the Newtonian understanding of divine action as efcient causality. Does God act to change things or move them around? Does God intervene in creation to keep it moving in a particular direction? Or, as Nicholas Saunders asks, has belief in special divine action been irrevocably lost to science?1 While there are many attempts today to re-imagine divine action in creation, including the novel theology of process thinkers, it is my belief that the Christian tradition still holds a wealth of ideas to be explored. Those thinkers who place an emphasis on divine esse describe Gods action as one of nal cause in which the divine essence is the principal cause of creation. Conversely, those writers who maintain that Gods ontos is love describe a Trinitarian structure of God at work in creation in which unity and plurality are equally primordial and intrinsically related. It is in this respect that the medieval theologian, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, offers a theology that holds relevance for the contemporary scientic world. Following the tradition of fecund goodness, Bonaventure describes the Trinity as self-diffusive goodness that gives rise to a communion of persons in love. It is out of the overowing goodness of the Trinity that creation emerges. There is a congruity or ttingness, therefore, between the Trinity and creation which Bonaventure sees in a particular way in the person of Jesus Christ. My thesis is that divine

r The Editor/Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK and Boston, USA.



action is essentially Trinitarian. It is the one eternal-temporal act of the Fathers love for the Son united in the Spirit. In this respect, Gods action on discrete levels is the same action on the overall process of creation. That is, there is no distinction between Gods action top down or bottom up since the action itself is an act which is ultimately centered on the love of the Father for the Son and the fullness of Christ in the universe.


The notion of divine action in the Christian tradition has met little resistance at least up until the twentieth century where the rise of the new science has signicantly altered our view of the universe. The change in our contemporary world view has impelled scholars to reconsider the God-world relationship and, in particular, the way God acts in the world. As scientists today point to an evolutionary universe marked by chance, chaos, and self-organization, the question of divine action has become an increasingly complex and delicate one. Since Christian theology has always taken its cue from the created world, it is not surprising to nd theologians today, attentive to the new science, struggling with the question of divine action. The models of divine action described in God, Humanity and the Cosmos, for example, describe the relationship between God and world from at least ve different perspectives.2 The problem of divine action, as James Wiseman writes, hinges on the issue that any change in the natural world necessarily involves an input of physical energy and this raises the question of how a spiritual, unembodied reality could bring about such an effect in our space-time continuum.3 Saunders states, Of all the challenges science has raised for theology, perhaps the most fundamental is that it has brought into question the doctrine of divine action.4 Underlying the range of theories on divine action are two main concerns: 1) the omnipotence, freedom and omniscience of God, and 2) the integrity and freedom of creation, especially as science points to natures inherent ability to self-organize. Proponents of kenotic theology suggest that God limits or withholds his power in order to relate to the world or allow the world its own freedom to be.5 Those who oppose this type of theology claim that the notion of divine kenosis is a form of reduction, or revision of the traditional attributes of God. Michael Hoonhout, for example, claims that kenosis diminishes the power of God so that his mind is no longer omniscient, his will no longer perfectly extensive or efcacious, and his power no longer innite.6 Following a Thomistic doctrine of God, Hoonhout warrants against equivocating God and world: Because God is Creator his active immanence in the world is not at all on the same level as the natural order, so no competition or interference is possible.7



This type of radical distinction between God and world can be traced back to early fathers of the Church whose efforts to maintain the absolute transcendence of God led to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, a doctrine formulated to indicate that God creates out of nothing.8 That is, God does not need any pre-existing materials to create. Rather, God acts simply by the power of Gods own self. The term ex nihilo underscored the idea that God creates a world truly distinct from Godself. While the notion of distinction between God and world was meant to underscore a transcendent God who is independent of the world, common belief distilled God and universe into two separate realities more or less over against each other, with God reaching into the world to act at particular moments. As Denis Edwards points out, this common way of imaging the God-world relationship resulted in an interventionist view of divine action with God intervening to create and to move creation in the right direction at certain times.9 Just as the fathers sought to avoid any type of pantheism or conation of God and world, so too the God-world relationship of Thomas Aquinas afrmed the distinctiveness of Gods being compared to created reality. Thomas doctrine of God placed a rm emphasis on Gods esse over and above God as a Trinity of divine persons.10 For Thomas, God is absolute being and as absolute being, the nal cause of all that exists. While he ` -vis the sought to maintain the divine transcendent essence of God vis-a created world, such distinction obscured the Christian doctrine of God as Trinity in its relation to creation. The emphasis that Thomas placed on God the Creator as nal cause shifted in the enlightenment period as science developed as an independent discipline. The rise of Newtonian science emphasized God as efcient cause and helped promote the image of God as clockmaker and architect. God established the laws of the universe and adjusted them when necessary to ensure efcient operation of the world machine.11 Newtons God reected his science of motion. Just as the universe was marked by things in motion, so too God was one who moved things around. Newtons opposition to the Christian doctrine of Trinity (antiSocinian) further enhanced the notion of divine action as that of a single, transcendent divine being who intervened occasionally to adjust the laws of the universe but who otherwise remained detached from the events of creation. While there is a great desire today to move beyond Newtons God, we still nd models of divine action that reect an omnipotent, omniscient and transcendent God. The proponents of intelligent design theory, for example, point to the intricate order of the world as proof that the complex order of physical entities/systems in nature cannot arise simply according to their own internal laws or mechanisms. The example of a living cell as a sign of irreducible complexity provides an argument for design from nature.12 Since the components of a cell cannot function



independently outside the cell and thus cannot be accounted for by evolution itself, there must be an ultimate designer.13 Others for whom design may be too restrictive propose that God acts in all things at all times. Nancey Murphy, for example, states that God is a participant not only in every (macro-level) event but also in countless quantum-level events, for Gods participation in the form is by means of his governance of the quantum events that constitute each macro-level event. Thus Murphy sees God acting as a causal-joint in the unfolding events of the physical universe.14 Murphys notion of divine action is not entirely different from Aquinass notion of primary and secondary causality. While God is rst or primary cause, God works in and through the created order as nal cause so that the nality of any secondary causal action is always a participation in the supreme goodness of God.15 Those who follow the Thomistic understanding of divine action make every effort to explain Gods omnipotence as Creator and to prevent confusion between the divine and created orders of being. While the doctrine of ex nihilo forms the background of Thomistic theories of divine action, the God described as the One who acts seems to have more in common with Aristotle than with the God who is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. The question of divine action is really a question of the divine itself. To ask, how does God act? is to rst ask, who is the God who acts? The problem with the monotheistic language of divine action is that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity becomes secondary to divine action. Portraying God [the Father] as a singular agent [Creator] seems to suggest that there is no role in creation for the Word and Spirit.16 Essentially, the Trinity drops out of the equation when considering the God-world relationship. This is a consequence, I believe, of placing the emphasis on divine esse over Trinity. When one turns to the Franciscan school of theology, especially the Parisian school under Alexander of Hales, however, one nds a wholly different emphasis. Examining the nature of the Trinity and the possibility of Incarnation, Alexander explored the question whether God is a Trinity in Gods own self, or because of a creation or an incarnation. In his view, there is more to creation than simply an esse nitum brought about ex nihilo by God into actual esse. As a Christian he maintains that God is triune and thus the theological insight into the mystery of creation, as we know it, needs to be seen within a Trinitarian context. Kenan Osborne writes: The doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine which not only speaks of God within Gods own self, but also maintains that the triune nature of God affects all ad extra activities of God, including both creation and incarnation.17 Alexander concluded that there is no necessity in God for either creation or incarnation. Rather, the power to create and the power to be incarnate focuses on the divine nature as such, rather than on a person of the Trinity. Creation is due to the goodness and wisdom of God, that is, to the Spirit and to the Word, and not merely to the unnecessitated power of



God appropriated to the Father. It is not merely the ad extra activity of a unitarian God, but an ad extra activity of a triune God.18 Fundamental to Gods action is Gods being as self-diffusive goodness (bonum est sui diffusivum), a principle which Alexander derived from Pseudo-Dionysius. The authors of the Summa Fratris Alexandri suggested that we may be making a cosmocentric or cosmo-morphic error in assuming that goodness is secondary to being in the Godhead.19 Since nature refers to action, creation and Incarnation nd their sources in the divine nature understood as a principle of action rather than in the divine essence.20 The Franciscan theologian Bonaventure (12171274) was a student of Alexander of Hales and clearly advanced his conception of God as Trinity. Bonaventure maintained that self-diffusive goodness or love is the basis of creation; thus, it is the Trinity who creates and to whom creation returns. Since the Trinity is integrally related to Christ, Bonaventures theology allows us to posit a central role for Christ in creation. The Incarnation is not an intrusion into an otherwise evolutionary universe nor is it unrelated to the essential role of God as Creator. Rather, the whole process of creation marked by contingency and freedom points to Christ in whom the cosmos nds its God-intended fullment.


Bonaventure sought to understand the nature of God at work in the life of Jesus Christ and looked to Scripture. In the Old Testament, he writes, God reveals himself as Being: I am who Am (Ex 3:14). In the New Testament, however, God reveals himself as good: No one is good but God alone (Lk 18:19).21 Bonaventure identied goodness as the name of God and looked to other theologians such as the Pseudo-Dionysius and Richard of St. Victor to understand God as ultimate goodness. According to the Dionysius, the highest good is self-diffusive and gives rise to being.22 Richard states that the highest good is love, and love is personal and communicative.23 Bonaventure, therefore, uses the notion of selfdiffusive goodness and personal love to distinguish the persons of the Trinity as a communion of persons in love. The Father, he writes, is without origin and thus the source or fountain fullness of goodness; thus, the Father is primal and self-diffusive.24 The Son is that person eternally generated by the Fathers self-diffusive goodness (per modum naturae) and, as such, is the total personal expression of the Father as Word, and ultimate likeness to the Father as Image.25 The Son/Word is both generated by the Father and together with the Father generates the Spirit who is that eternal bond of love between the Father and Son. While the Son/Word is the divine exemplar, the Spirit expresses Gods freedom in love. The Spirit proceeds from Father and Son in an act of full freedom



(per modum voluntatis), his procession being the act of a clear and determinate loving volition on the part of Father and Son.26 In analyzing the Trinitarian dynamic as one of love, Bonaventure follows Richard of St. Victor in arguing that the three persons represent three modalities of love. The rst is a love that is totally communicative and gratuitious (amor gratuitus). At the other extreme is a form of love that is totally receptive and responsive (amor debitus). And between these is a modality of love that is both communicative and receptive (amor ab utroque permixtus).27 Viewing the Trinity in terms of love allows the idea of a centre to emerge. There is one person who lives at the centre of the Trinity in whom lives the fundamental structural law of all that is other than the Father. This person is the Son or Word who is the perfect expression of the Father in one other than the Father. Bonaventure favours the title Word to express the second divine persons relation not only to the Father but to creation, history and Incarnation.28 Bonaventure posits an integral relation between the Trinity and Incarnation. It is Gods nature as the primal, fecund mystery of selfcommunicative, loving goodness that makes possible all of Gods works ad extra. The Son for Bonaventure is the one who is conceived from the depths of the divine goodness; as Image he is the perfect likeness of the Father and as Word he is the cause of all expression and manifestation.29 The Son is the one who, from all eternity, receives the Fathers love and is totally responsive to it. Because the relationship between the Father and Son is the ontological basis of all other relations, it appears that created reality will bear the stamp of Sonship in the deepest core of its being. As the Son is pure receptivity with respect to the Father, so created existence is, at root, the reception of being. And just as the Son responds to the Father and in his response together with the Father breathes forth the Spirit, so all created reality is destined to return to the Father.30 As the Word is the internal self-expression of Gods fecund goodness, so the world is the external objectication of that self-utterance in that which is not God. And the humanity of Jesus is the fullest embodiment of that self-utterance within the created world. The one who became incarnate is the perfect, personal likeness of the Father, the fecund source of all. Thus he holds a middle place between the Father and the world, and it is through the Son that the Father communicates to the world at all levels. It is precisely as Word and centre that the Son is the exemplar of all creation. While at one level, the whole of the Trinity is exemplary with respect to the world, at another level the mystery of exemplarity is concentrated in a unique way in the Son, for the triune structure of God himself is expressed in him.31 Thus as the Word is the inner selfexpression of God, the created order is the external expression of the inner Word. The created universe, therefore, possesses in its inner constitution a relation to the uncreated Word. Since the Word, in turn, is the expression of the inner Trinitarian structure of God, that which



is created as an expression of the Word bears the imprint of the Trinity as well.32 For Bonaventure, the Trinity is marked by the order of love which is dynamic and inexhaustible. Love within the Trinity is always going out to an other for the sake of the other. If we ask the question, why does God create, we would have to say that God creates because God is love. When we say that God is love, we are saying that God is personal and relational because by the very nature of being love, God is other-centred. Thus, any action of God must correspond to the Trinity of persons who act as a unity of persons-in-love.33 According to Bonaventure, the relationship between the Father and Son is the basis of all other relationships.34 The Father, the fountain fullness of love, is always moving towards the Son in the sharing of love, and the Son is always loving the Father in the Spirit. If the Father is rst in the most primal sense, the Son, reecting the productivity of the Father and the receptiveness of the Spirit, is that person who anticipates all that is other than the Father. This includes the mystery of the inner-Trinitarian Spirit and the reality of the created cosmos.35 Creation is caught up in the mystery of the generation of the Word from the Father and is generated out of the fecundity of Gods love. Creations fecundity, therefore, is a limited expression of the innite and dynamic love between the Father and Son united in the Spirit. In this respect, creation is not a mere external act of God, an object on the fringe of divine power; rather, it is rooted in the self-diffusive goodness of Gods inner life and emerges out of the innermost depths of Trinitarian life.36 Since creation emanates out of and is a limited expression of divine goodness, we may think of creation as unfolding within the Trinitarian relations of divine love rather than being radically separate from God.37 To say that the universe shares in the mystery of the Trinity means that the universe is caught up in the dynamic process of self-transcendence and self-communication of inter-penetrating relationships and creative love.


If creation ultimately arises out of the eternal fecundity of the Trinity and is an overow of that fecundity, it is possible to speak of a divine kenosis whereby God communicates his love to creation. The idea of kenosis (keno) or self-emptying is used here to describe Gods overowing goodness or self-communicative love.38 Bonaventure writes: Because the whole is communicated and not merely part, whatever is possessed is given, and given completely.39 Thus just as goodness is completely diffused within the Trinity, that same goodness is freely given to creation.40 The nature of the good to give itself away to another characterizes Gods humility.



The idea of a divine kenosis in creation is consistent with the idea of God who is self-communicative love. Contemporary theologians such as John Haught argue for a metaphysics of humility as the basis of divine action in an evolutionary world. A theology of divine humility, according to Haught, makes room for true novelty to spring spontaneously into being a feature logically suppressed by deterministic materialist interpretations.41 The image of divine humility has been resisted theologically up until now because it implies that God has too little power or perhaps no power at all to act in nature.42 Such a vulnerable and defenceless God, Haught indicates, does not seem capable of provoking an adequate foundation for our hope in redemption, resurrection and new creation. Yet, it is precisely a God who is kenotic, self-giving love who can impart freedom to creation and guide it towards its purpose. The German theologian Ju rgen Moltmann states that the logic of creation is the logic of love. Creation is not a demonstration of Gods boundless power, it is the communication of Gods love which knows neither premises nor preconditions. Gods almighty power is demonstrated only in as much as all the operations of that power are determined by his eternal nature itself.43 Similarly, Walter Kasper describes divine omnipotence in the cross of Jesus Christ as the divine capacity for love beyond all human comprehension. He writes: It requires omnipotence to be able to surrender oneself and give oneself away; and it requires omnipotence to be able to take oneself back in the giving and to preserve the independence and freedom of the recipient. Only an almighty love can give itself wholly to the other and be a helpless love.44 Kaspers insight offers a radically Christian view of divine action by indicating that God brings about the new creation through helpless love. Power and helplessness are opposites and it is precisely the coincidence of opposites (coincidentia oppositorum) that marks the Christian God of love. For Bonaventure, the humility of Gods love in creation is related to the fact that God is an innite source of love. God is eternally fecund and self-communicative. As a coincidence of opposites, Gods transcendent fecundity is Gods immanence as self-giving love.45 This means that God can fully communicate love to creation (even if we describe this as selfemptying or kenotic love) without risk or vulnerability because God is an innite mystery of love. The divine fecundity in creation is a limited expression of the innite mystery of God who is love. As a coincidence of fecundity and kenosis, God can be completely present to creation as humble love without diminishing Gods transcendent fecundity or omnipotence, or interfering in natures own ability to self-organize. Rather, the divine coincidentia oppositorum means that Gods omnipotence is Gods humble love. The notion of an innitely loving and humble God at work in the universe certainly overturns the image of God as a tyrannical force who dictates the events of the universe. Creation is not the amusement of a



lonely deity.46 Rather, creation is the expression of an innitely loving God in whom the nature and will to create is already realized within the divine nature itself, in the eternal generation of the Son and Spirit. Thus God neither has to create nor is creation purely divine desire; rather it expresses in a nite way the innite love of God. Just as freedom is integral to Gods nature, so too Gods delity in love allows creation to follow its own internal laws and designs. The notion that the humble love of God comprises the inner force of the created universe underscores the notion of a self-organizing universe, one that can entertain chance, randomness, complexity and chaos, and give rise to beauty and order that can be intelligibly perceived. This divine self-restraining character is fully compatible with Gods love which, rather than being rigidly deterministic, is total self-giving in freedom and creativity for the sake of the good which both gives rise to created being and, essentially, is being. Extending Bonaventures theology to the contemporary scientic world allows us to posit a theological ground of divine goodness that sustains a world of chance and complexity.47 The intertwining levels of chaos and complexity throughout nature can follow the internal rhythms of chance and law without compromising God as the ground of creation, since all creation is related to God and participates in divine goodness by the very nature of its existence. Gods gift of freedom to creation is Gods delity in love.48 The triune God commits himself to create simply because the Father, the fountain source of goodness, is by nature turned toward the Son/Word and with the Son loves in the single breath of the Spirit who permeates the universe as freedom in love. Whatever we say about God as Creator, in Bonaventures view, must correspond to the humility of God and to the nature of the Trinity as self-communicative love.


If the humility of divine love is that which undergirds a self-organizing universe then our understanding of God as Creator must shift from a transcendent God who works by divine omniscience and power to a God whose power is integrally related to the humility of love. The science of chaos and complexity today indicates that organisms or systems are not entirely pre-packaged, indicating that God allows new order and new life to unfold with spontaneity, freedom and creativity. God does not impose order by control but imparts such freedom to creation that, at rst glance, it seems as though creation does not need God at all.49 The inherent ability of natural systems spontaneously to form new patterns of order means that the future of any system is marked by novelty and surprise, not by programmed blueprints.50 While the freedom in creation to explore possibilities is undergirded by the power of Gods kenotic love,



such freedom [being created] can never exceed Gods love, which is innite. This idea does not diminish the genuine freedom of creation for insofar as things exist, they exist freely. Things can go awry in creation; however, the degree to which creation can become skewed due to a betrayal of freedom can never exceed Gods will or love, simply because created freedom is always contingent on the innite freedom of God. If God is the source and goal of creation, then freedom in creation cannot exist independently of that freedom which is its source of loving goodness. In light of the contingency of creations freedom, Gods love is always the more that lures creation towards itself. What does this mean in terms of Bonaventures Trinitarian theology? Here I believe we need to keep in mind the integral relation he posits between Trinity and creation together with his view that the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity. This maxim, made famous by Karl Rahner, indicates that whatever is said of divine action ad intra must correspond to that ad extra.51 According to Bonaventure, all creation ows out of the relationship between the Father and Son.52 This means that while the Fathers self-diffusive goodness is the basis of goodness in creation, the Fathers goodness is really communicated to only one other, namely, the Son or Word who, as Word, expresses the Fathers divine ideas. The Word, therefore, is the exemplary ground of creation. The Father by loving the Word loves all things in and through the Word. It is in the Word that the fecundity of the Father nds its perfect image; and it is from the Word that all creation ows, and it is to the Word, as exemplar, that it reects back and returns.53 Whereas contemporary models of divine action struggle to nd a complementary relationship between God and creation without violating the orders of innite and nite being, Bonaventure offers a completely integral relationship between God and creation precisely because God is Trinity and the Word is centre. The fecundity of Gods inner life, the nature of which involves free self-communication, is the same fecundity that provides the diversity of creation. Here we might say that the input of energy into the space-time continuum that brings about change (creation) is none other than the goodness or love between the Father and Son. Because the Word is both centre of the Trinity and exemplar of creation, the Word is the ontological link between Gods being (Trinity) and Gods action (creation). The fundamental relationship of the Father Son/Word means that there is really only one primordial relationship (namely, the Father-Son-Spirit) both within the Trinity and in creation. Since this relationship is the basis for all that exists, we must conclude that creation is an act of the Fathers love for the Son and the mutuality of love united in the Spirit. In this respect, it is not feasible to talk about Gods action in creation, as if this action were distinct from Gods inner triune life. Since Gods being is Gods action and Gods being is love,



Gods action is an eternal-temporal act of love.54 This act in time is expressed in the diversity of creation, since the Son is the Word who expresses the Father both nitely and innitely. The idea that divine action is really one eternal-temporal act of love between the Father and Son is supported by the fact that Bonaventure does not treat God as essential unity (De Deo Uno) nor does he consider the divine essence in terms of esse.55 Because he does not emphasize divine ` -vis the act of creation, as we esse, he does not consider God as actor vis-a nd with contemporary models of divine action in which God acts either top-down56 or bottom-up.57 Rather, for Bonaventure, divine essence is self-diffusive goodness; thus, fecundity is transcendence. In his Itinerarium Mentis in Deum he writes, creation is no more than a center or point in relation to the immensity of the divine goodness.58 Thus God does not need to create since innite fecundity lies within the Godhead itself. That God creates, however, reects who God is, namely, self-communicative love. Because the nature of God lies precisely in fecundity, the question how God creates cannot be separated from the question why God creates, since the very nature of the Trinity as self-communicative love is itself the basis of action. Bonaventures theology allows us to say that the triune God does not act on discrete levels of creation, as if connecting things together nor does God act in every single discrete event as an individual actor. God does not act to cause things to change. He might concede, however, that God acts as a whole to the parts of creation (as Peacocke maintains) but specically within the context of relationship. God is a relationship of love whose action in creation is an eternal/ temporal act of love. In light of this idea, I would suggest, following Moltmann, that instead of talking about creation as divine action, it may be more reasonable to talk about creation as divine relationship.59 Just as the Father is related to the Son, so too God is related to creation, for it is in and through the Son as exemplar (according to Bonaventure) that the Father embraces creation.60 Divine action as divine relationship preempts the search for any type of mechanistic divine action; thus, epistemological gaps are to be expected in this God-world relationship, especially if we concede that creation is grounded in the primordial mystery of Trinitarian love.61 If divine action is none other than the relationship between the Trinity and creation, we might say that the Trinity of love is always attracting creation as the beloved, as the Father attracts the Son in the eternal breath of the Spirits love. It is the attractive loving power of the FatherSon-Spirit relationship which creates temporally (by the power of attraction) with a view toward love. Using the language of chaos theory the Trinity is, metaphorically speaking, a strange attractor.62 In and through the divine Word, the triune God is present to creation, yet transcendent in divine fecundity. As the strange attractor, God is always luring creation toward the more or, we might say, the optimal good.



Creation is an expression of Gods desire that others share in the glory of loving and being loved which is the glory of the Trinitarian life. Gods desire for that which God creates means that creation cannot be in a state of equilibrium or at rest but rather is dynamically oriented toward the triune God. As the attraction of love, creation does not mean bringing new things into existence per se but rather it means maximizing goodness (or love) in creation.63 In this respect, we might think of creation as the attraction towards a complexity of goodness or love since the process of creation, as an evolutionary process, underscores an increase in complexity and union.


Bonaventures theology, with its centrality of the divine Word, allows us further to suggest that, in light of the Trinitarian relationships, all actions/processes/events in creation point to the Word of God. The centrality of the Word in the Trinity means that the possibilities of creation and Incarnation are rooted in the self-communicative love or otherness of the Father. Because the Fathers love is diffusive and personal, it is reasonable to suggest that the other of the Fathers love is a personal other. Both within the Trinity and creation, this other is the Son/Word. There is a note of primacy in Bonaventures theology in which we can say that Christ is rst in Gods intention to love and thus to create.64 In his later writings, Bonaventure clearly holds that Christ is the meaning (and centre) of the universe.65 That is, all of creation is ordained to Christ. This idea complements the unfolding of creation in relation to the Trinity in and through the Word of God. Gods love at work in creation is the Spirit of goodness that lovingly guides creation towards the maximization of beauty and order in short towards the maximization of love. Since the Spirit is not separate from the expression of love between the Father and Son, we may say that the Spirits work in creation lures creation towards the fullness of love shown in the Incarnate Word. The maximization of love culminates in the person of Jesus Christ who realizes the potential embedded in nature for union with God by freely accepting the demands of love. Christ is the truly human one who is fully open to God as love and in whom Gods loving plan for creation is revealed, namely, the unity of all things in love. Bonaventures Christogenic thought complements that of Teilhard de Chardin. Both of them saw the Christ mystery not only as the reason for the universe but as the very expression or form of the universe itself.66 As Bonaventure wrote, Christ is not ordained to us but we are ordained to Christ.67 The notion of Christogenesis is compatible with the Trinity as strange attractor, since the whole process of creation, emerging out of the Trinity, points to Christ who, as Son, is always turned toward the Father. In this



respect we can say that the cosmos is not just a random fact, but that it exists for something. Using the language of Whitehead, the cosmos has a divine aim. As Zachary Hayes writes, a cosmos without Christ is a cosmos without a heady. it simply does not hold together. But with Christ, all the lines of energy are coordinated and uniedy all is nally brought to its destiny in God.68 The whole universe, therefore, is designed and created with a view towards Christ who, as Bonaventure claimed, is the noble perfection of the universe, its goal and centre.69 Stated in more contemporary terms, Christ is the more of an evolutionary universe. Christ is both the revelation of God as love and the future of the universe in view of this love. Hayes reminds us that what happened between God and the world in Christ points to the future of the cosmos, that is, the radical transformation of created reality through the unitive power of Gods love.70 In Christ, therefore, the future of a universe marked by levels of self-organization is disclosed. Interpreting such a universe in light of Bonaventures theology, I would say that all of creation is moving towards its transformation in Christ who is the Word of the Father. Thus we may be astounded that nature has the ability to form its own patterns of order and that God humbly allows these patterns to unfold in surprising ways; however, even at most simple levels of life there is meaning and purpose in Gods loving freedom. The God who is perfect love is an utterly simple God, and the simplicity of Gods love is revealed in the relationships between the Father-Son/Word-Spirit. The triune God of love with its divine exemplary centre in Christ is the source and goal of all created reality.

1 Nicholas T. Saunders, Does God Cheat At Dice? Divine Action and Quantum Possibilities, Zygon 35 (2000), p. 518. 2 Christopher Southgate et al. (eds.), God, Humanity and the Cosmos (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999), pp. 21025. 3 James A. Wiseman, Theology and Modern Science: Quest for Coherence (New York: Continuum, 2002), p. 114. 4 Saunders, Does God Cheat At Dice?, p. 518. 5 John F. Haught, Science and Religion: From Conict to Conversation (New York: Paulist, 1995), p. 160; ibid, Chaos, Complexity and Theology, Teilhard Studies 30 (Summer, 1994), pp. 1617; Ju rgen Moltmann, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993), p. 87; John Polkinghorne, Kenotic Creation and Divine Action, in The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001), pp. 90 6. 6 Michael A. Hoonhout, Grounding Providence in the Theology of the Creator: The Exemplarity of Thomas Aquinas, Heythrop Journal 43 (2002), p. 3. 7 Ibid. 8 Sjoerd L. Bonting, Chaos Theology: A New Approach to the Science-Theology Dialogue, Zygon 34.2 (June 1999), pp. 32426. According to Bonting, the concept of creation out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) arose in the battle of the early church against Marcionism and Gnostic dualism, both of which proposed the formation of the material universe by a demiurge. The new



concept was rst expounded by Theophilus of Antioch (c. 185) and later by Augustine, and it was thereafter almost universally accepted in the church, although it was not included in the ancient creeds. It was formulated dogmatically at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and reafrmed by the Vatican Council of 1870. It was also accepted by Luther and Calvin; Colin E. Gunton, The Triune God: A Historical and Systematic Study (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998), pp. 65 96; cf. Ju rgen Moltmann (God in Creation, p. 74) who writes: The formula creatio ex nihilo is an exclusive formula. The word nihil is a limit concept: out of nothingthat is to say out of pure nothingness. The preposition out of does not point to any pre-given thing; it excludes matter of any kind whatsoever. 9 Denis Edwards, The God of Evolution (New York: Paulist, 1999), p. 30. 10 For Thomas, the divine essence is conceived, metaphysically, as prior to the Fathers person. It is because the divine essence is rational and volitional that Father, Son and Spirit exist for Thomas. Since the act of creation is attributed to the divine persons commonly in their unity, no signs of Trinity appear in the created effect whereby the Trinity can be inferred, a position opposite that of Bonaventure. See Kevin P. Keane, Ordo Bonitatis: The Summa Fratris Alexandri and Lovejoys Dilemma, in Marion Leather Kuntz and Paul Grimley Kuntz (eds.), Jacobs Ladder and the Tree of Life: Concepts of Hierarchy and the Great Chain of Being (New York: Peter Lang, 1987), p. 66; Christopher B. Gray, Bonaventures Proof of Trinity, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 67.2 (1993), p. 203. 11 Ian G. Barbour, Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), pp. 2123. 12 Michael Behe, Darwins Black Box: the Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Free Press, 1996); William B. Dembski, Science and Design, First Things (October 1998), pp. 217; ibid., No Free Lunch: Why Specied Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence (Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Rowman & Littleeld, 2002). 13 Kenneth Miller has argued against this notion of intelligent design by pointing to a number of studies showing that complex biochemical systems could indeed be produced in a step-by-step Darwinian way. See Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwins God: A Scientists Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, Cliff Street Books, 1999), pp. 293303. 14 Nancey Murphey, Divine Action in the Natural Order: Buridans Ass and Schro dingers Cat, in Robert Russell et al. (eds.), Chaos and Complexity: Scientic Perspectives on Divine Action, 2nd ed. (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Publ.; Berkeley, CA: The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 2000), p. 343. 15 Hoonhout, Grounding Providence in the Theology of the Creator, p. 11. 16 Edwards, God of Evolution, p. 78. 17 Kenan Osborne, Alexander of Hales: Precursor and Promoter of Franciscan Theology, in Kenan B. Osborne (ed.), The History of Franciscan Theology (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1994), p. 25. 18 Osborne, Alexander of Hales, p. 27. 19 Kevin P. Keane, Why Creation? Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas on God as Creative Good, Downside Review 93 (April 1975), pp. 11617. 20 Alexander of Hales, Quaestiones Disputatae Antequam esset frater, (Quarrachi [Florence]: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1960), p. 197. 21 The comparison between John Damascene and the Pseudo-Dionysius on the names of God as being and good are discussed by Bonaventure in his classic Itinerarium Mentis in Deum. See Bonaventure Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (Itin.) 5.2 (V, 307). The critical edition of Bonaventures works is the Opera Omnia edited PP. Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 10 vols. (Florence: Quaracchi, 18821902). Latin texts are indicated by volume and page number in parentheses. 22 Pseudo-Dionysius De divinis nominibus 4.1 (PG 3, 694). For an excellent discussion of the tradition see Ewert H. Cousins, The Notion of the Person in the De Trinitate of Richard of St. Victor (unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Fordham University, 1966). 23 Richard of St. Victor De Trinitate 3.1419 (PL 196, coll. 92427). 24 Bonaventure I Sentence (Sent.). d. 27, p.1, a. un., q. 2, ad 3 (I, 470). The idea that the Father is innascible and fecund underlies the dialectical style of Bonaventures thought. It also provides the basis of Bonaventures metaphysics as a coincidentia oppositorum. The Fathers innascibility and fecundity are mutually complementary opposites which cannot be formally reduced to one or the other; the Father is generative precisely because he is unbegotten. See Zachary Hayes,



introduction to Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, vol. 3, Works of Saint Bonaventure, edited by George Marcil (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1979), p. 42, n. 51. 25 Bonaventure I Sent, d. 5, a. 1, q. 2, resp. (I, 115); I Sent. d. 2, a. u., q. 4, fund 2 (I, 56); Hayes, introduction, p. 34, n. 10. Bonaventure uses the terms per modum naturae and per modum voluntatis to designate the two Trinitarian emanations. The terms are inspired by Aristotles principle that there exist only two perfect modes of production, namely, natural and free. 26 Bonaventure I Sent. d. 6, a. ul., q. 2, resp. (I, 128). Processus per modum voluntatis concomitante natura; Keane, Why Creation?, p. 115. Keane writes: It is noteworthy that Bonaventures reason for attributing creation to the divine will is quite different from Thomass. Where Thomas is in the main concerned to protect the divine perfection and radically free will, Bonaventure is at pains to elucidate how only through will can an act be truly personal - both free and expressive of the outward dynamism of goodness, an act spontaneous yet substantial. 27 Zachary Hayes, Bonaventure: Mystery of the Triune God, in Kenan B. Osborne (ed.), The History of Franciscan Theology (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1994), p. 58. 28 Bonaventure Commentarius in Joannis c. I, p. 1, q. 1 (VI, 247). 29 Bonaventure I Sent. d. 27, p. 2, a. u., q. 3, resp. (I, 487488). 30 Bonaventure I Sent. d. 2, q. 2, ad 4 (I, 54). 31 Bonaventure Collationes in Hexaemeron (Hex.) 9, 2 (V, 373); 3, 7 (V, 344). 32 Zachary Hayes, The Hidden Center: Spirituality and Speculative Christology in St. Bonaventure (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1992), p. 60. 33 In the rst book of his Sentence commentary (I Sent. d. 2, a. u., q. 2, ad. 4 [I, 54]) Bonaventure indicates that the Father is the source and goal of all created reality; in him is found the status in which the entire created process nds its fullment. He writes: In personis divinis est una persona, a qua sunt aliae et ad quam, et in illa est status originis, quia illa a nullo; et haec est persona patris. However, while the Fathers fecundity corresponds to the primacy of the Father, it is precisely because the Father is fecund that the generation of the Son is necessary. Hence, there is in God one in whom resides the fullness of divine fecundity with respect to the persons. But since whatever God is in himself he is in act, it follows that the divine fecundity with respect to God himself must be in act, and hence there must be a plurality of persons in God [in act]. See Hayes, introduction, p. 36. According to Keane (Ordo Bonitatis, p. 58) this position is quite different from that of Thomas for whom the goodness of God is seen as purely passive ad extra, becoming active only insofar as it is freely taken as goal for imitation by the divine will, which alone is efcient cause of creation. 34 Hayes, introduction, p. 47. 35 Hayes, Bonaventure, p. 58. 36 Ilia Delio, Simply Bonaventure: An Introduction to his Life, Thought, and Writings (New York: New City Press, 2001), p. 54. 37 Edwards, God of Evolution, p. 30. 38 For background on the word kenosis see Sarah Coakley, Kenosis: Theological Meanings and Gender Connotations, in Work of Love, pp. 19397. Hayes (introduction, p. 65) notes that for Bonaventure God communicates himself in history as he is in himself. 39 Itin. 6.3 (V, 311). Engish translation by Ewert Cousins, Bonaventure: The Souls Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Major Life of St. Francis (New York: Paulist, 1978), p. 105. Hereafter referred to as Bonaventure. 40 Keane, Why Creation?, pp. 11617. Keane states that, for Bonaventure, goodness is not only the source of created reality, the reason for and impulse toward creation, but also the substance, participated, of that creationthe order, beauty, substantiality of created being - and the goal or end of creation, the theophany that will mark creations full achievement. 41 Haught, Science and Religion, p. 54. 42 John Haught, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000), pp. 4756. 43 Moltmann, God in Creation, pp. 756. 44 Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ, translated by Matthew OConnell (New York: Crossroad, 1999), pp. 19495. 45 In the sixth chapter of his Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (Itin. 6.5) Bonaventure describes the mystery of the Trinity in terms of opposites: rst/last; eternal/present; simple/boundless; one/all inclusive, and then proceeds to show how the mystery of God as opposites in contained in Christ. See also Ewert Cousins, The Coincidence of Opposites in the Christology of Saint Bonaventure, Franciscan Studies 28 (1968), pp. 2745.



46 Thomas OMeara, Thomas Aquinas: Theologian (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997), p. 97. 47 Bonaventures metaphysics of the good allows us to suggest that the dynamism of creation, emphasized today by theories of evolution and chaos, is not due to the inherent properties of nature but to the nature of God as fecund goodness and the source of reality. See Ewert H. Cousins, God as Dynamic in Bonaventure and Contemporary Thought, American Catholic Philosophical Association 48 (1974), pp. 13648. 48 Keane, Why Creation?, p. 119. 49 Haught, Science and Religion, p. 160. 50 Ibid., pp. 160 61. 51 This idea is Karl Rahners famous maxim but it is already present within Bonaventures thought. See Karl Rahner, The Trinity, translated by Joseph Donceel (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970), p. 22; Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God For Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), pp. 21113. 52 Zachary Hayes, Incarnation and Creation in the Theology of St. Bonaventure, in Romano Stephen Almagno and Conrad Harkins (eds.), Studies Honoring Ignatius Brady, Friar Minor, (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1976), p. 314. 53 Ewert Cousins, The Two Poles of St. Bonaventures Theology, in vol. 4, Jacques G. Bougerol (ed.), Sancta Bonaventura: 12741974 (Rome: Grottaferatta, 1974), p. 161. 54 Keane, Why Creation?, pp.11719. Keane offers some interesting insights with regard to creation and divine goodness. He writes: Bonaventure attempted to provide a more adequate answer to the why of nite being y more in keeping with the afrmation of creations ttingness expressed in the Christian experience of the perfect Word/Reason (Logos) as incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. He goes on to say that the fate of the world, for good or for ill, is of consequence to God, for his goodness is radically involved: he would not be the good itself, the best, were he to abandon the project once under way or complacently witness its disaster. 55 Bonaventure, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, translated by Zachary Hayes, in vol. III, George Marcil (ed.), Works of Saint Bonaventure, (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1979), p. 32, n. 4. 56 See for example models described by Arthur Peacockes Theology for a Scientic Age: Being and BecomingNatural, Divine, and Human (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), pp. 534 and Philip Clayton, God and Contemporary Science (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 227. We might note here that Bonaventure used the four Aristotelian causes to describe creation in his Breviloquium but later on, in his Hexaemeron, he considered creation within the integral relationship of the Trinity and Christ. 57 For a bottom-up view see Murphey, Divine Action in the Natural Order, pp. 34950. 58 Itin. 6.2 (V, 310); Cousins, Bonaventure, p. 103. Bonaventure writes: Nam diffusio ex tempore in creatura non est nisi centralis vel punctalis respectu immersitatis bonitatis aeternae. 59 Moltmann, God in Creation, p. 83. Moltmann writes: It is more appropriate if we view the eternal divine life as a life of eternal, innite love, which in the creative process issues in its overowing rapture from its Trinitarian perfection and completeness, and comes to itself in the eternal rest of Sabbath (p. 84). Moltmann goes on to say that the one divine love operates in different ways in the divine life and in the divine creativity, making possible the distinction between God and the world. 60 We might note here the emphasis Bonaventure places on the humility of God in view of intimate relationship between the Father and Son. In his Sermon on the Nativity he begins by saying that [in the Incarnation] the eternal God has humbly bent down and lifted the dust of our nature into unity with his own person. This notion of divine humility allows us to say that the Father, who is hidden in the Son, embraces the world in love. See Bonaventure, Sermon II on the Nativity of the Lord, in What Manner of Man? Sermons on Christ by St. Bonaventure, translated Zachary Hayes (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1989), p. 57; Ilia Delio, Bonaventures Metaphysics of the Good, Theological Studies 60.2 (1999), pp. 23539. 61 Howard Van Till, The Creation: Intelligently Designed or Optimally Equipped? Theology Today 55 (1998), pp. 34464. As Van Till notes, there are epistemological gaps in creation, since we do not know in full detail and with certainty just how each form of life came to be actualized in the course of time. Such gaps, however, do not belie the robust formational economy of creation, which we identify here as goodness. See especially p. 351. 62 The term strange attractor, arising from chaos theory, describes the shape of chaos or spontaneous movements of a system that deviate from the normal pattern of order. The use of computer imagery has helped to detect spontaneous non-linear deviations in systems that signify



new patterns of order. A strange attractor is a basin of attraction that pulls the system into a visible shape. It is, in some way, the spontaneous non-linear variation in a system that ultimately causes a new pattern of order to emerge. Some scientists have claimed that the appearance of the strange attractor means that order is inherent in chaos since the attractor itself is a novel pattern of order that arises spontaneously within a system. When systems are dislodged from a stable state, there is rst a period of oscillation prior to a state of full chaos or a period of total unpredictability; it is during this time that the strange attractor seems to spontaneously appear. Very slight variations, so small as to be indiscernible, can amplify into unpredictable results when they are fed back on themselves. See Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Learning about Organization from an Orderly Universe (San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler, 1994), p. 105; David Toolan, At Home in the Cosmos (Markyknoll NY: Orbis, 2000), p. 200. Toolan offers the metaphor of God as strange attractor but I must admit that I came to the same metaphor independently. 63 Van Till, Creation: Intelligently Designed or Optimally Equipped? pp. 34464. Van Tills notion of a robust creation fully endowed to make possible the actualization of all inanimate structures and all life forms that have ever appeared in the course of time corresponds to the argument of this paper, namely, that goodness is the source and basis of creation. 64 See Ilia Delio, Revisiting the Franciscan Doctrine of Christ, Theological Studies 64.1 (2003). 65 See, for example, Hex. 1, 10, 17 (V, 330331). 66 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, translated by Bernard Wall (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), pp. 26899. 67 In his Sentence commentary Bonaventure writes: Non enim Christus ad nos naliter ordinatur, sed nos naliter ordinamur ad ipsum. III Sent. d. 32, q. 5, ad 3 (III, 706). 68 Zachary Hayes, Christ, Word of God and Exemplar of Humanity, Cord 46.1 (1996), p. 13. 69 Bonaventure, De reductione artium ad theologiam 20 (V, 324b). 70 Hayes, Word of God and Exemplar of Humanity, p. 12.AU: Please check footnote renumbering

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