C. Seitz opens with the first article, focussing on the phrase maker of heaven and earth. His approach is strongly exegetical, attempting to show the Biblical roots of the phrase and the meaning the creed therefore assumes in its current elliptical form. The phrase “maker of heaven and earth” is often tied to the personal name of God, the LORD, which assumes a particular identity in Israel's unique history. Jesus is not related to “deity,” he is related to Yhwh. This holds for all the propositions in the first article: “Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, each in its own way bespeaks the divine and sacred name” (28). The implication is that it is not possible to talk of the Son without reference to the Father, who is the foundation for faith. In this light, attempts to recover a “historical” Jesus, measure his work according to an abstract standard of truth, or reduce the Father to the beneficia Chrisit are to be avoided.
C. Gunton struggles with the tension between exegesis and theology in his treatment of One Lord, ... Begotten, Not Made .... Both creedal and Biblical formulations of Jesus' “begottenness” are not clear enough to rebuke the threat of Arianism, which undermines Christ's salvific significance. The creedal formulation risks depersonalizing the Son and thus risks marring the image of God, who is “the one who is the love of Father and Son in the Spirit” (38; emphasis mine). An attempt to recapture Jesus' uniqueness by turning to Scripture, however, faces the challenge of his time-conditionality. How do we speak of one who is eternally begotten? The solution lies at a more abstract level of analysis. Though in terms of the economic Trinity the Son is subordinate to the Father, at the level of the immanent Trinity it is soteriologically necessary to hold that he is fully divine. The absolute distinction between Creator and creation requires us to believe that if someone is to restore a sinful creation back to its maker, he cannot partake of that creation's sinfulness. Gunton summarizes: “The paradox is twofold: first that by putting this man, and this man alone, on the side of the Creator we maintain the integrity of the creation; and we can do it while remaining true to a confession of his full humanity” (44). “Eternally begotten” maintains the necessary tension between the economic and immanent Trinities and enables us to maintain a sense of the monarchy of the Father without rendering the Son as less then fully divine.
A. Torrance deals with the question of Jesus' Being of one substance with the Father. This truth's affirmation is the ground and warrant of both our salvation and our ability to talk about God in the first place. Epistemologically, “Jesus mediates knowledge of God because he is Immanuel” (56). But epistemic access to the Godhead also has a Trinitarian structure: the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit, who is also “of one being with the Father,” creates the necessary subjective conditions for a recognition of the Incarnate Word. Soteriologically, only Jesus can save as sin is essentially against God, and thus only He Himself can deal with it. To this dimension belongs also his essential humanity: God Himself provides the requisite human response, and in doing so also makes it possible for us too to have the mind of Christ.
J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., deals with the question of creation in terms of the science-theology relation. Whereas science and philosophy can analyse creation's physical and ontological structures, a theological account of the cosmos as the stage for a divine drama which seeks to share its life with humanity is required in order to “personalize” the universe. Creation is the decision of a free agent, and humanity as the imago dei is uniquely capable of entering into this relationship. God's presence amidst evolution is understood in terms of secondary causes, providentially guiding creation to its providential goal. The recently developed “anthropic principle,” which argues that creation itself is directed to the emergence of human life as such creates space for potential fruitful dialogue.
C. Braaten reminds us the importance of physical Resurrection, which confirms Jesus' claims and continues his cause in history. Braaten outlines the various takes on the issue by key theologians (Pannenburg, Barth, Bultmann etc.) and concludes that it was an objective event, constituting a new mode of being in continuity with the old, applied by the Holy Spirit in preaching and the sacraments. The effect of such faith is motivation for mission, as the “resurrection is God's unique way of reclaiming the whole world for himself” (118).
T. Smail offers an overview of the Holy Spirit. His being is constituted by the Trinity, as he “furthers the purposes of the Father as revealed in the gospel of the incarnate Son” (151). In this movement he is a person, taking on a different role to Jesus as enabler of subjective response to Jesus and communicator of eschatological life. His relation to Father and Son has been a cause of division between East and West. After reviewing the pros and cons of each proposal, Smail offers his own suggestion: “from the Father there originate two converging movements of divine self-giving. On the one hand, the Son comes from the Father through the Spirit; on the other, the Spirit comes from the Father through the Son” (165).