06 May 2013

Colin Gunton, 1941–2003

Colin Gunton died ten years ago today. He was arguably the finest British theologian of his generation with publications spanning virtually the entire breadth of Christian doctrine. In particular, he made important contributions to contemporary thinking about the doctrines of the Trinity and of creation. Sadly he died before he could write his projected multi-volume systematic theology, so we have to make do with the summary he left in the form of The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Christian Theology.

From 1984 to 1988 I had the privilege of being one of Colin’s research students. I remember a quiet, questioning man who gently probed and raised issues that greatly improved the quality of my work. He was gracious and generous in acknowledging the contributions that his students made to the development of his own learning. For example, when he introduced me to his Doktorvater, Robert Jenson, he made a point of saying how much he had learnt while supervising my thesis (and I recently discovered that he footnoted some of my work in his The Triune Creator).

In addition to being an academic theologian, Colin was a URC minister and he brought his pastoral concerns to his academic work, caring for his students in practical ways. When, for various reasons, I was looking for part-time work after I had completed my PhD, Colin put me in touch with Lesslie Newbigin. That led to my involvement in The Gospel and Our Culture, a project that had been set up the the former British Council of Churches to explore the implications of Lesslie’s work.

It was a privilege to know him.

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