German Idealism's Trinitarian Legacy

By Dale M. Schlitt

Subjects: German Idealism, Theology, Religion, Hegel, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438462226, 456 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438462219, 456 pages, November 2016

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Table of contents

Introduction: Identifying Idealist Influences

Part 1. The Idealist Trinitarian Adventure

Introduction to Part I
Johan Gottlieb Fichte: Setting the Stage

1. Georg W. F. Hegel: A Daring Claim
The Shape and End Result of Hegel’s Efforts
How Hegel Argued His Trinitarian Position
Systematic Concerns Motivating Hegel’s Reconceptualization

2. Friedrich W. J. von Schelling: A Radically Free and Personal God
The Radically Free and Personal Trinitarian God
What Schelling Has Done

Part II. Early European Testimonials to Idealist Influence

Introduction to Part II

3. Philipp Marheineke: A Trinitarian Dialectic of Being and Thought
Marheineke on Trinity
An Early Testimonial to Idealist Influence

4. Isaak August Dorner: An Ethical Trinity
Dorner on Trinity
A Later Testimonial to Idealist Influence

5. Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov: A Trinitarian Metaphysics
Solovyov’s Lectures on Divine Humanity
An Eastern Testimonial to Idealist Influence

Part III. German Idealist Family Resemblances

Introduction to Part III

6. Karl Barth: A Self-Revealing Trinity
Barth on Trinity
Idealist Family Resemblances

7. Karl Rahner: A Self-Communicating Trinity
Rahner on Trinity
Idealist Family Resemblances

8. Wolfhart Pannenberg: Reciprocally Self-Distinguishing
Divine Persons
Pannenberg on Trinity
Idealist Family Resemblances

Part IV. American Idealist Echoes

Introduction to Part IV

9. Robert W. Jenson: A Narrative Trinity
Jenson on Trinity
Transatlantic Idealist Echoes

10. Catherine Mowry LaCugna: One Trinity of Communion among Persons
LaCugna on Trinity
Transatlantic Idealist Echoes

11. Joseph A. Bracken: A Panentheistic Process Trinitarian Society
Bracken on Trinity and the God-World Relationship
Transatlantic Idealist Echoes

12. Dale M. Schlitt: An Experiential Trinity
Schlitt on Trinity
Transatlantic Idealist Echoes

Conclusion: Idealism’s Enduring Trinitarian Legacy
Recalling the Idealist Trinitarian Adventure
Testimonials, Family Resemblances, Transatlantic Echoes
A Challenging Legacy

Index of Names

A study of the roots and legacy of German Idealist philosophy for trinitarian theology.


Dale M. Schlitt presents a study of trinitarian thought as it was understood and debated by the German Idealists broadly—engaging Schelling's philosophical interpretations of Trinity as well as Hegel's—and analyzing how these Idealist interpretations influenced later philosophers and theologians. Divided into different sections, one considers nineteenth-century central Europeans Philipp Marheineke, Isaak August Dorner, and Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov under the rubric "testimonials." Another section studies twentieth-century Germans Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, and Wolfhart Pannenberg, who share "family resemblances" with the Idealists, and a third addresses the work of twentieth- and twenty-first century Americans, Robert W. Jenson, Catherine Mowry LaCugna, Joseph A. Bracken, and Schlitt himself, whose work reverberates with what Schlitt terms "transatlantic Idealist echoes." The book concludes with reflection on the overall German Idealist trinitarian legacy, noting several challenges it offers to those who will pursue creative trinitarian reflection in the future.

Dale M. Schlitt is Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Spirituality at the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio. He is the author of many books, including Hegel's Trinitarian Claim: A Critical Reflection, also published by SUNY Press.


"Schlitt's book is an important contribution to the history of philosophy and theology, and will remain a standard work in the field for years." — Analecta Hermeneutica

"Readers of varying interests will be richly rewarded no matter where they turn … This book should interest anyone working in Trinitarian theology and/or German Idealist philosophy and those interested in specifically Jesuit contributions to both of these conversations. And for anyone who attempts to teach any of this material, at the college level or above, one could hardly find a better model than Professor Schlitt." — Journal of Jesuit Studies

"…an excellent book that very few could have written. But it is a book very many should read." — Reviews in Religion and Theology

"...a monumental achievement of learning in the tradition of trinitarian thought." — Reading Religion