FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 76, Fall 2020
The Trinity in the Theology of Economics
D. Glenn Butner, Jr.
Abstract: Theologians frequently deploy the doctrine of the Trinity in a theology of economics using one of two flawed methodologies. An exemplary approach treats the Trinity as an ideal pattern for social relations but fails to account for the extent of disanalogy in such comparisons, risking projection. A genealogical approach surveys the history of trinitarian thought, seeking historical shifts in thinking that may lay behind certain modern political and economic theories, but it often struggles to sufficiently establish the genealogy. Neither approach offers much in terms of practical suggestions for economic practices, institutions, or models. This article surveys each approach in prominent representatives, including Leonardo Boff, M. Douglas Meeks, John Milbank, and Giorgio Agamben, illustrating the flaws with these two methods. It concludes by proposing a turn to correlation between the economic works of the Trinity and human works in the economy as a superior means of deploying the doctrine of the Trinity in a theology of economics.
Keywords: economics; theology; trinity; political theology.