Figura rerum: 'the pattern of the glory' : the theological contributions of Charles Williams
Major theological themes in Charles Williams' novels, plays, poetry, literary criticism, and theological works
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This thesis seeks to show that Charles Williams makes a significant contribution to theology, and it demonstrates the nature of that contribution. A pattern of theological themes centering on the Incarnation, emphasizing the humanity of Christ, is repeated throughout his works. For Williams, human beings are images of the coinherent Godhead. His theological anthropology further develops through his understanding of imaging, as shown for instance in the Incarnation, and in Dante’s characterization of Beatrice as a God bearer. His view of images is built from Coleridge’s understanding of the nature of a symbol. This picture of imaging is widely applied, first and foremost to relationships of love, seen as potential incarnate images of grace. Williams seeks to extend his picture to all relationships and, further, to whatever man must do to go beyond himself to an encounter with God. He believes that man is responsible for his brother, in practice by bearing his brother’s burdens, with substitutionary acts of vicarious love. A further part of his thinking then views people as living in coinherent relationships, and the universe as a web of coinherent relations. He draws his examples of natural coinherent relations from the world of commerce with its exchange and substitution of labors and from the child living within its mother, and builds a picture of what he calls the City, a broader coinherent society. Coinherence begins and flows from the Trinity and the Incarnation and then is found in relationships between God and man: in the Church, in the future City of God, and in all Creation. The Fall brings about the breakdown of the coinherence of God and man and man and man, and that breakdown is a central characteristic of sin. Williams believes that a regenerated coinherence in Christ brings about a renewal of mankind.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: 2019-05-13
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 13th May 2019
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