Jenson – Systematic Theology Volume 1 (Part I)


Robert Jenson divides his dogmatics in a rather odd manner; he has authored two volumes, the first of which deals with the Trinity, the second of which deals with everything else (or the creatures, as Jenson styles it). This first post will deal with Jenson’s view of the Trinity from Vol. 1.

– “The Trinity is less a homogenous body of propositions that it is the Church’s continuing effort to recognize and adhere to the Biblical God’s hypostatic being” (90).

Jenson’s understanding of the Trinitarian doctrine is relative; that is, the formulation of the Nicene and subsequent ecumenical council are historical conditioned by the antecedent history of the Hellenistic-Mediterranean intellectual traditions to which the evangel encountered. Had it come through differing intellectual cultures it would no doubt have taken different but analogous forms.

– “God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead” (63).

Jenson attempts and mostly succeeds in constructing a very robust Trinitarian understanding. Predictably, he sides with the Alexandrian Christology over the Antiochene Christology. He cites the dissonance of Melito of Sardis with approval: “The Impassable suffered. . . .” “God was killed. . . .” He dismisses Antiochene Christology as simply Arianism transposed, trying to distinguishing the suffering Jesus from the actual Divine Son (126). For Jenson, God most definitely suffers the vicissitudes recorded in the gospel; he is crucified and finally put to death. To be sure, it is the Father that raises the Son up from the dead, though even then he does not do this dispassionately (144).

Jenson writes, “Our divine saviour is not an extra metaphysical entity, whether the incarnate Logos of the Antiochenes or ‘the Christ’ of the more feeble sorts of modern theology. He is Mary’s Child, the hanged man of Golgotha” (145).


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