St. Irenaeus And Robert W. Jenson On Jesus In The Trinity -- By: Emmitt Cornelius

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:1 (Mar 2012)
Article: St. Irenaeus And Robert W. Jenson On Jesus In The Trinity
Author: Emmitt Cornelius


St. Irenaeus And Robert W. Jenson
On Jesus In The Trinity

Emmitt Cornelius

Emmitt Cornelius resides at 119 Franklin Avenue, Cheltenham, PA 19012.

Robert W. Jenson is one of North America’s leading theologians who is rethinking the Christian doctrine of God in the wake of a renewed interest and resurgence in trinitarian studies. Colin Gunton identified Jenson as one of several seminal thinkers credited with recovering for the church a genuine trinitarian theology as a direct challenge to the concept of the Trinity in the Western-Augustinian theological tradition.1 Catholic archbishop and theologian J. Augustine Di Noia considers Jenson “a doctrinal theologian of formidable determination and originality”—a tribute he bestows on Jenson mainly because of the central, provocative, and creative place the Trinity occupies in his theology.2 Paul D. Molnar muses that Jenson’s approach to trinitarian studies is precisely what contemporary theology has been searching for as its theologians attempt to reshape the doctrine of God from the perspective of postmodernity.3

In his magnum opus, the two-volume Systematic Theology,4 Jenson claims that the concept of God as “impassible,” that is, as entirely incapable of being acted upon or undergoing change in his essential nature, is irreconcilable with the God of biblical religion who in his triune way of existing is dynamically (not statically) related to the world he has made.5 In

other words, Jenson views God and the world as correlative, suggesting that for Jenson the notion of a self-contained, ontological Trinity that is prior to and independent of the world and its processes is rejected in favor of a God who in his sovereign self-determination elects to be historical in his way of being.6 Jenson boldly asserts that any God-talk abstracted from our historical situation in this world has no place in theological reflection.7 We must disparage, he continues, all abstract theologizing about a God unrelated to time and space and alternatively interpret God’s triune identity “by” and “with” the gospel events with all biblical and conceptual rigor.8 Moreover, the theologian must view the contemporary theological task radically as “the development of a <...

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