Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

David Bentley Hart on Robert Jenson

First Things has an interesting article by David Bentley Hart, who wrote The Beauty of the Infinite, on the "neglected" theology of Robert Jenson. Hart discusses how Jenson may be the best American systematic theologian, and yet few American seminaries and religion programs address his Systematic Theology, vol. 1 and vol. 2. My understanding of the Trinity has been deeply shaped by Jenson's theology, and I always find his thought challenging, interesting, and truthful.

I'm just wondering, since we are a fairly diverse group, how much exposure do you have to Robert Jenson? What are your thoughts about his systematic theology?

Here is an outstanding article of his that was in First Things back in 1993.

Grace and Peace,


Blogger Eric Lee said...

I'm still catching up on reading blogs after last week's craziness!

Per Jenson, I personally have never heard of him, although I am new to all this stuff, relatively speaking. I wonder if we could nudge Pastor John to see what he thinks of him?

October 23, 2005 4:10 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

That would be great. At Trevecca, we read a good bit of Jenson. I think he makes many of the same moves RO makes but without some of the language issues.

October 23, 2005 5:14 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I've encountered Jenson's Systematic Theology at two divinity schools that I've been at, although he was read pretty critically both times.

I think it will take a decade or more for his work to filter into standard theological consciousness. Theology just moves slow sometimes.

George Hunsinger of Princeton Seminary has a review article in the Scottish Journal of Theology (from 2002, I think) that takes a pretty hard look at the books and ends up critiquing them pretty hard. That's not to say he's right or wrong, but just to suggest an "alternative" viewpoint on Jenson that you might want to check out, if you're interested in seeing how he has been received.

October 24, 2005 4:15 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks Keith. I appreciate the info.

Grace and Peace,

October 24, 2005 5:33 PM  
Blogger David said...

Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology

P r o E c c l e s i a
A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology
Carl E. Braaten & Robert W. Jenson, editors

Book recommendations:

The Catholicity of the Reformation

Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism

Mary, Mother of God

Christian Dogmatics

October 28, 2005 8:50 AM  
Blogger Pontificator said...


October 29, 2005 6:23 AM  
Blogger Pontificator said...


I know the work of Jenson pretty well, having taken several seminars with him at the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg. I have read most of stuff and probably understood half of it. :-)

Without question he is the foremost systematic theologian in the United States and certainly one of the most interesting and provocative. He is both radically orthodox and Trinitarian, yet he also pushes the theological envelope.

The questions I have about Jens are pretty much the ones David Hart raises in his FT article. Is it possible to eliminate the "logos asarkos" and insist that the man Jesus is from all eternity the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and still maintain the divine transcendence and freedom?

Jenson, I suspect, is offensive to most American Christians because of his emphatic insistence that the God of the gospel is identified by the man Jesus. Jenson's God is a particular God. He does not allow us to transcend the particularities of Jesus and the history of Israel. He does not allow us to make up our own gods. Jenson also believes in dogma, in the authority of the Church to irreversibly commit the Church to a particular way of speaking the gospel.

In addition to Jenson's Systematic Theology, I would judge the following to be his best works: *Triune Identity*, *America's Theologian*, *Visible Words, and *Unbaptized God*.

October 29, 2005 6:24 AM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

I admire and appreciate Jenson as a Christian theologian in general and as a Lutheran theologian in particular. He, better than anyone else, helped me understand Lutheranism and get inside "its" head.

With others, I agree with Hart's assertion about the lack of attention paid this great theologian.

October 29, 2005 10:55 PM  
Blogger Scott said...


Thanks for this wonderful post.

I think that Jenson's willingness to lay out everything so honestly and transparently is refreshing.

I love his devotion to particularity and dogma.

Grace and Peace,

October 30, 2005 6:34 PM  
Blogger David said...

When doing a google search on Jenson I ran across this great Touchstone article - Getting Justification Right by S. M. Hutchens. The Japery also has a recent post very much worth reading about Carl Braaten, a close friend and collaborator of Jenson's.

October 31, 2005 8:41 AM  
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