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The Preexistence and Transcendence of the Risen One in Robert Jenson’s Theology

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

The Preexistence and Transcendence of the Risen One in Robert Jenson’s Theology

Sang Hoon Lee

Introduction

Does the Son of God preexist creation? Does the Son transcend time? Is he risen now? How does time unfold? How does the future relate to the past and the present? And, finally, how are these questions related?

Ever since Robert W. Jenson offered an audacious and idiosyncratic account of the preexistence of the Son, it has often been the object of specious criticism. Its underlying logic and conviction have gone unnoticed, and his insightful understanding of the transcendence of the Son, which is closely related to his account of the preexistence of the Son, has been lost in most critics’ expositions. Such readings have not been properly disputed but still remained dominant. So, Jenson’s account of the preexistence of the Son is now due for a fresh and careful reading and a more legitimate evaluation, uncovering its subterranean logic and conviction.

The purpose of this article, then, is twofold: to attempt a more legitimate exposition of Jenson’s doctrine of the preexistence of the Son and to reflect on the transcendence of the risen Jesus, which is covertly operative in Jenson’s account. In the course of this article, I will argue that even though Jenson’s blatant rejection of the pretemporal and preincarnate state of the Son is problematic, his insight into the transcendence of the risen one should not be dismissed and that it deserves more careful constructive engagements. To achieve this, the essay will unfold in three stages: (1) identification of misleading expositions, conducted by such major critics as George Hunsinger, Simon Gathercole, and Oliver Crisp; (2) an attempt for a more adequate exposition of Jenson’s account; and (3) reflection on the transcendence of the risen Jesus and its metaphysical implications.

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Facticity and Faithfulness

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Facticity and Faithfulness

Divine Simplicity in Barth’s Christology

Tyler R. Wittman

Introduction

This essay explores critically Karl Barth’s Christological distribution of God’s unity of singularity and simplicity, with a focus on the latter. There are narrow reasons for undertaking such an analysis, like illuminating the connections between Barth’s doctrine of God’s perfections and his late Christology, or probing more deeply into the doctrinal underpinnings of his Christology. But more important is the broader task of dogmatic reflection on the unity of God’s essence, which is among the more neglected loci over the course of the last century, particularly in Protestant divinity.1 As the history of the doctrine of divine simplicity alone testifies, the exegetical and metaphysical intelligibility, conceptual articulation, and systematic distribution of the divine attributes accommodate a wide variety of interpretations throughout the tradition. Doctrinal retrieval stands to gain from patient yet critical attention to this variety. How, then, if at all, does divine unity in its aspects of singularity and simplicity intersect with Barth’s Christology? To what effect?

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Anglican Saint, Anglican Poet

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Anglican Saint, Anglican Poet

Nicholas Ferrar and T. S. Eliot at Little Gidding

Timothy Fuller

I

It was through my encounter with T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, which I first read when I was about fourteen, and which I have continued to read and to study, that I learned of Little Gidding. Later, I learned about Nicholas Ferrar, who lodged his family and household of approximately thirty to forty members at Little Gidding as a religious community early in seventeenth-century England. It is fair to say that Ferrar is an Anglican saint; Eliot is an Anglican poet, in the tradition of Anglican poets such as George Herbert, who was a contemporary and friend of Ferrar. Herbert and Ferrar were at Cambridge together and brilliant men of affairs, who retired from public life in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment. Herbert became a country priest and poet, and at his death, Ferrar became his executor.

Little Gidding is famous now because the name is the title of the fourth of Eliot’s Four Quartets. Eliot of course knew about Ferrar and visited Little Gidding himself, which was the occasion for his writing the fourth quartet. I want to say something about Ferrar and his community at Little Gidding, and then something about Eliot’s poetic evocation of Little Gidding, in the context of tracing one theme, among the many themes, which run through Four Quartets as a whole. Ferrar and Eliot both instantiate great achievements of the Anglican spirit.

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Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part II):

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Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part II):

Illich And Catholic Social Teaching

Colin Miller

In a previous essay in these pages,1 I argued that for Ivan Illich the modern world is at its heart the doxological betrayal of Catholicism, an idolatrous technocratic liturgy prohibiting the true cultus from which it is ultimately derived. Like all cults, modern tools seek to subsume all of life into their rites, and yet, perhaps as never before, these rites mask their character as foreign with a new set of fundamental certainties feigning Christian truth. So the trusting, hopeful, fleshy, useless eucharistic liturgy is replaced by various systems expected to deliver a terrestrial salvation in the cathedrals of medicine, education, transport, and cybernetics. The Church’s irreducible personalism—the contingent particularity of embodied existence in space and time—is abstracted into possibilities and risk management and explained by behaviorism as the way things have to be. Persons become manipulatable concepts. The body becomes a chartable system in need of upkeep, its once salutary suffering first taxonomized and then reduced to a minimum. The pursuit of truth is separated from a tradition-bound way of life and replaced with bare, un-situated nominalist “information,” and a moral order reducible to the play of power. In this world, subsistence work or gendered practice dissolves under economic analysis into interchangeable units of “activity” always vulnerable to being unmasked as inequitable instances of the will to power and the violation of rights. This, for Illich, is the corruption of the best, which is the worst.

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The Catholic Spirit of Protestantism

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The Catholic Spirit of Protestantism

A Very Methodist Take on the Third Article, Visible Unity, and Ecumenism

Tom Greggs

Protestants have a reputation for being schismatic. Were it not enough that they broke with Rome in the sixteenth century, Protestants, from the very off, have been divided among themselves: Luther and Zwingli could not find agreement over the nature of Holy Communion at the Marburg Colloquy; more profoundly, Radical and Magisterial Reform divided; and ever since the Reformation, there has been division upon division of churches who have all protested against their parent church that it has not proclaimed Scripture or performed church practice or celebrated the sacraments or ordered itself or articulated its doctrine correctly. Moving to Scotland in recent years, I have been particularly aware of this propensity to divide. Reading Scottish church history can feel a little similar to reading a script from an episode of Dallas: unending fall outs, divisions, and divorces, followed by the odd makeup and ostentatiously glamorous wedding. Diagrams of Protestant church history can bear an unhealthy similarity to complex plumbing maps, with lines dividing off and coming back together in almost inscrutable ways. It is rumoured indeed that one particularly narrow and exclusive Protestant sect even has a hymn that goes:

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