Hart on Jenson

My principal reason, however, for thinking Jenson’s work so enormously important for serious theologians, or even just for reflective Christians who have had the good sense not to become theologians, has to do with the single great Christian mystery from which all theology arises: the mystery of the Person of Christ. For numerous reasons (which cannot be enumerated here, alas), it is an absolutely essential theological principle that there is nothing arbitrary or accidental in the relation of the identity of Jesus of Nazareth to that of the eternal Logos. Jesus is not an avatar of the Logos, a mask the Son assumes in a transient or extrinsic fashion, or a part he plays in some grand cosmic charade. When God becomes man, this is the man He becomes—and there can be no other. That is why it is silly to ask the questions that bad theologians, or casual catechists, or well-meaning Sunday school teachers have sometimes felt moved to ask: whether the Son might have been incarnate as someone else—as a Viking, or a Nigerian, or a woman, or simply another first century Jew. The Logos, when He divests Himself of His divine glory, is this man; between this finite historical individual and the eternal and infinite Son of God, there is no caesura. Jesus is not just one manifestation of the Son, but the Son in His only true human form.
It is an understanding of just this truth that lies at the very heart of Jenson’s theology, and that constitutes its secret motive power in every part. Jenson’s thought represents, to my mind, the most ambitious and unflagging attempt any American theologian has yet made fully to grasp the uniqueness of Christ—the one incommutable human identity of the incarnate God— which is no simple thing. When any theologian is daring enough to risk reflection upon this mystery, he is immediately immersed in all the other mysteries that must attend it: time and eternity, necessity and freedom, divine sovereignty and divine abasement—above all the mystery of where Christ’s “cry of dereliction” on the cross (“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”) falls within the life of the Trinity. Jenson has never failed to struggle with any of these questions.

-David Bentley Hart, First Things, October 2005.


Too catholic to be Catholic

Peter Leithart recently posted a blog entry (http://www.leithart.com/2012/05/21/too-catholic-to-be-catholic/#more-14412) entitled “Too catholic to be Catholic”. It’s a wonderful piece about why he remains a Reformed Protestant, and his reasons are catholic ones. The post concludes with the following:

One final reason has to do with time.  I cut my theological teeth, and still cut them, on James Jordan’s biblical theology.  At the end of Through New Eyes, Jordan argues just as the temple was unimaginable to Israelites living through the collapse of the tabernacle system, so the future of the church is unimaginable to us.   We can’t see the future; we can’t know how God is going to put back the fragmented pieces of His church.  We can trust and hope that He is and will, but all we have access to are the configurations of the past and present.  It’s tempting to imagine that the future of the church will be an extension of some present tradition – Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, whatever.  But the future never is a simple extension of the past and present (how can it be, with the massive surge in Christianity in the global South?).  So I remain contentedly and firmly in my reformed catholicity, but I remain also eager and impatient for the church to come.  Of that church we know nothing except that it will be like nothing we know.  We worship a living God, which means (Jenson tells us) a God of constant surprises.