Saturday, 28 October 2006

Robert W. Jenson on the priority of the future

“The order of a good story is an ordering by the outcome of the narrated events; its animating spirit ... is the power of a self-determinate future to liberate each specious present from mere predictabilities, from being the mere consequence of what has gone before.... The great metaphysical question on the border between the gospel and our culture’s antecedent theology is whether this ordering may be regarded as its own kind of causality” – i.e., a causality that moves backwards from the future!

—Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 159.

6 Comments:

Weekend Fisher said...

Isn't that what "hope" is? And it's a noticeable part of faith in a practical sense.

Douglas said...

Jenson is right (of course).

John Zizioulas says the same. See his 'Towards an Eschatological Ontology' in his forthcoming 'Communion and Otherness'.

They get it from Saint Maximus. See for example Maximus' collection 'On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ' eds Blowers and Wilken.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I love the kind of priority of the future stressed by folks like Jenson, Pannenberg, Moltmann--future hope empowering the present.

I fear the kind of "priority of the future" shown by the Dispensationalists.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, Douglas, for the tip on that forthcoming Zizioulas essay -- it sounds fascinating.

Ray Anderson said...

Barth says: "We must understand that God is the measure of all reality and propriety, understand that eternity exists first and then time, and therefore the future first and then the present, as surely as the Creator exists first and then the creature. He who understands that need take no offense here. C.D., I/1, p. 531

PresterJosh said...

Sounds something like Aristotle's "final cause."

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