Friday, 16 September 2011

Robert Jenson and the Wesleyans

One of my brilliant PhD students, Steve Wright, has a new article in The Heythrop Journal, titled "The Creator Sings: A Wesleyan Rethinking of Transcendence with Robert Jenson". Here's an excerpt:
To exist is to be mentioned by God; or, may I hazard, to be sung by God. The act of creation sets us in relation to God while concurrently distinguishing us from God.... The gratuity of the moment of creation is irreducibly aesthetic, the beauty of God manifests when perfect harmonious discourse opens up to include new players.... When Jenson analyses the specific role of the Father in creation he abstracts to the ‘sheer musicality’ of divine conversation: '... to be a creature is to belong to the counterpoint and harmony of the triune music.' ... 
God creates by communication, the priestly narrative tells us as much. Jenson's particular modification of this tradition is to assert the beauty of this communication as the fundamental manner of creaturely being. The relation between Creator and creature is not that between archetype and ectype so as to require the mediation of an image, but that between Singer and song. Because the relation is that between a vocalist and the thing vocalised, the distinction is ‘one which God enforces by taking action’. Nor is this a violent exertion of power, as though God were wrestling the cosmos, but the beautiful outward motion of God's internal love: the gratuitous pouring out of the sufficient being of God in order for the contingent creation to flourish. God is not merely the passive archetype of creaturely being, but the vocal Creator as the triune harmony opens up to sing of creatures and in this singing to create them.... 
Here is the point: as the transcendent Creator who speaks being with illocutionary force, God is transcendent precisely in his immanence. No dialectic is required. The triune God embraces all created being by opening up the eternal perichoretic harmony and so encounters creation as Creator. Every immanent encounter between God and creation is that of the Singer to the song. There is no need to protect God from the contingency of history, as the triune God transcends history, not by removal from it, but by every divine encounter with it.
And speaking of Jenson and the Wesleyans, Peter Leithart points to Robert Jenson's Pro Ecclesia review of Nate Kerr's Christ, History and Apocalyptic. Jenson thinks that Nate's book represents "the perfection of what Barth might have come to think if he had not been so concerned for Scripture"!


Bruce Hamill said...

This sounds very much like what David Bentley Hart is saying about the Infinite and aesthetics in TBOTI

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David Campton said...

Very interesting. Does such a perspective leave us thinking of the Bible as the (later recorded) score of Divine musical interpretation? Are we back to thinking of God as a Jazz singer?

Steve Wright said...

Bruce - There are similarities, but Hart's project is entirely dedicated to protecting God from the contingencies of history.

citizenkane123 said...

Which is a devastating critique of Kerr's book...

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