Wednesday, June 09, 2010

REVIEW: Systematic Theology: The Triune God by Robert Jenson

This year I've really enjoyed reading Robert Jenson on The Song of Songs and On Thinking The Human. On holiday I read a third of his books, I'm really keen to read on to the next volume of this series of Systematic Theology but that might have to wait in an effort to keep reading diversely.

This is Jenson's Systematic Theology and the volume title "The Triune God" gives away where he's coming from. He's a Lutheran and Ecumenicalist and an Academic and you can tell. It's a make your head hurt and your heart sing kind of a book. I make no claim to have understood all of it, nor to agree with everything. We get references to "Second Isaiah" and "The author of 1 Peter" which might bug the evangelical but there's no harm in thoughtfully reading things like that.

Get past that and you get a Systematic Theology that is unlike many others. We have no list of divine attributes here. Instead we get a consideration of God that is Trinitarian, interacting with church history along the way, and with some complicated philosophical and theological thinking.

Throughout though we're invited to participate in the roomy fellowship of the Triune God.

This is the bookish more difficult form of Mike Reeves teaching on Trinity that makes you wonder if you worshipped the true God before (Reeves did his PhD under Colin Gunton who studied under Jenson, who studied under Barth). I found myself reading and re-reading paragraphs partly to get my head round them and partly in awe at how good the gospel really is. The God Jenson portrays, from the Scriptures, is deeply personal and relational and inviting.

"When the gospel of Christ's resurrection is spoken by and heard in the church, it is the very word of the Father to the Son that we hear. When the church prays to the Father in the Son's name, she is taken into the obedient response of the Son to what the Father tells him. As the church speaks and hears the gospel and as the church responds in prayer and confession, the church's life is a great conversation, and this conversation is none other than our participation in the converse of the Father and the Son in the Spirit...." p228.

He later concludes, God is a fugue. Ponder that in your theology of music.

It'll set you back the best part of £20, and that's just volume 1 for 256 pages. The second on the works of God is the same price for 392 pages, which initially makes it all feel very expensive. But, gold isn't cheap and I intend to invest in the next one when I can afford it. Catch something similarly Trinitarian from Ron Frost


  1. May well go on my Birthday wish list.. hello parents..

  2. It was bought with some of my birthday money. I'm hoping I have the discipline to leave volume 2 for post-Christmas.