Alfa en omega : ’n studie in die trinitariese denke van Robert Jenson
Thesis (DTh (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology))—University of Stellenbosch, 2008.
This study offers an overview, interpretation and critical evaluation of the theology of the Lutheran American theologian Robert Jenson. The first aim is to give an outline of his theology in such a way that the importance of the relation between God and time in his thought will become clear in this process. This study will therefore focus on specific themes in his theology and the implications for the current theological debate on time, eternity, history and God. The title was also the title of Jenson’s own early study of the work of Karl Barth, Alpha and Omega. Jenson’s theology is ecumenical by driven from the beginning to the end. He tries to formulate a theology for the one united church of the future. In his theology he thus focuses on early writers, the church fathers and on ecumenical confessions such as Nicea. He wants to get clarity why the church differs on certain points and investigates where it all started. He then brings his theology in connection with current Orthodox theologians, as well as with the Western theologians of different church traditions and tries to build on the common factors between them. His theology has an ecumenical aim, but it is first and foremost a theology written in reaction to postmodernism and especially the nihilism of his Western and primarily North-American cultural context. To find answers to these (ecumenical and nihilistic) questions, Jenson focuses on mainly three themes that will be discussed in this study: (1) the relation between time, eternity and Trinity, (2) the trinitarian identity and character of God, and (3) the importance of the narrative nature of theology. Jenson appropriates much of Karl Barth’s thought on the Trinity and on the Trinity’s relation to time and eternity but he draws much more radical implications and consequences. He therefore differs from Barth on these issues at critical points. Jenson stands in the tradition of eschatological and trinitarian theologians of the previous century and he builds his theology around these foci in order to serve his ecumenical aim. Finally the critical question is also asked whether and to what extent Jenson succeeds in his aim. It looks at the specific contributions Jenson made and which questions still remain unanswered regarding this key question for Christian faith, thought and life.