[Common Places]: Pro-Nicene Theology: Theology and Economy in Scripture

Fred Sanders on 1 month ago. Tagged under ,,.

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

Tree of Life by Pacino di Bonaguida detail.jpg

Image: detail from the Tree of Life by Pacino di Bonaguida (Florence, ca. 1305). Salvation history spread out in great detail, but centered on the cross.

In Lewis Ayres’s latest post in this series, he showed the use that Greek patristic theologians made of the terms theologia and oikonomia. The fathers reached for this pair of terms to make the crucial distinction between God’s own eternal nature, on the one hand, and…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Eternal Generation Exegetically Considered

Fred Sanders on 2 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

Stammheim Nativity moses dialogue.jpg

[Image (attached): Detail from the Stammheim Missal (Germany, 1170s). God summons Moses: “Come, I send you.” Moses replies, “Send who you will send” (Ex. 3:10, 4:13).

When in the course of theological events Christians have wanted to make their confession of the identity of Jesus Christ clear and definite, they have usually taken recourse to the doctrine of his eternal generation.

The relation…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Exegesis and Inseparable Operations of the Trinity

Fred Sanders on 3 months ago. Tagged under .

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

A Tale of Three Agents?

There’s a kind of conventional Christian wisdom about the New Testament that goes like this: the Gospels tell the story of three distinct characters who co-operate beautifully to save us. The Father so loves the world he created that he sends the Son to it; the Son takes on human nature and atones for the sins of the world; the Holy Spirit applies that purchased redemption and indwells the redeemed. When you add up the three parts, as you simply must, you get the complete work of salvation. And that complete work of salvation corresponds precisely to the…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Simplicity in Scripture

Fred Sanders on 4 months ago.

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

Moses from Getty german manuscript                 Moses in danger of being distracted by the manifold manifestations of God.

The unity of God is a basic datum of Scripture, and it is something easily unpacked in terms like uniqueness, singularity, and indivisibility. But the doctrine of divine simplicity seems to take a further step. Though it is a doctrine classically confessed by pro-Nicene theologies East and West, simplicity is a much more particular claim. Denying composition in God,…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Ineffability in Scripture

Fred Sanders on 5 months ago.

psalm 40 from st albans psalter.jpgOur current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

It seems odd that the doctrine of divine ineffability should be found among the crucial presuppositions of trinitarian theology. To confess God’s ineffability is to confess that God exceeds, eludes, and finally escapes our statements about him. That confession would seem to be a conversation stopper, or at least an objection preemptive enough to shame any lecturer into quietly filing away his or her notes for a learned discourse on the Trinity. Clever philosophers of religion have even observed that…

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[Common Places] New Studies in Dogmatics: The Triune God

Fred Sanders on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,.

Trinity

When I was invited to write The Triune God for the New Studies in Dogmatics series, I knew what my basic approach to the doctrine would be, what I wanted to say, and how many chapters I was going to try to fit it into. None of that has changed much, nor have I deviated from the outline I started with. But in the process of writing, two major surprises have come up for me. In retrospect, I can see that they flowed naturally from the initial plan, and are consequences of the big decision I made in framing the book. So first I’ll name the big decision, and second I’ll share the surprises that emerged as I carried out the plan.

Big Decision

The most important decision I made in framing the book was to devote about…

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[Common Places] New Voices for Theology: Wesley Hill’s “Paul and the Trinity”

Fred Sanders on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,.

paul_trinityTaking the long view of things, the Christian doctrine of God has had a strange career.

It took its classic, trinitarian form as the early church’s interpretation of Scripture, with theologians intentionally developing hermeneutical constructions and elaborating reading strategies that would do justice to the things they read in the apostolic texts. It was a Bible doctrine. Sure, it was sharpened against the whetstone of heresy, and partly paraphrased into an eclectic philosophical vocabulary, but fundamentally it was an effort to say what was known about God from Scripture.

But over the past few centuries the field of biblical studies has won independence from other theological disciplines, and along the way it has carefully developed its own methods and…

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[Common Places] The Promise and Prospects of Retrieval: Recent Developments in Trinitarian Theology

Fred Sanders on 2 years ago. Tagged under .

About twenty years ago when I applied from seminary to graduate school, I sent along as my writing sample a seminar paper on current trends in trinitarian theology. Specifically, I submitted a paper critiquing Augustine’s De Trinitate in light of these more recent insights, and I have to tell you candidly that I was pretty rough on old Augustine. In my judgment, he was insufficiently trinitarian: fixated on divine oneness, captive to platonizing presuppositions, inattentive to the real distinctions among the three persons, unable to do straightforward exegesis, artfully dodging the implications of the economy of salvation, and incapable of showing how the doctrine of God’s triunity had any bearing on Christian life and experience, except by indulging in that disastrous quest for analogies that was his chief legacy.

Reader, I harried him.

I’m glad the paper was never published,…

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