Which Trinity? Robert Jenson

Continuing McCall’s work.  Here is a retraction on my part.  A few years ago I praised Robert Jenson’s Systematic Theology.  Indeed, there are some fine essays in there.  I must retract, however, the section on the doctrine of God.

Robert Jenson’s famous claim concerns the identity of God:

(8) God is the one who raised Israel’s Jesus from the dead” (McCall 128).

Jenson’s main argument is that God is “identified by and with the particular plotted sequence of events that make the narrative of Israel and her Christ” (Jenson, ST1, p. 60, quoted in Mccall 131).

Said another way:  God is constituted by these historical acts.  Said yet another way,

God ←→ History

Theory of Worldbound Indivduals

(9) TWI: “For any object x and relational property P, if has P, then for any object y, if there is a world in which y lacks P, then y is distinct from P” (Plantinga, quoted in McCall 143).

(9a) The grim conclusion, if Jenson holds to both his Identity Thesis and TWI, then God could not exist apart from the temporal events in this world.

(9*) for TWI all divine properties are essential properties.

(9’) Is supralapsarianism a form of TWI?

David B. Hart on classical theism, an interlude: “within the plenitude of divine life no contrary motion can fabricate an interval of negation.”

If we apply TWI to Christology, particularly (9*), we get Arian conclusions:

(10) The Son has an essential property (being incarnate) that the Father does not have.

(10a) The Son’s economic property of being subordinate to the Father is now an essential property!

Is Jenson’s God temporal?  It looks like it.  Let’s take two theses which Jenson would hold: the Indiscernability of Indenticals and TWI.  God’s identity for Jenson is linked to key temporal actions in Israel’s life (Exodus, etc; “God can have no identity except as he meets the temporal end toward which creatures live,” Jenson, ST1, 65).  This leads to the following:

(11) God has different properties at t1 (e.g., call of Abraham) than he does at t2 (Exodus). Thus,

(11*) God is not identical to himself.

(11’) God changes through time.

Not even Arius claimed this!

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About Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism
This entry was posted in Book Review, Harassing the Hobgoblins, Philosophy, theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Which Trinity? Robert Jenson

  1. Evan says:

    Perhaps there is another way to construe it, a more coherent one, though I doubt it is what Jenson has in mind. God is his act, which is simple. God as undivided act relates to different points in time in specific ways. He manifests his act relative to particular points in time; for example, God’s act relates to time AD 33 by raising Jesus from the dead. Thus, on this view only the relation and one of the relata are changing (i.e., the creature) whilst God remains unchanged. Some have taken a view similar to this; however, they are impaled on the horns of a new dilemma. Either this world is necessary or God is not identical in other worlds.

    Again, probably not a solution Jenson has in mind, but it’s a more coherent construal of his position.

    Like

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