Robert W. Jenson on the Atonement

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5 Responses to Robert W. Jenson on the Atonement

  1. Julian says:

    Do you think there is a consonance between EO theology and the work of theologians like Jenson, influenced by Barth?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      As deeply influenced at Jens was by Barth, he is not a Barthian. He drew on many sources, including Eastern theologians (esp Gregory of Nyssa). Eastern Orthodox theologians will no doubt object to specific aspects of his theology (e.g., his interpretation of the temporality of God), but they will (or at least should) welcome the conversation.

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  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    I’m not an expert, but is Jenson actually right in his criticism that either Abelard’s ideas of the atonement or the “patristic” ideas ignore or sideline the resurrection? And is it me, or has he got the “patristic” atonement theory quite significantly wrong?
    The cross as moral exemplar is surely nonsensical without the resurrection, since if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead the moral of the story would be exactly what the authorities executing him intended it to be: “Don’t be like Jesus, it will get you very painfully killed.” It is only because Jesus rose from the dead that we are invited to share in his victory rather than learn a salutary lesson from his defeat.
    My understanding of the “patristic” theory is that its central point is the “harrowing of hell”, the descent of Christ to the dead to rescue those imprisoned there, bringing them back with him again when he rose again in glory. Jensen seems to have missed this out entirely in his description. It is missing this out that obscures what I understand is the centrality of the resurrection to the whole thing, which is that Christ’s rising from the dead destroyed death for everyone, with the defeat of the various other “powers and principalities” etc something of a sideshow or mopping up operation, rather than the main event.
    Or am I getting this wrong?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I’ve never read Abelard, so I do not know if Jenson has him right or not. On the other hand, he taught systematics for years at the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, so I’m thinking that he probably does accurately describe him.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Jenson, I’m sure, was well aware that the Eastern understanding of atonement was far more profound than the metaphor of Christ dangling on a hook waiting for Satan to swallow it. At this point he was probably just relying on Aulen’s ‘Christus Victor.’ I agree with you that he should have elaborated upon this in this lecture.

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