The Triune Story

The Triune Story

Kent tells me that John Webster once described another notable theologian as a swashbuckler, who swings into an orderly room, waves his sword around, before diving off the ship, leaving everyone else to wonder: “What just happened?” In a brilliantly insightful podcast with Lincoln Harvey, the same swashbuckling theologian is described as getting things wrong almost all the time, “but for all the right reasons.”

Who is this disruptive and, potentially, off-base theologian? None other than the late Robert Jenson.

I’ve not read enough Jenson to say he is almost always wrong. But I have read enough to admire the way he turns things about in ways unexpected and fresh, and with a determination never to let theology become less than it ought to be. This is on full display in the book reviewed below.

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Inspiration and Inebriation

A picture of Augustine.
St. Augustine, https://www.lwctt.org/

Have you ever thought about why there are six stone pots in the story of Christ turning water into wine? Or have you ever wondered about why two or three “measures” of water could fit into them? Me neither.

Thank God Augustine did. His interpretation of the story of Christ at the wedding in Cana is playful, imaginative exegesis. As he preaches on this story, he observes the six stone jars. He reads them as echoing the six dispensations of prophecy. Once we understand Christ in those prophecies, he says, “what you read [in the prophecies] not only has a taste, but even inebriates you, transporting the mind from the body, so that forgetting the things that are past, you reach forward to the things that are before you.” His interaction with the two to three measures of water that can fit in the pots leads to a deeply relational presentation of the Trinity. Sometimes we name the Trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit, he says. Thus, three measures. In other instances, like later in John’s gospel, we hear that the Father and the Son are one. When this is the case, the Spirit is assumed  to be present and is, perhaps, the charity or love which makes the two one. And, so, two measures by appearance are three in reality. There is nothing—no detail, no word—without meaning, without life in this story.

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