Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jenson on the Theology of the Church

Robert Jenson's Systematic Theology (p. vii):
Systematic Theology ITheology is the church's enterprise of thought, and the only church conceivably in question is the unique and unitary church of the creeds. Therefore theology may be impossible in the situation of a divided church, its proper agent not being extant - unless, of course, one is willing to say that a particular confessional or jurisdictional body simply is the one church. To live as the church in the situation of a divided church - if this can happen at all - must at least mean that we live in radical self-contradiction and that by every churchly act we contradict that contradiction. Also theology must make this double contradiction at and by every step of its way.

We commonly speak of such things as "Roman Catholic" or "Baptist" or "Lutheran" theology. Such labels can be used in a harmless historically descriptive sense, as one can say that "Orthodox theology" tends to a Cyrillean Christology. They may be used in a somewhat more ominous descriptive sense, as someone might say that "Reformed theology" cannot accept certain ways of asserting papal primacy. But a theologian who described her or his own works as "Lutheran" or "Reformed" or whatever such, and meant by that label to identify the church the work was to serve, would either deny the name of the church to all but his or her own allegiance or desecrate the theological enterprise. [source]