Will and Being

Agamben ( Opus Dei: An Archaeology of Duty ) concludes his book with a summary of the argument of Ernst Benz, who claimed that a metaphysics of will took the place of classic metaphysics of being first in Neoplatonism and then in Christian Trinitarian theology. For Neoplatonists, it is through will . . . . Continue Reading »

Jenson the Barthian

It seems that many, if not most, of Jenson’s most shocking innovations fall neatly into place once we recognize his debt to Barth, especially Barth’s doctrine of election. To wit: Election is God’s self-determination. It is not only a determination of the future of the world and . . . . Continue Reading »

Christ the Wisdom of God

In books 6-7 of The Trinity , Augustine teases out the meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:24, which identifies Christ as the Wisdom and Power of God. Is, Augustine asks, Christ the Son the Wisdom by which the Father is wise, or the Power by which the Father is powerful? He muses and ponders, but ultimately . . . . Continue Reading »

Subsistent relations

Jenson ( Systematic Theology: Volume 1: The Triune God , 108-9) refers to Thomas’s definition of persona as “a relation in the mode of substance” ( ST 1, 29, 4) and asks, “How does this work within the narrated reality itself?” His answer is a tightly-packed little . . . . Continue Reading »

By and With Revisited

Jenson notoriously claims that God is not only identified by the events of Exodus and Resurrection but identified with them ( Systematic Theology: Volume 1: The Triune God , 59). This has led some to question whether he really believes in the Creator-creature distinction, something that he has . . . . Continue Reading »

Inseparable Operation

According to Ayres’ analysis ( Augustine and the Trinity , 70), Augustine’s early explorations of the notion of the “inseparable action” of the Father, Son, and Spirit are expositions of what is standard Nicene orthodoxy: “First, Augustine sees Father, Son and Spirit . . . . Continue Reading »


Colin Gunton and others criticize Augustine’s treatment of Old Testament theophanies, where Augustine concludes that it is impossible to determine which person appears in the theophany. For Gunton, the Son is the appearing-one in the Old Testament, and Augustine’s hesitation smacks of a . . . . Continue Reading »

Jealous God

Jenson ( Systematic Theology: Volume 1: The Triune God , 47) notes that ancient gods were generally not jealous: “The gods in general have no final stake in their individual identities and will arrange them to suit our religious needs. Thus Greece knew Kourai, and Canaan knew Baalim, by the . . . . Continue Reading »

Spirit of Augustine

In his essay on Augustine in The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity , a precis of his Augustine and the Trinity , Lewis Ayres offers two lovely quotations illustrating Augustine’s pneumatology. He begins with one from the final book of The Trinity and follows with one from Augustine’s . . . . Continue Reading »