Monday, December 15, 2003

Word Without Flesh? A Minor Tribute to Gunton

Colin Gunton's growing criticism of the nasty piece of theology known as the logos asarkos earned him the confusion of fellow Reformed theologians. Myself, a standard Lutheran and therefore, at least to the eyes of the Reformed, an innovator in things Christological, rejoices in this fact.

Much Western theology prefers to discuss Jesus in terms of the act of Incarnation and therefore to start with the logos, nevermind what that is, which is eternal--again move along quickly and don't ask what eternal is---has taken upon flesh. We can worry about defining all of this later and see whether it fits together systematically.

Gunton is part of a revolution in Christian theology, and I think this is correct, that sees this all as theology that wishes to be faithful to the incarnational motifs of Scripture but fails to argue what on earth all of this is. And especially, Gunton shares in exposing the severe antinomies that Western Christology has.

He is remarkably anti-speculative and in following Karl Barth, shows that there is no knowledge of God outside of Jesus and on that basis, any talk about the Word's eternal character is determined by Jesus' life on earth. This leads to a severe revision of views of the eternity of God, views that Gunton's teacher Robert Jenson and others have been pleading for and for a long time coming.

Becuase of this revision, many see Gunton as less than orthodox. Surely he is if orthodoxy requires adherence to the ancient Christological dogmas along with their metaphysics. But if orthodoxy requires fidelity to Jesus and the God of Isreal, Gunton is surely one of the right-confessors.

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