I've got a new article out in Modern Theology

It's called "What is the Doctrine of the Trinity For? Practicality and Projection in the Theology of Robert Jenson." You can find it here (paywalled). And here's the abstract:

"This articles engages the theology of Robert Jenson with three questions in mind: What is the doctrine of the Trinity for? Is it a practical doctrine? If so, how, and with what implications? It seeks, on the one hand, to identify whether Jenson’s trinitarian theology ought to count as a “social” doctrine of the Trinity, and to what extent he puts it to work for human socio-practical purposes. On the other hand, in light of Jenson’s career-long worries about Feuerbach and projection onto a God behind or above the triune God revealed in the economy, the article interrogates his thought with a view to recent critiques of social trinitarianism. The irony is that, in constructing his account of the Trinity as both wholly determined in and by the economy and maximally relevant for practical human needs and interests, precisely in order to avoid the errors of Feuerbachian “religion,” Jenson ends up engaging in a full-scale project of projection. Observation of the human is retrojected into the immanent life of the Trinity as the prior condition of the possibility for the human; upon this “discovery,” this or that feature of God’s being is proposed as a resolution to a human problem, bearing ostensibly profound socio-practical import. The article is intended, first, as a contribution to the work, only now beginning, of critically receiving Jenson’s theology; and, second, as an extension of general critiques of practical uses of trinitarian doctrine, such as Karen Kilby’s or Kathryn Tanner’s, by way of close engagement with a specific theologian."

The article has its origins in a term paper I wrote for Linn Tonstad at Yale, in a seminar a few years ago in which we read the manuscript for what eventually became God and Difference, a book now receiving warranted attention from all over the place, most recently in a series of rousing responses in Syndicate. It also has a degree of overlap with Ben Myers's recent series of tweets on the Trinity (gathered together in a post) summarizing the classical approach to the doctrine over against the last century's innovations and trends. Consider my article an exercise in that sort of frumpy theology—borrowing my friend Jamie Dunn's coinage—but in this case focused on a single important figure on the contemporary scene. I love Jenson's work and it means a great deal to me, but the article identifies within his trinitarian project a problem (a significant one, I think) internal the logic of his own system. I look forward to hearing what others think, especially those who read and value Jenson's thought.


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