A Living History: Trinity and Divine Activity in the Theology of Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg and Robert W. Jenson
CitationRice, Scott P. 2018. A Living History: Trinity and Divine Activity in the Theology of Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg and Robert W. Jenson. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThis essay offers a constructive take on the theological relationship between God and history. Following in the wake of the revitalization of the doctrine of the Trinity in modern theology, this essays examines how a trinitarian understanding of God's being can be used to articulate a notion of God's living relation to history in pre-temporal, inner-historical and eschatological perspective. I explore this topic by way of a critical engagement with the trinitarian theology of Isaak A. Dorner, Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg and Robert W. Jenson.
The central notion of the triune God's living relation to history derives from a modified form of Dorner's way of reconciling a notion of divine immutability with the revealed vitality of God in nineteenth century context. With the twentieth and twenty-first century theological figures of this study — Barth, Pannenberg, Jenson — the question becomes intensified so as to ask how the Trinity of God's being not only grounds God's activity ad extra, but enables the history that God lives with others; how construals of eternity and divine immutability bear on the conception of the reality of God in history; and how a historicized notion of the triune God encompasses an idea of God as transcendent being. There exists various contextual links, internal critiques and adaptations between these figures and their theological work that this essay incorporates into its constructive responses to these questions.
In formulating a conception of the triune God's living relation to history, Barth's doctrine of election is gleaned for an idea of the Son's obedience that underlies the vitality of God in the relation between God's pre-temporal eternity and history; Pannenberg's concepts of the dependent monarchy of the Father and divine self-actualization are utilized to generate a view of the livingness of God in history; and Jenson's eschatological idea of the Spirit is used to support a historical notion of divine freedom. The concluding assessment identifies the constructive possibilities that the analysis of this study opens up for a trinitarian understanding of the relation between God and history, including a way forward on the question of the vitality of God in history based in the divine person of the Spirit as the possibility and guarantor of the future.
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