Jenson essays in theology of culture

The whole covenantal fabric of human life will become brittle and, in fact, broken. Childbirth and marriage are also joyful, to be sure, because God has not abandoned humanity to its own devices. Creation remains upheld by God’s hand. And yet these common gifts are a mixed blessing. They involve pain not only at the beginning, but in the middle and at the end. Similarly, the curse imposed on Adam and the ground is commensurate with the fruitlessness and “vanity” that life now wears for human experience. Every person is now born into the world spiritually “dead in … trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent blamed God. At the end of the day, everybody blamed God, and ever since, we follow this course of vanity. In ancient as in modern dualism, the problem of evil is identified with created nature in an effort to externalize sin by attributing it to the “other” — “the woman whom you gave to be with me,” the physical environment, our family, society, or other circumstances beyond our control, but ultimately God. We look for scapegoats. Shifting the focus from our own sin to God (ontology and metaphysics) is one of the sources of dualism, ancient and modern. However, the biblical narrative directs us away from ontological fault and back to covenantal transgression. It is this emphasis on unbelief interpreted as covenant-breaking that links soteriology (salvation) and epistemology (knowing), with Romans 1 — 3 as the locus classicus. In Adam we have all become false witnesses. As Merold Westphal observes, the “hermeneutics of suspicion” was not invented by Marx and Nietzsche but finds “its true home in the Pauline teaching about the noetic effects of sin, the idea that in wickedness we ‘suppress the truth’ (Ro 1:18).” 7

Jenson essays in theology of culture

jenson essays in theology of culture

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