Sunday, July 02, 2006

Quarter-final 3: Jenson vs. Gunton

The two last two contestants that do not speak English meet in the third Quarter-final. In the semi-finals there will be only one: Robert W. Jenson or Colin Gunton?

As before: to vote give a comment below. Then vote in the poll below too. But it is the votes in the comments that count.


One of Freedom said...

This contest has introduced me to many theologians I'm eager to learn more about. Sadly, these two are completely anonymous to me. So I will refrain from voting. However, I would like to say that Gunton as a Trinitarian theologian makes my 'to read' list. And Jenson, with a book like "Being as Communion" has to be there as well. I have been highly influenced but both Trinitarian and Eucharistic thinking. Unfortunately the last Orthodox writer I read was Attila Mikloshazy (Benedicamus Domino!) which wasn't worth the paper it was printed on (IMHO) - sadly he mirrors the kind of elitist bullshit I've encountered in a lot of dialogue with Orthodox, not all gladly, but a lot. I'm rooting for Gunton!

benkku said...


Jenson with his two volume systematic theology has been my favorite since I found him early in my studies couple of years ago. His way of relating theology and philosophy has made me to change my understanding about the way these two disciplines interrelate. I have especially learned or better am learning to see every theological problem and question through trinitarian spectacles and as requiring a trinitarian answer. If such is not available it signals that maybe the problem isn't really real. Maybe.

I would also like to mention Jenson's commitment to work as a theologian of the church. It's rear in these days I think. Corollary to this point would be Jenson's interest in ecumenics.

I think it's too bad that Gunton didn't live long enough to write his own presentation of systematic theology. I like his work too. Gunton is good but Jenson is better.

andy goodliff said...


just to say to one fo freedom, 'being as communion' was writtem by zizioulas not jenson.

it has to be gunton for me in the end. i think partly because jenson is to lutheran in places and I enjoy just reading gunton. Jenson is probably as important as gunton (if not more to a lot of people), but gunton is more readable. Although its worth pointing out, without jenson, gunton would not have been the theologian he was.

Stijn said...


I would say he is the more creative of the two.

Scott Paeth said...


Both Jenson and Gunton have done a great deal of reflection on trinitarian theology over the years, but I've got to give it to Jenson because in his book on the trinity, he's got a schematic diagram of the idea of the relational Trinity that helped me visualize the interrelationships better than I had been able to up to that point.

All that said though, I wish I were voting for Tillich or Zizulous this round. Oh well. (Of course, if I were, I'd vote for Tillich!).

Gaunilo said...


Both are major contributors to trinitarian theology, although Jenson's work with ecumenical theology and CET makes him a major player in a way that Gunton wasn't. And, Gunton's readings of Augustine et al are increasingly being contested, and rightly so. Jenson's readings are also contested in many cases, but are generally more nuanced.

Still, Gunton was a brilliant theologian and the theological community feels his untimely loss acutely.

Pontificator said...

Jenson. Jenson. Jenson.

IMHO, he's one of the most interesting, creative, and provocative catholic theologians around. I've been reading his stuff since the early '80s. Since becoming Catholic, I'm finding that I am having to re-think some of my Jensoniansim; but he remains one of my top three theologians. For a good intro to Jenson, see David Hart's article "The Lively God of Robert Jenson."

I have read a couple of Gunton's books. I judge him to be a judicious, thoughtful, irenic theologian; but not in Jenson's league.

I am told that years ago Pannenberg gave a lecture somewhere in the U.S. (Chicago, perhaps). Jenson was in the audience. Pannenberg pointed to Jenson and said, "There is the finest living American theologian."

Scott Paeth said...

Er. Jenson's Lutheran.

byron said...


Don't have time to write much (just about to head off for the week), but I've found Gunton's trinitarian thought so important. Such a shame to die in his prime. Both The Triune Creator and The Promise of Trinitarian Theology really developed and challenged by grasp,particularly of the importance of the role of the Spirit in ensuring the contingency of creation.

Jenson is good too, so once more, I'm a happy camper either way.

axegrinder said...


As to the issue of creativity, I would cite Gunton's "The One, the Three and the Many." His use of William Blake and his facility with pertinent philosophical data is quite edifying.

I love Gunton's handling of the tension between respecting the corporate and guarding the individual as he grounds the discussion in Trinitarian thought.

I hate voting against any Social Trinitarian. My final four would have been TF Torrance (Scottish Pres), Zizioulas (Eastern Orthodox), Gunton (Baptist?) and Jenson (Lutheran).


Jason Kranzusch

D.W. Congdon said...


I am torn on this one, but Jenson is the better theologian between the two. Robert Jenson is the closest thing to a renaissance man in theology today. Even though I think he is wrong on many levels — particularly his affinity for Finnish Lutheran theology — he has the widest breadth of knowledge of anyone writing today (except perhaps Eberhard Jüngel).

Shane Clifton said...


Jenson's theology is both grounded in the tradition and creative. His trinitarian theology, and his two volume systematic is a great read - if not debatable at points.

Gunton is also, no doubt, a great theologian. I am voting against him, however, because i think his critique of Augustine, which has been so influential in contemporary theology, misunderstands the contribution Augustine makes to the development of trinitarian theology.

Ben Myers said...

Jenson. Jenson. Jenson.

I agree with everything Pontificator says -- in my opinion, Jenson is the finest living English-language theologian, and he is more brilliant and more creative than almost all other dogmaticians working today (he's every bit as creative as the more famous German trio, Pannenberg, Jüngel and Moltmann).

I reckon there have been only two first-rate systematic theologies written in English in the past century: Paul Tillich's and Robert Jenson's. And I know which of the two I prefer!

kim fabricius said...


Either would grace a semi-final.

Besides the Trinity, Gunton did some excellent work on the atonement, and his critique of modernism Yesterday and Today: A Study of Continuities in Christology (1983) was timely and trend-setting, and, for me, as a young minister just out of college, it provided a kind of theological topography to help me find my way around. However, perhaps Gunton's greatest contribution to contemporary Reformed theology is the attention and care he gave to the doctrine of creation, a locus of neglect in the Reformed tradition.

Still, Jenson's systematics is a tour de force, and his ecumenical seriousness a tremendous encouragement to those of us working on faith and order issues. And although Jenson is a Lutheran, his excellent little book on Jonathan Edwards demonstrates that he is not beyond the pale!

Joshua said...


too tired to comment

Patrik said...

Jenson wins 10-3