Half-price revelation

The Revelation of God, by Peter JensenUK readers are encouraged to pop over to The Good Book Company’s website, where Peter Jensen’s excellent book The Revelation of God is currently available at half-price (£6).

I posted on Dr Jensen’s book a few years ago here and here. Jensen takes a refreshingly Christ-centred and gospel-centred approach to revelation: rather than following the traditional approach in systematic theology of defining an abstract concept of “revelation” and moving on from there to scripture, he argues that our starting point should be Christ, whose coming is not only the ultimate self-revelation of God, but provides the model for all divine revelation.

This is, of course, quite a “Lutheran” approach (and shows how “Augsburg evangelical” perspectives are by no means confined to the Lutheran church). I’m reminded of Luther’s statement: “I know of no God other than the one called Jesus Christ”. In the same way, Jensen invites us to say, in effect, “I know of no revelation other than the one in Jesus Christ”.

I greatly preferred The Revelation of God to Jensen’s more “popular” book, At the Heart of the Universe (also in the GBC sale). Dr Jensen seems to be one of those writers (Alister McGrath is another) who is much more confident and effective when writing at a scholarly (but still highly accessible) level rather than a popular one.

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2 Responses to Half-price revelation

  1. Kevin D. says:

    …rather than following the traditional approach in systematic theology of defining an abstract concept of “revelation” and moving on from there to scripture, he argues that our starting point should be Christ, whose coming is not only the ultimate self-revelation of God, but provides the model for all divine revelation.

    Well, the guy who did this best in the last century would be Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed minister and theologian. His Church Dogmatics was the first major systematic theology in the [post-]Enlightenment era to begin with the Triune God as revealed in Jesus Christ and then subject the entirety of his systematics to his Christology. His predecessor to this was P. T. Forsyth, a Scottish Congregationalist and Reformed minister and theologian, who anticipates much of Barth’s work in his 1909 lectures, The Person and Place of Jesus Christ. As well, Emil Brunner, a contemporary of Barth and fellow Swiss Reformed theologian, did much work in this regard, namely countering the dominance of Schleiermacher and Kant in Protestant theology (e.g., Bultmann and Tillich). Anyway, I say this just to point out that this is a common characteristic of modern Reformed theology, in which Peter Jensen himself has self-identified. Of course, the similarities with Lutheran orthodoxy are evident, but it was the Lutheran Church (its mainline at least) which produced the theologians who most countered this development in Reformed theology (Bultmann and Tillich, e.g., being Lutherans and immensely influential in Lutheran circles, especially in Germany and among English-speaking Lutherans).

  2. John H says:

    Kevin: you’re quite right that Peter Jensen is not going completely against Reformed theological trends, though the traditional Reformed/evangelical approach to systematic theology in general, and the doctrine of revelation in particular, still seems to be going strong.

    This review of Jensen’s theology from Churchman makes some interesting comments relating Jensen’s approach to that of Barth and Forsyth. The reviewer argues that:

    In spite of the fact, then, that the theological and biblical priority of the gospel is familiar enough, Peter Jensen has offered a fresh approach to theology both by seeking to apply the priority of the gospel in a more thoroughgoing way than has generally been the case, and by seeking to submit not only the content but also the method of theology to the gospel.

    It’s that last aspect (method as well as content) that particularly appealed to me, and that I found chimed especially well with some of the aspects of Lutheran theology that I’ve found most helpful – without that being intended to imply that Lutheranism had any monopoly on this.

    As for the Lutheran (or “Lutheran”) critique of Barth etc – I’m not in any position to comment, not having read Bultmann or Tillich. But as you point out, there is some distance between the position of those theologians and that of confessional Lutheran orthodoxy.

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