Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Augustine On Theological Reflection

“Augustine locates the enterprise of theological reflection within the economy of redemption in three key ways. First, we can only understand the task the theologian faces by grasping something of the nature and purpose of the redemptive drama as a whole. Only when we see how that drama represents God’s speaking in the world so that we may no longer be subject to it and to its powers can we grasp the full task of attempting to talk of God. Second, Augustine’s conception of theological reflection is, more particularly, part of the Christian’s participation in the mystery of dying, rising, and ascending with Christ: only within this movement may the inner and the outer person be restored and the mind come to imagine God, as far as it may, without delusion or self-deceit. Third, the exegesis of Scripture provides the point of departure for the enterprise of Trinitarian theology and for the conjoint exercise of the rational powers that is central to that enterprise: but we can only come to see what is involved in reading this Scripture through seeing how that text fits within God’s overall redemptive economy. Only then may we see how the materialism of scriptural texts about the divine challenges us to move beyond the material and to begin to develop a grammar of divine distinction from the world—in Augustine’s case to begin to develop a grammar of divine simplicity—in order to secure God’s fully Trinitarian nature. Thus, struggling to apply the grammar of simplicity to the Triune God plays, for Augustine, a small part in the movement of the human being, in Christ, towards God as the creator and source of all wisdom and power and truth.”

-Lewis Ayres in Nicaea and its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology.

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