The Freedom of God
This dissertation presents a study in the Christian systematic theology of Robert W. Jenson on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, this work seeks to contribute descriptively to Jenson scholarship in the theological academy, to understanding, clarifying and interpreting his role in the contemporary theological scene, while, as itself operating in the discipline of systematic theology, this work also seeks to constructively augment our understanding of the experience of the Holy Spirit in the Church, reckoning with the significance of this theological locus for a number of prominent movements in the current thought and practice of world Christianity. Part I and Part II of this work engage in an exegesis of the content of Jenson’s pneumatology. Here I advance the interpretation that Jenson’s pneumatology can be meaningfully and beneficially coalesced under—without being merely reduced to—the theme of “freedom” or “liberation.” This integrating motif becomes evident as Jenson’s pneumatology is unfolded across a number of other traditional doctrinal loci and interweaved with a number of other ecumenical concerns, examining both the “work” of the Spirit in the world (first part) and the divine “person” of the Spirit (second part). Part III, then, ventures a constructive evaluation and reception of Jenson’s distinctive pneumatological proposals by way of dialectical encounter with three horizons: those of (1) early Christian pneumatology, (2) twentieth century trinitarian theology and (3) liberation theological discourse and praxis. Through this dialectical engagement, I interrogate a number of aspects of Jenson’s divine ontology and theological infrastructure, insofar as they relate to the uniqueness of his pneumatological proposals. With a re-calibration of some of those theological judgments, I argue that certain insights of Jenson’s notion of the Spirit as eternal, personal Freedom in God, as the Unsurpassed One and as the movement of divine self-constitution from the End of Divine Life merit retrieval. This characterization of the person of the Spirit as one of “freedom” or “liberation,” for the believer, for creation, and for God, forges a pneumatological reconstruction of divine transcendence, similarly to what classical theology had done for the persons of the Father and the Son. Such an achievement, I suggest, offers one viable interpretation of the unique role of the Spirit that mediates between traditional-classical trinitarian ontology and the lived experience of the Spirit currently being exhibited, perceived and theorized in various aspects of global theology and leading areas of theological research.