Bashing Augustine Bashers

Bashing Augustine Bashers August 13, 2014

Jenson gives a wonderfully curmudgeonly riposte to the critics of critics of Augustine (The Theology of Colin Gunton, 11-12).

“Whether long books or short articles, all display the same pattern: ‘But just look at these other things that Augustine said about God’s triunity . . . and aknowledge that he was a great Trinitarian both in his pastoral practice and his personal piety.’ To all of which one must simply say: ‘Well – sure – or course he was . . . he did say all that good stuff too and teach and preach brilliantly to a Trinitarian pattern. What is not done by those who bash us Augustine-bashers is to face up to the truly disastrous propositions Augustine did in fact emphatically and insistently lay down, propositions that became maxims of subsequent Western theology. He did say in fact that the Cappadocian distinction of ousia/hypostasis – the very distinction that enabled the creedal doctrine of the Trinity – could be no more than a purely linguistic device, that it could tell us nothing about the reality of God. . . He did say that it was absurd, as violating divine simplicity, to think that the Father could not be what he is apart from the Son, and vice versa – thereby rejecting a foundational proposition of Trinitarian thought and worship from Tertullian on.”

(Quoted in van den Brink, IJST 16 [2014] 340).

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