Triune God and the hermeneutics of community: church, gender and mission in Stanley J. Grenz with reference to Paul Ricoeur
Almon, Russell Lane
The aim of this dissertation is to undertake a study of the trinitarian ecclesiology of the North American evangelical theologian Stanley J. Grenz (d.2005), along with his imago Dei theology, revisioned social trinitarianism, narrative theology, incorporation of theosis, and theology of triune participation. This dissertation also utilizes the hermeneutical philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, in conjunction with Grenz’s trinitarian ecclesiology, to propose a missional and hermeneutical ecclesiology. Chapter one begins with an overview of Grenz’s theology and a discussion of the current state of Grenz scholarship. It then introduces Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of the self and theory of narrative identity. The chapter concludes with an overview of chapters two, three, and four. Chapter two traces the manner in which Grenz’s social trinitarianism and imago Dei theology yield a social imago. The first section overviews Grenz’s The Social God and the Relational Self, the social imago, the ecclesial self, his notion of ecclesial eschatological prolepsis, and his theology of triune participation. The second section responds to key criticisms of social trinitarianism, discusses Grenz and Ricoeur on the relational self, and outlines the manner in which Grenz’s theology of theosis and triune participation “in Christ” and through the Spirit yields an ecclesially oriented communal theo-anthropology. The final section takes up Grenz’s social imago and triune participation in relation to female/male mutuality in ecclesial participation and community. Chapter three discusses Grenz’s narrative theology and the development of a narrative imago. The first section overviews Grenz’s The Named God and the Question of Being and his development of the narrative of the divine name as the saga of the triune God, his further use of theosis, and the narrative imago arising within storied participation “in Christ” through the Spirit. The second section examines the continuity of Named God with Social God and argues that Grenz presents a revisioned social trinitarianism. The second section also considers Grenz and Ricoeur on the narrative self and proposes that Grenz’s ecclesial theo-anthropology now becomes a cruciform Christo-anthropology. The third section takes up the narrative imago and female/male mutuality and cruciformity as it arises from the ecclesial relation of storied and communal theotic triune participation. Chapter four treats the development of a Grenzian ecclesial imago and proposes a missional and hermeneutical ecclesiology. The first section presents Grenz’s ecclesiology as it is oriented towards mission and the connection of theosis, triune participation, and ecclesia. This section then proposes a missional grammar for the church as God’s ecclesial hermeneutics of community. The second section discusses potential charges of ecclesiological foundationalism, considers Grenz and Ricoeur on the summoned self, and extends Grenz’s theo-anthropology and Christo-anthropology into a missio-anthropology. The third section considers the mutuality and cruciformity of ecclesial “male and female” relation “in Christ” and through the Spirit, manifest in ecclesial friendship and hospitality, as the coming-to-representation and hermeneutics of community of the triune God. The conclusion offers a summary and possible avenues for further investigation.
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