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Title: Theology for the revolution : a study of the political eschatologies of Robert W. Jenson and James H. Cone
Author: Burdette, Matthew E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 043X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2016
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The theologies of Robert W. Jenson and James H. Cone have not been interpreted together. This thesis argues that the two theologians are profoundly similar. The study argues that Jenson's and Cone's theologies converge in such manner that they may be described as sharing a common task; namely, the development of a theology of revolution. 'Theology of revolution' denotes both a doctrine of God that is metaphysically revolutionary, and a theology that enables revolutionary politics. Specifically, both theologians diagnose a problem with Christian theology, and their diagnoses are finally the same: theology has inherited from Greek theology assumptions about deity that construe eternity and time as contradictory, resulting in an abstraction from historical life, and a denigration of historical particularity, contingency, and concreteness. In Cone's analysis, white supremacy, as well as a heretical Christology, emerges from this theological assumption; in Jenson's analysis, oppressive political ideologies and inadequately orthodox Christology emerges from this inherited Hellenistic assumption. For both theologians, at stake is Christian eschatology, which, for both, is determinative of political life. Jenson and Cone alike argue that the God of Jesus is the God of history, and is therefore the God of eschatological revolution who enables and inspires revolutionary politics in history. Cone's theology has extensively developed a politics of this eschatology, but has insufficiently developed its corresponding metaphysics; Jenson has devoted enormous energy to developing the revisionary metaphysics of the gospel, arguing that the gospel's God is revolutionary, but has only occasionally addressed politics, and has largely neglected the implications of his theology for the problem of white supremacy. This study argues that just as Jenson's and Cone's theological programmes converge, their theologies are also mutually corrective for one another, enabling one another to better articulate a theology of revolution. Chapter One will address the theological and political context out of which Cone's theology arises, clarifying the theological and political programmes to which Cone is reacting in order to identify the revolutionary intentions of his theology. Chapter Two argues that political concerns partially occasion Jenson's theology, and that his occasional political writings that propose a revolutionary politics are constitutive of his effort to develop a revisionary metaphysics. Chapter Three explicates Cone's eschatological doctrine of God, in which God is the eschatological revolution, by means of analysing Cone's Christology. Chapter Four develops Jenson's proposal for a revolutionary politics, analysing how this proposal arises from his eschatological doctrine of God. Chapter Five analyses how Cone's proposal for a revolutionary 'Black Power' politics is a broader proposal for a revolutionary eschatology, in which eternity is the revolutionary fulfilment of time in the future. Chapter Six elaborates Jenson's revisionary metaphysics by explicating his Christology, showing how this Christology results in a revolutionary, eschatological doctrine of God. The Conclusion of the study restates and clarifies the argument of the study, that Jenson and Cone have developed a mutually corrective theology of revolution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology ; Doctrinal ; Black power ; Political theology