stanley-grenz

Differences of polity existing among the various Christian traditions are more than inconsequential arguments of the nonessentials. This being the case, the way forward for all Christians cannot be that of blindly overlooking the heritage of each confessional group in the name of community and unity. Rather, true ecumenical progress within the wider body of Christ for the cause of Christ requires that each Christian be immersed in an understanding of one’s on unique heritage and see that heritage in part as God’s gift to the entire body. At the same time each Christian must be open to seek to understand each other Christian within that other person’s confessional heritage, which also can become the voice of the Spirit speaking to the entire body of Christ.
—  Stanley Grenz on living into your tradition and remaining open to other traditions. In The Baptist Congregation (1985).
Trinitarian Ethics

The Trinity is of utmost importance in Theology.  Here’s an excerpt from good ‘ol Stan in Theology for the Community of God:

'Insofar as God is the ultimate model and standard for humankind, the essential essence that the one God is a social reality, the social Trinity.  Because God is the social Trinity, a plurality in unity, the ideal for humankind does not focus on solitary persons, but on persons-in-community.  God intends that we reflect his nature in our lives.  This is only possible, however, as we move out of our isolation and into relationships with others.  The ethical life, therefore, is the life-in-relationship, or the life-in-community.
The doctrine of the Trinity states further that the essence of God is love.  Consequently, love stands as the ideal and the standard for human life as well.

God directs his love to all creation.  The Triune One is concerned about all creatures and wills the best for creation.  Therefore, our task is to seek to reflect God’s loving concern for all creatures in our natural environment, for the principle of love requires that human beings be concerned for the welfare of creation in the way that God is.  For this reason, as Christians we ought to be at the forefront in promoting a sense of the true stewardship God has entrusted to humankind.  We seek, in short, to live in community with the world of nature around us.

But humans are the special recipients of God’s love.  God loves each human being, and therefore he demands that we act justly.  This forms the context for the repeated biblical imitation that God takes up the cause of the destitute and oppressed, and therefore he is on the side of the poor.  God calls us to be his instruments in bringing about the divine vision of love, justice and righteousness for all humankind.  This task, however, must begin with the household of faith.  The New Testament reminds us that as Christians our concern for humankind must begin 'at home,’ that is, with the needs of sisters and brothers within the community of Christ (1 John 4v11).  But it must not stop there.  Rather, we must see the entire world as the object of our care and concern, just as the love of the triune God spills beyond the boundaries of the trinitarian members to encompass all creation.’

'The doctrine of the Trinity forms the heart of the Christian conception of God.  Rather than being of secondary importance, this doctrine is central to our faith.  The implications of this conception is central to our faith.  The implications of this conception are immense.  Above all, it suggests that God is himself relational.  The Father, Son, and Spirit are the social Trinity.  Therefore, community is not merely an aspect of human life, for it lies within the divine essence.’

Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God

Being oriented toward the eschatological completion of history in God’s future telos, an eschatological theology speaks about the not-yet within the context of the already. It finds our human identity, as well as the identity of all creation, in the God who promises to make everything new (Rev. 12:5). And it speaks about the in-breaking of creation (2 Cor. 5:17) in our lives in the here and now.
—  Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke
Theology from the Community for the Community with Stanley Grenz

In 1994, one of American Baptist’s most recognized theologians, the late Stanley Grenz, published his full-length systematic theology, Theology for the Community of God. Conservative evangelicals warmly welcomed this book, among others around that time in the early 1990’s. David Dockery (for whom the book is dedicated) wrote an endorsement for his prior book, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, stating, “[It] is a creative step forward for evangelicals…and opens the door for evangelical theology to strengthen the church.” More freshly engaged with the Pietist tradition, Grenz began to center his theology on community or the church, which resonated with many conservatives due to rampant individualism. Yet, whether they were encouraged about the direction but displeased with its overreach or whether they simply misunderstood Grenz from the beginning, he has earned critics from those that initially welcomed his thoughts.

Grenz’s text follows traditional loci beginning with theological method and ending with eschatology. Also, he rightly believes that theology should have a trinitarian shape to it by leading with the doctrine of God and the Trinity (24). This brings unity to the discipline of theology. Developing the history of theology, he points out the different ways it has been divided (i.e. subdiscplines) and contextualized (i.e. academic, narrative, etc.). Concerning the divisions, Grenz wants to develop doctrine not necessarily from biblical, systematic, historical, and practical but by focusing on the biblical message (which is historically conditioned), the historical heritage of the church (which is also contextual), and the thought-forms of the contemporary context (of which he currently lived) (16). Therefore, he includes an “integrative motif,” which is community (20). Like Aquinas’ beatific vision or Calvin’s emphasis on the glory of God, Grenz’s point of integration is the community of God (23). Certainly this emphasis is constructive in some measure such as the recognition that theology is not static but particularly suited for understanding the faith across all ages. However, at times, Grenz can be less than clear about the community’s participation in theology, to what extent there should be integration, and the end goal of it other than that the theology is applied. Based on the use of certain terms (e.g. communal), it seems that he is already primed for a fuller postmodern theological treatment.

In chapter three, Grenz discusses the doctrine of the Trinity. In it, he gives an historical overview, recognizing that the doctrine was formed over years of reflection and was only then fixated as a doctrine in the 4th century (54). Keeping with his theme of eschatological community, Grenz writes, “The doctrine of the Trinity is the product of a lengthy process arising from the experience of the people of faith” (53). While it can certainly not be denied that “trinity” is not found in the Bible, one might get the sense (outside some example texts) that the doctrine is mostly theological speculation or formulation. Still, Grenz portrays an orthodox view of God who is one, three, diversity, and unity (66-67). It is this kind of God, a relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit, who is love at his very being (71-74). This is who God is and it upholds his justice, wrath, and righteousness all at once. Because God is love, the Trinity also informs human ethics. God is the ultimate model of life and community since within himself he is social (76). As it relates to the contemporary situation, however, the doctrine of the Trinity is still subject to theological reflection and the door is open for variations of these truths.

…contemporary philosophers remind us that knowledge is not a collection of isolated factual statements arising directly from first principles. Rather, our beliefs form a system in which each belief is supported by its neighbors and, ultimately, by its presence within the whole. If this is the case, theology can no longer model itself after the foundationalist metaphor of constructing an edifice. We cannot spin our wheels constructing elaborate prolegomena, thinking thereby we have laid a sure foundation for the compilation of seemingly separable units of knowledge we then elaborate, whether that knowledge be biblical teaching or expressions of the highest human aspirations. Instead, we ought to view Christian doctrine as comprising a “belief-mosaic” and see theology, in turn, as the exploration of Christian doctrine viewed as an interrelated, unified whole. And we ought to envision our constructive work as leading to a mosaic of interlocking pieces that presents a single pattern, rather than merely to a collection of beads on a string.
—  Stanley J. Grenz & John R. Franke
Book 33--Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context (Stanley J. Grenz & John R. Franke)

“…we propose a theological method that gives rise to a theology that lies beyond the demise of foundationalism. Such a theology is the product of the reflection of the Christian community in its local expressions. Despite its local nature, such a theology is in a certain sense global. It explicates the Christian belief-mosaic in accordance with the ecumenical faith of the church throughout its history and on behalf of the church throughout the world. Moreover, despite its particularity as a specifically Christian theology, such a theology is also public. It carries within it an explicit claim to be articulating a belief-mosaic that is "for all” in the only way that any claim to universality can be made, namely, as the belief-mosaic of a particular believing community. In so doing, such a theology invites wider response, just as it is offered as a contribution to the wider public conversation.“