The Braaten-Jenson Duo: From Radical to Conservative?
Can we talk about what appears to me to be a rather distinct and unfortunate political shift in the Jenson-Braaten duo? Is it just me, or does this totally suck? The two founders of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology and the journal Pro Ecclesia have co-edited something like 15 volumes on various theological topics in the past thirty some years or so. Many are familiar with Braaten primarily through the work of Jenson, who is considered by some to be the best living American theologian. Have you ever read Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson’s early theology? Braaten’s Christ and Counter-Christ is really a wonderful example of a politically radical ‘apocalyptic’ theology. I mean this Braaten loves Karl Marx. Similarly, Jenson’s Story and Promise is ultra critical of Americanism and capitalism. And both speak quite seriously about political revolution.
Now, I don’t mean to suggest that Braaten and Jenson are now right-wing ideologues–but we have to be honest about a real shift in the political tenor of their theology. I love Jenson’s more recent Systematic Theology, but I found much of the cultural critique in it to be quite disappointing. Some of the volumes that they’ve co-edited have also been quite disappointing and strangely conservative in tone–for instance, Either/Or: The Gospel or Neopaganism.
C’mon, let’s talk about this–what went wrong here? Please, someone, tell me I’m mistaken.