Transformation Theology

The latest edition of American Theological Inquiry is now available online.  The first essay (Paul D. Janz, 'What is Transformation Theology?') is an important summary of recent work that locates itself under the heading of 'Transformation Theology'.  The essay refers to other recent studies that form a part of this movement, but the basic strength of the position that Paul Janz and others are articulating lies in their refusal of any kind of either/or dualism when it comes to thinking about the nature of God in relationship to created reality.

If we want to take with full seriousness (i.e., not in any “demythologized” or “ideal” sense) the scriptural declaration that God has really revealed himself in temporal history in a mortal body in Jesus Christ; and if the resurrection-reality of God is indeed a reality that through Pentecost is disclosed in dynamic livingness even today to the same world of embodied life into which God became incarnate in Jesus, then this means something vital and indispensable for theology. It means that in searching out or attending to the truth of the grounding reality of God on which it depends, theology must even today always look nowhere else but to the world of sensible-rational human embodiment, in and for which the reality of God is disclosed, and never away from this world.  (10-11)

The article goes on to provide an aetiology of the Western theological tradition and its misdirections (shades of an alternative to that provide by Milbank et al here, perhaps).  Bonhoeffer's influence (especially via the Ethics) is evident throughout. The conclusion states the main point clearly in relation to theology's task:

All of this means that while it is no less fundamentally concerned than Barth with the “Godness of God”—indeed, precisely because it is concerned with this—at its heart, transformation theology is a revelational anthropology; and the essential domains through which it is oriented as such, even and especially in its doctrinal considerations, are all the domains involving embodied human agency or free human action, whether social ethics, politics, art, ecology or history. (35)

To which I would only add that 'hermeneutics' needs to be included in this list – whereby we insist that our orientation to God's self-revelation through Scripture is through the domain of the work of interpretation, performed by creative human agents in dialogue with the fundamentally human texts of the Bible.