Three Conceptions of Christianity’s Dogmatic Center

A. Steven D. Paulson (traditional Lutheran)

The proper scopus for theology is not Trinity, incarnation, and deification, but law, sin, and grace, for when law and gospel are properly distinguished then and only then will the doctrines of Trinity, incarnation, and deification come to true expression.

from Lutheran Theology, (T&T Clark, 2011), 30.

B. John Webster (20th C. theology’s general consensus)

In sum: the only Christian doctrine that may legitimately claim to exercise a magisterial and judicial role in the corpus of Christian teaching is the doctrine of the Trinity, since in that doctrine alone all other doctrines have their ultimate basis.

from “The Place of the Doctrine of Justification” in What is Justification About? Reformed Contributions to an Ecumenical Theme. Eds. Weinrich and Burgess. (Eerdmans, 2009), 38.

C. Katherine Sonderegger (a recent — and ancient? — proposal)

We are advocating here for a proper starting point in the Oneness of God [instead of God’s Threeness], a beginning favored by Thomas Aquinas and many Reformers, but … disputed by Peter Lombard and many modern dogmaticians [e.g., Barth, Rahner, Jenson, Webster, and many others]. … Thomas differs from the Lombard on a key point. Peter Lombard considered Augustine’s De Trinitate to be the central governing authority for the doctrine of God; De Deo Trino would begin and ground the teaching on God. Thomas orders doctrine differently: for him De Deo Uno would stand at the head of the doctrine of God.

from Systematic Theology: Volume 1, The Doctrine of God, (Fortress, 2015), 7-8.

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