A systematic theological theory of truth in Kathryn Tanner's Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology

Christine Helmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper raises the truth question to explore the possibility of constructing a system of systematic theology in the contemporary context. By using Schleiermacher's thought as a constructive resource, two dimensions of truth are discussed in dialogue with Kathryn Tanner's book Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology, coherence and correspondence. Addressed in the first section is coherence, along with its auxiliary, comprehensiveness, as a requirement for system. The whole of the Christian world view is grasped by a principle of coherence that reflects both a subjective component of authorial individuality and an objective component of an individual grasp of the 'spirit of the age'. Furthermore, consensus regarding systematic coherence in Western Christian thought agrees on a metanarrative structuring doctrines from creation to apocalypse. In Tanner's work, the principle of coherence is gift-giving that is traced from an inner-trinitarian narrative to its outer-trinitarian expressions in creation, the incarnation, eschatology, as well as in ethical response. Thematized in the second section is the tricky issue of theological correspondence between claims of redemption on the one hand and the sin, evil, and tragedy of the world on the other. Tanner's book offers one solution to this problem: analogical correspondence that situates doctrinal patterns of gift-giving (such as the incarnation, creation) as concentric circles in varying degrees of correspondence to their inner-trinitarian center. In view of this solution, this paper questions the relation between systematic coherence and the reality of both life's brokenness and the depths of divine self-giving pathos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-220
Number of pages18
JournalScottish Journal of Theology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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