Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Karl Barth and divine freedom

Following the recent exchange with Paul Molnar, Halden has posted a superb quote from Alan Lewis on Karl Barth’s understanding of divine freedom. This is a remarkably acute and perceptive account of Barth’s view – and it rightly draws attention to some of the internal tensions and inconsistencies that remain within the Church Dogmatics:

“God is free, not as one who could do otherwise, but as the one above all who can do no other. Self-bound to one sole way of being, God is committed, necessarily but thus freely, to the cognate course of action. God’s lordship in bowing to the contradiction of the godless cross and godforsaken grace does not reside, as Barth occasionally and illogically asserts, in a prior self-sufficiency and secure immutability, but – as he more often understood and later followers more emphatically underscored – in the uncoerced impulse to self-consistency: love’s determination not to be deflected from its purposes but to flourish and perfect itself through willing self-surrender. What judges us as burdensome imperative illuminates God as free but binding indicative: the truth – for our Creator and therefore for ourselves – that only one who gives up life discovers and fulfills it. On such a basis alone can we understand how the cross and grave truly reveal God’s inmost triune life.”

—Alan E. Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 211-12.

(Oh, and speaking of Barth, this pastor in Britain is looking for someone to buy his complete set of Church Dogmatics.)

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