Thursday, 18 September 2008

Bruce McCormack on trinity, election, and the eternal Son

Just to whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from Bruce McCormack’s new book, Orthodox and Modern: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth – this is from the extraordinary chapter, “Karl Barth’s Historicized Christology: Just How ‘Chalcedonian’ Is It?”, an essay which appears here in English for the first time:

“For Barth, the triunity of God consists in the fact that God is one Subject in three modes of being. One Subject! To say then that ‘Jesus Christ is the electing God’ is to say, ‘God determined to be God in a second mode of being.’ It lies close to hand to recognize that it is precisely the primal decision of God in election which constitutes the event in which God differentiates himself into three modes of being. Election thus has a certain logical priority even over the triunity of God. [Quoting Eberhard Jüngel:] ‘Jesus Christ is the electing God. In that here one of the three modes of being is determined to be the God who elects, we have to understand God’s primal decision as an event in the being of God which differentiates the modes of God’s being.’ So the event in which God constitutes himself as triune is identical with the event in which he chooses to be God for the human race. Thus the ‘gap’ between ‘the eternal Son’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ is overcome, the distinction between them eliminated…. There is no ‘eternal Son’ if by that is meant a mode of being in God which is not identical with Jesus Christ” (pp. 218-19).


This is great Barth-interpretation, and great theology.

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