"Modalism…means that the trinitarian hypostases are merely manifestations of God in history, but not essential distinctions within the eternal Godhead itself. For Barth, however, the trinitarian hypostases, each of which is fully God, coexist in, with, and for one another eternally and essentially. Barth repeatedly states that the living God would have been an eternal communion of love and freedom between the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, whether the world had been created or not. Nothing could be farther form modalism. “Social trinitarians”…who are usually the ones making this charge, might ask themselves whether they can do as much justice as Barth can to the clear biblical witness to God as a single acting subject who is the Lord. In any case, modalism can be charged against Barth only out of ignorance, incompetence, or (willful) misunderstanding." (191)
"The one God who posits himself as three is also the same God who posits himself as many. The three are his hypostases or concrete modes of existence; the many are his perfections. The many perfections of God confirm and glorify his oneness." (194)
"Barth separates himself from the venerable theological tradition that regards simplicity as more basic in God than multiplicity…Barth agrees with this tradition about simplicity, but disagrees about its exclusion of multiplicity as supposedly improper to God…The mystery of the Trinity at this point is precisely this, that because God’s being in its simplicity admits of no parts or degrees, each of the three divine hypostases, in simultaneity with the other two, is fully and perfectly God." (194-5)
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Choice Quotations: George Hunsinger on Karl Barth on the Trinity
From Disruptive Grace, “Mysterium Trinitatis: Karl Barth’s Conception of Eternity.” It is my privilege to endorse these quotations.