Friday, May 22, 2009

Barth and the Trinity

So I had another day delving deep into theological mysteries to profound. Thanks to Khegan, my new found theological friend, I read Aaron Smith's paper "God’s self-specification: his being is his electing" SJT 62(1): 1–25 (2009) and George Husinger "Election and the Trinity: Twenty-Five Theses on The Theology of Karl Barth" Modern Theology 24:2 April 2008.
I ordered Engaging the Doctrine of God ed. Bruce L. Mccormack and will probably get Orthodox and Modern: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth by Bruce L. McCormack. I have not adequately understood McCormack's position, and the only way to fairly evaluate his views is to read his material. Bruce McCormack was most engaging at the recent Trinitarian Theology After Barth conference, and he really made me think.
I found Paul Molnar's article, available online, The Trinity and the Freedom of God exceptionally helpful and next week will give occassion to reading his book: Divine Freedom and the Doctrine of the Immanent Trinity.
The questions that arise from this thinking and reflecting thus far, are as follows:
  1. What is the relationship between the immanent and economic trinity? Are they the same? Different? How? When? Where?
  2. Is God’s being is constituted by God’s act?
  3. Who is the logos asarkos? Is he exactly the same as Jesus of Nazareth?
  4. What specific metaphysical presuppositions determine the answers to these questions, and how?
  5. Withregards to Barth, how does his doctrine of election shape/determine his understanding of the trinity?
  6. The ultimate question, which all of this finally leads to is, Who is God?
  7. My last question: Who on earth can answer these questions?
All this to say, I've forsaken biblical studies this month...
But perhaps forsaking biblical studies in this discussion was my first mistake!


K.M. Delport said...

McCormack's "Orthodox and Modern" is and excellent set of studies focusing on the theology of Karl Barth. The article by McCormack in "Engaging the Doctrine of God" is best article I've read on the subject of open theism. You might want to (eventually, depending on how much of a Barth enthusiast you are) try and get a hold of McCormack's tome on the development of Barth's theology from 1909-36, its quite groundbreaking and the main thesis proposed in this book provides a framework for all of McCormack's later work.

I'm still waiting for my copy of Barth's Church Dogmatics to arrive (finally!!), so that I can begin to engage with Barth himself (particularly in regard to Barth's critique of the traditional formulation of the the doctrine of election and Barth's exegetical support of his position).

Glad I could be of assistance. I thought the Smith article was particularly good.

Nick Norelli said...

Sean: You might be interested in the following article: James J. Cassidy, "Trinity and Election," WTJ 71 (2009): 53-81. It's presently available online.

David W. Congdon said...

You'll want to be sure to read Orthodox and Modern, in addition to the essay by Edwin Chr. van Driel to which McCormack responds with his essay "Seek God where he may be found." And you'll also want to read Kevin Hector's article from 2005 (IJST 7:3) in which he attempts to mediate between Molnar and McCormack. He has since moved on from that early position, but it's worth reading anyway.

As a doctoral student in theology at Princeton Seminary with Hunsinger and McCormack as my advisers, I have intimate and thorough knowledge of this dispute. I've made my own decision about who I think is the better interpreter of Barth, and you are welcome to email me at dwcongdon-at-gmail-dot-com. I am happy to discuss the debate and give you my opinion on the matter.

Enjoy the reading. It's certainly worth your time.