Tag Archives | Karl Barth

Are the Father, Son, and Spirit Equally Persons?

Here’s Karl Barth’s answer:

. . . even if the Father and the Son might be called “person” (in the modern sense of the term), the Holy Spirit could not possibly be regarded as the third “person.” In a particularly clear way the Holy Spirit is what the Father and the Son also are. He is not a third spiritual Subject, a third I, a third Lord side by side with two others. He is a third mode of being of the one divine Subject or Lord.

. . .

He is the common element, or, better, the fellowship, the act of communion, of the Father and the Son. He is the act in which the Father is the Father of the Son or the Speaker of the Word and the Son is the Son of the Father or the Word of the Speaker. (CD I,1, 469)

This sounds on the surface like a denial of full trinitarianism (and I am a little uncomfortable with it), but it shares much in common with the views of Augustine and Jonathan Edwards, both of whom tended to talk about the Spirit in ways that seem less than fully personal.

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Van Til on Barth—and Doctrinal Sins

Those who are familiar with the writings of Cornelius Van Til are well aware of his strong criticism of Barth’s theology. He takes Barth to task in Christianity and Barthianism and The New Modernism: An Appraisal of the Theology of Barth and Brunner and avers that Barth’s theology is “in all fundamental respects . . . the same as the Modernism of Schleiermacher and his school.” In the theology of Barth we find “basically, the same sort of view of reality and of knowledge as marks the work of Schleiermacher or Ritschl” (The New Modernism, 2d ed.).1

One might infer from his severe criticism of Barth that Van Til considered him outside the sphere of God’s saving work. That’s what Richard Mouw thought—until Van Til himself set him straight.

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  1. Van Til mentions Barth 8,588 times (Barth [8,264x], Barthian [119x], Barthianism [140x], and Dutch variations like Barthiaansch and Barthianisme [65x]) and cites him 1,824 times based on the collection of his works available for Libronix.

Barth on the Son’s Subordination to the Father

In Barth’s section on “God the Father” in volume one of his Church Dogmatics, he makes some interesting statements about the relationship between the Father and the Son.

He opens his discussion with this affirmation of the deity of the Son:

Who is the Lord and therefore the God to whom the Bible is referring? As we have seen already, it is typical of the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New that its answer to this question does not point us primarily to a sphere beyond human history but rather to the very centre of this history.

The answer is that at the climax of the biblical witness Jesus of Nazareth is the Kyrios. He is the One who approaches man in absolute superiority. He is the self-revealing God. (I, 1, 384)

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Books for Christmas

I put a few books on my Christmas list this year, and my parents and brother graciously purchased some of them for me. I’m enjoying digging into them a little already. Here’s what I got:

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