Pro nobis, in se

For Barth ( Church Dogmatics The Doctrine of the Word of God, Volume 1, Part 2: The Revelation of God; Holy Scripture: The Proclamation of the Church , 34), the incarnation reveals that God is free for us, pro nobis . But Trinitarian theology is the affirmation that is freedom is grounded in the inherent freedom of the Trinity, His freedom in se . The latter is the ground of the former: “Because God in his one nature is not solitary but different in His modes of existence, because He is the Father who has an only-begotten Son, therefore the fact that He can be free for others, that He can be free for a reality different from himself, is eternally grounded within God Himself.” More pithily: “God in His Word or Son is identical with God who reveals Himself, who is able to be free for us.”

Somewhat surprisingly (considering the source), he adds that “there is – amid the complete dissimilarity of divine and non-divine – a similarity between the eternal Word of God and the world created by this Word, but also and still more a similarity between the eternal, natural, only-begotten Son and those who are through Him God’s adopted sons, who by grace are His children. In this similarity between Him and us we recognise the possibility of the revelation of God.” In support, he cites Thomas (ST III, 3, 8) to the effect that the Song is similitudo exemplaris totius creationis as well as a similitudo filiationis per adoptionem . And he suggests that John 1:11 supports the idea as well by saying that Word made flesh came to “His own.”

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