Monday, December 13, 2010

Revelation about the Trinity

How is revelation defined? Karl Barth has an interesting discussion in Church Dogmatics 1.1, Section 8, which I reproduce some of below. He contends that revelation cannot be define a priori and divorced from Scripture. He also stresses the Trinitarian nature of revelation. The Father reveals Himself through the Son by means of the Spirit. The paragraph in italics below is the summary.GOD IN HIS REVELATION
God's Word is God Himself in His revelation. For God reveals Himself as the Lord and according to Scripture this signifies for the concept of revelation that God Himself in unimpaired unity yet also in unimpaired distinction is Revealer, Revelation, and Revealedness.
1. THE PLACE OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY IN DOGMATICSIf in order to clarify how Church proclamation is to be measured by Holy Scripture we first enquire into the prior concept of revelation, ...Perhaps more important than anything dogmatics can say with reference to the pre-eminent place of Scripture in the Church and over against the Church is the example which dogmatics itself must give in its own fundamental statements. It must try to do what is undoubtedly required of the Church in general, namely, to pay heed to Scripture, not to allow itself to take its problems from anything else but Scripture. The basic problem with which Scripture faces us in respect of revelation is that the revelation attested in it refuses to be understood as any sort of revelation alongside which there are or may be others. It insists absolutely on being understood in its uniqueness. But this means that it insists absolutely on being understood in terms of its object, God. It is the revelation of Him who is called Yahweh in the Old Testament and θεός [theos = God] or, concretely, κύριος [kurios = LORD] in the New Testament. The question of the self-revealing God which thus forces itself upon us as the first question cannot, if we follow the witness of Scripture, be separated in any way from the second question: How does it come about, how is it actual, that this God reveals Himself? Nor can it be separated from the third question: What is the result? What does this event do to the man to whom it happens? Conversely the second and third questions cannot possibly be separated from the first. .... God reveals Himself. He reveals Himself through Himself. He reveals Himself. If we really want to understand revelation in terms of its subject, i.e., God, then the first thing we have to realise is that this subject, God, the Revealer, is identical with His act in revelation and also identical with its effect. ....we learn we must begin the doctrine of revelation with the doctrine of the triune God.

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