Okay, for all you Barth-haters out there I’ve got to admit that this section Barth’s Church Dogmatics, the Triunity of God, is- ahem- boring.
Head-scratchingly impenetrable you could say.
But what’s interesting to me is why Barth gets so unclear precisely as he attempts to clarify the doctrine of the Trinity. I think the confusion is the result of Barth’s very Western attempt to stress how the Three (Father, Son and Spirit) are of one being, substance.
Scripture clearly gives us the grounds to speak of God as Trinity.
Paul speaks of “God and his son Jesus.”
Matthew, Mark and Luke affirm that as the Son was baptized by John, God the Father spoke and the Spirit descended upon the Son.
Christians were baptizing in the name of the Trinity long before the New Testament was formed or before the doctrine of the Trinity was fleshed out formally.
Trinity, as I’ve posted before, is the Church’s way of holding the revelation of the Old and New Testaments together as one continuous witness.
It’s the Church’s grammar, securing the most fundamental of Christian convictions: God is at least as nice as Jesus.
In contrast, the Eastern Orthodox Church historically has been more comfortable speaking of the Three not so much in their (singular) unity but in their diversity or, better put, as community. In the West, where Christianity so often manifests itself as individual, private piety, I’ve always found the Eastern perspective on the Trinity a helpful corrective.
After all, if God is fundamentally a community of 3 persons and we’re made in this God’s image, then we’re most fully alive, most fully human, most who God intended us to be when we are in community with others.