Triune Eternality

Triune Eternality: God's Relationship to Time in the Theology of Karl Barth

Daniel M. Griswold
Copyright Date: 2015
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  • Book Info
    Triune Eternality
    Book Description:

    The theology of Karl Barth is an important resource for theological reflection on the complicated problem of God’s relationship to time; yet much of what Barth says is difficult to unravel. His statements on God and time, and on God and eternity, are spread throughout his writings, finding their place in theological discussions of a variety of doctrinal topics. These difficulties have led some to despair of adequately articulating Barth’s position, while leading others to propose overly broad or simplistic renderings. Triune Eternality argues that a proper comprehension of Barth’s theological conception of time and eternity is best achieved by understanding three important contexts: the doctrinal, the conceptual, and the developmental. By understanding those contexts, it may be seen that Barth’s understanding of time and eternity is how he expresses theological convictions that are more basic to Christian theology. In short, for Barth “time and eternity” are not so much philosophical or scientific concepts but theological terms that point to fundamental realities. This work proceeds from the conviction that in Barth we have a twofold opportunity: to allow earlier answers to speak to our own recent questions and to use our contemporary perspective to gain insight on historic contributions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9656-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    How is God related to time? What is the proper theological way of expressing that relationship, and why? Such questions may appear to many to be precisely the kind of abstract, irrelevant speculation that relegates theological discourse as a whole off to the margins of so-called real life. What differencedoesit make, one may ask,howGod is related to time, whether God is temporal or atemporal?

    Behind this book lies the conviction that it does matter. The question of God’s relationship to time bears on almost every theological doctrine, in some places only implicitly, yet elsewhere quite prominently....

  5. 2 The Conceptual Context Traditional Reflections on God and Time
    (pp. 21-82)

    Barth did not produce his mature understanding of divine eternality in a vacuum. He did not come up with his concepts all on his own. Rather, he incorporated, modified, and rejected various understandings of time and eternity that are represented throughout the history of Western thought. Some of those came from theologians, while some came from figures who would more properly be described as philosophers. In either case, these ideas and the figures who promoted them are significant in the history of ideas, even if Barth had never written a word about them. A discussion of the concept of eternity...

  6. 3 Aside Reflections on Eternity after Barth
    (pp. 83-116)

    As I argued in the previous chapter, our ability to understand Barth appreciatively and constructively is enhanced by considering the so-called classic figures that influenced him. Barth’s theological reflections on time and eternity clearly show deep interaction with concepts and positions from the tradition. Attention to those aspects with which Barth was in conversation will benefit one’s understanding of Barth’s own position.

    Such benefit may be compounded by considering as well more recent theological and philosophical reflections on time and eternity. Some of these recent approaches can help us see easily overlooked aspects of Barth’s thought, while others might give...

  7. 4 The Developmental Context
    (pp. 117-156)

    In the previous two chapters, I proposed and illustrated the conceptual context in which Barth’s mature understanding of divine eternality must be placed if it is to be understood adequately. In the course of those chapters, I offered an interpretation of the concepts of time and eternity developed by several classic and modern figures, and suggested how we ought to understand Barth’s relationship to them. Throughout, I attempted to demonstrate how our understanding of Barth is enhanced as we grapple with these other figures and with the fundamental issues they address.

    With this chapter, I turn to a second interpretive...

  8. 5 The Doctrinal Context
    (pp. 157-194)

    To this point, we have considered two contexts in which Barth’s exposition of time and eternity may rightly be located. From these contexts, the conceptual and the developmental, one may more accurately perceive the contours and depth of Barth’s theological reflection on divine eternality. We turn now to consider a third context: the doctrinal. Our investigation in this chapter focuses on the role that doctrine, and especially a few particular theological doctrines, plays in Barth’s theological conceptions of time and eternity.

    As we saw in the previous chapter, Barth’s development as a theologian led him to a greater appreciation for...

  9. 6 Eternity and Time in the Church Dogmatics
    (pp. 195-234)

    As we enter this chapter, we complete the first step of this book’s argument and turn to the next. We have been about preparation, to the end that we may engage in exposition. Such preparation has been the special burden of chapters 2 through 5. Of course, it is not as if there has been no exposition. On the contrary, the preparation has contained much that was expository and interpretive. Nonetheless, we turn now to the heart of the exposition, oriented by the concepts explored in the previous chapters.

    In this chapter I will seek to state Barth’s mature understanding...

  10. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 235-250)

    Throughout these pages I have sought to describe Barth’s understanding of divine eternality. I placed his concept of eternity in context, indeed, in three contexts, for apart from acknowledgment of those contexts there can be only limited understanding of Barth’s position. Following that context-setting work of exposition and interpretation, I offered a close reading of the core passage for Barth’s concept of God’s eternity. I now conclude with observations concerning three areas of concern in this project: the distinctly Trinitarian cast to Barth’s understanding of eternity, how notions of temporalism and atemporalism play out in the case of Barth’s doctrine,...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-260)
  12. Index
    (pp. 261-264)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)