Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blogging with Barth: CD 1.1 §12.2 "The Eternal Spirit" pp. 466-489

The Leitsatz (thesis statement) for §12 states: "The one God reveals Himself according to Scripture as the Redeemer, i.e., as the Lord who sets us free. As such He is the Holy Spirit, by receiving whom we become the children of God, because, as the Spirit of the love of God the Father and the Son, He is so antecedently in Himself."

In the final subsection of volume 1.1 - subsection §12.2 ("God the Holy Spirit: God as Redeemer"), Barth devotes one more section to the Holy Spirit. He begins by establishing that what the Holy Spirit is, He is antecedently in Himself:
The Holy Spirit does not first become the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, in the event of revelation. The event of revelation has clarity and reality on its subjective side because the Holy Spirit, the subjective element in this event, is of the essence of God Himself. What He is in revelation He is antecedently in Himself. And what He is antecedently in Himself He is in revelation. Within the deepest depths of deity, as the final thing to be said about Him, God is God the Spirit as He is God the Father and God the Son. The Spirit outpoured at Pentecost is the Lord, God Himself, just as the Father and just as Jesus Christ is the Lord, God Himself (466).
Barth makes a point of acknowledging the later development of dogmatic thought on the Spirit relative to the Son (468). For example, the Nicene Creed makes reference to the homoousios of the Son while not making a remark as such regarding the Spirit. That is not to say an understanding of Spirit as God was not present in the witness of scripture. Why might the doctrine have developed slowly?
It is deeply rooted in the matter itself that Christian knowledge about the Holy Spirit permeated the Church so slowly and with such difficulty. The fact that the Holy Spirit is the Lord, that He is wholly and utterly God, the divine Subject, in the same sense as the Father of Jesus Christ and in the same sense as Jesus Christ Himself, is without doubt the harder and more exacting demand, not just or chiefly for formal thought, but in face of man’s ideas about himself also and precisely in relation to God (467).
Despite it's slow dogmatic development, an understanding of the Spirit is so vital and important. After all...
The dogma of the Holy Spirit means recognition that in every respect man can be present at God’s revelation only as a servant is present at his master’s work, i.e., following, obeying, imitating and serving, and that this relation—as distinct from that of human servant and master—cannot be reversed in any way or at any point. This developed recognition of the unconditionality and irreversibility of the lordship of God in His revelation is what makes the dogma of the Holy Spirit difficult, difficult, of course, intellectually too, but difficult intellectually only because man does not want the very thing that it states to be true (468).
Barth then makes an important note about dogmatic development, neglect, misunderstanding, and obscurantism regarding the doctrine of the Spirit:
It is logical that this doctrine had to be the last stage in the development of the trinitarian dogma. It had to be reached before the doctrine of grace, which then became the distinctive theme of the Western Church, could become a problem, before the struggle and victory of Augustine over Pelagius could take place. The Reformation with its doctrine of justification by faith alone can also be understood only against the background of this specific dogma. Its true and total significance, of course, has never been understood in Catholicism (not even in Augustine), and only very partially even in post-Reformation Protestantism. Modernist Protestantism in its entirety has simply been a regression to pre-Nicene obscurities and ambiguities regarding the Spirit (468).
Barth then turns once again to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed for a "more precise" exposition of the dogma of the Holy Spirit

1) We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord. Though "Lord" is used adjectivally here, it should be understood ontologically too - meaning that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all together are One Lord (469). And the Holy Spirit is God as an act of love. The Holy Spirit is the "togetherness or communion of the Father and the Son..." (469).
Thus, 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.
In this regard it is worth noting that the Church has forbidden the portrayal of the Holy Ghost in human form (Bartmann, Lehrb. d. Dogm.7, Vol. 1, 1928, p. 194).
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.
How far is this act to be understood as a special divine mode of being? It is obviously to be regarded as a special divine mode of being because this common being and work of the Father and the Son is a special and distinct mode of divine being as compared to that of the Father and the Son. It is obviously to be understood as a divine mode of being because in this act of His divine being as Father and Son, in this reciprocal love of His, God cannot be or do anything other or less than what is equal to Himself. There cannot be any higher principle from which and in which the Father and the Son must first find themselves together. They can find themselves together only in their own principle. But this principle is the breathing of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit Himself. Again the work of this love is not the created world; it is the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son. The work, then, must be what is equal to them, and this equal is the Holy Spirit.
Thus God—and to this degree He is God the Holy Spirit—is “antecedently in Himself” the act of communion, the act of impartation, love, gift. For this reason and in this way and on this basis He is so in His revelation. Not vice versa! We know Him thus in His revelation. But He is not this because He is it in His revelation; because He is it antecedently in Himself, He, is it also in His revelation (469-471).
2. We believe in the Holy Ghost, the giver of life. The Holy Spirit, along with Father and Son, is the subject of creation.
He is not just the Redeemer, so surely does redemption stand in indissoluble correlation with reconciliation, so surely does reconciliation reach its consummation in redemption. He is thus the Reconciler too, with the Son, and as the Spirit of the Son. And just as in reconciliation, and as its presupposition, God the Father is revealed through the Son, i.e., God the Creator, and the work of creation is shown to have happened through the same Word who became incarnate in Jesus Christ, so now the Holy Spirit is revealed as the One who in His own way co-operates in creation too (471).
As Aquinas has said, "To the Holy Spirit… is assigned that mode of lordship whereby He governs and gives life to what has been created by the Father through the Son. He is the bonitas [Goodness], and so the goal, and so the primum movens [prime mover] of creation (Thomas Aquinas, S. theol., I, qu. 45, art. 6, ad. 2).

3. We believe in the Holy Ghost, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. In this part of the subsection, Barth weighs in on what it means that the Holy Spirit, like the Son, is "begotten not made," and that he proceeds from the Father and the Son. Notably, Barth casts his support for the infamous, but appropriate, Filioque statement in the Creed. "Proceeding" he concludes, means not creation, but emanation from the other modes of being in the Godhead and distinction of the Spirit despite unity with the other modes.
This clause corresponds to the gentium non factum [begotten not made] of the second article. It is meant in the first instance as a negation: the Holy Spirit is not a creature. No creature can be said to have proceeded from God, i.e., to be an emanation of the divine essence. The creation of the world and man is not a procession or emanation from God. It is the establishing of a reality distinct from God with an essence of its own and not the divine essence. What proceeds from God can only be God once again. And since the essence of God cannot be divisible, what proceeds from God—and this is how the dogma describes the Holy Ghost—cannot go out from Him; it cannot, then, be an emanation in the common sense of the term but only a mode of being of the one essence of God which intrinsically remains and is the same (473-474).
Barth then makes an extended argument for why he thinks the Filioque statement in the Creed is an appropriate addition to the Creed. Geoffrey Bromiley, in his Introduction, is quite helpful in summarizing this extended section:
Barth thinks, since it has an economic basis in the twofold sending of the Spirit, it recognizes the communion of the Father and the Son, it relates the Holy Spirit to revelation and reconciliation as well as creation, and it sees in the Holy Spirit the love of the Son as well as the Father. In reply to the argument that logically there should then be a procession of the Son from the Spirit, particularly in view of the fact that the Son was conceived by the Holy Spirit at the incarnation, Barth has a double answer. Regarding the incarnation, he contends that the reference here is not to the origin of the Son but to the assuming of humanity into his mode of being, and that in any case the Spirit is not to be viewed as replacing the earthly father. Regarding the logic of a double procession of the Son, he does not think that perichoresis demands this (20).
Barth summarizes the western Dogma (with the Filioque statement) in this way - which is beautiful and profound:
As God is in Himself Father from all eternity, He begets Himself as the Son from all eternity. As He is the Son from all eternity, He is begotten of Himself as the Father from all eternity. In this eternal begetting of Himself and being begotten of Himself, He posits Himself a third time as the Holy Spirit, i.e., as the love which unites Him in Himself. As He is the Father who begets the Son He brings forth the Spirit of love, for as He begets the Son, God already negates in Himself, from eternity, in His absolute simplicity, all loneliness, self-containment, or self-isolation. Also and precisely in Himself, from eternity, in His absolute simplicity, God is orientated to the Other, does not will to be without the Other, will have Himself only as He has Himself with the Other and indeed in the Other. He is the Father of the Son in such a way that with the Son He brings forth the Spirit, love, and is in Himself the Spirit, love. It is not, course, to satisfy a law of love, nor because love is a reality even God must obey, that He must be the Father of the Son. The Son is the first in God and the Spirit is the second in God, that is, as God is the Father of the Son, and, as Father, begets the Son, He also brings forth the Spirit and therefore the negation of isolation, the law and the reality of love. Love is God, the supreme law and ultimate reality, because God is love and not vice versa. And God is love, love proceeds from Him as His love, as the Spirit He Himself is, because He posits Himself as the Father and therefore posits Himself as the Son. In the Son of His love, i.e., in the Son in and with whom He brings forth Himself as love, He then brings forth in the opus ad extra [work outside of God] too, in creation, the creaturely reality which is distinct from Himself, and in revelation the reconciliation and peace of the creature that has fallen away from Him. The love which meets us in reconciliation, and then retrospectively in creation, is real love, supreme law and ultimate reality, because God is antecedently love in  Himself: not just a supreme principle of the relation of separateness and fellowship, but love which even in fellowship wills and affirms and seeks and finds the other or Other in its distinction, and then in separateness wills and affirms and seeks and finds fellowship with it. Because God is antecedently love in Himself, love is and holds good as the reality of God in the work of reconciliation and in the work of creation. But He is love antecedently in Himself as He posits Himself as the Father of the Son. This is the explanation and proof of the qui procedit ex Patre [who proceeds from the Father] (483-484).
4. We believe in the Holy Ghost “who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.” In this final part of the subsection, and CD I,1 - Barth emphasizes in this final creedal clause three things: the deity of the Spirit, the personhood of the Spirit, and the Spirit's identity as gift and Giver:
This final clause of the creed to call for consideration here again defines the deity of the Holy Spirit. To some extent it links up with the first one. This said that as the Father and as the Son is the one Lord, so, too, is the Spirit. Now we read that as the one Lord is to be worshipped and glorified as Father and as Son, so He is also as Spirit. Note that the Latin text, by adding simul [together with], rules out the tritheistic appearance which would not have been avoided by a mere cum [with] and is perhaps not altogether avoided by the Greek compounds. “With” here does not mean “alongside”—the divine modes of being are not alongside one another—but “together with” or “in and with,” yet again not in such a way that the Spirit is a mere attribute or relation of the Father and the Son, but in such a way that one might equally well say of the Father or the Son or both that they are to be worshipped and glorified together with the Holy Ghost. The meaning, then, is “like” the Father and the Son (487).
The Holy Spirit, in distinction from all created spirits, is the Spirit who is and remains and always becomes anew transcendent over man even when immanent in him. Worship and glorification mean approach to Him on the presupposition and in observance of distance from Him, not just any distance, not the cold mathematical distance of the finite from the infinite, but the distance of man as creature from God as Creator, of man as sinner from God as Judge, of man as pardoned from God as the One who is freely and causelessly merciful. Hence proskynesis [worship], glory to God in the highest! Nowhere is there more obvious danger of confusing the subject and object of faith or love than in relation to this third mode of God’s being in revelation. But all such confusion is  ruled out by the clause: “Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.” This gift, the donum Spiritus sancta [gift of the Holy Spirit], refuses to be abstracted from its Giver. But the Giver is God. We can have the gift only when and as we have God (488-489).