‘the one mystery of Christian faith’

Dove of the Holy Spirit - from Wikipedia

Reading lots of stuff for my studentship. Here’s something I found useful in my attempts at informal mental systematizing – dunno if it’s true, maybe it’s too simplistic. The passage is discussing Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner’s views, with reference to Karl Barth. Whatever it’s actually saying here (and while many of his other ideas were no doubt wrong), I like the idea that there is one key mystery in Christian faith, that is, the way in which God has revealed Himself – and that this revelation/communication has different aspects; Trinity, incarnation, and grace to those who do not deserve it (‘grace’ is always undeserved).

“For Rahner then faith in the Trinity is not primarily a speculative question but a matter of thinking through revelation to the end. Without faith in the triune God Christian revelation and the role of Jesus Christ is essentially distorted. Christianity becomes a bare monotheism and the mediatory role of Jesus is neglected. The doctrine of the Trinity is of the utmost practical significance, for what is at stake is nothing less than the fidelity of God and the radicality of God’s self-gift. If we can take these seriously, as Christian faith insists, then it must be true that the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, that there is no other God than the God who has revealed not something about himself but his own being. This hermeneutical principle which Rahner (like Barth) draws from the nature of revelation itself enables him to show the inextricable links between Trinity, incarnation and grace, the three aspects of the one mystery of Christian faith, namely the self-communication of God.” [emphasis added]

J. J. O’Donnell (1982) The Doctrine of the Trinity in recent German theology. The Heythrop Journal

Oh, another insight from that article, which I quite strangely haven’t thought on before, or consciously articulated anyway:

Like von Balthasar, Jungel is strongly under the influence of Barth and his theology is also radically centred on the cross as the event which provides the key to understand God and which enables one to confess that God is love.” [emphasis added]

God is love and we can know this by the event of the death of Jesus on the cross. In the context of the letter of 1 John, which says that “God is love”, this is made quite clear. Chapter 4 of that letter ties together the incarnation, the idea that we can be born again, the love of God, the crucifixion of Jesus, the fact that we are to love others, and our confidence before God.


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