Can the Electing God be God without us? Some Implications of Bruce McCormack's Understanding of Barth's Doctrine of Election for the Doctrine of the Trinity

Paul D Molnar Ph.D. 1 , 1
  • 1 St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, New York 11439, USA.


This article is the attempt at a dialogue with Bruce McCormack about the position he espoused in The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth concerning the relation between God's Election of grace and God's Triunity. I had criticized McCormack's position in my book, Divine Freedom and the Doctrine of the Immanent Trinity (2002), but I did not elaborate on it in great detail. To develop the dialogue I will: 1) consider McCormack's claim that in CD II/2 Barth made Jesus Christ “rather than” the Eternal Logos the subject of election; 2) consider what Barth means when he speaks of Jesus Christ “in the beginning”; 3) compare McCormack's thesis that the Father never had regard for the Son, apart from the humanity to be assumed, with Barth's belief that we must not dispute the eternal will of God which “precedes even predestination”; 4) analyze in detail McCormack's rejection of Barth's belief that the logos asarkos in distinction from the logos incarnandus is a necessary concept in trinitarian theology; 5) discuss Barth's concept of the divine will in relation to the concept advanced by McCormack and suggest that McCormack has fallen into the error of Hermann Schell by thinking that God in some sense takes his origin from himself, so that God would only be triune if he elected us; 6) explain why it is a problem to hold, as McCormack does, that God's self-determination to be triune and his election of us should be considered one and the same act; and finally 7) explain McCormack's confusion of time and eternity in his latest article on the subject in the February, 2007 issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology, and his own espousal of a kind of indeterminacy on God's part (which he theoretically rejects).

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