Archive for Omnipotence

Barth on the constancy and omnipotence of God II

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 23, 2009 by stephengardner


In the last post, I was reflecting on how Barth portrays God’s ‘unchangeableness’. He is the One who exists totally without deviation, and this is in no way being in conflict with his ‘movement’, with his life and freedom. This shows that while God can be unchanging he cannot be immobile. Look at the way Barth puts it:

If it is true, as Polanus says, that God is not moved either by anything else or by Himself, but that, confined as it were by His simplicity, infinity and absolute perfection, He is the pure immobile, it is quite impossible that there should be any relationship between Himself and a reality distinct from Himself.

But Barth goes on to say that there is one pure immobile;

For we must not make any mistake: the pure immobile is—death. If, then, the pure immobile is God, death is God. That is, death is posited as absolute and explained as the first and last and only real. And if death is God, then God is dead.
CD II.1 493-494

If God is immobile  there can be no life, all new things come from him and exist in dependence of him. Can you see Barth’s logic? If God is not mobile, creating and sustaining out of his eternal self-constancy, his life, then the only possible solution is death. And God would be dead.

Barth on the constancy and omnipotence of God

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 23, 2009 by stephengardner


Is God’s life and freedom in conflict with his unchangeablness? How does the immutable One bring about genuinely new things?
Some of us at MTC recently undertook an essay (the chief cause of my lack of blogging) dealing with this tension.  I found Barth’s II.1 to be immensely helpful. Look at how he describes the constancy of God:

There neither is nor can be, nor is to be expected or even thought possible in Him, the One omnipresent being, any deviation, diminution or addition, nor any degeneration or rejuvenation, any alteration or non-identity or discontinuity. The one, omnipresent God remains the One He is. This is His constancy.

And this, says Barth, is not in conflict with God’s freedom, life or love.

But as the living God, He is not Himself subject to or capable of any alteration, and does not cease to be Himself. His life is not only the origin of all created change, but it is in itself the fullness of difference, movement, will, decision, action, degeneration and rejuvenation. But He lives it in eternal self-repetition and self-affirmation. As His inner life and His life in all that is, it will never sever itself from Him, turn against Him, or possess a form or operation alien to Him. In all its forms and operations it will be His life.

It is precisely because of God’s eternal self-constancy, self-repetition and self-affirmation that his life brings about newness and change;

His life with its very alteration and movement can, and does gloriously, consist only in His not ceasing to be Himself, to posit and will and perfect Himself in His being Himself. He does not do this of necessity but in freedom and love, or, one may say, with the necessity in virtue of which He cannot cease to be Himself, the One who loves in freedom.
CD II.1 491-492