Here’s the abstract for my forthcoming essay in the International Journal of Systematic Theology, which is now available as an online early view and will appear in the print version of the journal later this year. This piece began its life as a conference paper at the Trinity and Christology seminar at the Society for the Study of Theology last April (though it’s doubled in length since then), and will feed into a couple of different chapters in my doctoral thesis.
The aim of the essay is to identify the basic point of disagreement between the Reformed tradition and Lutheranism over the extra Calvinisticum, then to trace Barth’s development on the question and identify his eventual solution to the problem.
The Twofold Life of the Word:
Karl Barth’s Critical Reception of the Extra Calvinisticum
Though the extra Calvinisticum has played an historically important role for Christology, the doctrine has been criticized not only by Lutherans and modern Christologies ‘from below’ but by some Reformed thinkers, as well. This paper examines the place of the extra in dogmatic thinking about the incarnation, viz. Karl Barth’s critical response to his own tradition. After examining the differences between Lutheran and Reformed construals of the relationship of the Logos asarkos to the Logos ensarkos I take up Barth’s views on the extra, which over the course of his career moved from enthusiastic affirmation to a sharp critique. Finally, I suggest that Barth’s mature Christology retains the best of both Protestant positions by correcting a critical inconsistency in Reformed thought. He does not reject the doctrine of the Logos asarkos, but he does suggest a way in which this is related to the life of the Logos ensarkos that marginalizes the former. Barth is right not to reject the extra, but also that it has been misused in how it is deployed in dogmatic theology.