Original Research

God as one, with reference to Barth and the perichoresis doctrine

Willem H. Oliver, Erna Oliver
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2711 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2711 | © 2023 Willem H. Oliver, Erna Oliver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2022 | Published: 23 February 2023

About the author(s)

Willem H. Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History, and Missiology, School of Humanities, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa
Erna Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History, and Missiology, School of Humanities, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This article cursorily discussed the views of Karl Barth and the perichoresis doctrine on the Holy Trinity. The aim of the article was to discuss how both Barth and perichoresis almost touch the fact that God is one, although they do not admit it. They rather maintain the classic conviction (‘default idea’) that God consists of three hypostases (Persons) in one ousia (Being). Barth’s view is that God has different Seinsweisen, indicating that God reveals himself to humankind as Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Perichoresis refers to God as a flow or a mixture of three Persons, wherein the flow or the mix is so close that it almost constitutes one Person. The authors of this article took the arguments of Barth and perichoresis one step further and argued that God is one.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: By studying Barth’s views and the perichoresis doctrine, this article challenged the dogma of the church regarding the Holy Trinity. The classic or Reformed (‘default’) view is that there are three Persons and one Being, while we proposed only one God with at least three Seinsweisen. Practical theology, church history, Old Testament and New Testament disciplines were utilised.


Keywords

Karl Barth; Perichoresis; Holy Trinity; God the Father; God the Son; Jesus; Holy Spirit; Modalism.

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