This study contains an investigation of the conditions of plausibility for the doctrine of God within the frame of reference of the modern era. This is done by means of a hermeneutic-dogmatic analysis and evaluation of the teology of Walter Kasper. The hypothesis is that Kasper does not succeed to accomodate legitimate material-dogmatic observations in his proposed structure for a doctrine on the trinity. The modern era is characterised by the demise of classical Western metaphysics and the emergence of an ontology of relation, accentuating the historicity of reality. This became clear in the turn towards subjectivity and radical autonomy, and resulted as ultimate consequence in an atheistic way of life and mode of thought. The static nature of the classical substance-orientated ontology, influenced the conceptual modelling of classical Western theology profoundly negative. With regard to the doctrine of God, thinking in terms of salvation history and within the context of ecclesiastic practice, liturgy and doxology, receded to the background, making room for highly abstract philosophical speculation. This resulted in the separation of the immanent and economic trinity and led to two separate tracts, de Deo uno and de Deo trino. This state of affairs has the implication that two modes of thought are operative, namely a more speculative, natural-theological and a salvation historical orientated mode of thought. Kasper maintains that this two modes of thought should be upheld on the condition that the analogy, as the method of natural theology, is broadened by the perspective of the historicity and event character of reality. Analogia entis (mode of thought) must be understood as analogia libertatis (mode of being). This “additional” perspective enables the formal integration of the mentioned tracts, de Deo uno and de Deo trino. In a material sense, this means turning the back on the traditional essentialistic concept of the trinity in favour of a personal, salvation-historical approach by developing de Deo uno as doctrine concerning God the Father. Taking the fundamental anthropological structure of unthematic directedness towards absolute freedom as piont of departure, Kasper arrives at a “description” of God’s essence as Absolute Person, as Absolute Freedom to love. In accordance with his emphasis on history, Kasper propagates the equal importance of assensus- and desensus-christology. He proposes a refounding of the New Testament Son of God-christology by means of an indirect christology, that implies a trinitarian context. The implicit relationality suggested in Kasper’s description of God’s essence - Absolute Freedom to love - is made explicit in the relation of unity between Father and Son, a relation that implies the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in an indirect way. According to Kasper, God the Father must be understood as source and ground of this divine unity. Kasper hereby distances himself from the traditional essentialistic concept of the trinity in favour of the Orthodox point of view, although he upholds the filioque and understands the intertrinitarian processiones in terms of the Western “theologic”. Kasper maintains that these proposal is a concrete explication of Thomas by means of the insights of Richard of St Victor, encompassing the synthesis of the essentialistic and personal trinitarian traditions on a higher niveau. This claim of Kasper must be contradicted. In the first instance, due to the fact that the trinitarian relations are merely viewed in terms of origin, his concept of trinitarian unity is one-dimensional. It is a patrocentristic orientated unity of origin. An underdeveloped pneumatology is, secondly, the direct result of the above mentioned patrocentricity. Although Kasper highlights the communio nature of trinitarian unity and the personality of the Holy Spirit, these accents are not accounted for in the structure of his proposal. Thirdly, assensus- and desensus-christology does not receive equal attention. Assensus-christology is neglected. Our proposal in this regard is a trinitarian pneumatology, explicated from the departure point of the immanent trinitarian concretion of persons and the economic trinitarian creation of personhood. In this way, the intertrinitarian unity as well as the unity of immanent and economic trinity, becomes explicable as the same unity but in different configurations. At the same time, the personality of the Holy Spirit is not only mentioned, but accounted for.
Thesis (DD(Dogmatics and Christian Ethics))--University of Pretoria, 2005.