Webster: “God’s repleteness ... is not a closed circle”
The identity of God of which Christian dogmatics is the rational articulation is the identity of God the Holy Trinity, freely presented in the works of God’s triune being. God becomes a matter for human thought and speech because he makes himself present to his creatures. God is present to himself in the fullness and inexhaustible sufficiency of his triune being, and in this fullness he has need of no other and owes nothing to any other being. But the fullness which is proper to him includes (though it is not exhausted by) the willing, executing and completing of a repetition of his presence to a reality which is not himself. The circle of God’s repleteness, the whole and integrated fellowship which he is as Father, Son and Spirit, is not a closed circle. In its very completeness, it is a life-giving movement, bestowing, guarding, healing, restoring and perfecting the life of what is not God, as its lordly creator and preserver. Thus: ‘God is who He is in His works’ (Barth, CD II/1, 260). But to say this is not in any way to empty the doctrine of God of reference to everything apart from the economy of the opera dei ad extra, because these opera are the opera dei, the works of God’s utterly sufficient being. Thus: ‘In His works He is revealed as the One He is’ (ibid).—John Webster, Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 114-15.
The formal consequence of this is that, because God the Holy Trinity is the agent of his own presence, he does not become a matter for human consideration because the creature makes God present by a speculative or religious or poetic act. The presence of God is never a function of the self-presence of the creature, but is always pre-eminent, self-moved, commanding, absolutely original. Consequently, the attributes of God are not labels attached to a deity called into the creature’s presence, but are indicators of the name of the one who summons the creature to account for itself and its thinking in his presence.