Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Karl Barth, reconsidered

The problem with saying that one "doesn't much care for Karl Barth's stuff" is that when one actually sits down to read "Karl Barth's stuff", one encounters gems such as these:

From Church Dogmatics IV:

  • To attest the Gospel in the world, there is serious though not exclusive need in both speaking and hearing of definite information which it is the duty of the community carefully to impart to both the young and the old, the educated and uneducated, within it....it might some day be asked of any Christian to give an answer to those without concerning "the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). 
  • But as preaching should not degenerate into mere instruction, so instruction for confirmation - or should we say baptism? - should not degenerate into preaching.  Nor should the Bible hour, the lecture, or the discussion.  In this sphere there should be a place for questions and answers which are out of keeping in the assembly for worship. 
  • It is the particular task, undoubtedly laid upon the Church in every period, of ministering the Word of God to the countless men who theoretically ought long since to have heard and accepted and responded to it, but who in fact have not really done so at all, or only at a distance and therefore in a way which is meaningless as regards their participation in the cause of the community.  Evangelisation serves to awaken this sleeping Church....Certainly a Church which is not as such an evangelising Church is either yet or no longer the Church, or only a dead Church, itself standing in supreme need of renewal by evangelisation. 
  • We must first maintain that even missions to the heathen, and they particularly, can be pursued meaningfully only on the presupposition of the clear promise and firm belief that everything which was needed for the salvation of all, and therefore of these men who have fallen victim to these false beliefs and false gods, has already taken place, that Jesus Christ died and rose again for these heathen too.  Thus the task of mission can consist only in announcing this to them.   
  • [Regarding the Jews:]...He is first their Christ.  They are the people of God loved by Him in free grace, elected and called to His service, and originally sent into the world as His witnesses.  "Salvation is of the Jews" (Jn 4:22).  And this klesij of theirs (Rom. 11:29) is ametameletoj, irrevocable and unrevoked.  It is we Christians called out of the nations who have been associated with them.  It is we who as wild shoots have been grafted into this cultivated tree (Rom. 11:17ff).  The Gentile Christian community of every age and land is a guest in the house of Israel. 
  • It is not the Swiss or the German or the Indian or the Japanese awakened to faith in Jesus Christ, but the Jew, even the unbelieving Jew, so miraculously preserved, as we must say, through the many calamities of his history, who as such is the natural historical monument to the love and faithfulness of God, who in concrete form is the epitome of the man freely chosen and blessed by God, who as a living commentary on the Old Testament is the only convincing proof of God outside the Bible. 
  • Even the modern ecumenical movement suffers more seriously from the absence of Israel than of Rome or Moscow. 
  • The recurrent Jewish question is the question of Christ and the Church which has not been and cannot be answered by any of its ministries.

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My Comments Policy: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23