Barth, Books, Brokenhearted Theology, Church, Meaning, Ministry, Quotes, Ramblings, Reading Reflections

Barth is Smart (Week 2)

Another weeks worth of reading through Barth’s Church Dogmatics.  And another week without enough time to fully process and engage in the argument, so this will again be a few “sound bytes” without much reflection.  Hoping to change that as I continue moving through Barth.

This week’s sections (according to Daniel Kirk’s group reading schedule) was “The task of Prolegomena to Dogmatics.”  Here, Barth addresses epistemological foundations to theology and (if I understand him correctly), how much the theologian should be concerned with what has (in the modern/tradition Christian world) been called apologetics.

Here are a couple of my takeaways from Barth’s argument:

  • Barth says that this task of pre/unbelief apologetics was not a huge concern for many early theologians – “The great great representatives of early and mediaeval dogmatics were sometimes content with the briefest reflections on the way of knowledge taken by them” (25).
  • Barth writes about the nature of faith and belief in the task of theology: “In such apologetics, faith must clearly take unbelief seriously. Hence it cannot take itself with full seriousness. . . . What unbelief expects of faith is quite simply that it should be an event. . . . But faith is certainly not an even in conscious wrestling with unbelief” (31).
  • I need to read this statement a few more times, but I was intrigued by Barth’s discussion of faith and heresy:

“In this conversation the Church must wrestle with heresy in such a way that it may itself be the Church. And heresy must attack the  Church because it is not sufficiently or truly the Church. . . . Only when the Church and heresy no longer confront one another, or have no more to say to one another, is the distant but indisputable bow of peace which overarches them broken or robbed of its significance.

In true encounter with heresy faith is plunged into conflict with itself, because, so long and so far as it is not free of heresy, so long and so far as heresy affects it, so long and so far as it must accept responsibility in relation to it, it cannot allow even the voice of unbelief which it thinks it hears in heresy to cause it to treat it as not at least also faith but simply as unbelief” (33).


3 thoughts on “Barth is Smart (Week 2)

  1. Greg, my understanding is that people fear that Barth’s view of the Scriptures is not sufficient because he does not hold to or argue for the traditional fundamentalist/evangelical notion of inerrancy. Rather than arguing that the Bible is the Word of God, Barth says that Christ is the Word of God that speaks through the Scriptures.


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