Thursday, 1 September 2011

The difference between the Christian doctrine of creation and every conceivable world-view

Volume 3, paragraph 42, end of section 1, which is entitled Creation as Benefit. Barth states that the doctrine of creation is not a world-view. This is because, according to Barth, in the two cases "the objects as well as the grounds of knowledge are different." Theology is concerned with revelation but world-views are concerned with "such apprehension of the cosmos as is possible to unaided reason,".

He then lists implications of this for the doctrine of creation, including these four: 1. It cannot itself become a world-view. 2. It cannot base itself on any world-view. 3. It cannot guarantee any world-view. 4. It cannot come to terms with these views. 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Genesis 1 days

Our time consists neither in millions of years nor in a single instant but is made up of real days. If we filch from Gen. 1 the relationship of light to a real day, the relationship of light to our time is destroyed, and Gen. 1:3f. ceases to be a proclamation of the meaning of history and becomes a more or less interesting, credible and binding scientific or philosophical theory. If it is more likely that the purpose of the story of creation in Genesis - of the beginning of the history of the covenant and salvation developed in the Old Testament - is to instruct us in the sense of this proclamation rather than of such a theory, it follows that we must take the "days" of which it speaks, and especially the "day" of Gen. 1:3f., in the literal sense of the term. CD vol. III.1, p.126.

Friday, 10 June 2011 two times and worlds

This is part of Barth's exposition of the command to love God and love our neighbour...

"The connexion and the difference between the two commandments are plain when we remember that the children of God, the Church, now live, as it were, in the space between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and in the time of the forbearance of God and their own watching and waiting. In effect they live in two times and worlds. And in both of these their one undivided existence is claimed absolutely by God, subjected to His command and engaged to obedience. There can be no question of any other Lord but God claiming our love, or of any other object but God wanting to be loved. But the love of the children of God corresponds to their twofold existence in two times and worlds. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ have taken place. On this basis they are already members and participants of the new world created by Him, by faith in the manifestation of the Son of God in and with the human nature which He has adopted, in and with the flesh which He has united to His deity and glorified by His power. Represented by Him, peccatores iusti, in His person they are already assembled before the throne of God, citizens of His everlasting kingdom, participators in eternal life. They are in Christ; and it is in the totality of this their hidden being, which is none other than their actual human and creaturely existence here and now, that in the way described they are put under the commandment to love God, to seek after the One who has first sought and found them. But by virtue of the coming but not yet visible lordship of Jesus Christ, in faith in His coming, comforting themselves with the promise of the forgiveness of sins, given in the Word made flesh for all flesh, they always stand in need of the comfort and warning of this promise, because although the former time and world are past they still lie, indeed are, behind them. They have to wait and watch for their Lord as iusti peccatores. They have to serve Him in the relationships, connexions and orderings of a reality which has, of course, been overthrown and superseded by His resurrection, but not yet visibly abolished and replaced by His second coming, in the space between the times, where it doth not yet appear what they shall be. They "walk" in the light in face of darkness, and in this visible pilgrimage in all its hope and peril, which is simply the totality of their actual human and creaturely activity here and now, God had placed them under the commandment to love their neighbour." CD vol. I.2, pp.408,409

Monday, 30 May 2011

"...we cannot venture..."

A leap forward in the current trend of posting on vol I.2. The quote below is relevant to a current debate within American evangelical circles. How much of the current discussion on hell is inspired - consciously or otherwise - by Barth? It is interesting that Barth's re-definition of the doctrine of election must also re-define consequent or subsequent doctrines of the last things. I've heard at least one major theological figure teach that the (Protestant) church should follow Barth's open mind as illustrated below. I do not agree with this, preferring to stick with the line suggested by people like Paul Helm in his blog post here.

Here is the quote from Barth's monumental vol II.2. The 'it' that Barth writes about in the first sentence quoted is "the (in itself) closed circle of the election of Jesus Christ and His community":

"...If we are to respect the freedom of divine grace, we cannot venture the statement that it must and will finally be coincident with the world of man as such (as in the doctrine of the so-called apokatastasis.) No such right or necessity can legitimately be deduced. Just as the gracious God does not need to elect or call any single man, so He does not need to elect or call all mankind. His election and calling do not give rise to any historical metaphysics, but only to the necessity of attesting them on the ground that they have taken place in Jesus Christ and His community. But, again, in grateful recognition of the grace of the divine freedom we cannot venture the opposite statement that there cannot and will not be this final opening up and enlargement of the circle of election and calling. Neither as the election of Jesus Christ, the election of His community, nor the election of the individual do we know the divine election of grace as anything other than a decision of His loving-kindness. We would be developing an opposing historical metaphysics if we were to try to attribute any limits - and therefore an end of these frontier-crossings - to the loving-kindness of God." CD vol II.2, p.417,418

Saturday, 14 May 2011


God Himself and God alone turns man into a recipient of His revelation - but he does so in a definite area, and this area, if we may now combine the Old Testament and the New Testament, is the area of the Church. ... That the world contains such a place created and indicated by God is declared to be true and not untrue by the development of the universal Church from the national community of Israel. This truth cannot be ignored. Put pointedly and to be taken cum grano salis, there exist over against Jesus Christ, not in the first instance believers, and then, composed of them, the Church; but first of all the Church and then, through it and in it, believers. While God is as little bound to the Church as to the Synagogue, the recipients of His revelation are. They are what they are because the Church is what it is, and because they are in the Church, not apart from the Church and not outside the Church. And when we say "Church", we do not mean merely the inward and invisible coherence of those who God in Christ calls His own, but also the outward and visible coherence of those who have heard in time, and have confessed to their hearing, that in Christ they are God's. The reception of revelation occurs within, not without, this twofold coherence. CD vol. I.2, pp.210,211

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Object and theatre of the acts of God

That the Word was made "flesh" means first and generally that He became man, true and real man, participating in the same human essence and existence, the same human nature and form, the same historicity that we have. God's revelation to us takes place in such a way that everything ascribable to man, his creaturely existence as an individually unique unity of body and soul in the time between birth and death, can now be predicated of God's eternal Son as well. According to the witness of the Evangelists and the apostles everything miraculous aout His being as a man derives its meaning and force from the fact that it concerns the true man Jesus Christ as a man like ourselves. This is true especially of the Easter story, the evangelium quadraginta dierum, as the supreme event of revelation. It is true of the sign of His birth of the Virgin at the beginning, and the sign of the empty tomb at the end of His historical existence. It is true of the signs and wonders already manifested between this beginning and end, which proclaim the Kingdom of God in its relation to the event of Easter. What in fact makes revelation revelation and miracle miracle is that the Word of God did actually become a real man and that therefore the life of this real man was the object and theatre of the acts of God, the light of revelation entering the world. CD vol I.2, p.147