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