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

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