Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

October 30, 2006

A quick stab at Karl Barth: Barth really disliked …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 3:39 am

A quick stab at Karl Barth:
Barth really disliked the liberalism that elevated pietistic personal internal experience of the divine [so called] over other means of revelation. Barth attempted to stomp it out by positing the idea that God is so transcendent, so wholly other, that any revelation in a general sense is unattainable. The pietistic view holds to a hyper-immanent view of God. It had gained such a deep foothold in the church that this immanence trumped any doctrinal, systematic formulation of revelation rendering it worthless in comparison to the value and existential meaning of the revelation gained by this personal experience (contentless and incommunicable though it may be). Barth’s hyper-transcendence was a reaction to this.

At the root of this view is the idea that God is so qualitatively different from his creatures that any overlap, any revelation, imparted to us, for example by analogy, is out of the question. He maintained that the only true revelation, the only true point of intersection between God and man, was in the person of Jesus Christ.

The nick-name for this view, besides being called neo-orthodoxy, was dialectic theology. The reason for this name comes from how Barth solves the problem of this radical creator-creature antithesis. He solves the problem by declaring that revelation comes in a moment of revelation. This is the moment in time when God is immediately and directly revealing himself in a univocal way. It is not that a moment of hyper-immanence occurs. The pietists claimed to experience this hyper-immanence on a permanent and ongoing basis, but significantly, it was a kind of immanence that was spatial. A kind of immanence that had to do with locating God within at a specific point in space, i.e. within me. With Barth it was a kind of immanence that has to do with univocity with respect to knowledge. God revealing himself not merely by locating himself within a person, but by allowing the creature to attain an understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.

In his view the Bible only contained revealed truth in moments of divine inspiration that the reader might get when encountering Jesus Christ in the text. Hence the idea of letting the Bible fall open and reading the first text to hit your eye. This is probably a caricature of Barth but one can see how the idea could be attributed to him. [I personally believe this idea of closing your eyes and pointing to a verse is more attributable to the idea that the Bible is a magic book of lucky charms than anything else].

Hence the term dialectic. A swing from hyper-transcendence to hyper-immanence.Wholly other, wholly hidden to wholly revealed.

Two more to go.


1 Comment »

  1. Was Barth good or bad?

    I have always been confused by him. RC Sproul says he likes him, but would never let him teach in his church.

    Comment by Mike S. — November 5, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

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