Today’s reading included a short, small-print laden, section on the Unity of the Word of God, where Barth basically just talks about how it is important to understand the word of God as revealed, written, and proclaimed as unified with one another, challenging any doctrine or practice that elevates one at the expense of the other. He writes: “Protestant orthodoxy, which at the peak of its development had no liking for talk about the distinction between the forms of the Word of God and the fluidity of their mutual relations, emphasized the more zealously something which is equally true and instructive in itself, namely, their unity” (123).
Then, we come to § 5.1 and the beginning of § 5.2., where Barth addresses the Question of the Nature of the Word of God and the Word of God as the Speech of God, respectively. 5.1. is basically one looong section of small-print, where Barth is explaining how the remaining parts of the section differ from its version in an earlier edition. Barth is responding to the critiques of one of his reviewers, F. Gogarten, and takes his critique very seriously, albeit in a very different way then Gogarten intended. He reads Gogarten’s critique of the the first editions lack of “a true anthropology” as a sort of compliment, and goes on to critique what he sees as Gogarten’s natural theology. “Thus to understand God from man is either an impossibility or something one can do only in the form of Christology, and not an anthropology,” Barth writes. “On the basis of all these considerations,” he concludes, “I must not only decline Gogarten’s invitation to improve my dogmatics by introducing a true anthropology. I must also eliminate all that might seem to be a concession in that direction in my draft of five years ago” (131).
In the beginning of § 5.2, Barth goes on explain that, “God’s Word means that God speaks” (132).
- The long section of small print where Barth responds to Gogarten’s critique is really interesting, and Barth hits on a lot of stuff here. Namely, he comes back to the critique of humanism, and lambastes Gogarten’s humanism and what he sees as his natural theology. He critiques this on a number of grounds, many of which have already came up in earlier passages. What struck me as particularly interesting was both his connecting of the modern theological problem with Catholic natural theology. I’ve mentioned it before, but it still intrigues me, and it is still new to me to think of the two as connected to one another. Moreover, I was fascinated in how he named this theology that refuses humanism as perhaps more relevant and helpful today. Also, finally, somewhat tangentially, I am fascinated by what seems to be significant differences in Barth’s first and second editions of things (that seems to be the case here and it certainly was in Der Römerbrief). When I someday learn German, I want to go back and actually see his earlier stuff…
- In talking about the Word of God as the speech of God, Barth focuses on the spiritual nature of the Word of God “as distinct from naturalness, corporeality, or any physical event” (133). I don’t really like the way Barth dichotomizes the spiritual and the natural. He does say “there is nothing spiritual that is not also natural and physical,” (134), but then immediately goes on to talk about the spiritual realm over and against the natural realm. While I think I get that he is making these claims to avoid any turn towards natural theology, I worry about the tendency to scorn corporeality, and how that has been so historically detrimental to women…
- Well, in addition to my still unanswered question to Halden…. ;)….
- I’m not quite sure I understand how Barth delineates the Word of God Revealed from the Word of God Written and the Word of God Proclaimed… Isn’t the Revealed Word of God, Christ, revealed through the written and proclaimed word? It just strikes me as odd that the word of God revealed is its own category that exists alongside the other two categories…
- What does the symbol § mean? I assumed it just meant section? I tried to google it, but apparently you can’t google symbols?!
- “If there is one thing the Word of God certainly is not, it is not a predicate of man, even of the man who receives it, and therefore not of the man who speaks, hears, and knows it in the sphere of the Church” (127).
- “Might it not be to-day that a theology which refuses even in method to make common cause with the aforesaid “humanizing of life” be more relevant… than one which admits at the very outset that it can speak only a second word, a word on the situation (the situation outside the Church)?” (128).
- “This direct discernment of the original revelation of God to man, the discernment of the creation of man which is also the revelation of God, has, however, been taken from us by the fall… and it is restored to us only in the Gospel…” (130).