Friday, April 18, 2008

The non-Barthian Barth

There is – amid the complete dissimilarity of divine and non-divine - a similarity between the eternal Word of God and the world created by this Word, but also and still more a similarity between the eternal, natural, only-begotten Son and those who are through Him God's adopted sons, who by grace are His children. In this similarity between Him and us we recognise the possibility of the revelation of God.

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, 34.

It seems here as though Barth concedes the main point of contention between himself and Emil Brunner in their debate over natural theology. Of course, Barth has just spent the last twenty or so pages arguing that it is only possible to "see" this possibility based on the prior reality of God's gracious initiative.

9 comments:

Anthony Douglas said...

I assume that's a typo there ("world"), or Barth has bigger problems than Brunner to fix ;-)

But I have to confess, I don't see your point. Isn't he laying the groundwork for the possibility of special revelation being effective? Maybe I need more context...

byron smith said...

Typo fixed - thanks.

Isn't he laying the groundwork for the possibility of special revelation being effective?
Yes, but this (as I understand it) was just what was at stake in the debate with Brunner (or at least how this debate was taught to me - I need to read the primary texts), namely, whether there was in humanity any groundwork for the reception of God's revelation. I had thought that Barth had said his Nein! to Brunner's claim that this was so.

Anthony Douglas said...

I see your point now - but I'd read Barth as saying that it's in divinity, namely Christ, that you find the groundwork. Akin to Calvin's idea of God lisping, tho to thpeak.

(sorry, couldn't help myself)

byron smith said...

The similarity between Word and world is usually called the analogia entis (the analogy of being), and elsewhere Barth denies it (I don't have specific references to hand).

Anthony Douglas said...

I'll keep splitting hairs...isn't the analogia entis a similarity between the world and God? I wonder if that's how Barth maintains the apparent distinction here?

My problem is I've hardly read anything of the originals, and my wife can't come at $500 for a digital copy of CD that I'll likely also not get around to reading, in company with half my library. Sigh. I knew I should've done that speed reading course in high school. Then I'd have been able to whip through this sort of stuff...

byron smith said...

Yes, when I first wrote that last post, I wrote "God and world", but then changed it to fit the quote, though as I did so, I thought: "Yes, this is significant".

Emergent Pilgrim said...

Byron, how did you come across Barth and begin reading CD?

byron smith said...

I came across Barth years ago during university, probably first in quotes at student theological conferences (esp. listening to (now bishop) Robert Forsyth at SUEU Annual Conferences) while I was studying arts. The first Barth book I read was one his last, Evangelical Theology, which I read on a friend's recommendation when I was planning to begin theological college. During my first year of college, I read most of CD IV/1 in a reading group initiated by one of the teachers at Annual Conference who wanted to think about redemption for his talks that year. I've read a few small pieces of other volumes and for the last year or so have been in another occasional reading group with some good friends from my year at college who are also ministering nearby. We started at I/1 and are now slightly into I/2.

Lara said...

Thanks for all your comments on my blog, Byron!

I need to read some Barth. He is, after all, relevant to my thesis...