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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Karl Barth on Arminianism: Quotable Quote

"Seen from the perspective of the Reformation, the emergence of modern Christianity was possible only as the enemy that had to be opposed and battled against. We may have our reasons to want to be modern Christians in spite of all that, but we must be clear about the fact that, seen from the Reformation's view, we are positioning ourselves precisely against Luther with Karlstadt, and against Calvin with a Socinus, a Blandrata, a Castellio, Bolsec, a Servetus, or against the fathers of Dort with the Remonstrants. In the portrayals of this last Pyrrhic victory of Reformation Christianity over the enemy from the left, we sense even in a man like Seeberg the unmistakable sympathy of the modern man for those figures who are closer to us both intellectually and personally, people like Coornhert, Wtenbogaert, Arminius, Hugo Grotius, and Episcopius. These truly noble and highly respectable men would have graced appropriately any modern Protestant (even positivist!) pulpit or professorial chair! Who would be so presumptuous today as to expel such spirits with the preremptory, 'You are dismissed! Go! Go! ' ('Dimittimi, ite, ite!') with which Bogerman at the memorable 57th meeting of the synod ejected Episcopius and his fifteen comrades from the assembly--where they had only appeared as defendants--and thus out of the church. But we must admit that the fathers of Dort were doubtless right when they described the doctrine of these men as thoroughly Semi-Pelagian, and thus a revival of Catholic Christianity. But who then are we, and where do we stand in relation to the Reformation if we should find these men to be most sympathetic to our position now? If Troeltsch had expanded his well-known thesis that these figures and the related anti-Reformation circles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the actual predecessors and ancestors of our Christianity, with a further thesis to the effect that with them we must make our commitment to Semi-Pelagianism and thus to solidarity with the anti-Reformational Middle Ages, then his theology would truly have been a word of redemption. The request, 'Tell me thy company,' would need once more to be put very bluntly to modern Protestantism in order to get it either to return to the Catholic Church, to which only because of a small misunderstanding it does not belong today, or to consider how it might again be or become Reformation Christianity. I need scarcely to say that this does not imply the reintroduction of the Canons of Dort."

[Quoted from The Theology of the Reformed Confessions. 1923. Lectures by Karl Barth. Columbia Series in Reformed Theology. Translated and annotated by Darrell L. Guder and Judith J. Guder. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002). Pages 208-209.]

Obviously, men like Gerald Bray, J. I. Packer, Timothy George, Albert Mohler, and numerous others who claim to be Reformed, are way out of line in calling for some sort of unity with Roman Catholics. Unless and until Rome moves in a more Reformed direction we have no basis for unity whatsoever. I find it amazing that even Karl Barth drew the lines in a dialectical either/or!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) must be ranked as one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Barth's dialectical theology permitted him to use old words and phrases - Biblical words and phrases - while giving them new, and quite un-Biblical, meanings.

"God," he once wrote, "may speak to us through Russian Communism, through a flute concerto, through a blossoming shrub, or through a dead dog: We shall do well to listen to him if he really does so."

The late Dr. Gordon H. Clark showed that rather than getting our theology from dead dogs - Neo-orthodox or otherwise - we must listen to the voice of God speaking in Scripture alone.

See wwwDOTtrinitylecturesDOTorg/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=96

Hugh

Charlie J. Ray said...

I don't get my theology from dead dogs. I consider Barth a heretic. In fact, if you read the quote, Barth sides AGAINST the Reformed view and FOR the modern view. But the point of the quote is that EVEN Barth saw that it is an either/or, not some stupid via media between Rome and Geneva and other such nonsense.

I'm not afraid to engage modern liberalism or read what they say. I do so, however, from within my own neo-fundamentalist, reformed, protestant and confessional position.

What I found interesting about this book is that I was wrong about Barth. I thought Barth did not understand Reformed theology or the Protestant Reformation. In fact, in this book, Barth over and over demonstrates that he DOES understand the Gospel and the Reformed theology of the 16th century. Unfortunately, Barth over and over again sides with semi-pelagianism and modernism. So much for so-called "neo-orthodoxy."

Charlie J. Ray said...

For a critique of Barth's theology from a Clarkian perspective see Karl Barth, by John W. Robbins.

Charlie J. Ray said...

By his own admission, Barth should have become a Roman Catholic if we follow his logic in this quote. Of course, Barth was not going to do that. He was not going to submit to Scripture, a confession, or to God.

Kepha said...

Charlie, this was a good post. It clarifies a lot of issues. I also see Barth as a major heretic--although I would also say that if the Reformed were wrong, we do indeed have to go back to either the Vatican or the Faner with many an apology.

I think that one key to the debate, though, is that men like Episcopius, Grotius, and Uytenbogaert were indeed cultured, highly civilized men who cut a fine figure against the sons of peasants and petty merchants who sided with Gomarus. People are impressed by the outside all the time.

Another key is the idea that somehow the moral law is above God. Grotius held that there is a law of right "which even God himself cannot change"--and this, perhaps, contains the seeds of the anti-Christian enlightenment, in which God became at best the senior citizen of the cosmos. Against this, James Dalrymple of Stair held that the supremacy of law derives ultimately from the moral character of God (Early on in _Institutions of the Laws of Scotland_).

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for your remarks, Kepha. I should have said that Barth openly rejected the Reformation and sided with the Romans. Implicit in this remark is the idea that Arminianism has more in common with Rome than with Geneva or Wittenberg!

God bless,

Charlie

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