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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

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Comment on Barthian Theology at Chaos and Old Night

Have you read Carl F.H. Henry's God, Revelation and Authority? Henry gives the best critique of neo-orthodoxy and Barth I've ever read. Essentially, Henry's position is that the Bible IS God's Word. Thus, there are propositional truths throughout the Bible that can be understood through reason. In that case, even the unbeliever can understand the Bible even though he or she may disagree with what it says or proposes.

The trouble with Barth is that he has bought into Kantian philosophy and rejects the idea that revelation can exist in any objective form here and now. Thus, the only way to understand anything from God is by an existential encounter or mystical experience. The problem I have with this approach is that it winds up conceding back to liberal theology that truth is relative and therefore beyond our reach except on a personal level.

I will admit that I haven't read much of Barth's theology firsthand but I will do so. I have, however, read all six volumes of Carl Henry's theology. I have read some of Barth firsthand but there is so much material wouldn't wouldn't know where to begin. However, my philosophy is that we should know our OWN theology so well that when we encounter something false we will know it immediately. If I spent all my time reading Mormon theology and not Evangelical theology, pretty soon I would find myself becoming a Mormon. I think that is what happened with Jarislav Pelikan, a former Lutheran, who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. Those who do not know their own tradition well before dialog and interaction with other traditions open themselves to conversion. Faith seeks understanding and not the other way around.

I don't mind reading liberal theology but I need edification, too. Thus, I spend a lot of time reading Evangelical theology and classical Calvinist theolisn't. That isn't to say that I haven't studied modern theology. I heard Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jurgen Moltmann, and Peter Stuhlmacher lecture when I was in seminary. Probably others as well, but those three come to mind just offhand.

I guess we shouldn't be so enamored with world famous liberal theologians that we neglect to do our own theology and offer critical responses to modern theology. Again, in my opinion, Carl F. H. Henry has done the best job I have seen to this point. Most other so-called "Evangelicals" are selling out to liberalism in droves. I might mention Gregory Boyd and Clark Pinnock as two examples of this.

The term "Evangelical" is getting so vague lately as to become practically meaningless. Under the influence of increasingly "neo-orthodox" influences in Evangelical seminaries and the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, evangelicalism seems to be selling out to experience and existentialism rather than keeping a firm hold on dogmatic theology and doctrinal concerns that Scripture itself raises.

I personally disagree with Kantian philosophy and with existentialism, which is also why I reject Barthian theology. Donald Bloesch's critique of Carl Henry in his systematic theology reveals the dangers of rejecting the Scriptures as an objective revelation from God. What we are left with is shifting sand and a lot of gray area. Bloesch is a Barthian theologian and part of the Evangelical side of the charismatic movement. He claims to be a "Reformed" theologian but I have my doubts about that.

Just my thoughts on the discussion at hand. I still think even with the nuances you mentioned, that Barth's rejection of propositional truth and of the objective nature of God's revelation to man in the Scriptures is way off base.

Sincerely,

Charlie Ray

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