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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

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Was Karl Barth One of God's Elect?

Dear John,

Since I don't have access to Barth's writings online and since I don't have any of his works in my personal library, due to financial considerations, I am forced to utilize online resources to answer your charges. As further evidence that I am rationally justified in rejecting Barth as a genuine Christian, I would suggest that you read the following online article, written by a "non-Evangelical" scholar, by the way. The author argues convincingly for Barth's "inclusivist, universalist, and pluralistic" views on soteriology. Thus, to say that Barth is a born-again Christian despite his rejection of the binding authority of Holy Scripture is self-contradictory:

"To conclude, it has been the author’s intention to argue that in contrast to the prevailing interpretation of Barth as one of the most significant advocates of exclusivism to argue that there are ample resources within the Barthian schema to construct an inclusivist soteriology. Given the aseity of God and Barth’s rejection of modern foundationalism one is a priori committed to an inscrutable God wholly reliant on the miraculous operation of the Spirit in what may be termed a revelatory epistemology. Thus Hart, (1999: 130) can write of Barth that 'the doctrines of election and the Holy Spirit serve to underwrite something very close to a committed pluralism'. Consequently, while one may be sure of their own convictions as true it is simply not verifiable apart from a divine work. This, in turn, leads to a recognition that knowledge of God may indeed extend further than that of one particular religious grouping. Secondly, Barth’s doctrine of election, means that far from an exclusivism, concludes that all humanity regardless of creed is actually justified before God and it is only the bi-polar aspect of revelation that prevents this descending into a pluralistic universalism. Finally, the emphasis in Barth on Humanity’s gracious participation in divine life through the Trinitarian life of God opens up the possibility that, while not cognitively asserting faith in God through the reconciling work of Christ, one can still respond to special revelation through the Spirit’s omnitemporal operation."

From: http://www.quodlibet.net/gillingham-barth.shtml

I might also point out that Barth's theology is overtly connected to Kantian philosophy because of influences upon him as a student at Marburg:

"Crucial as a backdrop to Barth’s revelatory theology as it developed is the work of Immanuel Kant and especially the neo-Kantians he studied under at Marburg. For Kant the only basis for knowledge is the phenomena consequently God is not a suitable subject for epistemology relegated instead to the arena of faith (Ward, 1997: 115; Fisher, 1988: 7-122). Marrying this concept with the post-lapsarian noetic consequences, resulting in utter alienation from God, Barth was able to conclude that humanity is in an impossible predicament in that God is, humanly speaking, a thoroughly non-cognitive entity, and therefore, noumena. There is consequently no natural knowledge of God (Barth, CD1/2: 257; Hart, 2000: 42).

"The only hope for reconciliation then, is naturally impossible viz. miraculous."

The above is from: Is Barth’s Theology Necessarily Exclusivist? © Richard Gillingham in, Quodlibet Journal: Volume 5 Number 2-3, July 2003 http://www.quodlibet.net/

"While Bolich's effort to secure a fair hearing for Barth among American evangelicals is long overdue, questions must be raised about his approach and emphases. In the first place, it is misleading to claim that Barth's theology moved in an 'ever more orthodox' direction, as though he would have been satisfied to be located somewhere between the options of liberalism and bona fide orthodoxy. A fiercely independent thinker, he resisted accommodation to the unexamined assumptions of evangelicalism (never clearly spelled out here) as much as it resists other theological and political "isms."

From: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1981/v37-4-bookreview7.htm

This second article makes it clear that Barth totally rejected any identification with Evangelicalism and judging by the implications of his theology itself, one is rationally justified in rejecting the possibility of his salvation. It seems to me that Barthian theology, if adopted by Evangelicalism, is a concession back toward a middle ground with theological liberalism and postmodernism. Instead of conceding to Kantian philosophy, as most of modern neo-orthodoxy and postmodern theology does, Evangelicals should be attempting to forge their own responses from a completely different model and philosophical presupposition. It seems to me that there are errors within the Kantian framework and inconsistencies with that worldview that Evangelicals could exploit to their advantage.

One suggested approach is the challenge issued to the materialistic assumptions of modern science by the philosophy of science work of Thomas Kuhn in, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Essentially, even science is not totally objective, thus this harsh dichotomy between the phenomenal and the noumenal is not as hard as previously supposed by theologians and philosophers of every flavor.

Again, if you and your "gang" would stop attacking me indirectly and interact on a more objective level, the disagreements might not have escalated to the point they did. It is rather obvious that Evangelicals have a strongly and mixed review of Barth and it shouldn't surprise you that many of us don't think he was "saved." While that might seem to be irrelevant to you, it is entirely relevant from both the point of orthodoxy and from the point of view of how "critically" we are to read Barth's works. There is no such thing as total objectivity. I prefer to err on the side of faith and orthodoxy.

"'The purpose of Bolich's book is "to show how the person and work of Karl Barth can provide inspiration and direction for a healthy renewing and reforming of evangelical theology today.' American evangelicalism is undergoing an identity crisis, and in the author's judgment Barth's theology offers resources to help resolve this crisis. This volume reviews previous evangelical responses to Barth, including negative (Van Til, Clark, Gerstner, Pinnock, Schaeffer, Montgomery) as well as positive critics (Carnell, Daane, Brown, Bloesch, Ramm, Bromiley). Aligning himself with the latter group, the author emphasizes that to listen and learn from Barth, 'it is not necessary to accept every, or even any, thought of Barth without revision or qualification.'"

From: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1981/v37-4-bookreview7.htm.

I align myself with orthodoxy and the church and those Evangelical theologians who aren't afraid to challenge neo-orthodoxy and other aberrant views. It should be noted also that even those giving Barth's theology positive merit do not give him blanket approval nor do they make papal pronouncements of his absolution before God and Evangelicalism as though they knew for a fact whether or not he were genuinely one of God's elect.

Peace,

Charlie

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