A Biography of Barth— Part Nine

Q. In the wake of Charlottesville and the neo-Nazi, white supremacist, KKK rallies (with chants of blood and soil, not to mention anti-Semitic slogans), it seems there are some lessons to be learned from what happened in Germany in the early 30s with the rise of a dictator who wanted to eliminate all opposition and disseminate propaganda to counter ‘fake news’ which in fact was not fake at all. Barth admitted he was late to see the danger of the… Read more

Is 1 Cor. 14.34-35 an Interpolation or a Pauline Dictum?

Here’s another helpful post by Larry Hurtado. My personal view is that 1 Cor. 14.34-35 is probably not an interpolation, though that is possible. I suggest Paul is just correcting a problem of some married women asking questions in worship during the time of prophecies. Certainly, he’s not banning women from all speaking in church. ‘Abusus non tolit usum’. Paul and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 by larryhurtado A couple of readers have asked for my comments on the news story on… Read more

A Biography of Barth– Part Eight

Q. “Dogmatics is reflection on the Word of God as revelation, holy Scripture, and Christian preaching…its primary object, therefore, is neither biblical theology, nor church doctrine, nor faith, nor religious awarenesss, but Christian preaching as it is actually given.” P. 64. In other words, dogmatics is not scholars talking to other scholars, but theology in service to God and the church— right? I’m struck by the fact that later dogmaticians didn’t much listen to Barth’s definition and its proper audience…. Read more

A Biography of Barth— Part Seven

Q. Where does Barth’s Reformed theology really come from if, as you say on pp. 58-59 he knew little of Calvin when he was invited to join the faculty at Gottingen (he had read at least some of Institutes at Marburg)? He certainly didn’t get it from his growing up in a pietistic family did he? And it didn’t come from his education at Marburg and elsewhere either. Was it the trauma of World War that drove him to abandon… Read more

A Biography of Barth— Part Six

Q. How does dialectical theology (the embracing of paradox, or even what seems to be outright contradictions) help us understand Barth himself, as well as his thought? What does he mean by ‘the hidden god’ or even ‘the unknowable God’? A. To me it makes rational sense to embrace dialectical theology—and that, of course, is another paradox! That is to say, we grant that the infinite, uncreated God and his ways are finally unknowable by finite and created creatures. Anything… Read more

A Biography of Barth– Part Four

Q. What has always struck me about that Romerbrief is that apart from the strong emphasis on the absolute transcendence of God (he is not part of creation but qualitatively distinct from it), and therefore the absolute necessity of the divine initiative in revelation for salvation, much less a reconciled relationship with God, this commentary doesn’t much sound like Paul. It sounds like abstract philosophical speculation about God, revelation, etc. Paul doesn’t do such speculation about God’s transcendence. He simply… Read more

A Biography of Barth– Part Three

Q. If we are a product of our education, Karl Barth seems to have on the one hand been initially deeply influenced by his education in terms of ‘liberalism’ which is to say the reductio ad absurdum of religion to ‘a feeling of absolute dependence on God’ or a merely subjective inclination, or inner moral compass. In other words, an anthropocentric religion— which not incidentally was to be a hallmark at Marburg, right through the most famous Marburger—Bultmann, who even… Read more

The Two Textual Traditions of Acts

Here’s a helpful recent post of Larry Hurtado about our friend and colleague Eldon Epp. As it turns out, there were indeed two textual traditions of the Acts of the Apostles in the second century A.D. as was previously thought by my old mentor Bruce Metzger (see his Textual Commentary on the Western Text of Acts). A “D-Cluster” in Acts? Epp’s Recent Article by larryhurtado Eldon Epp (my revered former teacher, and a senior figure in NT textual criticism) has… Read more

A Biography of Barth— Part Two

Q. In your first chapter, you deal with the issue of pietism, and why to some extent Barth had an allergic reaction to it. Since, as you rightly say, American evangelism (particularly of the Billy Graham ‘born again’ variety that I grew up with in Charlotte) has the pietistic tendency to emphasize spiritual experience, at the expense of theological understanding and substance, what is it about pietism that Barth didn’t like, and why, on the other hand have such different… Read more

A Biography of Barth— Part One

Whether you love him or hate him, or are just frustrated by the girth of his work, Karl Barth, hands down, was the most influential theological of the twentieth century of any sort. Mark Galli, senior editor of Christianity Today has now produced a very readable, helpful and svelte biography (192 pages, Eerdmans Pub.) of Barth, which I am quite happy to commend. It is a good little introduction to Barth the man and his thought world. In this and… Read more

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