A Mea Culpa, Apology, and Attempt at Explanation (Re: My Barth’s Universalism Post)

A Mea Culpa, Apology, and Attempt at Explanation (Re: My Barth’s Universalism Post) March 13, 2013

Dear Blog Friends and Followers,

A few friends have chided me to making over blown claims for my Barth’s universalism essay and its preceding “head’s up” post.

I apologize for implying (which was not really my intention) that no one had ever expressed my view as well as I did. (I explicitly said my view in the essay was not original, but I implied that it was in some way better than others.)

I apologize to those who were offended by my apparent triumphalism.

Now, please bear with me as I attempt to explain myself.

I knew my general conclusion about Barth and universalism is not original or new. I even quoted a German theologian who came to the same general conclusion.

So why did I write it and publish it here?

First, I am still not aware of a widely accessible and relatively popularly written presentation of the view and argument. Theological journals are not easily accessible to many people.

Second, I was not aware of any presentation that quoted exactly the same quotations from CD I presented.

Third, I still run into very astute Barth scholars who claim Barth was not a universalist and seem closed minded to any other view. So I wrote this to them–to explain to them why I say that Barth was a universalist. (Some of them have treated me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.)

Fourth, while I am certainly not familiar with all the secondary literature on Barth (who is?) I am not aware of any that compare his view of hell with C. S. Lewis’. Those may be out there, I may have read some and forgot them, whatever. But I wanted to point out strong similarities there.

Fifth, a while back I commented on the movement called “evangelical Calvinism.” I wanted to give support to it with often overlooked quotations from Barth.

Finally, this essay arose out of a long-term project of reading CD “with fresh eyes” as independent of secondary literature on the subject as possible. So, after a certain point, I consciously ignored articles and books on the subject in order to focus exclusively (or as much as possible) on what Barth said about the subject in CD without being influenced by contemporary (last couple decades’) commentaries on the subject (viz., Barth’s universalism).

I detect a certain sentiment among students of Barth that one is not really allowed to just read and interpret Barth; one must (!) interact with certain Barth scholars in order to claim to be doing Barth scholarship. I think there is a difference between scholarly reading of Barth and scholarship about contemporary Barth interpretation. But I think those two things are often conflated.

Thanks for listening. Responses are welcome.

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