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Showing posts from June, 2007

The Eye of the Storm - Ceasing Transmission

The First (annual?) Karl Barth Blog Conference is over. The second annual Barth Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary begins this afternoon. In the mean time, my wife and I are going to hear our friend, who is in town for the Barth conference, preach up at a church where he and I did field education together.

I am sorry to report that I will not be able to post regarding the Barth conference. My time is going to be taken up by organizational matters and attending the conference, and my wife and I are leaving for vacation shortly after the conference concludes. This will be the last post here at DET for a number of weeks. It pains me to have to undertake a period of blog silence so quickly on the heels of the traffic boost that the Barth Blog Conference gave me, but that is just how things are. I do hope that my new readers will not despair at my absence. Add DET to your aggregator (Google Reader is, I find, very nice), and keep a weather eye open for my return.

Until the…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Concluding Remarks and Index

I want to express my deepest thanks to all those who contributed in writing to this first (hopefully annual) Karl Barth Blog Conference. A special thanks as well to those who dropped by and posted comments, and a hearty thanks to the very many of you who stopped by to see what was going on. I must admit that this series was more successful than I anticipated.

Just so you all know, I do plan on trying to put another one of these Barth Blog conferences together for next year. The format will be slightly different, and I anticipate it being shorter. Please contact me if you would like to be involved, and stay tuned in the months ahead – a call for papers will be published.

Feel free to leave any final thoughts that you may have, constructive criticism, tips, ideas, etc, in the comments section of this post. I leave you now with some concluding remarks from Ben Myers.


“We open books from the past in order to come to ourselves.”[1]
In a sharply critical account of Karl Barth, the British…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Ritschl

(Jason Ingalls was a year in front of me here in the PTS MDiv program. We worked together on campus and in a local church. He currently works with InterVarsity on the graduate school level at Vanderbilt University. He keeps a blog about his IV work.)
“There were very real reasons why all [Ritschl’s] contemporaries, apart from the adherents to his school, and the history of theology after him showed themselves to be governed by the determination not to allow his words to hold sway as the final and characteristic words of the entire age, no matter how genuine and impressive they might be in their own way.” - Karl Barth, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, 647.If there is a point that Karl Barth wanted to make about Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889), it would be this: Ritschl was not an epoch-maker. Important, yes. An interesting reaction, yes. Epoch-maker, no. Barth’s assessment stood against the “historians of Ritschl’s school” who wanted to make of Ritschl a parallel stream to…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Strauss

(This is another contribution from Andrew Guffey. If you didn't visit his blog - Seeing the Form - in conjunction with his post on Baur, you may want to do so now.)

Who’s Afraid of D. F. Strauss?
The first time I read (about) D. F. Strauss I immediately set my face against him. The second time I (actually) read Strauss I began to suspect he might be onto something. It is odd for a Chalcedonian-compliant Christian to enjoy Strauss. At least, it is odd for a modern orthodox Christian to do so, since Strauss seems to strike at the very heart of Christianity—Christology. But Strauss was always bound to be a polarizing figure, and his polarization is felt in the unusual respect he acquires from another famous modern orthodox theologian—Karl Barth. And, in fact, while Barth acknowledges the importance of Strauss for nineteenth-century theology, his presentation of Strauss cannot decide whether to admire or admonish.

The work that both marked the life of David Friedrich Strauss (180…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Feuerbach

(Daryl is a friend and colleague from Wheaton College (IL), from which he holds a BA and an MA in theological studies. He will be entering Princeton Theological Seminary in the coming semester with 2nd year MDiv status.)

“And Was Made Man”: The Witness of Feuerbach’s Anti-Theology
Ludwig Feuerbach, Barth bluntly writes, practiced “anti-theology” (520). The description is especially apt because in many ways Feuerbach is Barth’s conceptual foil in the history of theological ideas. Whereas Barth understood theology as evoked by, rooted in, and solely preoccupied with the Word of God, Feuerbach set out to “turn theology… completely and finally into anthropology” (520).

His primary avenue for accomplishing this goal lay in his assertion that “God” is nothing more than a projection of humanity’s essential ideals as distilled from embodied existence. God is, in Barth’s paraphrase, the “religious feeling’s mirrored self” (522). Feuerbach positions himself firmly against any thought system that …

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) - Baur

(Andrew Guffey holds a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary, where I got to know him over Hans Urs von Balthasar and poker chips. An engaging writter and exciting interdisciplinary thinker, he has a blog entitled Seeing the Form. Head on over there an encourage him to post more!)

Coach-a-Baur
The headless horseman who drives the coach-a-bower (Irish: coíste bodhar), the death coach in Irish lore, is allowed to speak only the name of the departed. I first learned about the coach-a-bower from the 1959 Disney film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People. The story of the film tells about Darby O’Gill, a little old Irishman who captures King Brian, king of the Leprechauns. When his daughter, Katie, is close to death near the end of the movie, Darby asks his third wish from King Brian—that the death coach take him instead of Katie. The coach pulls up, the door opens, and a booming voice pronounces the name of him who must ride to the world of the dead, “Darby O’Gill!”

If Ferdinand Chri…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Schleiermacher

Schleiermacher: Hero or Tragic Hero?
Introductory Note: My colleagues have been doing an excellent job with the very dense and difficult material that has faced them in this series. In light of their industry, I almost feel ashamed to include the minor reflections on Barth’s treatment of Schleiermacher that I have gathered below. But, I wanted to note that I have been reading along with all my colleagues, and I can honestly say that this Schleiermacher chapter was the most difficult for me. This is likely because while I have very little independent knowledge of the other thinkers covered in this series, I have just enough independent knowledge of Schleiermacher to make me dangerous, but not enough to make me insightful. So, this chapter seemed to me to be particularly hazy. In addition to this, I should note that I’m not sure whether Barth got Schleiermacher exactly right. Unfortunately, I am not clear enough on why I have reservations in that regard, and thus my reservations w…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) - Hegel

(This post was written by David Congdon, a long-standing friend and colleague of mine who needs no introduction in the theo-blogosphere. If you aren't already a regular reader of his blog, Fire and Rose, be sure to head on over and check it out.)

Hegel: A Great Problem, A Great Promise1. Introduction

In 1953, Karl Barth remarked, “I myself have a certain weakness for Hegel and am always fond of doing a bit of ‘Hegeling.’” While Barth strongly criticizes Hegel throughout his works, he is careful to always remind his readers of his high regard for Hegel’s philosophy. Barth’s fondness for Hegel becomes more apparent in his later years as his theology begins to interact with Hegel directly, and the essay on Hegel in Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century is a sustained appreciation for his accomplishments that sheds important light on how Barth appropriated Hegel in his own theology.

Barth begins his essay by asking, “Why did Hegel not become for the Protestant world something …

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Herder

Barth describes Johann Gottfried Herder (August 25, 1744 – December 18, 1803) as “The master in the art of circumventing Kant,” an honorific which makes it possible to describe Herder as a theologian: “He was also truly a classical theologian, because he was the first to discover in convincing manner a way of making a theology possible which was able to bypass Kant” (302). Already we begin to see what Barth will focus on in this chapter. Looking ahead, we find precisely what we might expect when Barth calls Herder “the inaugurator of typical nineteenth-century theology before its inauguration by Schleiermacher” (325). We may (or may not!) have cause to dispute with Barth about this when we come to Schleiermacher, but this reference is highly suggestive for us in thinking about how it is that Herder might have circumvented Kant.

In broad strokes, this circumvention was accomplished through Herder’s employment of notions that emerge in Lessing, namely, ‘experience’ and ‘feeling’ (cf. …

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) - Kant

(This post comes from my infamous philosopher friend, Shane Wilkins, who is known throughout the theo-blogosphere for his sharp wit and even sharper skills at critical analysis. Be sure to visit his blog, Scholasticus.)

Protestant Theology in the 19th Century demonstrates Barth’s deep familiarity with the philosophical climate of the 19th century. The philosopher whose shadow loomed largest over 19th century protestant theology was doubtless that of Immanuel Kant. Kant was also, by no coincidence, the most formative intellectual influence on the young Barth.

As a student in Berne, Barth reminisces, “I was earnestly told, and I learnt, all that can be said against ‘the old orthodoxy’ . . . and that all God’s ways begin with Kant and, if possible, must also end there.” (Eberhard Busch, “Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts”, 34). Barth began reading Kant through the Critique of Practical Reason, which made a strong influence upon him.

To someone familiar only with…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Lessing

(This post comes to us from Christopher TerryNelson. Be sure to head over and check out his blog, Disruptive Grace.)

Thank you, Travis, for allowing me to collaborate on this project, for it has allowed me to know both Barth and Lessing more deeply. Lessing, as both a child and enemy of the Enlightenment, raised perhaps one of the most salient problems at the time, which still remains with us today: the “nasty big ditch” between the certainty of immediate experience and the uncertainty of events witnessed long ago and accounted in the Holy Scriptures and church tradition. Lessing’s quotes have been italicized to help the reader differentiate between his voice and that of Barth.

Lessing was “on the one hand a perfect and perfecting man of the eighteenth century and on the other hand a complete stranger to his age” (220). Lessing adopted as his own position the philosophy of the Enlightenment, “with its unconditional will for form in morality, and resulting respect for the all-embrac…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) - Rousseau

(This post comes to us from Michael J. Pailthorpe. Be sure to visit his blog, Intellectus Fidei.)

In Karl Barth’s significant work Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century he focuses largely on individuals and their influence to the theological environment of the nineteenth century and lasting relevance for theology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The first influential that Barth deals with is the Geneva born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778).

Barth’s in-depth presentation of Rousseau is essentially biographical which gives insight into Rousseau the man and not simply his thought. Barth reveals Rousseau’s complexities as a person and in some instances paradoxical in light of his social contract and educational theories, which has lead many to find excuse in dismissing the contribution of Rousseau. However, for Barth, to dismiss Rousseau on his seemingly apparent contradictions is a total misunderstanding of the significance of Rousseau.…

Karl Barth Blog Conference (2007) – Introduction (2)

This section deals with Barth’s fourth chapter, “Protestant Theology in the Eighteenth Century,” and while it is not really prolegomena, it is still in some sense an introduction. Barth flies through the significant figures (for his purposes) of the late 17th and early 18th century, composing a series of vignettes that follow a discernable trajectory. That trajectory is the increase in status, vis-à-vis revelation, that is awarded to human reason. In discussing Johannes Franz Buddeus (1660-1727), Barth writes: “The reality of the salvation that has been received, the reality of the man who is to be renewed through faith, is the centre towards which the attention of this theologian is directed, and it also, in his view, forms the criterion for the greater or lesser worth of revealed truth. With this approach, the decisive step into a new time has been taken…the introduction of the new criterion involves a new assessment not only of human reason under grace, but also of natural huma…