I came across something this morning that I wanted to post as a brief follow-up to my last post on Paul Jones’ book. Coincidently, if you haven’t read Paul’s comment on that post, be sure to – he breaks it down nicely into a more digestible form. But, that’s not the point.
The point is this thread on Barth at The Puritan Board. What began as a student at St. Andrews Div asking for clarification on Barth descended rather quickly into hyper-conservative (fundamentalist?) Reformed Barth-bashing bonanza. I’ve never seen such a condensed compilation of misinformation about and misreading of Barth.
For instance, consider the following, especially in light of my post mentioned above. It comes from a commenter who is a student at New Geneva Theological Seminary (which, I would venture to say, does not even begin to hold a candle to Calvin, Beza, and Turretin’s Genevan academy – but I digress): “The Christian religion is historical. Barth's theology is a-historical. Barth's theology is not Christian.”
Aside from the ridiculous question-begging here, and the tone-deaf reading of Barth on Scripture that undergirds the assertion (along with the misunderstanding of Kant’s role in Barth’s theology that surfaces in later comments), this comment is patently false. Aside for the considerable defense that could be mounted for earlier renditions of Barth, how is it even possible to conclude from a reading of CD 4 that Barth is anything less than full-bloodedly historical? In fact, it would not be hard to argue that he is the most historical theologian to date because he makes history – the history of Jesus of Nazareth – internal (!) to the being of God.
Examples such as this could be multiplied exponentially from this Puritan Board thread, but I will stop here with a bit of editorializing: It is immensely demoralizing for someone with an evangelical background and evangelical commitments (such as myself) to come across people such as this, who maintain (for largely polemic and apologetic reasons) a feverish commitment to refusing Barth a fair hearing and to perpetuating less than half-baked misunderstandings of his theology.
P.S. For more unfortunate engagements with Barth from similar quarters, see these posts as well.
P.P.S. Sorry that the link to the Puritan Board thread wasn't working - it should be fixed now. Also, I'm aware that it is possible to find more responsible engagement with Barth from within the denominations peopled by those I lampoon here, but that is certainly - and unfortunately - not the norm. It is not that I have a problem with people disagreeing with Barth; its that I have a problem with them doing so without first having worked to understand him.