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Showing posts from September, 2010

2010 KBBC: Week 1, Day 4

“Being Well-Read”: Barth in Conversation
with Paul Tillich on Reading Scripture and Culture
By Derek Maris
In studying Karl Barth, one is often daunted by the sheer volume of his writings. Neophytes of Barth’s thought will often seek out primers on his theology, even introductions to specific topics, viewing the actual Church Dogmatics as an unreasonable burden. Beneath this apparent humility hides a less noble reason for avoiding the CD – there is so much to read and understand that laziness or bitterness can short-circuit the fruits of extensive engagement.

While any student of theology can sympathize, one must remember that for Barth there were no short cuts in reading. As the numerous pages of the CD “fine print” notes demonstrate, Barth was a voracious reader of scripture, church history, and culture. His theology was born out of his constant engagement of numerous types of texts; if nothing else, Barth was well-read. In this essay we will seek to learn from this prodigious…

2010 KBBC: Week 1, Day 3

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Theology of Karl Barth
By Matthew Puffer
If Bonhoeffer’s importance to Barth’s theology is little noted, this is not without cause. “Disturbed” by the “particular thorn” of the enigmatic Letters and Papers and its “positivism of revelation” charge, Barth likewise found the “mandates” in Ethics to be “arbitrary” and “inadequate.” He wrote Eberhard Bethge—responsible for Bonhoeffer’s posthumous publications, and Bonhoeffer’s closest friend and nephew—“very softly I venture to doubt whether theological systematics (I include his Ethics) was his real strength.” Understood within the context of their relationship and respective theologies, such quotations can illumine rather than discredit a reciprocal influence between Barth and Bonhoeffer. This essay does not rehearse Bonhoeffer’s well-known dependence upon Barth, but, rather, Bonhoeffer’s often over-looked influence upon Barth’s thinking.

Barth and Bonhoeffer: Life Together
Bonhoeffer imbibed Barth’s early writ…

2010 KBBC: Week 1, Day 2

Karl Barth and Herman Bavinck on the Deus dixit
By Andrew Esqueda
One of Herman Bavinck’s most profound contributions to theology can be found in his prolegomena to Reformed Dogmatics [RD, 4 vols] in which he seeks to bring forth a necessary and fundamental starting point for all further elucidations on the proper task of dogmatics. This starting point begins by affirming that “God has spoken,” Deus dixit (RD I, 30; 46). The significant impact of Bavinck and his exposition of the Deus dixit can be seen in his influence upon Karl Barth. Barth subsequently took Bavinck’s application of the Deus dixit and furthered its use by way of his commentary on the proper task of dogmatics and development of a three-fold Word of God. Barth, in preparation for his Göttingen lectures, read Bavinck’s Gereformeerde Dogmatiek closely, and incorporated Bavinck’s understanding of the Deus dixit into his lectures (McCormack, Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology [CRDT], 337). It is importa…

2010 KBBC: Week 1, Day 1

“…ich immer nur habe sein wollen ein Diener
des göttlichen Wortes in freudigem Geist und Sinne…”
--F.D.E. Schleiermacher, Sermon at Nathanael’s (his son) grave on 1 Nov 1829
Schleiermacher and Barth:
On Theology as the Science of the Divine Word
By: Matthew J. Aragon Bruce
Von Balthasar writes: “Schleiermacher gave Barth a powerful intuition into the unity, grandeur and totality of theology as a scientific discipline” (Theology of Karl Barth (1992), 199). With this, von Balthasar proposed that Barth’s thought exhibited a degree of genetic dependence on that of Schleiermacher at both a formal and material level. The concern of this essay is not to inquire into such genetic dependence, but with the phrase “theology as a scientific discipline.” How did these two modern theologians conceive of theology, and in particular dogmatics, as a “scientific discipline”? What is the nature and task of theology under the conditions of modernity, conditions prominently marked by the ascendancy of “…