Barth on God as Father and Creator, or, against Natural Theology

I’m teaching a class on “Faith & Reason” this Spring, so I have been thinking anew and in many different ways about the possibility of natural knowledge of God, the role and limits of human rationality in theology, etc. At the same time, I’m slowly working my way through Barth’s discussion of the Trinity in CD 1.1. I found this lovely paragraph hiding there. As always, bold is mind and italics are original:
Jesus’ message about God the Father must not be taken to mean that Jesus expressed the well-known truth that the world must have and really has a Creator and was venturing to give this Creator the familiar human name of father. It must not be taken to mean that Jesus had in mind what all serious philosophy has called the first cause or supreme good, the esse a se or ens perfectissimum, the universum, the ground and abyss of meaning, the unconditioned, the limit, the critical negation of origin, and that He consecrated it and gave it a Christian interpretation and baptised it by means of the name “father,” which was not entirely unknown in the vocabulary of religion. In this regard we can only say that this entity, the supposed philosophical equivalent of the Creator God, has nothing whatever to do with Jesus’ message about God the Father whether or not the term “father” be attached to it. Nor would it have anything to do with it even if the principle: Die and become! Were related and perhaps identified with the transcendent origin and goal of the dialectic of losing life and gaining it. An idea projected with the claim that it is an idea of God is from the standpoint of the exclusiveness of the biblical testimonies an idol, not because it is an idea but because of its claim. Even the genuinely pure and for that very reason treacherously pure idea of God in a Plato cannot be excluded. If the exclusiveness is valid, Jesus did not proclaim the familiar Creator God and interpret Him by the unfamiliar name of Father. He revealed the unknown Father, His Father, and in so doing, and only in so doing, He told us for the first time that the Creator is, what He is and that He is as such our Father.



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