Now that I have Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, I can join Professor Daniel Kirk’s The Barth Synchroblogs Karl Barth Reading. The first thing I discovered is that the Church Dogmatics is not easy reading! The fonts are small and smaller (there are two font sizes in the text) and the sentences are not reader friendly (maybe they are for theologians). The plan is to read though the fourteen volumes in 11 years.
This week’s reading is on §7.1 The Problem of Dogmatics is an eye opener for me.
Barth states that God’s Word is “provisionally comprehensible and comprehensible in all its incomprehensibility” (249). This is as cryptic and profound as Karl Rahler’s “the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, and the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity”. What Barth means is that the Word of God is “provisionally” comprehensible because in our reading we can get insights from it. However it is “incomprehensible” because there are limits to our understanding of the Word. This is because when we receive the Word, we do not receive it directly but through “recollection” and “reflection”. This really throws a spanner into the evangelical worldview where it is assumed that we receive it directly.
I like the way Barth argues his theses. He argues like a scientist rather than a philosopher (or a theologian). He get straight to the gist of the thesis, presents his facts and findings and draws a conclusion. He examines the relation of the Word of God and the Church. One can get lost in his words: Bible, Church, tradition, dogma or dogmas, and dogmatics. However, instead of being caught up in terms and their usage, Barth declares that ” [d]ogma is the relation between the God who commands and the man who obeys His command, the relation which takes place in the event of this commanding and obeying” (274).
and that is so cool.