get your Barth fix here

It’s an absolutely beautiful summer day, which is fairly unusual for Michigan in October. I know that I’m supposed to be against global warming, but days like this make it difficult to work up much antipathy.

I was grading my students’ confessions on eschatology this week, and one began this way: “I believe hat eschatology matters….” I suspect the student inadvertently left out the “t” in “that,” or else he was referring to the infamous sombrero rapture, which as you might guess, is explained in the Mayan calendar. Speaking of which, given the economic meltdown which may be coming in 2012, those Mayans may have been on to something when their calendar stopped after next year.

I don’t want to disappoint both of the Barth fans out there, so here are choice quotes from this week’s reading in the Church Dogmatics II/1 (I am intentionally not listing his liberal, problematic quotes, but just the parts that may rightly inspire us).

“Loving us, God does not give us something, but Himself; and giving us Himself, giving us His only Son, He gives us everything” (276).

“No:  the (to us) inexplicable paradox of the nature of God is the fact that He is primarily and properly all that our terms seeks to mean, and yet of themselves cannot mean, that He has revealed Himself to us in His original and proper being, thus remaining incomprehensible to us even in His revelation, yet allowing and commanding us to put our concepts into the service of knowledge of Him, blessing our obedience, being truly known by us within our limits. It is the paradox of the combination of His grace and our lost condition….” (287).

“A fully restrained and fully alive doctrine of God’s attributes will take as its fundamental point of departure the truth that God is for us fully revealed and fully concealed in His self-disclosure. We cannot say partly revealed and partly concealed, but we must actually say wholly revealed and wholly concealed at one and the same time. We must say wholly revealed because by the grace of revelation our human views and concepts are invited and exalted to share in the truth of God and therefore in a marvellous way made instruments of a real knowledge of God (in His being for us and as He is in Himself). We must say wholly concealed because our human views and concepts (the only ones at our disposal for the knowledge of God, and claimed by God Himself as a means to this end) have not in themselves the smallest capacity to apprehend God….The knowledge of God must not be swallowed up in the ignorance. Nor, again, must the ignorance be swallowed up by the knowledge” (341-42).

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