Review of the Book: Evangelical Theology
Review of the Book: Evangelical Theology
Held in high esteem by many critics as one of the most original Christian thinkers of the modern era, Karl Barth was a Swiss theologian who primarily emphasized on the sovereignty of God. In this regard, his perspectives can be considered as external. This secularism in the study of gods and religion was very inventive in terms of genuineness. Barth’s famous book Evangelical Theology: An Introduction is based on continuity and unity, and looks into the constructs of faith, existence and reason. This essay is going to deal with few of the core ideas Barth introduced in his book.
The concepts will be critically analyzed with regards to citations from the original text. According to Barth, the term ‘Theology’ is concerned with a very special domain of science that attempts to understand god. Evangelical Theory of Theology: An Introduction gives a basic idea of Barth’s outlooks on theology. Theology as described by the author is the Word of god. ‘Theo’ popularly alludes to gift of god and ‘logy’ relates to language, logic or Word. According to the author, the word of god is the ultimate soul of theology and it stands and fails with it.
“Theology itself is a word, a human response; yet what makes it theology is not its own word but the word which it hears and which it responds to” [Evangelical Theory of Theology: An Introduction, page 15]. To rephrase it, theology asserts not itself but the word of god and places it above everything. When it comes to the word of god, we need not bear in mind one faulty premise, i. e. , there is only one god. The study of religion has proved it time and again that each person has its own god or gods as ‘the object of his highest desire and trust, or as the basis of his deepest loyalty and commitment.
’ (Barth et al. 3) So Barth discusses theology and divine matters from the perspective of religion and philosophy. His secular approaches in interpreting theology become apparent when he states, “There is no philosophy that is not to some extent also theology. Not only does this fact apply to philosophers who desire to affirm – or who, at least, are ready to admit – that divinity, in a positive sense, is the essence of truth and power of some kind of highest principle;” (Barth et al. 3) The author alludes into the history of Israel to affirm the concept of community as connected with the history of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of god can be interpreted from a humanistic perspective when Christ is realized as a true god and true man. He elucidates the idea of man’s oneness with god by stating, “The community is confronted and created by the Word of God” (Barth 38) – “… the God who descends to community with man, gracious in his freedom, and of man who is exalted to community with him, thankful in his freedom”. (Barth 22) The analytical mind of the author makes him ask question about truth in terms of existence of god.
The presuppositions of modern theology are questioned and doubted repeatedly as Barth raises some pertinent issues related to the truthfulness of god’s existence, man’s connection with god, the validity of the ‘chosen’ status of Israel, myths surrounding Christ’s death and so on. The acceptance of the Word of god as truth by community is another contentious issue according to the author. It is one thing accepting something as final, and it is another thing understanding what is accepted with a sincere and rational mindset. So it is important for the community to clarify the conceptualizations regarding the Word of god.
(Barth 39) Though Barth had been associated with a church as a pastor in his early career, he was not as dogmatic as his peers. He believed that God’s decree was not to prefer Christians over Jews (or any other non Christian) but to be with the people and bear their sufferings. This is why he professed Jesus Christ as the “medium of divine election”. He believed that theology is a language for the spirit but it does not preach self ascertainment. ‘Service’ is also an important facet of Evangelical Theology. It does not glorify oneself but the person whom it serves.
Theology can be interpreted as the servitude towards divinity. From a more practical point of view it may reflect man’s involvement in the service of the society as well as in the service of god. Modesty, as claimed in the book, is considering theology as a selfless service. The realization of our own inner power and capacity to reach our goals is exemplified through the theological concept of remaining faithful to divine knowledge and wisdom. He states, “Theology will be faithful to its object only and precisely when it allows itself to be tempted by it.
” (Barth 160) The believer must leave his salvation to god’s judgment even if he harbors any doubt or solitude. Many other important aspects of theology such as Faith, Prayer and Love have been discussed thoroughly. It not only portrays Theology as a natural science but it also tries to loosen up the orthodox bindings on itself. Karl Barth in his book had tried to uplift theology from its confines in the church to a subject that requires immense academic research and idiosyncratic perspectives.
Barth, Karl, and Grover Foley. Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1979.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 22 December 2016
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