Friday, March 16, 2012

More on the Election and Trinity Discussion

After taking my Comprehensive exams on Barth's theology  I tried to summarize in my mind where we are at after the McCormack's thesis on election (see earlier posts for what I am talking about):

1. Barth was inconsistent with regards to both election and the Trinity.  In short, he is sometimes very close to McCormack's reading and other times he is with Hunsinger and company.  Therefore, the context of what Barth "actually" believed is not a steady foundation.  You can proof text to make him fall into either positions. I think one should strive for authorial intent but at this point this does not rule which theory is more viable.

2. Barth's inconsistency deals with the nature of revelation and his constantly beginning again at the beginning.  The self-critical technique places Barth in a position where he is consistently working through and reworking ideas, which it is dangerous to simply proof text him.  Thus, this leads to points where he emphasizes the historicity of Christ and the humanity of God and other places he zones in on the freedom of God.

3. McCormack has made the point that Barth's view of election was his most important contribution to the realm of 20th century thought (not just theological), yet he also thinks it is underdeveloped; McCormack also acknowledges that Barth did not go further with this idea than he should have so he even sees his own project as somewhat original and creative ( a point his detractors sometimes do not respect).

He could not be more right!  I think Barth was pioneering with this idea and is consistent with his anti-idolatry, anti-metaphysical tendencies.  In what sense?  It frees us to think of God as God-in-relation with humanity (and the cosmos-ie Moltmann), so that one is not constantly trying to develop a theology of history that is different than what is revealed.  In short, it tries to curb the power of speculation between God's being and God's acts.  In other words, McCormack is playing to the somewhat Hegelian tendencies of the later Barth.

One of Hegel's points was how can one even talk about God if there is no interaction with humanity?  I think Hegel's question is even compelling to some of Barth's defense of the detached, transcendent (yet free) God.  If Barth (even unwittingly) teaches us something, it is to stop with the escape into the speculative, foundational metaphysics and to deal with the way the revealed religions contribute to our understanding of what God has revealed and how we live in light of this revelation.

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