Karl Barth's Dialogue With Catholicism in Gottingen & Munster: Its Signifigance for His Doctrine of God by Amy Marga (Beitrage Zur Histoischen Theologie: Mohr Siebek) Amy Marga studies Karl Barth's early encounter with Roman Catholic theology during the 1920s, especially seen in his seminal set of dogmatic lectures given in Gottingen, and his second set of dogmatic lectures, given in Münster and which remain unpublished. Her analysis demonstrates his search for a concept of God's objectivity — Gegenständlichkeit —which would not be dependent upon philosophically-laden concepts such as the analogia entis, but which would rather be anchored in God's being alone. The author shows that Roman Catholicism, especially the thought of Erich Przywara, became the key interlocutor that helped Barth bring this clarity to his doctrine of revelation and the triune God.
At no time in Karl Barth's long career did Roman Catholicism play a more crucial role for him than in the 1920s. This decade saw Barth deliver two out of his three sets of lectures on dogmatic theology, the Gottingen and Münster cycles, both of which directly engaged Roman Catholic thought (the third cycle of lectures makes up the Church Dogmatics). Roman Catholicism became a conversation partner that Barth encountered with a directness and concreteness that was unprecedented in his day, and it acted as a conduit for his retrieval of Reformation theology for modern Protestantism. This study investigates the ways in which Barth engaged Catholicism in the decades of the 1920s, especially on several pivotal, material points, such as God's concrete and objective presence in the creaturely sphere, the event of revelation as an act of reconciliation, and the correspondence that exists between human knowledge of God and God's own, triune knowledge. These material issues, on which Barth found clarity and depth through the encounter with Roman Catholicism, led him to what he saw as the heart of the Protestant-Catholic divide: the doctrine of God.
Barth was drawn to Catholicism's commitment to the objective reality of the event of revelation. He shared their concern for a "revelational objectivism," a term which describes the event in which God crosses the divine-human divide and takes up form in the creaturely sphere. By taking up form among created realities, God is genuinely knowable as an object and not merely as a subjective experience. This revelational event is the basis for theology's scientific pursuit. It can reflect upon God in a methodical and scientific manner because the event of revelation gives the human knower something objective upon which to reflect. God's concrete and objective presence is well represented through Catholicism's numerous forms of piety, such as the Sacrament of the Altar, the organization of individuals into the priesthood and monastic life, and the view of God's effects on created realities. These are all examples of how Roman Catholic theology lifts up and dedicates itself to the Gegenständlichkeit of God. The German term, Gegenständlichkeit, refers in this study to the "objective and concrete presence" of God.
Even before his early conversation with Catholicism, Barth understood well that God's being was an objective reality which possesses its own integrity and veracity outside of the mind of the human knower. His emphasis on the action, freedom, and self-determination of God in the Romans commentaries establishes with quite some force that God is not the consequence of human subjective thinking or experience. The clarification that came to Barth's understanding of God's Gegenständlichkeit through his engagement with Roman Catholicism gave it staying power in his own theology. His early dialogue with Catholicism was the time when he began to sink God's Gegenständlichkeit into the deep roots of God's triune being alone, forming a distinctly Protestant understanding of it.
One can safely hazard to say that the particular kind of encounter that occurred between Barth and Catholicism could not have happened in quite the same way in any other era, nor perhaps in any other location than the Westphalian city of Münster, where the Roman Catholic faith thrives and permeates public life. Barth's engagement with Catholic theology in the 1920s occurred at a time in history — and more importantly at a moment in his own development — when strong cross-currents and the clash of ideas bore the fruit that nourished future generations of theologians. Renewal and a longing for newness pulsed through both Protestantism and Catholicism. The cultural, philosophical, and theological fallout of World War I, the impotency and myopia of the Protestant world, and the new momentum that Catholicism began gaining in the years after the War all came together to form an unparalleled historical moment in which Catholics and Protestants could view one another in a new light. The unique ecumenical encounter between Barth and Catholicism left indelible footprints on the development of Barth's thought. These can be seen across all genres of his work, from his sermons to his dogmatic lectures to his academic lectures on ethics given in Münster to his public lectures and even in the private letters to his friend, Eduard Thurneysen. Likewise, by the end of his life, Barth had left an enduring mark on Catholic theology.
The relationship, however, was complex. The tremendous impact that Barth's Romans commentary left on Protestant theology also caught the attention of many Catholic thinkers. For its part, Catholicism was staging a landscape-altering reentry into German cultural life after decades of languishing in a ghettoized state under external politics as well as internal struggles. Barth was struck by its strength, breadth, and magnetism. His own theology was undergoing profound development, and his ecumenical openness towards Catholicism was no mere gesture of good will or dialogue for the sake of a formal and external church unity. It is more accurate to say that Barth began to explore the Roman Catholic tradition just as his own sense of history was opening up to the thinkers and theology of the past. His dialogue with Catholicism is a search for the genuine common ground that Protestant theology shares with the Roman tradition while not neglecting the church-dividing differences. The sea-changes and ferment on both sides of the confessional divide sparked a mutual curiosity that helped shape both Catholic and Protestant theology throughout the decade of the 1920s and far beyond.
There are two reasons in contemporary Barth studies for the lacuna in our understanding of the role of Roman Catholic theology in the Swiss thinker's earlier thought.
First, while much in Barth research today gives the impression that Barth's earlier dogmatic theology is a well-traveled road, in fact, no study has traced the encounters that Barth had with Catholicism throughout the decade of the 1920s for the sake of analyzing the material development of his thought, as this present study will do. The classic study of Barth and Roman Catholicism by Hans Urs von Balthasar still retains an authoritative voice when it comes to the major differences in thought forms and paradigms between the two traditions. Indeed, as this study will show, parts of his conclusions regarding Barth's later theology can actually be more accurately applied to Barth's thought in the earlier period of the 1920s. Another study, by Wilhelm Neuser, provides a rich composition of biographical and historical details of Barth's tenure in Münster, but it only cursorily treats the encounter that Barth had with Catholic theology.3 Bruce McCormack's ground-breaking work on the development of Barth's theology from his Romans commentary through his mature doctrine of election in 1936 gives a very brief account of Barth's encounter with Catholicism while Professor for Dogmatics and New Testament in Münster, and Lidija Matosevic has recently studied several public lectures during Barth's time in Münster in an effort to explore his move to overcome "medieval" thought forms in Protestant theology. No study has traced the encounters that Barth had with Catholicism throughout the decade of the 1920s for the sake of analyzing the material development of Barth's thought, as this present study will do.
Second, scholarship on Barth's engagement with Catholicism has tended to latch onto single themes that have grown out of the relationship in order to try to understand the nature and function of particular concepts in the history of theology. Such is the case with the recent interest surrounding Barth's relationship to the analogia entis. Although these kinds of targeted and thematic studies are interesting, they neglect the broader context of Barth's engagement with Catholicism, which clarifies the patterns of his exposure to the analogia entis and other forms of Roman thought. The research given in the analysis before us offers a deeper and more comprehensive analysis of how Barth's encounter with the living tradition of Catholicism led him to explore and encounter the commitments he had to liberal Protestantism and to Reformation theology in fresh and unexpected ways.
This is the first study of Barth's relationship to Catholicism in the 1920s that makes use of both "cycles" of dogmatic lectures that Barth gave in that decade: the Gottingen dogmatic lectures, given between 1924-1925 while Barth was Honorary Professor of Reformed Dogmatics at the University of Gottingen, and the Munster dogmatic lectures, given between 1926-1928 during Barth's tenure as Professor of Dogmatics and New Testament Exegesis at the University in Münster. The Gottingen lectures on dogmatics makes up the three-volume "Unterricht in der christlichen Religion" in the Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe, while the bulk of the Munster dogmatic lectures remain unpublished with the exception of the prolegomena, which was published in 1927 under the title, Die christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf. These unpublished lectures on dogmatics find their home in the Karl Barth Archive, Basel. The Münster dogmatic cycle, similar to the cycle given in Gottingen, stretched over three semesters: from the winter semester of 1927 through the winter semester of 1928. (The Gottingen cycle had stretched from spring seme ster, 1924 through the winter semester of 1925/26. Barth gave the final section of his Gottingen cycle, on eschatology, during his first semester in Münster, 1925/26.) Further, this study will make use of the unpublished student protocol book which contains notes taken by the students who attended Barth's seminar on Thomas Aquinas' theology given in Münster in 1929. These student-generated protocol books also record the historic visit which the Jesuit, Erich Przywara, paid to Barth's Thomas seminar. As a supplement to these materials, the analysis before us also utilizes the unpublished student protocols of the seminar that Barth gave once he moved from Münster to Bonn in the winter semester of 1931/32. These student protocols cover the seminar's topic, "The Problem of Natural Theology" Unpublished letters between Barth and Przywara provide insight into this unique relationship as well. An analysis of these important and somewhat neglected documents fill the paucity of research on Barth's development into a self-conscious Reformation theologian and a teacher of Christian theology. They open up new avenues into the material concerns of Barth's earlier period, and demonstrate how his openness towards Catholic theology brought him the remarkable opportunity to clarify and deepen his own theological commitments in conversation with a living tradition of the Christian faith, the endurance of which has been tested by the ages.
An analysis of Barth's early dialogue with Catholicism also demonstrates that this was an open and direct relationship that did not follow any script or set of preconditions. Barth did not take one, fixed methodological approach to his dialogue with Catholicism nor did he treat it like a historical artifact or a specimen for contemporary theological science. In fact, at times, he took a very atypical and therefore controversial, attitude towards it. Leading Protestant thinkers like Emmanuel Hirsch and Reinhold Seeberg disdained the way Barth saw Roman Catholicism as a vital stream of Christianity and a genuinely modern challenge to Protestant theology. They interpreted Barth's ecumenical efforts as a breaking up of the "common fate" of Protestant theology.
Even long time acquaintances like Karl Heim were not satisfied with how Barth chose to present Protestant concerns in light of the renewal movement in Catholic theology. In contrast to these reactions, Catholics were beginning to take a keen interest in Barth's theological project, the most important figure being Erich Przywara, who was willing to enter into the uncharted waters of dialogue with the Reformed thinker.
One of the reasons for the unconventionality of this direct relationship lay in Barth's decision to face Roman Catholic theology head on. Early in his academic career, he unapologetically began to study the theology of Thomas Aquinas, which he first explored in 1923 with a colleague, Erik Peterson, while in Gottingen. Peterson showed Barth that Thomas' theology had vitality and substance, which deflated the stereotypical impression of Catholic theology as a dusty relic from a gothic past. Barth even perceived parallels between his own dialectical doctrine of revelation and that of Thomas. Thomas' theology upheld an objectivity of the doctrine of God that liberal Protestantism had long ago forfeited to the forces of history and the power of human psychology. This medieval teacher understood the divine dynamics of revelation. Yet, as Barth dug deeper into Reformation theology and the Reformed tradition, he began to view Thomas less as a teacher and more as the representative of modern Catholicism. This necessitated serious engagement from Reformation theology. Thus, Barth set out to provide a fresh Reformation perspective on Catholic theology. As the Münster dogmatic lectures evidence, Barth sought out ways in which Catholics and Protestants could find common ground regarding Christian doctrine.
Such an intellectually honest approach to Protestantism's long-standing and traditional opponent defies easy labeling. It must be asked whether categories such as "dialectical catholicity" are appropriate descriptions of the dynamic of Barth's relationship to Catholicism. Rein hard Hatter has described the relationship this way based on the swing in Barth's rhetoric in a public lecture he gave on Catholicism in 1928, entitled "Roman Catholicism as a Question to the Protestant Church." Hütter sees Barth's rhetoric as a dialectical move that characterizes the ecumenical strategy that he takes with Catholicism. In this particular lecture, Barth moves from favoring Catholic theology and rejecting Neoprotestantism to challenging Catholicism's doctrine of revelation and affirming overtly Reformational categories. The strategy of "dialectical catholicity", according to Hütter, is to avoid the pitfalls of both Catholicism and Neoprotestatism, and revive Reformation categories as the proper stance against Catholic doctrine. As Hütter sees it, this "dialectical catholicity" allows Barth to navigate between the two poles of Catholicism and Neoprotestansim, with the goal to "reconnect contemporary Protestantism with the Church of the Reformation and thereby make it again `genuine.'" Reformation categories thus become a "critical principle"12 which Barth wields over against Catholicism.
It is true that Barth dove deeply into Reformation theology in his response to Catholicism. But Hatter's characterization of Barth's ecumenical strategy as a "dialectical catholicity" suggests that Barth utilized a fixed and particular strategy for dealing with Catholicism, when in fact, as our research shows, he did not have one. For instance, in the Münster lectures, Barth took Catholic theology seriously enough to try to use their concepts and language as a part of his own theological reflection, but he abandoned this way once he gained a deeper insight into how the Reformation doctrine of salvation shaped the doctrine of revelation.
Although Barth's way between Neoprotestantism and Catholicism throughout his Church Dogmatics I/1 is dialectical in shape, Barth preferred Catholicism because there were genuinely shared commitments between the two traditions on key doctrinal issues. However, by the late 1920s, Barth's interest in these shared commitments were shelved while he dedicated most of his attention to the menacing rise of Nazism and the Deutsche Christen. A potential rapprochement between the two churches was sidelined and not revived until the years leading up to Vatican II. Because Barth never employed a fixed ecumenical strategy such as a "dialectical catholicity" for dealing with the challenge of Roman Catholicism, he was able to take hold of the unparalleled opportunity to engage more directly and honestly with Catholicism than any Protestant thinker in his day.
Barth let himself be freely challenged by the beautiful structure of Catholic theology, and in so doing, he sharpened many of the rough edges of his own thought on the Roman tradition's solid grindstone. One of the most penetrating observations of Barth's theology came from Erich Przywara, the Jesuit intellectual who was a keen observer of Barth's earlier work, and who is best known for his highly creative work on the analogia entis. Przywara, who was born and raised in Poland, is one of those figures in history whose singular mind perceived the tenor and flow of his particular — and particularly complex — historical moment. He brought together insights and projects from many different disciplines, opening the way for Catholicism to maneuver itself into the modern currents of the twentieth century while remaining astonishingly true to the theology of Thomas Aquinas. He is the most significant Catholic critic of Barth's theology before the late 1940s, and was the teacher and mentor of probably the most influential Catholic critic of Barth's theology, Hans Urs von Balthasar. Przywara's critique penetrated into Barth's early notion of divine objectivity — God's Gegenständlichkeit. He pointed out that the Protestant concept of transcendence that shaped Barth's early dialectical theology actually hindered a clear expression of God's concrete and objective presence in revelation. In Przywara's view, the fatal flaw in Protestant theology was that it makes the Incarnation impossible because it denies that God is genuinely present within the created world. Przywara's early challenge to Barth's doctrine of God lay in how to express that God is an object to be known, how to express that there is a Gegenständlichkeit to God's presence which is accessible to the human knower, but not produced by any human activity. Theology must articulate a God who is both Lord over the creaturely veils used in revelation but also genuinely 'knowable' as an object within them. In other words, theology must reflect upon what it means that God has become incarnate in Jesus Christ — and therefore knowable and present in history.
While Przywara's early insight into Barth's doctrine of revelation set the stage for a serious discussion and unparalleled respect between the two thinkers, Barth's time in Munster as Professor for Dogmatics and New Testament Exegesis broadened his vision and opened him up even further to a direct encounter with Catholic theology. During his tenure there, from 1925-1930, Barth's theology of the Incarnation deepened, and he focused his attention on the explicit connection between God's act of revelation and God's act of reconciliation. This new convergence of revelation and reconciliation allowed Barth to speak more concretely about the grace of God that is present in creation. Such a consideration of God's presence in creation through the Incarnation provided a natural opening into frank and direct connections with Roman Catholic theology, which is apparent in his dogmatic lectures of those years.
These dogmatic lectures given in Münster also reveal the assumptions under which Barth was working at the time. They are assumptions that opened him up quite dramatically to the concerns and commitments of Catholic theology. The first assumption held that the order of the Incarnation presupposes the order of creation. A second is that there is an "original relationship" between God and the human being that is distinct from and external to the relationship which God enjoys with the human in the man Jesus Christ. Third, Barth granted that the grace of reconciliation peacefully coincides with sinful creatures in a way that produces the paradox of the saint and sinner or the "blessed sinner." These three presuppositions surrounding Barth's doctrine of the Incarnation enabled him to find a significant amount of common ground with Roman Catholic theology, and allowed him to take seriously their concerns about creation, grace, and the knowledge of God.
At the same time, during Barth's tenure in Münster, the connection between doctrine of reconciliation and revelation began to exert an increasing force upon his theology, and it began to bring with it a decidedly new tone to his engagement with Roman Catholic theology. He became bolder about arguing that the event of God's Word is never a neutral event. It is an event of reconciliation that is grounded in the unified action of the God as Creator, Reconciler, Redeemer and rooted in God's singular will. Further, created reality, which determines the nature of the veils that participate in revelation, only exists in the act of living and moving through time. Thus, the veils employed in God's revelation are constantly becoming that which they are by virtue of the fact that God the Reconciler acts upon them and creates them into something new, namely, into witnesses to God's grace. The act of reconciliation is an act of creation. Likewise, knowledge of creation comes through no other way than through knowledge of reconciliation. Therefore, knowledge of God the Creator must come through the actions of God as the Reconciler. Reconciliation is an act that has consequences- not only for material objects which participate in God's revelation, but also for the human mind. God's act of reconciliation, which is the core of the event of revelation, is an act of God upon the human mind.
After four years of teaching in Münster, Barth came to see Catholicism and the theology of Thomas less as teachers and conversations partners and more as the most important opponent that modern Protestantism would have to face if it were going to be true to its Reformation roots. He saw a gap in the connection between God's action and the way of human knowledge to God in Catholic theology, which is why he would eventually accuse it of having a "theology of the First Article."15 Theology cannot have an epistemology that is based on the abstract concepts of First Cause or Creator, and at the same time affirm that the being of God is based on the grace of reconciliation. Theological epistemology and theological ontology must both lead to the same God. Knowledge must follow the ontology of grace and reconciliation. Consequently, Barth would be led to reject the analogia entis, for he interpreted it as a concept that encapsulates the entire Catholic economy of grace in its peaceful transition from creation through the easy waters of reconciliation to redemption. It does not take seriously the central and unavoidable fact of Christianity, namely, that God's reconciliation of the world means a death to sin, an interruption to the order of creaturely things, and an extinguishing of all ways to knowledge of God which grow out of the natural human's unreconciled power of reason. In Barth's view, Catholic theology has no real expression of the dialectic between sin and grace, and no real sense of the direct action of God on — and on behalf of — all creaturely existence. It is precisely on this point of the unreconciled human mind and the unreconciled knowledge of God, especially as it is represented in the analogia entis as a central tenet to Catholic theology, along with the specter of God the Creator and First Cause who has little to do with grace and reconciliation, that friendly exchange between Barth and Catholic theology broke down.
Although the end of the decade of the 1920s saw Barth polemicizing against the analogia entis and distracted by developments in German politics and the Church, he did not simply ignore the insights which he had gained into revelation and God's Gegenständlichkeit through his encounter with Catholic thought and Erich Przywara. The theme of God's Gegenständlichkeit can be seen once again at the forefront of Barth's concerns in his mature epistemology in the Church Dogmatics, II / 1 , published in 1940. He had arrived at the conclusion that the Incarnation as a work of God ad extra could not be the primary way through which God's objective and concrete presence is defined. Jesus Christ, the one who makes objective knowledge of God possible, is a part of God who in God's very being in eternity acts as Creator, Reconciler, and Redeemer — Father, Son, Spirit. Early in his dogmatic theology, in Gottingen and Münster, Barth had not been explicit about the triunity and eternity of God's action of taking up human nature, so his theology there did not occupy itself with precise and consistent descriptions of God's objectivity. His earlier doctrine of revelation did not make explicit that God's objectivity is a part of God's being and is not a predicate of God in any other way. His earlier dogmatic theology is also not clear on the issue of how human knowledge of God's objectivity is shaped by the objectivity that was first and foremost part of God's eternal triune being. Barth had been assuming that the work of God in becoming 'objective' — and therefore knowable — is a work ad extra; it lies on the outside of God's life as a triune being because it lies in the relationship between God and created realities by virtue of the Incarnation. Moreover, Barth had been assuming that this relationship does not necessarily involve a transformation of creaturely reality. When God places God's being into a dialectical relation of hiding and revealing, God does not disturb or alter the nature or function of the creaturely veils of revelation in any way.
But this logic regarding God's Gegenständlichkeit evolves in Barth's thought. As it does, it leads him into very different ontological and epistemological assumptions than those of Roman Catholicism. In the Church Dogmatics, II / 1 , Barth gives the clearest expression God's Gegenständlichkeit as something that is based in and fulfilled in the Trinity, i. e., in God's eternal life. The objective knowledge of God is already fulfilled within the eternal triune being, which Barth terms a "primary" objectivity. God is then objectively known by humanity through a "secondary objectivity" This new clarification regarding the ontological priorities about God's objective presence to creaturely realities and the order of knowing that follows it diverted Barth away from the common ground that he had held with Roman Catholicism during his tenure in Münster. The order of knowing God that grows out of God's own Trinitarian being and the objectivity that it already contains in itself follows a very different logic than the Catholic understanding of God's presence in creation and God's character as Creator to be known.
In order to set out the finer material points that mattered for the development of Barth's epistemological vision in relation to Catholic theology, the various themes involved have been broken down into five chapters that correspond roughly to the genetic development of Barth's theology throughout the decade of the 1920s.
Chapter one will briefly sketch the history and historical context of Barth's relationship with Catholicism and the highlights of this enduring conversation. Chapter two will focus on the concern with God's Gegenständlichkeit that Barth dealt with throughout his seminal dogmatic lectures, given in Gottingen between 1924 and 1925. Chapter three is devoted to the cycle of dogmatic lectures given in Münster and the three presuppositions that accompanied his understanding the event of revelation and the Incaranation. In this chapter, it will be shown how easily Barth was able to bring the terminology of the analogia entis into his own theology, and how the criticism which Hans Urs von Balthasar later lobbed at Barth's mature theology actually applies to this period in Barth's life. Chapter four will investigate the material challenges to Barth's understanding of the unity of God's action in revelation and reconciliation which Erich Przywara pointed out during his historical visit to Barth's seminar on Thomas in 1929 in Münster. It lays out the deepening actualism that shaped Barth's theology at this time, and shows how this actualism aided him in reaching a radical expression of the Reformation doctrine of reconciliation over and against that which is a part of Catholic theology. Finally, chapter five will return to the theme of God's Gegenständlichkeit, and demonstrate how Barth's mature epistemology centers his doctrine of revelation completely upon the doctrine of the triune God whose own self-knowledge in eternity sets the precedent for all human knowledge of God. As this study demonstrates, Barth's polemic against the analogia entis in the early 1930s was neither his first nor his last word about Roman Catholicism. What emerges is a new perspective on a characteristic of Barth's theology that was open to a direct encounter with an opposing tradition. Barth explored God's being and objectivity, as well as God's relationship with creation from many more angles than is typically thought of in regard to his theology. With new clarity on the doctrine of God, Barth's theology eventually opens up the door to the possibility of the presence of a different version of the analogia entis, which will be briefly sketched out.
The future of the analogia entis in Barth's theology lay in his mature doctrine of election, which he began working on sometime around 1936. As we have seen earlier in this chapter, his ontological assumptions bring Barth to conceive of God's triune being as that which includes the human nature of Jesus Christ. Once Barth grounds the act of God's election in the act of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, then a kind of analogy of being could arise that had constitutive significance for the existence and nature of both the divine being and human beings. Reorienting the doctrine of God's gracious election to the event of Jesus Christ provides Barth's doctrine of election a "new stabilization." God's veil-forming action upon creaturely reality is then no longer dominated by an idea of revelation which is bound by time and driven through discrete, successive moments and occasions. Barth now describes God as the one who has determined the humanity of Christ to be that which grounds God's very nature on the one side and determines creaturely nature on the other.
In the election of Christ, God determines what kind of being God will be. Indeed, while the debate about whether God determines God's being to be Trinitarian or whether the Trinitarian God determines to be gracious in Jesus Christ is not a debate we can take up here. It is sufficient to say that the crux of Barth's doctrine of election is Jesus Christ as "the determination and limitation proper to His [God's] own eternal being; so assuredly has He decided for them by the decree of His eternal will." There is no distinction between the being of Jesus Christ and God's own being. Eternally in Christ, God determines God's being not to be alone. God wills to exist as a being for creation. In Christ, God binds God's being from all eternity to creation, and "does not live His divine life only in His own space." Through this act of eternal willing and binding, the God-world relationship is no longer restricted to the occasional determinations of creaturely veils. Rather, the self-determination of God to be God for humans, and God's electing of humans to be God's covenant partner, is constitutive for the being and nature of each, and finds its solid base in God's eternal decision.
Once Barth establishes that election means that God chooses God's own nature in Jesus Christ, he consistently describes God's being in very particular, Christological terms. This particularity was lacking in Barth's earlier considerations of the God-world relationship, as was the clear assertion that God's election of God's own nature and the nature of creaturely reality comes prior to any general statement about 'being'. Even though the Incarnation had been an implicit foundation to the discrete occasions when objects revealed God, it had not functioned as the hinge that connected each moment of God's self-revelation together into a coherent, unified history that was constitutive of God's own history and nature in Barth's earlier theology. Once it does, a genuine divine participation in creation is made possible. God has God's "own participation in the splendor and misery of created being." God welcomes creaturely reality to participate in God's own reality in Jesus Christ, where creature and Creator meet. God has a "history" with the creature. The event of revelation can be spoken of as God's Selbstkundgebung — God's self-proclamation of God's presence to a reconciled reality, and its participation in the being and activity of God.
Similarly, all creaturely being participates in God's reality by virtue of the fact that it now has its being in Christ. "Just as the Being of God is His [Christ's] being, the being of the human is originally his being." By taking on the flesh, Jesus Christ takes on all creaturely being, and determines its existence to be for God. As Barth remarks, in Christ, God makes the problems of creaturely existence God's own: "When we realize this clearly, we cannot deny that there is a transparency, meaning and even perfection to creaturely imperfection." In the covenant with humanity established by God, made explicit in Jesus Christ, the human being becomes a "partner" to God71 in its own creaturely realm of knowable objects. Human life in Christ, lived in free response to God, is a corresponding, analogous existence to God's own turn to the human. Analogies of being can arise out of a genuine participation on God's part in the existential structures of creaturely being, which, in turn, participates in God's own life as God-for-creation, willed in Christ from eternity.
When this mature phase of Barth's theology is interpreted as continuous to Barth's earlier theology, it becomes very difficult to sustain the claim that his thought never reaches a perspective of analogy. Creaturely existence, with all its particularities and problems, is given the chance to be opened up to analogies of being. However, such possibilities arise through a variety of mechanisms that are different than those found in Roman Catholic theology or in the classical expression of the analogia entis. It is the eternal existence and earthly history of Jesus Christ, not the nature and history of creation, or a prior philosophical commitment to a concept of being, that makes it possible for a free human response to become a "witness" to God's self-revelation. The prior reality to creaturely life is not a general notion of being, but the reality of God's electing and reconciling action. God's free act of grace is sovereign even over the concept of 'being' itself. The human life lived in the position of grace, i. e., in a position where it is determined by God's action, is opened up to live in a correspondence with God. This is an analogy of being that arises out of God's action over all notions of being and for the sake of all being, regardless of whether this truth can be perceived by eye of the human mind or not.
The stabilized doctrine of election that governs Barth's theology at this point not only makes claims about his lack of analogical possibilities hard to maintain, it also distinguishes it from his earlier ontological assumptions present in the Munster dogmatic lectures and the phase immediately thereafter, which was characterized by a strong actualism.
While Barth never abandons his commitment to an actualistic ontology where God's being is described by God's action, he now anchors it in the doctrine of God alone. The relationship between God and the world arises solely out of the action of God, which is prior to all general notions of being. Creation receives its being from God's eternal decision in Christ to be God in this way. Through Jesus Christ in eternity, God sets God's being into an original relationship with a being that is truly something "other" than God, "with whom He was not one but became one according to His eternal will and in a free, contingent act." The future of the analogia entis in Barth's thought lay at the center of his theology, Jesus Christ in the life of the triune God.
Karl Barth vs. Emil Brunner: The Formation and Dissolution of a Theological Alliance, 1916-1936 by John W. Hart (Issues in Systematic Theology, Vol. 6: Peter Lang) Karl Barth and Emil Brunner rose to theological prominence in the 1920s as leading spokesmen for the new "dialectical theology" movement. Thus, many were surprised by Barth's vehement rejection of Brunner's theology only a decade later in their famous 1934 "natural theology" debate. For the past sixty-five years, there has been little investigation into the root causes of their parting of the ways. This book is a historical and theological analysis of the coming together and falling apart of the Barth-Brunner alliance in the years 1916-1936. Through a close study of their writings and their recently published correspondence, the radical and powerful nature of Barth's theology is demonstrated. For what separated Brunner from Barth is what separates Barth from every theologian his thoroughgoing, Christ-centered redevelopment of the Reformation watchwords: "grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone."
The Barth-Brunner relationship sheds helpful light upon the interpretation of Barth. It does not require special insight to understand what led Barth to take his leave of Bultmann and Gogarten. But the break-up of the Barth-Brunner alliance was, and to some extent still is, puzzling. If Barth felt it necessary to angrily cut himself off from Brunner, a theologian so close to his own position when viewed in the context of theological history, it must point to certain positions held by Barth which he would not compromise. This thesis will argue that such is the case. Barth's rejection of "theological fellowship" with Brunner shows how completely radically he understood and worked out his fundamental insight from 1916-"God is God and God is God", and thinking about this God can only be "a theology which, like a spinning top, supports itself on only one point". 3
In addition to exploring the Barth-Brunner alliance in depth, this book makes two important contributions to Barth studies. Fast, a study of the Barth-Brunner relationship clearly supports the thesis of "continuity" over the thesis of "stages" in understanding Barth's early theological development.4 The issues which divided Barth and Brunner remained constant throughout their twenty year relationship. Though Barth's own theological development clarified for him the severity of these disagreements, the shape of the Barth-Brunner debate remained essentially the same from The Epistle to the Romans through Church Dogmatics. In particular, an examination of the Barth-Brunner relationship emphasizes the radicalizing effect of Overbeck upon Barth in 1920, and, correspondingly, de-emphasizes a turningpoint with Anselm: Fides Quaerens Intellectum.s The recent publication of Barth's first dogmatics lectures at Gottingen helps to establish the over-riding continuity in Barth's thinking from 1921 to 1932.6Second, the Barth-Brunner relationship also clearly shows that Barth's rejection of natural theology was grounded in theological, not political, reasons. The issues raised by Marquardt have led to an intensive re-evaluation of the influence of Barth's politics on his theology.' In particular, Winzeler follows Marquardt's lead by connecting Barth's opposition to natural theology to his political resistance to Nazism.8 While the Barth-Brunner relationship indicates how the political and church struggles of the early 1930s increased the intensity of the Barth-Brunner debate, Barth's outright and uncompromising opposition to Brunner's experiments with natural theology was clearly voiced as early as 1929, with still earlier protests registered in his Gottingen dogmatics lectures.
This book follows the Barth-Brunner relationship through six periods.
Chapter One explores the coming together of these two Swiss pastors as theological allies (1916-1919) through their common bonds in Religious Socialism and the Blumhardts, and the common friendship of Eduard Thurneysen. Their earliest correspondence reveals that, right from the start, Brunner disliked Barth's theological "one-sidedness", while Barth was suspicious of Brunner's attempt to bring Idealist philosophy and Reformation theology "under one arch". Barth's first edition of Romans and Brunner's review of it are the central texts.
Chapter Two examines the critical period when Barth and Brunner's theological alliance solidified (1920-1924). For Barth, a new radicalism emerged through the impact of Overbeck and Kierkegaard. God's soverignty became understood dialectically, and the task of theology was viewed as an "impossible possibility". For Brunner, both Barth's second edition of Romans and Ferdinand Ebner's The Word and Spiritual Realities led him to reject the previous influence of Neo-Kantianism on his thought and forced him to re-think his theological position. The correspondence reveals a pivotal meeting in August 1920, when Brunner was confronted with Barth's new Overbeckian radicalism. The major texts studied are Barth's second edition of Romans and Brunner's Experience, Knowledge and Faith (1921), "The Limits of Humanity" (1922), and Mysticism and the Word (1924), as well as Barth's review of the latter.
In Chapter Three, it is seen how Barth and Brunner, now filling academic posts, developed their theologies in different directions (1924-1928). Learning from the Reformers and the Protestant scholastics, Barth developed his program positively through his dogmatics lectures at Gottingen, later revised in Munster and published as Christian Dogmatics (1927). In these works, Barth reconstituted his dialectical thinking in Trinitarian terms. Brunner, on the other hand, moved towards philosophical theology. In three important lectures, as well as in his two 1927 books (The Philosophy of Religion from the Standpoint of Protestant Theology and The Mediator), Brunner sought to make contact with philosophy, affirming positive lines of thinking and combating ideas contradicted by the Gospel. Again, a pivotal face to face encounter in 1924, recounted in the correspondence, reveals the depth of Barth and Brunner's differences.
Chapter Four covers the fraying of the Barth-Brunner alliance (19291932). This is ground that has been well covered by scholarship-Brunner's "The Other Task of Theology", "The Question of the 'Point-of-Contact' as a Problem of Theology", and The Divine Imperative; Barth's Anselm book and Church Dogmatics Ill. This book also explores other decisive but overlooked works, particularly Barth's first pointed (though veiled) criticism of his dialectical colleagues ("Theology and Modem Man", 1930) and Brunner's God and Man (1930). Also, the correspondence records two significant meetings (in 1929 and 1930) and a "parting of the ways", declared by Barth in January 1933. It is shown that during this period, Brunner finally sloughed off the radical Barthian dialectic that he had marginally included within his theological system from 1922 to 1928. The exchanges between Barth and Brunner in this period are decisive, indicating, in Barth's words, "material opposition occurring right down the line".
Chapter Five examines the climax of the Barth-Brunner debate-the 1934 articles on natural theology. The study of this well-covered engagement is enriched through the insights provided by the correspondence, which records, among other things, an attempt at reconciliation in the summer of 1935.
In Chapter Six, this book makes a unique contribution to the understanding of Brunner's theology, as well as establishing a new factor in the Barth-Brunner debate-the Oxford Group Movement. This hitherto entirely overlooked factor decisively influenced Brunner from 1932 on, and was clearly linked in Barth's mind as forming one piece with Brunner's affirmation of natural theology. Due to Brunner's changing ecclesiology and pneumatology under the impact of the Group Movement, the Barth-Brunner debate spills over from the first article of the Creed into the whole scope of the third article. The correspondence is particularly illuminating here-Brunner's ill-conceived invitation for Barth to join in a meeting of his Oxford Group fellows in Autumn 1933, their aborted 1935 debate over the Movement for a Swiss magazine, and their heated final debate in front of friends and colleagues at Schlchen Auenstein in 1936.
Finally, Chapter Seven analyzes the reasons for the break-up of Barth and Brunner's theological alliance, focusing upon personal characteristics, material commitments, and especially theological method. Six methodological contrasts are summarized: the use of dialectic, dogmatics vs. philosophy, the task of theology, theology vs. anthropology, the use of the Reformers, and the appropriation of Kierkegaard.
In the end, the story of the Barth-Brunner alliance shows the gulf which separates Barth from all modern theologians, not only from his obvious adversaries (e.g., Schleiermacher and Bultmann) but also from his nearest colleagues, like Brunner. Barth is ruthlessly and consistently concerned with doing theology which profoundly respects the ontological and noetic distance between the self-revealing God and his sinful and elected Church-a theology which is radically "dialectical".
Dialectic in Karl Barth's Doctrine of God by Terry L. Cross (Issues in Systematic Theology, Vol. 7: Peter Lang) Dialectic continues to play a major methodological role in Barth's thought in the Church Dogmatics. It cooperates with analogy as limiter and helper for human apprehension of God. Therefore, Barth's doctrine of God would not succeed without it.
Dialectic continues to operate in Karl Barth's theology, even after his turn toward a method of correspondence. However, the greater turn already occurred in 1925 when he had to say more concerning dogmatics. We would describe this primary turn as one toward dogma or more positive theological construction. The consequence was a readjustment of the role of dialectic in the 1927 prolegomena. No longer was ontic dialectic used; noetic dialectic was utilized as a method to enhance and explain dogma. In further explanation of my thesis, I suggest that the ontic dialectic diminishes in Barth's theological method because he begins to emphasize the relatedness with which God graces humans rather than the distance. However, to maintain a limit on the capacity of human understanding of God, Barth keeps the use of noetic dialectic throughout his writings. Dialectic reflects the fact that humans cannot encompass or master God with their views or concepts. Therefore, humans speak in brokenness, in fragmentary incompleteness. This he could say in 1922,1925,1927,1932, and 1940! The theological method of noetic dialectic reflects this post lapsum intellect.
Dialectic is not just a limiter, but a helper. This aspect begins in an inchoate manner in 1927 and is more completely used in 1932. As a helper, noetic dialectic is a human tool for comprehension of God. Barth believes that God blesses our human capacities of understanding and therefore dialectic becomes useful not just as a crier against human arrogance, but as an epistemological tool to coordinate and hold in mutual reciprocity what may appear to us to be contradictory in God's nature. Dialectic helps to make the correspondence proprie, because we should not just correspond but correspond correctly to the object of revelation. Therefore, analogy cannot work alone in the doctrine of God. Dialectic helps analogy to say what needs to be said about the Trinity and the perfections of God.
It is perhaps more than coincidental that as Barth's confidence in corresponding concepts increases, so does his use of dialectic as "helper." The limits are still there to preserve God's sovereignty, but perichoresis and reciprocity become dialectical tools with which God graces human cognition. By 1940, the "helper" side of dialectic is strongly emphasized.
Barth's entire doctrine of God rests on the facts that (1) God allows our concepts to correspond to his truth and thereby humans may know God, and that (2) dialectic operates within the structure of correspondence in two manners: (a) as a second pole (the first being analogy) in the knowledge of God through which it limits the correspondence, and (b) as a helper in human apprehension of the God of revelation through which it enhances the correspondence. Thus it is clear that Barth's doctrine of God rests on two foundation stones: analogy and dialectic.
The melody of Barth's theology is grace revealed in Jesus Christ. The precise nature of its tone and quality of its message are delivered on the instruments of dialectic and analogy. To be sure, without dialectic the symphony of Barth's doctrine of God would sound quite different‑perhaps even so muted that the tune would be harder to hear. It is one thing to hear Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on a piano and quite another thing to hear it with full orchestra. It is the same melody, but what a difference in sound! Barth's choice of dialectic as an instrument has allowed him to "play" the doctrine of God with the melody of grace in its best setting.
I have had the pleasure of hearing Itzhak Perlman play Paganini on his violin with the support of full orchestra and piano. I have also sat in the front row of a concert hall listening to him play Paganini on his violin with no one else on stage. The nuances of every note still sound clearly in my ears. Would I prefer Perlman alone with violin or supported with full orchestra? How could I choose? Both events offered a musical melody that transcended the physical notes written on the page. Hearing Perlman by himself is similar to the manner in which I have been listening to Barth in this study‑with the instrument of dialectic alone (and occasionally the addition of the piano of analogy). Can one hear the melody of grace by focusing on dialectic only? Indeed, I believe one can. In fact, without this instrument of dialectic, the entire symphony of God's grace becomes dissonant. However, I would not want to hear Perlman with violin alone on every occasion. Hearing Perlman with full orchestra is like reading the Church Dogmatics with every instrument available to the maestro's penanalogy, the logic of revelation, and dialectic. The message/melody of the Word of God revealed in Jesus Christ resounds without question through the entire hall. Yet, it is my contention that dialectic operates like a specially chosen instrument to play the major theme of the symphony. Having listened to this theological maestro play the melody of grace with nimble theological fingers on the instrument of dialectic, accompanied by the instrument of analogy, we can return to the full symphonic orchestra with greater awareness of the nuances of the notes, the expression in the trills, and the dynamics of a performer's genius. Could other instruments have been chosen by Barth to play these themes? Perhaps‑-but not with this theological master. Like Mozart, Barth has been struck by God's Spirit to play the theme of grace and play he must, not "because my dialectics are so great, but because God condescends to make use of me and this my questionable instrument."
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