i’ve been reading Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction this week and ran across two things (so far) in my reading i wanted to share. First from page xii (the “Foreword to the American Edition”):
What we need on this and the other side of the Atlantic is not Thomism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, orthodoxy, religionism, existentialism, nor is it a return to Harnack and Troeltsch (and least of all is it “Barthianism”!), but what I somewhat cryptically called in my little final speech at Chicago a “theology of freedom” that looks ahead and strives forward. More or less or something other than that would scarcely be suitable, either here or there, to the foundation, object, and content of evangelical theology or to the nearly apocalyptic seriousness of our time.
And also on page 4-5:
In one of his plays the German poet Lessing compares the claims of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions to the claims of three brothers. Each one of them had received a precious ring from the hands of their dying father. Each claimed to have received his fathers one and only precious ring, rather than an exact copy of it. The warning contained in this fable is obvious, even if we do not choose to follow Lessing’s opinion that perhaps the genuine ring was lost and nothing else but imitations were left in the brothers’ hands. The best theology (not to speak of the only right one) of the highest, or even the exclusively true and real, God would have the following distinction: it would prove itself–and in this regard Lessing was altogether right–by the demonstration of the Spirit and of its power. However, if it should hail and proclaim itself as such, it would by this very fact betray that it certainly is not the one true theology.
It seems that this idea has been running throughout philosophy and theology since at least as early as the mid 19th century (where we can see Kierkegaard and, to some extent, Nietzsche sharing this same sentiment). How far back does it go? In March (i believe), i put some quotes from Augustine’s Literal Interpretation of Genesis which could possibly be seen as just an earlier reverberation of the same sentiment, but directed towards the culture of his time. Is “postmodernism” really anything new? i’ve begun to believe that it really is nothing more than a re-iteration of a philosophical strand (well, an anti-philosophical strand) that has always existed as both theology and philosophy swing back and forth on the same pendulum. The verbiage may have changed, but it seems that the sentiment has always been there.