Barthianism: Panacea, or Placebo?
This is an excerpt from my journal, which I kept while studying for a class on Karl Barth. It does not represent my finished thoughts on Barth. Please read my later posts on Barthianism, and especially my paper “The Gospel According to Barth” for my finished thoughts on the topic.
Like Liberalism, Barthianism answers many thorny questions for that most troubled of creatures – the Christian trying to swim upstream in the mighty torrents of Modern/Postmodern intelligentsia. It provides a method of integrating Christianity with Enlightenment Rationality, it eases our concerns over Hell (the Christian doctrine which provides a frontal assault on Humanism!), and it provides a path for radical ecumenism and unity. However, it proposes nothing basically new or compelling for the average non-Christian.
At best, the non-Christian will likely say, “Oh! My sins are already paid for? That’s great! Hope you’re right! Guess I’ll just go on with life as usual…”
That is why the great missionaries of Barthianism have gone not to the missions fields – where they have gone, they have chilled revival flames – but have gone instead to seminaries, churches and denominations of Christians. To the world, Barth offers nothing but sugar-water: “what you are doing is great! Do it more-so, and have a nice day!” But to the troubled Academic/Christian, Barth is water in a dry and thirsty land.
Barthianism is a panacea for the troubled Christian’s conscience, and a placebo to a dying world…