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…