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Barth: Theology of God

Okay, so I am just blazing my way through Gollwitzer’s « Church Dogmatics. » Got five pages done already!!

So far, I think I agree with Barth on the theology of God, but I still have questions…

I agree with Barth that God cannot be simply the human ideals about « excellence » and « perfection » and « timelessness. » These ideas are just the opposite of what we experience on earth (the mundane, the imperfect, the time-bound). Unless God reveals Himself to us, we could not know Him: if we know God without Him revealing Himself to us, I would suspect that He is not really « super-natural, » but only part of the created world. To say it another way – if I could find God in the same way that I could find the periodic table, I would assume that God belonged in the same category as the periodic table. He would belong to the « created order. » That would make me a pantheist, not a Christian.

What Barth has to say about God revealing Himself to us through Jesus, as revealed in the Word all sounds very orthodox. Now, I only feel some hesitation about some things I have heard people say about Barth. They say that Barth doesn’t like systematic theology, since that is taking ownership over the object of revelation. The point about not owning God is excellent, and a much-needed correction over Liberal theology, which had the audacity to come up with « existentialist theology, » « platonic theology, » etc…as though God was what we wanted Him to be.

My question is, however, « Is it possible to really know God, as He has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures? » If so, is it then possible to construct a very comprehensive systematic theology? Not because we are smart, you see, but because God has very mercifully revealed so much of Himself? Elsewhere, I believe He has called such an approach a « Paper-pope » (note: actually, I think that was his associate who said that…what was his name?). Since we cannot really know the God who is so much beyond us.

So which is it? Is God knowable or unknowable? Is systematic theology in or out? This is what my reformed heart wants to know…

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