Barth’S Free Man In Christ
Church Dogmatics: Volume Ill: The Doctrine of Creation: Part 4, by Karl Barth (T. & T. Clark, 1961, 704 pp., 55s.) is reviewed by Colin Brown, Tutor at Tyndale Hall, Bristol, England.
Forty years ago critics, looking around for a convenient stick with which to beat Karl Barth, regularly resorted to the charge that Barth had no doctrine of creation. The criticism was not without its grain of truth. For the Barth of The Epistle to the Romans preached little else but a mystical doctrine of revelation. The Word of God was presented as a holt from the blue or rather from the God who is so Wholly Other that his contact with the world is limited to a series of excursions which simply show how lost and godless this world is. No one then (perhaps least of all Barth himself) could have foreseen that one day Barth would write a Church Dogmatics which would devote twice as much space to the doctrine of creation as to the doctrine of God. Still less could they have foreseen the remarkable turnabout in Barth’s thinking which has led up to it. Not that Barth has thrown overboard his insistence that our knowledge of God comes entirely from the Word of God. Rather he has come to the conclusion that there is more to revelation than that. For in the first instance the self-revelation of God is the Incarnation, the union of divine and human nature in Christ. From there Barth proceeds to make the deduction which has become the dominant theme of the Church Dogmatics, that the union of God and man in Christ implies a union of God with all men. Thus all men are in some sense in Christ already. This is what Barth means when he uses the word covenant and when he says that the world was created with the covenant in view.
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