Friday, February 17, 2006

McGrath and Barth

Here is an interesting audio interview with Alister McGrath.

While I’m thinking of McGrath, he has, in his Modern German Christology, accused Barth’s Christology of being a pre-modern throwback to days long gone, one that ignored the pressing questions of his day, i.e. the relation between the ‘Christ of faith’ and the ‘Christ of history’.

Is McGrath ‘on the money’, do you think?

While sniffing around the second hand book shops today, I found a copy of Barth’s Dogmatik im Grundriss for just 2 euro. Amen to that with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

(It’s now on my book shelf)


At 2/18/2006 12:19 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

"Is McGrath on the money?" No, no, no!

It's clear that Barth is very much aware of the Christ of faith/Jesus of history problem. But Barth deliberately refuses to engage with this problem in the hermeneutical terms of the 19th century or of the Bultmann school. Instead, he tries to resolve this problem theologically and ontologically, i.e., christologically.

John Webster has written superbly on this aspect of Barth's thought, in his brilliant paper "'Eloquent and Radiant': The Prophetic Office of Christ and the Mission of the Church" (chapter 7 in Barth's Moral Theology: Human Action in Barth's Thought, 1998). Here's an extended quote from this essay:

"Much modern theology is predicated on a sense of the disjunction between Jesus and the world of contemporary experience, with the disjunction variously identified as one between past and present, objective and subjective, transcendent and worldly. On this basis, [modern theology] proceeds to overcome the disjunction by elaborating upon various modes of human action (experiential, hermeneutical, sacramental, moral), through which Jesus can be 'realized', made meaningful. Barth sets off in a quite different direction.... [For Barth,] Our knowledge of Jesus Christ is ingredient within his reality, as the risen, ascended and self-communicative one. Here and elsewhere, Barth more than any modern theologian shakes himself free of the presupposition that Jesus is essentially past." (p. 128)

Far from somehow sidestepping the basic problem of modern christology, then, I think Barth in fact proposes the single most remarkable and most creative solution to this problem. But he consistently refuses to approach the problem in the usual terms (especially in the terms of Bultmann and hermeneutics).

At 2/18/2006 5:48 AM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Oh no, absolutely off the money.

Barth according to Arek Shakarian, Ph.D., an expert on Derridaism, is post-modern. I haven't had dinner with Arek for a long time, need to track him down and find out what he has been reading.


At 2/18/2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks so much for these helpful comments. I will post on this again later today.

At 2/18/2006 4:55 PM, Anonymous joshua said...

i concur with ben, but more importantly Chris, is Alistar McGrath your father or older brother? the resemblance is striking!

At 2/18/2006 10:07 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

NO HE'S NOT my dad!! I'm utterly shocked by the comparison!

I'm much prettier.


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