An event and not a programme

It is well-known that Barth was against apologetics, broadly defined as attempts to defend (or, sometimes, to prove) the contents of Christian faith (particularly the Bible), as he believed that the basic task of the Church is to proclaim the Word of God. He was concerned with the sovereignty and freedom of the Word of God, and thus attempts to prove the divinity of the Bible might actually destroy it:

“The Word of God over the Church and to the Church will permit of no proof, not even and least of all this proof from the faith present in the Church. The conclusion that because I believe, and because for me as a believer the Bible is the Word of God, therefore and thus far it is God’s Word, destroys the divinity of the Word of God, since it is no longer understood as the Word that stands over the Church and is directed into it.” (I/1, 261-262)

The Word of God stands over the Church and this distinction must not be obscured. That’s why, “[a]pologetics and polemics can only be an event and not a programme.” (31) I could imagine that some apologists will immediately respond and point out that what I’m doing now is basically apologizing for anti-apologetics and I guess I can’t really be bothered about them.


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