Barth and theological method

I have written before that my obsession with context leads me to turn theology into anthropology (or sociology). Everything can be explained if only you know the context. Thus this is my ongoing question, whether we can truly speak of God or that in the end we are only speaking about and to ourselves (seriously, as Hauerwas said, Christians are not the one who have all the answers). And I guess this is one of the reasons I am attracted to Barth subconsciously.

Paul Molnar commented that it is fair to ask “whether Barth is not more concerned with God’s freedom here than God himself might be.” (Divine Freedom and the Doctrine of the Immanent Trinity, 64) But he acknowledged that what Barth really wanted to do is to avoid “the collapse of theology into anthropology.” (64) Indeed, Barth would argue that true anthropology can be known only through true theology. God is free, God is the Lord. Barth’s theological method is consistently Christological and Trinitarian through and through. It is pretty darn impressive.

Can Barth’s theology be analyzed in terms of his social settings? I believe it can, as it is easy to see how his theology is shaped by his reaction against liberalism of his day. But I guess at least I could appreciate his well-meaning intention, that is to seriously seek genuine knowledge of God through God himself. I do think Barth got it right in terms of theological method. Any theology which is not centered in Christ and grounded in the Trinity (and, trust me, there are plenty of them!) can’t be called a Christian theology at all.


2 thoughts on “Barth and theological method

  1. dpredie

    i was always wondering why u r so into barth AND wright, when barth might be actually ‘against’ wright’s historical (+jesus seminar) if he still lives today.

    opposites attract? or is it a dialectic between history->theology & theology->history?

    1. septian Post author

      hahaha spot on!

      ok, honestly I read Barth and Wright because of the backlash that they received from the conservative Reformed groups.

      (it proves that I am a Reformed since in-fighting is one of our distinctives!)

      but you are right, after reading Barth I realize that he might be cursing Wright now for Wright’s historical approach.

      and I guess that’s why Hays attempted to reconcile Wright to Barth in his lecture in last year Wheaton’s conference: “Knowing Jesus: Story, History and the Question of Truth.” Barth’s is story, Wright’s is history. i will get back to you again when i’ve read his essay.


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