Germany’s New Paradox Theology -- By: F. D. Jenkins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:332 (Oct 1926)
Article: Germany’s New Paradox Theology
Author: F. D. Jenkins


Germany’s New Paradox Theology

F. D. Jenkins

“A BATH of iron salts for the American brother as a counter-poison to optimism and methodistic efficiency”— so does the Kirchenzeitung fling from German Theological circles a repartee to our buoyant trans-atlantic work-theology and worship of the mystic term “Efficiency.” “Well said,” might be cheerfully rejoined. But let us look a little more deeply into the nature of the proposed hydrotherapy. The affection is admitted: but the proposed remedy will not be accepted lightly nor without the closest scrutiny.

The proposed “bath of iron salts” is nothing less than that most recent movement of German Reformed Theology centering in the person of Prof. Karl Barth of Got-tingen, and bearing the drastic name “The Theology of Crisis.” It has already begun to actualize the crisis which is the genius of the system, and which it is the express mission of this movement to produce in German society, politik, kultur and liberal, as well as orthodox, theology. “Overnight, so to speak, continental theology was found to be in a new position,” says Dr. Adolph Keller of Zurich in the Expositor. And Prof. August Lange in the American Kirchenzeitung states that “in so far as Barth places all whereof humanity and especially Christianity and the church, is proud before God, he becomes the incisive preacher of repentance for the present-day German people.” It is this same humility before God the All-Powerful that Dostoiewski commended to the Russian people for their deliverance some years ago. As Edward Thurney-sen suggests in his work, Dostoiewski, the religous ideas of the two men are strikingly similar. But it is of peculiar interest in the present connection to note that Dos-toiewski’s was more of a philosophy than a theology, and that on the other hand Prof. Barth’s is also more of a philosophy than a Reformed Theology. And this despite the fact that Barthianism passes before the world un-

scouted under the title of Reformed Theology, titulus sine re.

The nature of the upheaval is seen from the variety of polemical hard hitting that this new theology has stirred up on all sides. From the Literarischer Jahres-bericht comes the epithet “desperado-theology” with the implication that Barthianism is a symptom of the present post-war spirit which sways somewhat desperately to and fro in the paradoxes of doubt. Max Strauch queries whether this revolutionary theology is not part of the powerful revolutionary movement of youth. From the Catholic angle the movement is appraised as “an original and genuine rebirth of Protestantism.” Graf Herrman Keyserling regards this as “the final and g...

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