Protestant Theology since 1700 -- By: Miner Brodhead Stearns

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:417 (Jan 1948)
Article: Protestant Theology since 1700
Author: Miner Brodhead Stearns


Protestant Theology since 1700

Miner Brodhead Stearns

(Continued from the October-December Number, 1947)

Barth and the Barthians

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original edition were numbered from 227–253, but in this electronic edition are numbered from 1–27, respectively.}

[Author’s Note: Since writing on Barthian theology the writer has returned to Europe and has had opportunity to examine other works by and about Barth. He has met conservative Christian leaders who were enthusiastic about Barth and still others who consider him highly dangerous, theologically and practically. All that has been learned has only confirmed the opinion already reached for this article, namely, that Barth has been too much influenced by philosophy and by supposedly scientific theory as to the origin of the Scriptures and of man. Cornelius Van Til’s work “The New Modernism,” an appraisal of the theology of Barth and Brunner, is highly recommended to those who would pursue this subject further. Although Barth claims to have rejected philosophy, Van Til has abundantly shown the philosophical undercurrent of his thinking and traced it to its sources in masterly fashion. An important case in point is the matter of “Urgeschichte,” to which Van Til devotes all of a chapter of his book. The latter translates this word as primal history, and shows that Barth has followed Overbeck in the development of this peculiar philosophic notion which derives ultimately from Kant. What this world needs is less philosophy and a more truly Biblical theology. We also need more practical Christian living, to which Barthianism is decidedly not conducive. For it denies the possibility of the experience of conversion and is inimical to worthwhile Pietism.]

Reference has been made in a previous article to Kierkegaard as a philosopher. Although he lived a century ago (1813–1855), he is now being read more than ever before, and because of this it will be well to give some further consideration to him as a theologian, indeed the more so on account of his influence upon Karl Barth, the next man we are to consider with care. The former’s theological views were best expressed in his works, The Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1845) and Practice in Christianity (1849). His extremely profound sense of the awfulness and reality

of sin is one of his most characteristic features, and this is undoubtedly connected with his tremendous sense of God’s transcendence and holiness—His “otherness” from man. It is possible, as Mackintosh thinks, that Kierkegaard exaggerated this “dualism” between God and man; but if so it was doubtless by an excess of reaction against...

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