Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 119:474 (Apr 62) p. 170
Clark, Gordan H., “Barth’s Critique Of Modernism,” Christianity Today, January 5, 1962.
“The chief and summary accusation Barth made against liberal theology was that it substituted man for God.” With this concise statement, the professor of philosophy at Butler University begins a cogent analysis of the nature of liberalism and the nature of Barth’s attack on it which will do much to help the average pastor understand both. “The point therefore at which Barth most obviously conflicts with modernism is anthropology,” Clark continues. “Does man or does he not have the natural ability to find out God by searching?” Since the liberal believes that theology derives its structure and its norms from the general laws of society and the universe, he “first shows the general anthropological possibility of faith and then, second, its historico-psychological realization. As a result theology depends on borrowings from metaphysics, anthropology, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. Since by searching man can find God, a special revelation is unnecessary.” Such is the basic structure of liberalism according to Clark’s analysis.
Barth in his critique examined post-Reformation doctrinal history and pointed out that the emphasis had changed. “In its aversion from the scholastic nuda speculatio de Deo, post-reformation theology sided with Duns Scotus in regarding theology as a practical science and not as a theoretical science as Thomas had maintained. The object of theology was no longer the nature and will of God, but rather man in so far as he is led toward eternal lessedness.”
“In this way Barth has shown that modernism is man-centered. Man’s knowledge of God, which upon examination turns out to be knowledge of himself, arises out of the ordinary resources of human nature. Barth’s thought, on the contrary, is God-centered, and the following material will explain his quite different epistemology. How can man come to know God? Barth’s answer is no analysis of the universe, history, or the human spirit. Barth’s answer is revelation.” Clark endorses Barth’s critique in the following words. “Barth’s argument is penetrating and the problem is profound. How can a man measure the limits of possibility? How can man predict
BSac 119:474 (Apr 62) p. 171
what God will do? Are we to limit God’s possibilities by our studies in science or ethics? Such was the modernistic view. Barth writes, The same judge who is satisfied with God today may no longer be so tomorrow. It is presumption to claim the right to say Yes or No to God merely because we are satisfied or dissatisfied, merely because an identified revelation conforms to an arbitrary concept derived fro...
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