Critical Evaluation Of The Theology Of Karl Barth -- By: Jacob Gaddala
JODT 14:42 (August 2010) p. 53
Critical Evaluation Of The Theology Of Karl Barth
* Jacob Gaddala, M.A., missionary to India, Independent Gospel Missions; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina
From the Enlightenment there has arisen the strong tendency in theological circles to bifurcate, to dualistically separate, the text of Holy Scriptures from “the Word of God,” which is something reckoned to be necessarily other than all texts as such, whatever “the Word of God” is understood to be. The chasm between text and Word grew through the nineteenth century as a result of philosophical developments and, especially, the further development of historical-critical approaches to the study of Scriptures.
Karl Barth, the main proponent of the neoorthodox movement, gave ascendency to this distorted view of the inspiration of Scriptures. According to him, “The Bible is God’s Word to the extent that God causes it to be His Word, to the extent that He speaks through it.”1 Scripture, therefore, according to Barth “is the literary monument of an ancient racial religion and of a Hellenistic Cultus religion of the Near East, a human document like any other.”2 In the light of these arguments, this article focuses on the critical evaluation of the theology of Karl Barth especially in regard to the inspiration of Scriptures and whether the Bible is an ordinary book like any other book or divinely inspired and infallible.
Historical Development Of Barthian Theology
Karl Barth’s roots lie deeply embedded in the Reformed or Calvinistic wing of the Protestant Reformation. During his youth, Barth’s father was professor of New Testament and later of church history in the Protestant theological faculty of the University of Bern in Switzerland. Known for his mediating conservative theological position, he was concerned for the nurture of his children in the Reformed faith. Such an experience accounts for the fact that Barth could subsequently say that his faith was nourished in positive evangelical theology. In both home and church he gained an
JODT 14:42 (August 2010) p. 54
appreciation of sacred scholarship in the service of the Gospel.3 Late in life, Barth recalled that his appetite for theology was first whetted through confirmation instruction at the age of sixteen. He was challenged not only to know something of the content of the Swiss Reformed Confessions, but also to be able to understand them from within.
Barth’s theological training during the heyday ...
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