Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 01:1 (Nov 1938)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Emil Brunner: Der Mensch im Widerspruch. Berlin: Furche-Verlag, 1937. xv, 572. Rm. 12.80.

Emil Brunner is one of the leading theologians of our day. He represents what is frequently spoken of as Crisis Theology. This crisis theology has made a vigorous attack on Modernism. Brunner and Barth have called men back to what they call the “theology of the Reformation”. We cannot help but be interested in it.

Brunner’s recent book, Der Mensch im Widerspruch, deals with the doctrine of man. It speaks a good deal of man’s creation in the image of God and of his fall into sin. This naturally brings forward the problem of history. Does Brunner accept the Genesis account of man’s creation and fall at face value? Up to this time Reformed theologians have done this. Brunner’s predecessors in the chair of systematic theology at Princeton have done this. They have held that the Scriptures as the Word of God and historic Christianity itself would fall to the ground unless the Genesis account be taken as literally true.

We need not read far into Brunner’s book to find that it is at odds with the Reformed and generally orthodox conception of history. Brunner’s philosophy of history resembles that of Kant. Kant made a broad distinction between the realm of phenomena and the realm of noumena; Brunner makes a broad distinction between the dimension of Becoming and the dimension of History. Generally speaking Brunner’s dimension of Becoming answers to Kant’s phenomena while Brunner’s dimension of History answers to Kants’ noumena. The dimension of Becoming deals with causal sequences and necessary relations. It is therefore open to scientific research. The dimension of History, or rather real-history, (die Echtgeschichliche) deals with events not repeatable (das Einmalige). True historical narrative is therefore descriptive, not explanatory.1

Traditional or orthodox theology, says Brunner, has failed to make the all-important distinction between the dimension of Becoming and that of

History. What Scripture tells us about man’s creation and fall into sin is History. It therefore does not belong to the dimension of Becoming. “The contrast ‘created good. .. fallen’ has nothing to do with the distinction ‘earlier. .. later’ in the field of empirical sequence” (p. 413). The creation and the fall of man are not occurrences in the empirical realm, the realm of Becoming. The creation and the fall lie behind or above the level of the empirical.2 Yet traditional theology has taken the Ge...

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