Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 19:2 (May 1957)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews Of Books

Karl Barth: Church Dogmatics. Vol. I, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Second Half-Volume. Eds. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1956. xv, 906. $12.50.

Almost forty years ago the star called Karl Barth shot up to sudden and great brilliancy. It was no momentary illumination, for its brilliance has continued right up to the present. Even with the passing of Barth’s seventieth birthday his significance as a theologian is in the ascendency.

The appearance of the second half-volume of the Church Dogmatics in English translation is an indication that his influence in the world is perhaps greater today than ever before, for now the whole English-speaking world has access to his maturer thinking. But the appearance of this volume also makes a new demand upon the Christian theologian carefully to study his writings. Barth is too important for one to become acquainted with him only through secondary sources.

The Reformed Christian especially has a duty here, for Barth claims the early sixteenth century Reformers for his theological pedigree. And since the Reformed Christian has always placed special emphasis upon the doctrine of the Word of God, it is doubly important that he peruse this volume entitled, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Prolegomena to Church Dogmatics.

Barth must be seen not only as the father, but also as the child, of modern thinking. This appears even from the title, Church Dogmatics. His dogmatics are oriented not so much to the Scriptures as such as to the church. “Scripture is the Word of God for and to the Church.” In his dogmatics, the church takes precedence over the Scriptures, not as the basis for authority, nor as the source for the material of dogmatics, but as the point of orientation. The chapter entitled “Holy Scripture” is divided into three sections: “The Word of God for the Church”, “Authority in the Church”, and “Freedom in the Church”. “Scripture is holy and the Word of God, because by the Holy Spirit it became and will become to the Church a witness to divine revelation” (p. 457).

To understand this doctrine of the Word of God correctly, one must recognize the deep-cutting distinction that Barth posits between revelation and Scripture. And even as the whole of dogmatics is oriented to the

church, so here the doctrine of the Word of God is oriented to the problem of the communicability of truth. This thought we must pursue in some detail.

Jesus Christ is, according to Barth, both the objective reality and the objective possibility of revelation, and in that order. Reality precedes poss...

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