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Apologetics? Nein!

Some nice moments from Barth against apologetics

"Knowledge of revelation... begins with certitude. Either God has spoken or He has not spoken. If He has spoken, He has done so in such a manner that it is impossible not to heed Him. Among others, the question of His existence and nature are then decided and can be answered only a posteriori. Doubt and despair, human unbelief, and even a sea of uncertainties on our part, will not be able to change the certitude of His presence. Revelation is this divine presence." (God in Action, p8)

"And we are certainly not ministers of the Word if we feel ourselves called to be benevolent protectors, or big-hearted friends or representatives of whom the Word of God has need." (God in Action, p67)

"What God speaks is never known or true anywhere in abstraction from God Himself. It is known and true for no other reason than that He Himself says it, that He in person is in and accompanies what is said by Him." (I/1, 155)

The great danger of apologetics is "the domesticating of revelation... the process of making the Gospel respectable. When the Gospel is offered to man, and he stretches out his hand to receive it and takes it into his hand, an acute danger arises which is greater than the danger that he may not understand it and angrily reject it. The danger is that he may accept it and peacefully and at once make himself its lord and possessor, thus rendering it inoccuous, making that which chooses him something which he himself has chosen, which therefore comes to stand as such alongside all the other things that he can also choose, and therefore control." (II/1, p141)

"For we know nothing of our created state from our created state, but only through the Word of God, from which we can derive no independent, generally true items of knowledge, different from the Word of God and therefore leading up to it." (I/1, p148)

When people say ‘God' "far too often what is meant by it is... the unsubstantial, unprofitable and fundamentally very tedious magnitude known as transcendence, not as a genuine counterpart, nor a true other, nor a real outside and beyond, but as an illusory reflection of human freedom, as its projection into the vacuum of utter abstraction." (III/4, 479)

 "If grace is alongside nature, however high above it may be put, it is obviously no longer the grace of God, but the grace which man ascribes to himself. If God's revelation is alongside a knowledge of God proper to man as such, even though it may never be advanced except as a prolegomenon, it is obviously no longer the revelation of God, but a new expression (borrowed or even stolen) for the revelation which encounters man in his own reflection." (II/1, p139)


0 thoughts on “Apologetics? Nein!

  1. glenscriv

    Hi Dev,

    Apologetics (apo - logia) is literally 'answering words.' (cf 1 Pet 3:15). So in the sense in which they're traditionally used, apologetics are always defensive. And in that case, you're right, just give em the gospel. Christ in word and Spirit can take care of Himself - just preach Him on His own grounds and authority.

    Some have tried to call 'offensive apologetics' 'katagoria' (you know the magazine from Sydney?) - it means 'interpretation according to...' And it's basically an attempt to interpret the world according to the gospel. Is this what you mean by offensive apologetics?

    I sometimes think of it in terms of Christ's teaching in the Gospels. He speaks about wealth, relationships, worry, politics, death, morality etc etc. But first He says 'Repent and believe the good news.' On that basis He teaches about the world.

    The great danger of classical apologetics is that you build up towards the Truth - somehow through other, lesser, generally known and available truths accessible to the natural mind. You say 'Everyone knows that.... and on that basis can't you see how reasonable the gospel is?' Such apologetics are a denial of the gospel.

    But if you say 'Since we now know in the gospel.... on that basis can't you see how unreasonable the world is?' then that's just a prophetic ministry to the world. Bring it on.

  2. yemsee

    yup as in showing the world's 'truths' for how ridiculous they are in the light of the gospel

    something that many of the church fathers spend much time doing?

  3. Pingback: The Truth that is in Jesus [Thawed out Thursday] « Christ the Truth

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