I’m doing some travelling this week and next. If you’re at or near my undergraduate alma mater, hit me up sometime early next week. Especially if you are interested in talking to me about the benefits of graduate theological education (especially from one of the best places to study).

And here is Barth that you all are expecting. It’s an absolutely fantastic quote.

The assumption that Jesus is the Christ (Rom 1.4) is, in the strictest sense of the word, an assumption, void of any content that can be comprehended by us. The appointment of Jesus to be the Christ takes place in the Spirit and must be apprehended in the Spirit. It is self-sufficient, unlimited, and in itself true. And moreover, it is what is altogether new, the decisive factor and turning-point in man’s consideration of God. This it is which is communicated between Paul and his hearers. To the proclamations and receiving of this Gospel the whole activity of the Christian community—its teaching, ethics, and worship—is strictly related. But the activity of the community is related to the Gospel only in so far as it is no more than a crater formed by the explosion of a shell and seeks to be no more than a void in which the Gospel reveals itself. The people of Christ, His community, know that no sacred word or work or thing exists in its own right: they know only those words and works and things which by their negation are sign-posts to the Holy One. If anything Christian (!) be unrelated to the Gospel, it is a human by-product, a dangerous religious survival, a regrettable misunderstanding. For in this case content would be substituted for a void, convex for concave, positive for negative, and the characteristic marks of Christianity would be possession and self-sufficiency rather than deprivation and hope. If this be persisted in, there emerges, instead of the community of Christ, Christendom, an ineffective peace-pact or compromise with that existence which, moving with its own momentum, lies on this side resurrection. Christianity would then have lost all relation to the power of God. Now, whenever this occurs, the Gospel, so far from being removed from all rivalry, stands hard pressed in the midst of other religions and philosophies of this world. Hard pressed, because, if men must have their religious needs satisfied, if they must surround themselves with comfortable illusions about their knowledge of God and particularity about their union with Him,—well, the world penetrates far deeper into such matters than does a Christianity which misunderstands itself, and of such a ‘gospel’ we have good cause to be ashamed. Paul, however, is speaking of the power of the UNKNOWN God, of —Things which eye saw not and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man. Of such a Gospel he has no cause to be ashamed.

Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans sixth edition (New York: Oxford, 1968) 35–6.

Advertisements