The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Quotes of Karl Barth's The Humanity of God

From the chapter titled, “Evangelical Theology in the 19th Century.”

On 19th-century theology’s interaction with contemporary worldviews:

“openness to the world meant (1) that through the open windows and doors came so much stimulation for thought and discussion that there was hardly time or love or zeal left for the task to be accomplished within the house itself.” (19)

“Nineteenth-century theology ascribed normative character to the ideas of its environment.” (19)

“…the most honest commerce with the world might best be assured when the theologians, unheeding the favors or disfavors of this world, confronted it with the results of theological research carried out for its own sake. It did not enter their minds that respectable dogmatics could be good apologetics. Man in the 19th century might have taken the theologians more seriously if they themselves had not taken him so seriously.” (20)

“…openness to the world led necessarily to the specific assumption that theology could defend its own cause only within the framework of a total view of man, the universe, and God which could commend universal recognition….[and] speak from within one of the current philosophies and world views.” (20)

“They set out to prove the possibility of faith in its relatedness to, and its conditioning by, the world views which were normative for their contemporaries and even for themselves.” (21)

“The world views changed in the course of the century; but there were always theologians who went along, more or less convinced, if not enthusiastic, and who started the theological task afresh within the new framework.” (21)

“Is there any proof that acceptance of a particular world view will make Christianity generally accessible or even possible? Even granted the existence of man’s religious disposition, can the Christ faith be called one of its expressions, in other words a ‘religion’? Nineteenth-century evangelical theology assumed that this was so.” (23)

“Was is possible to win the ‘gentiles’ for the Christian cause by first accepting the ‘gentile’ point of view. . . ?” (23)

“Theology is still being penalized for accepting the Renaissance discovery that man was the measure of all things, including Christian things. On this ground the testimony of Christian faith, however honest, and however richly endowed with Biblical and Reformation recollections, could only exist like a fish out of water.” (26)

“…he who in 1933 may still have been spellbound by the theology of the 19th century was hopelessly condemned, save for a special intervention of grace, to bet on the wrong horse in regard to national socialism and during the clash between the Confessing Church and the German Christians who supported the new regime (Kirchenkampf). I mentioned these developments only as symptoms.” (28)

“One day in August 1914 stands out in my personal memory as a black day. Ninety-three German intellectuals impressed public opinion by their proclamation in support of the way policy of Wilhelm II and his counselors. Among these intellectuals I discovered to my horror almost all my theological teachers whom I had greatly venerated. I suddenly realized that I could not any longer follow either their ethics and dogmatics or their understanding of the Bible and of history. For me at least, 19th-century theology no longer held any future.” (14)

“What if by talking about Christianity as a religion these theologians had already ceased to speak of Christianity…? What if the only relevant way of speaking of Christianity was from within?” (30-31)

The “historical-critical” theology was “valuable [for] stimulation, illumination, and guidance” only “insofar as its subject matter was powerful enough to break through the questionable vehicles of 19th-century research and speak for itself.” (31)


From the chapter titled, “The Humanity of God.”

On culture:

“Certainly we must here consider the fact that the use of the good gift of God and hence human activity with its great and small results is compromised in the extreme through man’s perverted attitude toward God, toward his neighbor, and toward himself. Certainly culture testifies clearly in history and in the present to the fact that man is not good but rather a downright monster. But even if one were in this respect the most melancholy skeptic, one could not—in view of the humanity of God which is bestowed upon the man…—say that culture speaks only of the evil in man. What is culture in itself except the attempt of man to be man and thus to hold the good gift of his humanity in honor and to put it to work? That is this attempt he ever and again runs aground and even accomplished the opposite is a problem in itself, but one which in no way alters the fact that this attempt is inevitable. Above all, the fact remains that the man who, either as the creator of as the beneficiary, somehow participates in this attempt is the being who interests God.” (why?)