For us neither the Epistle to the Romans, nor the present theological position, nor the present state of the world, nor the relation between God and the world, is simple. And he who is now concerned with truth must boldly acknowledge that he cannot be simple. In every direction human life is difficult and complicated. And, if gratitude be a consideration that is at all relevant, men will not be grateful to us if we provide them with short-lived pseudo-simplifications. Does the general demand for simplicity mean more than a desire - intelligible enough, and shared by most theologians - that truth should be expressed directly, without paradox, and in such a way that it can be received otherwise than by faith alone? I am thinking here of an experience in relation to that earnest and upright man, Wernle. As a modern man he is deeply hurt when I say, for example, plainly and simply - Christ is risen! He complains that I have made use of an eschatological phrase, and have ridden rough-shod over very, very difficult problems of thought. However, when I endeavor to say the same thing in the language of thought, that is, in dialectical fashion, he protests in the name of the simple believer that the doctrine of the Resurrection is wonderful, spiritual, and hard to understand. How can I answer him? He would be satisfied only if I were to surrender the broken threads of faith, and to speak directly, concretely, and without paradox. This means that the wholly childlike and the wholly unchildlike belong within the realm of truth, but that everything between must be excluded. I earnestly desire to speak simply of those matters with which the Epistle to the Romans is concerned; and, were some one competent to do this to appear, my work would at once be superseded. I am in no way bound to my book and to my theology. As yet, however, those who claim to speak simply seem to me to be - simply speaking abotu something else. By such simplicity I remain unconvinced (5-6).
Saturday, August 4, 2012
I started reading Romerbrief again today in order to get as much reading finished for my Paul and Karl class before the fall semester begins. It is always amusing to read a book more than once and see what you overlooked or never found interesting the first or second time around. I can't quite articulate why I found this excerpt particularly interesting other than to say that the never-ending dialectic between profound simplicity and complexity that always exists within the message of the Christian faith resonated with me. I appreciate Barth's acknowledgement that nothing is ever simple when speaking about the relationship between God and humanity in light of the reality and depth of human suffering in the world.