Karl Barth is undoubtedly amongst the most important leaders of the church that we have seen. Not just because his startling theology that continues to serve as a slap in the face of the easy-and-wrong answers we want to offer but because of the way he applied that theology to the reality of evil in Europe in the middle 20th Century.
He did however protest natural theology. I don’t think I am the only one in this -of-marginal-value-discussion forum who feel they can’t go out on that ledge with him. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” after all. Barth would warn us that Natural theology fed NAZIsm. But the reason for this is because we don’t define nature. We use the word to mean “what comes easy” instead of “creation”. But as I take up reading Barth again I’d love for your help figuring out if Barth is just plain wrong when he denies natural theology as an act of divine revelation. Surely Mozart and Ando and Rembrandt all mine the general revelation of God to reveal him?
At the most, nature and the natural law can be no more than a parable of the other world
Is he right?
*** Update ***
I got my answer. I have been reading too many papers by people discussing Barthian theology instead of letting Barth be Barth. The answer, for the week that is in it came from Matthew Sheddon’s quote of John Updike’s introduction to Barth’s book on Mozart.
Karl Barth’s insistence upon the otherness of God seemed to free him to be exceptionally (for a theologian) appreciative and indulgent of this world, the world at hand. His humor and love of combat, his capacity for friendship even with his ideological opponents, his fondness for his tobacco and other physical comforts, his tastes in art and entertainment were heartily worldly, worldly not in the fashion of those who accept this life as a way-station and testing-ground but of those who embrace it as a piece of God’s Creation.
To say that the world is but a parable of the light that lights it up is not to run the world down or limit us in enjoying it. In fact, it frees the world to be the world as it was meant to be without investing it with burdensome metaphysical ideas like “Mother Nature”. Barth hates natural theology. But that doesn’t mean he hates nature.
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