Theology Thursday: Karl Barth’s Christo-Monism

by Max Andrews

Theology Thursday is a new feature on the blog, which gives a brief introduction to a theological person of significance.

Theologian: Karl Barth (1886-1969)

General summary of his theology: Barth has made man contributions to Christian theology. In this post I’ll give a summary of Barth’s Christo-monism. Christo-monism came to light in contrast to liberal anthropocentrism.  It adopts ecclesial-centrism of Catholicism.  With this, Jesus Christ is the center and focus of all revelation and so of all God’s elective and redemptive work for humanity.  Therefore, all doctrinal headings are brought in naturally under Jesus Christ

For example, Christocentrism in creation:  Barth sees God’s creation in light of the covenant relationships for creation is where the covenant of grace is worked out in Jesus Christ.  Creation was enacted for the purpose of revealing God in Christ and God’s salvation for his final glory.

Let’s now consider Barth’s Christocentrism in anthropology:  Neither Adam or Eden are historical for that would put humanity’s headship under Adam and not Christ.  Adam seemed to have already always been fallen (human race).  As such, sin is a result of rebellion against God’s universal grace which is prior to humanity’s revolt and not a response to the human fall.  For Barth, grace must be prior because Christ is the fundamental reality, he is God manifested for us

Concerning the humanity of God, Barth’s early response had been to liberal theology’s anthropocentrism (about 1916) and their tendency to immanentize God in human processes in life. There was an unbridgable gulf between humanity and God.  This was a necessary corrective to liberalism but there is no abstract deity to be known by us apart from humanity.  To speak of deity is to speak also of humanity specifically to speak of God revealed as human thus our theological language “God-talk” must be made more human or demythologized (not the same as Bultmann) in order to communicate something real about the redeeming God in Christ for us now.

(Positives and negatives of Barth will be discussed next week along with more commentary!)

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