3 september 2012

#18. Karl har ordet...

"Why does the Church perpetually keep half an eye on its contemporaries, the nobility, the crowd, the educated classes, the proletariat youth, the buorgeoisie, asking what they will say, what they will make of the Church, asking whether they will understand or whether they can fail to understand? Why is the Church so incredibly skilled in discovering in Divinity a thing capable of historical description or psychological analysis? How easy the Church finds it to bring in 'interesting parallels', to draw up pedigrees of spiritual experience, to note differences and to illustrate the dependence of one religion upon another, to disclose or invent 'types', and then to puff them about like so many peas out of a pea-shooter! What a strange, elastic power the Church has, when twanged in the face by its own elastic, of speaking complacently of the religious value of such a rebuff! How distressingly correct and friendly the Church manages to make itself!

Were an Amos or Elijah to appear as a modern preacher, he would be rendered perfectly harmless. With what uncanny facility the slightest trace of the impossible possibilty is transformed into the possible possibility of a movement, a school of thought, a point of view, or of a fellowship, each claiming that some shibboleth or other represents the most peculiarly modern enthusiasm for God, each having its own 'Press' which does business under a title indicating some form of accommodation of the Gospel, and indicating also a quite certain failure!

Why is the Church so quick to muzzle any one who displays conspicuos intelligence by at once making him a leader? And finally, whence comes its ability to discover som refuge where men need no longer fear dissolution, where, rid of the necessity to defend themselves, they can enjoy the security of their own righteousness? And all this compatible with the quite devastating illusion shared by almost every one, that, of course as far as they are personally concerned, the Church is not in itself the supreme thing, not an end in itself.
That the tribulation of the Church is its guilt, and that its guilt consists in a perpetual avoiding of the tribulation which it suffers from the secret of God, must not be in any way minimized, but rather asserted. The Church needs to be continually reminded of the most serious of symptoms. It was the Church, not the world, which crucified Christ."

  • Barth, Karl, 1968: The Epistle to the Romans. New York: Oxford University Press. S. 388-389

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