”A theologian may at first appear ’radical,’ or at least new, because he or she has identified with the latest leftist political developments. Tillich was a socialist and appeared critical of bourgeois conventions. In fact, even Tillich’s socialism was accommodationist because it continued the Constantian strategy: The way to make the church radical is by identifying the church with secular ’radicals,’ that is, socialists. Today, there are those who take the same path, hoping to update the church, to recover some of the scandal of Jesus by identifying with the newest secular solution: Marxism, Feminism, the Sexual Revolution. Of course Barth was no less socialist than Tillich. Yet Barth saw how our Christian belief makes a difference for how we are political.
That which makes the church ’radical’ and forever ’new’ is not that the church tends to lean toward the left on most social issues, but rather that the church knows Jesus whereas the world does not. In the church’s view, the political left is not noticeably more interesting than the political right; both sides tend toward solutions that act as if the world has not ended and begun in Jesus. These ’solutions’ are only mirror images of the status quo.
Barth was really more ’new,’ more ’radical,’ than Tillich in his determination to get the church accommodated to the gospel rather than the gospel adapted to the status quo of the world. In Barth we rediscovered the New Testament assertion that the purpose of theological endeavor is not to describe the world in terms that make sense, but rather to change lives, to be re-formed in light of the stunning assertions of the gospel. Each age must come, fresh and new, to the realization that God, not nations, rule the world. This we can know, not through accommodation, but through conversion. As Barth noted, sanctification and justification go hand in hand. We cannot understand the world until we are transformed into persons who can use the language of faith to describe the world right. Everyone does not already know what we mean when we speak of prayer. Everyone does not already believe that he or she is a sinner. We must be taught that that we sin. That is, we must be transformed by the vision of a God who is righteous and just, who judges us on the basis of something more significant than merely what feels right for us.”
- Hauerwas, Stanley & Willimon, William H., 2014: Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition). Nashville: Abingdon Press. S 27-28