”It is surely not necessary to plod again through the melancholy details of the decadence of the Christian religion. On the one hand, the churches maintain their often precarious existence by an almost complete surrender of any attempt to proclaim, to bring a gospel of any sort. The church has, quite evidently, nothing whatever of its own to say. The movements that are hailed as budding renewals—the ecumenical movement, the civil rights movement, the calls for political and economical involvement in emerging megalopolitan society—always turn out to be the church belatedly repeating what everyone but the religious had long since said. The task of calling men into, say, the challenge of the great cities, by talking of Jesus, and so of speaking a message that would otherwise not be heard, is evidently beyond us.
As for the preaching in the church, the main trouble is that the particular sort of talking properly called preaching scarcely occurs any longer. The very notion of a gospel, of attempting to narrate Jesus’ story as a message of hope to the hearers, simply does not occur to our clergy. The faith has lost its voice—or putting the matter sociologically: ’Although the specialized religious institutions have not—entirely—abandonded the traditional Christian rhetoric, that rhetoric increasingly expresses ”ultimate” meanings that have only a tenuous relation to the traditional Christian universe.’
But this sellout has purchased no advantage for Christianity. For the civic religiosity which the churches now represent is obviously and increasingly uninteresting to society and to the actual life of individuals. It is uninteresting because it is fraudulent. Our religion is fraudulent because, although the very function of religion is to give meaning to life as a whole, it is in contemporary culture restricted to the ’private life,’ i.e., excluded from most of our serious and effective pursuits, which in fact—whatever rhetoric we may use—are governed by norms set by wholly autonomous secular institutions.”
- Jenson, Robert W., 2010: GOD AFTER GOD, The God of the Past and the God of the Future: As Seen in the Work of Karl Barth. (Tidigare utg. 1969) Minneapolis: Fortress Press. S. 31-32.