Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carl Versus Karl

Randy Alcorn has a great little post on Carl F. H. Henry. Easily the most interesting part is a section from Henry's autobiography about a question he asked Barth during a public Q & A. Here is the lead-up and the question:
    Aware that the initial queries often set the mood for all subsequent discussion, I asked the next question. Identifying myself as Carl Henry, editor of Christianity Today, I continued: 'The question, Dr. Barth, concerns the historical factuality of the resurrection of Jesus.' I pointed to the press table and noted the presence of leading reporters representing United Press, Religious News Service, Washington Post, Washington Star, and other media. If these journalists had their present duties at the times of Christ, I asked, was the resurrection of such a nature that covering some aspect of it would have fallen under their area of responsibility? 'Was it news,' I asked, 'in the sense that the man on the street understands news?'
You'll have to read the whole thing to get Barth's response.


Ian Clausen said...

I must say, I'm somewhat surprised by contemporary evangelical (and usually American) dislike of Karl Barth. It is understandable in some sense - Barth's views on language and Scripture, perhaps, or 'double predestination' - but I hope that does not excuse us from doing business with him. From my perspective he's more friend than enemy...though perhaps he would think differently.

At any rate, there's a recent publication out called 'Engaging with Barth: Contemporary Evangelical Critiques' (2008), link here:


I'm interested to read it, and would love to hear others' opinions if they already have.

Andrew Faris said...


I didn't meant to give the impression that Barth is a foe. Neither did I mean to give the impression that he is a friend. Having read almost no Barth, I just can't make that kind of statement.

I just thought it was an interesting exchange from two heavyweights from quite different perspectives!

That said, if the exchange went as Henry recounts, then we have some serious issues with Barth, don't we? The historicity of the resurrection- or in this case, the need for historicity at all- is a big deal!


Ian Clausen said...

Hi Andrew

Actually I wasn't accusing anyone in particular, and certainly not you! Sorry it seems I suggested as much. I've had several friends raise eyebrows toward him, so I suppose I was being a bit indignant. Alcorn's post does give the impression Barth is in some sense 'against' evangelicalism - which may be true, on a certain definition of the latter.

You're right though - historicity questions matter. I think I could manage a summary of why Barth would find claims to historicity problematic to (his conception of) the Christian faith, but for another time maybe. Anyway, hope I'm excused for my poorly crafted response!