Karl Barth and Donald Trump

Mere Orthodoxy has a nice post about Karl Barth’s warning to contemporary evangelicalism. The short of it is the church looses its voice when it tries to do theology driven by contemporary culture. You can find it here.

How does Barth avoid this trap? Like this:

[The church] must never forget what it has to proclaim, that the history of Israel and the history of mankind have attained their goal and in end in Jesus Christ, and that this goal and this end are now the prius for every human life. It has to take seriously the fact that the time in which we live post Christum is the final time, the time when the pendulum is swinging for the last time, and there is no more room, for the rise and perpetuation of independent human kingdoms alongside and in competition with the kingdom of God which has come, but all such kingdoms can only prove fleeting shadows. This being so, how can it try to found such a kingdom in the name of Jesus Christ? How can it try to present and preserve itself as such? This attempt can be made only in misunderstanding and error. It can only lead to shipwreck.

Church Dogmatics, III.2.47.4

This was published in 1948. Barth certainly had plenty he could say about the rise of nationalism and the church’s temptation toward it. As Calvin devoted multiple chapters and pages to the errors of the Roman church of his day; Barth could have devoted chapters to the errors of the German church’s capitulation to Nazism. And like Calvin’s chapters on Rome, Barth’s chapters on Nazism would have been the least useful to following generations.

Instead, Barth totally undresses the folly in one paragraph. And he does so in a way that speaks directly to American Christians in 2022. Once again, many in the church are playing the whore for a charismatic leader. Once again, it can only lead to shipwreck.

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