“Wake me up inside…” (part 1): Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Reconciliation (iv.1.58)

Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Reconciliation is the crescendo of the symphony that is his Church […]

Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Reconciliation is the crescendo of the symphony that is his Church Dogmatics. Specifically, in this small (!) section (iv.1.58), one can begin to see how Barth is going to pull his entire theology together through the one moment, the one solitary and essential event of the atonement. He has woven together the previous three doctrines into this one doctrine of Reconciliation. IV.1.58 presents Barth at his absolute Christological best (and at his most un-universalistic). Barth’s doctrine of reconciliation not only emphasizes the triunity of God, but demonstrates how that triunity is expressed in God’s Grace toward humanity, in the being of humanity in Christ, in Jesus, in sin, and in individuality and community. Everything outside of the divine verdict, divine direction, divine promise, outside of faith, love, and hope, outside of Jesus as God, as Man, as God-Man, according to Barth, ceases and is negated; outside of Christ, humanity ceases to be humanity and becomes nothing (we’ll tease this out later). Barth’s doctrine of reconciliation puts fire into the desperate and needy sinner’s heart that burns so passionately, that they (I) can’t help but cry out,

“Save me from the nothing I’ve become!” This series is a mere attempt at summarizing what Barth said in this one section (iv.1.58), while communicating the same passion Barth communicates to his reader. This series will be an interaction with Barth’s train of thought and attempting to see the ways he links together the different parts as he does. In this series, I will simultaneously summarize and interact with Barth’s material and only Barth’s material (as in, I’m not incorporating those who have written on Barth); this is just Barth.