Since I began my project of reading all of Church Dogmatics on April 8 of this year, I have completed the 489 pages of volume one in the hardbound edition and I have reached page 215 in the second volume. So I’ve covered 704 pages of the most challenging work I’ve ever tried to read. Now I face the daunting task of getting my writing on Church Dogmatics to catch up with my reading.
Many times in the course of my grappling with the meaning of Karl Barth’s massive work, I’ve recalled one of my favorite “Peanuts” comic strips by the late Charles M. Schultz. After a brief search on the Internet, I found this comic strip which first appeared 1960. It features Lucy, Linus and good ol’ Charlie Brown outside lying on their backs and musing about the clouds floating overhead.
Lucy says: “If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations. What do you think you see, Linus?”
In the following frames, Linus says: “Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of British Honduras on the Caribbean.”
Linus continues, “That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen…I can see the apostle Paul standing there to one side…”
In the next frame Lucy says, “Uh huh…That’s very good…What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?”
In the final frame Charlie Brown says, “Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind!”
As I try to recall what I have seen so far in Church Dogmatics, I can identify with Charlie Brown. I suspect that there are profound philosophical issues and deep theological insights that I have missed, and that all I can report are some simple things I’ve observed. That’s what I intend to do in the following posts on this website. So don’t expect more than “a ducky and a horsie.”
For instance, I can report that the first two volumes of Church Dogmatics are entitled “The Doctrine of the Word of God.” One of the simple things I’ve observed early in my reading is that Karl Barth says that the Word of God comes in three forms: in preaching, in the Bible, and in revelation. In coming posts I’ll try to explain what the famous Swiss theologian says about these forms of the Word of God.