Barth Bite for Wednesday October 14, 2015

“There can be no Christian truth which does not from the very first contain within itself as its basis the fact that from and to all eternity God is the electing God.” – Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Volume II.2, page 77

In my ongoing reading of Church Dogmatics, I am now into a chapter entitled “The Election of God” that encompasses about 500 pages in which Barth struggles with the thorny issue of election. There is perhaps no more difficult, perplexing and unpopular doctrine than the Christian teaching concerning election, the teaching that God chooses certain people both historically and currently. God’s election of some whether it be the people of Israel or the Church seems to imply that others are not chosen. The doctrine of election may seem to suggest that God is an arbitrary and cruel tyrant who elects (chooses) some for salvation and others for damnation. Great thinkers in the history of the Church like Martin Luther and John Calvin have struggled with this issue and have come up with divergent answers. Contemporary preaching avoids dealing with the issue.

In spite of my theological education and continued reading, I am uncertain about what to do with this doctrine. I will be interested to see how Barth handles it. Stay tuned. And visit my website at for more on Karl  Barth and his longest and most profound work.

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