Sunday, January 15, 2012

Karl Barth On Romans 1:18 & The Quote of the Day

During my interview with Frank Matera regarding his Romans commentary (Paideia), he said of Karl Barth's Romans commentary: was the most powerful book I have ever read. It was a sustained sermon that confronted with the awesome power of God’s Word. While commentaries are not usually written in this way, I tried to incorporate some of that passion into my own commentary.

After having read some of Barth's Romans commentary I can see where his coming from. Take for instance, this reflection on Romans 1:18, which incidentally, is my quote of the day:

Our relation to God is ungodly. We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say 'God'. We assign to Him the highest place in our world: and in so doing we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things. We assume that He needs something: and so we assume that we are able to arrange our relation to Him as we arrange our other relationships. We press ourselves into proximity with Him: and so, all unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves an ordinary communication with Him, we permit ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not extraordinary behaviour on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God. And our relation to God is unrighteous. Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself. Our arrogance demands that, in addition to everything else, some super-world should also be known and accessible to us. Our conduct calls for some deeper sanction, some approbation and remuneration from another world. Our well-regulated, pleasurable life longs for some hours of devotion, some prolongation into infinity. And so, when we set God upon the throne of the world, we mean by God ourselves. In 'believing' on Him, we justify, enjoy, and adore
ourselves. Our devotion consists in a solemn affirmation of ourselves and of the world and in a pious setting aside of the contradiction. Under the banners of humility and emotion we rise in rebellion against God. We confound time with eternity. That is our unrighteousness.—Such is our relation to God apart from and without Christ, on this side resurrection, and before we are called to order. God Himself is not acknowledged as God and what is called 'God' is in fact Man. By living to ourselves, we serve the 'No-God' (44; The Epistle to the Romans. 6th ed. Translated by Edwyn C. Hoskyns. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.)