I keep falling out with Karl (Barth), wanting to throw him across the room (almost) because I do not know what he is going on about. Then I get a grip, soak the brain cells in more caffeine and wait expectantly for amazon angels to bring me literary deliverance in the form of the Cambridge Companion (still waiting) or evangelical interpretations (still waiting) or The Armchair theologians version (Arrived!!!).
So I read a bit of the primary text and then a bit of the Armchair theologian's guide and even if I totally mess up this book review, I'm learning something and it is how to find words to express my own theology, which is going to be important as I see the DDO later in the month.
So currently I am much enamoured by a description of the theology of the Blumhardts for it helps me to articulate my own viewpoint:
They were dissatisfied with the focus on the salvation of individuals for a heavenly future that had been the characteristic of the tradition. They maintained that the message of the gospel and the early Christians was not the promise of salvation in some other world, but rather the coming of God's new creation to the present world. This led to a deep conviction concerning the social embodiment of the gospel. The Christian message did not simply promise a future life in another world, but made a profound difference in present circumstances through its announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God to the earth. The focal point of this movement was hope in the possibility of a visible and tangible appearance of the kingdom of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ in the world.
(Barth for Armchair Theologians J. R. Franke, p. 24)
So absorbing Barth's thinking is all good for the results, even if his prose continues to be impossibly turgid.
This social embodiment of the gospel, for Barth, seems not to advocate any type of palagianism, it is not about us. Instead, the eternal life of God has been revealed in the resurrection of Christ and we can no longer live thinking that we can change the world for God or on his behalf but in the assurance that he is overcoming and transforming the world and bringing in his kingdom, despite our very bad attempts at partnering him.