I'm imagining a real battle between two theological giants will be taking place in my head over the next few weeks

If I'm understanding Barth correctly, I'm finding him very uplifting.

It would seem that theology, for Barth is an 'event'. It is to be involved in an ongoing dialogue about the ultimate ongoing dialogue: the one that is being conducted between God and humanity, through Jesus Christ. This is a kind of sacred speech-act of the most profound and beautiful kind. This is 'cultivated' theology and it can never be fixed. We live and add to this dialogue with prayer (about man and addressed to God) and sermon (about God and addressed to man). We participate in the sacred speech act just as we participate in the life of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Engaging in theology must not alienate through language. We are exhorted to be inclusive. Barth's aim is always to welcome and never to reject, and if he is guilty of universalism, it is fueled by this motive too. He hopes the euangelion is just that; in fact, that we make it 'great' news not just 'good news', and we need to use a range of lexicons to do this to suit our audiences. There is an insistence that we always proclaim it in ways that are positive.

Now the Calvinists seem, and my knowledge of them is limited, to proclaim it in ways which are somewhat negative. But I'm prepared to learn that it might be otherwise. It will be interesting to find out. Peter Ould recently concluded that more people seem to be attentive to the Conservative evangelical blogs than they do to the more Open ones. He drew his own conclusions from this. I, personally, think that it is symptomatic of the human condition, or at least it is in my case. I find it quite hard to totally believe that I am perfect in God's sight, that I have been clothed with the cloak of Christ's righteousness and might really cry out to God, 'Abba' 'Daddy', knowing that I am his precious daughter. I find instead that I need to feel unworthy. It is a kind of unhealthy self-flagellation and the more conservative and Calvinistic (if that's a word), the more this strange perversion is satisfied.


David Rudel said...

I just wanted to say that I really respect your willingness to still consider so widely varying perspectives and theologies. It gives me hope ;)

I wish everyone who was on the threshold of ordination was still so open to consideration...and humble enough not to have already determined a narrow framework within which to think.

Rachel said...

Thank you David - this in itself is encouraging to hear.

What happens is as I grapple with a theologian's ideas, I'm always checking my motives for why I'm agreeing or disagreeing with a viewpoint. I'm very aware that ego and good feeling can sometimes block our acceptance of the truth. Do these theologians concur with what is presented by scripture and are they appealing to a need in me, by accident? At the moment, I very much like Barth for his inclusiveness but is this because I find it hard to imagine a loving God who can predestine some never to know him. Augustine defends predestination as does Calvin but I like to meditate on the cosmic salvation secured by our Lord Jesus Christ. Is this something the Holy Spirit is communicating to me or is it my own projection of a version of God onto the universe? I'm always asking myself these sorts of questions which makes me very open. I have to consider everything over a long period of time. It took over two years for me to work out my feelings on gender and women in church ministry and now I can move on from this but I'll always be interested in it. Predestination and theories about the atonement are the latest 'bees in my bonnet' so to speak.

As regards your phrase 'on the brink of ordination', I pray that this is prophetic, for I am indeed as yet very far off and still discerning, only about to have my first ever chat with the Director of Ordinands on Friday. It's in God's hands so all will be well, but you could pray that what is God's will would occur - that would be great.

Thank you for the encouragement

David Rudel said...

Regarding inclusiveness/universalism versus exclusivity, have you taken a look at chapter 8 of my book?

[The real version should be available in the next day or so...the version I sent you seems so...well, not quite awful, but ugly and rough...now.]

Rachel said...

Ive read chapter 8, yes. Its compounded for me the significance of Philippians 2:5-11.So cosmic. But then it's what to do with this along-side Jesus' own words Matt.5:22 and 8:12.
It's not easy.
It's also a strange feeling to meditate on the fact that I will be held more accountable than someone else, because of my faith. (Emphasis on because)


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions