Concerns about Barth

When I moved to New Jersey and was just beginning my crisis of faith and identity, I got into contact with a professor/Presbyterian minister I had met after leaving the Roman Catholic Church in my teens. He directed me to Karl Barth’s works, and over the following year and a half I tried reading some of his writings. At first the style of language put me off, then some of the content intrigued me and resonated with where I was. Still, there are points that seriously concern me, like this:

“Note well: in the whole Bible of the Old and New Testaments not the slightest attempt is ever made to prove God. This attempt has always been made only outside the biblical view of God, and only where it has been forgotten with whom we have to do, when we speak of God. What sort of attempts where they, after all, where the attempt was made to prove a perfect being alongside imperfect ones. Or from the existence of the world to prove its ultimate and supreme cause, God? Or from the alleged order of the world to prove the ordering Power? Or the moral proof of God from the face of man’s conscience? I don’t know whether you can at once see the humour and fragility of these proofs. These proofs may avail for the alleged gods; if it were my task to make you acquainted with these allegedly supreme beings, I would occupy myself with the five famous proofs of God. In the Bible there is no such argumentation; the Bible speaks of God simply as of One who needs no proof. It speaks of a God who proves Himself on every hand: Here am I, and since I am and live and act it is superfluous that I should be proved.”

That’s from Barth’s “Dogmatics in Outline.” Now, I can’t help but wonder if he was reading the same Bible I read. I find these “proofs” throughout the Bible, but especially in the apostle Paul’s writing. How, then, did Barth write a commentary on Romans but reject the evidences of God in creation?

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