Published October 5th 2000 by Cambridge University Press
To me, this book is quite an achievement and enjoyable to read.
But beginners (and non-professionals) may need some professional guidance to grapple with its advanced content.
For, on the one hand, it assumes basic acquaintanceship with Barth’s work per se and some formal training in the field of systematic theology.
And on the other, the contributors, though all sympathetic to Barth, hold some different perspectives in their approaches.
Painting with a broad stroke, there are four major voices in this book: postliberal, radical orthodox, neo-reformed, and the German tradition.
Personally, I am happy to see that Webster (the most influential Barth scholar in UK) drawing together these Barth interpreters from diverging school of thoughts. But you probably won’t be able to tell and slide through their differences and synthesize their views.)
I recommend ch.1, 10, 14, 15, 18 of this book for beginners that have not completed any single volume of CD themselves. They are accessible and written in good styles.
As for ch.2-9, 11-3, which each takes an aspect of Barth doctrine of theological prolegomena, revelation, Scripture, Trinity, Election, Creation, Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, liturgy, and ethics, you will need to be able to contrast Barth against the backdrop of the traditional (evangelical) and liberal understanding of these topics in order to appreciate what Barth is doing. The contributors here do not necessarily help you do this. This is not a problem to me, and some chapters really helped me to set Barth’s CD in order.
But it should be said that the section in this companion is not for any novice who wants to read Barth as their first and primary tutor about how to talk about God systematically.
Apparently, the most seminal and controversial piece in this companion is ch.6 ‘Grace and Being’ by Bruce McCormack, which sparkled a fierce debate over a decade since its publication (on the theological ontology of God’s immanence, aseity, and election).
His chapter is not only important but also very inspirational to read, especially for what is now known as ‘actualistic ontology’ in not just theological but philosophical circles as well.
Personally, I found ch.17 ‘Barth, modernity, postmodernity’ by Graham Ward a very wise inclusion in this companion. For up until now, the solution and inspiration Barth offers for overcoming the epistemological and ethical plight in the secular world are underappreciated by theologians unfamiliar with the larger picture of contemporary critical thinking.
And this is one of the reasons why conservative theology has lost its mic to speak publicly while liberal theology has lost its vowels to speak loudly.
Graham Ward is one among those (along with Stanley Hauerwas, Joseph Magina, Paul Dafydd Jones, Steven Long, Nicholas Adams) who are insightful and capable of bringing out the bearings of Barth’s theology unto this world which has never thought they want or need to think about theology.
In my opinion, these two chapters are for the more ‘advanced’, and they are also the most rewarding chapters to read.
All in all, this book is highly recommended.
Chiou Mu-tien相對於CD I.1派和IV.1派，以CD II.2派的角度而言（如Bruce McCormack的巴特研究學派），用electing God 來重新貫通 doctrine of election的做法絕對是新的神學系統。我認為這邊用 actualism 來破立 Calvin essentialism 的勢頭太明顯，而且也改換了三一論本體及互存關係的關連樣貌（這確實是後自由及天主教巴特研究的主戰場，而對依照von Balthasar 1931類比轉向進路的天主教一派，差異的存在更不用說，我不知道仍想拉攏巴特和加爾文的人能如何回應）。就我所知，近年普林斯頓神學，對於系統神學中如何解答 electing God 導出的救恩論被存在主義化、內在及經世三一（viz., the Theo-logical relation between the immanent Trinity and economic Trinity）和揀選本體序（ontological order after electing God）仍然是分歧重大的。
Barth vs. Calvin on election 我一些貼出過的對話可見於此http://wp.me/pOOVy-cK 另外與其說 「耶穌基督作為成肉身之道」是巴特的主要堅持，我認為不論 CD I.1派和CD II.2派都會將之改換為一個歷史和神學角度更精準的說法： « Let God be God » 才是他最大的、最終的堅持。 神人之間的無限距離、道的三重性、永恆揀選中的神，都來自這個不可妥協的堅持。 而幾乎所有對巴特歷史臧否的評價也都由此而來。 Van Til 和其他保守派要由此指控巴特是「唯信主義」 fideism 和「非基礎主義」non-foundationalism 因此也不是沒有道理。至於那些說他的神學是「基督一元論」Christomonism的人我能理解為什麼他們會這樣讀，巴特的「基督中心論」Christocentrism給人這樣的傾向，但兩套概念是不能代換的，而對我來說兩者間的界線巴特有完整地守住。後自由早就已理開了這個結。
最後我認為除了人接受啟示的場域（locale）之外，耶穌基督復活的問題（和升天前40天的存有、知識、倫理向度的理解），都是傳統巴特系統當前遭遇的重大困難。也就是在這些點上我把自己定義為新巴特，因為對於諸如把 NT Wright等人的耶穌歷史復活和基督論方案融入以尋求更大更廣的系統支點我決的是必要的。而我必須說，光是在這點上從巴特→後自由就已經分成了好幾個戰線。
Benjamin Wu 1. 確實將巴特打扮為自由主義者的做法太過牽強，拋棄了關於巴特立場幾乎所有的內證和外證。「這立場的書一本都不用讀」的建議確實有智慧。畢竟讀書多身體疲倦 …
Il y a 2 heures · J’aime
Benjamin Wu 2. 我承認比起其他立場，我更接近McCormack的CD II/2立場（我的老師Paul Nimmo也是）。我論文中原先打算迴避三一和揀選的關係問題，後來發現不能不表態。我老師說：So you don’t want to follow McCormack all the way，我說對（或no）；他也可以接受，沒強迫我接受他的看法。類似狀況也發生在口試裡，來自Aberdeen的外審D. Wood（師承John Webster）也叫我表態。可見這是無可迴避的問題，討論委實方興未艾。
Il y a 2 heures · J’aime
Benjamin Wu 3. 後自由的東西我接觸不多，無力談論。但我從Nimmo那邊看到的一件事是：正是立足在actualistic ontology之上，（他詮釋的）巴特開創出倫理學的視域。本體論的神哲學問題雖然高遠，甚至有脫離現實的嫌疑（在我口試中Wood引Webster，說McCormack主張的the internalization of humanity in Jesus Christ根本是神話），但也許不必將之視為與倫理學必然脫節。
Benjamin Wu 4. 邱兄該文，我在趕論文期間拜讀過，一如既往，我十分佩服（且常常疑惑你為什麼不是在讀博）。至於巴特神學最終堅持究竟為何，終究是人言言殊各家爭鳴。「Let God be God」是巴特1915/16年間神學轉向（從人學到神學）的關鍵主張，初試啼聲於羅馬書釋義，自然也是CD中不變的堅持。但從整個CD的走向來看，在繼續回答「這位神究竟是誰」的過程中，基督論式的轉向（其實始於哥廷根教義學），以及基督中心的轉向（始於CD II/2）〔前述per McCormack〕，毋寧是一寧靜革命〔per myself〕：寧靜，因較之前述人學向神學轉向，較不激進或明顯；革命，因重要性並未更低。持此立場，我才嘗試將巴特神學立場以「耶穌基督為成為肉身之道」之一言蔽之（疏漏自然難免）；因正是耶穌基督啟示出那位作上帝的上帝是誰，或說前者賦予了後者內容。就這點來看，我似乎又比較接近CD IV/1, 2派。
而因為“Let God be God” 所認識的神，曾是一位自由到可以脫離聖經文字見證的神，使得其基督論也不得不被嗅出某種存在主義或新正統非實在論的味道。按照Vanhoozer的說法，前期的巴特無法擺脫這點，而且the American reception of Barth與巴特KD的發展本身有落差。KD中期時才是CD的早期，Romerbrief 1919和CD早期的上述問題（我雖稱「問題」，但如果把一戰德國和危機神學的歷史處境讀回去，就會知道那是和古典自由神學切割和神學轉型的必要之惡、神學上的「用力過猛」），因此在西敏這邊被Van Til、還有Christian Century上就被Carl Henry這個體系批個不停。直到1962巴特登陸芝加哥大學時才有機會向美國人當面澄清一些誤解。Vanhoozer上課時播給我們幾個人聽了巴特1962這段演說的錄音，聽他用他那非常緩慢、不流暢的英文解釋上帝、言說、與聖經啟示。那次演說過後，在美國神學界反響極
我們知道巴特偉大在於他是個敢不斷自我推翻的人，從他Romerbrief 1921/2第二版把第一版大改寫，以及他1931論安瑟倫時的那種詭譎，都讓人感佩他真的是個可以忠於啟示而不保留自我、萬丈高樓平地起的戰神。IV.1之後的神學成熟度倍現（作為neo-reformed 的Vanhoozer當然是向著這派的，他當時帶著我們讀），讀到這裡的人不可能還能昧著良心說巴特是一個新正統或存在主義神學家。但是在福音派推出的Engaging with Barth（2009）中，如Van Til當時那樣質疑Barthian Christocentrism 會被塌陷為 Christomonism 的鬼影依然再現。而儘管我不能認同這種批判，但這也說明了其實 “Let God be God” 的終極堅持在巴特身上一直都沒有改變過，而因此批判錯解他、或推崇他倍至的兩方人至今也都仍然存在。
巴特之所以會像新正統，是因為他和田立克、尼布爾、布特曼都不願意把自由神學和浪漫主義當白癡、像當年基要主義者那樣丟出一個total depravity、corrupted rationality、biblical inerrancy打發對方為不信派之後就自己關起門堆沙。巴特處理士萊馬赫時是如此謹慎，他真正地發現自由神學是一回事（如同田立克），而自己所處的是一個危機的時代，需要的不是意識型態鬥牛犬般意氣之爭，而是“let God be God”，真正地讓自己降服於啟示。
***當我說傳統巴特本體論如一道鋼索，這是專指在創建postliberal ethics + Barthian actualistic ontology獨有的問題。反過來說，如果[硬是]把傳統巴特本體論讀回 Calvinistic essentialism 的reformed脈絡中，就不會有這些內部問題。因為加爾文系統在自己內部是吃得開的。但這樣那些嶄新的倫理願景和道德神學視界也就不會被開啟。後自由跨越過了一個自然神（Deism）的自由時代，而且揚言要迎擊現代和後現代問題意識隱含的神死（death of God theology）、弱神（weak God theology）、萬有神在（panentheism），取道巴蜀（巴特）通陳倉，這是一種不入虎穴，焉得虎子的纏鬥精神，也讓被感召的我覺得這才是真正地延續了巴特那激進的見證者精神。
More than a century ago, Friedrich Nietzsche, the depressive and depressing German philosopher, pronounced the death of God, but most Americans have yet to hear the message. The four horsemen of the New Atheist apocalypse—Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel C. Dennett—have done their best to carry on the movement that Nietzsche heralded, but their achievement has been largely monetary. Some 90 percent of Americans are still content to believe in God.
Or gods, rather. According to Baylor University professors Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, the real war in American society is not between atheists and theists, but between people who have differing conceptions of the divine. In 1991, James Davison Hunter introduced the concept of the culture wars, which he said were grounded in different conceptions of moral authority. In America’s Four Gods: What We Say about God—and What That Says about Us (Oxford University Press), Froese and Bader take the sociological examination one step further. Views of « moral authority » are notoriously difficult to study empirically. Few people, after all, are equipped to explain the differences between moral relativism and moral absolutism. So Froese and Bader examine our conception of God to determine whether and how our theological ideas matter for politics and culture.
The American religious landscape is admittedly as varied and complex as the geographical landscape. This makes any taxonomy of religious beliefs necessarily artificial, as the authors note. So they start with what American religious believers have in common: namely, the notion that God is loving. This is something some 85 percent of Americans affirm.
Beneath that superficial similarity, though, is a range of conceptions about God’s character. Those conceptions dramatically alter our understanding of the shape his love takes in our world. Froese and Bader examine two questions whose answers, they contend, determine more about a person’s cultural and political worldview than any other sociological factor. First, to what extent does God interact with the world? Second, to what extent does God judge the world? As the authors put it, « The answers to these questions predict the substance of our worldviews much better than the color of our skin, the size of our bank account, the political party we belong to, or whether we wear a white Stetson or faded Birkenstocks. »
Respondents’ answers lead the authors to identify four conceptions of God among the American religious public: (1) the authoritative God, who both judges and is closely engaged in the world; (2) the benevolent God, who is « engaged but nonjudgmental »; (3) the critical God, who happens to be judgmental but disengaged; and (4) the distant God, who is neither engaged nor judgmental, and could care less about how humans muck about.
The rubric is helpful. It moves beyond the binary culture-war characterizations of « Left and Right, » « progressive and conservative, » and so on. Our over-dependence on such characterizations became clear when black evangelicals in California voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, as expected, but also voted to ban homosexual marriages. The outcome reminded everyone that the culture wars aren’t always fought along partisan lines.
Comment: This implies that Black evangelicals are in the category 1…
Consider evangelicals’ views on science and its relationship to the Bible. In what is probably the strongest section of the book, Froese and Bader point out that the basic question for Christians is not whether the Bible and science are ultimately reconciled, but how. For the most part, only atheists think an intrinsic conflict exists between science and religion. Everyone else is working to make sure their worldview fits with science. This includes the dissenters from Darwinian orthodoxy. They want to teach competing accounts of human origins in science classes, the authors claim, to show a firm commitment to remaining properly scientific.
Despite Christians’ nearly unanimous endorsement of the scientific enterprise, significant differences remain. Some argue about whose research should be trusted, others over what role science should play in society. Not surprisingly, those who believe God is highly engaged in the world—an authoritarian or benevolent God—often think he manipulates circumstances and the physical order in small and big ways. As we might expect, they registered significantly more skepticism about whether humans evolved from primates than those who believe God is critical or distant—that is, disengaged from the world.
Comment: 近神論者（immanent theist）傾向支持創造論。認為多用信心的眼睛看世界而非科學。然而我覺得要把兩者變成零和局面也是一個應該被詰問挑戰的前設。Better to make sure that you are not too preoccupied with the methodology of taxonomy so as to forsake our Christian motto « faith seeks understanding » that many practicing believers still hold fast and true. In plain words, for many of them, faith and empirical evidence are interdependent or at least can be mutually enlightening rather than contenders in a zero sum game. So the matter in question is not that ‘we are ever too dependent upon science’, but rather ‘if we have sufficiently connected theologically our material principles with the empirical evidence available to us’.
Comment: To elaborate this point further means that a proviso to the aforementioned proposal must be supplemented: that when we talked about empirical evidence, we are only talking about those conducted by proper science, as opposed to the kind of science that operates itself within a pagan framework of scientism, which is counter-faith and should be rejected. (And whether « proper science is possible » or « all kinds of science are pagan in nature except for True Christian Science » will be a classical foundationalism vs. non-foundationalism debate. The debate is beyond our primary concern here.) The authors have adopted a foundational-ist worldview here and throughout, and I agreed.
The skepticism doesn’t stop at specific claims. Believers in a benevolent or authoritarian God were far more likely to think that we rely far too much on science and not enough on faith. Additionally, twice as many believers in a distant or critical God were willing to affirm that science would eventually provide solutions to most of society’s problems. The evidence, the authors conclude, suggests that « the evolutionism-creationism debate is premised not on religious faith but on differences of opinion about the role of God in the world. »
The distinctions between how our competing views of God matter are less clear elsewhere. Still, interesting gems emerge. For instance, Americans in lower economic classes tend to view God as judgmental and angry. At the same time, believers in such a God tend to favor religious solutions to economic problems. For example, black communities like Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia—where an authoritarian conception of God seems to dominate—want to use grants from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the church’s social work. Those with less judgmental views of God favor more strictly secular solutions to economic problems.
Bader and Froese suggest that the number of Americans who believe in a distant God will grow. This corresponds with an overall decrease in religious affiliation in America. At the same time, they see evangelicalism—with its emphasis on God’s close, personal engagement with individuals—as the central bulwark against this trend. 中流砥柱、力挽狂瀾之手
In one chapter, Froese and Bader describe a conservative Protestant evangelical church where the pastor was surprised to discover that his congregants were happy to describe God as a « cosmic force, » and yet had vastly different perspectives on whether God has a gender. The story highlights the merits of their taxonomy. On one hand, people might subscribe to similar doctrinal claims yet hold starkly different views of God. Or people might disagree about a particular doctrine, like election, yet conceive of God as intimately involved in their decisions and as one who judges them closely for their sin. Some beliefs might give them a common ethos, even where their doctrinal beliefs diverge.
The authors’ work demonstrates the limitations of their taxonomy. It reminds us that the full counsel of Scripture needs to shape our conceptions. The God who is merciful is also just, and the Spirit who dwells in our hearts sometimes remains silent. Most of all, America’s Four Gods is a stark reminder to Christians of the ongoing need for clear and persuasive teaching on the meaning and limitations of divine action, and the nature of God’s judgment on sin. In that sense, the authors’ focus on the two most important questions provides a helpful map for pastors who want to see significant life and worldview change in their congregations.
Froese and Bader have given both sociologists and the church empirical proof not only that God matters for public life, but how God matters.
Comment: I found that this sentence unconsciously assumes that our theology one-sidedly exercises influences upon our worldviews and fails to consider adequately the possibility of vice-versa, namely, many of our theological propensities are informed (or trapped) by our socio-economic-cultural-political-linguistic experiences (beside the setting of ecclesial indoctrination) .
Their account sometimes raises more questions than it answers. And occasionally it seems to depend on particular cultural readings rather than statistical analysis. Still, it is an intricate and precise portrait of the rich texture of our American religious life.