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Analysis Of Karl Barh's Understanding Of Christianity

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Karl Barth, the 19th century Protestant theologian, sets up an understanding of Christianity that has hallmarks of the incarnation; entirely a work of God’s grace. While Barth is right in how he thinks humanity and Christians should relate to their religion, he falls short in his thinking concerning how revelation relates to religion other than Christianity. Barth’s understanding of religion is contingent on his understanding of revelation; it is the revelation of God’s grace in the incarnate Jesus Christ which distinguished Christianity from its previous position of a false religion.
Prior to articulating what true religion is, and why it can be called true, Barth first characterizes what all religion is: a human invention limited by the
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The earth is the same everywhere, while the sun lights up only a portion of it; this result occurs only because of the sun’s actions, not the earth’s. He uses this analogy to emphasize the sun’s agency in contrast to the passive nature of earth as the recipient. In doing so, he underscores his point that revelation is an entirely God-centered activity, completely dependent on God’s action with no cause or prompting from the created order. Barth is explicit in stating that God’s revelatory actions are only a result of God’s agency: “the possibility of this event [revelation] are the being and action only of God, and especially of God the Holy Spirit”. However, the analogy also conveys that while the portion of earth is indeed truly ‘illuminated’, it is not because of the earth but because of the sun. In the same way, it is only the revelation from God which makes Christianity a true religion; without God’s revelation, Christianity shares the same status as the rest of the ‘earth’.
The crucial link between religion and revelation, the unique way which God transforms Christianity into the true religion, is through the name of Jesus Christ.
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The many seeming contradictions in the Christian faith, such as the three-in-one nature of the Triune God or Jesus being fully God and fully man, are represented here in the paradoxical understanding of how Christianity is strongest when it is weakest. Barth declares that Christianity’s power comes from “the power of religious self-consciousness which is the gift of grace in the midst of weakness” which will not operate “unless Christianity has first humbled instead of exalting itself”. It is in the understanding and conscientiousness of Christianity’s base state of unbelief and error, a state which revelation lifts it out of, which allows for Christianity to have any security or strength. Forgetting this base state results in false praise directed at human hands, rather than the true
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