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Deconstructing Barth

A Study of the Complementary Methods in Karl Barth and Jacques Derrida


Isolde Andrews

This original and perceptive study draws out the relevance of Jacques Derrida's thought about deconstruction, différance and the gift for Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics. These are particularly important for apprehending Barth's doctrine of salvation, which is the particular focus of this book. Derrida's insights are also shown to illuminate the way in which Barth speaks of complex events such as revelation which cannot be thematised by rational thought. This significant interpretation of Karl Barth indicates his affinity with postmodern thought. It will be of interest to those who are studying the relationship between theology and postmodernism, particularly the complex borders between the thematisable and non-thematisable.


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Chapter VI: Conclusion 215


CHAPTER VI CONCLUSION 1. The Case for Barth's Theology of Salvation Speaking the Language of the Unsayable or Non-meaning 1.1 Barth and Contemporary Theological Thought "Barth told Scholz that academic theology was based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 'He looked at me earnestly and said: "That goes against all the laws of physics, mathematics and chemistry, but now I understand what you mean. '"" 1 In this quotation, Barth affirms the singularity and non-meaning of the act or "gift" of God, as explicated in Derridian terms. It is singular because it is based upon a historically attested event which defies the capacity of human beings to encapsulate in a construct, the event of God made man. Barth outraged his contemporary theologians by insisting upon the Christological particularity of this event and refusing to think of it in terms of contemporary human thought structures. This was a challenge to liberal theology2 which came out of the thought generated by Schleiermacher and which was developed in various directions by such theologians as Ritschl, Herrmann and Harnack. In recent years, liberal theology has somewhat given way to conservative modes of theological thought which have sought to re-emphasise biblical and classical dogmatic frames of reference such as is found in the theology of Gunton3 and Busch, E., Karl Barth, His Life From Lerters and Aurobiographical Texts, London: S.C.M., 1976, p.207. 2 See chapter II of this book. 3 Gun ton, C. See particularly, Becoming and Being: The Doctrine of God...

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