Karl Barth’s theology is both challenging and disconcerting to those who stand in the tradition of Protestant evangelicalism. Yet his theological method presents a solid alternative to both rationalism and mysticism that dominate much current theology.
With striking clarity, Donald G. Bloesch analyzes Barth’s theology, placing special emphasis on his doctrine of salvation. Barth holds that everything that is of any consequence in the religious dimension of human life has already been accomplished in Christ. Johann Christoph Blumhardt characterized this theme by the phrase, “Jesus Is Victor!” In Christ Jesus, the victory over the powers of darkness was forever secured, and the whole world is now claimed for his kingdom. In this theology there is no final rejection of humanity by God, no irrevocable condemnation. Analyzing this controversial stance, Bloesch raises questions at many points—not as a hostile critic but as a student debating with a master teacher. The result is a significant evaluation of one of the theological giants of the twentieth century at the point of his major doctrine.
For more by Donald G. Bloesch, see Select Works of Donald G. Bloesch (9 vols.).
“For Barth the heart of the atonement is not the punishment of sin (though this is not excluded) but the triumph of grace over sin. The principal focus is on the reconciliation of man to God as this has been effected in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Included in this is the overcoming of sin, death, hell, and the powers of darkness, which have challenged the good creation of God.” (Pages 28–29)
“According to Barth there is only one covenant, that of grace, and only one kind of grace—that of redemption. The providential grace of the Father and the saving grace of the Son are not to be separated and at times are virtually equated, since both have as their goal the redemption of mankind. Preservation is reinterpreted to mean salvation from the power of the chaos.” (Pages 60–61)
“He affirms that all men are elected by God and adopted into sonship in his eternal decree that comes to historical realization in Jesus Christ. All are predestined to salvation in Christ even before the dawning of history, even before the primordial fall of man.” (Page 32)
“over the powers of darkness was forever secured and that the whole world is now claimed for his kingdom” (Page 60)
Donald G. Bloesch (1928-2010) earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and was professor of theology emeritus at Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He did postdoctoral work at the universities of Oxford, Tübingen and Basel. He wrote numerous books, including Faith and Its Counterfeits, Evangelical Theology in Transition, Theological Notebook: Volume 3, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, The Future of Evangelical Christianity, The Struggle of Prayer, Spirituality Old New, Freedom for Obedience and the seven-volume Christian Foundations series. He also served for a time as president of the Midwest Division of the American Theological Society.