Karl Barth on Postmodernity, Ecumenism and Orthodoxy


First, on postmodernity:

The alleged freedom from presuppositions of which a certain [knowledge] is accustomed to boast, simply means that yet another presupposition is being made. Concretely this means that God’s revelation is not to be reckoned with, that on the contrary it is possible to adopt a neutral attitude to what this Scripture points to, just as it is possible to take up this attitude to other things. This neutrality, this unconcern about God’s revelation, and therefore this “freedom from presuppositions” is a presupposition exactly like any other.

Next, on ecumenism:

But since it is a matter of division in the Church, we can recognise these divisions only with horror and can only pray for their removal. We verily believe in the one Church. We can see here nothing but an affliction of the Church, which we must believe will be overcome, though in truth the power to overcome it is not in our hands.

Finally, on orthodoxy:

“Orthodoxy” means agreement with the Fathers and the Councils. As that it can never be an end in itself … If only they knew definitely that here, too, there is a binding tie, they might be disposed to let this “tie” to the Church’s past remain in force as after all a quite respectable affair. The more one listens and breaks free from the illusion that the world began with oneself, the more will one discover that these Fathers knew something, and that the scorned “orthodox” writers of, say, the seventeenth century were theologians of stature. And it can even happen that alongside of them modern theological literature will be found a little insipid and a little tedious.

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