Dogmatics is the self-examination of the Christian Church in respect of the content of its distinctive talk about God. 
Or, put another way, dogmatics investigates Christian utterance. In respect to theology, what we talk about we can know. Not only in a cognitive sense but also relationally. The knowing is personal because God has, in Jesus Christ, given himself to His people. In the same way he revealed himself to Israel he has revealed himself to us, yet more so. It is not enough for God to only reveal himself, in his revealing he has given himself to be known. What implications does this have for theology? God is not only to be discussed in the theoretical, he is not only to be argued but known!
I wonder how many of our arguments and talk about God actually depersonalise that which by its very nature personal? How much of what we say about God depersonalises Him and us? Much of the Christianity I have encountered over the years has not only depersonalised God it has also devalued the human. Not all of it and some it has enhanced the knowing of God in the personal however, the culture in which I dwelt for many years simply worked to push God further and further away.
There is nothing wrong with knowledge about God, about Scripture or the Christian life. But knowledge which stops at the cognitive has failed to be faithful theology. All knowledge of God should lead to knowing Him. Everything about God is personal. Not individualistic, personal. He has addressed us personally in Jesus Christ and is personally present to us in Christ by the Holy Spirit. God with us is the good news. If this is the case why do we so distance God from our speech?
 Karl Barth et al., Church Dogmatics, Volume I The Doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1 (2d ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2004), 11.
It seems like much Christian theology reenacts that awkward situation we see it sitcoms where two people are discussing a third person who blurts out, “I’m here you know?!” We often discuss God as object, as thing, not as tripersonal, eternal Being. We often talk about him as a not-present-presence. This is a great quote.
Oh no, I am liking Barth quotes and I am sharing Barth quotes.
I was just reading this part last night though he lost me as he got into theology as a science…. 🙂
@Brian You will become one of us!
@Brian I think he is trying to show how Theology is an academic discipline while also being entirely different.
@Mark: If I keep moving toward the theological interpretation of Scripture as my grounding hermeneutic, you may be right.
You’re surrounded Brian L. by Mark, me, Marc and a host of others in the sphere 😉 .
This is why I’ve been so encouraged by someone like TF Torrance, his work is all about “personalising” theology. Personalising: God, Grace, Salvation, Bibe reading, etc.. Isn’t it ironic that we classically have been given readings of God that aren’t personal? (e.g. Like Thomistic readings of God represent, or substance dualistic readings). When I first realized this, the “lights turned on” (back in seminary, when I first started reading Thomas Aquinas directly); I was literally “ticked off!” I felt like I had been robbed in my past education; robbed from learning to think about God in personal ways (the only thing that kept me grounded was being saturated in Scripture).
Anyway, good post.
I can understand that. My early theological education however robbed me of the academic and repalced it with experience so Barth is a nice middle of the road for a post=pentecostal like myself.
Having said that, I still wrestle with Barth’s interpretation of scripture as pretty much entirely theological. That dog just doesn’t hunt for me.
I hear ya. I’m not entirely convinced of Barth’s hermeneutical conclusions or even approach either. Like when I read his “Romans” it’s interesting, but I don’t think it necessarily grabs what Paul was trying to get at either. I do think “meaning” is determined by the “author” still. And thus the interpreters job is to determine what that is. That said, the “principle” of seeing this christically, the way Barth does, methodologically, is one that I am more than happy to follow de jure 🙂 .
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