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Benjamin Dahlke, Die katholische Rezeption Karl Barths: Theologische Erneuerung im Vorfeld des Zweiten Vatikansichen Konzils.

Benjamin Dahlke, Die katholische Rezeption Karl Barths: Theologische Erneuerung im Vorfeld des Zweiten Vatikansichen Konzils. Beitrage zur historischen Theologie 152. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010. Pp. 256. 79.00 [euro].

Dahlke's book provides a Catholic clarification of its reception of Karl Barth's theology. Barth, in his Church Dogmatics, accuses the analogia entis of being the invention of the Antichrist (p. 6; CD, 1/1: xiii). It is certain that classic Catholic thinkers, such as St. Anselm, occupy a special place in Barth's theology (fides quaerens intellectum). However, a debate regarding analogia fidei and analogia entis, or revealed theology and natural theology, has remained complicated in Barth's theological framework, calling for precision, clarification, and conceptual clarity.

In the confrontation with Emil Brunner, Barth's harsh rejection of natural theology can be seen for political reasons concerning National Socialism and German Christians. Barth opened a space for God's act of speech through the world, which is a counter proposal to Brunner's theologia naturalis. According to Barth, "God may speak to us through a pagan or an atheist" (CD, I/1: 55). Barth, during his Safenwil time, already conceptualized an analogy of politics, articulating an analogical correspondence between the Reign of God and socialism. This political analogy is elaborated by a Lutheran-prophetic study of Barth (see F. W. Marquardt's Theologie und Sozialismus).

Furthermore, Gottlieb Sohngen subordinates the knowledge of being to the knowledge of God's deed. In other words, analogia entis is subordinated to analogia fidei. As Barth acknowledges, "there has to be an assumption of the analogia entis by the analogia fidei--Analogia fidei is sanans et elevans analogia entis"--namely, through Jesus Christ (CD II/1:82). Given the teaching of Sohngen, Barth stated that, if this is the Roman Catholic doctrine of analogia entis, he must withdraw his earlier accusation of the analogia entis as the invention of the Antichrist (CD II/1:82). Barth, in an interview in 1961 with Brudergemeine (a Christian association), said: "Later I retrieved the theologia naturalis via Christology again." Barth's Christological embrace of theologia naturalis is confirmed in Ad Limina Apostolorum. In Gesprache, IV: 1964-1968, (p. 337) Barth said that "it is no longer necessary to discuss this theory [analogia entis].... We are in unity about what can be meant by it."

According to Dahlke (chaps. 8 and 9), Balthasar's study of Barth acknowledges that Barth's expression of creation as the external basis of the covenant includes a horizon of the natural theology (p. 200). In light of this, Dahlke takes issue with Bruce McCormack's insufficient understanding of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Barth. McCormack reduces Barth to a dialectical theologian, identifying him as an adamant bulwark against analogia entis. However, Barth, deeply challenged by Bonhoeffer's charge of positivism of revelation, later improved his shortcomings in his understanding of natural theology. "The premature world ... has also such its own lights and truths and therefore its own speech and words" (CD IV/3.1:139). Thus, Barth affirmed Lutheran theology of general revelation, insisting expressions "like the 'revelation of creation' or 'primal revelation' might be given a clear and unequivocal sense" (CD IV/3.1:140). In his posthumous work (CD IV/4, Lecture Fragments, p. 121), Barth writes that God is both a known and yet also an unknown God. Barth referred to the objective knowledge of God as the Creator of human nature because "God's name, then, is already holy in the world that he created good long before Christianity."

Dahlke's study is a fine contribution to clarifying the ecumenical relationship between Barth and Roman Catholicism. Barth supported the renewal movement of Vatican II and its openness toward world religions. Such an important study helps Barth studies in an American context to break through a unilateral description of Barth as the opponent of analogia entis or theologia naturalis.

Paul Chung, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
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Author:Chung, Paul
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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