Karl Barth and progressive revelation; striking a balance between God’s immanence and transcendence

A common tendency in our culture today is to see the mission of the church as changing based on “societal progression”.  It is thought that because things are different now in day to day life, the principles and ministries of the church should change in accommodation.  Even inside religious ministries, leaders may arise that bring “new principles” to the life of their churches.  While it is crucial we as a movement of Christian faith are relevant in our outreaches and ministries, the core truth principles behind those ministries don’t/can’t/shouldn’t change.  On what basis does this hold true?  Barth emphasizes (I.1 100ff) that God’s immanent and active involvement in the life of the church is anchored in his transcendent past self revelation in the Word and His/It’s “timeless ground of being”.  Because of this, the church should not look to itself in profound self reflection (read navel gazing) as its means of (re)defining truth.  The gift of prophecy now is about being able to speak timeless principles practically and meaningfully into a culture (in desperate need of these principles we might add) and not to speak new truth principles.  This tendency toward what Barth calls “platonic anamnesis” is shut out by “Holy Scripture” (The Word of God written, in the form of the closed canon) and its ability to distinguish “the Head from the body” of church life.  The Head as Christ maintains transcendent principles whereas the body experiences His immanent power in miraculous ways but always guided by the Head.  Leaders and churchmen stand firm in God’s amazing truths, but always be ready to express those truths in relevant ways.


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