So you don’t like Barth… How about Bloesch?

Seems to be a new backlash about NOT reading Barth. Brian LePort gives a good post linking the recent rantings. A few years ago Barth was back in, mainly, I think, because Christian Books was selling Dogmatics for $99. I snatched that up myself. I think I’ve made it all the way to the… third volume.

Barth is hard. Barth is controversial. I don’t read theologians very well.

One theologian I’ve known very little about but have always enjoyed his writings is Donald Bloesch. I still don’t know very much about him, but near the end of his life he penned his final works of theology which IVP put into the Christian Foundations series. I’ve read a couple of those volumes, along with a couple of other works he had earlier.

The volume on the Church is challenging. As an evangelical, more on the Reformed side, he is pretty adamant about recovering more of an ancient view of the Eucharist. I am finding it refreshing.

He writes that the Church has stepped back from theocentric worship, and part of that loss is due to our lack of focus on sacramental reality.

Baptism is no longer an initiation into the mystical body of Christ through faith and repentance but now an outward profession of belief that certifies our agreement with the precepts of church tradition. Sacraments are no longer signs and means of grace but ordinances of the church that regulate the life of the church. Karl Barth in his earlier years (oh, dear, he mentions THAT MAN!) lamented that the Reformed church had been misunderstood when it created the impression that it was a church bereft of sacraments, even a church inimical to sacraments. P.T. Forsyth in early twentieth-century England astutely perceived, “A Church cannot… live without sacraments, which are ‘essential means’; but still less can it live without sacramental souls, which are also ends in themselves.”

For a Reformed guy, this is something that resonates with me.

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