Barth, Torrance, and Christocentric election

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
From what little I have been reading, I am trying to wrap my head around the objections to the traditional Calvinist doctrine of election from Barth, Torrance, et al? I understand them to believe that Christ is both the elect and reprobate. If so what's the point?
Aside from some superficial laments that resemble Arminianism, I am not sure what they mean when they claim that election and salvation are not Christocentric or tied to Christology enough.
It strikes me as similar to the objective/subjective debate of 'pistis Christou' language in Paul where it is argued that if the subject isn't Christ then he isn't honored enough and you get an anthropocentric view of salvation. It is seems as though Christ in both objections is seen only as more honored only at the level of the sentence and syntax.
Thoughts?
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Oh boy. While Torrance and Barth overlap at times, it's best to deal with them as two different thinkers. Torrance has more in common with Athanasius than he does with Barth.

For starters, the problem is this: Torrance and Barth want to see Jesus as both the subject and object of election. That's not wrong per se, it's just hard to make stick. Athanasius also used similar language in Contra Arianos.

Normally we mean that Christ is the object of election. We are elected *in Christ.* That's fairly standard. Athanasius spoke of Christ as the subject of election (Discourse against Arians, Book 2.75-77), and one could link that with Athanasius’s speaking of Christ as the Father’s willing, and then link that back to the decree to elect. I'm not sure anyone in the literature has made that point.

In any case, the point of Jesus isn’t the decretum absolutum, or the hidden God, but the fullness of God dwelling in him and reconciling all things to himself (Col. 1:19-20)

Is that what the Barth Company mean? I'm not so sure. I blogged about it here.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Oh boy. While Torrance and Barth overlap at times, it's best to deal with them as two different thinkers. Torrance has more in common with Athanasius than he does with Barth.

For starters, the problem is this: Torrance and Barth want to see Jesus as both the subject and object of election. That's not wrong per se, it's just hard to make stick. Athanasius also used similar language in Contra Arianos.

Normally we mean that Christ is the object of election. We are elected *in Christ.* That's fairly standard. Athanasius spoke of Christ as the subject of election (Discourse against Arians, Book 2.75-77), and one could link that with Athanasius’s speaking of Christ as the Father’s willing, and then link that back to the decree to elect. I'm not sure anyone in the literature has made that point.

In any case, the point of Jesus isn’t the decretum absolutum, or the hidden God, but the fullness of God dwelling in him and reconciling all things to himself (Col. 1:19-20)

Is that what the Barth Company mean? I'm not so sure. I blogged about it here.
Reading the Schaff version is a little hard but, it seems his ultimate point was "how can we be elected to be in Him before the foundation of the world if He isn't an uncreated God?" And not an abstract view or discourse on election.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
From what little I have been reading, I am trying to wrap my head around the objections to the traditional Calvinist doctrine of election from Barth, Torrance, et al? I understand them to believe that Christ is both the elect and reprobate. If so what's the point?
Aside from some superficial laments that resemble Arminianism, I am not sure what they mean when they claim that election and salvation are not Christocentric or tied to Christology enough.
It strikes me as similar to the objective/subjective debate of 'pistis Christou' language in Paul where it is argued that if the subject isn't Christ then he isn't honored enough and you get an anthropocentric view of salvation. It is seems as though Christ in both objections is seen only as more honored only at the level of the sentence and syntax.
Thoughts?
I think you covered it all but maybe their personal motivations which were probably intellectual-cultural conformity. I mean wasn’t Barth essentially a humanist and possibly a universalist? Talk about flipping Calvinist doctrine on its head.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Reading the Schaff version is a little hard but, it seems his ultimate point was "how can we be elected to be in Him before the foundation of the world if He isn't an uncreated God?" And not an abstract view or discourse on election.

Right. It's not the best translation and Torrance often went from memory.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I think you covered it all but maybe their personal motivations which were probably intellectual-cultural conformity. I mean wasn’t Barth essentially a humanist and possibly a universalist? Talk about flipping Calvinist doctrine on its head.

I've never heard him called a humanist (he sort of killed liberalism of the old school). His views are logically univeralist, but I don't think he himself went that route.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
For Barth, election is identical with the doctrine of God. The problem with Barth’s claim that in divine election of Jesus as the elect and reprobate man makes faith superfluous. True, Barth emphasized it, but there was no need. The divine “no” and “yes” in Christ reduces unbelief to an ontological impossibility
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
For Barth, election is identical with the doctrine of God. The problem with Barth’s claim that in divine election of Jesus as the elect and reprobate man makes faith superfluous. True, Barth emphasized it, but there was no need. The divine “no” and “yes” in Christ reduces unbelief to an ontological impossibility
Ultimately, Barth essentially robbed Calvinism of the ‘Calvin’ and the ‘ism.’ I don’t get these classic and modern-day reformed wokists trying to upgrade Calvinism by robbing it of everything that makes it so. Just cause you brush up on the Reformed faith, doesn’t mean you are doing anything but trying to replace it...not tweak it, but rather completely obliterate it. That’s what these pseudo-theologians, former and present day, attempt to do.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Just cause you brush up on the Reformed faith, doesn’t mean you are doing anything but trying to replace it...not tweak it, but rather completely obliterate it. That’s what these pseudo-theologians, former and present day, attempt to do.

Since that sort of took the thread in a different direction, I'm curious which authors you have in mind.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
For Barth, election is identical with the doctrine of God. The problem with Barth’s claim that in divine election of Jesus as the elect and reprobate man makes faith superfluous. True, Barth emphasized it, but there was no need. The divine “no” and “yes” in Christ reduces unbelief to an ontological impossibility
If the doctrine of God swallows up everything, isn't it pantheism and God is only honored, as said previously, not in the way He does things (the instrumental nature of faith) but, only by the fact that one claims via a sentence "Soteriology has to be linked to Theology and Christology"?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Since that sort of took the thread in a different direction, I'm curious which authors you have in mind.
TGC features a few. Is what Barth did, although maybe more nuanced, that different than these CRTers? Orthodoxy, specifically, Reformed Christian orthodoxy, is obviously an appeal but ultimately an offense and seemingly a target for ..... compromise or ultimately muddying the waters. Maybe I’m making Barth out to thinking himself more neoCalvinist than he considered himself (maybe he was a type of godfather of neoCalvinism - which I still don’t get). But there was a loose association promoted to some extent, no? I think he was truly no Calvinist. When is partial orthodoxy none? The slopes are very slippery.


“Two weeks later in 1947, an article in Time's sister publication, Life, documented a worldwide rebirth of religion. Among the evidence was the intellectual renaissance among the allegedly Calvinistic followers of Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr. In an open letter to Time-Life editor-in-chief Henry Luce, Westminster Seminary's Cornelius Van Til countered that genuine Calvinism was something that Barth and Niebuhr denied—a coherent system of doctrine—and he challenged the notion that a revival of Calvinism could emerge from its despisers. Van Til entitled his letter (which Time did not publish), "We are not ashamed to be Calvinists!"

Sorry, I’ll get out of the way.... feel free to respond but I won’t take this off topic any further.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
TGC features a few. Is what Barth did, although maybe more nuanced, that different than these CRTers? Orthodoxy, specifically, Reformed Christian orthodoxy, is obviously an appeal but ultimately an offense and seemingly a target for ..... compromise or ultimately muddying the waters. Maybe I’m making Barth out to thinking himself more neoCalvinist than he considered himself (maybe he was a type of godfather of neoCalvinism - which I still don’t get). But there was a loose association promoted to some extent, no? I think he was truly no Calvinist. When is partial orthodoxy none? The slopes are very slippery.


“Two weeks later in 1947, an article in Time's sister publication, Life, documented a worldwide rebirth of religion. Among the evidence was the intellectual renaissance among the allegedly Calvinistic followers of Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr. In an open letter to Time-Life editor-in-chief Henry Luce, Westminster Seminary's Cornelius Van Til countered that genuine Calvinism was something that Barth and Niebuhr denied—a coherent system of doctrine—and he challenged the notion that a revival of Calvinism could emerge from its despisers. Van Til entitled his letter (which Time did not publish), "We are not ashamed to be Calvinists!"

Sorry, I’ll get out of the way.... feel free to respond but I won’t take this off topic any further.
Barth never spoke on race. Neocalvinism, btw, is Kuyper. Every one in Barth s day was liberal already, so Barth simply added a new flavor. The Tgc types are attacking already orthodox denominations
 
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