CONVERSING WITH BARTH (BARTH STUDIES)Written by John C. McDowell and Mike Higton (Eds) Reviewed By Rob Price
What does Christian theology have to do with how we understand history, particularly the individuals whose lives and teachings comprise the human history of the church? John Webster’s powerful lead essay on Barth’s ‘conversation’ with Protestant theologians of the 19th century addresses this question and sets the tone for subsequent colloquies between Barth and partners ranging from Dante and Luther to Donald MacKinnon and John Howard Yoder. George Hunsinger, for example, invites Luther and Calvin to debate with Barth the relative merits of the ‘once-for-all’, the ‘more-and-more’, and the ‘again-and-again’ models of individual sanctification. Eugene Rogers, in an exquisitely crafted contribution, amplifies, the somewhat muffled dialogue between Barth and Athanasius on the subject of the Spirit. What emerges is the outline of a profoundly constructive ‘theology of the third article’ grounded thoroughly—and how else could it be?—in Scripture and tradition. David Ford’s concluding exhortation is not to be missed.
Conversing with Barth is an elite collection of essays designed to demonstrate, by way of serious engagement with his thought, Barth’s broad and continuing relevance for contemporary theology. It succeeds admirably. Readers are veritably summoned to attention by the editor’s challenging introductory reflections on Barth’s theology (and practice) of conversation. Happily, the editors have also equipped this volume with both summaries of individual essays as well as a full index of names, so that readers can more readily locate those particular conversations on which they would most like to listen in.
Talbot School of Theology
La Mirada, California, USA