Karl Barth’s Argument Against Afterlife

VanhallaDoes Karl Barth believe in an afterlife? Barth answers Nein! Barth says that believing in an afterlife is "pursuing pagan dreams of good times after death" and that the New Testament teaches that time comes to an end on the last day at the "final trump", when "time shall be no more." Karl Barth's argument against afterlife appears at the end of the Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Creation, Vol. III/2 (CD III/2) and explained well in the following quotation from CD III/2 §47.5. It is a hard word from Karl Barth, and I don't like it.

(I've modified the quotation from the original small print to make it easier to read by breaking it into smaller paragraphs, adding bold to important sentences, and providing the translations of the original Greek words.) 

Karl Barth's Argument Against Afterlife

But the question seriously arises whether the New Testament form is really distinguished from that of the Old by the fact that its content and contents are to be understood as new beginnings, developments and continuations of human life in the time after death. For in the crucifixion of Jesus is not the end of time, both for the individual and all time, accomplished? Does not His resurrection usher in the last day, when even the believer in Jesus can only live a life hidden with God in Christ? Do not His coming again in glory and the consequent revelation of this hidden life mark the end of this last day and time, the handing over of the kingdom of the Son to the Father?

Even in the chapter he devoted so expressly to the resurrection of the dead in its connexion with the resurrection of Jesus. Paul can see beyond this end only one further prospect: God being all in all (1 Cor 15:28). lt is clear enough that the end of the last time is a historical and therefore a temporal event. But as the event of creation took place in a present without a past, so this event is that of a present without a future, in which, as in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, there does not follow any further information or promise of further occurrence but only the sounding of the "last trump" (1 Cor 15:52).

In this unique moment of time, when the secret of Calvary will be revealed as indicated in the forty days, there will be raised up in incorruption, glory and power, as this last temporal event, that which was sown in corruption, dishonour and weakness (1 Cor 15:43). At this moment it will be necessary for this corruptible to put on incorruption and this mortal to put on immortality (1 Cor 15:53). But nothing further will follow this happening, for then “there shall be time no longer (Rev 10:6).

There is no question of the continuation into an indefinite future of a somewhat altered life. The New Testament hope for the other side of death is very different from that. What it looks forward to is the "eternalising" of this ending life. This corruptible and mortal life will be divested of its character as "flesh and blood,” of the veil of corruption (1 Cor 15:50). lt will put on incorruption and immortality. This earthly tabernacle, which is doomed to destruction, will be "clothed upon" with the building prepared by God, with the house in heaven not made with hands. This mortal will be swallowed up in life (2 Cor 5:1f). Our past and limited life, which did not begin before time and does not continue beyond it, our real but only life, will then fully, definitively and manifestly participate in that "newness of life" (Rom 6:4).

It will then be eternal life in God and in fellowship with Him. To be sure, the past life of every man in its limited time has  a place in this fellowship with God, the Eternal who was and is and is to come. It can only be a matter, therefore, of this past life in its limited time undergoing a transition and transformation (1 Cor 15:51) and participating in the eternal life of God. This transition and transformation is the unveiling and glorifying of the life which in which in his time man has already had in Christ. It is the resurrection of the dead, which according to the indication given after the resurrection of Jesus is our participation in His future resurrection. This is our hope in the time which we still have.

The Old Testament never said this explicitly, nor could it do so before Christ. It simply refers transitory man to the abiding existence and faithfulness of God. And it does this so emphatically that there can be no doubt as to the positive implication of the reference. But it never makes it openly. It never actually says that transitory man with his temporal life will one day have a share in the eternal life of God. It never says anything about resurrection, about that transition and transformation, about that  manifestation of this life of ours in the glory of God.

The New Testament speaks of this as and because it speaks of the saving event whose Subject is the man Jesus. Yet it also confirms what the Old Testament says. For it places transitory man as such, his life in his time, his being with its beginnings and end, in the light of the promise vouchsafed in the death, the resurrection, and second coming of the man Jesus. It [the New Testament] has not abandoned the sober realism of the Old Testament. On the contrary, it has shown how sound it is, and given it its real force. For as it takes the majesty of God not less but more seriously, because concretely, than the Old Testament, so too it takes the littleness of man in his creatureliness and finitude more seriously. It agrees with the Old Testament that this lowly and finite creature, man, in his time is affirmed by the Most High God and that power of this affirmation is the secret of his beginning and end, his true help and deliverance in and from death.

If we wish the New Testament had more to say about this than the Old, it may well be that we are pursuing pagan dreams of a good time after death, and not letting the New Testament say the radically good thing which it has to say with the realism which it has in common with the Old Testament.

Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics III.2 The Doctrine of Creation. Trans. G. W. Bromiley, J. W. Edwards, O. Bussey, Harold Knight, J.K.S. Reid, R.H. Fuller, R.J. Ehrlich, A.T. Mackey, T.H.L. Parker, H.A. Kennedy, J. Marks. Vol. 16. London: T & T Clark, 2009. 184-5. Print. Study Edition. [624-5]

A Summary of Karl Barth's Argument Against Afterlife 

This CD III/2 quotation may be summarized as follows:

  1. Afterlife is a dream of Paganism: The hope that after death we will experience good times, where our plates and beer steins are always full is the dream of paganism like the vikings dreaming of dining with the gods in the halls of Valhalla. The Reformers, including John Calvin employed a similar criticism against the Chiliasts.
  2. Eternal life is not the dead are dead of Atheism: Eternity is not "a gray monotonous sea". We are to hope for eternal life. It is a hope for the new life that is already present, yet hidden in God.
  3. Human life is finite: There is a beginning time and ending time for each person, and our life is given and allotted between these bookends in history, such that we did not exist before our beginning time and will not exist after our ending time, because we are finite.
  4. Creation is finite: There was a first moment of Creation in history, for which there was no previous moment, and likewise there will be a final moment, in a twinkling of an eye, for which there will be no subsequent moment.
  5. Time is limited: Time will not go on for ever, and as there was a first moment of time, there will come a final moment of time, such that there will be no more moments of time after this ending time, and after which "time shall be no more".
  6. Time does not continue after the last day: There are no more happenings or occurrences in time once the final trump sounds, such that there will be no future consciousness or continuation of life beyond the last day. Eternal life means the "eternalizing" of our past life, because there will be no continuation of time in any way.
  7. Our past temporal life will be eternalized in God: The key phrase is "eternalized". Our past life, is not our final moment, but all the moments lived from the beginning to the end. Our temporal life will not continue indefinitely.
  8. The Old Testament did not inform us of what was revealed in the New Testament: The Old Testament was before Christ, so it could not speak of the transition and transformation from our temporal existence to our "eternalized" life revealed in the New Testament
  9. The New Testament has not abandoned the sober realism of the Old: The New Testament affirms what was said in the Old Testament and augments it with what was not yet revealed.
  10. All temporal existence will transformed and transitioned to eternal life in god: Our past life will undergo transition and transformation to participate in the eternal life that is hidden in God. The transitory man will not share in the eternal life of God. Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God.

A Critical Response to Barth's Argument Against Afterlife

Not all appreciators of Barth have said amen to his argument against afterlife. One such example is G.C. Berkouwer, who has written a book thoroughly lauding Barth's theology: (Berkouwer, G. C. The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth. Trans. Harry R. Boer. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1956. 161. Print.) Berkouwer's arguably strongest criticism of Barth is his chapter devoted to criticizing Barth's argument against afterlife: "Chapter XII: The Triumph of the End."

Berkouwer says that "it is not surprising that the idea of the 'eternalizing' of human life as contrasted with its continuation attracted wide attention" (329), because he sees (via H. Vogel) "the confession of the Church with respect to eternal life threatened" (329) and "Barth's idea of 'having-been' is in conflict with the positive teaching of the Church, namely, the life everlasting" (329). Yet, Berkouwer agrees with Barth that common notions of afterlife are pagan rather than Christian when he writes, "Obviously this reaction to pagan dreams of glory and immortality does not bring us a step further in the understanding the problem of the 'vita eterna' (eternal life)'" (330)  Berkouwer also says this distinction between pagan afterlife and Christian eternal life has always been acknowledged in the church when he writes,"also Calvin warned against the 'diabolical furor of immortal fame" (330). Berkouwer explains his agreement with Barth, "Our concern is not with dreams, or with subjective projections on the screen of an endless-time idea, or with a repristination of the conception of immortality as the Enlightenment understood it, but with the reality of eternal life about which the Scriptures speak with so much emphasis" (330).

Barth is correct that "eternal life" was a late addition to the creeds. The phrase "eternal life" did not appear in older forms of the Apostles's Creed or the Nicene Creed (325 AD) and it was until the end of the fourth century that it was added to the official forms of the creeds. Berkouwer responds as follows, "The Apostolicum in its original form did not contain the words 'vita aeterna.' This does not indicate hesitation on this subject in the early Church, for from the beginning she had in defense against gnostic errors of various kinds confessed the 'resurrectio carnis.' We will not err when we say that the Church in later adding the words 'vitam aetenam' was not at all conscious of having added a new element. The 'vita aeterna' had always been understood to be included in the 'resurrectio carnis.' For this reason the debate in our day about the eschatological triumph touches the faith of the Church in every age." (345-6)

Berkouwer also reminds us that Barth's Church Dogmatics is unfinished, and that Barth may have returned to affirming 'eternal life' in some circuitous way in this final volume (that never came to be written), so we cannot ultimately say that there will be no afterlife or continuation of temporal existence whatsoever. Berkouwer says, "We shall have to await the last volume of his Dogmatik to see how his eschatological conception will finally formulate his understanding of the 'vita aeterna.' Will he maintain his idea of 'limitation' or will this yield place to the scriptural witness concerning God's promise for our future?" (346) I recommend reading Berkouwer's The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth hear all he has to say about Barth's eschatology that is beyond this analysis of Barth's argument against afterlife.

An Excursus on Karl Barth's Unfinished Eschatology

Karl Barth abandoned the Church Dogmatics before completing his planned fifth and final volume on Eschatology. Sadly, not even an outline exists of the Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Redemption, Volume V, so it is a mystery what this ending of the Church Dogmatics might have contained. This is an important point that must never be understated when speaking about Barth's eschatological beliefs.

Some Barth scholars are convinced that we know nothing of CD V's contents, pointing to the surprising conclusions Barth made at the end of CD IV, such as Barth's famous rejection of Infant Baptism (CD IV/4) and his allowance for a form of Natural Revelation in his Secular Parables of the Truth (CD IV/3.1). On the other hand, other scholars believe these were not surprising changes, but indispensable test cases of what Barth had believed throughout his mature theology (which most Barth scholars consider to be CD II/2 through CD IV/4.) These other scholars believe that Barth's eschatology may then be safely reconstructed from his statements in his mature theology.

The best material for defining Barth's eschatology from his mature works is substantially contained in Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Creation, Vol. III/2: "§47 Man In His Time." The last section of CD III/2 is about Jesus' lordship over time, and it is divided into five subsections of CD III/2: §47.1 Jesus, Lord of Time§47.2 Given Time§47.3 Allotted Time§47.4 Beginning Time and §47.5 Ending Time. The most frequently discussed is Barth's analysis of the forty days between the Resurrection and Ascension in §47.1 Jesus, Lord of Time and his statements about Eternal Life and Afterlife in the final section §47.1 Ending Time.

Three publications are demarcated as the beginning of Barth's mature theology by Barth scholars: Romans II (1922), CD I (1932), CD II/2 (1942). Therefore, Barth's earlier writings on eschatology published before his mature theology period (conservatively speaking CD II/2 onward), such The Resurrection of the Dead (1926), cannot be relied upon for reconstructing Barth's eschatology or speculating about the contents of CD V. (Some have utilized Credo (1935) as another debated source for Barth's eschatology.) Another factor is that Barth's conclusions on eschatology and the resurrection are notoriously hard to interpret, and at times he appears to contradict what he had written earlier or later in the Dogmatics. Many people, such as Rudolf Bultmann, believed Barth was inconsistent at this point of his theology, but Barth protests against critics who say he's inconsistent. The conclusion is that Barth's eschatology may be substantially reconstructed from his mature theology (especially CD III/2), but we will never know what Barth's final volume of the Church Dogmatics might have concluded on this subject.

Conclusion

Karl Barth's Argument Against Afterlife is disturbing because it is prima facie a hopeless eschatology, finding hope in the past without a hope for the future. The most difficult ramification is the potential end of consciousness for all people, making men to be like brainless jellyfish swimming in the gray monotonous sea of God's nostalgic eternal memories of Creation. It is difficult to understand how sin is positively dealt with on the last day, especially those victims who have known only horror in their lives. The positive aspect is Barth's call to listen to revealed eschatology, and not let paganism infiltrate our hopes. Even if Barth's eschatology finally becomes deplorable to some people, we may have hope and peace in the fact that his eschatology is unfinished, and no one ultimately knows what will happen in the end, or what eternal life or the resurrection will be like until it appears on the last day with the coming and appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Image Source: "Walhall by Emil Doepler" by Emil Doepler - Doepler, Emil. ca. 1905. Walhall, die Götterwelt der Germanen. Martin Oldenbourg, Berlin. Photographed by Haukurth (talk · contribs) and cropped by Bloodofox (talk · contribs).. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Related: , , , , , , , , , , ,
ADVERTISEMENT >
 
< ADVERTISEMENT
 
Comments (43) Trackbacks (1)
  1. The “transition and transformation” is about the passing from corruption to incorruption, a transition which our present existence-time is not in-itself capable of providing a reliable reference or intimation. That is Barth’s point. He is not denying individual consciousness beyond the grave. “It will then be eternal life in God and in fellowship with Him. To be sure, the past life of every man in its limited time has a place in this fellowship with God, the Eternal who was and is and is to come.” Indeed, he wants to establish the temporal on the basis of the eternal, as he did in II.1 (which I blogged about last year), and not play them off against each other as in apophatic theologies. And this is why he is happy to affirm the “sober realism” of the OT in the NT, but this only serves — if anything — to actually strengthen the connection between time and “eternity” by allowing the latter to invest the former with its “being.”

    I certainly don’t see your “hopeless eschatology” or how this is “a hard word” from Barth that you don’t like. Also, the “mature Barth” has to, at the very least, begin with his transition from the failed attempt in Christliche Dogmatik to CD 1.1 — thus, 1932 and Barth in his mid-40’s. Nothing happened between 1940 and 1942 (II.1 and II.2) to justify a demarcation of a “mature” beginning in II.2. If someone wants to argue that Barth radically revises his “ontology” in II.2 — whatever, but don’t call it a “mature” beginning.

    • Kevin, excellent comment. Defining the mature Barth as CD II/2 onwards vs CD I/1 onwards is a debate between bruce mccormack and George Hunsinger respectively. See Hunsingers recent book “Reading Barth with Charity” for all the dirt on the Barth wars between the revisionists vs traditionalists. The first chapter outlines that debate. When I say mature Barth I mean the Union of McCormack and Hunsinger.

      I’m playing out the negative side of this dialectics by saying hopeless. I may circle back and write about barths forty days from §47.1 as a counter example.

      The end of consciousness is an interpretation of barths eschatology that I’ve heard from some folks with bultmannitis. (Let the reader understand)

      • While I have not yet read Hunsinger’s latest, I am very familiar with the debate and have been for some years now. As you could guess from my recent review of Molnar’s book, I am not in agreement with McCormack and disciples, including those with Bultmannitis. If they are right about Barth, then Barth’s influence in the church will only get worse — as a theology for elite Protestants in the global North and, in fact, only a small niche therein.

        • Barth coined the term “bultmannitis” in a personal letter expressing his difference and dissatisfaction with Rudolf Bultmann. It’s a great term.

  2. Barth does provide an outline of the Doctrine of Redemption in I.1, 24.2, 882ff. I think one of the difficulties Barth has is his approach to dialectical thinking, where he uses it to separate, while Hegel uses it to reconcile. Pannenberg, if I understand him rightly, thinks of Eternity as embracing and fulfilling time. He will view the resurrection of Jesus as a sign of the destiny of humanity, meaning both general and individual eschatology. I think he would say that one cannot address one without the other, for then, to use your quote, it would be “pagan.” To connect the general and the individual is to see that in Jesus, God has a destiny for humanity, redeeming this time in a restored fellowship between God and humanity, humanity with each other, and humanity with creation. In essence, his dialectical approach separates God and humanity, to the joint where in the end, humanity and creation will have had their time, and God will be all. What he has done is “de-temporalize” eschatology, so that eschatology is not a real judgment and redemption of this time. His eschatology becomes abstract at that point. The eternity of God means that every moment of human time is the “end.”

    • Barth sees the Judgment as a threefold event: 1) In God’s pretemporal election of Jesus Christ 2) on cross at golgotha and 3) at the last day. These three are unified in the event of the cross. The last day is the culmination of time, and it is the ending time. So eschatology is not concerned with one’s final moments at the end of time, but the whole life lived and all of creation. The fleetingness of time does not disappear into the abyss, God will “eternalize” time, and has already done so. Thats why there’s so much emphasis on the verse about “our lives being hidden in god” (Col 3:3). Temporal time is entirely eternalized, and transformed and transitioned into the eternal life of god so that nothing is lost. Berkouwer praises this to an extent saying that no flap of an ancient butter fly will be lost, because it will all be remembered by God. All things have their fulfillment too, such that things have a natural end, and that God will put an end to all unnatural end. So its comforting that everything in creation will be remembered by god, and nothing will be forgotten or disappear into a meaningless abyss of nihilism.

      However, new creation (for me) is more than God’s nostalgic remembrance of the old creation, and new life is more than god having fond memories of this insignificant creature typing away at this comment.

  3. One further thought. This de-temporalizing by Barth of eschatology, so that it is not a real judgment and fulfillment of this time, leads him to develop his doctrine of creation without serious interaction with evolution and physics. It also leads him not to consider seriously the scientific account of the end of earth or the universe. Pannenberg, on the other end, must deal with these matters.

    • I can’t remember from what text, but I interpreted Barth as affirming that there will be an end of us, and I thought it consistent with the thought of the end of the universe.

      • Yes, Barth believes we will experience a “natural” end, in the sense of completion or finishing. There will be an abolition of all unnatural death, such that nothing is cut short or left complete. But either way, there is no unending time. He’s absolutely against continuation of all kinds. This is the final section of CD III/2: §47.5 Ending Time

    • That’s a great point, George. I don’t think this leads Barth to any sort of weird absorption (annihilation) of the self into God (per Wyatt’s concerns), but it does highlight the extent to which Barth is comfortable in both his protology and eschatology to subvert the temporal (“as such” or a priori) from having any definitive authority in theology.

      • I don’t believe Barth is teaching annihilationism, because he says we will find our eternalized life in God as “having-been” rather than slipping into the abyss of “no longer having been”. But the Creature appears to be unaware of their eternalized life. This is why I said in the conclusions: “making men to be like brainless jellyfish swimming in the gray monotonous sea of God’s nostalgic eternal memories of Creation”

        • I am not in the least convinced that Barth would teach an “unaware” eternal state for the creature. You are making some incredible jumps from Barth’s (admittedly obtuse) dialectics of eternity and time. Moreover, the “brainless” description is precisely the way that Buddhist and even Gnostic mysticism describes the annihilation and absorption of the ego into the divine. This is the very consummation of the temporal into the divine in Gnostic mysticism. If this is where “radical” Barthianism leads, then fuck it. I am not normally so crude, but this is as animated as I get! 😉 Seriously, I do appreciate this discussion, Wyatt, and the hard work involved in writing this post.

          • Kevin, if you could demonstrate that Barth believed in a conscious afterlife, that would be helpful. Especially some sort of quotation from the later dogmatics. I’m not convinced that Barth landed here, its part of his dialectic where he explores something all the way through. The places that are most helpful for me are when Barth criticizes Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann, from my limited experience, is firmly against afterlife. It’s okay to love Barth and reject points of his system. I like infant baptism and i’m open to women’s rights in a way that Barth was not. Thanks for your excellent feedback!

            • I think Barth’s exegesis of the 1 Cor 13:11-13 in CD IV.2, 838-840 implies some kind of activity and thinking in the eternal life. Certainly love is an activity which will never cease (p. 840).

          • I would love to research this in the CD, but — as you know — that will require a considerable amount of time, which I do not presently have. Based on the excerpt provided in this post, I am satisfied that Barth did not reject a conscious afterlife, but of course — since he never even began CD V — we are probably left without an ultimately satisfying word from Barth on this. Perhaps you should apply Hunsinger’s charity principle! And, yes, Barth is open to criticism, as I have criticized his iconoclasm, for example. By the way, you need to read Barth’s angelology, if you have not already, in CD III.3, § 51.2 and 51.3 (not just § 51.1) — an impossible bit of doctrinal material for a Bultmannian or kindred “radicals.”

          • I have not yet read CD III/3. It’s on deck. As a mutual appreciator of Barth, if you do get time or make time to respond to this issue then I know that this PostBarthian would be grateful! And I have consolidation in know that Barth was holding back for CD V.

    • Yes, and for this reason Ive had a renewed interest in Pannenberg. Barth lived while the Nazi’s were in the church and the world was at war and the church was compromised. So I see his desire to keep theology as a possession of the church, but then it doesnt truly value creation as the interior basis of the covenant as barth preached in CD III/1. The eternalizing of Creation is hard for me to see how this really completes creation, if it comes to an end. Evolution is a form of life, all things are constantly moving and changing, as a form of adapting. This is like inspiration, the constant motion of breath. Evolution is the earth and cosmos breathing.

  4. Many thanks … to read Barth, always refreshing. A needed corrective to evangelical fixation on “going to heaven,” while letting God’s creation suffer … and even worse, the prosperity gospel which encourages the pillaging of God’s earth, to enjoy “heaven on earth” now, and in the end, it won’t matter, because everyone who believes in Jesus (proved by prosperity) flits off to an even more sumptuous feast in heaven. The earth can go to hell.

    • Barth isnt condeming the earth to hell. He believes in a new creation, but this is one where the earth is eternalized in God. His hope is not for individual people, but all of creation. However, this hope is primarily for those who are able to have a relationship with him. You are right that we need to be against the “going to heaven” talk track, because heaven is the realm of angels, and we are creatures on earth and earth is our home.

  5. “Eternalized” life just sounds like another fancy word for the patristic concept of “theosis”.

    • I dont remember Barth using the word “theosis” in this section of CD III/2 but you maybe right. I’m not sure what is the difference between “eternalized” and “divinization” of Eastern Orthodoxy. Great point!

  6. Hi Wyatt, I was just re-reading Dogmatics in Outline when I found your post. I don’t know how “mature” was Barth when he wrote this, but at least this sounds a little bit more “hopeful”. In the final chapter he writes:

    “For this word [resurrection] is the answer to death’s terror, the terror that this life some day comes to an end, and that this end is the horizon of our existence.”

    “Resurrection means not the continuation of this life, but life’s completion. To this man a Yes is spoken which the shadow of death cannot touch. In resurrection our life is involved, we men as we are and are situated. We rise again, no one else takes our place.”

    And finally talking about the Lord’s Supper: “Thus in this sign the witness of His meal is united to the witness of the Holy Spirit. It tells us really, you shall not die but live, and proclaim the Lord’s works! You! We are guests at the Lord’s Table, which is not only an image; it is an event.”

    • Thanks for sharing Federico! Dogmatics In Outline was first published in 1947, so this fits within the mature period I defined above and in the same time frame as CD III/2. It’s my opinion that Barth’s position is not hopeful, but Barth himself believed his position is very hopeful, and as you pointed out, Barth is not consistent on this loci, because he had not yet set out to write CD V.

      • Hi again Wyatt, thanks for the reply. I wonder what is necessary for an eschatology to be hopeful in your opinion. Perhaps our visions of what is hopeful are much shaped by our own worldviews and culture, that’s why we differ in our appreciation on the hopefulness of Barth’s position. Are you thinking in some kind of a “new eternal time” that is necessary to validate that we are still active in the new creation?

        • Eschatological hope has to be more than here and now, or in the past, but also in the future. If we are facing an abyss of nonbeing, I have a hard time finding any hope in that future. It also is a dark shadow over anything we do here and now that has a similar experience as nihilism or atheism. Hope for me is for new life in God that transcends the fallen experience common to man, and one that is not cut short by ending time. Also a future that really restores what is lost, and not just for a moment, but permanently brings back what was lost.

  7. I seem to recall a sermon that Barth preached for his son’s funeral. I don’t think he sounded quite so “hopeless.”

    • Barth was inconsistent on this topic. He himself did not consider his position hopeless when faced with criticism like my own. Its my perspective that this is hopeful only in a realized way, such as for the moment or looking positively on things, but I don’t see how this is a future hope that will fix anything from a creature point of view.

  8. What do you really know about the Process of death and dying, and the after-life too – or about anything at all for that matter?
    Please find an Illuminated Understanding of death, and everything else too via this reference:
    http://www.adidam.org/death_and_dying/index.html

  9. Wow, this is an exceptional blog, Wyatt. I’ve taken multiple grad school courses on Karl Barth and haven’t encountered this subject.

  10. I am, alas, not well read in Barth. But who says time must end, and what would that even mean? In the apocalyptic world of Daniel, even the angels experience some sort of time, for the messenger to Daniel has to struggle three weeks against the Prince of Persia. I am not convinced that abolishing time (in favor of an eventless eternal blob) is satisfactory. The Risen Christ can certainly step into our time and be seen by eyewitnesses and inspire prophets, so is Christ himself without time?

    By the way, thank you for a superlative, fascinating blog!

    • Thanks for sharing Michael! Remember that Angels are also creatures, not God, so they have finite time as well. Barth discusses his Angelology at length at the end of CD III/3. I agree that eternal life may be a different way of being, but I am not happy with Barth’s presentation here above.


Leave a comment