[This is the second of a two-part post—the first part, posted 1/9/11 is here.]
In raising the question, “is Karl Barth good for Mennonites?”, I am trying to be a little playful. I have several friends, as I have mentioned, who are clearly fine Mennonites and also quite favorably inclined towards Karl Barth’s theology. So, in a genuine sense, this question has been answered in the affirmative already.
And there is also a genuine sense in which I am one of the last people who has any business saying who or what is “good for Mennonites.” I retain several important affiliations with Mennonite institutions (church member, ordained minister, college professor), but I have never been in a position to serve as any kind of gate-keeper or boundary definer. I am sure I am further from playing any such role all the time.
However, I do have a serious intent in raising the question. Perhaps if I switch to the less institutionally or ethnically linked term “Anabaptist” I can better get at my interests in writing about Karl Barth. Part of my question is what kind of theology should present-day Anabaptists be trying to articulate (on this question, I have actually written a couple of books and posted several essays [here and here] at my Peace Theology website). And the question after that is how positive a contribution would paying close attention to Karl Barth’s theology make to said articulation.
As I mentioned in my first post, I ask this question about Barth and our theology with genuine sincerity. I have numerous reasons (touched on in that post) for being favorably inclined toward Barth as a theologian and as a human being. But I also have some questions. And so I intend to read the entire Church Dogmatics over the next two years and grapple with my questions about Barth’s thought.