Barth’s dream of a Spirit-centered theology

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Jon Ruthven |

 Barth’s dream of a Spirit-centered theology hints at the great disconnect between the New Testament portrayal of the mission and message of Jesus and the “gospel” of traditional Protestantism —a variation on the Catholic Mass. This disconnect appeared as a result of the Reformers’ adoption of cessationism to undercut Papal authority, which rested, in part, on the idea of continuing revelation and miracle. The failure of both sides to understand the purpose of charismatic revelation and power as the central characteristic of the New Covenant, resulted in a misunderstanding of the mission of Jesus, the purpose of the cross, and the continuing commission of Christian disciples. In this, traditional theology significantly distorted the Christian message from that of Jesus and the New Testament witness.

Our opening chapter demonstrates that the real dialectic of God coming to humanity in Christ is so ingredient to Barth’s thinking that one cannot conduct any sort of Spiritcentered theology in abstraction from it if one is to appreciate the gains that Barth achieved relative to liberal theology. One cannot abandon dialectics. Dialectical antinomianism, as in Barth and Brunner, denies that biblical law is God’s direct command and affirms that the Bible’s imperative statements trigger the Word of the Spirit, which when it comes may or may not correspond exactly to what is written.

In any case, there is no denying the fact that there is a Spiritcentered emphasis in Berdyaev rather than the Christ-centered theology of Barth. The two are naturally not mutually exclusive, but there remains need for greater integration of the two. A greater encounter in this ecumenical era between Eastern and Western


John Kissinger [07/08/2015 9:00 AM]
Couple of side questions that seem interesting to me in regard this discontinuation: Should we expect churches not under papal authority (like Eastern Orthodox, Anglican William DeArteaga , etc.) to be to recognize modern day apostleship. B/c what we see is charismatics almost or literally moving under papal authority (Kenneth Copeland, Ulf Ekman). And also, how do you see Barth in dialogue with Freire and the whole Liberation Theology, which is also contextually related to papacy?

William DeArteaga [07/08/2015 9:16 AM]
I have no tenmptation to move into the papel orbit. The Rev. Copeland expressed his respect to the pontiff, but i do not believe he mean anything else. Ulf is now a Catholic.

John Kissinger [07/08/2015 9:23 AM]
Ulf Ekman was a long-term Pentecostal leader in one of the oldest Pentecostal movements in Europe – Sweden. He was among the first who broke through the Berlin Wall in 1990 to preach Pentecost through Eastern Europe and consecutively educated many young preachers in his school in Upsala. Many of them associated with NAR and became some king of apostles in 2-3 European regions. Ultimately, Ulf’s submission under papal authority drastically weekend their anyway flagellant theology. How could his students be apostles, when their apostolic educator submitted under the pope. With the pope’s outreach toward world banking, war regulations and maybe even now Cuba, I think we have much to see in this direction in the near feature…

Lennie Marx [07/08/2015 10:52 AM]
Consider this!

Geetha Kiruba Kani [07/09/2015 3:51 PM]
So true. I shout Hallelujah and dance in joy of the Lord.


  • Reply April 25, 2016

    Harold Beesley

    Harold Beesley liked this on Facebook.

  • Varnel Watson
    Reply December 20, 2017

    Varnel Watson

    Robert Borders William DeArteaga I would always pick Spirit–centered emphasis in Berdyaev before the Christ-centered theology of Barth Henry Volk

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