Eavesdropping in the World


in The Hastening that Waits

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198264576
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682728 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics

Eavesdropping in the World

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This chapter considers a third source for ethics: the world. It is not difficult to understand why some suppose that Barth found nothing of any ethical worth outside of strictly Christian circles. His relentless insistence that ethics be firmly grounded in Christian dogmatics, that dogmatics begin with the recognition that Jesus Christ is the Word of God, and that this Word is heard through Scripture in the Church, is enough to make this supposition intelligible. However, such a reading of Barth is both mistaken and superficial. It is mistaken to a considerable extent because it fails to take into account Barth's understanding of the ‘Church’ and of its relationship with the ‘World’. For although Barth was vigorous in his insistence that the Christian Church should strive to be faithful to its peculiar identity, he was no less vigorous in insisting that it has a duty to listen carefully to voices on the other side of its own walls: ‘In the narrow corner in which we have our place and task we cannot but eavesdrop in the world at large’. Indeed, such eavesdropping is essential to the Church's Christian identity.

Keywords: Karl Barth; theology; world; ethics; Christian dogmatics; Christian Church

Chapter.  6779 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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