Paul among the Evangelicals, §4: Barth on Rom. 5 (4.1)

4.1. Barth’s Rejection of the Evangelical Arguments

Barth’s basic critical stance toward evangelicals on both sides of the universalism question is to deny that everyone is saved (contra universalists) by denying that anyone is actually and directly “saved” (contra non-universalists). The primary distinction between Barth contemporary evangelicals is rooted in the fact that evangelicals view faith, justification, and salvation as anthropological realities—i.e., they exist primarily in the subjective dimension of existence. Faith is “your” faith; salvation is “your” salvation. Evangelical universalists and non-universalists alike read Rom. 5 in light of what they find to be a consistent emphasis elsewhere in Paul that justification depends upon the believer’s faith in Christ. The difference is that the universalists see a both-and where the non-universalists see an either-or. In other words, whereas non-universalists argue that salvation is by faith or all will be saved, evangelical universalists argue that salvation is by faith and all will be saved (at some point in the unknown future). Barth, on the other hand, argues that (1) salvation is by the faithfulness of God (rather than individual, anthropological faith) and (2) all are saved because none are “saved.”

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WTM said…
Another short post in this series. This is turning into a disturbing trend...
D.W. Congdon said…
You're right, it is a little short, but it's also really important. I didn't spend as much time on Barth's views as I did on the evangelical readings of Paul's letter to the Romans. Perhaps a future version of this paper should rectify this.

The other thing I left out was a comparative reading of Barth's Römerbrief with his two later works, A Shorter Commentary on Romans and Christ and Adam. I think it would be very worthwhile comparing Barth's exegesis of Rom. 5 in these three works.