Harnack and Barth on Revelation

While reading volume three of Baird’s excellent History of New Testament Research, I came across this dialogue between the eminent church historical Adolf von Harnack and Karl Barth:

[Harnack]: “A scientific theological presentation can also inspire and edify, thanks to its object, but the scientific theologian who is bent on inspiration and edification brings strange fire upon his altar, for as there is only one scientific method, so there is also only one scientific task—the pure knowledge of its object.” To this Barth responds, “The concept of revelation is not a scientific concept.”
Baird, 67.

Barth exposes Harnack’s flawed understanding of revelation as well as the impossibility of knowing all of who God is through purely objective and critical reason. Well done Karl!


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