Herbert Hartwell – Theology of Karl Barth

Christocentric Theology

“Then Barth had come to see as in a vision, a vision however based upon and corroborated by Holy Scripture and thus no mere speculation, that the thought of man, the thought of the Godman Jesus Christ and of His experience, as if by means of a powerful searchlight, illuminated to Barth everything, not only retrospectively beyond the Incarnation right back to the innertrinitarian life of God and his eternal decree before time but also prospectively right to the end of time and beyond it. For it was then revealed to him that Jesus Christ is not only the eternal son of God in His union with humanity but also the Lord of heaven and earth who in anticipation of what will take place in His eternal Kingdom at the final revelation of Him as the Lord of the cosmos and of all men has already now communion with individual men, with His disciples, and, further, that all this had been planed by God before time, in His eternity.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 98).

“Here we have the immediate point of departure of Barth’s doctrine of creation. For with him it is not the First but the Second Article of the Creed which is the key to this doctrine; in other worlds, with him Jesus Christ is that key. It is in Jesus Christ and through Him that we know about God as the Creator of heaven and earth and man as His creature and about the purpose of creation.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, pp. 112-113). (cf. CD III/1:3,6,11,23ff).

Election, in Jesus Christ

“The Son in His relation to his Father is the eternal archetype and prototype of God’s glory in His outward manifestation, in God’s co-existence with another, with man, in the Godman, Jesus Christ and through Him with all men…. Moreover, he claims that Jesus Christ—and that includes His humanity–and in Jesus Christ man himself was with God from eternity, namely in God’s thought and will.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 100). (cf. CD II/1:622; II/2:94ff; IV/1:51ff; IV/2:32ff)

Election, Jesus Christ as the Elect Man

“In Jesus Christ, above all in His divine-human nature, the meaning of God’s election is revealed. For that which has taken place at the very centre of the divine self-revelation, that is, in Jesus Christ, in His person and work, is, seen in the light of His resurrection, God’s election. As the eternal Son of God who became man in the man Jesus of Nazareth, suffered and died on the Cross that sinful man may forever have fellowship with God, Jesus Christ is Himself the eternal decree or rather the realization of that resolve of God within Himself in His eternity before the creation of the world which is termed the eternal decree of God. It is only in Jesus Christ and through Him that God could carry out and has carried out His eternal plan with man, His eternal election of Himself to fellowship with man and of man to fellowship with Himself, and it is for this reason that Jesus Christ is the original and primary object of God’s election, God’s first and eternal thought and will in His election.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, pp. 107-108).

“According to that doctrine the eternal decree of God before the creation of the world… constitutes the basis of all reality outside the being of the Triune God. Consequently, Jesus Christ as the Elect of God, in whom all men are elected to fellowship with God, and thus (in and with Jesus Christ) man himself have in this decree their basic reality. It is in this sense and for this reason that Barth regards Jesus Christ as the very beginning of all the ways and works of God ad extra and of His glory, describing him as the first thought and will of God, the first and eternal Word of God, characterizing Him as the content and form of the (first) divine thought of grace, will of grace, and decree of grace before the creation of the world.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 100) (cf. CD II/2:94ff; IV/2:33f; IV/1:50).

“It is no exaggeration to say that the heart of Barth’s theology beats in this doctrine in which he radically departs from all past and present teaching on predestination, above all from Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Contrary to everything which has been taught about this subject-matter so far, Barth describes this doctrine as the sum of the Gospel ‘because of all words that can be said or heard it is the best’.” (Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 105) (CD II/2:3)

“…God’s eternal election of grace which is ultimately grounded in God’s inner trinitarian love… and as God’s free grace in Jesus Christ represents itself as an overflowing of that love, is for Barth the eternal basis of all the ways and works of God ad extra and therefore… in Jesus Christ. At the same time it is for him an expression of God’s eternal, free and unchanging grace towards man. For its precise meaning is that in it God resolved once for all to determine Himself in Jesus Christ for sinful man and sinful man for Himself and therefore to take upon Himself in Jesus Christ the rejection with all its consequences which sinful man deserves, while man, sinful man, is elected by Him in Jesus Christ to participation in His own glory.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 106) (CD II/2:94)

“On the contrary, it presents us with a decretum concretum, revealed to us and therefore known to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ, whereby God in the overflow of His love and in the freedom of His grace determined within Himself in His eternity before time and space, as we know them, that in His Son He would be gracious towards man even thought man would rebel against Him and, therefore, in Jesus Christ would submit in man’s place and for man’s salvation to the punishment of suffering and death which sinful man deserves.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 106).

Salvation as Objective and Subjective

“Objectively (de jure) all men are already justified, sanctified, and called in Jesus Christ in and through what He has done in their stead and for their sake. In Him, objectively, the old man has already passed away; in Him, objectively, we are already the new man, represented as such by Him before God. However, though the salvation of all men is already objectively accomplished by Jesus Christ– without them and, as His Cross teaches, against them–many of them have not yet perceived and accepted what God has done for them in Jesus Christ. In order that Jesus Christ’s objective reconciling work may subjectively (de facto) bear fruit in the lives of individual men and through them, as His witnesses, in the lives of other men, there is still needed as an essential part of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ the subjective apprehension, acceptance, appropriation and application of that work.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 138). (CD III/2:298ff; IV/1:147ff.)

Word of God, as Jesus Christ

“In speaking of Jesus Christ as the one Word of God, [Karl Barth] means thereby (a) that the one comprehensive truth of God in its perfect unity and wholeness is to be found only in Jesus Christ since He is the one, the only Word of God which God Himself directly speaks to man in and through His person; (b) that the various truths to be found in the creaturely world do not express a truth of their own but only witness to the truth of the one Word of God; (c) that God’s self-manifestation in Jesus Christ is the one true Light of the one Truth whereas the lights of the creaturely world are but refractions of this one true Light and manifestations of the one Truth.”

(Herbert Hartwell, The Theology of Karl Barth: An Introduction, p. 99) (cf. CD IV/3, pp. 106ff, 122ff, 158ff, 179ff).