Roger Olson recently presented an article at his blog on Karl Barth and universalism. In the aftermath of that he provided further clarification and response to the response that he received from Barth scholars (off-line) as a result. In the comment thread of that particular post someone named JohnD made this comment about Barth as a theologian:
May I say that I think Barth is overrated and given too much attention in the scholarly world? Actually, I don’t know that he gets that much attention anymore, but those who are Barthian scholars are heavily invested because they’ve had to spend so dang much time with him. Naturally, they want to justify that expenditure. But I think it’s long past time to give him his historical moment (esp. the Commentary on Romans) but issue a verdict on Church Dogmatics: An overlong, overcomplex argument with himself, which he ultimately lost. His Calvinism was his nemesis. And the idea of wading into those multi-volumes to find this out borders on academic insanity.
The greatest theologians write to be understood. Barth wrote in a battle within his own mind and ended up muddying too many waters. I think he was a brilliant man but, in the end, a lackluster theologian, for the best write to be understood clearly. (e.g. Adam Clarke, Wm. Burt Pope)
I know Barth is given some sort of hallowed status among scholars who came of age in the latter half of the 20th century, but I think it’s time to move on. [from here]
Well if Arminius is your man, I suppose it is time to move on, isn’t it?
Barth wrote as an exercise of worship and prayer to His Triune Christian God. He wrote so the angels could be baffled at the manifold wisdom of God showered on the least of these.
Do the ‘greatest theologians write to be understood’, ought this be their primary mode? Or, is the Constructive theologian more concerned with constructing a hyper-solid scaffolding upon which others can stand and move in even more constructive ways—till we reach the unity of the faith? Barth was the evangelical Constructive Theologian, par excellence! It makes no difference whether or not he is easy to understand or not; last I checked the God we worship is ineffable, and it is in the enveloping of this reality (God), that sends worshipping man to his wits end in order to speak with the tongues of men and of angels in order to express utter adoration towards our [al]mighty God of grace.
This is where so many fail to appreciate Barth’s genius, like JohnD (his sentiment is so common, methinks). Barth wrote for an audience of one, and in the process ended up writing for the many.
Anyway, there is a whole wake of After Barth scholarship that JohnD and so many others just don’t want to be aware of.