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What Is the Deeper Modernist Conception?

You can contrast the deeper Modernist conception of Karl Barth to the deeper Protestant conception of Vos and the deeper Catholic conception of Aquinas. For Vos, Adam comes from God, wholly inclined toward God and in natural religious fellowship with God, standing in no need of grace. According to the deeper Catholic conception, Adam comes from God riddled with concupiscence and in need of ontologically re-proportioning and ethically re-proportioning grace.

For Barth in the deeper Modernist conception, when Adam is created, he is instantly the first sinner. This is concupiscence radicalized. Adam does not stand in need of a covenant according to the deeper Protestant conception, nor does he stand in need of ontologically infused and elevating grace according to the deeper Catholic conception, Adam stands in need of the Christ event.

What makes the deeper Modernist conception so distinctive is that Jesus Christ is not a promised future redeemer. He does not come in terms of redemptive history, coming out of heaven in the fullness of time to take to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, die for sin, and rise and ascend to heaven. For Barth, the Christ event is at the very beginning the alpha point of God’s relation to Creation in geschichte in a supra-temporal dimension, wholly hidden from history.

According to Barth, the Christ event has always been occurring. And when Adam was created, he was so defective and stained in sin, he needed that supra-temporal indirect Christ event. Barth has the lowest of all views of Adam as a creature and the most deviant of all views of Jesus Christ, because there is no history of special revelation of which Christ is the consummation. There is merely an abstract positive supernal Christ event to which man in history never has any direct access. It is the polar opposite of Vos’s deeper Protestant conception.

Adapted from a transcript of the video.


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