Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Secret Revealed At Last

What was this secret that made this eminent German Church historian lose sleep at night?

Get ready for the bombshell that's going to rattle the playground of the theo-blogosphere.

I'm about about to share with you, loyal readers, the real reason this blog exists. (Come on, you were starting to wonder: Admit it.)

First the context:

Some time back in the 1920s, Karl Barth wrote a letter to his best pal, Eduard Thurneyson, grousing because Adolf von Harnack, the great church historian, had labelled Barth as a reincarnation of the Gnostic heretic Marcion in a review of Barth's Romans commentary.

(You can read about this, I think, in the volume of Barth-Thurneyson correspondence titled Revolutionary Theology in the Making. But I can't remember the page number. I'm good, but I'm not that good.)

Well, as it happened, Barth stumbled into an evening gathering where loyal doters were arrayed around the great Harnack and, apparently, the U of Berlin scholar had just been disposing of Barth as some sort of flash-in-the-pan enthusiast who would probably found some sort of prophetic cult and then, essentially, fizzle out.

What is not recorded in that correspondence or in the Barth biography by Eberhard Busch that also relates the incident is what happened next.

The young Barth walked right up to the eminent Harnack and whispered something in his ear -- the definitive answer to the scurrilous (as it used to be back in those days) charge of Marcionism that made the elder scholar veritably quake in his boots.

This answer is so secret and amazing that Helmut Gollwitzer, Eberhard Busch, Eberhard Jüngel and some other student of Barth named Eberhard made a secret pact that the message would never be revealed.

I'm in possession of this secret message and I'm ready to disclose it to you:

(Now lean in.) There are now 55 published pieces on this blog. (There are 28 pieces that are in "draft" mode that are simply just too awesome to publish here. Sorry, you'll just have to wait until I'm dead to read those). Scroll through the post titles and take the first letter of each title and write it down. At first blush, it will seem like gobbledygook, like ancient Greek manuscripts before the spaces and punctuation are added by diligent scholars.

Be patient and persevere. Never give up. You won't be disappointed.

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