“What Evangelicals Can Learn from Karl Barth”

Wood, Ralph

a public lecture at Beeson Divinity School, May, 2000


Wood sums up how Barth thought of Godlessness, and suggests American Evangelicals take heed. Godlessness for Barth is refusing to be scandalized by the gospel. Trying to fit the gospel on a bumper sticker or a hallmark card. In fact the gospel is always strange, other, scandalous. It is never obvious. Regarding God as the champ of pop piety. Speaking of God by speaking of man in a loud voice. Believing that we have a direct and unmediated relation to God. Having no need of Israel or of Jesus. Where do we find such Godlessness? In fundamentalist/evangelical churches, where Jesus is a body-builder who carries the sins of the world. “His blood’s for you” [This Bud’s for you]. Cross with a note on it: ‘Back Soon.’ Puppets singing, ‘I found my thrill on Golgotha Hill.’ In A Far Glory, Peter Berger tells us that these things reveal a religion in which nothing extraordinary is going on, in which nobody is falling to their knees. And we applaud pop singers of hymns that are prayers–as if their audience were not God.