Consequences Determine the Wisdom of Our Actions

I was reading Kevin Davis’ post today about PCUSA’s recent decisions, which allows room for homosexual marriage[i]. Not too long after this I arrived at page 777 of CD.1.2, landing on these words from Barth.

‘Even behind the most insignificant deviation or obscurity or irrelevance, behind the apparently most harmless whimsicality, which someone or some circumstance may wish to employ in matters of Church proclamation, there may lurk error and falsehood by which the promise is annulled and the Church destroyed. In every menace to pure doctrine the question arises whether the Church, at the point where it now speaks, has not perhaps rejected grace and is, therefore, itself rejected. In our prayer for the Holy Spirit we commit it to the grace of God, and in so doing we confess that it needs divine grace, and must be continually rescued from death if it is to live.’[ii]

Barth is discussing the science of dogmatics as having a middle role to that of explication and application (or exegesis and practical theology).

In light of these words I found myself asking:

What kind of ‘dogmatic attitude  that is critical, but not sceptically negative’[iii]  towards this proclamation by PCUSA would be considered a healthy response?

How much of God’s Word is reflected purely through the human word?

Does God even exists in these decisions?

I also wonder if, in some aspects, Barth’s idea of preaching as being a ‘selfless word’[iv] is an indictment against this kind of proclamation. In this respect could such decisions rightly be considered as being a ‘selfish word’ and therefore false proclamation?

As with a lot of discussions about homosexual “marriage”, there are more questions than answers.

That said, we’ll know sooner or later how this all pans out for the Church. Simply because consequences determine the wisdom of our actions (Jesus, Luke 7:35 paraphrased)


[i] link:
[ii] Barth, K. 1938 Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of The Word of God I.II Hendrickson Publishers 2010
[iii] Ibid, p.775
[iv] Ibid, p.764

4 thoughts on “Consequences Determine the Wisdom of Our Actions

  1. Kevin Davis says:

    Barth’s point about how the church has “perhaps rejected grace” in her proclamation is exactly the worry that my pastor expressed to me last year, during one of our many conversations about this.

    As he articulated it, the mainline (oldline) churches are unwilling to call people to radical discipleship, because they no longer believe that the grace of God is sufficient. It is incomprehensible, for those who imbibe our culture, to tell someone that he must be chaste for the rest of his life, as is the case with those who are fixed in their same-sex attraction. An evangelical like Wesley Hill (whose book, Washed and Waiting, I highly recommend) is the true minority: a gay evangelical who accepts the teaching of the church catholic, living chaste and pursuing meaningful friendships and service in the church. He is the first to tell you how difficult this is, but the church is required to do difficult things — and to proclaim difficult truths. The PCUSA is unwilling to do that, in a vain attempt to receive the embrace of the culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rod Lampard says:

      I often wonder if the real issue is about misogyny and misandry. Trends leading society away from relationships that are based on freedom and reconciliation into darker forms of gender segregation. The question then is, does that mean the quest for “freedom” here is false – not unlike the issues addressed in N.Hawthorn’s ‘Celestial Railroad’ vs Bunyan’s ‘Christian’ in the Pilgrims Progress?


      1. Kevin Davis says:

        I do see both an intensification of misogyny and misandry as the (albeit unintended) consequence of feminist constructivism within the last 50 years. It is a “freedom” predicated upon the control and manipulation of power, which is understandable given its secular/materialist basis in postmodern theory.

        Unfortunately, I cannot comment on Hawthorn’s Celestial Railroad since I have never read it.



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