Commandeering language

Peter J. Leithart
August 24, 2011
Category: Theology - Creation,Theology - Trinity

Barth says or implies that human language is “in itself” inadequate to the task of bearing God’s revelation.  It has to be commandeered in order to become the vehicle of revelation.  Language “can only be the language of the world” though we must have confidence that “contrary to the natural capabilities of this language, it can and should speak of God’s revelation in this language as theological language.”

So too his hesitations about the vestigia Trinitatis: Creation lacks the natural capabilities of manifesting the Trinity, but the creation might be commandeered to that purpose.

But what does this notion of “natural capabilities” of language mean?  Is language a merely human invention?  Does language have some reality that makes it inherently resistant to God’s purpose?  Why?

As often, and as Van Til recognized in his much-maligned critique of Barth, there is an deeply embedded nature/supernature dualism going on in Barth.  Gotta love Barth, but it’s there.


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