Author: ZHENG Jialu, PhD Candidate, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China
In his liberal period Barth did not regard “religion” as an internal problem of theology; rather, from the perspective of his understanding of “modern theology,” “theology” was a problem in “religion.” In this article Barth’s religious understanding during his liberal phase is investigated through the genetical-historical method on the basis of his early theological works. As a follower of Schleiermacher at this point, Barth generally regarded the nature of religion as the inner experience of the individual, and “theology” as the external expression of the inner religious experience. “Religion” and “faith” are not only the inner experience of the individual, but also an event, an action, a process of generation. This means that “religion” as a real relationship is not a subjective internal psychological activity, but a transcendental inner experience. Moreover, Barth also used this as a basis to explain the relationship between the universal “religious” experience and the special phenomenon of “Christianity”. The basic starting points of Barth’s understanding of the concept of “religion” in his liberal period are “individuality”, “immanence” and “transcendence,” and the internal tension between these three characteristics is the reason that he later gave up the concept of “religion” in constructing his modern theology.
Karl Barth, Religion, Faith, Theology, Christianity
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