Recently, there have been some good discussions concerning the dogmatics/exegesis distinction (or lack thereof). Ben and Phil have convincingly made the point that pre-supposed theological convictions will inevitably color one’s exegetical insight, just as exegesis concludes itself through dogmatic confession. Does this mean that there is no plain meaning of the text of Scripture? Is the Word not perspicuous? Is all supposed “exegesis” really just “eisogesis” with a pretty face? What would our dear Lord have to say on the matter?
Vanhoozer points out, in reference to Der Romerbrief, that Barth’s break with theological liberalism was hermeneutical as well as theological:
“His hermeneutical revolution stemmed from his growing convictions that, (1) a truly critical or scientific approach is one that is appropriate to that particular subject matter being discussed and, (2) the particular subject matter or Sache of the Bible is neither subjective religious experience (contra theological liberals) nor the objective history of the historian (contra conservative evangelicals), but rather the revelatory and redemptive self-presentation of God in the person and history of Jesus Christ.”
I believe Barth’s Copernican Revolution of theology to faithfully represent my view of the nature of Scripture. I am often asked why I find Barth to be so revelatory in relation to sublating the conservative/liberal split in theology (one I wish to avoid taking sides on at all costs) – and here, I believe, Vanhoozer has done a fine job synthesizing the nature of the discussion. The battle between the subject-as-king (liberalism) and object-as-king (conservatism) is a false dichotomy – or, at least, the fact of the revelation of God in the history of Christ has proved it to be so.
(ht – Michael J. Pailthorpe)