Saturday, 2 June 2007

Barth's Grandeur

David has posted my entry in his poetry contest – this is adapted from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “God’s Grandeur”:

Barth’s brain was charged with the grandeur of thought,
It swirled out, like soap suds in the sink,
It smeared reams of paper like the ooze of ink
Spilt. Must we all then follow him?
Generations adored, abhorred, or fought his thrall;
Moltmann went beyond him, Pannenberg disproved him,
Torrance hung awe-rapt on every word: and all
Of us (brains small, confused and dim) cobble systems fat or slim.

Yet for all this, God does not fling us off;
He crouches at our systems’ edge, peers hungrily through holes,
Sneak-watching for the moment when we sigh and say
“Oh, bugger! all these thoughts I can’t command” –
Then breathless as a madman or a child, God lunges,
And tumbling floorward fall our thoughts, while we fall into ah! safe hands.


Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I like this entry very much. I have zero poetic ability myself, so I have to just watch.

Maiden said...


j. k. said...

Theology as the religious attempt to insulate ourselves from the threat of God - yes, that's a very 'Barthian' thought!

Danny said...

This is made me laugh...and I like the idea of God waiting for us to fall through the holes in our 'arguments' into his safe hands...

george hunsinger said...

Torrance hung awe-rapt on every word

Actually, he negotiated a position somewhere between Barth and Calvin, with a deep interest in Athanasius and Cyril.

It is important not to miss that among other things he departed from Barth on the sacraments, on "universalism," and not least on the significance of the ascension.

His efforts to relate theology and science, while flawed, are still perhaps preferable, in principle, to other proposals that have emerged so far.

There are really three Torrances: the dogmatic theologian, the apologist who appealed to natural science as a way of validating theological inquiry, and the historical theologian. In a series of still largely scattered essays, he wrote at length on virtually every theologian of importance in the history of doctrine. I think I like the third Torrance the best.

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