The Freedom of God Let God be God and World be World

Barth's theological strategy was built on God's unqualified freedom to be God in his own chosen way, revealed in his Word, Christ, as witnessed to in scripture. This meant that God was not bound up with, or dependent on, any form of religion, philosophy, culture, or society, however Christian or however powerful. God, as the one Lord of creatures, ensures the radical secularity of creation, in the sense that it can never be equated with God, or serve functionally as God, or usurp his authority, or be the focus of human trust and attention and invocation. But Barth never used secularity to condemn or despise the world; he was not an anxious protector of religion in the face of secularism, however "godless." All that is in the world, even humanity at its best, is not more than creature, but it is creature, willed and chosen by God. Why, Barth would ask, should any creature want to get above itself, when it is privileged to be a genuine partner with God? In order to be itself well and truly, the creature must accept and live within limits. The limit we live within is not mere finitude, nor is it the prohibition of idolatry; it is the positive command or permission of God, calling us to be human. Such a theological understanding of the secular prevents the simple rejection or endorsement of secularizing movements in society. Rather, it shows us how to live through their complexity, by working with them insofar as they respect and reflect the true secularity of the creature and resisting them insofar as they share the common Christendom error of a sociopolitical conflation of human and divine.

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