Karl Barth on the need for dissent.

“The theology of every age must be sufficiently strong and free to hear, calmly, attentively, and openly, not only the voices of the favourites, not only the voices of classical antiquity, but all the voices of the past in its entirety. We cannot prescribe who among the collaborators of the past will be welcomed in our own work, and who will not be. For there is always the possibility that in one sense or another we may be in need of wholly unexpected voices, and among them there may be voices which are at first entirely unwelcome.”

I found this in Stephen Neil’s wonderful book ( and I do mean that ) “The Interpretation of The New Testament, 1861- 1961” ( Revised ed. London, 1966 ) p. 133. Interestingly the passage was drawn to Neil’s attention by the fact that it was quoted by Rudolf Bultmann in his treatment of Harnack.  Bultmann and Barth may not have agreed, but the former must certainly have appreciated the latter’s contribution. R.M

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