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6 Some Reflections on Election and Apophasis: Barth and Lossky Scott A. Kirkland Immanuel Kant famously claimed to have created room for faith by properly ordering reason. The faculties of our rationality—insofar as they have to do with the intuition, apprehension, and categorization of objective elements of our experience—are not contingent on any mediate relation to a determinate theological reality. A nescience is established whereby the objects of experience are not to be identified with any theological reality, and thereby “God,” as a “regulative ideal,” is placed beyond the limit of intuitable reality. This kind of negation serves to avoid the identification of God with any “thing,” at least insofar as we are speaking of things in our field of 163 perception—we can only stare in wonder at the “starry heavens above” and the “moral law within.”1 As helpful a protocol as it might be to perform the practice of placing a negation outside the brackets of all positive predication (indeed, assuming we ever make it so far as to predicate anything), in and of itself this amounts to very little other than a confession of the inadequacy of human speech and rationality, given we remain bound by our finitude, and thereby our senses—things are for us as they appear, not as they are in themselves.2 It is precisely this variety of lament over reason’s finitude that I want to probe here. The Achilles heel of the Kantian system, at least according to later generations of German idealism, is the ding-ansich —the idea that somehow reality is, for us, purely phenomenal, that we have no access to things in themselves, the noumena (whatever we might mean by this—which is the issue). If we assume the integrity of the Kantian mode of thinking consciousness, we find ourselves insulated from all otherness by virtue of consciousness itself. God, therefore, is silent in that the world is only ever apprehended as it appears to us, and, given God is not in the stuff of the world, there is no divine appearance. This silence is a silence of absence; it is the silence of an isolated ego. The ding-an-sich confronts us as something of an ever-present absence, a presence never to be apprehended, and the theological can only be encountered in the structure of moral consciousness. The problem is not so much with the thing-in-itself as a way of maintaining a certain epistemic reserve as the supposition 1. God serves as the guarantor of the human moral action. Hence the synthetic a priori “there is a God, hence there is a highest good in the world.” “Morality thus inevitably leads to religion, and through religion it extends itself to the idea of a mighty moral lawgiver outside the human being, in whose will the final end (of the creation of the world) is what can and at the same ought to be the final human end” (Immanuel Kant, “Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason,” in Allen W. Wood and George Di Giovanni, trans. and ed., Religion and Rational Theology [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996], 59). 2. Though one may also contest that this kind of supposed epistemic humility really becomes a form of almost unrestrained self-confidence on the part of the subject by virtue of the bracketing out of any theologically charged signifier. CORRELATING SOBORNOST 164 that there is something more “real” than the relations in which we are apprehended and in which we apprehend; a mysterious “real” to which we have no access. To suppose that the ding-an-sich remains inaccessible to us because of our mode of apprehension is to somehow concretize the knowing apparatus itself and stabilize it in relation to the object of apprehension, offering us both a mythologized “real” object behind the phenomena and a mythologized stable subject relating to the phenomena. It is not this explicit line of criticism that I want to explore here, however, given this is a paper on Barth and Russian Orthodoxy. My concern here is that recent Barth scholarship has located Barth’s theological epistemology within a Kantian frame.3 Revelation’s dialectical relationship with the knower is akin to the distinction between the noumenal and the phenomenal in appearance.4 Revelation confronts us in the contingencies of history in the historical figure Jesus Christ—mediated now in the presence of the Scriptures and 3. Bruce L. McCormack, Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology: Its...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781506401935
Related ISBN
9781506410753
MARC Record
OCLC
946725265
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2016-05-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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