Joshua Lim: “Barth was of little help here. His constant criticism of all human knowledge, a consistent overflow of the Protestant notion of total depravity mixed with Kantian skepticism, led to a point where no one church or person could be trusted–for God is ever the Subject and can never be made into an ‘object’ that is controlled by man. Though Barth was undoubtedly reacting to the Protestant Liberalism of his time, his own christocentric solution only held things in abeyance without giving a permanent solution. Ultimately, by insisting so heavily on the event character of revelation, the focus on the actual content of revelation itself could only be blurred. As one Catholic theologian put it, Barth’s “insistent cry of ‘Not I! Rather God!’ actually directs all eyes on itself instead of on God. Its cry for distance gives no room for distance.”
For my part, the precise content of revelation is exactly what is at issue in this debate. The positing of a fundamentally invisible Church that has no means of distinguishing branches within and schisms from itself thereby disqualifies itself as a true mediating authority between the individual and God. As I've said before, an individual cannot be the arbiter of divine revelation and a receiver of it at the same time. Revelation in its precise content is the fuel for liturgical action, whether public or private. If we have an ecclesiology that does not in fact allow us to know what God has said, we cannot do it. We cannot do the gospel.
I have never been averse to the acknowledgment of human finitude, to the likelihood of my own failures and misjudgments concerning even very important matters. But to surrender to this thoroughgoing skepticism especially in the name of hermeneutical humility presents an obvious problem which might have been missed: if the matters of theology are not simply ad hoc expressions of personal preference or cultural inertia, we must have a principled way to say, "I follow these men, and these doctrines as opposed to others." The new ecumenism seems to flatly ignore the real implications of lowest common denominator dogmatic theology. Worse still, it does not do justice to the men who pledged their sacred honor, and often their very lives, in defense of particular doctrines, which, despite the inevitable multiplicity, contains ample evidence of the desire for truth. If the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ finds fault with her children and the men who led them astray, some such as myself find a far greater fault in the notion that it is a fool's errand to seek a singular truth, and a reliable means by which to distinguish it from error. Theological skepticism is flatly contrary to the message of the Incarnation, whereby God himself took on flesh to overcome human weakness, rebellion, and sin. Shall we say that he in any way was less than victorious in his effort? Is it not wiser to say--somewhat ironically along with Barth--that our separated communities, which are the visible manifestation of our inability to profess a common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, constitutes a grave sin? Is it not also an intellectual sin against ourselves and God to feign agreement where it does not in fact exist?