Archive for February, 2007

Karl Barth – Part 1

February 14, 2007 Leave a comment

As noted earlier I’ve once again taken to reading Karl Barth, who I discovered my first year of seminary and has shaped me in a whole matter of ways. I’ve read the entirety of 4.1, 4.2, and 3.4 and a good chunk of 1.1. But I’ve wanted to read Barth’s Doctrine of God (2.1 and 2.2) for a while and decided that now was a good time to tackle it.

Under the heading of The Fulfilment of the Knowledge of God Barth first addresses “Man before God”.  Barth first addresses is the issue of whether or not God is even knowable, and answers that question that by merely asking that question one is assuming the existence of God.  Rather, the only two questions worth asking are (1) How far is God known? (2) How far is God knowable?  Barth also limits all knowledge of God to that grounded within faith.  For Barth, there is no knowledge about God that is not knowledge through faith.  Barth gives this definition of faith:

“Faith is the total positive relationship of man to the God who gives Himself to be known in His Word.  It is man’s act of turning to God, of opening up his life to Him and of surrounding to Him.” Barth also makes this statement, “But our first task is not to understand the knowledge of God as faith, but the knowledge of God as faith”

Having addressed the nature of the knowledge of God as faith, he turns his attention to the depth and nature of how this knowledge is revealed to us.  Again in his own words:

God is objectively immediate to Himself, but to us He is objectively mediate.  That is to say, He is objective directly but indirectly, not in the naked sense but clothed under the sign and veil of other objects different from Himself.  His secondary objectivity is fully true, for it as its correspondence and basis in His primary objectivity.  God does not have to be untrue to Himself and deceive us about His real nature in order to become objective to us

What Barth seems to articulate is something similar in nature to the position of “critical realism” that I have heard articulated in a variety of forms.  It is not that our knowledge of God is complete as we do not know God unmediated.  But rather God uses other objects and using those objects as “sign and veil” God reveals himself.  Another word might be that God uses “icons” to reveal Himself to us.  But Barth insists that despite this veiled revelation the secondary objectivity is none the less maintained.  In other words, our knowledge of God, while mediated is none the less ontologically grounded.

Barth takes this belief to it’s logical conclusion in his discussion of the early church.  “In their existence as apostles the secondary objectivity of the human appearing of Jesus Christ Himself is repeated.  And hidden with this is the primary objectivity of God Himself, calling to faith, awakening to faith, establishing faith and renewing faith, and with faith the knowledge of God – not by these men’s own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit communicated to them, in the freedom of grace”  

If one follows Barth’s logic his belief in the “visible church” as the literal ontological incarnation (shall we say?) present throuth the power of the Spirit.  It is not that the church is literally God, but God assumes the church through His Spirit in a way that the church points to and reveals the true and real knowledge of God to the world.

Talk about a daunting thought to think about when it comes to writing a sermon…

Categories: Karl Barth

Snowed In!

February 13, 2007 Leave a comment

So the winter storm has rolled into Pittsburgh, and thanks to my laptop I am working from home today.

I finished the first section of Church Dogmatics II.1 and hope to post a reflection on it today.  This is perhaps some of Barth’s most impressive work that I’ve read so far.

Categories: Karl Barth, Pittsburgh

Big Announcement…

February 9, 2007 2 comments

over at

The long and short of it – Baby Wallace #1 is due on August 9th!  (Four days after I get back from Mexico… let’s hope baby comes on time or late)

Categories: Baby

Return to Barth…

February 2, 2007 Leave a comment

So for the past few months I’ve been away from reading Karl Barth.  After taking Theology/Ethics of Karl Barth last year I ventured into some other areas but have really missed my time with the greatest theologians of the 2oth Century.  So now I’ve returned to where I began… The Church Dogmatics, reading II.1.

I hope to post a little snipet with a comment each day to help keep myself accountable.  We’ll see how I do!

Categories: Karl Barth

Who needs an Apple TV?

February 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Recently Apple announced their Apple TV, which is a set-top box that connects to your iTunes library on your computer.  But what is interesting is that the same user interface for the Apple TV is included on the MacBook Pro models, including a small remote.  So, with two accessories (a DVI to S-Video adapter and an optical audio cable) I’ve been able to create the Apple TV using my laptop and audio system.  What is especially cool is that the MacBook Pro automatically detects the appropriate resolutions to output – so the image quality is better than what I’ve seen from a computer connected to a TV through s-video.

So, now I have access to all my music and videos and am able to play them on my TV.  It actually makes the iTunes stores availibility of movies and TV shows worth while now.

Categories: Apple TV

My New Toy!

February 1, 2007 Leave a comment

So a few weeks ago I finally bought something I had had my eyes on for literally years… a true digital 5.1 surround sound system.  I had come down to deciding between two sets of Logitech – the z-5450 and the z-5500’s.  I finally decided on the slightly less powerful but more convenient z-5450’s that have wireless rear speakers and a much more visually appealing receiver.  I found them on eBay for a whole lot less than they list for ($500!!!) and hooked them up.  I have to say, I have been super impressed.  The three stereo inputs, one coaxial input, and two optical inputs offer plenty of options for hooking into this system.  The rear speakers, which are wireless, sound as good as the front speakers and plug right into a standard plug and automatically connect to the rest of the system.  There is some interference between my wireless network and these wireless speakers but eventually the two change channels and they work fine side by side.

The best feature of the speakers is the exceptional Pro Logic II which enables a standard stereo signal to be converted into full 5.1 channel surround sound.  While not as good as the true 5.1 channel output that you get from a DVD, Pro Logic II does an exceptional job at creating a full sound effect – whether it be a standard TV show or music out of your iPod.  So far I’ve hooked up a cable box, iPod, and VCR through the three stereo inputs, our DVD player through the coax output, and my MacBook Pro through the Optical input.  I have noticed that the digital inputs (optical and coax) provide better quality sound than their analog stereo inputs (even when, such as the output from the computer is only two channel and thus still uses the Pro Logic II).  It has made watching movies like Cars a whole new experience in our living room

The sound quality is excellent, with my only complaint being a slightly weak subwoofer.  While the whole set only produces 315 watts that is plenty of power for most living rooms.  The sub sound isn’t quite as precise as I’m used to (with the Klipsch ProMedia 4.1 set I also own) but on the whole it’s decent.  The remote that comes with the set works beautifully to switch inputs, adjust volume, and tweak the sound effect.

My final assessment is that if you’re looking for a affordable surround sound set that is super-convenient to set up in your living room it is hard to beat Logitech Z-5450’s

Categories: Speakers