‘Sickness’ is the New Evil

Read this fantastic essay in Diesseits, which begins-

Für den aufgeklärten Geist ist klar: Das Böse gibt es nicht. Nicht, dass wir nicht von Bösem betroffen wären: üblen Krankheiten, übler Nachrede, Gesinnung, üblen Aboverträgen, Naturkatastrophen oder Kriegstreibereien. Aber das sind nicht Folgen eines substantiellen Bösen, das in der Welt als eigene Macht wirksam wird und sich darin formiert. Es sind halt Krankheiten, moralische Defizite, Erziehungsmängel, gierige Managementpraktiken, Folgen der Plattentektonik oder Auswüchse des – wahlweise westlichen oder allgemein despotischen – Imperialismus.

„Krank“ ist das neue Böse

Wo Luther noch allenthalben den Teufel persönlich am Werk sehen konnte, diagnostizieren wir Krankheit. Krank ist das neue Böse. (Während Krankheitsbefunde nach wie vor in maligne und benigne unterteilt werden.) Und das Sprachspiel der Pathologie hat jenes des Bösen abgelöst. Wer etwas Böses sagt oder schreibt, ist krank. Wer rassistisch ist, hat ein krankes Menschenbild. Aboverträge mit Kleingedrucktem sind die Folge eines kranken Kapitalismus. Naturkatastrophen der Selbstschutz des Planeten, gegen das ihn krankmachende Virus Mensch. Kriege die Folge kranken Machtstrebens.

This is fine theology.  (The bold emphasis is mine).  And it’s true – for all intents and purposes people aren’t ‘evil’ anymore, they’re ‘sick’.

My Problem With The Barthians is Their Moral Inconsistency

Let me put it directly:

Many of the Barthians I know are rightly outraged at the immorality of one Donald J. Trump and have expressed that outrage on social media and blog posts.

Most of the Barthians I know are completely silent about the immoral behavior of Karl Barth.  They do not discuss it, and when it is discussed they invariably retreat behind the, they believe, theological cover- ‘but everyone sins.’

It is absolutely true that everyone sins.  It is also absolutely true that Barth is no worse than anyone else.

Since that’s the case, why do the Barthians condemn Trump whilst remaining silent about Barth’s sins?

In other words, the Barthians are moral equivocators.  Like the Trumpians, they will not critique their dear leader regardless of his deeds.  For that reason the Barthians and the Trumpians are identical in terms of morality and their moral center.  I.e. – theirs is nothing else but a situational ethic and as such un-Christian.

[NB- the same, mutatis mutandis, can be said of the Bonhoefferians].


Photo courtesy Deane G.  The words are Barth’s.  He might as well have called those windows ‘escape hatches’.

The Seven Things God Literally Hates

There are six things that Yahweh hates, seven that he abhors:

  1. a haughty look,
  2. a lying tongue,
  3. hands that shed innocent blood,
  4. a heart that weaves wicked plots,
  5. feet that hurry to do evil,
  6. a false witness who lies with every breath,
  7. and one who sows dissension among brothers. – (Prov. 6:16-19)

Fun Facts From Church History: The Confession Of Bullinger’s Father

bullinger93In 1529…

In February of this year Bullinger’s father had publicly proclaimed at Bremgarten his conviction, that he had hitherto, in the time of darkness, misled his parishioners; but that now he would endeavour to guide them in the right way of life, out of holy scripture alone, and through Jesus Christ, our only Saviour.* He died at Zurich, April 8, 1533, aged 64 years.

Heinrich Bullinger’s father (also named Heinrich) was, of course, a priest who, like many priests of the 16th century, had de facto wives as well as several children.  But when his son convinced him of the truth of the Evangelical faith, he saw the error of his theological ways and adopte Reformed theology (as mediated by Heinrich from Zwingli).

*Bullinger, H. (1852). The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Fifth Decade (T. Harding, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.