Commenting on Karl Barth’s radical theological politics in the second edition of Karl Barth’s Romans commentary, Paul Chung makes the following argument:
“…Christian politics, which is a demonstration, witness and parable of the eschatology of God as totaliter aliter, becomes meaningful in light of God’s gracious action in Jesus Christ. Theological radicalism of eschatological vigor as seen in [this] christological exclusiveness leans toward an anarchism in its sociopolitical application. Real revolution comes from God, not from human revolt. We have a hope that is the coming world, where revolution and order are one. For Barth, God’s grace is the sign that has the significance of the absolute, the categorical imperative. Barth’s negative dialectics cannot be adequately understood without the principle of the great positive possibility, which is the truly revolutionary action of love. Love sets up no idol, and it is the good work by which one overcomes evil. As the denial and demolition of all that exists, love is the inversion of all concrete happening. ‘Love is the destruction of everything that is—like God [sicut deus]: the end of all hierarchies and authorities and intermediaries.’”
Paul S. Chung, Karl Barth: God’s Word in Action (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, Forthcoming), 227
What do you think of this? Is the radical sort of “anarchic liberation” that is given to us in Christ’s redemption the end of mediation; the transposition of creation into a realm of immediate effulgent love? Or is the freedom of the gospel another sort of freedom, not from mediation and authority, but a radical inversion of the sinful instantiations thereof, consisting of a sort of perichoretic intensification of our mediatedness in relation to God?
It seems to me that Barth’s argument is precisely against the notion that human constructions, intermediaries, and powers are dismantled before the Word of God in Christ which kills and makes alive. This need not mean the end of mediation, per se, as long as we see that the mediated character of our relationship to God is always God’s own self-mediation of Godself to us in Christ in the Spirit. But what does even that mean? What might it mean for God to mediate Godself to us? How is that any different that God being immediately present to us? It seems to me that all this talk of mediation needs to be tempered with an account of divine action. Only then will we really have answers for these sorts of questions.
However, the ultimate question that this quote, and Barth’s Romans commentary advances has to do with Christian politics: is Christian politics best understood as this sort of anarchic liberation? If not, then how should Christian politics be understood? If so, what then does that mean for us?