But Barth sees nothing new here. In fact, he sees this modernist Christianity as having just the same foundations as mediaeval Christianity: faith in reason, a high view of the human being, the freedom of the will. In short, both begin with the autonomous human being, and end up with a co-operative view of salvation which can be labelled semi-Pelagian. On both fronts, against mediaevalism and modernism, the Reformed stress the sovereignty and majesty of God, who in Christ is the sole agent in redemption. God, and only God, saves.
In short, Dort was fighting the battle that has always been fought when God's Word comes up against intelligent, refined human philosophers and theologians.
In the conclusion to his lecture series, Barth asks: how do things stand with us? His answer, in 1923, was not encouraging: "If we look at our theology, then what we see first of all is a pile of ruins". Certainly, that was true then, as liberal modernist Protestantism carried all before it. We have done some rebuilding since, but I wonder whether I am alone in thinking that sometimes the rebuilding looks like a museum rather than a house to be lived in. We can say the words of the old confessions, and mean them, but do we grasp (have we been grasped by!) the beating heart of their theology? Do we have the courage to be exposed to revelation, to hear the gospel again, and to wrestle with the issues our fathers wrestled with in the language and concepts and context of the 21st century?