a1 Faculty of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh EH1 2LX
a2 Trinity Hall, Trinity Lane, Cambridge CB2 1TJ
The purpose of this article is to suggest that dogmatic theology is best practised through description of the world. Its method is to marry two unlikely characters: Karl Bardi, Swiss Reformed theologian, and Michel Foucault, French atheist philosopher and historian. The thesis we propose can be presented directly. Barth is well known for insisting, in his ethics lectures in Münster and Bonn (1928/29 and 1930/31 respectively) and volume II of his Church Dogmatics, that ethics is dogmatics. Foucault famously rejected ethics which makes universal normative claims in favour of producing descriptions of historical phenomena and letting the reader make moral judgments accordingly. His method, we suggest, understands ethics as ethnography. We have taken these two ways of thinking together and excluded the middle term: ethics. This has yielded the abbreviated form: ethnography is dogmatics.