Die evangelische Theologie 04

The domain of theology is the Word of God: “Theology itself is a word, a human response; yet what makes it theology is not its own word or response but the Word which it hears and to which it responds.” (p. 16-17) Because it hears and responds to the Word, it is a modest and free science:

  • modest, because “its entire logic can only be a human ana-logy to that Word” (p. 17),
  • and free, because “it is not only summoned but also liberated for such analogy, reflection, and reproduction.” (p. 17)

Nevertheless, it is not enough to define the relationship between theology and the Word, because “not only does this Word regulate theology and precede all theological interpretation; it also and above all constitutes and calls theology forth out of nothingness into being, out of death into life. This Word is the Word of God.” (p. 18)

What is the Word of God, then? (p. 18-25)

  1. The Word of God is the Word that God spoke, speaks, and will speak in the midst of all men.
  2. It is the Word of God’s work upon men. God works through and in his Word.
  3. Since the work of God is not divide but single, his Word is also simple and single.
  4. More precisely, the Word of God is the Word of God’s good work, i.e., the Word of God is Gospel.
  5. Through his Word, God disclosed his work in his covenant with man, where he discloses himself as man’s God, and man as God’s man.
  6. Concretely, God spoke, still speaks, and will speak again (cf. point 1) in the history of Jesus Christ which fulfills the history of Israel.
  7. This Word, the Word of this history, is what evangelical theology must always hear, understand, and speak of anew.

What does this history declares?

  1. It speaks of a God who calls his own people to a covenant with himself.
  2. The name of this God is YHWH, which means “I will be who I will be.”
  3. And the name of this people is Israel, which means – not a contender for God, but – “contender against God.”
  4. Hence, it speaks of the communion between a holy and faithful God with an unholy and unfaithful people.
  5. And hence, the covenant has not yet been perfected. The history points beyond itself.
  6. And, at this point, the history of Jesus commences, where the holy and faithful God calls into existence and action a holy and faithful partner as well.
  7. In the work and word of Jesus of Nazareth, the history of God and his people is fulfilled.
  8. Thus the history of Jesus Christ took place first and foremost for the benefit of Israel.
  9. Nevertheless, Israel was sent precisely as God’s mediator to the nations.
  10. Thus, it is in the particularity of the Jewish flesh that it applies universally to all men. The Christ of Israel is the Saviour of the world.

And this is the Word of God in Christ to which theology must listen and reply. The Word which is spoken both:

  1. In the relation of the history of Israel to the history of Jesus Christ.
  2. And in the relation of the history of Jesus Christ to the history of Israel.

Thus, theology would not respond to the whole Word of God if:

  1. It wanted only to relate to this Word as it appears in the conflict between God’s faithfulness and man’s unfaithfulness, that is, to limit itself to the history of Israel.
  2. Or, on the other hand, it wished only to hear and to speak of the Word become flesh, that is, to limit itself to the history of Jesus Christ.

The Word about the covenant is spoken both in the history of Israel and the history of Jesus Christ. “Their succession and unity form the whole Logos, and it is this unity of which evangelical theology must hear and speak.” (p. 24)

Barth is good. Barth is good.


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