On the Eschatological Nature of the Theological Task

For Barth dogmatic theology is eschatological, dynamic, personal, and scandalously particular to the person and work of God in Jesus Christ. That is why the work of dogmatics is semper reformanda per the ground and grammar of God’s triune life in Jesus Christ. The work of dogmatic theology is a Petrine ‘growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ’ in ‘whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ This implies that dogmatic theology should never be stifled by static reception or repristination. As Christians, theologians, we aren’t engaged in an impersonal arid work of dialectical analysis, per se. Instead, we are in a dialogical posture where we pray without ceasing to the One we are attempting to know and make known through bearing witness to Him in the midst of our daily walks as Christians. We engage with others, the communio sanctorum as we fellowship one with the other in the fund of God’s triune life, as we participate therein and therefrom with Jesus Christ as our older brother, bridegroom, and great shepherd of these, our weary souls. But this is the venture of the theological endeavor, to think from the One who has been given for the world, only to finally come into His beatific vision, in the consummation of all things at the time of the Great Resurrection.

The fact that it is in faith that the truth is presupposed to be the known measure of all things means that the truth is in no sense assumed to be to hand. The truth comes, i.e., in the faith in which we begin to know, and cease, and begin again. The results of earlier dogmatic work, and indeed our own results, are basically no more than signs of its coming. They are simply results of human effort. As such they are a help to, but also the object of, fresh human effort. Dogmatics is possible only as theologia crucis, in the act of obedience which is certain in faith, but which for this very reason is humble, always being thrown back to the beginning and having to make a fresh start. It is not possible as an effortless triumph or an intermittent labor. It always takes place on the narrow way which leads from the enacted revelation to the promised revelation.[1]

[1] Barth, CD I/2, 14.

One thought on “On the Eschatological Nature of the Theological Task

  1. Amen.

    And indeed, it is so “for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to a measure of the maturity of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed about by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of people, by craftiness with reference to the scheming of deceit.” “Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all are workers of miracles, are they? Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak with tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they? But strive for the greater gifts…” in the love and grace and faith of Jesus Christ!

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