You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Rudolf Bultmann’ category.

Because of David Congdon’s book on Bultmann, his book big which I have been reading, I am here going to continue to throw significant noise back at any sort of positive “retrieval” of Bultmann’s theology. The “noise” will, once again, come from my teacher, Thomas F. Torrance. If you want to read his fuller treatment on Bultmann’s theology then pick up his posthumously published book Incarnation and flip to the end notes; Walker (the editor) included a quite lengthy dossier from TFT on Bultmann in critique.

As becomes clear, as you are reading Congdon’s Big Book on Bultmann, there is a disavowal of the metaphysical God of Christian tradition and classical theism[s]. This is simply in line with the period of theological undevelopment that Bultmann was groomed in; the so called postmetaphysical understanding of God, primarily among the Teutonics. Torrance identifies the ideational genealogy of this line of thinking, and helps to further expose the narrow shoulders upon which Bultmann stood in the development of his own thinking. Torrance writes (in extenso):

This brings us to another important but difficult point: Bultmann’s peculiar understanding of history. That is even more clear in the teaching of Gogarten, especially in his little work Demythologisation and History. This is the view that we are ourselves the real creators of history, and that the existence we know is historicised existence. Here two streams of thought run together, and we may best understand that by looking at those two streams of thought: one from Kant through Dilthey, and the other from Roman Catholicism through Heidegger. In Kant’s famous Copernican revolution, idealist philosophers came to think of the human mind as creating its data out of a formless raw material through certain categories of understanding, so that in the very act of knowing we give shape and form to the chaotic flux of experience. Now this notion was carried over by Dilthey to an understanding of history, and so he set himself to write a critique of the historical reason, parallel to Kant’s critique of the pure reason – for Dilthey, this was necessary if the humanistic sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) were not simply to take their criteria and hermeneutical method from the exact natural sciences.

But there is another line of thought that flows into this from the Roman Catholic notion of tradition, that is, of the real meaning of history in an organically developing tradition. This notion was transferred to the understanding of existence by Heidegger, for whom the real existence of a thing is found in its traditions. A thing is what its tradition is, and beyond that tradition there is no thing in itself. In this way, Heidegger transposed the medieval view of existence and essence by telescoping them into each other. For him, essence is found in existence, and on that ground, existence in essence. In Bultmann and Gogarten both of these lines of interpreting history run together, and for them history is that which we make it to be, so that beyond our historicisation of existence, there is no reality.

Historical existence and the history of existence are identical. Applied to the gospel tradition, that means that what is actually historical is what the apostles made of the raw material in front of them, and behind that there is no reality. The historical reality is what they made it to be – apart from their creation there is nothing, there exists nothing. The only real historical Jesus is what we make of him. That helps to explain why for Bultmann the apostles (from our point of view) had to distort the picture of Jesus in their presentation – there is in fact no other Jesus than that, their creation of him. This view of history destroys what Bultmann and Gogarten call the metaphysical interpretation of the faith or the historical Jesus, and eliminates from the Christ-event anything of an objective, independent, ontological nature. Or to put it in other words, according to Bultmann and Gogarten, modern men and women cannot understand history apart from our own responsibility for it; and apart from our responsible handling of it, there is in point of fact no history, for there is no history apart from the changes human beings have introduced into it. By our decisions we give the world its particular form, so that reality is now this changing history which we create, and beyond and apart from that there is nothing real for us.

Now quite frankly this is the biggest myth yet created by man – that we ourselves are the creators of all history, and that apart from the history created by human beings, nothing else is real! Man is the God of history! In view of this, it is clear that it is not the New Testament that Bultmann and Gogarten themselves that need to be radically demythologised! So long as they work with such inverted conceptions of history, scientific interpretation of the New Testament is quite impossible.[1]

Torrance opines further and latterly in his treatment this way:

In point of fact, then, Bultmann’s demythologization of the kerygma means stripping it of its physical elements – its setting in physical history and the physical world of space and time in which we live. The whole process which takes the kerygma out of that setting and plants it in some setting of existential decision, cuts out of the gospel its historical particularity, and cuts out of the incarnation its ephapax, its ‘once and for all’ finality. It cuts the kerygma adrift from history altogether. Now Bultmann declares that he does not do that, for the existential decision is in historical encounter with the crucified Jesus, but once that decision is made, history as we know it is set aside, and in point of fact he does therefore cut the kerygma adrift from history, for history has no essential relation to the substance and content of faith. The historical event of Christ, apart from the appeal it addresses to us, signifies nothing for our salvation, for it is not a source of salvation independent of ourselves. The historical fact of Christ cannot be the object of the kerygma, since it is the kerygma, says Bultmann, that is, the kerygma as he understands it, that declares its meaning and confers on it its value as saving event. It is only because the kerygma is a function of man’s self understanding that it invests the historical fact of the crucified Christ with a meaning and an existential reality which it does not have in itself.[2]

And in a zinging type of way Torrance offers a final critique of Bultmann’s lack of theologia crucis:

The plain fact is that Bultmann shies away from the weakness of God on the cross, as Paul called it, and so is offended at the cross. The fact that the eternal God is there in all that weakness is a scandal to his ‘Greek’ mind, and the fact that his eternal salvation must repose upon a contingent fact of history in Jesus frightens him – and therefore it is Bultmann himself above all who seeks false security by cutting the kerygma adrift from history and all its weakness, so that it will not be open to the criticisms of rationalism. Or, paradoxically, he deliberately uses all the weapons of positivist science in order to destroy the historical foundations of faith, so that faith may rest on something that is not subject to weakness or change and relativity and contingency. He thus has not the courage to rest his faith upon the weakness of God in the historical Jesus, and so seek falsely to secure himself and his self-understanding within the limits of scientism.[3]

Torrance’s critiques do not fall on deaf ears. As one reads Congdon’s book on Bultmann all of TFT’s points are spot on. It is unfortunate that Congdon didn’t really interact with Torrance’s points of critique, but that does not negate the force of Torrance’s critiques. It is interesting to me, because as I have followed Congdon’s theological development and present conclusions, his conclusions are exactly that of Bultmann’s; and thus fall under the mantle of Torrance’s insights and critiques. Congdon offers certain words of pushback against critiques like Torrance’s, particularly in regard to the idea that Bultmann relied upon Heidegger in paradigmatic ways, but he only asserts that Bultmann arrived at his views prior to reliance upon Heidegger, and that he found in Heidegger a like-minded companion to help round out his thinking. But that’s hardly an adequate response to the sort of penetrating critique that Torrance offers.

When you think about it: If God is the center of your thinking you will not have an aversion to metaphysics, per se; but if you are the center of your thinking you will indeed have an aversion to metaphysics. Metaphysics, in a denotative sense, does not mean that the thinker must be overly committed to Hellenic forms of thinking; indeed, as Torrance intimates, Bultmann himself suffers from this over reliance in his so called demythologized postmetaphysics. The concern that some of us have, myself included, is that metaphysics are not properly evangelized by the Gospel reality; that metaphysics come prior to the Revelation thus modulating the Gospel into something it isn’t. But this concern is different than Bultmann and his impulses. He was under the sway of a humanistic idealism that was attempting to navigate the Enlightenment waters by giving full head nod to them while still attempting to have a lively Christian faith under those constraints. Torrance helps us see how Bultmann’s noble attempts failed radically!

 

[1] Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, edited by Robert T. Walker (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 284-85.

[2] Ibid., 289-90.

[3] Ibid., 290.

Advertisements

I’ve been referring quite frequently to Rudolf Bultmann lately because of David Congdon’s big book on Bultmann; which I’ve been reading. I’ve finished about two thirds of the book (500 pp.), and I think I’ve seen enough. It is easy to see how seductive reading large amounts of someone like Bultmann can be; indeed, I found myself getting sucked in at moments myself. But ultimately the existentialist Jesus that Congdon presents through Bultmann is nothing more than a Gnostic Jesus who is generated more by the imagination than by the antecedent reality of the eternal God, the eternal Logos. What takes over in this frame is not Jesus the Lord, but my encounter with an idea named Jesus; and my existential state becomes determinative for the type of response this “encounter” might engender. Jesus, in the Bultmannian frame, has no ontological grounding; instead the Jesus of Bultmann comes to only have an existential grounding, an ontic grounding that cannot ultimately surpass my personal experience with him. In other words, there is nothing transcendent about Bultmann’s/Congdon’s Jesus; only if transcendence means that this “encounter” with the so called kerygmatic Christ results in theopolitical action wherein the eschatological is existentially realized in the concrete existence of my lived life among other flatlanders.

Thomas Torrance, who I consider my primary teacher these days, offers critique of the Bultmannian sort of Jesus; and so I want to share some of that for you. It is no surprise that Congdon would discount Torrance’s understanding of Bultmann and the existentialist Jesus produced thereby. Yet, if Congdon wants to discount TFT’s critique maybe he shouldn’t exemplify the very components of the critique in his own lived life and positions (Congdon, that is). TFT writes:

In both liberalism and existentialism the historical Jesus is expendable

That is the denouement that comes over the idealist and liberal conception of Jesus, in which the eternal ideas mediated by Jesus finally set the historical Jesus himself aside. That is called Liberalism, but today there is a whole school of New Testament scholars who are opposed to that liberal approach to Jesus, and they lay stress not on the ideas that he taught, but on the eschatological event which broke into the world in the historical Jesus. What is this eschatological event? The school of New Testament scholars here would call the eschatological event the act of the divine mediated in and through the historical Jesus, but they deny that the divine event is itself also an historical event. In other words, they have substituted the concept of event for that of idea, and in the same way as the idea passes through the historical Jesus and discards him, so this eschatological event passes through the historical Jesus and discards him. Just as the eternal ideas or truths mediated by Jesus had only a temporal and non-essential relation to history, so this eschatological event has only a temporal and non-essential relation to history. Again, just as the eternal truth  mediated by Jesus, once it was disclosed to our knowledge, appears self evident to us as a truth of our own reason, so the eschatological event, once it is disclosed through our decision, ministers to, or is servant to, our self understanding. What is the difference between this view and the liberal one? The liberal view worked with an idealist philosophy [emphasis on ideas], and this works with an existentialist philosophy [emphasis on courageous existence and decision, personal action and involvement in events]; the liberal view was more concerned with static ideas, and this one more with dynamic events and decisions, but in both the result is the same: the truth of reason or self understanding is the net result, while the historical Jesus is relegated as of no ultimate importance.

All that happened here is that the philosophical idiom has changed, the language has changed to suit the times, but we have the same radical divorce of the eternal from the temporal, the act of God from history – with the result that the historical person of Christ as God and man is no longer central or important. This is simply a new and more subtle form of liberalism. Once again the great dilemmas is: either in Jesus Christ we are confronted by the eternal God in history, so that the person of the historical Christ as man and God is of utmost importance; or Jesus is only the historical medium of a confrontation between me and the act of God which summons me to decision, but in which I reach a self understanding which enables me to live my life bravely. Here christology passes away into some kind of existentialist anthropology.[1]

This is an accurate assessment of the existentialist Jesus that David Congdon presents us with in Rudolf Bultmann’s thought. The historical Jesus is still only an accident of history in this frame, a purveyor of eternal ideas, but nothing more; albeit eternal ideas that have actually been sublimated by the immanent conditions of the 21st century. Worse, this Jesus, while said to encounter us, is given shape not by some real eschatological reality, but the one imagined by an immanenist frame that looks more like the enculturated self-imaginer, and the socio-cultural conditions this imaginer is located in, rather than the eschatological life of God who is characterized by an alien holiness.

You might wonder why I’m picking on Congdon so much. It’s because he is an influential personage among millennial and younger thinkers in regard to who God in Jesus Christ is imagined to be. He is helping a generation slip away from the orthodox Jesus confessed and known by the church catholic through the centuries; and is offering us a latter day Jesus who is more like an ATM machine dispensing values that look more like the cultural moment than the heavenly revolution they purport to be. He is helping young people (and older who aren’t wise enough to see past this) apostatize with intellectual rigor, and leaving them in the dust of their own images.

[1] Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, edited by Robert T. Walker (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 261-62.

A large number of analyses come up short by dwelling upon the historical question, often falsely construing Barth’s inversion of the order of the historical enterprise and the resurrection of Jesus as an aspect of his historical skepticism. For Barth the resurrection of Jesus is not a datum of the sort to be analyzed and understood, by other data, by means of historical critical science. While a real event within the nexus of space and time the resurrection is also the event of the creation of new time and space. Such an event can only be described as an act of God; that is an otherwise impossible event. The event of the resurrection of Jesus is that of the creation of the conditions of the possibility for all other events, and as such it cannot be accounted for in terms considered appropriate for all other events. This is not the expression of an historical skeptic, but of one who is convinced of the primordiality of the resurrection as the singular history-making, yet history-delimiting, act of God.[1]

The above quote from Robert Dale Dawson captures a significant point in regard to the apocalyptic-dialectical nature of Barth’s theory of history-revelation; particularly this clause: “This is not the expression of an historical skeptic, but of one who is convinced of the primordiality of the resurrection as the singular history-making, yet history-delimiting, act of God.” It fits well with Eberhard Jüngel’s ‘demythologizing’ project—if we want to call it that—vis-à-vis Rudolf Bultmann’s understanding of ‘myth’ and ‘demyth.’

As David Congdon develops Bultmann’s understanding of myth and demythologizing what comes to the fore, particularly as he places Jüngel into conversation with Bultmann, is how ‘myth’ coalesces with what Dawson describes, with reference to Barth’s doctrine of resurrection, as ‘the primordiality of the resurrection as the singular history-making, yet history-delimiting, act of God.’ Often when we hear “myth” we think in terms of its profane or pagan etiology (or lexical origination, colloquially understood); when we hear myth we hear fairytale. But this is precisely not what Bultmann, Jüngel, or Barth understand as the entailment of myth (Barth’s language is actually saga instead of myth; roughly as corollary with Bultmann’s myth). In order to explicate this further I am going to quote Congdon (again, don’t tell him) as he develops Jüngel’s own understanding of mythos as this relates to knowledge of God. Congdon writes at length:

According to Jüngel, faith as the knowledge of God is concerned with a person’s existential relocation (i.e., knower located with the known) and not with the world’s theoretical explanation (i.e., known located with the knower). The knowledge of God is not a worldview but rather and existential event, as the dialectical revolution in theology discovered anew. Demythologizing is necessary in order to prevent theology from losing sight of its proper task as the articulation of this existential relation to God. In this way it furthers the project of dialectical theology. Demythologizing continually unsettles and reorients theology, and in so doing preserves the practical truth of the Christ-myth. Commenting on Luther’s axiom that “our theology is certain because it places us outside ourselves [ponit nos extra nos],” Jüngel presents the summation of his theological argument for the necessity of demythologizing:

Those who in faith know the mystery of Jesus Christ, who are thus placed outside themselves, find their existential place “in Christ” (2 Cor 5:17). This mythical power to localize the knower anew is the truth of myth preserved in Christianity. But this is precisely what is obscured by the “theoretical” act of knowledge that takes place concurrently in myth, which localizes the known—the God who comes to the world—in the context of the reality of the knower and consequently in the context of his or her world, thus making God a worldly object. . . . Christian theology therefore requires demythologizing. It is necessary in order to expose the eminently “practical” truth of the christological myth: the truth of the divine word that interrupts human beings and calls them outside themselves. . . . Demythologizing therefore serves the truth of myth by destroying the “theoretical” world-explanation of myth in order to expose the “practical” power of mythical words to move our existence and in doing so to impart a new approach to human being-in-the-world.

Demythologizing is nothing less than the necessary entailment of faith in Jesus Christ. The knowledge of Christ in faith not only relocates the believer existentially but also precludes from the start any attempt by the believer to give theoretical certainty to her knowledge. Faith that conforms to the truth of the Christ-myth is, to use Jüngel’s earlier expression, an adaequatio totus homo ad rem—a correspondence of the whole person to the thing. But since the res, the object of faith, is Christ himself, the Lord of all creation, the person who corresponds to this object experiences a fundamental displacement from herself. The “certainty of faith” (Glaubensgewissheit), precisely because it is grounded in the “certainty of God” (Entsicherung) of oneself.” We only participate in the practical truth of the christological myth by being placed extra nos. The stabilization of this myth in the form of a theoretical explanation involves remaining in se, and thus is impossible on the grounds of the Christ-myth itself. This is another way of saying that the myth of Jesus Christ demands the ongoing task of demythologizing.

The Christ-myth radically differentiates itself from every other myth. Because the kerygmatic Christ-myth involves a strict differentiation between creator and creature—between grace and sin, gospel and law—that defies every attempt to systematize it and thus secure one’s place within it, the practical truth it communicates is one that cannot coexist with an abstract theoretical truth or worldview. In this way the Christ-myth fulfills the genuine purpose of myth, which “expresses the insight that human beings cannot secure themselves through . . . reason.” Religious myth in the general sense described and denounced within scientific myth-criticism do not have their basis in this creator-creature differentiation. They lend themselves, therefore, to what Calvin calls the “perpetual factory of idols” that characterizes human nature—what we might call the “perpetual factory of worldviews.” Practical truth takes the form of theoretical truth in the case of myth-in-general, whereas the practical truth of Christ is one that perpetually demythologizes theory. Myth-in-general grants existential relocation by providing epistemological certainty (in the form of Welterklärung or Weltanschauung); the Christ-myth provides epistemological certainty only by granting existential relocation (in the form of faith). The myth of Christ overcomes the subject-object divide not through an explanation of the object but through the justification of the sinful subject. Christian faith is essentially a demythologizing faith or it is not faith in Jesus Christ.[2]

On pace with this, the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) engaged in a type of ‘demythologizing’ project. Without the illumination, and more, in the case of the Apostles, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the evangelists and the rest of the illuminated masses (particularly the five hundred witnesses alongside the Apostles cf. I Cor. 15), would have simply remained at the level of ‘myth’ when it came to the Christ. Even though they had personal experience with Jesus, the Disciples, without “demythologizing” the events of the “Christ-myth” would have simply remained at the level of subjects looking at an object who had no incisive or theological meaning, no gospel (kerygmatic) significance for their lives. This is what the Synoptics and the Gospel of John are engaging in; giving theological significance to the “mythological” events of Christ’s life (events that appear, on the face, to simply have horizontal significance alone). Does this make sense?

The reason I started this all off with the Dawson quote, with particular focus on his language of “the primordiality of the resurrection as the singular history-making, yet history-delimiting, act of God” is because I wanted to foreground this discussion with a category that would allow us to appreciate what is meant by “demythologizing” when it comes to Bultmann’s and Jüngel’s projects, respectively. In other words, as is present in Barth, the reality of the Christ-event is a sui generis non-analogous event that has broken into history and set the limits of real reality by his seemingly and merely historical existence. That’s what Bultmann’s ‘Christ-myth’ is intended to signify (as I understand it); that if left to itself, Jesus Christ appears as just another human who comes to signify a personage of theoretical and religious importance within a worldview system that is pinned up by the manufacturing of various proofs and legendary tales. But what encounter with the Christ does in the lives with eyes to see and ears to hear is immediately invoke a process of ‘demythologization’, or the eruption of recognition that this man [of Nazareth] is actually someone greater than mere myth; instead he is the God-man who has broken the surly bonds of this creation and set it anew. It is as the disciple of Christ comes into this realization that they are decentered and recentered only as they find their human being in the new creation of God in Christ. Here, knowledge of God is ‘secured,’ but only in the faith of Christ and not in any theoretical basis constructed by an abstract humanity come to God on its terms.

P.S. I was unable to work the language of ‘analogy of advent’ into this post; but conceptually it is present. We will have to overtly deal with that as Congdon details that in Jüngel’s theology at a later date.

Addendum: Because of some push back from someone I know on FB, and through blogging over the years let me say the following for other’s benefit: I am not becoming Bultmannian. The content of this post moves liberally and freely back and forth between Bultmann, Barth, and Jüngel; without making important points of distinction. I remain committed, at most, to what Hunsinger calls the “textual” Barth, which means I am committed to a pretty traditional mode of theological reflection and consideration. What is in this post represents something very bloggy. My contact was concerned that I was seemingly moving into a Bultmann and Congdon direction. No, I’m not. If I had the space and time and energy I could draw out what I am doing. But this post before this addendum was already 1500 words; which is long for blog reader’s attention spans. It is hard to broach topics like this in the space I have to work with, and make important and clean distinctions along the way. The reason I felt motivated to post this one was because there are, what I think amount to equivocal soundings in Bultmann’s trajectory that correlate with Barth’s analogy of faith approach. But the reality is that Barth grounds the relationship between God and humanity in a heightened emphasis upon the antecedent reality of God which is not reducible to the sort of soteriological-dialectical approach that Bultmann and Congdon are proponents of. In other words, Bultmann and Congdon ultimately reduce God to an extra-mental reality between the knower and God, such that God’s reality is purely reduced to encounter or experience that people have when they are faced with the “kerygmatic” reality of the Christ. And when I say “extra-mental” what that really means is that the Christ event is not contingent upon his objective and concrete penetration into the world in the incarnation, but instead his reality becomes contingent upon existential encounter in the knower. In this sense the Christ could become evaporated to idea, even if Bultmann et al say otherwise. I do recognize this as a serious problem, and it does lead to other deleterious conclusions such as denying the bodily resurrection of Christ (so we have people referring to the “Easter-Faith-Christ” etc.), and denying any notion of the after-life in the eschaton/heaven (as David Congdon does). So my post was intended to help me process this through (you know “write to learn”), but I can see how it makes it seem as if I’ve softened up to a Bultmannian trajectory; that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just to be clear.

Here is something I wrote very recently that attempts to make clear what I ultimately think about David Congdon’s move to a Bultmann mode of theological reflection. Just to reiterate. I haven’t changed on this.

 

[1] Robert Dale Dawson, The Resurrection in Karl Barth (UK/USA: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007), 13.

[2] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 455-58.

Sola fide. Faith alone is the material principle of the Lutheran Protestant Reformation, and it is principial for the Reformed basis of knowledge of God and self. But because of classical metaphysics this principle didn’t blossom into the full flowered reality it had inherent to it in inchoate ways. In other words, because of an undeveloped grammar, because of the constraints presented by classical substance metaphysics, the idea of faith grounded in the kerygmatic reality (Evangelical reality) was moribund (I’ll have to leave at the level of assertion) in the sense that its full potential was not realizable until later developments.

Whether or not you agree with my assessment, and the sort of ‘retrieval’ I’m thinking of methodologically, David Congdon describes how faith alone as a material reality vis-à-vis the Gospel has resource to function in ‘critically’ ‘realistic’ ways in how we understood God and his relation to us through the Gospel (kerygma); how we understand the undertaking of theological discourse as that is objectively determined by the reality of God, and subjectively inhabited in human agents as they are in vicarious union with God’s subject for us in the humanity of Jesus Christ (that is some of my own interpolation, in regard to constructive thought based upon my reading of Congdon). Here Congdon has just finished some technical philosophical discussion in regard to developing what ‘correlation’ entails, particularly among French continental philosophy, and how grasping that helps us better locate the sort of dialectical theologies that both Barth and Bultmann operate from. For our purposes we will not engage with the technical philosophical discussion and instead engage with some of the conclusions of that as Congdon details its implications for us in the theologies of Barth/Bultmann (and dialectical theology in general).

What, then, is distinctively theological about the kind of strong correlationism that characterizes dialectical theology? Simply this: that the correlation is established and grounded in God. The action of God in the saving event of revelation is what creates the correlation between God and the human person. This correlation is faith, understood as a gift of divine grace. Unlike other objects, the object of faith is the divine subject, who is the active agent in the relation to humanity. The divine fides quae establishes the human fides qua. The human person does not have this correlation at her disposal but can only receive it ever anew. It is thus a kerygmatic correlation in that God constitutes the relation in and through the event of the divine word. A strong correlationism thus accomplishes what critical realism seeks to maintain—a real divine subject only accessible in and through this subject’s self-giving in faith—without the unnecessary and misleading baggage associated with the words “critical” and “realism.”[1]

This is important because God is understood as the personal object and subject of theology, and the gift of himself that he gives us in Christ comes with a corollary reality for us in that faith becomes the most fitting locus by which knowledge of this God can be ascertained by. In other words, there is no prior intuition that a person can come by in regard to knowledge of the Christian God; there is no naked knowledge of God in this understanding of correlation, as if human beings possess some sort of latent capacity (created grace) for an abstract knowledge of God. No, in this frame there is a ‘correlative’ component between our theology (nostra theologia) and God, but it isn’t idealistically determined by a free-floating or presumed upon human agency in the world of nature. Instead, knowledge of God, regulated by the Gospel (kerygmatic) is only accessible through the mediating faith of Christ. As we are in union with Christ’s knowledge of God for us, as he is in the center of God’s life as Godself, the faith we think from in regard to God is itself a reality generated by the ground that this faith breaks into. In short: dialectical theology and the Reformed faith it offers, a kerygmatic correlationist type, is one that is particularly shaped not by the human agent, but by the God who has spoken (Deus dixit).

[1] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 422.

Worldviews are important to understand, to a point. But when worldview is confused with Christian faith and theology problems of idolatrous heights begin to develop; at least according to Rudolf Bultmann. I want to share further, by referencing David Congdon’s work, on how Bultmann not only distinguished between faith and worldview, but also between talk of God versus talk about God; and how these distinctions implicate the theological enterprise for the Christian. I will follow with my own perspective on these things.

The differentiation of faith from a Weltanschauung [worldview] is stated clearly in a set of guiding principles or headnotes (Leitsätze) written in 1925 in connection with the Düsseldorf lecture. . . . The Leitsätze on faith state:

1) Faith is not a worldview [Weltanschauung], in which the concept of God serves as a principle for the explanation of the world [Welterklärung], and in which the meaning of human existence develops from a general understanding of the world [Weltverständnis]. On the contrary, faith is the posture of the human being placed before God; its content is therefore primarily a proposition regarding the existence of the human being.

2) Faith is not a general trust in God, but rather it is strictly related to the revelation of God in God’s word, and its content is the forgiveness of sins.

3) Faith is not a mystical relation of the soul to God, but rather the posture of the human being who sees him– or herself placed before the claim of God in the concrete situation of the here and now.

These three theses summarize Butlmann’s opposition to the confusion of faith and metaphysics—whether a metaphysics of the object or fides quae (indicated especially by the three Welt– concepts) or a metaphysics of the subject or fides qua (mysticism). Either mode of Christian self-understanding leads to an objectification of God, that is to say, the exchange of God’s reality for a general God-concept. The active God confronts us in God’s word, and this word is a particular concrete occurrence within history that proclaims the justification of the sinner. For this reason the relation between God and the human person cannot be understood in general terms; it cannot become the basis for an explanation or understanding of the world as a whole. The event of revelation thus does not permit the erection of any Weltanschauung.[1]

This is a direct challenge to the traditional approach to Christian theology through the centuries. It gets more intense in that direction as Congdon writes further:

The task of theology is to free our thinking and speaking of God from every entanglement in a Weltanschauung and so to free ourselves “to be addressed by the grace that encounters me in the word of Jesus Christ.” Toward that end Bultmann marshals yet a third contrast corresponding to the previous ones between ontic and the ontological, the fides quae and the fides qua. He does so in the March 1925 lecture that differentiates between Weltbild and Weltanschauung, and this time it is a contrast between a speaking of God (Reden von Gott) and a speaking about God (Reden über Gott). The opening paragraph of the essay differentiates between these two modes of God-talk in a way that programmatically sets forth the task of a theology that truly acknowledges its proper theme (the ontic) and object (the fides quae):

If one understands speaking “of God” to mean speaking “about God,” then such speaking has absolutely no meaning, for in the moment it occurs it has lost its object [Gegenstand], God. Wherever the idea of “God” is thought of it implies that God is the almighty, i.e., the reality determining all things. But this idea is not at all thought of when I speak about God, i.e., when I consider God to be an object [Objekt] of thought, over which I can orient myself if I take a standpoint where I can be neutral regarding the question of God and make considerations about God’s reality and essence that I can reject or, if they are reasonable, accept. Those who are convinced by reasons to believe the reality of God can be certain that they have not grasped the reality of God; and those who think they can give evidence about God’s reality with proofs of God are arguing over a phantom. For every “speaking about” presupposes a standpoint outside of what is being spoken about. But there can be no standpoint outside of God, and therefore it is not possible to speak of God in general statements, in universal truths that are true apart from a relation to the concrete existential situation of the speaker.

The distinction articulated here is between a God-talk that truly speaks of its object and a God-talk that loses its object. The former engages in meaningful God-talk because it speaks of a fides quae that only gives itself in and through the fides qua, and thus cannot be spoken of from a position external to faith. The latter engages in meaningless God-talk, because it attempts to speak about a “God” that is available as a given entity about which we can make general statements that have universal validity. Such statements form a Weltanschauung. And since to attempt “a neutrality with respect to God” is “to flee from before God,” the erection of a Weltanschauung through Reden über Gott is not merely meaningless and erroneous but is in fact sin.[2]

This challenges much; particularly traditional classical theology. Where I stand: personally I am not too far removed (if at all!) from what David is describing in regard to Bultmann’s “existentially” styled theology. But I am not naïve to the radical reality full commitment to Bultmann’s project might require. It might require that we look at all of classical theology and count it as meaningless; particularly the style of theology done after Thomas Aquinas and his Prima pars in his Summa Theologica. I think it is possible to constructively conclude that the way someone like Aquinas, Maximus the Confessor, Augustine, Athanasius et al spoke “about” God was more in line with speaking “of” God. In other words, I think much of classical theology (especially as we think about premodern) is in fact couched in doxological and dialogical exchange between the believer and God. It is just that the means they had to do that then, categorically, sounded more like speaking about God than might have been healthy; and the means they had to speak of God did in fact come from an orientation wherein God is spoken about more than of. So this requires the theologian, if they think Bultmann has a point, to engage with the classical theologians with constructive care.

One of the theses Myk and I offered in our first Evangelical Calvinism book noted that we are dialogical/dialectical theologians. I think the way Congdon writes on Bultmann, particularly with reference to worldview and speech about versus of God fits well with the mode we are going for in Evangelical Calvinism. The interesting thing for me is the way Congdon himself has developed. As I am reading his big book on Bultmann what we find in Bultmann is actually more orthodox (and historical in that sense) than the way Congdon himself has gone. I am afraid people will look at Congdon’s positions, and equate those absolutely with Bultmann’s. As I am reading Congdon’s treatment of Bultmann what I am finding is an orthodox theological approach, albeit one that is couched in an existential frame.

 

[1] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 393-94.

[2] Ibid., 394-95.

You might not be a fan of Rudolph Bultmann; I’m probably not much either (ultimately). But that doesn’t mean I can’t or we can’t learn important things from him, and so this post will be an attempt to offer something useful from a source that I know many Reformed and evangelical types (not to mention any so-called conservative types of Christians) are rebuffed by; just at mention of his name.

I think though that Bultmann actually offers an important critique of what actually funds much of evangelical thinking in regard to Jesus Christ; particularly, and ironically those who are into apologetics or even New Testament Studies. Bultmann is a critic of liberal theology—I know, that seems almost oxymoronic since most would see Bultmann as an uber-liberal par excellence—but, indeed, through his ‘demythologizing’ project, and form of dialectical theology he offers a critique of the German liberal theology of his day; i.e. liberal theology that is of the purest form. So what am I talking about? What I am referring to is Bultmann’s critique of historicism. Historicism offers an approach to history that maintains the idea that we can simply read reality right off of the plane of historical reconstruction; as if there is nothing keeping us from a pure entrance into the past simply by the powers of our machinations.

David Congdon in his big work on Bultmann offers some important insights into Bultmann’s critique of historicism. What I find most compelling about this presentation is that what we get in Bultmann is a way to be self-critical of our own supposed powers to think Christ by a natural mediation between our reason and the touchstones and developments of history; particularly as that has to do with the living God who transects history, indeed enlivens it ever afresh and anew as he inbreaks upon it through his reorientating and recreating work which he accomplished in the Son and brings to refreshment by the Holy Spirit’s supervening as he hovers over the face of the deep blue we call earth and all its cosmological attendants. Congdon writes:

With Barth and Gogarten, Bultmann pits the eschatological transcendence of God against historicism. After all, it was Barth who declared, in opposition to “all believing and unbelieving historicism and psychologism,” that “God is no ‘accidental truth of history’ [zufällige Geschichtwahrheit]; God’s action divests itself with a sharp ‘never!’ and ‘always!’ of all mythologizing and pragmatism, of all storytelling [Geschichtenerzählen]. Precisely in Jesus, God’s love breaks through all historical-psychological indirectness and mediation, all instance of being bound to this and that, here and there.” Bultmann radicalizes this line of thinking in his own work. In his essay assessing the “latest theological movement” of Barth and Gogarten, Bultmann puts forward the thesis that “historical science can never lead to any result that could serve as the foundation for faith, for all its results have only relative validity.” Historical criticism “trains us radically for freedom and truth, not only by freeing us from a certain tradition picture of history [Geschichtsbild] but by freeing us from every possible picture of history achieved by scientific knowledge,” which thereby “brings us to the realization that the world faith wants to grasp is not ascertainable by means of scientific knowledge.” Historical criticism identifies what by definition cannot be the basis for faith, including the so-called “historical Jesus” (see 4.2.3). Liberal theology implicitly presupposes what Bultmann calls a “pantheism of history” (as opposed to a pantheism of nature), in which God is given to us directly in social history as an object available for our investigation. It is this “givenness” of God within the nexus of social relations, human personality, and nature that defines liberalism, according to Bultmann. The consequence of this view is that revelation becomes a historical-psychological phenomenon, Jesus becomes a great religious “personality,” and faith becomes a “consciousness of value” (Wertbewusstsein) or “feeling of value” (Wertgefühl). The result is the flattening of transcendence into pure immanence, or what amounts to the same thing, the projection of immanence upon transcendence. Liberal historicism therefore leads to the “deification of humanity,” according to Bultmann. Against this he proclaims: “Gott ist nicht eine Gegebenheit”—God is not a given object, a thing to be objectified. God is not the deification but the Aufhebung (i.e., annulment or sublation) of humanity. God is the “Aufhebung of humanity and the world of humanity” not because of any abstract idea of otherness but because “my righteousness [Gerechtigkeit] can only always be the transcendent of righteousness in which I believe, and thus this righteousness is never a general supernatural quality.” God is dialectically other than the world because the grace of God remains iustitia aliena, a permanently alien gift from the eschatological beyond. With this thoroughly reformational thesis Bultmann has already in 1924 laid the foundation for his program of demythologizing as a program for speech about God that does not allow God to become “eine Gegebenheit.” Demythologizing is the hermeneutical antithesis to liberal historicism.[1]

You might be wondering why this is even pertinent. You might by brute of force simply repudiate the whole period of theological development, particularly the liberal German type, and surge back to the sounder days of the pre-modern; and for the Protestant to the days of the 16th and 17th centuries. Okay, that might be you; but it isn’t necessarily me.

For me, as an evangelical trained in evangelical schools, there is something deeply resonant about Bultmann’s work; at least when it comes to his critique of historicism (this is one reason I like Barth so much as well; he critiques historicism over and again from his own form of dialectical theology that finds some overlap with Bultmann). You see, the hermeneutic I was trained in, and the way that gets applied to a theory of history, produces a reading of Scripture and a Quest for Jesus that fits into the mold of the liberal historicism that Bultmann (and Barth) is so critical of. So for me Bultmann’s critique of historicism offers an antidote to the type of apologetic Jesus I was taught to look for in the history; a Jesus who was taught to wed together, once I found him, with a warm-hearted piety that bubbles forth from my own navel.

Interestingly, as I read about Bultmann’s theology what is starting to stand out to me is that in ironic ways he has some capacity to get modern people back to Dogmatic inklings that are corollary with many of the soundings we get in the so called premoderns. In other words, Bultmann ostensibly offers the modern person a way to deconstruct (‘demythologize’) the form-critics (and he was one) and higher critics of the Bible offering a focus on the Christ of faith who we encounter through the witness of Holy Scripture and the witnesses that stand forth through the centuries as they too bear witness to the living reality of the living faith of Christ. This makes me think of Kevin Vanhoozer’s riff on Bultmann by titling one of his books Remythologizing Theology. But in reality what we find in Bultmann, at least according to Congdon’s Bultmann (as I read Congdon), is an attempt to indeed magnify the living God/the living Christ who indeed has an eschatological transcendence that is alien to this world system; indeed who sublimates this world system by calling it to account through an offering a righteousness it could never produce itself.

Are there things in Bultmann’s theology that I disagree with? Yes. But there are important insights to be constructively gleaned through a critical encounter with his theology that I think could help scores of evangelicals come to terms with some of the things they have been implicitly taught through the years in their “evangelical” churches. Am I becoming a “Bultmannian?” Nein. But I’m willing to learn some important things from Bultmann (at least Congdon’s “B”). What I’m a great fan of in regard to Bultmann is the dialectical theology that he offers; indeed the “apocalyptic” or “eschatological” theology that he offers the church. There is much constructive value to be gleaned (versus swallowed whole).

 

[1] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 330-32.

We will get back to the analogia entis and a doctrine of creation at a later date. In this post we will explore, briefly, a theology proper of God’s being-in-becoming within a dialectical theological frame. What I am going to share (again from David Congdon — I’m currently reading through his big book on Bultmann) represents an approach I was first exposed to probably back in about 2005, and is the style of theology that has in-formed the shape of my theological existence since. As you will see it has shreds of narratival, existential, dialectical, post-liberal components making up the trajectory; but importantly, for me, while I am a serious fan of this idea of ‘being-in-becoming’ I still am also committed to orthodox components, and traditional elements that go into supplying a grammar for thinking God that I believe best comports with what we have given to us and for us in God’s Self-revelation and exegesis in the eternal Logos made flesh, in Jesus Christ. So maybe I’m Orthodox&Modern. But it should also be noted that while I retrieve from the modern period, I’m doing just that. In other words, I’m not arriving at all my theological conclusions under the same pressures say as someone like Schleiermacher, Barth, Bultmann, or Jüngel; instead I’m reaping the benefits of their labors and conclusions, attempting to constructively bring them into relief such that they help to edify a doctrine of God that, in my view, best reflects the Evangel.

In the following Congdon helps explicate the soundings of Bultmann’s theology proper for us. What you will see is that at this level Bultmann and Barth have much in common (you’ll also want to reference Eberhard Jüngel’s book God’s Being is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the Theology of Karl Barth); they have a shared vision, at least when it comes to the actualism funding this understanding of God. Let’s dig in, and then I will follow with some closing comments (this post will not be as long as the last one).

We must begin where Bultmann himself does: with Jesus as understood in the tradition of early Christianity. In his 1926 Jesus book Bultmann describes the concept of God that comes to expression in as his teaching within the Synoptic tradition. He begins by contrasting the Jewish and Greek notions of God. The Greeks conceive of God as a law-governing worldly phenomena, as “the origin and formative principle of the world” that lies beyond but always connected to the cosmos. God is therefore an idea graspable by reason, an object that “can be subjected to observational thinking.” Judaism, by contrast, views God not as an idea or principle but as the sovereign, creative will. God is the creator who wills the existence of the world, and thus “in relation to human beings God is the sovereign lord who deals with people according to God’s will as the potter deals with the clay.” There is no talk of metaphysical natures or substances. God’s transcendence is not secured by rational principles that bind the idea of God necessarily to the world; rather, God is transcendent by virtue of the creation’s relatedness to and dependence upon the will of the creator.

As a Jewish prophet and teacher, Jesus shares the Jewish conception of God and weds it to his proclamation of the coming eschatological kingdom, which serves only to heighten the distinctiveness of his understanding of God in contrast to all Hellenistic notions.

For him God is not an object of thinking, of speculation. . . . God is for him neither a metaphysical substance [Wesenheit] nor a cosmic power nor a law of the world, but rather a personal will, holy and gracious will. Jesus speaks of God only to say that the human person is claimed by God’s will and is determined in the person’s present existence by God’s demand, God’s judgment, God’s grace. The remote God is form him at the same time the God who is near. . . . Jesus speaks of God not in universals truths and theorems but only of how God is for human beings, how God deals with human beings. He therefore does not speak objectively of the attributes of God, of God’s eternity, immutability, etc., by which Greek thinking endeavored to describe the transcendent essence of God.

Anticipating the objection that this account seems to suggest that Jesus only speaks of God subjectively, in terms of God’s being ad extra, and not objectively in terms of the ad intra, Bultmann adds that “Jesus does not differentiate between a remote, mysterious, metaphysical essence of God and God’s action toward us as the expression of this essence. Rather, the remote and the near God are one, and we cannot speak of God in Jesus’ sense if we do not speak of God’s action.” In other words, God is what God does, the being of God, according to this interpretation of Jesus, has to be identified with God’s action in history. The divine essence is the divine will. God’s will is determinative of God’s very being.[1]

If you have ever heard of a postmetaphysical or anti-metaphysical approach to theology then what you just read is that. What you just read is also what is at the nub of controversy between Barth scholars (e.g. “Barth Wars” or “Companion Controversy”); some believe Barth should be read just as we have explicated above, and others believe Barth should be read more “metaphysically.” Personally, I slide back and forth on a continuum in-between. Sometimes I feel more metaphysical in orientation, but usually my default is more post-metaphysical; what I prefer to call narratival (i.e. following the contours of the narrative of written Scripture; Robert Jenson exemplifies this style).

Many will be rebuffed by the Jewish versus Greek distinction underscored by Congdon’s treatment of Bultmann, but I still believe that distinction has teeth (even acknowledging the von Harnackian thesis and its supposed defeat among certain thinkers; thinkers who want to “Greekify” God in certain ways). But I will submit: I think the reason I have been attracted to this distinction and to the actualist narratival approach to developing a doctrine of God, in particular, and doing theology in general is because I have first and foremost been a bible reader (and remain such). So my own default is going to almost sound like de nuda scriptura (or solo scriptura) rather than a sola scriptura that allows the tradition of the Church to inform its interpretation of Scripture, theologically. But, again, I’m somewhere in-between; but then again I think Barth was too. I’m interested in engaging constructively with the grammar the tradition of the church has supplied for us, and then reifying that grammar, or better, refining that grammar such that the God revealed in Jesus Christ, under the terms we have just been exposed to through Congdon’s Bultmann/Barth, is allowed to excavate the traditional symbols under the recognition that God’s being in becoming looks exactly like Jesus acts (e.g. ‘If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father’ cf. Jn. 14). Thomas Torrance is also in this camp; representing more of a mediating character from Bultmann/Barth to an even more focused approach and emphasis upon the ecclesiological symbols or grammar of the tradition. Bringing Torrance into this discussion; I often find myself siding with the Barth side rather than the Torrance ecclesiocentric type (the Barth emphasis of God’s being-in-becoming).

Anyway, another blog post; more to think about; thanks for thinking with me.

 

[1] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 322-24.

My MA degree is effectively an MA in New Testament Studies; with a Master’s thesis on I Corinthians 1.17-25. I minored in NT Greek in undergrad as well, so studying Koine Greek was a significant aspect of my training during school. What I came to realize was that translation work was just as much about exegesis and interpretive work as was the writing of a commentary. To embrace this idea in an absolute way challenges the more traditional (at least as that is understood in a Grammatical-Historical sense post-Enlightenment) notion that theology is only arrived at after an objective-exegesis of the text has been accomplished. In other words, to arrive at my conclusion we would have to be admitting of some level of eisegesis; viz. some level of ‘reading into the text’—this is an absolute violation of all that is holy in the traditional notion of exegeting or ‘reading out of the text’ (or is it?).

In light of this introduction I wanted to share something from David Congdon as he describes this sort of question as it took form as a debate between Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. What Congdon helps to show is that while Barth asserts his commitment to the more traditional understanding I just described, what Barth actually is committed to is something more akin to Bultmann’s view; that is, that there is always already interpretation embedded in translation (that eisegesis is a component part of the translational event).[1] Here is the way Congdon describes it:

Barth’s attempt to identify a moment of interpretation prior to translation is impossible, according to Bultmann, because the very act of interpretation is inherently an act of translation. Even purportedly scientific and objective modes of exegesis are already engaging in translation simply by virtue of using contemporary terms and methods. An interpretation utterly free from translation would not even be possible were we alive at the time of the apostles, since the very hearing of the words involves—even demands—a response from the hearer. Pure exegesis (“reading out”) without any eisegesis (“reading in”) is an illusion. Barth himself recognized as much in the third draft of his preface to R1: “Those who do not constantly ‘read in’ [einlegen] because they contribute to the subject matter cannot ‘read out’ [auslegen] either.”

Bultmann supports his case by appealing to another statement by Barth, namely, his claim that “the concept of dogma . . . is an eschatological concept.” From this Bultmann draws the conclusion that the New Testament message can only be presented “in Auseinandersetzung, in a definite antithesis,” since every human presentation is a historical act that is qualitatively other than the eschatological act of God. Consequently, “there are only relative, provisional formulations,” and the message must always be “reformulated (‘translated’)” in each new situation. All interpretation is translation because all interpretation occurs within the historicity of existence.[2]

We feel Kant’s presence and impact here, no doubt. But beyond that it pinpoints an important reality about our own situatedness and how that impacts our engagement with reality; with God. For Barth God’s choice to be for us in Christ comes prior to our encounter with the Christ (and as such grounds that encounter); for Bultmann, God’s choice to be for us in Christ comes simultaneously with our choice to be for Christ in the encounter of kerygmatic faith. As corollary we can see how this would impinge upon Barth’s desire to have an interpretation of Scripture prior to its translation; but I would want to side with Bultmann, and Barth who, as Congdon highlights, contradicts himself at certain levels. While not wanting to reject an idea of the antecedent reality of God’s choice to be for us in Christ (Barth and the trad) and conflate that with our choice to be for Christ as the ground (Bultmann) I do think that the hermeneutical problem we are attending to is most overtly on the side of Bultmann’s thinking (and Barth’s even as that stands in some contradiction to his doctrine of election); that we must in fact ‘read into’ the text if we are also going to ‘read out of’ the text of Holy Scripture.

So what regulates then? How do we keep from so existentializing or subjectivizing our reading of Scripture (from an abstract humanity) that we escape a further problem of projecting ourselves into the text; isn’t this the problem and critique of theological liberalism in general? Congdon, along Bultmannian lines, might want to simply reverse the dilemma by arguing that there is a simultaneity to the subject’s reading of the text in the always already event of kerygmatic faith. That is, that the faith of the risen Christ as the content of the kerygma, as that is realized in the reader and encounter itself grounds what is ‘read into’ the text. If we were to go with a Barthian ‘eisegesis’ what would regulate for him is the objective reality of God’s choice to be for us in Christ; i.e. that Christ himself in dialogical reality (e.g. in a way that we are hearing his voice by the Spirit) is the reality that is ‘read into’ the text just as he is ‘read out of it’ as its dogmatical prior.[3]

Either way: Theological exegesis, Theological Interpretation of Scripture and the reality of interpretation as translation and translation as interpretation go hand-in-hand. This is why I am an ardent proponent of theological exegesis; interestingly so were the premoderns. The premoderns of course read the Bible theologically from different soundings than did either Barth or Bultmann. Although I think Barth’s impulse (along with Thomas Torrance’s) was more in the spirit of the premoderns than is Bultmann’s.[4]

[1] Congdon notes some more technical reasons for Barth’s commitment to the more traditional rather than existential view of Bultmann, but we won’t engage with those just now (at least not in depth).

[2] David W. Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 198-99.

[3] I’m not as concerned with “erasing” metaphysics as is Congdon. Interestingly not even Congdon can fully erase metaphysics; or maybe he can, but at what cost?! Unfortunately I think this is what drives, at a prior level, Congdon’s whole mode of theologizing; i.e. the desire to offer a scholastically clean post-metaphysical or anti-metaphysical theological means.

[4] Congdon attempts to problematize Barth’s ‘prior’ by critiquing Barth’s understanding of history and a prior theological history (as the antecedent). I don’t think I follow or agree with Congdon’s critique here; even if I did I’m willing to live with the paradoxical nature of Barth’s understanding, and the tension therein, just as I think Barth’s theology fits better with the reality of the mysterium trinitatis and the creedal reality of ecclesial and catholic grammar than does Bultmann’s (which in the end is the way Congdon goes; with Bultmann).

Welcome

Hello my name is Bobby Grow, and I author this blog, The Evangelical Calvinist. Feel free to peruse the posts, and comment at your leisure. I look forward to the exchange we might have here, and hope you are provoked to love Jesus even more as a result. Pax Christi!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 545 other followers

A Little Thomas Torrance

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” -T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, 94.

Archives

“A deep brokenness requires a deeper theology.”

Philosophy of Blogging

“I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” - St. Augustine cited by John Calvin

“We must always keep in mind that the reason the Son of God came down from the hidden throne of the eternal Father and revealed heavenly doctrine was not to furnish material for seminary debates, in which the display of ingenuity might be the game, but rather so that human beings should be instructed concerning true knowledge of God and of all those things which are necessary to the pursuit of eternal salvation.” Martin Chemnitz, Loci theol. ed., 1590, Hypomnemata 9 cited by Barth, CD I/1, 82.

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 676,020 hits
Advertisements