Daily Archives: 20 Oct 2018

Philosophy: An Observation

Philosophy and its speculations are for the weak minded who are by nature of their mental deficiencies incapable of theology.

Wirkendes Wort: Bibel, Schrift und Evangelium im Leben der Kirche und im Denken der Theologie

Wieder einmal gibt es in der evangelischen Theologie und Kirche in Deutschland einen Streit um das Alte Testament und die Bedeutung von Schrift und Schriftauslegung. Das ist gut so. Ohne diesen Streit würde das, was sich in Kirche und Theologie eingebürgert hat, nur noch so verstanden, wie es gerade weithin verstanden wird: nämlich missverstanden.

Missverstehen ist leicht. Das gilt gerade für die Schrift. Im Gegensatz zur geläufigen Annahme ist die eigentliche Herausforderung nicht, wie die Schrift zu verstehen ist, sondern, was man eigentlich verstehen will. Es geht nicht primär um die Methoden, sondern um den Gegenstand der Auslegung: die Schrift, die zur Kommunikation des Evangeliums gebraucht wird, durch das sich Gottes Wort im Leben der Menschen wirksam zur Geltung bringt.

Seit Längerem neigt die Systematische Theologie dazu, den Umgang mit biblischen Texten aus der systematischen Reflexion des Glaubens auszublenden. Eine Neubesinnung auf die Aufgaben einer theologischen Lehre von der Schrift ist überfällig. Ingolf U. Dalferth bietet diese Neubesinnung in einem großen Wurf, der ein Jahrhundert nach Karl Barths Römerbrief die Theologie am Beginn des neuen Jahrtausends überall dort aufschrecken wird, wo ein theologisches Ethos überlebt hat, das sich Glauben und Kirche zugehörig weiß. Dalferth verbindet seine Ausführungen auch mit praktischen Reformüberlegungen. Das »Leben der Kirche« und das »Denken der Theologie« werden so neu aufeinander bezogen.

Discussed herein, the ‘Crisis of the Scripture Principle’; The Communication of the Gospel; The Church, Scripture, and the Bible; Holy Scripture; The Word of God; The Center of the Scripture; Scripture Interpreting Scripture; Scripture and Interpretation; and finally, the Crisis of the Culture of the Book.

A quick glance through that list of contents immediately informs potential readers that this work is aimed to help modern persons come to terms with the problem of the Scriptures.  What are we to do with the Bible and what are we to make of it in these days of ours when Scripture is not the authoritative source of faith and practice for many?

Working from the premise that the so called ‘Scripture Principle’ is in crisis (to put it mildly), Dalferth carefully and patiently, brick by brick, builds an edifice of a ‘doctrine of Scripture’ that is both relevant and reliable.  Scripture is still the source for the communication of the Gospel.  The Scripture is still appropriately described as both Holy and Word of God.  The Scripture still has a comprehensible ‘core’, and the Scripture is still best understood on its own terms and from its own context.  And, finally, Scripture is still an appropriate object of the interpretive efforts of the community of faith.

The volume concludes with a glance towards the future and how books, like the Bible, may continue to play an important role in the post-print era. He also includes a Scripture index, index of persons, and an index of subjects.

Dalferth assembles a wide range of material from the history of Christian theology and brings it to bear on the question of the continuing relevance of the Bible in an age when bibliolatry is utterly impossible for all but the most stringent fundamentalists.  He includes material from Luther and a plethora of exegetes and theologians whilst managing, somehow, to completely ignore Zwingli and Calvin; which means that this volume is Lutheran in intent and content.

Persons interested in a contemporary Lutheran understanding of Scripture will learn a great deal from this wonderful, partisan book.  Persons interested in a broader theology of Scripture will find here the building blocks of a sensible methodology and a lot of historical-theological material.

This is a remarkably interesting book.  Dalferth is a composer of succinct prose.  For instance, in his exposition of ‘God’s Word as the Content of Scripture’ he writes

Der zweite Weg, um die Bibel als Gottes Wort zu verstehen, rekurriert nicht auf Gott als den Autor der Schrift, sondern auf Gottes Wort als ihren Inhalt:  Di biblischen Texte sind Gottes Wort nicht allein deshalb, weil Gott ihr autor ist, sondern weil sie Gottes Wort zum Inhalt haben (p. 262).

Brilliantly stated and expertly expanded upon and illustrated in the pages which follow.

This is a worthwhile work.  I commend it heartily.

The Most Shocking Thing About Modern Christianity…

Is the amount of sub-Christian behavior it tolerates and still happily calls the practitioners ‘Christians’.  Things that are now ‘ok’ with Disciples of the Crucified and Risen Lord are (in no particular order)

  • premarital sexual relations
  • premarital pregnancy
  • marital infidelity
  • premarital cohabitation
  • failure to participate in worship
  • failure to contribute to ministry
  • failure to pray
  • failure to read the Bible with any regularity
  • failure to share the Gospel with neighbors and friends
  • failure to show the decency and compassion which Jesus requires (cf. Mt 25)

In short, you don’t have to believe, do, or be anything which is the hallmark of Christian belief.  All you need to do is call yourself a ‘Christian’ and, voila, you are one…  Or so you would think…

Which is why it’s helpful to remind our contemporaries of a simple pronouncement of Jesus:

‘It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers! ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.  Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’  (Matt. 7:21-27)

If you aren’t going to obey him, don’t bother to identify with him.

People Never Really Change

Therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.

Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble.  For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.  

So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. What has My beloved to do in My house, Having done lewd deeds with many? And the holy flesh has passed from you. When you do evil, then you rejoice. (Jer. 11:11-15)


Reminder: ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ Is Horrible Theology

Jesus is more than your last ditch hope.  When you reduce him to that, you devalue utterly and absolutely everything he ever taught about what it means to be a disciple.

If the only use you have for God is to get you out of binds that you can’t extricate yourself from, and that you’ve gotten yourself into, he isn’t your God, he’s your tool.  Your ‘God of the gaps’ isn’t the God revealed in Scripture.  He is a god you’ve created in your own mind, for your own purposes.

It Must be A Saudi Cat…

Quote of the Day

How Barthians Make A Sandwich