The Foundation for Reformed Theology works to promote better preaching, better teaching, and better pastoral care.
To that end, we encourage the reading, study, appropriation, and application of Reformed theology for the sake of the ongoing Reformation of the church today.
And as a part of that, we have developed a plan for reading Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics in 2010-2012:
So it is that we have arrived at Volume I, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Chapter II, The Revelation of God, and Part III, The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which comprises the following three numbered paragraphs.
|§ 16, The Freedom of Man for God |
According to Holy Scripture God's revelation occurs in our enlightenment by the Holy Spirit of God to a knowledge of His Word. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is God's revelation. In the reality of this event consists our freedom to be the children of God and to know and love and praise Him in His revelation.
1. The Holy Spirit and the Subjective Reality of Revelation I.2, 203
"The work of the Holy Spirit is nothing other than the work of Jesus Christ." (I.2, 241)
"The work of the Holy Spirit within us . . . is faith." (I.2, 242)
2. The Holy Spirit and the Subjective Possibility of Revelation I.2, 242
"Only by the knowledge of that revelation, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, do we lean that God is a hidden God." (I.2, 245)
"By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit it is possible for God's revelation to reach man in his freedom, because in it the Word of God is brought to his hearing." (I.2, 246)
Note Barth's rejection of any emphasis in preaching upon Christian "experience":
"Consciously or unconsciously, every hearer is necessarily faced with the question whether and how he can be a real hearer and doer of the Word. And true preaching will direct him rather 'rigidly' to something written, or to his baptism or to the Lord's Supper, instead of pointing him in the very slightest to his own or the preacher's or other people's experience. It will confront him with no other faith than faith in Christ, who died for him and rose again. But if we claim even for a moment that experiences are valid and can be passed on, we find that they are marshy ground upon which neither the preacher nor the hearer can stand or walk. Therefore they are not the object of Christian proclamation. If it is really applied to man in a thoroughly practical way, Christian proclamation does not lead the listener to experiences. All the experiences to which it might lead are at best ambiguous. It leads them right back through all experiences to the source of all true and proper experience, i.e., to Jesus Christ." (I.2, 249)
"It is Christ, the Word of God, brought to the hearing of man by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who is man's possibility of being the recipient of divine revelation." (I.2, 249)
"By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit it is possible in the freedom of man for God's revelation to meet him, because in it he is explicitly told by God's Word that he possesses one possibility of his own for such a meeting." (I.2, 257)
Barth follows Luther and Calvin in his understanding of the bondage of the will:
"It is not merely that man lacks something which he ought to be or to have or to be capable of in relation to God. He lacks everything. It is not merely that he is in a dangerous and damaged state, but in his being toward God he is completely finished and impotent. He is not only a sick man but a dead one. It was because the world was lost that Christ was born. Therefore, from the very standpoint of Christ's birth we have to say, in the very strictest sense, that the world was lost. . . . Man is free in many respects. . . . But he does not possess the possibility of communion with God." (I.2, 257)
Once again, Barth expresses truth dialectically, holding together in one assertion two contradictory claims:
"When the Word of God is acknowledged, it is also acknowledged that man is not free for God. But to acknowledge the Word of God means that he is actually free for God. Therefore it is part of the acknowledgment that his actual freedom to acknowledge is a miracle. . . . To become free for God we must be convinced that we are not already free." (I.2, 258)
Throughout the Institutes, Calvin emphasizes that it is God with whom we have to do. Barth echoes that here:
"It is with God that we are dealing." (I.2, 260)
"By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit it becomes possible for man in his freedom to be met by God's revelation, because in it the Word of God becomes unavoidably his master." (I.2, 265)
"That freedom exists where the Word of God or Jesus Christ is to man the Master, and unavoidably the Master." (I.2, 269)
|§ 17, The Revelation of God as the Abolition of Religion
The revelation of God in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the judging but also reconciling presence of God in the world of human religion, that is, in the realm of man's attempts to justify and to sanctify himself before a capricious and arbitrary picture of God. The Church is the locus of true religion, so far as through grace it lives by grace.
1. The Problem of Religion in Theology I.2, 280
"What serves and helps the Church is not to soften or weaken the heresy which has infiltrated into it, but to know it, to fight it and to isolate it." (I.2, 292, emphasis added)
2. Religion as Unbelief I.2, 297
"Tolerance in the sense of moderation, or superior knowledge, or scepticism is actually the worst form of intolerance." (I.2, 299)
"We begin by stating that religion is unbelief. It is a concern, indeed, we must say that it is the one great concern, of godless man." (I.2, 299-300)
"Revelation does not link up with a human religion which is already present and practised." (I.2, 303)
"It is only by the revelation of God in Jesus Christ that we can characterise religion as idolatry and self-righteousness, and in this way show it to be unbelief." (I.2, 314)
3. True Religion 1.2, 325
"We can speak of 'true religion' only in the sense in which we speak of a 'justified sinner.'" (I.2, 325)
|§ 18, The Life of the Children of God
Where it is believed and acknowledged in the Holy Spirit, the revelation of God creates men who do not exit without seeking God in Jesus Christ, and who cannot cease to testify that He has found them.
1. Man as a Doer of the Word I.2, 362
"If we are not to be betrayed into irrelevant prattling, we must now hold to the Spirit, who is involved in the redemptive conflict with our flesh." (I.2, 363)
"The fact of God's revelation . . . commands our obedience." (I.2, 367)
"God creates men who do not exist unless they seek Him, and who cannot cease to testify that He has found them." (I.2, 368)
"He is a man found by God. He did not seek, he was sought. He did not find, he was found. God in His eternal Word was free form him. And in the Holy Spirit he, man, was free for God." (I.2, 370)
2. The Love of God I.2, 371
"In strict analogy with the incarnation of the Word in Jesus Christ, what takes place in man by the revelation of God is this: his humanity is not impaired, but in the Word of God heard and believed by him he finds the Lord, indeed in the strict and proper sense he finds the subject of his humanity, for on his behalf Jesus Christ stands and rightly stands in His humanity at the right hand of the Father." (I.2, 374)
"The saying in 1 Jn. 4: 8, 16, 'God is love,' is an irreversible one." (I.2, 374)
"When we try to describe to ourselves the love of God, we can only express and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ." (I.2, 379)
Pages 381-401 comprise an exposition of the Great Commandment to love God and love neighbor.
"When they do find God, they are met by grace, which means that they accept, that they receive the gifts proffered, that they approve what is done for them, that it may be done to them. But grace shows that in themselves they are poor and impotent and empty: indeed, that they are adversaries and rebels. Grace points them away from self, frightens them out of themselves, deprives them of any root or soil or county in themselves, summons them to hold to the promise, to trust in Him, to boast in Him, to take guidance and counsel of Him and Him alone. Grace is the discipline which does not permit them any idolatry or self-righteousness, but bids them say, even when they have done all that it is their duty to do, that they are unprofitable servants. Grace does not allow of any arrogance, even at a later stage. Grace keeps down. Grace reveals the lethargy and wildness which lie like a heavy load upon even their best thoughts and undertakings. Grace demands of them that they trust only in grace, and live only by grace--and by grace really live. . . . The children of God rejoice in it. This and this alone is what the children of God have sought." (I.2, 393)
3. The Praise of God I.2, 401
"Whatever else we may understand by the praise of God, we shall always have to understand it as obedience to this commandment." (I.2, 402, i.e., the commandment to love neighbor)
"The commandment of love to the neighbor is enclosed by that of love to God. It is contained in it. To that extent it is inferior to it. But for that very reason it shares its absoluteness." (I.2, 411)
Pages 417-420 comprise an exposition of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
On page 420 and following, Barth expounds upon "my neighbor" as "an event," which is his way of saying that another person becomes our neighbor not by any act of his or her own will or power but only when and where God so chooses.
"The church as such and in itself is simply the work of the service which men render one another by mutually proclaiming and showing forth Jesus Christ. For the proper praise of God within this world the Church and this ministry are necessary." (I.2, 421-422)
"The afflicted fellow-man offers himself to us as such. And as such he is actually the representative of Jesus Christ. As such he is actually the bearer and representative of the divine compassion. As such he actually directs us to the right praise of God." (I.2, 429)
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
"Better Preaching, Better Teaching, Better Pastoral Care"
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