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 John Calvin
Barth's Dogmatics
22, The Mission of the Church
23, Dogmatics as a Funcation of the Hearing Church
24, Dogmatics as a Funcation of the Teaching Church
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Here are some notes for this month's reading of Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics, from Volume I, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Chapter IV, The Proclamation of the Church.

22, The Mission of the Church

The Word of God is God Himself in the proclamation of the Church of Jesus Christ. In so far as God gives the Church the commission to speak about Him, and the Church discharges this commission, it is God Himself who declares His revelation in His witnesses. The proclamation of the Church is pure doctrine when the human word spoken in it in confirmation of the biblical witness to the revelation offers and creates obedience to the Word of God. Because this is its essential character, function and duty, the word of the Church preacher is the special and immediate object of dogmatic activity.

1. The Word of God and the Word of Man in Christian Preaching
(I.2, 743)
 
"Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, we are transposed into the kingdom of God's grace. This transformation is to be accepted as a fact." (I.2, 756)
 
"The presumption of a clericalism for which miracle ceases to be miracle, garce to be grace, and venture to be venture, is the enemy against which the Church has to contend more fiercely than any other, because this enemy attacks, as it were, at its most central nerve, and its triumph would necessarily involve the destruction of its very essence." (I.2, 756)
 
The Church must take "the problem of Christian preaching, as seriously as any human task can be taken. In the Church which is charged with this ministry the commitment of the member is beyond computation. There is no possible place for idleness, indifference or lukewarmness." (I.2, 756) 
 
2. Pure Doctrine as the Problem of Dogmatics (I.2, 758)
 
"Christian preaching is speaking about God in the name of Jesus Christ." (I.2, 758)
 
"We have now reached the point where the task of dogmatics again comes under consideration. It is concretely the effort and concern of the Church for the purity of its doctrine. Its problem is essentially the problem of Christian preaching." (I.2, 766)
 
"Humanly speaking, it is essential for the ministry of the Church that it concerns itself about the purity of its doctrine, that it accepts gratefully the help of theology, therefore--again human speaking--the question of the Church's ministry is decided in dogmatics. Bad dogmatics--bad theology--bad preaching. And, conversely: good dogmatics--good theology--good preaching. . . . The Church . . . cannot spare itself any effort in this matter." (I.2, 767, 768, emphasis added)

3. Dogmatics as Ethics (I.2, 782)
 

23, Dogmatics as a Function of the Hearing Church

Dogmatics invites the teaching Church to listen again to the Word of God in the revelation to which Scripture testifies. It can do this only if for its own part it adopts the attitude of the hearing Church and therefore itself listens to the Word of God as the norm to which the haring Church knows itself to be subject.
 
1. The Formal Task of Dogmatics (I.2, 797)
 
"That Church proclamation is the Word of God means that God speaks as much for Himself in Church proclamation as He has spoken, speaks and will speak for Himself in Jesus Christ and in the prophets and apostles as witnesses to Jesus Christ." (I.2, 802)
 
2. The Dogmatic Norm (I.2, 812)
 
 
 

24, Dogmatics as a Function of the Teaching Church

Dogmatics summons the listening Church to address itself anew to the task of teaching the Word of God in the revelation attested in Scripture. It can do this only as it accepts itself the position of the teaching Church and is therefore claimed by the Word of God as the object to which the teaching Church as such has devoted itself.
 
1. The Material Task of Dogmatics (I.2, 844)
 
2. The Dogmatic Method (I.2, 853)

"Because God's revelation stands in a definite victorious relationship to human darkness, and because God's gracious lordship consists in an overcoming of human rebellion and human need, revelation is in fact the same thing as atonement: the act of God in which He triumphantly transcends the human contradiction and thus turns the need of man to his salvation." (I.2, 871, emphasis added) 
 
"Dogmatics must actually be Christology and only Christology." (I.2, 872)
 
"With the doctrine of the atonement, we come to the real centre--not the systematic, but the actual centre--of dogmatics and Church proclamation." (I.2, 882)
 
"The purpose of exegesis is address, and the significance of explication is application." (I.2, 884, emphasis added) Here on the last page of the volume we arrive at a point of great interest to the Foundation. Before there was a Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Leith established "The Fund for the Explication and Application of Reformed Theology" in 1982. Some years later it was incorporated and the name was shortened. But here are our roots. We are committed to the study and learning of Reformed theology, but we are not committed to learning and knowledge for their own sake. We are committed to the study and learning of Reformed theology for the sake of the application of Reformed theology, for the sake of the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the renewal, the reformation, and the building up of the church of Jesus Christ. Yes, "the significance of explication is application."
 
The book closes with a prayer which I invite all of us to pray: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name." (I.2, 884, Psalm 103)
 
 

Calvin's Institutes 1541Grace and Peace,

Jim
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
 
"Better Preaching, Better Teaching, Better Pastoral Care"
 
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