Foundation for Reformed Theology


Matthew wrote that the wise men saw a star and came to worship Jesus.

Consider what Reformed theologian has written about Jesus Christ being the light of life:

Jesus Christ is the light of life. To underline the "the" is to say that He is the one and only light of life. Positively, this means that He is the light of life in all its fulness, in perfect adequacy; and negatively, it means that there is no other light of life outside or alongside His, outside or alongside the light which He is. Everything which we have to say concerning the prophetic office of Jesus Christ rests on this emphasis, being distinguished by it, and by the implied delimitation, from what is also to be said of other prophets, teachers and witnesses of the truth, or of the prophecy entrusted to the Christian community and each individual Christian. "Jesus Christ as attested to us in Holy Scripture is the one Word of God whom we must hear."

The basis, the first and final meaning, of the statement that the life of Jesus Christ is the one and only light may be indicated at once. It is this because His life is the one and only life. Naturally, we shall have to return to this. Our first task must be to develop, understand and estimate the statement as such. . . .

The whole difficulty would be removed if we could be content with the mere assertion that Jesus Christ is one light of life, one word of God: the clearest perhaps; a particularly important one, and of great urgency for us; but only one of the many testimonies to the truth which have been given by others and which have also to be studied and assessed together with His. In short, it could be accepted that He is a great prophet. This could be easily received, and perhaps even with great willingness and readiness. It could be warmly and enthusiastically championed. Many cogent arguments could be found for it. It need not be disputed by the modern Synagogue. It is actually stated in the Koran. It can be accepted by Western Idealism. With this message we need not expose or compromise ourselves, or provoke suspicion or unpopularity, or give offence to anyone, least of all to ourselves. Noble rivalry or peaceful co-existence is possible with whose who prefer other lights of life or words of God. And, of course, we maintain our own liberty to hear other such words as well, and perhaps even to prefer them.

But supposing that we cannot be content with this? Supposing that the explicit or implicit meaning of the confession of Jesus Christ is that Thou hast the words of eternal life, Thou alone and no other (for there are no others to whom we may go), Thou alone not merely for me but for all others and all men, yet Thou particularly for me, so that I have no option but to hear these words from Thee? Supposing that the confession excludes as quite illegitimate and prohibited the free and friendly acceptance of many lights of life and words of God among which that spoken by Thee is only one? Supposing that the freedom of the confession consists in thinking and speaking in this way? What will happen when a Christian or the community or theology makes use of this freedom?

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, edited by G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, IV/3, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1961), pp. 86-88.

Merry Christmas!

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV
Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
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